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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Durkoala's Avatar

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    Default Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    Once upon a time, I started doing a Let's Watch of the Magical Girl genre in general. I got about twenty-four episodes into Card Captor Sakura, then life (and my natural inclination to laziness) interfered and I stopped. If any of my followers from that are reading this, I do intend to pick it up again one day, which brings me nicely to the current situation.

    I wanted to get some LW practice in, so I picked something short that looked interesting in my favourite medium. That something is New World, a children's sci-fi book about the dangers of new computer technology by Gillian Cross. Did I mention it was written in the Nineties? Grab your Virtual Reality helmets, kids, we're going on an adventure!

    Firstly, we have the book in question. It's a bit hard to see, but the person on the front is wearing a big helmet with a massive visor, and is holding something like the wii nunchuck in each hand although this came out long before the wii did. It's got the title in Big Words, so you can't complain about getting the wrong book...


    ...which is handy, as on the back is the blurb for a different book by the same author, which I also read. I can't remember much about it now beyond what it says here, but I throughly enjoyed it.


    The actual blurb is on the inside of the dust jacket. I picked this up second-hand for 50p, which was probably quite a bargin. I didn't realise that I cut part of the blurb off in the photo, so I'll put it below the picture in full.


    Spoiler: text
    Show
    'I'm helping to test a game and it's brilliant.
    I'm even getting paid for doing it...'
    But are things really that simple?

    When Miriam and Stuart step into the shifting, addictive world of virtual reality, every move they make is monitored. Hesketh, who developed the game, is determined that the tests will succeed. So is the games company which has millions invested in the New World project. Miriam and Stuart are the guinea-pigs and, as the game tightens its hold, they become aware that something or someone is playing on their deepest, secret fears. Is this part of the tests?

    Or has someone broken into the game?

    This an exciting novel about fear and control, about truth and unreality, by one of today's leading writers for children. Gillian Cross is the winner of the Carnegie Medal, the Smarties Prize, and the Whitbread Children's Novel Award.


    As you can see it's not a big book. It does, however, have quite a lot of chapters (22+, based on a quick flick-through). Depending on how things go, I might read through several chapters at once to speed things along, or I might not.


    I read about half the book nearly a year ago, so while I've forgotten a lot of the plot, I do remember one important detail and I might remember more as I read. I'll not say anything about that in the thread, but I will point them out when they are revealed. The end of the book is a mystery to me, so we'll be equally surprised... unless you've read this book already.

    I hope you enjoy this dip into the daaangerous world of VR.

    note: due to time constraints and having a job, I won't be posting a chapter right now, but I hope to get one done in two or three days time.
    Spoiler: Pixel avatar and Raincloud Durkoala were made by me. The others are the work of Cuthalion.
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    Cuteness and Magic and Phone Moogles, oh my! Let's Watch Card Captor Sakura!Sadly on a small hiatus.

    Durkoala reads a book! It's about VR and the nineties!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    LaZodiac's Avatar

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    Default Re: Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    I love how even in the early 90s they still had this idea of "getting PAID to play VIDEOGAMES?! So...AMAZING AND WEIRD?!?!?!"

    ps donate to me patreon #this is a joke please don't kill me.

    But yeah I'm subbing to this thread. Will be interesting to see what stuff happens.


    Ray 01 avatar by Pinkhaired August. C U S T O M!
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    Quote Originally Posted by LaZodiac View Post
    I love how even in the early 90s they still had this idea of "getting PAID to play VIDEOGAMES?! So...AMAZING AND WEIRD?!?!?!"

    ps donate to me patreon #this is a joke please don't kill me.

    But yeah I'm subbing to this thread. Will be interesting to see what stuff happens.
    Well, to be fair, our heroes are playtesters, who do get paid to play video games... I think? Anyway, this is the nineties, they're computer games!
    I'd better get a cut of what you get now. Call it advertising rent.
    Trust me, half the reason I picked this up was because of the nineties attitude towards the growing presence of technology. Wait until you see their idea of a high-end console.
    Last edited by Durkoala; 2015-11-15 at 06:24 PM.
    Spoiler: Pixel avatar and Raincloud Durkoala were made by me. The others are the work of Cuthalion.
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    Cuteness and Magic and Phone Moogles, oh my! Let's Watch Card Captor Sakura!Sadly on a small hiatus.

