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2019 reread A slow start and the gamer stuff put me off, to the point that I considered putting it aside But the novel really starts to cook when the action shifts back to LA, and the murders start Dagmar Shaw is an engaging anti hero and the geeky computer stuff is appealing even if I didn t believe for than a moment that gold farming software could take over the world WJW is a good enough writer to almost pull it off Not one of his best novels, but the second half is very fast moving indeed 3.5 stars, rounded down for the slow start, the dated feel and the gamer stuff.The real review to read here is Alan s, This Is Not A Game explores the extent to which online gaming and, as a by product, social networking can be exploited to serve an individuals interest Collectively controlled by a puppet master, participants of games that routinely blur the line between fact and fiction are caught up in a complex web of mystery and intrigue as they seek the killer of Big Game Ideas founding member, Charlie The protagonist, Dagmar, essentially a second in command figure at Big Game Ideas, went to college with Charlie and two other prominent computer geeks linked to the company in some way or another takes it upon herself to solve the murder As her circle of friends dwindles, Dagmar realizes there is far at stake than uncovering a mysterious link to the Russian Mafia as the world economy threatens grinds to a halt thanks to sofrware her boss developed Just as much food for thought as high octane entertainment, TINAG delivers on all fronts compelling story, classic whodunit elements, multi media exploitation, engaging characters, and page turning dialogue I ve read this book twice now and can t rate it high enough 5 Stars. This Is Not An Average NovelAn intense near future thriller that merges live action role playing games with a realistic high tech plot this is one SF mystery that really works Published almost simultaneously with Charles Stross similar Halting State, it shares a number of general plot points the intersection of online life, role playing, with so called meatspace, in particular but goes in a radically different direction.This Is Not A One Note BookThe novel is structured as a series of revelations, each foreshadowed by the chapter titles, which all begin This is not a We start with Dagmar, whose not a vacation has encountered a hitch when she gets stuck in a luxury hotel in Jakarta as a revolution unfolds around her Dagmar is the primary viewpoint character, but she s only one of four protagonists While I never really saw Dagmar in my mind s eye, I liked her immediately as a character, and eventually I got used to not really knowing what she looked like The other three major characters BJ, Austin and especially Charlie hmm, any particular Charlie in mind, Walter are physically distinct Dagmar was en route from India, where she was overseeing a lavish if fake wedding, the climax of a carefully managed role playing experience that merges online gaming with real world entertainment in a way few, if any, of our contemporary media have managed That is what Dagmar and her associates do for a living, actually their company well, it s Charlie s company, really , Great Big Idea, creates such experiences on a subscription basis Of course, mingling fantasy with mundanity this way can make dramatic events difficult to take at face valueThis Is Not Quite The End Of The ReviewEven in the midst of the chaos, it is Dagmar s connectedness her wired existence that helps her most This coherent central theme is developed throughout the book while there are plenty of dramatic face to face encounters, and individuals do heroic things, over and over it is collective action mediated and amplified by ubiquitous online communication that consistently gets results.Despite the dramatic and all around interesting time in which Dagmar lives, I can imagine far worse futures to find myself in This is a fun, fast and high octane novel. This is the first Walter Jon Williams book I ve read I picked it up at a passenger terminal in Afghanistan somewhere because I had finished the book I was reading and didn t have anything to read and this looked interesting Rest assured it won t be the last.A complex tale involving a specific type of video game called an alternate reality game ARG An ARG is a game that blurs the line between a fictional reality and our own real reality In an ARG, characters from the game will contact players via text messages or email and ask them to decipher clues on Web pages and then perform tasks in the real world Payoffs might be real merchandise or rewards or just plain bragging rights.While attending Caltech, the protagonist, Dagmar Shaw, makes three friends with whom she plays table top role playing games One of her group becomes a successful software developer One of his companies makes games and he employs Dagmar as a producer for the ARGs used to promote the company s games After concluding a successful