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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out or you'll get pwned
Based in a slightly dystopian future version of earth, which could be 50-100 years away afaics, where the only thing people care about is becoming wealthy enough to become immortal. Our lead character is working his way up the gaming ladder, and gets noticed by the ruling elite who enlist him into a MetaGame (A game based in real life, so from their point of view a sort...
Published on 20 Aug 2011 by Russell G. Pottinger

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A long chase but this is no Bullitt.
There is much to admire about this book. It is crisply written, doesn't carry much verbiage and has an interesting plot. Yet, it still serves a thin gruel which maybe, in part, the nature of the plot the author has constructed which requires a little too much explanation in the coda; explanation which could have more usefully been folded into the story. It is to be...
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by I. P. Gearing


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch out or you'll get pwned, 20 Aug 2011
By 
Russell G. Pottinger (Dundee) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Based in a slightly dystopian future version of earth, which could be 50-100 years away afaics, where the only thing people care about is becoming wealthy enough to become immortal. Our lead character is working his way up the gaming ladder, and gets noticed by the ruling elite who enlist him into a MetaGame (A game based in real life, so from their point of view a sort of game within a game, hence meta)

Anyway, the MetaGame is a series of quests that bring D_Light into a world he knew nothing about and forces him to re-evaluate his views somewhat.

Oh, if you want meta then ripping off Bill Bailey "Three blind mice walk into a bar, but they are unaware of their surroundings, so to derive humour from it would be exploitative."

A couple of really interesting ideas are used in this book

The first is the overlay. The world we live in is often quite often fairly dull, so wouldn't it be great if we could overlay our world with more interesting things. We've already started to do this (look up augmented reality) but this book takes it a lot farther, in fact to the point where people very often look down on the "real" world. Why be a desk junky? When you can be a mighty wizard helping your friends defend against the evil something or other - ala a suped up version of World of Warcraft.

The second is the change in the way we work. Anybody that has ever played a MMORPG will know about grinding, doing a very boring thing over and over to gain points/money, but loads of people willingly do this to power up their characters. Now the brilliant idea would be to find a way to make people treat their jobs in a similar way, become a 10th level postman, 20th level accountant, etc.

Finally I liked the idea of the death of the present family layout. As people live for longer, the biological family will fade somewhat and in this case get replaced by essentially gaming clans. This extended family is all you really know with your biological parents just getting a few points from your successes.

Overall, I loved this book. It hit the correct balance between geeky and dark, and it left me guessing about the ending (even if I didn't find it wholly satisfying). The characters are all well rounded, if a little bit crazy and the ideas strewn throughout the book are just genius.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars slow start, but develops into in interesting story, 8 Aug 2011
By 
H. Ashford "hashford" (Sheffield, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
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D_Light is a player of games, and a good one. He spends most of his time "jacked in" to one game or another, amassing points and building up his status. This is important, as a player's points dictate where he/she lives, what they wear, what food they eat, etc, etc (ie they are the currency of the society he lives in). Everybody is playing Games at one level or another.

D_Light is moderately successful; he is climbing up the rankings. But there is a price to pay - in order to manage his moods and keep his performance at a peak he finds himself taking more and more drugs, he suffers from feelings of guilt, and he is lonely. Being invited to take part in a MetaGame seems like the opportunity of a lifetime; a MetaGame is a real game (ie not virtual) and therefore comes with a risk of actual injury or even death to the individuals taking part; not surprisingly it is played for high stakes.

However, as the Metagame progresses, D_Light finds that his risk-taking approach has backfired and taken him outside of the rules of the Game. As he struggles to come to terms with this, the game itself starts to shift. Without wanting to give away spoilers, all I can say is that he is forced to choose between winning the Game (by the rules) or risking everything to change the Game itself.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It's not great literature, but there is a good story line which it is well developed, and (for me at least) the pace was about right - a bit slow at the start, but great once it got going. The characters are a bit stereotypical, but they were real enough to hold my attention and make me want to know what would happen to them. The best aspect (I thought) is the culture / society in which the events play out, which is imaginative and well described. I liked the little "excerpts" that appeared at the start of many of the chapters, which set the scene, give some back story, and generally provide clues to help you work out what is going on.