    Durkoala reads a book! It's about VR and the nineties!

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    What does LW stand for?
    "Like the old proverb says, if one sees something not right, one must draw out his sword to intervene"

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    Quote Originally Posted by Clertar View Post
    What does LW stand for?
    LW is short for 'Let's Watch', although this is technically a 'Let's Read' as it's a book. Let's waching is when somebody goes through a movie or book or game (Let's Play) and gives their thughts on it as they go along. Sometimes they'll know what happens and want to share it, other times they'll be in the dark, which is sometimes refered to as a 'blind Let's Watch.'

    -----

    OK, let's get this show on the road! Sorry it took so long, but I had a busy week and wasn't up to getting this done.


    Right, opening the book.

    On the first page we have... the title on it's lonesome! On the first page of the actual story, three pages later past the other books by Ms Cross, a second title page and the publishing information, we have an email. I'll copy it out for you as it's short and I feel it sets the scene fairly well.

    Quote Originally Posted by
    K & K: ELECTRONIC MEMO
    HESKETH BARRIGTON TO JOHN SHELLEY
    PRIORTY: NORMAL

    The test is about to start!

    Christine Riley has completed the advance training and both Subjects are ready. Subject A (the girl) will come here to play. I'm waiting for her to arrive now. Subject B (the boy) will play at his own home.

    Estimated duration of tests two months.
    That's quite a bit of information about the setup of the book in a few paragraphs, and we also have an estimated time frame of two months, although whether that'll change remains to be seen.

    Spoiler: The story proper, on the next page
    Show
    While I'd love to type out all the words and pick them apart with my impressions, that would take a really long time and probably be very boring for you. Saying that it begins with a conversation between two girls, Debbie and Miriam, will have to suffice. Miriam's pretty clearly the main character in this, but neither of them have been described yet.

    Debbie's upset with Miriam for enroling in a two month computer course (I wonder what that could be?) beacause being smart isn't cool. Helpfully, another classmate passes by on her bike and has a minor collision with Debbie before going on her way. 'You're getting like that,' Debbie says 'All brains and no fun. I bet you wish you were still friends with her, don't you?' Miriam denies being like Connie (helpfully naming her in the process, though we don't have a physical description beyond "self-possessed" and "elegant eyebrow"), but Debbie walks off.

    Miriam badly wants to run after her and tell her what's really going on, but sees a bright green estate car. This belongs to Christine Riley, who's part of the game project, and Miriam is reminded that she promised to not tell anybody about the game without permission. So instead she goes to catch the bus out of town to meet her co-tester "In the New World"

    Quote Originally Posted by New World
    Three-quarters of an hour later, she was sitting in a big empty room in K & K, staring across the table at a blank televison screen.
    Remember, nineties, so this would probably be one of those big clunky cube TVs. Hesketh (the guy from the email, and also Christine Riley's boss) is here too, though out of sight. Apparently he wears crumpled suits, though. After a little bit of tension buliding, Stuart is broadcast onto the TV to start this video conference and we get our protagonists described to us. Miriam just has "a sharp, clever face, framed by straight black hair" as she's essentially describing herself, but Stuart... is pretty much a skinny, pasty, 13-year-old nerd with big glasses, awkward and keen. Miriam is very disappointed that she has to share this amazing experience with such a loser.

    Hesketh prompts them to get introduced, which tells us a bit about how things are working here. Miriam goes first: She's fourteen and the reason she's playing from the company property is because she lives on a houseboat and it was too hard to set up the VR equipment there. She's got no experience with computer games, or as Stuart says "They picked you out at random. There's nothing special about you".
    To cover up the awkwardness and his realisation that he's put his foot in his mouth, Miriam asks him his side of things: He's fourteen too, which surprises Miriam, he's got two brothers and a sister, and, of course, his hobbies are nerdy stuff like inventing gadgets and trying to write his own games. He's also a regular playtester for K&K.

