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In THIS IS NOT A GAME, Dagmar found that the Alternate Reality Game she was writing was being manipulated by a killer, and in her own turn manipulated the game players in order to solve mysteries and unmask the villain. In the sequel DEEP STATE, that progression continues. Once again, the boundaries between game and reality are breached, and Dagmar finds herself using game In THIS IS NOT A GAME, Dagmar found that the Alternate Reality Game she was writing was being manipulated by a killer, and in her own turn manipulated the game players in order to solve mysteries and unmask the villain. In the sequel DEEP STATE, that progression continues. Once again, the boundaries between game and reality are breached, and Dagmar finds herself using game techniques to manipulate real-world events. Except that the stakes have risen - instead of solving a crime, Dagmar now finds herself in the geopolitical realm, trying to manipulate an entire nation.As in TINAG, Dagmar finds herself drawn farther and farther into the action in order to set things right. She finds herself in physical danger, and must utilize her own inner strength and her ability as a game Puppetmaster to escape death.


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In THIS IS NOT A GAME, Dagmar found that the Alternate Reality Game she was writing was being manipulated by a killer, and in her own turn manipulated the game players in order to solve mysteries and unmask the villain. In the sequel DEEP STATE, that progression continues. Once again, the boundaries between game and reality are breached, and Dagmar finds herself using game In THIS IS NOT A GAME, Dagmar found that the Alternate Reality Game she was writing was being manipulated by a killer, and in her own turn manipulated the game players in order to solve mysteries and unmask the villain. In the sequel DEEP STATE, that progression continues. Once again, the boundaries between game and reality are breached, and Dagmar finds herself using game techniques to manipulate real-world events. Except that the stakes have risen - instead of solving a crime, Dagmar now finds herself in the geopolitical realm, trying to manipulate an entire nation.As in TINAG, Dagmar finds herself drawn farther and farther into the action in order to set things right. She finds herself in physical danger, and must utilize her own inner strength and her ability as a game Puppetmaster to escape death.

30 review for Deep State

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    While this started interesting enough, I found this unsustainable through cluttered and prolonged chases. I am chased out as this is literally one chase after another til the end. 1 o 10 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This Is Not A Game was so good because it combined information technology and the internet 'hive mind' to form a high octane techno thriller that involved well defined characters and a plot which had some serious depth. Deep State, the second book to feature IT mogul Dagmar Shaw started off great then fell off dramatically. Rather than focus on the gaming community, Deep State attempts to blend Dagmar's plot writing skills in real life role playing gaming into the spy spectrum to help the alphab This Is Not A Game was so good because it combined information technology and the internet 'hive mind' to form a high octane techno thriller that involved well defined characters and a plot which had some serious depth. Deep State, the second book to feature IT mogul Dagmar Shaw started off great then fell off dramatically. Rather than focus on the gaming community, Deep State attempts to blend Dagmar's plot writing skills in real life role playing gaming into the spy spectrum to help the alphabet agencies 'out' the Turkish dictatorship through staged revolutions. We later learn that is a 'front' of sorts with the main aim for the mission to reverse engineer a program which effectively wipes out the internet. Too often the story got bogged down in detail and too many scenes were dialogue heavy that didn't add anything to the story. I had high hopes but the book just didn't gel with me. 2/5 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Somewhat like William Gibson with his Blue Ant series Walter Jon Williams recently began exploring more contemporary environments with his ongoing Dagmar Shaw series. Unlike Gibson, however, Williams depicts a high-stakes milieu more compatible with the techno-thriller genre. Deep State is the second Dagmar Shaw novel and quite frankly needs to be read after the first book, This Is Not A Game. There's a background in the first that plays out in the second. Dagmar owns Great Big Idea, a company t Somewhat like William Gibson with his Blue Ant series Walter Jon Williams recently began exploring more contemporary environments with his ongoing Dagmar Shaw series. Unlike Gibson, however, Williams depicts a high-stakes milieu more compatible with the techno-thriller genre. Deep State is the second Dagmar Shaw novel and quite frankly needs to be read after the first book, This Is Not A Game. There's a background in the first that plays out in the second. Dagmar owns Great Big Idea, a company that creates alternate reality games. In this one, after successfully running a game promoting the new James Bond movie she's hired by a shadowy group to, essentially, game a revolution. Turkey has once again been seized by the generals and Dagmar, no fan of despotism, signs on to use ARG fundamentals to bring about a democratic uprising. Coming out, as it did, before the Arab Spring, which was partly a social media uprising, this book is remarkably prescient. Alternating between a control room on Cyprus and events in Turkish cities the book reflects that technological disconnect that can happen when we observe action at a distance. Needless to say there are plenty of disconnects between the plan and reality. My favorite occurs when there is an Internet shutdown and the hackers in Dagmar's group resurrect MS-DOS protocols to get around the problem. The final third of the book resembles This Is Not a Game with it's action emphasis. The first book crackles along more efficiently but this one certainly has its moments. The idea that undergirds the action, an open-source social media revolution, is fascinating and Williams generally pulls it off in his usual style. Parenthetically, Deep State is the thirteenth book of Walter Jon Williams that I've read. I gotta say that I've enjoyed them all and always wonder if he's ever going to win a Hugo. From the cyberpunk of Voice in the Whirlwind to the expansive space opera of the Dread Empire's Fall series he's covered a lot of ground. I think that the two book series Metropolitan and City on Fire is still among the best contemporary sf around.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Carter McKnight

