This original novel by a Bram Stoker Award winner transports BioShock video gamers back to 1945, to the dizzying post-war days when dreamer Andrew Ryan created Rapture, a shining underwater utopia that was destined to descend into chaos. A most revealing prequel.
BioShock: Raptureby John Shirley
It's the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal has redefined American politics. Taxes are at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has brought a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business has many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom is diminishing…and many are desperate to take… See more details below
It's the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal has redefined American politics. Taxes are at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has brought a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business has many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom is diminishing…and many are desperate to take that freedom back.
Among them is a great dreamer, an immigrant who pulled himself from the depths of poverty to become one of the wealthiest and admired men in the world. That man is Andrew Ryan, and he believed that great men and women deserve better. And so he set out to create the impossible, a utopia free from government, censorship, and moral restrictions on sciencewhere what you give is what you get. He created Rapturethe shining city below the sea.
But as we all know, this utopia suffered a great tragedy. This is the story of how it all came to be…and how it all ended.
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By John Shirley
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2011 Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Park Avenue, New York City
Almost a year later ...
Bill McDonagh was riding an elevator up to the top of the Andrew Ryan Arms — but he felt like he was sinking under the sea. He was toting a box of pipe fittings in one hand, tool kit in the other. He'd been sent so hastily by the maintenance manager he didn't even have the bloody name of his customer. But his mind was on earlier doings in another building, a small office building in lower Manhattan. He'd taken the morning off from his plumbing business to interview for an assistant engineer job. The pay would start low, but the job would take him in a more ambitious direction. They had looked at him with only the faintest interest when he'd walked into the Feeben, Leiber, and Quiffe Engineering Firm. The two interviewers were a couple of snotty wankers — one of them was Feeben Junior. They seemed bored by the time they called him in, and their faint flicker of interest evaporated completely when he started talking about his background. He had done his best to speak in American phraseology, to suppress his accent. But he knew it slipped out. They were looking for some snappy young chap out of New York University, not a cockney blighter who'd worked his way through the East London School of Engineering and Mechanical Vocation.
Bill heard them say it, through the door, after they'd dismissed him: "Another limey grease monkey ..."
All right then. So he was a grease monkey. Just a mechanic and, lately, a freelance plumbing contractor. A dirty little job screwin' pipes for the nobs. Heading up to some rich bloke's penthouse. There was no shame in it.
But there wasn't much money in it either, working on assignment for Chinowski's Maintenance. It'd be a long time before he could save up enough to start a big contracting outfit of his own. He had a couple of lads hired on, from time to time, but not the big contracting and engineering company he'd always envisioned. And Mary Louise had made it clear as polished glass she was not really interested in marrying a glorified plumber.
"I had enough of fellas that think they're the cat's meow because they can fix the terlet," she said. A pretty girl from the Bronx was Mary Louise Fensen and raring to go. But not terribly bright, after all. Probably drive him barmy anyway.
The moment he'd got home the phone rang, Bud Chinowski, barking about getting his ass to an address in Manhattan, on Park Avenue. Their building maintenance was AWOL — probably drunk somewhere — and the Bigshot at the penthouse needed plumbers "fast as you can drag your lazy ass over there. We've got three bathrooms to finish installing. Get those witless wrench-jockeys of yours over there too."
He'd called Roy Phinn and Pablo Navarro to go on ahead of him. Then he'd changed out of the ill-fitting suit, into the gray, grease-stained coveralls. "Limey grease monkey ..." he'd murmured, buttoning up.
And here he was, wishing he'd taken time for a cigarette before coming — he couldn't smoke in a posh flat like this without permission. He stepped glumly out of the elevator, into an antechamber to the penthouse, his toolbox clanking at his side. The little wood-paneled room was scarcely bigger than the elevator. An artfully paneled mahogany door with a brass knob, embossed with an eagle, was its only feature — besides a small metal grid next to the door. He tried the knob. Locked. He shrugged, and knocked on the door. Waiting, he started to feel a little claustrophobic.
