An anthology that examines the relationship between video games and storytelling.
In his introduction, co-editor Adams asks, “if exploring video games has become one of the primary ways we create and experience narratives...Why not create some narratives that explore the way we create and experience video games?” It’s an intriguing question—which some of the entries in this volume do justice to. Stories like S.R. Mastrantone’s “Desert Walk” and Django Wexler’s “REAL” capture the spellbinding allure of an immersive game. Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s “Respawn” asks what life would be without the finality of death, while Holly Black’s “1Up” gives us a twist on a locked-room mystery. Several stories ask who we really are when we lose ourselves in a game (such as Jessica Barber’s excellent “Coma Kings”), when our identities are hidden behind avatars (Cory Doctorow’s “Anda’s Game”), when our avatars can change on a whim (David Barr Kirtley’s “Save Me Plz”). The collection is uneven, however. Some stories get stuck in the virtual world and fail to connect with any recognizable reality. But there are many good tales here and a couple of standouts—most notably T.C. Boyle’s beautiful, wrenching “The Relive Box,” in which a father and daughter struggle for control of a device that lets them relive cherished memories, and Robin Wasserman’s “All of the People in Your Party Have Died,” which will break your heart with its take on, of all things, the Oregon Trail.
A mixed bag, like many anthologies, but sci-fi fans will find it well worth their while.