O was a tricky letter to find a theme for and I swear I’m not cheating. ‘Online Worlds’ is a theme in its own right according to the Encyclopedia of Science fiction, not only that, but I’ve had the pleasure of reading a couple of books using this very theme.
So what are Online Worlds?
Without stating the obvious, they’re worlds that exist online, quite often involving role-play with other users and are never ending as far as I can tell.
I grew up on ‘Make your own adventure’ books, closely followed by Steve Jackson’s Fighting Fantasy books. You’d create your character, select your inventory, gather your experience points and make your way through the book, choosing between turning to page 54 or 112. One would lead to salvation (possibly), the other to certain death. Come to think of it, I never did find a safe passage through the world presented to me, there was a monster lurking at every corner, itching for a fight (with the use of dice, a little turn taking and some honesty).
Incidently, I picked one of these books up at a boot sale recently and tried to engage with my gaming-mad eleven and twelve-year-old.
Ha! No chance!
Minecraft, Roblox, Blockland, not to mention online multiplayer console games, EA’s Sims franchise, city building… all of these allow users to engage in creating and living in an online world. Obviously there will be other examples, but these are the ones I know of personally and I’m sure you don’t want this post turning into an epic saga on the subject.
Online world fiction for young readers
Stone Marshall has written a series of books based on the extremely popular Minecraft game. My children, along with most (if not all) of their school friends are crazy about this game. The online world is a landscape of blocks, and as far as I can gather, you design, create and demolish bricks to create your own.
Book one of Flynn’s Log: Rescue Island is highly accurate in describing the loading of an actual game – waking in a strange world with the sun getting ready to dip beyond the horizon, and as I’m sure Flynn will discover, Minecraft at night can be a dangerous place to be – especially if you’re on your own.
The recommended age group for this series of books is 8 to 18, and there are four in the series:
For older readers (Young adult +)
I came across a series called ‘The Game is life’ a couple of years ago. The first one is still free (which is how I came across it), but I went on to purchase and read all the corresponding books in the series, I just couldn’t get enough of this peculiar world.
- “What if life as we know it was just a game?
- What if, instead of traditional schools, children learned by participating in a virtual reality simulation, one that allowed them to experience “life” from birth to death — multiple times?
- What if one player, on his final play, could change the world forever…?”
The book can be complex at times, and there are moments where you have to stop and think ‘where’ you are, but overall I found this (and the sequels) a highly engaging read. It did have some editing issues when I first read it, but the author has apparently resolved them since then (not checked that yet, but I will do as I fancy another read).
The online world in this book is virtual, and I can’t really say much more than that without giving the book away, but if it’s your ‘cup of tea,’ I would highly recommend grabbing a free copy of The Game.