Fiction Reviews

Reckless Sleep

(2000) Roger Levy, Victor Gollancz, £10.99, pbk, 345pp, ISBN 0-575-06899-X


I liked this book and I don’t even play computer games. Imagine a clunky year 2000 Virtual Reality game with another 55 years of technological development; the world you enter is so real that in fact perhaps it is.

The story centres on the development of a computer game and the defeated Far Warriors who are living with the guilt of their failure. By 2055 mankind has found and started to colonise another planet, Dirangesept, which is nine years suspended animation travel away. The first colony was overrun by mysterious beasts and a thousand Far Warriors were sent to reconquer it using ten thousand of the most advanced battle robots dropped to the surface and electronically linked and controlled by a Far Warrior safe in orbit. The robots were believed to be invincible and no-one had anticipated the psychic damage to the operators as every machine through which they are directly experiencing the jungle reality of Dirangesept is destroyed by the lightning speed of the beasts. As more and more of the Warriors succumb to psychosis the war effort collapses, the ships return to Earth carrying the Far Warriors home to an ignominious reception nine years later, but only one subjective day later to the traumatised Warriors.

Mankind badly needs a new planet by now since Christian fundamentalists, tired of waiting for God, have set off nuclear devices in the Mariannas Trench to hasten the End Times. Their efforts have been only too successful bringing on greatly accelerated tectonic movement which is inexorably and rapidly destroying the Earth by earthquake and volcanic activity. Non-fundamentalists will be pleased to hear that the American Mid-West gets theirs first.

Five years after their return certain Far Warriors are working for Maze, a major computer games company in London, testing a new secret computer game in which the Government seems to be interested and in which magic apparently works. The world they enter in the ‘game’ seems so real that it may in fact be a parallel reality.

The plot twists and turns, the gradual destruction of London is generally well realised, the game characters have exactly the right naff names like Footfall and Calban (a baddy) but the atmosphere inside the ‘game’ and back in London is genuinely menacing. If you like VR beware, this book could make you very dissatisfied with the 2000 product but at least now if you die in the game you don’t die soon afterwards in real life.

Jim Walker

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