"'Ello?" he called. "Plumbin' contractor! From Chinowski's! 'Ello!" Don't drop your Hs, you bastard, he told himself. "Hel-lo!"
A crackling sound, and a low, forceful voice emanated from the grid. "That the other plumber, is it?"
"Uh ..." He bent and spoke briskly into the grid. "It is, sir!"
"No need to shout into the intercom!"
The door clicked within itself — and to Bill's amazement it didn't swing inward but slid into the wall up to the knob. He saw there was a metal runner in the floor and, at the edge of the door, a band of steel. It was wood on the outside, steel inside. Like this man was worried someone might try to fire a bullet through it.
No one was visible on the other side of the open doorway. He saw another hallway, carpeted, with some rather fine old paintings, one of which might be by a Dutch master, if he remembered anything from his trips to the British Museum. A Tiffany lamp stood on an inlaid table, glowing like a gem.
This toff's got plenty of the ready, Bill thought.
He walked down the hall, into a large, plush sitting room: luxurious sofas, a big unlit fireplace, more choice paintings and fine lamps. A grand piano, its wood polished almost mirrorlike, stood in a corner. On an intricately carved table was an enormous display of fresh flowers in an antique Chinese jade vase. He'd never seen flowers like them before. And the decorations on the tables ...
He was staring at a lamp that appeared to be a gold sculpture of a satyr chasing an underdressed young woman when a voice spoke sharply to his right. "The other two are already at work in the back ... The main bathroom's through here." Bill turned and saw a gent in the archway to the next room already turning away from him. The man wore a gray suit, his dark hair oiled back. Must be the butler. Bill could hear the other two lads, faintly, in the back of the place, arguing about fittings.
Bill went through the archway as the man in the suit answered a chiming gold and ivory telephone on a table in front of a big window displaying the heroic spires of Manhattan. Opposite the window was a mural, done in the sweeping modern-industrial style, of burly men building a tower that rose up out of the sea. Overseeing the workers in the mural was a slim dark-haired man with blueprints in his hand.
Bill looked for the WC, saw a hallway with a gleaming steel and white-tile bathroom at its end.
That's my destination, Bill thought bitterly. The crapper. A fine crapper it might be, one of three. My destiny is to keep their WCs in working order.
Then he caught himself. No self-pity, now, Bill McDonagh. Play the cards you're dealt, the way your Da taught you.
Bill started toward the door to the bathroom hall, but his attention was caught by the half-whispered urgency of the man's voice as he growled at the telephone.
"Eisley, you will not make excuses! If you cannot deal with these people I will find someone who has the courage! I'll find someone brave enough to scare away this pack of hungry dogs! They will not find my campfire undefended!"
The voice's stridency caught Bill's attention — but something else about it stirred him too. He'd heard that distinctive voice before. Maybe in a newsreel?
Bill paused at the door to the hall and had a quick look at the man pressing the phone to his ear. It was the man in the mural — the one holding the blueprint: a straight-backed man, maybe early forties, medium height, two thin, crisply straight strokes of mustache matched by the dark strokes of his eyebrows, a prominent cleft chin. He even wore a suit nearly identical to the one in the painting. And that strong, intense face — it was a face Bill knew from the newspapers. He'd seen his name over the front door of this very edifice. It never occurred to him that Andrew Ryan might actually live here. The tycoon owned a significant chunk of America's coal, its second biggest railroad, and Ryan Oil. He'd always pictured a man like that whiling the days away playing golf on a country estate.
"Taxes are theft, Eisley! What? No, no need — I fired her. I've got a new secretary starting today — I'm elevating someone in reception. Elaine something. No, I don't want anyone from accounting, that's the whole problem, people like that are too interested in my money, they have no discretion! Sometimes I wonder if there's anyone I can trust. Well they'll get not a penny out of me more than absolutely necessary, and if you can't see to it I'll find a lawyer who can!"
Ryan slammed the phone down — and Bill hurried on to the bathroom.
