Christopher Brookmyre - Bedlam
Slightly overcooked but overall enjoyable sci-fi comedy from the erstwhile crime writer
For his 15th book, Glaswegian writer Christopher Brookmyre forsakes crime capers for the first in a trilogy of gaming-based sci-fi novels, tied to future multi-platform games from virtual environment creators RedBedlam. Despite an intentionally disorientating plot, racing along with the slickness of a smooth first-person shooter, it’s a compelling concept as the author unleashes his rascally, down-to-earth humour in a very different kind of universe.
A disgruntled scientist in the overlooked Stirling outpost of shady corporate giants, Neurosphere, Ross Baker wakes from an experiment to find himself battling space marines in the carnage of Starfire, a game he played to death as a teenager. From the 1984 ZX spectrum classic Jet Set Willy to a land conceived by Daily Mail readers, he traverses countless different worlds as he desperately tries to get home.
Brookmyre’s similes tend to be overcooked but he clearly relishes the deep, existential questions he sets up, sweeping the reader up in immersive space battles and Nazi-blasting.