In Book Reviews on September 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm
Orbit 2013

Orbit 2013

When Ross heard the voice speak softly from only a few feet behind him, he deduced rather depressingly that he must no longer have a digestive system, as this could be the only explanation for why he didn’t shit himself.

Nutshell blurb: Ross Baker is a scientist who works for a huge corporation called Neurosphere. He volunteers to help test out a new technology only to find that he’s been transported into a videogame.

This was my first ‘trapped in a videogame’ book. I think. Now I’m wracking my brain to remember if I’ve read any others…I actually have a story idea for a novel that takes place in a videogame, which is what drew me to this book. My idea is too nebulous to discuss but I can say that it is nothing at all like this book.

I had so much fun reading this. I’m adding Mr. Brookmyre to my list of authors whose styles I totally dig. As a side note, I would be curious to know how this book would be received by someone who didn’t play videogames.

This book spanned so many games and if you are one who plays or has played videogames in the past, you will recognise many of the ones mentioned. I particularly enjoyed reading about what the character went through when faced with various game mechanics that those of us who play games would recognise.

Respawning, having crappy weapons during the early levels of a game, being dealt damage that is inconsistent with what is dealing the damage…

It was a strange anomaly of certain first-person shooters that you could take a grenade blast and multiple bullet-wounds to the face and yet still limp home for a couple of Paracetamol and a warm bath, but if you stayed under the suds for more than thirty seconds while washing your hair, you would drown.

I was a bit disappointed that no mention was made of how one can kill a mosquito which could then potentially drop a broadsword. But then, the character seemed to spend most of his time in first-person shooters and strategy games. The double jump was mentioned, however:

Back in the day, there had been an odd glitch in the game that meant you could do this double-jump trick on the edge of a rock that would propel you a height disproportionate to your efforts. It was a handy shortcut to higher ledges that the level designers hadn’t intended you to reach without first negotiating other parts of the landscape. Ross tried it when he reached a suitable spot, the impulse coming almost instinctively as soon as he realised he was in a place he recognised. He succeeded only in repeatedly rattling his thankfully metal-clad shins off the edge of a low outcrop and falling on his face a few times. If anybody had been looking, they’d have assumed his internal motivational and guidance circuitry was on the fritz. Or that he was a twat.

As I mentioned, I really like Mr. Brookmyre’s style of writing. It’s quirky (always a plus for me) with a great sense of humour and it’s obvious that he really loves videogames.

My one complaint about this book is the ending. I felt that it was a bit rushed and that it was perhaps a bit too clever for itself. I had a moment of ‘Wha….?’ until I reread it and understanding dawned. Feeling rushed and too clever isn’t the greatest combination but I was able to forgive that because it was a really fun book.


  1. Please please tell me you have seen Tron, because if you haven’t, you need to watch it asap! (Best trapped in a videogame movie I’ve ever seen).

  2. I know of a couple MMORPG-centered books — Epic, Saga and Edda by Conor Kostick, and the .hack// crossover manga/anime series right off the top of my head. Not sure about being trapped in one though. And I’m sure I’ve read more. Work, brain, work!

    • There must be more. I haven’t actually conducted a thorough research into it though. I saw this one by chance. I’ve heard of .hack// but I have yet to read it. It’s hard to find whole series of manga at the library and I always have to choose between novels and manga when I’m shopping. Novels always win because I feel like I get so much more bang for my buck. 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation though. I’ll be more inclined to look for it since someone I know has read it.

      • Honestly I would be wary of starting .hack// because there are several subseries to the manga, plus novels and anime and games, which all tie in together for a complex multimedia sort of thing. Which is great if you have the time/money to access and sort all of that, but….yeah.
        In a similar vein, though not stuck-in-a-game, that I just want to mention because I love it, is the Dream Park series by Larry Niven. It’s about a combination VR game/competitive LARP that goes bad when participants start getting murdered.

      • Yep. That’s the problem. Urg…

        I’ll have to check out the dream Park series. I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like it’s right up my alley!

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