    Williams should be the most famous thriller writer in the world right now, with his novel about both popular uprisings in Islamic countries and gamification. Simple premise: what if the US government hired an alternate-reality games designer to astroturf a revolution? What could possibly go wrong? Deep State is thriller writing at its finest: tight, fast-paced, suspenseful, clever, with strongly sketched characters. Taking Hitchcock's advice, Williams introduces his one implausible thing up front Williams should be the most famous thriller writer in the world right now, with his novel about both popular uprisings in Islamic countries and gamification. Simple premise: what if the US government hired an alternate-reality games designer to astroturf a revolution? What could possibly go wrong? Deep State is thriller writing at its finest: tight, fast-paced, suspenseful, clever, with strongly sketched characters. Taking Hitchcock's advice, Williams introduces his one implausible thing up front, the McGuffin of an internet kill switch, with everything else utterly down to earth and entirely logical. This is a damn good adventure story, a cautionary tale of media manipulation, and full of terrific fun details, from the virtues of DOS to the origins of the cult of Aphrodite to the book's manically clever punchline.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lis Carey

    Dagmar Shaw is running an Augmented Reality Game, an ARG, in Turkey to promote the latest James Bond film, Stunrunner. She's not happy about being in Turkey, where a military junta has recently seized power, because she's had some seriously unpleasant experiences with military governments in the past, but, really, what can go wrong? Turkey is benefiting from the positive PR and the increase in tourism, and the generals are very pleased by that. Her company, Great Big Idea, is being very well pai Dagmar Shaw is running an Augmented Reality Game, an ARG, in Turkey to promote the latest James Bond film, Stunrunner. She's not happy about being in Turkey, where a military junta has recently seized power, because she's had some seriously unpleasant experiences with military governments in the past, but, really, what can go wrong? Turkey is benefiting from the positive PR and the increase in tourism, and the generals are very pleased by that. Her company, Great Big Idea, is being very well paid by the movie promoters. And then Dagmar and some of her people are invited to meet the generals, and Dagmar accidentally offends the head of the junta, General Bozbeyli. Dagmar, her immediate boss Lincoln, and her top on-site American and Turkish employees, have to evade the junta while staging the last live event of the ARG--and that means moving the live event at very short notice. Dagmar and her team work out a way to do it, wrap up the game, and head home. But before she leaves, Lincoln offers her a new job. Lincoln, it turns out, works for the US government and is in Special Ops. The current Turkish junta, unlike previous ones, is not interested in restoring a secular state and then turning the government back to democracy; they're in it for the money. Lincoln wants to use Dagmar's game-running skills to peacefully destabilize the current Turkish regime and force a return to democracy. Working from a British military base on Cyprus, Dagmar and her team--Turks Ismet, Tuna, and Refet; Americans Judy, Lloyd, Lola, Magnus, and Byron--set to work, running an Augmented Reality Game with the very real-world goal of bringing down a government. Flash crowds form in places where it's hard for the police to respond quickly, and melt away before they can react. They wear scarves, carry towels, postcards, DVDs, flowers--things that look like they have meaning but really only have the purpose of identifying participants in the flash crowds. It's all going well, and the regime is looking more and more foolish and impotent. Then demonstrations start that aren't planned by Dagmar and her crew, and the astroturf revolution is becoming a genuinely grassroots one, and shortly after that, the regime feels threatened enough to deploy a secret weapon that Lincoln helped create, years earlier--the High Zap. It allows the power that has it to selectively take down the internet--in fact, anything that relies on TCP/IP protocols--and Turkey has it because two agents were deployed to use it against Syria right before the Turkish coup, and the generals wound up in possession of the laptop containing it. Dagmar and her friends find themselves in a wild contest to survive, defeat the High Zap which now threatens the economic stability of the world, and maybe even achieve their original goal, as some of them are killed, some revealed to be traitors, and Lincoln and their government resources and status are pulled because Lincoln's plan has gone so badly wrong. It's an exciting mix of spy thriller, adventure, and romance, and as is typical of Williams, it's all extremely well-done. Highly recommended. I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David Raz

