oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen

EPIC, Kostick

Epic, Conor Kostick.

I never have been a gamer, nor have I ever been particularly interested in books featuring gaming as a plot feature, but I think there are rewards to be found in Conor Kostick's Epic beyond the game itself. It isn't the most sparkling prose, but it has a lot of neat science fictional ideas.

Epic is set on a futuristic colony planet where the game Epic, once used for amusement on the long spaceship journey, has become a means for allocating scarce resources and accumulating power.

The game itself seems to be in the Dungeons and Dragons mode and features warriors, thieves, elves, etc. who move through a fantasy world and accumulate goods and skills which they use to acquire more of the same. On this planet, everyone plays Epic because the accumulation/confrontation/negotiation that goes on in the game often affects real life. Students participate in a "graduation tournament" that supposedly offers spots at the university, poor communities can challenge the Central Allocations team for more solar panels, etc..

We the readers immediately learn that the game isn't fair, that rich kids can be given advantages in the graduation tournament, and that the Central Allocations team have the best of everything and easily squash the peasants who challenge them. The hero, a teenager named Erik, discovers this early on and begins to subvert the game by playing for fun, which allows him to discover certain things about Epic that are long forgotten, and something which might have been secret from everyone. But for me, the most interesting part is what we're shown of the planet's governance and various communities, and the way the game is used as a political tool.

Detailed commentary by Farah Mendlesohn.

Sherwood Smith's review at SFSite.

Tags: books, sf/f, ya
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