There were one or two nice little vignettes; I particularly liked the scene where the clean-up operator gets to work. The cleaning operation is a Game; he gets points for keeping his 'bots optimally employed (not idle, but not too busy), he has to anticipate where and when dirt will appear and gets points based on how quickly he gets to it, etc. How neat is that! If only I could motivate my staff like this!!!

The worst aspect of this book (and the reason it doesn't get 5 stars) is the writing. The start is pretty weak - honestly, a scene describing a young man puking in the shower is not my idea of an innovative and attention grabbing start to a book!

Secondly, the dialogue is just terrible; the politest word I can find to describe it, especially in the early chapters, is "naff". It did occur to me later on that Landstrom is trying to put across D_Light as a nerd who doesn't know how to hold a sensible conversation with a pretty girl, but I have to say, it doesn't work - it just comes across as incompetent writing.

Thirdly, chapter 2 is positively dire; it is overlong for the point the author wants to put across, it isn't really relevant to the story, and it's very badly written. If this hadn't been a Vine book I would have given up at this point - and I'm very glad I didn't, because I enjoyed the rest of the book.

Overall a 3 to 4 star read if you enjoy sci-fi/fantasy, and can persevere past the early chapters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!, 21 Jan 2012
By 
Susan Glazier (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
Like the previous cardiffreview, even though I'm not into gaming at all, I thought this book was fab and couldn't stop reading it. It's a light or delightful! read but the ideas are innovative and complex - that is, the dystopian world in the near future is very well developed and fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Original, someone should option this for a top MOVIE, 1 Sep 2011
By 
Mr. M. L. Cawood-campbell (Sheffield, Uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
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Gripped from the first few lines. Science Fiction can be very repeatative and unimaginative, but this is not! Exciting, intreguing from the outset. The author establshes a very believable world very quickly, and entices you in to it just as quickly. A highly visual book which would translate into a very convincing Movie in the hands of a talented script writer and director. Hioghly recommend this compulsive novel. Looking forward to further books by this brilliant debut writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A long chase but this is no Bullitt., 17 Aug 2011
By 
I. P. Gearing (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There is much to admire about this book. It is crisply written, doesn't carry much verbiage and has an interesting plot. Yet, it still serves a thin gruel which maybe, in part, the nature of the plot the author has constructed which requires a little too much explanation in the coda; explanation which could have more usefully been folded into the story. It is to be applauded for the way it folds in cultural trends and extends them into a story that moves, generally, along at a pace, though once or twice it does tread water whilst the author hammers a point home. There is violence, there is a long chase, the whole book is a chase, there is a class structure, there are Angels and Demons, there is a commentary on how science can be morphed into belief and life is the reward and death the consequence of the Game (life). The Meta-game transforms it's players to would-be immortals or meat. Everyone enters as would-be immortals, but they are not equal. Death is the leveller.

I am glad I read this book, I did enjoy it, it has something to say and it has ambition. What it needs is more characterisation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good concept, but poorly written, 22 Dec 2011
By 
Karura (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
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In the future, life literally is a game - both work and play have been recast as missions in virtual reality overlaid worlds that earn points, with prestige and immortality on offer as a reward to the very best players. Having recently completed a quest that earned him a top score, player D_Light is selected to take part in a Meta-Game. The Meta-Games take place in the real world, and while the risk is very real, so is the reward. It will take a lot of skill, strategy and good fortune if D_Light and his team mates are to beat the Meta-Game alive.

Given the prevalence of social networking, online games and sites such as Foursquare where you can score points just for visiting different places, it isn't too much of a stretch to imagine a future like that of Metagame, where every aspect of life has been worked into a game. It's certainly an interesting concept, but unfortunately, when it comes to this novel, it's one that has been sadly squandered.