    Unlike This is Not a Game, which had its charm and novelty, this one didn't work for me. I did like the way Dagmar's character is built, as someone who has limitations, but overcomes them when it is important. However, almost every other aspect of the book failed for me. First and foremost, I found the plot much less interesting, and in many cases implausible. Without any spoilers, I never understood why Dagmar would ever join the endeavor she joins, and I thought it was completely off character. Unlike This is Not a Game, which had its charm and novelty, this one didn't work for me. I did like the way Dagmar's character is built, as someone who has limitations, but overcomes them when it is important. However, almost every other aspect of the book failed for me. First and foremost, I found the plot much less interesting, and in many cases implausible. Without any spoilers, I never understood why Dagmar would ever join the endeavor she joins, and I thought it was completely off character. The ARG aspect, which was novel and interesting in the first book, is missing and nothing replaces it. The technology aspects of the book were either banal or questionable, and whenever something cannot be explained, the protagonist is told that she does not have the security clearance to know. Apparently neither do the readers, which I think is a cheap and lazy trick. In fact, with so little science and technology, I did not think this even qualifies as SF anymore. As a thriller, the book was slow and there were not enough twists to keep me interested. Overall, although I enjoyed some parts of the book, I did not enjoy it as a whole. I rate it two stars out of five.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    This is the second novel featuring Dagmar Shaw, who runs online alternate reality games. I don't think it would be possible to fully understand this one without having read the first book, This Is Not a Game. The stakes and scale are elevated but too similar this time around; there's not enough new happening, and the two most interesting new characters are eliminated early on. There's a lot of running around in Turkey, but I didn't think it was as well paced as the earlier volume. It's borderlin This is the second novel featuring Dagmar Shaw, who runs online alternate reality games. I don't think it would be possible to fully understand this one without having read the first book, This Is Not a Game. The stakes and scale are elevated but too similar this time around; there's not enough new happening, and the two most interesting new characters are eliminated early on. There's a lot of running around in Turkey, but I didn't think it was as well paced as the earlier volume. It's borderline sf but more of a competent techno-thriller with some interesting twists (such as the crossword-puzzle clue section titles, very few of which I got) but nothing really too memorable.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This was book 2 in the Dagmar series. Reading book one is a must. This read a bit like a travelogue and history of Turkey which I thought straddled the line between interesting and annoying. It was interesting in that I knew the author visited Turkey quite some time back and blogged about it. It was annoying in that it made aspects of the story read like an organized bus tour. “And on your right, Ataturk Park….” Now the reality of the political aspects of the book were a bit scary - the use of soc This was book 2 in the Dagmar series. Reading book one is a must. This read a bit like a travelogue and history of Turkey which I thought straddled the line between interesting and annoying. It was interesting in that I knew the author visited Turkey quite some time back and blogged about it. It was annoying in that it made aspects of the story read like an organized bus tour. “And on your right, Ataturk Park….” Now the reality of the political aspects of the book were a bit scary - the use of social media to drive dissension and revolution. I think what touched a nerve was the idea that a person, persons, or a government could actually manipulate the masses through technology to the extent that they would organize into a rebellion. Sound familiar, anyone? It’s happened. Some of the computer technology stuff was very interesting, the search to find modems that didn’t have USB ports, or keyboards from a certain year, fascinating stuff the evolution of our technological resources. As for the story itself, I was disappointed but I couldn’t tell you exactly why. It was a bit too similar to This is Not a Game when people around our protagonist started getting killed in their beds - it lost the refreshing, "this is kinds of different" feel to it and became a rehash of the first book. The plot was this long drawn out build up, some stuff happened, and then it was over. It took me a couple of days to write my review because that was about it. So, recommended with reservations.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan Carey

    If I had started reading this book the same week the uprisings started in Egypt, I would have had a hard time distinguishing between the news and this novel. Mr. Williams should be glad this was published prior to the spreading unrest, lest he be charged with mere conspiracy mongering.I am not one who especially likes series with a recurring hero/heroine, but Dagmar Shaw is pleasantly believable: flawed without being overwrought and angst-ridden, capable without being a Mary Sue, concerned about If I had started reading this book the same week the uprisings started in Egypt, I would have had a hard time distinguishing between the news and this novel. Mr. Williams should be glad this was published prior to the spreading unrest, lest he be charged with mere conspiracy mongering.I am not one who especially likes series with a recurring hero/heroine, but Dagmar Shaw is pleasantly believable: flawed without being overwrought and angst-ridden, capable without being a Mary Sue, concerned about the ethics of her job without getting preachy. Williams also does a nice job of sketching out the various locations in which the narrative occurs, providing enough detail to help the mind's eye without getting bogged down in florid detail.Your perception of this book is almost certain to be improved if you have read its predecessor, This Is Not a Game. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but Dagmar's character will be richer if you have read the other book first.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Walter Jon williams is the cure for the sci-fi complexity that sometimes plagues the genre. Don't get me wrong I like the pure science writing as much as anyone, but sometimes I want a good mix of science and action. Here we have that great mix. This is the second novel in the Dagmar series. With what Dagmar went through in the last book I wondered how much more the author could throw at a person with out breaking. This is the crux of the whole story. Dagmar dealing with issues from the last nov Walter Jon williams is the cure for the sci-fi complexity that sometimes plagues the genre. Don't get me wrong I like the pure science writing as much as anyone, but sometimes I want a good mix of science and action. Here we have that great mix. This is the second novel in the Dagmar series. With what Dagmar went through in the last book I wondered how much more the author could throw at a person with out breaking. This is the crux of the whole story. Dagmar dealing with issues from the last novel and her current situation.This time instead of being swept up in a ARG that touches the real world, but is not about the real world. Now the ARG drives the real world events in a Bond like plot line. For me Walter Jon Williams has always been able to breach that world between technology and humanistic story lines that stay fresh even as time passes. This is an interesting concept and something I personally find fun to read about. How can something in the fantasy world of Games effect the real world and ultimately be used to affect change.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Starfire

