Diane Duane,
Omnitopia #1: Omnitopia Dawn
(Daw, 2010)

When people say a story or book is "a fairy tale for grown-ups," they usually mean something that has taken the gruesome parts of the old fairy tales, added sex and left out the happy ending. I am pleased to announce that Omnitopia Dawn is -- under its cutting-edge technology and modern setting -- a good old-fashioned fairy tale you could give your children to read.

First of all, it's written by a highly literate author, and so is a perfect book in which to play the game of Spot-the-Source. I spy, with my little eye, the influence of Asimov, Heinlein, MacDonald (George) and Willis (Connie). And Milton. Also the Arabian Nights, the Brothers Grimm and the Bible.

It has all the necessary elements for a fairy tale: the Good and Wise King and his Queen; the Two Brothers (the good one and the bad one), the Powerful Being in Disguise and the Poor but Virtuous Commoner who, without seeing through the disguise, befriends the Being; the Confrontation Between the Powers of Good and the Powers of Evil. There are two Princesses (at least). And some of these entities share more than one identity.

And I loved every minute of it. Almost immediately I started to care about Dev, the ethical hands-on CEO of Omnitopia, even before he's contrasted with his rival and former partner, who can't stand the fact that Dev has surpassed him after the breakup of their first company. Reading about the company Omnitopia, I wished I could work there; as for the game that's part of the premise, I want someone to design it so I can play it. I was on the edge of my seat when it was in danger; I cheered at the end, when there was a victory party straight out of Star Wars.

It's got modern technology, a lot of its action is in cyberspace, and the setting is global a few years in our future, but "the good end happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means."

And the "Volume 1" on the cover implies that there will be sequels. I'm looking forward to them already.

book review by
Janet Anderson

3 December 2011

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