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_This is Not a Game_, Walter John Williams
Bar Harbor
An exciting technothriller.

Dagmar Shaw is a game designer; a writer for a company specializing in ARGs. While wrapping up production on a live event in Asia, she ends up trapped in a country undergoing economic collapse and violent revolution. The U.S. government can't rescue her, and neither can her rich employer. But the Group Mind of thousands of game players, distributed around the world, can do things that these centralized powers cannot, if they can be convinced to help. Blurring the boundary between game and reality turns out to be a powerful tool -- and one that can be used for evil as well as good. Corpses and countries both start to fall, as Dagmar races to find the truth before it's "Game Over" for the whole world.

WJW uses a cute trope throughout, where each chapter is titled "This is not X", where the X is a new word or phrase. In each case the subject of the chapter initially looks like it is going to be X, but turns out not to be. If hi previous book was all about Implied Spaces, this one is in some sense about negative spaces -- about what is left when he takes away or subverts what you are expecting to have happen.

While marketed as near-future SF, one could easily say "This is Not Science Fiction". There's very little tech that can't be bought off-the-shelf today, and what there is of it is less plausibility-stretching than most James Bond McGuffins (though that may be damning with faint praise).

Interesting, flawed characters, though almost entirely sympathetic ones. Passes the Bechdel Test easily, though there are still a lot more men than women in the plot.


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Huh—I thought of negative spaces as being the same as implied spaces. Do you disagree?

Negative space is the empty space where a particular thing isn't. Implied space is the space where something must be because the desired things around it demand it.

An example in the book: you want both majestic mountains and fertile plains where the rivers join the ocean... so you get a desert on the other side of the mountains. Side-effect space, basically.

I want to tell you how much I admire your opening summary paragraph. If I were reviewing that book, I'd want to have written the summary that well.

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