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Saturday, September 12, 2009

GAMERS’ QUEST By George Ivanoff. Melbourne: Ford Street Publishing, 2009.

In recent years, computer games have gone way beyond the likes of Pacman, Space Invaders and such. These days you can take on an avatar and “live” in Second Life, for example. When I was much younger, you could play Dungeons and Dragons around a table, with other fans. It was very sociable and you collected gold, treasure, skills and weapons at the roll of a pair of dice, going up to higher levels as you went. Now, you can go on-line to do the same thing.

What would happen if the avatars wanted the same thing, only in our world?

Anyone who has read the original short story on which this is based, in the Ford Street anthology Trust Me! will know immediately what’s going on in this novel, so I’m not giving much away. Even if you haven’t read the original, you pick it up fairly speedily.

Teenage thieves Tark and Zyra live in a world in which magic is mixed with technology. You can be using a sword o’light to kill a dragon one moment and battling a cyborg the next. The reasons for this become clear fairly soon. The young thieves use their ill-gotten gains to give them time in Designers’ Paradise, where they can do exotic things such as go to school, then home to do homework and watch television. But they have gotten in trouble with a character known as the Fat Man, who will not give up the chase, even when they are making their way to Designers’ Paradise. And Designers’ Paradise, when they get there, is also in danger…

A good introduction to speculative fiction for younger readers, this one is non-stop action with a light touch. There is a lot of delightful over-the-top silliness – you wouldn’t for example, want to be a mage in this world, where you can end up a toad if your spell bounces back at you. The story is a cross between a computer game and Dungeons and Dragons, with a touch of Westworld. The cover art is by wonderful book illustrator Les Petersen, who did the covers for Simon Haynes’ Hal Spacejock novels and several for Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. The images of Tark and Zyra look like computer game avatars, giving a strong hint of what the novel is about.

The author has set up a web site, ,for readers who would like more stories about his characters.

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