Wizardry Cursed Mass Market Paperback – 31 Dec 1994
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Wiz Zumwalt and his gang of Silicon Valley hackers and otherworld wizards must stop whoever has created the adjoining universe, where magic and technology both work and whose power could destroy their own world.
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This is another great book by Rick Cook! In this book the author did an excellent job of moving back and forth between humor and suspense, weaving a absolutely gripping story. As always, I really enjoyed the system of magic that Robin Cook uses, and I enjoyed the story and characters immensely! I highly recommend this light-hearted swords-and-sorcery fantasy to everyone!
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In this installment of the series, a couple of other hackers have found their way to the magical realm and use their skills to set themselves up as the source of all power but they are being aided by some particularly dark forces. As a result, both the magic world and our technological world are threatened with destruction. The Wiz, and his companions are both worlds’ last and best hope.
The book is written with humor, drama and welcome bits of comic relief that have their roots in Warner Bros. cartoons and the Three Stooges. It made for a nice break from several weeks of reading nothing but technical manuals. I would recommend, however, beginning at the start of the series.
The idea of the bastardized and morally corrupt gamer who is out for Number-One reaches its apex in this exceptionally well-written, but very poorly researched third installment of the Wiz-Biz series. Having grown up in the burbs of silicon valley, worked at Apple, Intel, HP and a few other places as an indy contractor, and played video and computers games from the days of Coleco and the Atari 2600 up to today's Arma4 and Counter Strike Global Offensive, and having done my unhealthy share of warsims and role playing games, all I can tell you is that I have NEVER come across two disaffected antagonists as the two characters portrayed in this book.
To me this book seems to ride the religous right fear mongering of games. OR, more likely, rode the psychological trend of the same kind of fear factor that games dealing with fictionalized magic and heroics would detach the normal everyday person from reality and plunge them into psychotic realm of delusion.
And THAT'S what this book is about, and it's really too bad, because had the mental health types done their research, then this book might have been a whole lot different, have a positive family message within it, and not be so myoptic and condescending in its portrayal of the gaming-class and passtime.
Cook brings mister Zumwalt into another well constructed alternate reality where magic operates under rules like natural physics, and reintroduces some old favorites such as Wiz's wife, Moira, a hedge witch. We remeet some of Wiz's friends, Bal Simba, and the rest of the gang and a few newcomers, as Wiz confronts yet another threat to his new found home.
Regrettably the threat is as I described it.
I'm also gong to go out here on a limb, and say that through the 70s, 80s and 90s the fantasy genre wasn't given very good shakes and treatment, and when it was given a nice shiny coat for people to appreciate it, it was always coupled with an anti-fantasy message such as this book here. If you look at Dragonslayer, if you look at Legend, if you look at Krull, or even some of the TV series like "The Adventures of Sinbad", there's a real catering to the dangers of "over indulgence" of fantasy, and also some warnings about racism stemming from old European folklore.
And I have to say that in this review, this book is no different, and it's a real shame too. For if any of the psychologists or mister Rick Cook himself went to a modern contemporary gaming session with anyone, they would see families and friends with their families having a good time. None of them are drug addicts. None of them is part of the occult. None of them flew off the handle and killed their parents unlike that one TRAGIC news story from the 80s. They are NORMAL PEOPLE.
So, back to the book; the prose meanders here and there as we focus on set of characters and then the other, and then when we do see the antics of the bad guys in the books, it's like they have no rhyme or reason to do what they're doing. And here is where the plot breaks down; presumably one of them is the greedy SOB who gets things rolling, but then seems to have his brain removed about a third of the way through the book. He doesn't get rich, doesn't get lots of hot women, doesn't any kind of clout or power for his ill concieved labors ... he's a "wooden villain". A bad guy for the sake of being a bad guy.
And this is why I gave this book three stars. In spite of being a very fun read, if you read between the lines, and look at the message in the book, it's just more Psychologist fear mongering about a pastime of which they know absolutely nothing.
Read it. Enjoy it. But understand what it is.