This book seems to be directed at a niche audience, but our recommendation would have been to classify it as a Fantasy novel. I am looking forward to its sequel, ‘Saga’. My hope is that it is more in-line with Science Fiction.
The characters in the novel have two personalities, one in the world, and the other within the game. The author spends enough time developing both versions of each character so that you can easily identify with either version as the same person. The acre used to keep the distinction between the two personalities allows you to visualize the world from that point of view. It is an effective way to give the reader a glimpse of how the game players created their own in-game characters.
The author spends time helping the reader to understand how computer role-playing games work, allowing them to enter the world of gaming through the eyes of the novel’s non-game characters.
The author shows us that spending too much time ‘playing’ in the game world can have real-life consequences. In fact, he tells us that the people of New Earth are suffering more and more as their way of life deteriorates – due to neglect – as the people spend increasing amounts of time playing Epic, driven by the needs of their families and communities.
The premise of the novel is a future world that the inhabitants play a role-playing game to decide their futures, their families’ futures, or the future of their community. That’s the Science Fiction part of the novel.
Beyond that, the game is purely Fantasy, with wizards, spells, magical beings, vampires, and other mystical creatures that the game player has to interact with. That is the ‘meat and potatoes’ of the entire novel.
That leaves us wondering if it is truly Science Fiction, or is it Fantasy – in reality. (Pun intended.)
For a reader with no experience with fantasy role-playing games, the storyline inside Epic is tough to understand. How are spells cast? How can those types of creatures exist? How can magical items be used? Let alone – How do they become magical in the first place? There was no basis in science established for any of the fantasy world creatures given.
This type of novel, based on fantasy role-playing, is unique to us as it is the first time it has appeared on our desks. A few of us have never played a role-playing game. Even though the author gives us a general description of how things work, they continually became disoriented and had to keep asking questions about how things – such as casting a spell – were being accomplished.
There was a definite difference between the people that have played a role-playing game versus those that have not. Some experience in playing those types of games gives the novel more appeal to those readers.