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WarGames Hardcover – 1983
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But the novelization takes the story to a new, and I need to say, better level. It's kind of a cliché to say "yeah, the book is better," but that's a cliché only when the movie is using the book as source material. Here, Bischoff takes the movie source and fleshes it out in a wholly appropriate, not to mention inspired way. For instance, Lightman's buddies (who he consults to try and get into Falken's system) are more or less throwaway characters in the film. In the book they are actually more fleshed out and have depth.
Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but Matthew Broderick was much too pretty to make a believable 1983 slacker hacker.
As it's a novelization, and thus intended for a perhaps narrower audience, there are parts of the book that venture off into more risqué subject matter that is only hinted at in the book, and it does tend to be teenage sexual stuff. No, there are no explicit scenes or anything like that, but the language does tend to be more frankly adult than the movie.
The setting is pure 1983 - but I think the themes are universal and the technology is ultimately made irrelevant by those themes. The exploration of AI, how much we should hand over, and just what kind of world we have when we need supercomputers to plan battle strategies makes you kind of think. So in that, I don't care about the 33-year old technology in the middle of the Cold War. The themes in place go beyond that, which is somewhat surprising for a movie novelization.
I will say after I saw the movie (yes, in the theaters in 1983) I bought this book at the bookstore, the copy of which I've lost track of. I was happy to find another copy here on Amazon many years later. It's a good book and definitely worth the read.
I misplaced my censored copy years ago. I'd appreciate it if sellers would note which edition they have as I would like to reacquire that copy.
A computer cracker kid gets into trouble when he gets into some military systems and starts a computer system thinking that world war is a game or simulation that it must win.