Bill found the toilet in place but not quite hooked up: an ordinary Standard toilet, no gold seat on it. Looked like it needed proper pipe fittings, mostly. Seemed a waste of time to send three men out for this, but these posh types liked everything done yesterday.
He was aware, as he worked, that Ryan was pacing back and forth in the room outside the hall to the bathroom, occasionally muttering to himself.
Bill was kneeling to one side of the toilet, using a spanner to tighten a pipe joint, when he became aware of a looming presence. He looked up to see Andrew Ryan standing near him.
"Didn't intend to startle you." Ryan flashed his teeth in the barest smile and went on, "Just curious how you're getting along."
Bill was surprised at this familiarity from a man so above him — and by the change in tone. Ryan had been blaring angrily into the phone but minutes before. Now he seemed calm, his eyes glittering with curiosity.
"Getting on with it, sir. Soon have it done."
"Is that a brass fitting you're putting in there? I think the other two were using tin."
"Well, I'll be sure they didn't, sir," said Bill, beginning not to care what impression he made. "Don't want to be bailing out your loo once a fortnight. Tin's not reliable, like. If it's the price you're worried about, I'll pick up the cost of the brass, so not to worry, squire ..."
"And why would you do that?"
"Well, Mr. Ryan, no man bails water out of privies built by Bill McDonagh."
Ryan looked at him with narrowed eyes, rubbing his chin. Bill shrugged and focused on the pipes, feeling strangely disconcerted. He could almost feel the heat from the intensity of Ryan's personality. He could smell his cologne, pricey and subtle.
"There you are," Bill said, tightening with the wrench one last time for good luck. "Right as the mail. These pipes, anyhow."
"Do you mean the job's done?"
"I'll see how the lads are getting on, but I'd guess it's very nearly done, sir."
He expected Ryan to wander back to his own work, but the tycoon remained, watching as Bill started the water flow, checked it for integrity, and cleaned up his tools and leftover materials. He took the receipt book from his pocket, scribbled out the cost. There'd been no time for an estimate, so he had a free hand. He wished he were the sort to pad the bill, since he gave a percentage to Chinowski and Ryan was rich, but he wasn't made that way.
"Really!" Ryan said, looking at the bill, eyebrows raised.
Bill just waited. Strange that Andrew Ryan — one of the richest, most powerful men in America — was personally involved in dealing with a plumber, scrutinizing a minor bill. But Ryan stood there, looking first at the bill, then at him.
"This is quite reasonable," Ryan said at last. "You might have stretched your time, inflated the bill. People assume they can take advantage of wealthy men."
Bill was mildly insulted. "I believe in being paid, sir, even being paid well — but only for the work I do."
Again that flicker of a smile, there and gone. The keen, searching gaze. "I can see I've struck a nerve," Ryan said, "because you're a man like me! A man of pride and capability who knows who he is."
A long, appraising look. Then Ryan turned on his heel and strode out.
Bill shrugged, gathered up the rest of his things, and returned to the mural room, expecting to see some Ryan underling awaiting him with a check. But it was Ryan, holding the check out to him.
"Thank you, sir." Bill took it, tucked it into a pocket, nodded to the man — was he mad, staring at him like that? — and started hastily for the front door.
He'd just gotten to the sitting room when Ryan called to him from the archway. "Mind if I ask you a question?"
Bill paused. Hoping it didn't turn out that Andrew Ryan was a poof. He'd had enough of upper-class poofs trying to pick him up.
"Where do you think a man's rights should end?" Ryan asked.
"His rights, sir?" A philosophical question asked of a plumbing contractor? The old toff really was mad. McDonagh humored him. "Rights are rights. That's like asking which fingers a man should do without. I need all ten, me."
"I like that. Now — just suppose you lose one or two fingers? What would you do? You'd think yourself unable to work, and you'd have a right to a handout, as it were, eh?"
Bill hefted the toolbox as he considered. "No. I'd find something to do, with eight fingers. Or four. Make my own way. I'd like to be able to use my talents more — that's right enough. But I don't take handouts."
