Posts Tagged ‘Scott Meyer’

Off to be the Wizard – A Review

October 19, 2014

What would you do if you found out that the world and everyone in it was just part of a computer program, and you had the key to manipulating it?

Our hero, Martin Banks, adds a few zeroes to his bank account, gets caught, and escapes using time travel to Medieval England to use his powers to pass himself off as a wizard. He is from the “active idiot” school of protagonists (e.g. Philip J Fry of Futurama), which lets the writer advance the plot by his stupid choices, allows the reader to feel at least one step ahead, and generally keeps things chugging along nicely.

On the one hand, this is a pretty flimsy book with a lot of problems. I’ll accept the protagonist not being Sartre, but if you discover that you and your loved ones are nothing more than some lines of code, then I think a little existential angst is called for. The rules of “magic” (i.e. altering the master file that controls the universe) go into too much detail in some parts, but still leave you puzzling about whether some other things are possible. Even a casual feminist (or anyone who actually likes women) would find the all-male society of wizards a little creepy and unappealing. The locals and setting are often more like modern small-town America than Medieval England. Etc. Etc.

On the other hand, it does go along quickly and easily, particularly as a commute audiobook. It’s not really surprising, but it does keep you interested as to what will happen next. The humour and characterization is broad, but competent. So overall we should judge it a success.

Should you buy this book? The author, Scott Meyer, writes the strip “Basic Instructions”, which is funnier but likely less profitable. So he could probably use the money.

Will you enjoy this book? Can you write a macro? Did you ever play D&D? Are you willing to chuckle about double entendres on “holding staffs”? If so, then you may well enjoy this book. If not, then you will be confused, bored, and/or irritated.

Off to be the Wizard is the first of a Magic 2.0 series (three books so far). Though not yet a film, it could be made into one without too much effort.

Thanks to John Mount for the Philip J Fry example.