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Hardcover This Is Not a Game Book

ISBN: 0316003158

ISBN13: 9780316003155

This Is Not a Game

(Book #1 in the Dagmar Shaw Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

THIS IS NOT A GAME is a novel built around the coolest phenomenon in the world. That phenomenon is known as the Alternate Reality Game, or ARG. It's big, and it's getting bigger. It's immersive and... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Fun Read For Mystery Fans

While some of the science fiction fans have given this book somewhat tepid reviews, as a mystery fan, I really enjoyed it. It was a fun read and quite suspenseful enough for me. The plot was complicated enough without bringing in many more characters, and I felt like I got two books for the price of one, with the two plot lines. Since I practically live on-line, I found some of the social commentary on the online world to be quite amusing. I would love to see another book like this one from Mr. Williams.

Reality Or Not

This Is Not a Game (2008) is a standalone SF novel. It is set in the near future within Jakarta and Los Angeles. In this novel, Dagmar Shaw is the executive producer of Great Big Idea, an alternate reality game company. She stages fictional conspiracies that involve thousands of players. She developed her interest in games at Caltech, where she played roleplaying games with Charlie, Austin and BJ. She married BJ for nine months, but then remarried and moved to England. Charlie Ruff is the owner of AvN Soft, a software company that produces various forms of computer agents. He also owns the Great Big Idea game company. Austin Katanyan is a venture capitalist. Charlie had helped him start his own business, which has been a huge success. Boris Jan Bustretski is a customer service representative. BJ had been a partner with Charlie in the AvN Soft startup, but they had gone broke and Charlie kicked him out of the company. Now he is poor and bored. In this story, Dagmar has just completed a game in India and is flying to Jakarta to catch a connecting flight to Bali. Her plane is late getting to Jakarta and she misses her connection. She gets tickets for another flight the following day and looks for a place to stay. The American hotels are full, so she takes a room at the Royal Jakarta. Indonesia is suffering from a currency collapse. The government has fallen and the military intends to take over again. Many citizens have lost their jobs as well as their savings. People are rioting in the streets. Dagmar informs Charlie of her situation. Other countries are planning to evacuate their citizens, but all American naval forces are committed to the Persian Gulf. So Americans in Indonesia have no way to leave. Charlie hires a mercenary company to get Dagmar out of Jakarta. All the local security firms are already busy, so he hires an Israeli group. They will have to get their resources to Southeast Asia before Dagmar can be rescued. Meanwhile, Dagmar appeals to her fans on Our Reality Network. She explains the situation and lets them start planning a rescue. The ARG fans get her out while the mercenaries are still trying to get their equipment in order. When she gets back to Los Angeles, Charlie presents her with a new task. Dagmar uses her experiences in Jakarta to create a new scenario. Then someone murders Austin and Dagmar uses the ARG fans to discover the killer. This tale also leads Dagmar to distrust Charlie and to hire BJ as a consultant. There are other murders and the ARG fans keep providing information on the real life crimes. Although Dagmar's rescue was TINAG -- see the title -- some fans are beginning to confuse reality with the game. BTW, the chapter titles can be a little irritating. All start with "This is not...". Just keep on reading and eventually you can ignore the titles. This novel drew my interest from the first page. It is mostly about Dagmar developing a healthy dose of suspicion in her cultu

William's best book in some time...

I've been reading Walter Jon Williams since he wrote Hardwired and Voice Of The Whirlwind. But I have not found his recent work as good as the books he wrote all those years ago. For example, I thought that Implied Spaces was a weak book. I was pleasantly surprised by This Is Not A Game, which I found to be Williams' best book in some time. The book is written in a three act form. The first part of the book is fascinating and sets the context for the moral issues that arise later in the book. Reading this book it seemed to me that Williams was "doing" an impression of William Gibson, picking up on some of the themes that Gibson has touched on. I enjoyed this, especially because Gibson hasn't been doing Gibson much these days (sadly his Spook Country was one of his weakest books). Nor do I see anything wrong with one artist being influenced by another. This Is Not A Game is set in the relatively near future. One of the things I enjoyed about this book is its technological speculation. I am a computer scientist and I found most of the speculation reasonable. There was some suspension of disbelief required when it comes to the ability of software to "learn", but I didn't find that this detracted from my enjoyment of the story. One way I judge a book is whether I'm still thinking about it after I've finished reading it. I keep thinking of bits and pieces of This Is Not A Game.

The shape of things to come?

First I would like to say that one previous reviewer seems to equate this with a war/combat book. It is not. It is more akin to Michael Crichton's "Prey." Nor do I agree with the reviewer who felt that the female protagonist became too much of a good thing. Did she save the world? No, not by herself. Because of the deaths of others, the final actions fell to her. Why she does what she does in the end is shaped by what happens in the beginning. That beginning is, putting yourself in her position, rather scary. Finding yourself in the middle of a financial and social meltdown in a different culture would be pretty scary. I like the way Williams plays out the situation. It has the ring of truth. There are bad people and there are good people. Different people have different agendas. Our girl is lucky she has not only a rich friend, but a resourceful group of people who use the "six degrees" to arrange an escape. One of the interesting things is how the group functions. There are a couple of references to "the group mind" which do not seem so far off. In fact, we see intelligent agents in the form of software and wetware. The former are an example of the law of unintended consequences. And of the idea of emergence, where from the (not quite random) small-scale actions of many low-level software agents a large scale action can occur. The use of the resource of the multitudes playing the game (which is of the type known as alternate reality game, where players get clues and points for solving intermediate puzzles on the way to running the script to its conclusion) is fascinating. Not only do you use the player's computing powers but also their real-life skills. Some are innocent pawns serving the aim of the villain, some the aims of the game or of the meta-game that involves the life and death situation the heroine finds herself in. The book in some sense does not break new ground, but it does tell a good story well. The netbots, for example, could be the programs that currently do automated trading. We have seen in real life how it is sometimes necessary to thwart them to prevent major financial damage. Those are fairly simple codes. The kind let loose here are not so controllable. And it is important to realize that whenever something bad does happen because of the actions of the software, it is because humans have created the situation that the software is able to exploit. The evil ultimately derives from human action or inaction. All in all, a very good read. Lots of good ideas, well exploited.


This is more of a modern thriller with a tech-heavy plot than full scifi. The main thrust of the story revolves around Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). Think World of Warcraft with a real world component. Now add in several murders, illegal online daytrading (to the tune of several billion dollars), and potential global anarchy. Starts strong and doesn't let go. Highly reccomended for anyone who likes thinking about the future in real terms. TINAG!! (This Is Not A Game) My only quibble: the heroine is perhaps a bit too heroic towards the end. She manages to outwit the antagonist and the police with no previous law-breaking experience...while dealing with the murders of some close friends and a threat to her own life. All in the space of approx 4 weeks. Oh and {spoiler alert} she saves the world.
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