"And what talents are those? Not that I discount a gift for plumbing. But — is that what you mean?"
"No sir. Not as such. I'm by way of being an engineer. In a simple way, mind. Could be I'll start me own ... my own ... building operation. Not so young anymore, but still — I see things in my mind I'd like to build ..." He broke off, embarrassed at being so personal with this man. But there was something about Ryan that made you want to open up and talk.
"You're British. Not one of the ... the gentry types, certainly."
"Right as rain, sir." Bill wondered if he'd get the brush-off now. There was a touch of defensiveness when he added, "Grew up 'round Cheapside, like."
Ryan chuckled dryly. "You're touchy about your origins. I know the feeling. I too am an immigrant. I was very young when I came here from Russia. I have learned to control my speech — reinvented myself. A man must make of his life a ladder that he never ceases to climb — if you're not rising, you are slipping down the rungs, my friend.
"But by ascending," Ryan went on, shoving his hands in his jacket pockets and taking a pensive turn about the room, "one makes one's own class, do you see? Eh? One classes oneself!"
Bill had been about to make his excuses and walk out — but that stopped him. Ryan had articulated something he fiercely believed.
"Couldn't agree more, sir!" Bill blurted. "That's why I've come to the USA. Anyone can rise up, here. Right to the top!"
Ryan grunted skeptically. "Yes, and no. There are some who don't have the stuff. But it's not the 'class' or race or creed that they were born into that decides it. It's something inside a man. And that's something you have. You're a true mugwump, a real individual. We'll talk again, you and I ..."
Bill nodded good-bye, not believing for a second that they'd speak again. He figured a rich bloke took it into his mind to have a natter with "the little people," patronizing a chap to prove to themselves how fair and kindly they could be.
He headed to check on Pablo and Roy before he made his way to the lobby and went about his business. This had been an interesting encounter — it'd be a story to tell in the pub, though no one would likely believe him. Andrew Ryan? Who else did you hobnob with — Howard Hughes? Yer ol' pal William Randolph Hearst?
* * *
Bill McDonagh's head was only moderately sore the next morning, and he answered his flat's clangorous telephone readily enough, hoping for work. A good sweat always cleared his head.
"This Bill McDonagh?" said a gruff, unfamiliar voice.
"My name's Sullivan. Head of Security for Andrew Ryan."
"Security? What's 'e say I've done, then? Look here, mate, I'm no crook —"
"No no, it's nothing like that — he just set me to find you. Chinowski didn't want to give up the number. Claimed he lost it. Tried taking the job himself. I had to get it from our friends at the phone company."
"Why, if you want it, Andrew Ryan's offering you a job as his new building engineer ... Starting immediately."CHAPTER 2
The Docks, New York City
Sullivan sometimes wished he were back working the Meatball Beat in Little Italy. Ryan paid him well, sure, but having to dodge G-men on the docks was not his idea of a good time.
It was a bracing, misty evening, supposed to be spring but didn't feel much like it. The waves were choppy and the gulls were huddled on the pylons with their beaks under their wings, their feathers ruffled in the cold northeast wind. Three hulking great ships were tied up at the beat-up old dock, all freighters. This was not one of the fashionable wharfs, with passenger liners and pretty girls waving hankies. Just a couple of red-faced, sour-looking salts in pea jackets tramping by, trailing cigarette smoke, boots crunching on old gull droppings.
Sullivan walked up to the gangplank of the Olympian, the largest of the three ships in the fleet Ryan had bought for his secretive North Atlantic project. He waved at the armed guard, Pinelli, huddled into a big coat on the top deck. Pinelli glanced down at him and nodded.
Ruben Greavy, head engineer for the Wales brothers, was waiting on the lower deck at the top of the gangplank. Greavy was a fussy, pinch-mouthed, bespectacled little man in a rather showy cream-colored overcoat.