    This is the second of the Dagmar Shaw books, and to be honest, I found it much like the first (which actually isn't a bad thing). Granted, there's been scope and power creep - Dagmar's now using her AR games and their players to foment political revolution (rather than just solve murders). And Dagmar herself has changed and grown and not quite healed from the mental and emotional scars that Book 1 left her with. (There was a scene with her having a PTSD flashback to Jakarta and being talked throu This is the second of the Dagmar Shaw books, and to be honest, I found it much like the first (which actually isn't a bad thing). Granted, there's been scope and power creep - Dagmar's now using her AR games and their players to foment political revolution (rather than just solve murders). And Dagmar herself has changed and grown and not quite healed from the mental and emotional scars that Book 1 left her with. (There was a scene with her having a PTSD flashback to Jakarta and being talked through it by an RAF officer who'd 'had a mate who'd served in Afghanistan' and known exactly what to do that actually made me tear up a little for her) But I got the same kind of vibe from this book as I did from Book 1 despite the differences. As a non-techie, I have zero idea of how credible the computer stuff in there was. It *seemed* believeable from the very little I know... but hey, Person of Interest seems credible to me, so what do I know? Actually, what I *do* know is that, contrary to the reviews I've read, I found that yes, sure, the tech stuff was key to the storyline, but didn't get in the way of it. This *wasn't* a Tom Clancy or David Weber instalment. There was not a single Warchawski sail (or equivalent thereof) in evidence. Basically, all in all, I enjoyed the book, and look forward to reading Book 3 at some point in the not-too-distant future

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I liked this even more than This Is Not a Game. Entertaining, with some serious material mixed in. The exploration of Dagmar's PTSD is excellent. There are several other likeable characters, too, especially Lincoln and Ismet. The author does a great job setting scenes and using sensory detail; the use of sense of smell is especially good. This is on the "sci-fi" shelf because aspects of this story fall under the most basic definition of science-fiction: taking current technology and expanding on I liked this even more than This Is Not a Game. Entertaining, with some serious material mixed in. The exploration of Dagmar's PTSD is excellent. There are several other likeable characters, too, especially Lincoln and Ismet. The author does a great job setting scenes and using sensory detail; the use of sense of smell is especially good. This is on the "sci-fi" shelf because aspects of this story fall under the most basic definition of science-fiction: taking current technology and expanding on it. I'm not a tech person, but I suspect that some of what was speculation when this book was published is now a reality.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ben Kalman

    Not as good as the first one - found this very convoluted as it went on, and the end was very rushed as a result. I also missed the gaming aspect of the first one - it popped in a bit here and there but most of the time was absent. Overall it was enjoyable but now I’m not certain I would bother with any of the rest of them...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Petr Kalis

    Started twice, couldn't finish once. I think I stopped at similar place, both times ;) Started twice, couldn't finish once. I think I stopped at similar place, both times ;)

  15. 4 out of 5

    Miraj (Papyrus) Khaled

    total disappointment! absolute nosedive from the first one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    William Walter

    The premise is okay, but the lack of character detail and the unrealistic reactions to events (particularly horrific events) are unbelievable

