From Karl Schroeder, author of Lockstep, comes the near-future, science fiction, hacker’s heist, Stealing Worlds.
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Sura Neelin is on the run from her creditors, from her past, and her father’s murderers. She can’t get a job, she can’t get a place to live, she can’t even walk down the street: the total surveillance society that is mid-21st century America means that every camera and every pair of smart glasses is her enemy.
But Sura might have a chance in the alternate reality of the games. People can disappear in the LARP game worlds, into the alternate economy of Notchcoin and blockchains. The people who build the games also program the surveillance networks—she just needs an introduction, and the skills to play.
Turns out, she has very valuable skills, and some very surprising friends.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This dense but enjoyable near-future thriller teeters on the surprisingly fine line between utopia and dystopia. Sura is desperate to stay afloat as more and more jobs are automated and America's surveillance state makes hiding from her creditors next to impossible. She's barely scraping by when she discovers that her father was murdered by shady business interests, and she has to disappear. With the help of an underground resistance, Sura learns to hide in plain sight, vanishing into the alternate economy of augmented reality games. Sura builds a new life while searching for whatever her father discovered that was worth killing him over. As her enemies close in, the games are revealed as a strategy to gamify social cooperation and resource reallocation, and Sura learns that she holds the key to the success or corruption of the entire new world order. The explanations for how these systems function can get lengthy and confusing, but Schroeder makes intriguing use of Sura as a lens to explore how utopia might come to bloom out of radicalism and intolerance. Readers looking for a little optimism mixed in with grim predictions will find a good balance here.