Monday, August 18, 2014

Great Geek Reads

Looking for some fiction that's not just literate, but also 1337? Try these! 

Book CoverReady Player One by Ernest Cline is the great American video game novel. Its plot is basically a cheesy video game plot: will the main character dodge obstacles, evade the nefarious supervillain, escape dungeons, and save (well, okay, meet) the princess? But then its setting is a meta-commentary on video games: the world plays a giant virtual reality game. That's where the schools, jobs, and fun are now, leaving a bleak wasteland of "meatspace" behind. Hidden within this game are Easter eggs and challenges (some of which involve meticulous recreations of classic video games themselves) that the hero has to find and solve. And yes, the audiobook is totally read by Wil Wheaton.

Book Cover
Book CoverYou by Austin Grossman and Codex by Lev Grossman are by pop-culture savvy twin brothers who perfectly capture the rarely-delivered promise of infinite possibility in gaming culture. You draws on years of real-world video game design experience, while Codex boasts the Da Vinci Code-esque appeal of delving into a secret world's mysterious ancient texts.

Book CoverMr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan takes Codex and raises it one: what if Google got its hands on one of those ancient mysteries? Throw in some great bookstore-employee anecdotes, references to geek arcana from ancient Apple hardware to Ruby data visualization to typography, and you've got a perfect e-Read.

Book CoverDown and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow (also available as a free download on the author's website) takes you on a hilarious and mind-bending adventure in a post-capitalist Disneyworld, where reputation is everything.

Book CoverRedshirts by John Scalzi is fun for Trekk[er|ie]s who always wondered about the inner lives of the semi-interchangeable, frequently disposable "Redshirts." It will also appeal to the better-socialized (I kid, I kid!) who can gloss over the in-jokes for a lightweight sci-fi caper.

And let's throw one more bonus mention to Andy Weir's addictive debut The Martian, which Elizabeth reviewed recently. It's basically Island of the Blue Dolphins meets Gravity. Does it have geek cred, you wonder? Let's just say that an ASCII chart is of pivotal plot importance, and leave it at that.

Are any of your favorites missing? Nerd rants welcome in the comments!

Happy reading,

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