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Soda Pop Soldier: A Novel Paperback – August 12, 2014
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"Pumping action, and fantastic futuristic battle is matched with a take on modern advertising that I can't help but love. I'm really impressed with how well Cole writes action, I did not want to put this down!"
“This smart combination of video-game action and stinging dystopian satire is meticulously assembled... [The narrator] manages to be a tough, snarky warrior battling his corrupt society’s worst excesses. This is a cheeky and enjoyable effort by an author to watch.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Gamers and action adventure fans will find something to like here. I devoured this book over the course of one day. I might have finished earlier, but work got in the way.” (SFRevu)
“With Soda Pop Soldier, Nick Cole twists realities and bends minds for a wild ride of an action thriller. Inventive and lots of strange fun.” (New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry)
“Without a doubt this book is going to be a classic gamer required reading. It is a science-fiction and first-person gamer’s nirvana. ...This book is a five out of five stars.” (The Nameless Zine)
From the Back Cover
Hardboiled Noir Meets Cyberpunk in this LITRPG Thriller!
When the virtual world gets real . . .
Gamer PerfectQuestion fights for ColaCorp in WarWorld, an online combat-sport arena where megacorporations field entire armies in the battle for dominance over real-world global-advertising space. Within the immense virtual battlefield, players and bots are high-tech grunts, using dropships and state-of-the-art assault rifles to attack the enemy.
But when times are tough, there's always the Black, an illegal open-source tournament where the sick and twisted desires of the future are given free reign. And what begins as PerfectQuestion's onetime effort to make some cash quickly turns dangerous.
All too soon, the real and virtual worlds collide when PerfectQuestion refuses to become the tool of a madman intent on hacking the global economy for himself and fights to stay alive--in WarWorld, in the Black, and in the real world.
Top customer reviews
SPS is a Call of Duty/MMORPG/Puzzle game (I believe the new coined term is MMOPUNK) that has, by sheer talent, been turned into a novel. AND IT IS AWESOME. But don't be fooled by that. There is a story here. One of loss and triumph; a professional gamer at the end of his rope must find a way to win back the one he loves. But in order to do just that, he will have to save himself. He will have to venture into the Black, an underground and illegal gaming community where you can live out your darkest fantasies and desires. He will have to lead his ColaCorp comrades to a victory in their final battle, one that will decide the fate of the company and their livelihoods. But that is only in the gaming world. In reality, he is being chased by a maniac who will stop at nothing to see Wondersoft, ColaCorp's opposition, rise to the top of the advertising plateau.
Like I said, I love Cole's work and SPS is probably my favorite one to date. There are similarities to RPO, but this one stands on its own as a new edition to the MMOPUNK/Gaming genre. Cannot WAIT for the prequel, Control Alt Revolt, which should be coming out pretty soon!
Nick Cole's Wasteland Saga led by The Old Man and the Wasteland was Cole's bleak dystopian debut. He impressed me with the deliberate and purposeful pace of that novel, but in SPS, he treats the reader to something completely different. Is the future portrayed in Cole's new novel a dystopia? I would say it is, but it resembles more of a Ready Player One-type future rather than the post-apocalyptic tone of his previous work.
Unlike RPO, however, Cole infuses his world with a much darker tone. RPO always had a certain Reagan-era optimism. That everything would be OK even if Parzifal didn’t succeed. Here though, there is a certain amount of fear behind the scenes. If PerfectQuestion doesn’t get everything just right his existence is definitely in question.
The gamer PerfectQuestion is a key piece in ColaCorp's ongoing war for advertising space. The winner in the online arena gets billboard space in Times Square and other key spots around the world. PerfectQuestion is good at what he does, but his squad finds itself outmatched in their latest round of battles, leading to his pay getting cut.
In order to make ends meet, he takes to the back alleys and signs up for an illegal game called the Black, where twisted fantasies play out for those who want to indulge in that sort of thing. This game, however, turns into something more for PerfectQuestion and an additional quest to finish alongside his professional life in WarWorld.
Throughout it all, we see the real world, but in many ways Cole presents this as almost more fantastic and ridiculous than the online worlds that PerfectQuestion plays in. There are scientific advancements that take humans to other planets and planes that seemingly traverse around the world without stopping, but most of that is unavailable to the average person. The more the book explores those areas – the areas inhabited by the rich and powerful – the more the reader finds themselves in foreign territory.
In many ways PerfectQuestion is more at home in the war and fantasy of his online games than in the real world.
Hence why we never really get a clear picture of who our protagonist really is. What’s his name? PerfectQuestion is the name of his online avatar, but we are lead to believe that the names he gives others in real life are false ones. His name – his true name – is PerfectQuestion. He is more at home online.
I don’t know if he was intending it, but I think Nick Cole is certainly saying something in this book about our online behavior and the idea of anonymity. Are we truly anonymous online? In an age when the NSA could be spying on our every behavior, what protections do we truly have? When PerfectQuestion meets others in real life, they seemingly all know him by online personas. He doesn’t have an identity outside of the computer until the final pages of the book and we as the reader are left to decide if that is a good or a bad thing.
PerfectQuestion plays the part of a samurai in the Black game he launches into to supplement his income and that aspect of his life transcends and bleeds through every facet of his life. He is a noble person who truly wants to do what is right. There is an honor code he follows, even when the easy option is staring him in the face.
I loved Soda Pop Soldier. It definitely wasn’t light-hearted, showing off a fast-paced action with only brief pauses to catch your breath. Cole upped his game for this novel and I look forward to what he has up his sleeve next.
In an industry with billions on the line, victory is a matter of life or death, and ColaCorp has been losing heavily. Under tremendous pressure and strapped for cash, in desperation PerfectQuestion takes on a second game, one set in the deepest, darkest parts of the Web. A samurai in a fantasy themed world where perverts and psychopaths log in to watch sadistic games that can result in crimes and snuff shows in the real world, but there are prizes to be had if the player is skilled and ruthless enough.
And amidst all that, PerfectQuestion finds himself roped into a conspiracy to manipulate and control the world's economy. Now, he not only fights to keep his avatar alive, but finds guns and missiles aimed at him in the real world.
The author once again proves himself adept at taking familiar pieces of popular culture and using them to illustrate his own unique story. The book is fun from beginning to end and the only quibble I'd have is that our protagonist falls into the conspiracy too easily. Beyond that, we are given a character to root for in a series on unique and entertaining settings. What more could you want?