The critically acclaimed author of Lovecraft Country returns with a thrilling and immersive virtual reality epic—part cyberthriller, part twisted romantic comedy—that transports you to a world where identity is fluid and nothing can be taken at face value.
John Chu is a “sherpa”—a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse.
Chu’s new client, the pseudonymous Mr. Jones, claims to be a “wealthy, famous person” with powerful enemies, and he’s offering a ridiculous amount of money for a comprehensive tour of the world of virtual-reality gaming. For Chu, this is a dream assignment, but as the tour gets underway, he begins to suspect that Mr. Jones is really North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, whose interest in VR gaming has more to do with power than entertainment. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Chu also has to worry about “Ms. Pang,” who may or may not be an agent of the People’s Republic of China, and his angry ex-girlfriend, Darla Jean Covington, who isn’t the type to let an international intrigue get in the way of her own plans for revenge.
What begins as a whirlwind online adventure soon spills over into the real world. Now Chu must use every trick and resource at his disposal to stay one step ahead—because in real life, there is no reset button.
Set largely in the world of virtual reality gaming, this fun, fast-paced novel from Ruff (Lovecraft Country) is equal parts amateur sleuth mystery and science fiction thriller. Californian John Chu makes his living as a sherpa, "a paid guide in a massive multiplayer online role-playing game." But after a particularly bad break-up with his online crush, Darla Jean Covington (an "apolitical atheist omnivore who doesn't like being put into boxes"), he gets involved with a wealthy anonymous client who calls himself Mr. Jones. The lucrative job quickly turns dangerous as Chu is threatened by another avatar, who may be a Chinese operative. As Chu's life spirals out of control, he attempts to uncover the identity of Mr. Jones, who may be North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the irate Darla exacting vengeance, or a complete stranger. A prevailing and powerful theme is the nebulosity and mutability of online identity. The many pop culture SF references make this adventure pure geek gold. Ruff remains on a winning streak with this seamless genre hybrid.