Saturday, November 12, 2016
Steppe is a Piers Anthony science-fiction/fantasy novel from the mid-1970s that anticipates, in a surprisingly accurate way, some concepts that have become commonplace today. The story involves a 9th century Uigur warrior from the steppes of central Asia being abducted into the future in order to play a role in a vast game. The game, run by a powerful central computer, allows people to take on roles in a historical simulation and tracks their progress (and rewards) by how well they succeed. If a character "dies", the player exits the game but can pay to come back in with a role that could be better or worse depending on how well the player did with the previous role. In short, it's the idea of a massively-multiplayer online RPG about twenty years ahead of its time! Anthony's story has a clever way that the computer anthropomorphizes entires countries as individual people in order to teach players history before they enter the game. The story drags a little in the latter half and could have a more interesting conclusion, but the basic concept is really cool. A good add to the Planet Stories line.