The Moon Maze Game by Larry Niven
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Back forever ago, I used to rave about the Dream Park books. They were everything I imagined good imaginative fiction ought to be when it's right next door to us but catering big time to the whole gamer crowd that's out there.
What I mean is it's a SF and Fantasy fan's dream, mixed with LARPing and such a huge budget. Before, we were dealing with a fantasy theme park pulling out all the stops for the Princess of Mars or Voodoo mysteries and mixing it all with high-tech hijinx and murder and real mystery all along. This is well before the days of Ready Player One and even before Tad Williams' Otherland series.
I really wanted to like visiting the real Moon and having an all-out Wellsian adventure, adding a total steampunkian theme with magic users, thieves, and princes... and because this takes place at a much later date than the other Dream Parks, we're actually having the full-blown adventure ON the moon.
Cool, right? LARP it up with full props and live cameras and a world betting on your death, and don't forget the massive rewards and sponsorships!
Well, um... maybe I never got into the actual characters in this one. I liked the twists and turns in the overall plot and I have no issues with crossover books as long as the excitement is high, but the people I actually needed to root for were kinda lacking. There might have been a few other issues, too, but that's the big one for me.
Even so, there was a ton of cool action and surprises and as a straight adventure, it hits all the right geek buttons, classic SF buttons, and modern gamer buttons. This totally panders to us. :) It doesn't save the novel from the issues I brought up, but it did keep me reading with a good deal of interest. That's not all that bad. :)
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