Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley

Combination video game novelization and dystopian parody of Atlas Shrugged in which a new civilization is built that doesn't turn out quite as awesome as expected.

This book is a prequel to the BioShock video games, which I have not played.  It begins with wealthy capitalist, Andrew Ryan, recruiting people to populate his wonderful, new, underwater, capitalist paradise called Rapture and apparently bridges the descent of Rapture from perfect society to the setting of the horror games.

Warning, some spoilers will follow.

I read this book because I was told (*cough* possibly on a first/last date with a guy) that the setting of BioShock was an awesome parody/exploration of the Atlas Shrugged setting.  I really, really liked the setting and concepts, but the characters and story in this book are a little weak.  Maybe I would have enjoyed the games more.

Atlas Shrugged (1 star, I hate this book) involves wealthy capitalists leaving civilization to form their own awesome town full of people who hate taxes, government interference, and people who can't or won't work hard.  It Atlas Shrugged the town is a paradise where the inhabitants are all good (apparently only bad people like government), hard working, and successful.  Apparently Ayn Rand had never met people.  In Rapture, the poor can't find work to feed or house their families and the lack of government allows all kinds of crime and abuse.  I personally find the idea that many people would find new ways to take advantage of others in the absence of any government more plausible than Ayn Rand's alternative, and was vastly amused by Shirley's exploration of the consequences of a no-rules city for rich people, by rich people.

The book follows several forgettable characters gradually growing disillusioned with Andrew Ryan and Rapture and trying to survive.  Rogue ex-nazi scientists create super drugs in the living bodies of debtors, fabulous artists murder, rape, and mutilate for funsies, and children are snatched and enslaved to further the interests of the capitalists.  Meanwhile, Andrew Ryan is compromising his ideals to protect the idea of Rapture, e.g. promoting censorship and disappearances to prevent unions from forming or religion from existing.  Eventually, drug-addicted superhumans are created by the drug manufactures operating with impunity.  I understand these are important in the video game, but are not remarkably entertaining to read about. 

I would recommend reading this if you are enamored with the video games, but probably not otherwise.  I have to assume better explorations of the Atlas Shrugged setting exist, and I want to read them if they do!

3/5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...