Excerpted from Bioshock by John Shirley. Copyright © 2011 Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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While I've written a massively long review about this elsewhere, I'll be to the punch. This is a must read for fans of the BioShock games, but be sure to have played them both first. Shirley does a great job introducing the reader to the foundation of Rapture and especially the characters of Bill McDonagh, Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine. However, there are many storylines that are left open-ended because they are wrapped up in the video games. If you are reading this as the starting point, you'll likely wonder why they were mentioned at all. Instead, read this book after playing the first two games to really appreciate how well Shirley links things together. Moments off-handedly mentioned in the games are vividly brought to life. Some of the most enjoyable aspects of the book are seeing the "origin stories" of different gameplay aspects like the Gatherer's Garden, the Little Sisters and the infamous Big Daddies. Bill McDonagh keeps the plot grounded around a central character but there are several vignettes about Sander Cohen, Stanley Poole, Sofia Lamb and Dr. Steinman to keep fans of the video game series interested. Each expands upon what is gleaned from the video games and enriches the whole storyline. The only major criticism is one or two things seem to contradict what happens in the video game series (the death of a particular character) and that nothing is mentioned about the Minvera's Den episode (probably written too late to include). Also this reviewer hopes Shirley returns to write about the events between BioShock and BioShock 2 as that's a good 8 year gap which would be great to learn more about. In short, if you've played the first two games, read this as soon as you can if you loved the world of Rapture.
Having read a few video game based books as a child (they're pretty awful), I was pleasantly surprised that this one turned out so well. A quick warning to anyone going into this novel blind though; the narrative weighs heavily on the assumption that the reader has played both Bioshock and to an extent, Bioshock 2 so if you haven't played them, you will be a little lost. Some parts feel a bit rushed, almost just so the writer could say it's in the book while other parts just come off as silly. What works in one medium, doesn't necessarily work in another so while it's fine to have a certain type of splicer named in the game, it seems a bit weird to use their "type" names in book. Despite that, for every fault this book has, it has about three times as many points where it shines brilliantly. There are characters in the game that didn't get much spotlight that steal the show here and you will get a frighteningly deep look into just how crazy some of these guys are. Bioshock: Rapture isn't perfect, but neither were the games. It's plain and simple though, if you're a fan of the games, you're sure to enjoy this book too.
I loved reading about the characters lives before during and after the fall of Rapture!
This book is so good that it made me want to play Bioshock all over again! Thank you, to the author, for such a well written book about two incredibly epic games. The best part, for me, was the story behind the creation of Rapture. How was Rapture built by Alex Ryan? What was Ryan's backstory? Who gets to go to Rapture and why? And, finally, what went wrong? These are all questions that I have asked myself, but I never felt satisfied with the in-game answers. I will admit to never having played Bioshock 2. It was due to a lack of video game funds and time. But, this book awakened a need, deep inside, that demands additional game play now. I will definitely purchase the second game! I loved it! This book is a keeper. I had feared that this would be a knock-off, a novel that is sold at a high cost in order to prey on Bioshock enthusiasts. Instead, this book adds to the Bioshock mythos in an important way. In the game, Bioshock, you cannot help but stop to look around at the decaying beauty of Rapture. My only complaint is that I would have liked to see some of the visual impact of the game included in the book through artistic blueprints, portraits, or other illustrations. I think that it would have enhanced the reading experience. It is a must read for fans! -AvidReader
I really enjoyed seeing the backstory of one of favorite games come to life. Definatly worth reading especially if you enjoyed the game. I will agree with some of the other reviewers that reading this will make you want to replay the game.....but that's not a bad thing!
If you have played the games and are a true fanatic of the tale of bioshock you shold read this book, it ties well witht the game and will expand your experience with rapture
Really made me understand the game a lot more. Makes me want to go back and play it again.
Beyond my expectations for a book on a video game series. Amazing.
