Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Epic


Kostick, Conor. 2007. Epic.

Looking for a fast-paced science-fiction novel set on a distant planet? Looking for a novel that explores the depths of the video world? The fun of video gaming and virtual realities? Looking for a great dystopic novel? Look no further for all your needs than Conor Kostick’s novel Epic.

Generations ago, violence was banned on New Earth. Society is governed and conflicts are resolved in the arena of a fantasy computer game Epic. Everyone plays, from teenagers to senior citizens. If you win, you have the chance to go to university, get more supplies for your community, and fulfill your dreams; if you lose; your life both in and out of the game is worth nothing.

Erik and his friends are the up and coming in the game. When Erik takes a risk—makes a gamble—that no one else has ever made, then big things start to happen. The powers to be—Central Alliance—want to ensure that they remain in power for the duration. After all, a country hick shouldn’t be able to beat the system and change all the rules…

While Epic starts off a bit on the slow side, things begin to really pick up in chapter three when the game Epic is finally introduced and brought into focus. Erik, his friends, and their fantasy alter egos are great heroes and heroines, and the story is both interesting and enjoyable. I didn’t want to put this one down.

Here is how Kostick's idea/premise originated:

The growth of online gaming is extraordinary. In the Far East four million people subscribe to one game alone. In the US the two most popular online fantasy games have over 500,000 and 400,000 players respectively. And inevitably these huge virtual communities are having an impact on the real world, as players barter their powerful weapons, magic items, properties and even their long cherished characters themselves. One economist recently evaluated the entire real dollar activity of these virtual creations as being larger than the GNP of Bulgaria.

So the idea for Epic came about from wondering, what would it be like to live in a world entirely dominated by one game; where every human being had to log into the game and their wealth, their political voice, their future, was shaped by how well they were doing in the game? What would happen to those who became the games most powerful players, and thus the most wealth and powerful people in the world? Would they start to dominate the proceedings and protect themselves from challenges? And if you were born poor and had to make your way through the game from scratch, what chance would you have?


Teacher's Guide to Epic
Epic: Chapter One and Chapter Two

5 comments:

Debi 4:29 PM  

Wow, Becky...thanks! This one sounds downright fascinating! And thanks to that handy-dandy teacher's guide you linked up there, I think I just may use this for homeschooling...we get to read a cool book, and I have to do very little work...can't beat that!

Becky 4:57 PM  

Debi:

I definitely recommend this one! I thought it was very good. And I liked the guide too :) Not every writer thinks that far in advance. This one would be good, by the way, for the Speculative Fiction challenge.

Debi 8:29 AM  

Oh Becky...you are a bad, bad influence! I've been trying soooo hard to resist the Speculative Fiction challenge. And I've been doing pretty well so far. (Well, o.k., I did make up a tentative list of books.) But so far I haven't actually signed on the dotted line. And here you are tempting me again...

heather (errantdreams) 9:05 AM  

Interesting. The premise sounds kind of gimmicky, but it sounds from what you said like it's carried off well, so now I want to read it!

Becky 10:02 AM  

Heather:

It depends what your expectations are in a book. I read for entertainment. If it keeps me interested and turning the pages, then it works for me. It doesn't have to be "perfect" for me. Some readers might be pickier and see it as a gimmick. Personally, I became intrigued with the world of Epic and liked reading about what these alter egoes were doing.

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