Wednesday, October 29, 2014

John Golden: Freelance Debugger review

     I like urban fantasy which doesn't take itself too seriously.

    One of the greatest fantasy novels of all time, The Hobbit, is a ridiculous story from start to finish. Which, of course, you might miss if you're only familiar with the movies. Terry Pratchett has made a cottage industry out of using fantasy explore absurdity. John Golden: Freelance Debugger is a funny urban fantasy novella, only sixty-eight pages, which I'd gladly read a full-length series about.

    Before I begin this review, I should talk about the size. It's about a quarter the size of a full-length novel but costs half-as-much. Despite this, I'm still going to recommend purchasing this novel and its sequel. While not a big fan of novellas, sometimes they're entertaining enough to be worth the purchase price (and then some).

    This is.

    The premise is fairies are real but instead of menacing the quote-unquote real-world they've discovered they can manifest in computer networks. Fairies proceed to screw up bandwidth and play pranks on their users, which really plays havoc with computer owners. Sometimes, they even kill and eat the souls of their computer operators.

    This is where Debuggers come in. Debuggers are those rare humans who can physically enter the virtual reality worlds of fairies and "kill" them. This act banishes them back to their home-dimension and frees the networks from their control.

    John Golden is one of the world's foremost debuggers, existing as a combination IT guy and James Bond. Well, he likes to fancy himself the latter but he's much-much more the former. John travels with his sister, Sarah, who lost her body during one of his adventures and is now a kind of ghost in his laptop. Sarah, notably, resents this as she's an atheist and prefers to think of herself as a computer simulation of the very-dead flesh-based Sarah.

    The books are written from the perspective of John's memoirs with Sarah hacking them to add her own (often hilarious) commentary on events. John tends to take a somewhat action-orientated view of his adventures with a heavy dose of romance while Sarah is ruthlessly pragmatic. How the two describe a programmer John crushes on is, for example, very different.

    I could spoil the story but it's better experienced. This is a fun-fun adventure and I recommend it for anyone with an e-reader.


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