ARG, Dagmar is en route to Bali for vacation when she is trapped in Jakarta when a revolution breaks out This then leads into the main plot of the book which I don t want to spoil since it s interesting and novel.Williams writing style is very clear and straight forward even though the plot is fairly complex I read this book in three or four days I also had a lot of spare time on my hands so I can t give all the credit to Williams If you like books involving technology or are into games, then you won t be disappointed by this book. This is the third WJ Williams book I have read the others being Implied Spaces and The Fourth Wall The story precedes the events of The Fourth Wall, and I probably would have understood that book better if I had read This is Not a Game first There are 4 main characters in the book all former college mates who participated in gaming, and whose paths later diverged Three are successful and continue some association Dagmar works as a fiction writer for games for one of Charlie s companies Austin is a venture capitalist who does business with Charlie BJ worked for Charlie but was thrown out and is embittered But the story starts out with Dagmar stranded in Jakarta, Indonesia as a revolution breaks out, and the first third tells of attempts to get her evacuated, enlisting the help of an online community The next concerns the four former college mates as one of them is killed, and Dagmar continues her work, again with the help of the online community, which in effect serves as the fifth main group character The book was a lot of fun, and I really liked how the chat group functioned in the game and the book. This turned out to be a really good choice for a nervous time in which I needed distraction and for weather that was just too bloody hot to do much of anything else but read after getting home from work I got sucked into the plot, eagerly turning pages Good use of detail made the story so vivid This was probably the most fun I ve had reading a WJW book He s a good craftsman, but I ve found the other works of his that I ve read a lot darker than this While there were plenty of scheming and violence and tense situations in this, there was still a feeling of hope to it and ultimately there was a positive outcome for Dagmar, at least At the beginning, I d wondered if Dagmar was going to be one of those tough Teflon, emotionless chicks I like female characters with strength who can take charge mentally and or physically, but I don t like characters who are emotionally flat Although Dagmar was smart and very resourceful, she also displayed authentic human emotion She had moments in which she feared for her own safety and catalogued her limited number of self defense skills, but seeing people around her get hurt also upset her When people died trying to mount the operation to rescue her in Indonesia, she felt guilty and sad that people died on her account She was truly grateful and impressed with the people who did manage to help her get clear of a perilous situation I also liked how she was steadfast in her resistance of her ex fling s attempts to regain her interest after she found out he was married And her knowledge of SFF stuff was great.I don t want to post major spoilers, so I ll just say that I figured out one major plot point and thought I knew the identity of the bad guy although I had part of it wrong by page 290 But it didn t spoil the book for me there were plenty of juicy twists and turns I just felt pleased that I d picked up on some clues And the I thought about it, the troubled I was about a particular character being a sociopath and the depths of the scheming Watching someone pretending to care about someone else while plotting to kill them is chilling The pop culture references including Pinky the Brain, Star Wars and not only the mainstream movies someone has a roommate called Jacen, after the EU book character , Marvel, Harry Potter, Terry Pratchett, and throughout were priceless.Chapter Six is titled This Is Not the Bat Cave Then there are these two passages as further examples Name redacted had left the real world altogether and now lived somewhere in supervillain territory He was Magneto He was Lex Luthor He was Doctor Doom.He was the Napoleon of Crime.When the hell had he found time to develop this secret life She d seen him nearly every day, and she d never once seen him meeting with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.Probably the meetings took place in his secret base in a dormant volcano pg 291Out of work actors walked up and down the sidewalks dressed as superheroes and offered to let visitors take their picture for a small fee Fly this bomb to where it belongs, Tony Stark, she thought, but Tony was busy posing with a couple of kids from the Midwest and failed to hear her mental command pg 442I ve never been into role playing games like DD I tried a couple of times, but I m too much of a control freak and find the minutiae of it boring but the book s narrative made the talk of games accessible I have