HEAVEN IS A PRISON. HELL IS A PLAYGROUND. Ross Baker is an overworked scientist developing medical technology for corporate giant Neurosphere, but he'd rather be playing computer games than dealing with his nightmare boss or slacker co-workers. He volunteers as a test candidate for the new tech - anything to get out of the office for a few hours.
But when he emerges from the scanner he discovers he's not only escaped the office, but possibly escaped real life for good.
He's trapped in Starfire - a video game he played as a child - with no explanation, no backup and, most terrifyingly, no way out.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 480 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 21/01/2014
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780349138695
- EPUB from £2.99
- CD-Audio from £17.95
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Review by AHS-Wolfy
Another offering that is somewhat different than this author's usual style (also see Pandaemonium) as he ventures into the science fiction genre. Ross Baker is a tech-savvy geek working for a medical research facility in Stirling, Scotland. The last thing he remembered before waking to find himself in the middle of a video game was having a brain scan taken on an experimental machine that the company he works for has developed and that he himself has been writing the software to decode its findings. He does find out that he can respawn once he dies though so I guess that's a plus. The big problem though is that he's not the hero of this particular game or any of the others he finds he can gain access to so can he find out what's going on and more importantly quit the game and get back to reality and his girlfriend who he's just found out is pregnant?This book is quite difficult to get to grips with at first as there is no exposition to help set the scene. There are also a few timeline/setting jumps that also help to disorient the reader. So, just like the main protagonist, you really don't have much of a clue as to what's going on but everything is all cleared up in the end. You don't have to be a gamer to recognise most of the areas featured in the Gamerverse as most of the titles are iconic such as Quake, Team Fortress, GTA etc. though some of the references and in-jokes may be lost on the non-gamers and I expect I missed quite a few. Brookmyre's usual comedic element is used to full effect as he brings it to bear on philosophical musings on the nature of life and consciousness and is particularly scathing on Daily Mail/Fox News devotees. So while the concept of being stuck in virtual reality is not an original one it is handled with Mr Brookmyre's usual panache with the exception of the previous niggle of the beginning being hard to get to grips with.