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Omnitopia Dawn: Omnitopia #1 Hardcover – August 3, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Omnitopia Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Realistically weaving together video gaming and back-alley corporate intrigue, Duane (A Wizard of Mars) takes readers to the near future, where new technologies like RealFeel allow players to smell, touch, and taste their game worlds. Today's gamers will fantasize about playing Omnitopia, an all-immersive 3D massive multiplayer online game with 200 million players which spans thousands of Microcosms: first-person shooters, cooking competitions, historical recreations, and more. But behind the curtain are two rival companies with some slight resemblances to Apple and Microsoft: one headed by laid-back, jeans-wearing Dev Logan and the other by his former friend and partner, corporate maven Phil Sorensen, who plots to topple Dev's Omnitopia empire by any means necessary. Neatly set up for a sequel, this outstanding speculative novel is action-packed and fast-moving, and Duane's lavish, expansive world building already seems eerily prescient. (Aug.) (c)
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From Booklist

Dev Logan is the eighth-richest man in the world, thanks to his invention of a massive multiplayer online game known as Omnitopia, in which players can venture into all sorts of vibrant, creative worlds and even have a shot at designing their own. The thousands of people Dev’s company employs are working toward a big goal: releasing an expansion to the game. With the expansion rollout just days away, Dev is worried about possible vulnerabilities in the system. His concerns are not unfounded: a skilled group of hackers is plotting an attack at the time the game’s servers will be most vulnerable, and Dev’s former business partner and friend is preparing a financial takedown of Dev’s company. Readers who have never ventured into the intricate world of online gaming will have a hard time seeing what all the fuss is about, but the many who have played World of Warcraft or its ilk will appreciate Duane’s rich description of Omnitopia’s many universes and enjoy the intrigue and drama surrounding the release of the expansion. --Kristine Huntley

Product Details

  • Series: Omnitopia (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; First Printing edition (August 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756406234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756406233
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,497,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diane Duane was born in New York City -- a descendant of New York's first mayor -- and worked there as a psychiatric nurse before leaving the profession for the only one she loved better, the business of writing. Since the publication of her first novel in 1981, she's written fifty more, not to mention numerous short stories, comics, computer games and screenplays for TV and film, and has picked up the occasional award here and there. (She's also worked with Star Trek in more media than anyone else alive.)

Right now DD is probably best known for her "Young Wizards" series of young adult fantasy novels, featuring the New York-based teen wizards Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan. The series now enters its third decade with Nita's and Kit's newest adventure: "Games Wizards Play," the tenth Young Wizards novel, is scheduled for publication by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in winter 2015/16. Interested readers can find weekly teaser excerpts from the book at the blog at gameswizardsplay.com.

DD shares a two hundred-year-old cottage in the Wicklow Mountains of Ireland with her husband, the Belfast-born novelist and screenwriter Peter Morwood, and various overworked computers... an odd but congenial environment for the staging of epic battles between good and evil and the leisurely pursuit of total galactic domination. (And a lot of ethnic cooking: her own favorite foods come from the cuisines of central Europe and the Mediterranean.) In her spare time DD gardens (weeding, mostly), studies German and Italian, chats with friends and fans on her Tumblr at dduane.tumblr.com, listens to shortwave and satellite radio, and dabbles in astronomy, computer graphics, iaido and amateur cartography... while also trying to figure out how to make more spare time.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had no idea this book was coming. In fact, I found it completely by accident--a serendipity that completely turned my day around. Disclaimer: anything Ms. Duane writes, I read. That said, I like to consider myself a pretty good judge of literature after almost forty years' practice!

The product description gives a decent synopsis of the plot's frame, but it leaves out how rich the characters are, how complex the game is, and the many threads that go to make up the story. If you like what Ms. Duane did in Tom Clancy's universe, you'll love this one. If you have a special place in your heart for High Wizardry, this will delight you too. But I don't want to say more, lest I give it all away...

This is classic Duane--characters that are instantly real and distinguishable and likeable. I even felt a little sorry for the antagonist, because the character is human, a mix of good and evil; no cardboard cutouts here. There are some wonderfully funny moments (the cow? Really??) and probably a few inside jokes I'm missing. *grin*

The story isn't perfect; there are some unresolved issues and what feels like too many POVs, but that is made less detracting when one considers that this is the first in a series. There are also more than a few typographical errors, which surprised me, but that's an increasing trend these days, alas.

