Brave New World (Nymphania Book 1)

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Brave New World (Nymphania Book 1)

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......this is not a novella, it is the first part of a serial. Effectively the next book is Chapter 2, leaving this as all set up and no pay-off....

Nymphania has no reviews, so I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but since it was labelled as a novella and the description was science fiction and technical I picked it up. Admittedly the title’s similarity to the word Nymphomania and the cover, showing a breathless woman’s face, did concern me.

Fortunately this is a fantasy series with soft sci-fi and romance hints, nothing more. Leanne is a programmer for a new game built on a full sensory immersion platform. During the first test she finds herself trapped inside, imprisoned by the same AI-driven NPC’s she built, and the project lead enters the program to rescue her.

Don’t expect technical references to be accurate – the technology is simply an excuse to be in another world. It could be a wardrobe or watch as easily. While the central concept is not new – a virtual reality world goes out of control and people get trapped – similar reads would be more Piers Anthony’s Demons Don’t Dream than Neuromancer or other cyberpunk.

Because it is fantasy, many questions go unanswered or brushed over. The ethical issues of a computer game that rewrites people’s brain patterns and can inflict pain (and therefore kill players through stress or shock), and that it is dangerous to disconnect someone from, are never touched on. As someone who has worked on game releases, the early part of the book covering the test rang rather false and if your programmers have been working through the night for three years straight your Project Manager should be shot, not fired.

The writing style is competent, but not particularly engaging. There are occasional swaps in tense during a sentence, e.g. from ‘was’ to ‘is’, which I found jarring. There are also punctuation errors, e.g. “its’ hulking” on location 104, and these can be found though the whole book. While these issues are not show stoppers, I was never caught up by the story enough to overlook them.

The characters are quickly sketched out by physical description more than personality, but they are recognizable as people not just cut-outs. The real problem is that the lead comes across as rather shallow. Our heroine, Leanne, starts by dismissing a guy’s request to date for being balding and overweight because she has “Standards”. Unless she looks like a supermodel, I hate this woman already. Then Leanne, who is supposed to be a nerd and programmer, rejects a date with another nerd because he’s not stylish even though she admits he’s a nice chap, smart, and perfect for her. Somehow her man troubles now seem largely self-inflicted…

I was very disappointed by the ending: this is not a novella, it is the first part of a serial. Effectively the next book is Chapter 2, leaving this as all set up and no pay-off. Unfortunately, with no idea how long the actual story is going to be and how much each chapter will cost, I was reluctant to pick it up more of the story.

While this book doesn’t do anything remarkably wrong, it doesn’t do anything remarkably right either. It is definitely more for fantasy or romance fans than sci-fi or action readers, but certainly not for anyone who doesn’t want to buy a book chapter by chapter. I think the best I can say is that it is an average read.

Rating: 2
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