    Hesketh makes a proper appearence, as "big, crumpled and vague" with a pony-tail and a gold earring. He makes Miriam go through the conditions of doing this testing: things like not mentioning the game, or its equipment to anybody not in the know, not letting anybody know about the people they meet to test the game. Stuart interupts midflow to ask why the testers aren't allowed to contact each othr outside the game. Hesketh is a bit snappy at first, but quietly says that the game is so groundbreaking that there's a lot at of money at stake. "or slit throats." Then it's time to start playing, so Staurt and Miriam say their goodbyes and the video is terminated.

    Miriam and Hesketh move to another room, with no furniture and the latest gaming console. The Game Tower (yes, really) is a black pillar of interminate height, though probably about 1m/3 feet tall as it has a keyboard on top that Miriam seems to have no difficulty reaching down to. To play you need the VR gear: a right hand glove, a 'helmet' formed of goggles, headphones and straps, a belt and three chunky bracelets for the legs and left hand. She remembers Christine telling her that the glove must have direct contact with the skin to make sure that she can control her avatar in the game and feel virtual textures: no bracelets, no watches, no sleeves. Hesketh is very quick to reiterate these points when Miriam tries to adjust the glove, which is definitely being marked down as suspicious...

    Then Miriam puts on the Game Helmet. She hesitates, but then the Game Tower notifies her that Stuart is now on-line.
    Quote Originally Posted by New World
    Him? He couldn't take charge of a milk bottle. Miriam reached round to the back of her helmet and grabbed the two sides of the clasp. For an instant she fumbled. Then she found the right slot and pushed the clasp together firmly, until it clicked.
    And the screens in front of her eyes blossomed into light.


    And that's our first chapter! Overall, I felt it set things up nicely: we know a bit about our heroes, why they're doing this and the nature of things around them. There's a few things that are probably going to come back to us, like how things are going to progress with Debbie, and that business with the glove. I'm sure (genuinely can't remember here) that Miriam is going to get over her instinctive dislike of Stuart and maybe have to defend him from Debbie at some point, although this may come after Miriam has chosen to side with Debbie againt the horrible, icky nerds and come to regret it. I'm also sure that out heroes are going to be exposed to the dark dealings of corporations at some point, though whether that will come from rival groups or within K&K, I'm not sure.

    Aside from that, I really like Cross's writing style. She's isn't particularly flashy, but I feel that she flows smoothly from one thing to the next, and she's good at streching out tension through her characters. Her introductions to her characters are also very slick and natural: Miriam is eagar to do this, but mildly disgusted by nerds due to Debbie's influence and general social pressure, Stuart is loving this, but isn't good at dealing with people, Hesketh is perpetually crumpled but has an unyeilding attitude of command beneath the surface, Christine Riley (who was present with Stuart, but I glossed over her because she didn't seem to be doing much) is Hesketh's opposite: orderly and businesslike with a subdued sense of humour and Debbie is, frankly, rather nasty and a bit spiteful but leant some sympathy due to being a friend that Miriam hates lying to. There could be a little more description for some things (we still don't know what Debbie and Christine look like), but I'm enjoying it in general.

    Let me know your thoughts on this below, and I hope to see you soon, in

    the NEW WORLD
    Spoiler: Pixel avatar and Raincloud Durkoala were made by me. The others are the work of Cuthalion.
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    Cuteness and Magic and Phone Moogles, oh my! Let's Watch Card Captor Sakura!Sadly on a small hiatus.

    Durkoala reads a book! It's about VR and the nineties!

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Durkoala reads Gillian Cross's New World

    Oooh, this looks interesting. Not a lot going on, but a nice way to introduce us to the characters.


    Ray 01 avatar by Pinkhaired August. C U S T O M!
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