It left me wanting desperately to be able to play too. Maybe someday...
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Format: Hardcover
Despite being a multi-billion-dollar industry, a driving force in the world of technology, and a pastime shared by millions worldwide, online gaming doesn't get the greatest treatment in science fiction. It's either ignored, bypassed for the more obvious target of the Internet, or worse, treated as a sort of corruptive force. "Omnitopia Dawn", however, asks a unique question: what if an online game could be a force for creation and human development? How could such a world survive without being destroyed or going out of balance?

The answer is, through the people involved in creating and maintaining it. "Omnitopia Dawn" is actually surprisingly character driven for speculative fiction, with a rich cast of characters who never feel false or one-dimensional. Prime among them is Dev Logan, creator and CEO of the titular game, who's struggling to keep his creation afloat in the face of an upcoming expansion and a vindictive ex-partner set on seeing him humbled. Further illustrating the rich world and culture of Omnitopia are interludes following a cast of equally interesting supporting characters: Rik, a family man who's given a rare chance to create his own piece of the virtual world; Delia, a reporter with a hidden agenda; and even Logan's former partner Paul Sorensen, who's using any means at his disposal to destroy Omnitopia.

Of course, Omnitopia is almost as much of a character as any of the humans. Duane goes out of her way to make the culture and players of the game realistic and diverse. Technological concerns are occasionally handwaved away--like a virtual reality device that somehow transmits scent and touch through the optic nerve--but for the most part, Omnitopia feels completely plausible.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
When Diane Duane wrote this book, published in 2010, Second Life was still "a thing." It's evident that the seed of the novel's premise was, "What would happen if virtual worlds kept going indefinitely?" -- which today might sound a little dated. But it still works remarkably well, since so much of what the story is about -- a dot com gaming company in 2015, about to roll out a major new version, and the people involved in its success or failure -- could just as easily apply to Facebook, World of Warcraft, or Google or any other company with a visionary at the top. Lord knows I've encountered enough of those in my professional life.

The result is a deep, thoughtful, engaging story with *real SF* and *real computer science concepts*. Or at least the arm-wave at the science holds together and has been thought through. The characters are believable, the scenario plausible, and her presentation of what it's like to roll out a "cloud application" (a term she never uses, mind you) is pretty darned spot on.

Besides, Duane set the Omnitopia company in Tempe, right down the street from me. That made me say Aw[...]

It's not a perfect novel. I won't press it on everybody. There were points when the story sagged a bit, enough that I might subtract a single star. But I'd add at least half a star back again because I *really* like the characters. You won't find any "Insert Villain Here" characterizations; people do things for understandable reasons, even if those reasons are at odds.

This is billed as the beginning of a series, but I can't find an indication that book 2 ever came out. (Naturally I was about to order it.) You won't be left hanging, though; Omnitopia Dawn has a clear conclusion, though with a good hook for Duane to add more to the tale.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I haven't read everything Duane has ever written, I've read most of her novels. Which should tell you that I really, really like her work.

The problem has always been that she starts a series and then leaves readers hanging. (Where's the final book in the Tale of the Five, Ms Duane? We've been waiting for "The Door Into Starlight" for over a decade now. And the third cat wizard novel?) The one exception to this is the Young Wizards series, which is now nine volumes. The last two show signs that Ms Duane had her mind partly on her many other projects: the plots are not as tight as earlier books in the series.

This is the first installment of another series. Unusually for Duane, it reads just like an opening novel in a series. Lots of exposition, lots of description, plot moves slowly. Thankfully it doesn't have a cliff-hanger ending: the particular threat that emerges in this book is fully resolved by the end of the novel.

The interesting idea for the setting: in the not-too-distant future, online gaming has reached a level of "reality" that allows your consciousness actually to inhabit your avatar when you're in the game. In a nice touch of realism, the better the tech you can afford the more fully you inhabit your avatar. If you spend enough, you'll even be able to taste the food you eat inside the game. But the tech is cheap enough for people with a moderate income to buy it. And some gamers even prefer onscreen action, rather than inhabiting their avatars.

In the online game that's the focus of the novel (as opposed to the online game owned and operated by the bad guy), really good players are offered an opportunity to build their own "microcosm"--a "world" in the game's "universe.
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