Bedlam – Christopher Brookmyre

This is a science fiction book which draws on a number of computer games for background and in-jokes. So, if you like science fiction and have any interest in computer gaming, this book is for you. For example, the lead character wakes up inside a video game he recognizes. How cool is that? But he wants to get back to the real world, and the story is about his adventures amidst the conflict in the new worlds he occupies. He faces numerous challenges, tricks, and traps, gets killed a few times – how cool is that? – and simultaneously tries to navigate a dangerous political environment. ¬†Should he be working with the Rebels? Who are Integrity? Where are the Originals? And is there a double agent? From the start, it’s intense and involving.

The central character Ross – is Scottish, smarmy, smart, and has an acidic turn of phrase, backed up by sharp powers of observation. In fact, I suspect, a lot like Christopher Brookmyre. So I also suspect Mr B was either reliving some of his memories, or indulging in his fantasies; regardless, he was enjoying himself while writing this, and most readers who have an interest in the mentioned themes will do so as well.

For those not interested in science fiction, or turned off by computer games, despite the innovative and inventive approach the author takes, there will not be as many fans.

Now a confession: if Brookmyre had not written this, I doubt I would have been interested. But this author is a talented guy who can take dangerously hackneyed themes and inject vitality and freshness the way few others can. I was not disappointed here.

Score: 8/10.