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carleton Tanner,

    Great

  18. 4 out of 5

    Al

    Not as Great as the First in the Series

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Dagmar Shaw is a game designer, but her games are way more interesting than any MMORPG that exists today. I never entirely came to grips with what Alternate Reality Games actually entail, but it has players follow a story, interpret clues online, and it sometimes has real-world connections. The story opens with Dagmar Shaw designing a James Bond movie tin-in game that sees some players going to Turkey to actually follow some of the action in real life, while tens of thousands of others follow th Dagmar Shaw is a game designer, but her games are way more interesting than any MMORPG that exists today. I never entirely came to grips with what Alternate Reality Games actually entail, but it has players follow a story, interpret clues online, and it sometimes has real-world connections. The story opens with Dagmar Shaw designing a James Bond movie tin-in game that sees some players going to Turkey to actually follow some of the action in real life, while tens of thousands of others follow the video and other media Dagmar and her employees upload to the web. She runs a successful game, and is then recruited by a US - ah - security specialist to do some interesting things in Turkey. Which she does. Things do not go entirely to plan, not unexpectedly. It's interesting coming to Deep State after having read The Dervish House. Both are set in Turkey, but that's about where the similarities end. The plots are entirely different, and Deep State isn't as futuristic as Dervish House. More interestingly, where McDonald made almost all of his characters Turkish, and events happen exclusively in Istanbul with little reference to the outside world, Williams has only a few Turkish characters, and the plot revolves around foreigners getting themselves involved in Turkish politics. Williams does seem to know Istanbul, but he doesn't evince quite the same love for the country as McDonald; and Turkey is not of the same fundamental importance to Williams as it was to McDonald. Deep State could as easily be set almost anywhere but Western Europe, I think. Turkey, although quite well realised, is not irreplaceable. This is, it turns out, the second book about the main character here, Dagmar. She has a few flashbacks to the events of the first, This is Not a Game, and there are a few aspects of her character that are not entirely explicable but would be, I think, with knowledge of earlier events. However, it does stand alone fairly well. The story is well-paced. The opening, with the James Bond game, is as exciting as it should be. There are lulls in the action for character development, the action is spread over a few different characters, and it wraps up nicely. I enjoyed the politics, although I'm not au fait enough with the current Turkish situation to know whether it is completely believable or not. The characters are not the most well-developed I've ever read, but they were more than sufficient to carry the plot. Dagmar herself is quite complex enough to be interesting; she had a difficult childhood and still suffers from the aftereffects of the events of the first book. These make her more than simply another game designer, as well as more than simply a cipher. Her boss is appropriately mysterious, while the members of her team are varied enough to provide interesting interactions. I really enjoyed the snippets of online discussion that were included; it was a nice touch. Overall the book could have done with a few more female characters; given that most of them are computer-types of one sort or another, there's not even the (weak and laughable) excuse of needing men to do the action stuff. There were, I think, only three female characters, and one of them was almost incidental. This was my main disappointment with the novel. Aside from the plot and the characters, the really cool part of the book - and one that, I must admit, I probably didn't appreciate as fully as I might have - was the tech side. The creation of the ARG by Dagmar and her team, the way in which they manipulate video, the technology they use to keep track of everything: very, very cool. Deep State is immensely enjoyable. I have put the first book on my to-read list, and expect that there will be a third at some time which I will definitely be seeking out.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    In This Is Not A Game , Walter Jon Williams introduced readers to Dagmar Shaw, the head of Great Big Idea, a fictional company dedicated to producing and directing alternate-reality-games, or ARG, for short. Ms. Shaw returns in Deep State, and Walter Jon Williams spins another tale of intrigue, though one decidedly less interesting than the first outing. Synopsis for Deep State : By day Dagmar Shaw orchestrates vast games with millions of players spanning continents. By night, she tries to f In This Is Not A Game , Walter Jon Williams introduced readers to Dagmar Shaw, the head of Great Big Idea, a fictional company dedicated to producing and directing alternate-reality-games, or ARG, for short. Ms. Shaw returns in Deep State, and Walter Jon Williams spins another tale of intrigue, though one decidedly less interesting than the first outing. Synopsis for Deep State : By day Dagmar Shaw orchestrates vast games with millions of players spanning continents. By night, she tries to forget the sound of a city collapsing in flames around her. She tries to forget the faces of her friends as they died in front of her. She tries to forget the blood on her own hands. But then an old friend approaches Dagmar with a project. The project he pitches is so insane and so ambitious, she can’t possibly say no. But this new venture will lead her from the world of alternate-reality gaming to one even more complex. A world in which the players are soldiers and spies and the name of the game is survival. Following events of This Is Not A Game, Dagmar suffers from hallucinations and nightmares about her experiences in the previous novel, which makes her character ultimately believable and flawed. Unfortunately, Dagmar is the only character to truly shine in the novel, as most of the other characters feel particularly flat. Lincoln, aka Chatsworth, is possibly the only other truly interesting character, though with all of the information he withholds from Dagmar throughout the book, readers are left wondering exactly who this man is, and what's he's not saying. Williams is obviously proficient with computers, as evidenced by the frequent and long descriptions of technology, filled with computer jargon. Though accurate, these scenes rarely provide actual benefit to the story, and serve as page-filler for the most part. The novel is split into two sections, which feel very much different--almost like two separate novels. The first section introduces readers to Dagmar once again, and just what it is that she does for a living. It also introduces the antagonist of the novel, General Bozbeyli, the military leader of Turkey. Williams spends a lot of time in Dagmar's head, describing her hesitations about the job, her love life, and her seemingly increasing mental instability. Readers never get into another character's head, which may actually be a disadvantage, as some of the more intriguing characters may have added some variety to the story. Instead, Dagmar dominates, and becomes less likeable, overall. Though the first section of the book reads fairly well, it's pretty much downhill from there. Far from a page-turner, and much less enjoyable than it's predecessor, Deep State never lives up to its promise. The second section of the book is dull and tedious, taking place mostly in a secluded office space, never providing much in the way of excitement. Though there are a couple twists and turns in the story, they're much too subdued, and lend little to liven up the plot. The climax of the novel, involving shootouts, down-to-the-wire timing, and escaping from murderous thugs sounds more exciting here than the novel delivers. It's a plodding example of storytelling, and fails to deliver at nearly every level. Williams has written excellent novels in the past, so it's a shame that Deep State delivers such a poor story.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I found this sequel to This Is Not A Game a little hard to get into, even though I'd read the first one fairly recently... even with that boost, it took me awhile to get back up to speed. So be warned; familiarity with the milieu is assumed. However, once events get rolling, they really get rolling—it may not look like it at first, but Williams knows how to write a taut thriller. Dagmar Shaw, CEO and prime mover for Great Big Idea, the firm that brought augmented reality games (ARGs) to mass appe I found this sequel to This Is Not A Game a little hard to get into, even though I'd read the first one fairly recently... even with that boost, it took me awhile to get back up to speed. So be warned; familiarity with the milieu is assumed. However, once events get rolling, they really get rolling—it may not look like it at first, but Williams knows how to write a taut thriller. Dagmar Shaw, CEO and prime mover for Great Big Idea, the firm that brought augmented reality games (ARGs) to mass appeal and profitability, returns for another engagement. This time GBI's in Turkey, where Dagmar is coordinating the promotion of the latest James Bond film. Naturally and inevitably, things get much more serious than that, when a Turkish military coup changes the political landscape and makes Dagmar's job into something a lot closer to a real spy adventure. There's a lot to like about this book. Act 2 starts with a clever shift of direction that clarifies and speeds up the action significantly, and the plot contains enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. And, if I may geek out here a little, I really liked the fact that Williams not only gets why the IBM Model M keyboard is so great, he also makes note of exactly why it isn't easy to keep it working with newer computers. It's a neat example of real-world expertise that makes me more confident in Williams' knowledge and abilities in other areas—such as the descriptions of Turkish geography and politics, topics I'm less familiar with. From all indications, this is a well-researched book. I'd definitely recommend checking into This Is Not A Game first, but Deep State is an often-intriguing followup.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    The idea that Internet memes could influence a dissatisfied populace to demonstrate, riot, and then overthrow their government is a powerful one. The idea that another government could use these to induce revolution is also interesting and plausible. You can see why totalitarian regimes resist the internet and social networking. Williams explores all of these ideas in Deep State. I was a huge fan of the first book in this series, This Is Not A Game, because I loved how it blended physical and vir The idea that Internet memes could influence a dissatisfied populace to demonstrate, riot, and then overthrow their government is a powerful one. The idea that another government could use these to induce revolution is also interesting and plausible. You can see why totalitarian regimes resist the internet and social networking. Williams explores all of these ideas in Deep State. I was a huge fan of the first book in this series, This Is Not A Game, because I loved how it blended physical and virtual reality in interesting ways. Williams takes this concept into the realm of international politics (with interesting parallels in this year's "Arab Spring" uprisings). And Williams also ladles on the technogeek-iness, too. (**spoiler**) A plot device involves the ability for certain governments to selectively disable internet access, with devastating financial results. And our protagonists need to figure out how to sustain the revolution without the internet. If you've been in technology for 20 years, you'll recognize many of the techniques and terms that Williams resurrects. So why three stars? Because the book starts slowly and ends abruptly. It just took too long to get rolling and I know from his previous works that Williams can engage us almost instantly. Not sure if the ending was Williams up against a deadline or sloppy editing, but Cinderella ("and they lived happily ever after") had a longer denouement. I think this could have been a stronger work, but I enjoyed the meat of it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steven Cole

