In this debut thriller for fans of Neal Stephenson and the Millennium Trilogy, a troubled hacker finds himself at the center of a high-stakes revolution in virtual reality.
James Pryce, a hacker at Red Rook Security in Manhattan, has just received his most personal assignment yet. Blythe Randall, the woman who broke his heart in college, has hired him to locate her missing brother, Billy, whose increasingly violent stunts threaten to bring down their family’s billion-dollar media empire. To do so, James must infiltrate Billy’s last known whereabouts: GAME, a programming collective where a group of designers are at work on a top-secret invention that promises a revolutionary advance in sexual technology. James has to find Billy before his final plan is set in motion, but when the GAMErs invite him to their inner circle, his investigation takes a tantalizing—and much more dangerous—turn.
In his head-spinning literary thriller, Olson takes us down a rabbit hole of kinky cybersex and multilevel mystery. Computer security expert James Pryce is hired by ex-lover Blythe Randall and her twin brother, Blake, to track down their younger half-brother, Billy, missing since recording his own apparent self-electrocution. Black sheep Billy is a large stockholder in the twins' multimedia empire, IMP, which is gearing up for a major takeover. James follows Billy's trail to a Lower East Side high-tech artists' collective, gaining the trust of techies who've created the next iteration of virtual sex. At the same time, he enters NOD, a massive multiplayer digital environment, where Billy has started an s&m game based on the work of the Marquis de Sade. It all leads to Gina Delaney, a provocateur friend of Billy's who arranged her own grisly suicide by drill press. The reader eagerly slipstreams behind James as he powers through various levels of reality, both real and virtual, trying to figure out what Billy's game really is and what role James might play in it. If this thriller reads like John Fowles's The Magus as reimagined by William Gibson on a Red Bull bender, well, given the references, that's exactly the effect the author wants to achieve in this complex, cutting-edge debut.