Ross Baker works for Neurosphere a medical equipment company who design and deliver scanning equipment. Ross works at the sticky end of software development and his life is OK but for the fact that he has to work for Neurosphere. On the day he discovers that his girlfriend is pregnant he undergoes a test scan and finds himself transported to another world. The world is strangely familiar. It is a computer game world and before long his ears are ringing with the phrase from his boss: “you won’t get anywhere with this company if you sit there playing games”.
From here on in we are transported to the world of the computer game and an environment where it is possible to slip effortlessly from one gameworld to another. It turns out that all is not well in the computer game universe and there is a fight for the rights and ownership of that universe.
Meanwhile Ross is concerned about what is happening in the outside world and we are also given an external bracketing story which is set-up but not maintained for the majority of the book. The reason for this becomes evident in the later stages but the ending felt a little rushed as a result. I would have loved a bit more development of the external story alongside the game-verse story but that is purely personal.
This is Brookmyre crossing the boundary into Scifi/absurdist fiction and although it is excellent, it wasn’t entirely my favourite of his books. There is, however, a great big satirical dig at the Daily Mail which is superb. The vision of a dystopian future brought to you late in the book is quite unnerving and is not so far fetched that it could be considered an impossibility. There is therefore a comment on society and what we consider to be the essential elements of being human.
I also loved the references to many computer games. If you are old enough, have been around games for long enough or have wasted your life playing them, this book is a complete dream and I loved the reference to “we must perform a quirkafleeg”. A further reference came late in the book and was: “in the beginning was the command line”. Any book which dares to reference Neal Stephenson is clearly aiming at a nerd market 🙂 My wife would like to point out the Stephenson himself is also referencing John ch 1 v 1. That this features in the chapter titled “Godmode” can surely be no coincidence. As well as all that we have a vast amount of gamer terminology and I do wonder if it is the first print instance of the word “fucksocks”!