    This is the second book in Williams' stories of Dagmar Shaw, game designer. I've got to admit to a love of game designer protagonists, for sure, as that's where my own career started... Dagmar Shaw designs experiences known as Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), where the "game" contacts players through real-world systems (like email and phones, realistic looking websites, and even things like billboards for those in the know). Williams conjectures that such a game will cause a kind of "group mind" t This is the second book in Williams' stories of Dagmar Shaw, game designer. I've got to admit to a love of game designer protagonists, for sure, as that's where my own career started... Dagmar Shaw designs experiences known as Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), where the "game" contacts players through real-world systems (like email and phones, realistic looking websites, and even things like billboards for those in the know). Williams conjectures that such a game will cause a kind of "group mind" to form, as people gather online to discuss methods of solving the various puzzles a game presents them with. The first book of this series, "This is Not a Game," had this group mind work to solve a real murder mystery (without them even knowing that's what they were doing); in this sequel, the group mind has been transformed into anti-junta reactionaries in Turkey, being organized using the same technology, into an effective force for change. So that's the general background. The book itself follows Dagmar through her adventures in this environment, with plenty of twists and turns. Williams does a great job with his presentation, for sure. This is the second of his novels that's been hard to put down and quick to read. I'm really loving Dagmar as a character, and am actually eagerly looking forward to reading the third book in this series. I should mention that while this is the second book of the series, reading the first is certainly not necessary to enjoy this one. Events are referred to, but not in any great depth, and the books both stand on their own just fine. 5 of 5 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    This was a fast read featuring the main character from This is not a Game. I read that book quite a while ago, so not only did I struggle to remember relevant details, but I actually got my wires crossed with Reamde and Moxyland characters. A personal problem that I hope won't affect other readers. The plot, citizens rising up in revolution against dictators, was pretty topical given the recent Arab Spring events, and made me see all of that in a different light, or at least in the light of vari This was a fast read featuring the main character from This is not a Game. I read that book quite a while ago, so not only did I struggle to remember relevant details, but I actually got my wires crossed with Reamde and Moxyland characters. A personal problem that I hope won't affect other readers. The plot, citizens rising up in revolution against dictators, was pretty topical given the recent Arab Spring events, and made me see all of that in a different light, or at least in the light of various possibilities. Eh. I don't know. I liked the characters; the plot seemed a mess and the ending seemed like an arbitrary stopping point. While he uses a lot of the right terms, the author still comes across as someone outside the culture of computer tech trying to talk the talk. I found the repeated use of the term "I'm four oh four" to be jarring - does anybody actually say that? Maybe that's a California thing. I was amused that a character used the term "whatever lifts your luggage" - as far as I know, that was specifically coined by Dan Savage, but I'm not aware of it having entered actual English usage: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/arch... Basically, this felt like a middle novel of a trilogy. I liked that the author actually has characters dealing with PTSD from previous traumatic events, rather than just "getting over it" instantly. I'll read the next book, and I hope it will feel more cohesive.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

