I just finished reading This Is Not a Game, the latest novel from Walter Jon Williams, and honestly I’m surprised the book hasn’t gotten more buzz among the circles in which I hang. For one, Walter is one of the original generation of cyberpunks. (His big breakout book was Hardwired, back in 1986. I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with him at the World Fantasy Convention in Madison, WI, a few years back, and I took the opportunity to let him know how much I’d enjoyed that book.)
For two, Walter’s a tabletop gamer. He wrote a Hardwired supplement for R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk roleplaying game, and he’s a part of the legendary RPG group that’s included George RR Martin and Roger Zelazny, among many other talented writers.
This Is Not a Game is a modern-day thriller about a woman who designs ARGs for a living. In it, reality and ARGs blur together in exciting and innovative ways. Walter’s not the first to tread this ground—Charles Stross did a great job of working ARGs and MMOs into his Halting State, for instance—but Walter knows a lot about the inner workings of such games, and he puts it all on display here. It makes for an intriguing read and hopefully introduces a lot more people to how powerful these sorts of games can be. If you’re interested in such things, be sure to pick it up.