participated in online forums chat rooms, played some word games online, and participated in continue the story type things, so that helped me relate to the story I could very much relate to the stuff about writing that s part of Dagmar s life The conversations among the Our Reality Network members reminded me of real things I ve seen It seems every group as at least one know it all, the moderator personality type, and the gullible types I liked many of the helpful gamers online chatters featured in the book obsessed with their games, one upping each other in that way nerds do yet earnest and helpful when something real that actually mattered came up.I can see the appeal of Alternate Reality Games ARGs , but I ve never had the time inclination to participate and I tend to be suspicious of strangers I wouldn t trust whoever s running the game to be entirely benign It would be all too easy for someone to get participants to unwittingly contribute to a destructive or criminal act as depicted in the book.I was pleased to see that there are 2 Dagmar books and have put them on my to read list. Set in a near future, this is basically the story of an ARG Alternate Reality Game that not only touches the fringe of reality but seeps into it, by design of the puppetmasters game moderators It didn t start out this way, but a collection of events and a couple of experiments push it over the edge until the game becomes literally an all out effort to save the world.I loved reading this book The writing was effortless and entertaining, as were the characters and the plots I had so much fun reading it The only reason I held back from giving the book five stars was a couple of plotting issues I wasn t able to suspend disbelief quite enough to allow for the level of cooperation between the police and the community of gamers described in the novel The gamers came from all walks of life, I d have had a better time believing one of them was on the inside with access to police database given their general level of hacking competency than the police willingly sharing the name of a suspected Russian assassin with them.Otherwise, this was a great read a bit prophetic and scary but thoroughly entertaining. *Free Pdf ⇻ This is Not a Game (Dagmar Shaw #1) ↡ Once Upon A Time, There Were Four Of Them And Though Each Was Good At A Number Of Things, All Of Them Were Very Good At GamesDagmar Is A Game Designer Trapped In Jakarta In The Middle Of A Revolution The City Is Tearing Itself Apart Around Her And She Needs To Get Out Her Boss Charlie Has His Own Problems Billion Of Them, To Be Precise, Hidden In An Off Shore Account Austin Is The Businessman The VC He S The One With The Plan And The One To Keep The Geeks In Line BJ Was There From The Start, But While Charlie S Star Rose, BJ Sank Into The Depths Of Customer Service He Pads His Hours At The Call Center Slaying On Line Orcs, Stealing Your Loot, And Selling It On The InternetBut When One Of Them Is Gunned Down In A Parking Lot, The Survivors Become Players In A Very Different Kind Of Game Caught Between The Dangerous Worlds Of The Russian Mafia And International Finance, Dagmar Must Draw On All Her Resources Not Least Millions Of Online Gamers To Track Down The Killer In This Near Future Thriller, Walter Jon Williams Weaves A Pulse Pounding Tale Of Intrigue, Murder, And Games Where You Don T Get An Extra Life I flew through this book It had me hooked on page one and, thanks to a four hour flight, kept me engrossed to the end I thought the plot was deftly woven, the use of an on line role playing game in real time real world was fascinating I liked the murder mystery elements of betrayal, revenge and double revenge I liked the way world wide financial elements were manipulated on a intimate level, shall we say I can totally see the self replicating software happening at some point in the future if it hasn t happened already on a smaller scale My only complaint was this felt like a William Gibson book, not a Walter Jon Williams book no offense to either author, I enjoy them both I kept thinking I had been introduced to these characters before, but like a thought niggle just out of reach, I couldn t place where This book felt like Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History But it wasn t And that niggling feeling bugged me for the entire book Despite that strange disconnect between authors, I will be reading Dagmar 2. A comfortable reread sort of a kinder gentler Daemon though that s not something I knew the first time I read this And definitely remembering the scene in a later book when Dagmar is given test questions with a lie detector and gives surprising answers, changes the feel of this book And yet I still haven t searched out and played an Alternative Reality Game.And another re read This time a bit too fast and remembering a bit too much And now I have played an ARG though Ingress is a far cry from what s in this book Maybe like a 4.5 on this go round But snappy witty dialogue And some characters I rather appreciate.