Right from the start, the story is slow to get into gear, with the first few chapters spent on a painfully slow recap of how D_Light earned a high score on his last quest. Although it does pick up a little from there, the writing style is just too sloppy to enable the novel to pick up any kind of tension or pacing. It doesn't help that all the principal characters are completely shallow and dislikeable, with such stilted and wooden dialogue that it is impossible to feel anything except annoyance towards them.

Overall, although there are certainly some interesting ideas in this book, that just isn't enough to make up for the poor writing and shallow characterisation. Even if you're a fan of the genre, there are plenty of better titles to spend your time and money on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playing the Game of Life, 18 Aug 2011
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: MetaGame (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Just going by the outline, you'd probably think you've read this kind of thing before. The concept of MetaGame is just what the title suggests - taking gaming into the level of it being your entire life. Here, the external real-world is transformed through technology to appear like a game, and by playing the game in this virtual world, you effectively contribute to the society, everything you do is rated and scored for the entertainment value it contributes or for its usefulness in maintaining the variety of products or ways by which you can view and play in the world. You can even earn points automatically by plugging product in conversations with your friends. Everyone plays the game, and why wouldn't you? Your quality of life, the health insurance and the extension of lifespan is greatly enhanced with one's participation in the game - you can even achieve immortality. Sam Landstrom's Metaworld however takes this whole concept, appropriately, to the next level.

Where there is a game there are rules and, inevitably, a hierarchy and even a kind of religious devotion is needed or is going to evolve out of this. In MetaGame, everything is overseen by the OverSoul, who is ultimately determines the points awarded or sentences when serious infractions occur. And they inevitably do, the guilty parties denominated Demons who then become targets for divine agents known as Angels, as well as providing opportunities for other Game players to earn some big points by helping to track them down. When D-Light however, participating in a select MetaGame that usually only involves royalty and their retinue, attempts a clever manoeuvre and helps a female Demon in the belief that it will help identify flaws within the system, he inadvertently and inexplicably finds himself designated a Demon himself, and subject to what could be quite serious consequences.

If that still sounds like a typical cyberpunk scenario, and tied very much into a gaming and questing model - the characters adopting avatars and suits that disguise their real identity - MetaGame excels not only through how good the writing is at making the characters and their motivations interesting and exciting as they operate in this virtual Game world, but through how well thought-through the ethical considerations are in a concept that is rich in ideas. The characters are indeed never mere avatars, but behave realistically in a world that feels completely alien but is also not so far-fetched - a reflection of how society could conceivably operate when the technology and nanotechnology is advanced enough to allow it. Who indeed would want to be a mundane, when the world and one's bodily behaviour and life can be transformed, enhanced and immeasurably improved? Handling the concept in an intelligent as well as an entertaining manner, the author makes this a thrilling and involving read, and gives the reader plenty to think about as well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing, 23 July 2014
This review is from: MetaGame (Kindle Edition)
Great idea but let down by the weakness of the facts and situations it is based on. It doesn't stand comparison to Michael Chrighton's books, or Bob Berridge's "The Car", which base the speculative aspects of their books on proven and demonstrable facts. This book pushes the readers credibility too far..... Dissapointing.... Bacjk to Berridge and Crichton for something more believable
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent vision of the future, 25 Jan 2012
This review is from: MetaGame (Kindle Edition)
I thought this was a brilliant book. The author has an amazing, all encompassing vision of an amazing future that just made me want to read more and more. I cant help but hope the author brings us more stories from this amazing future.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting ideas, but poorly written and a complete lack of characterisation, 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: MetaGame (Kindle Edition)
Sam Landstrom presents two or three interesting ideas for a future dystopia but conveys them with a cast of characters which rarely reach the level of caricature and a plot that runs out of steam about half way through. I pushed on to the end, hoping for a fun finish, but was (not entirely surprisingly) disappointed. A book which might well have been better as two or three short stories.
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