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BioShock: Rapture by John Shirley
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BioShock: Rapture

by John Shirley

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1115108,775 (3.45)4
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  1. 01
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Not nearly as accessible reading, but a point of origin for the political and social ideas upon which Rapture is modelled; strictly for those who would like to explore this further.
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This is... not terribly great prose. It reminds me of when I wrote my first story. This is not a compliment.

The structure is all over the place. Characters get introduced, then forgotten about. There's about a thousand stories happening at once. In a book like "The Stand", each character was introduced slowly. Here there's no slow development. It feels like they're thrown in when they need to be. There's no quest, no viewpoint character, no antagonist. This really feels like bad fan fiction, written solely to make money. I think the author literally read the BioShock Wiki, all the dialogue and audio diaries, and simply wrote a story in a way to include all those bits.

The thing is there are more than a hundred diaries in Bioshock alone. And the author tries to include every one. It's character soup -- a hundred stories, plotlines upon plotlines, crossing over characters. There's simply too much here to make a novel, unless you're making "Les Miserables" or "War and Peace".

There's no interlocking, no crossover. The "Finding the Sea Slug" event is written basically word-for-word. No attempt to incorporate or connect events or make story flow non-linearly or give some flesh to people that otherwise only exist in snippets of spoken dialogue.

No attempt to innovate or enhance the storyline like good fan fiction should do. I was hoping for some explanation why everyone's walking around carrying giant tape recorders, or why society didn't immediately collapse when people discovered they could have psychic powers. It brings nothing new to the table.

The thing about Bioshock is that it's up to you, the player, to connect the storylines. And the more I read this book, the more I felt I could do better (that is, if I could handle the historical aspect). The culture is great, but the characters and story are practically plagiarized. The people who didn't play Bioshock won't understand anything and the people who did would be better off playing the game again. ( )
  theWallflower | Mar 26, 2014 |
Only read a little. Didn't like. Too over the top. ( )
  BruceCrawford | Nov 22, 2013 |
It is a really good read especially if you are a fan of videogames. It explains everything perfectly from Frank Fan Taine’s Uprising and Ryan’s Police Takeover to Plasmids and Splicers. However, if you weren’t a fan of the games, it is still a good read. I read this book because I was a fan of the video games. I saw a prequel to them and I was very interested.
  edspicer | Jun 3, 2013 |
I've never played the Bioshock game, but I was drawn by the novel's premise. Rapture is an equivalent of the Atlantis valley from Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", moved to an underwater setting where everything goes tragically wrong. Industrialist Andrew Ryan is tired of government interference, so he sets up his own city outside of national boundaries to create a tax-free libertarian utopia. Its only downside is that once you're in, you can't leave. The flaws of Rapture are soon evident, when it becomes riddled with immoral characters who have no problem stomping on the rights of others and can't be sufficiently controlled. Meanwhile the underclass swells and quickly reaches a dead end. With large numbers of its citizens feeling trapped in this enclosed society where hand-outs are frowned upon, trouble is soon brewing. Layered over this is the necessary setup for the video games that will carry the story forward past this novel's end: we see bizarre new technologies being employed in this 1950s setting that are still the stuff of sci-fi today, arising from a complete lack of regulation and regard for morality. Scenes of horror ensue.

I wondered whether this novel would be openly judgemental of Ayn Rand's philosophy (represented in the person of Andrew Ryan) but it is only a straightforward exploration of how her envisioned utopia’s rise and fall might play out, building on the premise that a fall would indeed happen. As a novel it would have been more successful had it remained focused on the two contrasting characters it starts with: Bill the plumber, who becomes a significant figure in Rapture's maintenance and Ryan's most trusted advisor, the kind of person Rapture was intended for; and Fontaine the mobster, who represents the darker side of people who are drawn by what Rapture has to offer. These could have sufficed to tell the entire story by themselves and been made to play off one another. Fontaine is the engine by which the fall comes about, but Bill's story is essentially that of the novel. Their stories and character depth become watered down due to other characters’ perspectives competing for page count, so it isn’t all that it could have been but the threads are there.

I became well-versed in what are presumably the game's key elements, except for the Big Daddies: in contrast to other things that were evolving step-by-step (e.g. the Little Sisters), I didn't see the same logical development of how the Daddies came to be; they just suddenly were. This was costly to fully portraying the latter half of Ryan's character arc as he’s confronted with the downfall of Rapture, something I'd anticipated reading to see how it was handled.

Bioshock: Rapture is a fast-paced story, it makes some fun allusions, and it displays some real effort and interest on the author's part that I’d feared would be lacking. Narrower focus and a less episodic structure would have helped, but I didn't feel the novel was simply riding on the video game's reputation. Viewed as a tragedy the utopia story is complete and I don’t feel forced to play the game afterward. As to how politically and socially realistic you find this tragedy’s portrayal to be, that will depend on the baggage you bring with you. ( )
  Cecrow | Dec 5, 2011 |
Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley is a book with some really interesting ideas set in a great epic-scale environment. Given its origins, it's commendable that it didn't read like a computer game, but unfortunately it did not rise above the quality of a very average tie-in novel. The characterisation is barely adequate -- almost all the characters have very little complexity or depth. I couldn't imagine many of them as real people, and I didn't care much for any of them. The first third of the book I struggled through; the middle third -- once the underwater city had been built -- was interesting and gripping, but I found the final quarter quite tedious: the book suffers badly in that the author clearly has to set up a lot of characters and stories, but is unable to bring almost any of them to any kind of closure. Presumably the closure to these stories are found in the Bioshock games. So, this is not a prequel (as advertised on the cover); this is strictly back-story.

I'm forced to conclude that it's for fans of the game only. ( )
  AleatoricConsonance | Nov 21, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765324857, Paperback)

It's the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal has redefined American politics. Taxes are at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has brought a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business has many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom is diminishing . . . and many are desperate to take there freedom back.

Among them is a great dreamer, an immigrant who pulled himself from the depths of poverty to become one of the wealthiest and admired men in the world. That man is Andrew Ryan, and he believed that great men and women deserve better. And so he set out to create the impossible, a utopia free from government, censorship, and moral restrictions on science--where what you give is what you get. He created Rapture---the shining city below the sea.

But as we all know, this utopia suffered a great tragedy. This is the story of how it all came to be . . .and how it all ended.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A prequel to the video-game franchise explains how the technologically advanced undersea city called Rapture came to be and how it eventually devolved into a chaotic dystopia.

» see all 2 descriptions

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