This is Not a GameI don’t say this lightly: This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams is one of the best novels I’ve read recently. I’m not familiar with the author, but I plan to seek out some of his other works in the future. It is a very well crafted novel–the first act is a standalone set piece, almost an extended prolog that establishes the rules for the main part of the novel, but which ultimately turns out to contain a major clue to what’s really going on in the story. The main character is one of a group of former university friends who bonded over role-playing games and who have gone on to turn this interest into their careers. There have been some fallings out among them over the years that add to the intrigue. However, when one of them is murdered, another decides to use the massive audience that is currently playing one of their online ARGs (alternate reality games) to help solve the crime, the power of this “massively parallel computing” proves valuable–and threatening. I never played D&D in college, and I’m not at all into online games of the sort depicted in this book, but I understand the culture well enough to appreciate the story. The author does a damned fine job of portraying the various personalities who are typically members of online communities, the petty bickerings that go on, the puffery and, yes, the ingenuity. If you are at all geeky, you’ll love this one, and if you like high-tech suspense thrillers, you will as well. I was sad to see it end.

The T-Mobile saga is at an end. I wrote a 2-page letter of complaint to Customer Relations yesterday after yet again failing to be able to add time to the account, which at last count had only three minutes remaining of the out-of-the box allocation. I purchased an AT&T Go Phone and in a matter of seconds had it activated and time added. That’s how easy it’s supposed to be. The only part of the T-Mobile fiasco that remains is an effort to return the phone and phone card to the point of purchase, which I have only faint hopes will succeed. If they won’t take it back (because I’ve written all over everything inside during my lengthy and protracted calls with what I will call, for lack of a better term, customer support), I’ll rack it up to lessons learned. At least I won’t have the stress of dealing with them in my life any more.

I started rereading a novel I wrote last year, in preparation for discussions with my agent about how or whether to pursue it as a project. It’s only a first draft, so I’m finding some rough patches, but I like what I’m reading so far. It’s been seven or eight months since I last looked at it, so I have fresh eyes and I hope my agent thinks it’s worth revising.

I read my copy of Dead Reckonings #5 cover to cover yesterday, starting, as always, with my own two articles! That’s probably some sort of expression of vanity, but I enjoy seeing my work in print and can’t help reading it to see if it holds up. I suspect there will be many people unhappy with my review of Gunpowder, though. I seem to be in a minority in my opinion of it, from what I’ve seen elsewhere. I’m very pleased with myself over the title of my other piece. Smug, I know.

I wrote my Storytellers Unplugged essay yesterday and posted it to the dashboard so it will show up on Wednesday. Today I’m working on another essay due later on in the year, one I’ve been struggling with for months now. I think I’m finally getting on track with it.

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