    I don't think this book would make a lot of sense without having first read This Is Not a Game, but it's a very satisfying sequel. I liked This Is Not a Game better in many ways because of its tighter focus on ARGs and the interesting implications of the Group Mind. However, one major strength of Deep State was that events which occurred in the first book still had ongoing impact as more than merely plot points; so many books with action have characters that just shrug off the trauma and move on I don't think this book would make a lot of sense without having first read This Is Not a Game, but it's a very satisfying sequel. I liked This Is Not a Game better in many ways because of its tighter focus on ARGs and the interesting implications of the Group Mind. However, one major strength of Deep State was that events which occurred in the first book still had ongoing impact as more than merely plot points; so many books with action have characters that just shrug off the trauma and move on to the next action. Dagmar and co. have to struggle with the consequences of their decisions (and of the decisions of others) and that makes them all the more human. Dagmar is definitely the most fleshed out character as the book is written from her POV, but I feel that the other characters are distinct and interesting as well. Some of the technical aspects of the book require a hefty dose of suspension of disbelief, but the characters kept me engaged nonetheless. I also used to work on networks for a living so the technology described is likely more jarring for me than the average reader. I did very much enjoy the shout-out to my old friend Hayes and lively commentary on nerd culture.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brick

    Another fun read, featuring Alternative Reality Game (ARG) creator, Dagmar, and her team. This is the second in the series, and is best read after the first, This Is Not A Game, although not required, it will add to your understanding and enjoyment. Very interesting to contrast what is going on in this story, where an ARG staged on location with ARG tourists and remote participants searching for clues in Turkey acts as a compelling promotion for a new James Bond thriller, leading to follow-on ac Another fun read, featuring Alternative Reality Game (ARG) creator, Dagmar, and her team. This is the second in the series, and is best read after the first, This Is Not A Game, although not required, it will add to your understanding and enjoyment. Very interesting to contrast what is going on in this story, where an ARG staged on location with ARG tourists and remote participants searching for clues in Turkey acts as a compelling promotion for a new James Bond thriller, leading to follow-on activity, where the Web and flash-mobs respond to the ARG techniques to bring down a repressive military junta. Lots of action, a technothriller with cyber-warfare complications, very interesting ironic deployment of the High Zap internet disruptive technology by the military who have acquired/captured it during a deployment by the CIA and NSA against Syria, against the home team. Very topical, reminds me of the Stuxnet virus escaping after deployment by the US and Israel against Iran, these cyber weapons are multi-edged. See this link, http://readersupportednews.org/opinio... for some conjecture about the fall of Morsi in Egypt, once again sci-fi gets out ahead of the reality, but not by very far.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Like the first book in the Dagmar series (This is Not a Game), and like some of William Gibson's recent stuff, this is not so much science fiction as technothriller - our present-day world, or maybe one a couple of years in the future, already being so technological that it's like a science fiction setting. I don't usually read thrillers, so I don't know what they're like, but I suspect that the protagonists usually feel more on top of things than the unfortunate Dagmar. Out of her depth, lacking Like the first book in the Dagmar series (This is Not a Game), and like some of William Gibson's recent stuff, this is not so much science fiction as technothriller - our present-day world, or maybe one a couple of years in the future, already being so technological that it's like a science fiction setting. I don't usually read thrillers, so I don't know what they're like, but I suspect that the protagonists usually feel more on top of things than the unfortunate Dagmar. Out of her depth, lacking many of her usual resources, and suffering from PTSD from the events of Book 1, she does her best to prevent people she cares about from dying, not always successfully. But, in the words of the last of a number of hacker koans scattered through the book, persistence also has merit. The snatched-from-tomorrow's-headlines vibe is believable, the occasional deliberate absurdities lighten the darker moments, and the action keeps on coming without it becoming the James Bond film that Dagmar starts out promoting at the beginning of the book. What's more, actions have consequences and emotional weight, something that's often missing from any genre, not just thrillers. I'll be seeking out the next in the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alain DeWitt

