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Without further ado...
Books of 2011:
This is Not a Game, by Walter Jon Williams
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 games ...But when one of them is gunned down in a parking lot, the survivors become players in a very different kind of game - one that is played for the highest stake of all. Now they must draw on all their resources - not least millions of online gamers - to track down the killer. Imagine a game with no boundaries. Waiting in a parking lot, sitting at your computer, walking down the street - you could be called at any moment, and you'd better be ready. This is not a game. This is a novel that will blow your mind.OK, so my mind wasn't quite blown. It's an entertaining romp through the world of the ARG. Likeable characters, interesting situations, but there are points where the plot goes 'whu?' and you wonder why stuff is taking so long. Bit like in Harry Potter and the Endless Camping, where H, R & H spend *weeks* bumming around in tents rather than, you know, doing something useful. That said, I quite enjoyed it, polished it off in a couple of days.
If you want a really good book (or books) on games, look no further than Larry Niven & Stephen Barnes superb Barsoom Series -
Dream Park, The Barsoom Project, and The California Voodoo Game. All of which are brilliant.
Next up (normally I'll go for a post each):
, by Scott Westerfield
Two opposing forces are on the brink of war. The Clankers - who put their faith in machinery - and the Darwinists - who have begun evolving living creatures into tools. Prince Aleksandar, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, comes from a family of Clankers, and travels the country in a walker, a heavily-fortified tank on legs. Meanwhile Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, works for the British Empire, crewing the ultimate flying machine: an airship made of living animals. Now, as Alek flees from his own people, and Deryn crash-lands in enemy territory, their lives are about to collide...Oh, I loved this one. Utterly absorbing, splendid alternate-history worldbuilding, enjoyable and engaging characters and a plot which fairly zings along. Only downside was that I didn't realise it was the first in a series, so left on somewhat of a cliffhanger! Aimed at the YA market, but none the worse for it. Highly recommended.