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on September 12, 2017
I purchased this book because I like the author but..... The story is interesting but I am having to slog through page after page of detail about what steps the characters are taking to create and protect the computer game. I am only half way through and intend to finish the book but whether or not I get the next one is up in the air. Probably my age -- I am not in to programming so the minutia to me is boring and unnecessary. True computer geeks may find it interesting. Also the characters are not as "filled out". I am getting the impression at this point that the whole book is just a prelude to the next ones.
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VINE VOICEon July 21, 2012
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.

Also: You may know the author only from her (excellent) Young Adult fiction. This is clearly written for grownups, or at least bright teenagers. I don't think there's anything a parent would object to a child reading; it's just not written for a "kid" audience.

I really liked this book. I think you will, too.
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on January 26, 2013
Written a year ago for my blog:

I've been a fan of Diane Duane for years. I started reading her Star Trek novels 25 years ago, when I was a teenager, and her Young Wizards (and companion) series a little later. These in my opinion are possibly among the best examples of books that can be read by children (and are usually housed in the Young Adult or Teen sections of the bookstore along with a lot of other good fantasy, but I digress), but hold the interest of adult readers as well. Diane Duane is the best author at writing non-human intelligences (except maybe Neil Gaiman) I've read. Her non-human characters don't think like us, but are still intelligible enough for the reader to follow. This is a rare skill in an author, and one I try to emulate in my own creative attempts.

I received A Wizard of Mars, the ninth book in the series, as a Christmas gift and re-read the whole series. And loved them again. These books are always on my re-read shelf, but not so repetitive as to be on my comfort-food-of-literature shelf. So there I was, having completed all nine books of the Young Wizards again, and wanting something new to read by the same author, and I looked her up on amazon.com. Glory be, there's a new series, the first of which is already out in mass market paperback. Sign me up!

I got it in four days. I read it in two. I love it. No spoilers aside from the book cover info, but suffice it to say that it contains a number of things I love. There are sympathetic (and not-so-sympathetic) well-written characters. There's a HUGE online game (the titular Omnitopia). There are in-universe acronyms and abbreviations (such as 'cosm) that make sense through context (which just proves what a good writer she is - that's not easy without it sounding clunky). There are interpersonal relationships and corporate intrigue. And a surprise toward the end (I'm pretty genre-savvy, so I saw it coming. But it didn't spoil the story for me at all, because it was handled with Duane's usual sensitivity).

Now how in the 'cosm am I going to be able to wait for Book Two?
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on January 12, 2018
Reading this book was like someone had been peeking into my dreams. Highly, highly recommended!

Diane Duane is always good. This was excellent.
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on August 29, 2010
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." They then receive a share of the profits whenever another player goes into their microcosm.

Yes, profits. Unusually for Duane, the main plot of this novel is concerned with industrial espionage. Will the good guy's company--and the online universe it hosts--survive a cyber-attack? Or will the good guy's rival (who's an old business partner) succeed in crashing the universe, obliterating the good guy's wealth and leaving his thousands of staff unemployed?

If you're a Duane reader, you should know that all the swords are virtual. Yes, there are "battle" scenes, but they all take place in one level or another of virtual reality. No wizardry except the cyber magic of being either in an awesome online game or inside the software code that controls the game's servers. On the other hand, you don't get very far into the book before you wish the online game it describes existed in our reality!

This is a fairly strong offering by a very good author. It's a departure from most of her other novels. The big worry is that Duane won't come out with another novel in this series anytime soon.
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on February 8, 2013
Years ago I stumbled across So You Want to be a Wizard - and I was hooked. I have enjoyed Ms. Duane's work immensely (but must confess that I haven't read her Star Trek books). I really liked this one - I would have given it five stars if I hadn't found some of the computer/game descriptions a little confusing. The story is sound, and I enjoyed the characters. So much so, in fact, that I really, really hope there is an Omnitopia II on the way!!
If you like your SciFi without bloody monsters and gore; and with a pinch of fantasy thrown in, you will like this (dare I say) and Ms. Duane's other books.
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on November 19, 2016
I just read this entire book in one night. I literally could not put it down. Yet another win for Diane Duane. I was seeing quite a few parallels with the young wizards series, which is definitely a good thing. I believe this can be accurately summed up in only one way. Asdfjklshoisfkodsvk!!
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on July 8, 2013
Omnitopia Dawn introduces the online roleplaying game of Omnitopia, and the varied characters that support, and attack, the company that runs it. The characters are engaging, and their dedication to their enterprise creates dramatic tension when the company is attacked. The way the book plays out in both the real world and the game world keeps the story moving at a quick pace. My sons and I have reread this book while waiting for the sequel, and enjoyed it just as much as the first read.
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on January 3, 2012
I found this in the library, and had to purchase our own copy. Fun and relatively believable extrapolation of Massively Parallel Online Role Playing Gaming. I'm looking forward to the next books. My only complaint is that I found it quite naive when it came to "finance." (Finance is frequently overlooked in SF, but in this case it was central to the plot. The 8th richest man heads a gaming company with essentially one product? Snort! And everything is hanging on the successful release of the upgrade? Double Snort!)
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on September 24, 2015
I love the Wizards series so I thought I would try this but I just can't get into it. I guess the theme just isn't for me.
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