As a fan of all things Bioshock, it could be said that my opinions in this review are biased. But as an admirer of dystopian novels, I can say that the difference between this book and others is when the story actually takes place. Many books in this genre start around the time of the downfall of the society or when it's already spiraling out of control. Here with Bioshock: Rapture, you get to experience the rise of a perfect society and its inevitable fall. With any prequel, it is a difficult task to craft a story that interlocks with what has already been laid out, without disrupting it. Thankfully, the story from the first two games was so incredible and detailed, that it left plenty of rich material to work with. But it's what you do with it that really makes the difference and I feel John Shirley pulled it off very nicely. Understanding the potential concern of there being too many point-of-views in the story, I'm not sure how else it could have worked without going the route of using a narrator. The structure (chapters consisting of multiple POVs and including location and time stamps) worked for me and the pace was gradual and not overwhelming. At first, I felt some of the characters could have used some depth, but after finishing the book, it seemed to me that it was no longer important, since Rapture itself was the main focus, not the inhabitants. To sum up: the story was very well done from beginning to end and it wasn't hard to keep track of what was going on. Adding frequent bits of information for the fans was a nice treat (some 'ah-ha' moments), but they still would make sense for those who have no knowledge of Bioshock. The story gets quite violent at times, which was to be expected. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed John Shirley's take of the Bioshock series. Even though I read it electronically, I purchased the print book shortly thereafter and will likely reread. Please excuse me while I play the first Bioshock again.
This book is really well written. A little interesting how John wrote it with all the skipping around ,however this is full of little bits of information that you just never really put together. I really like also how well the writer really gets graphic in detail with a few of the scenes and really gets a little into the dirt of what life in Rapture really was like not only for the well to do's but also the well to don'ts as well. I just am happy that there was enough interest that the book is out.. Can't wait for the movie..
Would you kindly read this book? Wow this is cool! The story is a prequel to the videogames (BioShock 1 & 2). The games are great, and I recommend playing both of them BEFORE reading this book. If you've played the games it's very interesting to see the origins of Rapture and how the characters came to vie for power in their utopia beneath the sea. It's such an interesting world, and to read about its decline is captivating. Why not listen to the soundtrack at the same time? Makes me want to play the games all over again!
This book is totaly awesome!
This book made me dive back into the world of Rapture, the second i put the book down, i was back on the game. This gives an amazing idea of the events leading up to the downfall of the fabled city.
I loved this book so much im addicted to Bioshock and I really loved it beacuse it went in to so much detail of the characters in the game and of what happened leading up to the games. I would recommend this book to any of my friends that play Bioshock if you play Bioshock you are going to love this book.
Godly parent: Hades. ((both)) <p> Abilities: Shadow manipulation, lightning manipulation, blood manipulation. ((Both)) <p> Other: pansexual, was trained in the underworld, masters of most weapons, better at hand to hand combat. ((Both)) <p> Personality: meet us. ((Both)) <p> Heigth: 5'10. ((Both)) <p> Weight: 172. ((Johnny)) 178. ((Orion)) <p> Appearance: black hair, pink eyes, white goatee, wears white clothing. ((Johnny)) Black hair, violet eyes, black goatee, wears white clothing. ((Orion)) <p> More: let us know if you want to know more. ((Both))
Put ur bios here. We will tell u if ur bio breaks the rules!
I love the Bioshock series of games & found this book to be quite satisfying indeed. I can't wait for the next game or another novel to come out soon!
I CANT EXPLAIN HOW MUCH I LOVE BIOSHOCK!!!!!!!!I F*****G LOVE BIOSHOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!XD
I bought an xbox just to play the game...this....this just added so much more to my obsession. It adds a acompletely new layer, several layers actually, to the story and world i love. The sience behine the little sisters and big daddys , the complete dick that was Frank Fontain/Atlas , Andrews slow spiral into insanity and then turning Rapture into the police state he ran from......Just great. I would give this all the stars if i could but it only lets me give 5. It does differ very slightly from the game but it does pull things staright out of it. Audio-diaries , and public anouncments... Read this!!!!
I started playing bioshock a this year and when ever i pick up my controller and start playin bioshock i cant put it down and the same goes for this book its a great novel and it speaks alot about the story of Rapture.
Brilliant. Just brilliant.