    It's been awhile since I read the first Dagmar Shaw book, "This Is Not A Game". I enjoyed it quite a lot and don't know why it took me so long to read this one. I think I waited a bit too long. Some of the depictions of technology in this book give it an un-necessarily dated feel. Williams refers about handhelds, PDAs and netbooks, for example. Plot-wise this is a natural progression from "Game". In that one, Dagmar Shaw, producer of Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), becomes inadvertently embroiled It's been awhile since I read the first Dagmar Shaw book, "This Is Not A Game". I enjoyed it quite a lot and don't know why it took me so long to read this one. I think I waited a bit too long. Some of the depictions of technology in this book give it an un-necessarily dated feel. Williams refers about handhelds, PDAs and netbooks, for example. Plot-wise this is a natural progression from "Game". In that one, Dagmar Shaw, producer of Augmented Reality Games (ARGs), becomes inadvertently embroiled in a populist revolution while on a post-game vacation in Indonesia. In this one, we observe as Dagmar and her team complete work on a James Bond-themed ARG in Turkey only to be hired to stage an actual revolution in Turkey using ARG techniques. The writing is crisp enough although I didn't find many of the characters particularly well-developed or memorable. Really, outside of Dagmar and the CIA operative, Lincoln, who hires her, the characters (the techie, nerdy guys that help her) all seem to blend together. The tech is well-employed and appropriately utilized and integral to the plot and I look at it as one of the book's strengths. I'll have to make a point to get to Dagmar #3 before too much time elapses.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hirsch

    Why is it that almost every book I've really liked lately are about computer and role playing games in some way? It's particularly funny because I don't like computer games or RPGs. I guess I like them in abstract, I've just never found one that I enjoyed in reality. Anyway, this one is about Dagmar, a women who produced Alternate Reality Games--games that take place in the real world. She lays out clues and hires actors to play a few roles, but the rest of the game is played by the players who h Why is it that almost every book I've really liked lately are about computer and role playing games in some way? It's particularly funny because I don't like computer games or RPGs. I guess I like them in abstract, I've just never found one that I enjoyed in reality. Anyway, this one is about Dagmar, a women who produced Alternate Reality Games--games that take place in the real world. She lays out clues and hires actors to play a few roles, but the rest of the game is played by the players who hang out online collaborating on solving the puzzles and attend live events to see the story unfold. Usually, she is hired by, say, a movie company to produce a game as part of the marketing for a blockbuster movie. (The book starts with her doing a James Bond game.) Or perhaps the game characters all drink a particular brand of alcohol. So the games are fun for the participants, but the game is produced for another reason. Dagmar gets hired to bring her skills to overthrowing a military government. Naturally, it stops being a game. Things start to deteriorate and the fun begins. I like Walter Jon Williams in general, but this is the best I've read, yet.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brian Palmer

    There would be moments of confusion if you hadn't read the prior book (which I think probably is a notch above this one), but this is is complete and standalone: a thriller where Dagmar Shaw, owner (and lead designer) of a company that develops "augmented reality games", shifts from helping market a James Bond movie to actually intentionally dealing with international politics. It's really not clear *why* she's doing this, as she's still traumatized by the events of the first book (and there are There would be moments of confusion if you hadn't read the prior book (which I think probably is a notch above this one), but this is is complete and standalone: a thriller where Dagmar Shaw, owner (and lead designer) of a company that develops "augmented reality games", shifts from helping market a James Bond movie to actually intentionally dealing with international politics. It's really not clear *why* she's doing this, as she's still traumatized by the events of the first book (and there are some scary parallels that crop up, reinforcing just how unsafe Williams's world is for Dagmar), but it all makes sense at the time, as she comes across as a small business owner who really is hustling to make it and deny her troubles. And the technospeak in the novel works well, with some hilarious flashes of Usenet humor, except with some underestimating the variety of network protocols and operating systems that are in use. WJW is an artisanal author -- there were pages that I just went back and re-read how he laid out the scene to present information. He doesn't have quite the flair of a Zelazny but is suspiciously smooth.

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