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Posted September 9, 2013
Although it was pretty easy to figure out the ending somewhere around the middle, I still enjoyed reading this book. I liked Jason, although I kept wanting to yell at him about shirking his responsibilities in his real life when he was so caught up in the game. Seeing how his personality in RL contrasted with his ingame alter ego of Father Allessandro was interesting and I observed how RL Jason evolved over the course of the story, incorporating some of his Father Allessandro traits.
The descriptions of the game provided great imagery, but the technical explanations about Fortuna and Jason's programming were completely over my head, although I got the gist of it. The section of the book traveling back in time, was a great addition, giving backstory on Jason's father, Nick, and providing some explanations about Jason's past, but it also clued me in on the ending.
Something I caught, that I have to assume was an oversight on the author's part, was the use of Jason's real name by another character while ingame, although Fortuna is supposed to be anonymous. Since Jason was questioning if some people he knew in RL were playing the game, I assumed that the use of his name would confirm his suspicions, but it was never addressed in the book.
Although much of this story was improbable, it was very enjoyable and I'd recommend reading it if you're a fantasy fan, computer geek, or gamer - or even just want a quick thriller read.
This review is based on a digital copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Posted October 31, 2010
"Fortuna" by Michael R. Stevens, starts out as a cautionary tale about the effects getting overly involved in a virtual world can have on real life. By the end of part 2, the book shifts genres and goes from an after-school special to James Bond meets the Sopranos. Basically, what starts out as a timely and realistic story, becomes something fantastical and improbable. The story is still interesting and exciting; it just becomes disjointed and a bit contrived.
In an effort to add some excitement to his ordinary life, Jason Lind signs up for the virtual world of "Fortuna". An online role-playing game based on Renaissance Italy, Fortuna promises an escape that Jason can't refuse. As he becomes more immersed in the game, Jason turns his back on the real world and soon finds himself in debt, with no job and no idea how to get himself out of this distressing situation. It is at this point that the book changes gears. We learn the back story of the death of Jason's father and see what happens when real life and the virtual world intersect on a more personal and dangerous level.
Michael Stevens does an excellent job of painting the picture of Renaissance Italy and in particular, the city of Florence. His descriptions of the game and how it works are vivid and fascinating though sometimes a little technical for the novice computer user. Honestly, I didn't need to read about the underlying operation of the game but those who are into that sort of thing should really enjoy those parts of the story.
Overall, I would recommend this book for its imagery and timeliness as well as the unexpected turn of events that leads to an exciting climax.
Posted July 8, 2010
When you don't have any actual money (and even if you do), books are an excellent way to take a cheap vacation. But if you've read all the books on your shelf, and something astronomical has happened to keep you away from the bookstore, perhaps virtual lives are the most convenient solution to this fatal monotony. But imagine a virtual life so sophisticated-so complex-that it's run entirely by machines. Imagine a world where the lines between the game and real life begin to blur, until they're almost impossible to distinguish.
Welcome to Fortuna.
Computer science major, Jason Lind, is looking for an escape from his boring life, when he happens upon Fortuna, an incredibly sophisticated online role playing game set in renaissance-era Florence, Italy. Playing as Father Allesandro da Scala, Jason finds himself seduced by this wild world of relationships, politics, and greed that extends beyond the virtual walls of his computer.
When he incurs an in-game debt that flows over into his real life, Jason is forced to seek the attentions of his estranged computer-mogul uncle, Frank Stocker. Under his uncle's employment, Jason begins to remember and realize the secrets of his family's past, and to uncover the realities of his future.
The first word this book brings to mind is "detailed". Michael R. Stevens' Fortuna captures the essence of renaissance-era Italy with an artist's eye. From the social hierarchy, to the dangers of every day life, to the confessional at Father Allesandro's church, the historical aspects of this book are as engrossing as they are beautiful.
I also loved all the technological references. The code-speak isn't difficult to understand, but geeks like me still feel like they're getting a crash course in the antagonist's program-of-choice (of course, my knowledge is a little outdated now.). Fortuna is truly a technological thriller, but, for the casual reader, the historical elements help to balance this out.
Now, normally I'm a stickler for interesting characters, and-let's face it-Jason Lind's life is pretty boring. He and his friends are all freakishly normal, but for once, I think this enhances the book. The plot here is front and center; our eyes are ever drawn to the lush and beautiful world of Fortuna. I like it; a lot.
Michael R Stevens' writing style is very straight forward, and easy to read. I didn't find myself clamoring over the letters, or getting that 'red pen' feeling. Fortuna would make an excellent airplane book, or passenger-seat-of-the-car kind of book; both fast and engaging.
The biggest negative I have for Fortuna, would be its predictability. I know I can almost always predict the ending of a book within the first forty pages, so maybe it's just me. But I did find Fortuna to be highly predictable. That isn't to say I didn't like it-because I did. I just guessed the ending.
Fortuna is a book that grabs you and won't let go. I'm proud to have it on my bookshelf.
An afterthought: After reading Fortuna, I decided I needed to try some online gaming. Stevens' website said that the game Fortuna most closely resembles Second Life in the games available today, so off to Second Life I went. After spending about an hour creating my character (I named her Ink), I began interacting with people. and promptly got off. It was too much for me. The actual voice chatting with people I've never met; the humongous community. I think I'm internet pa
Posted May 14, 2010
Jason Lund, a computer science graduate student at Stanford, is bored and starts playing a role-playing online computer game, Fortuna. He is impressed with the graphics of the game that takes place in Florence during the Renaissance. He has played these types of games before but this one is even more addicting and he is soon obsessed with the secretive nature of it, and its focus on power. His studies and his relationships start to suffer because he is spending so much time on this game. He also is spending money and he begins to think that the game is somehow closely tied to real life. His good friend Marco is concerned that Jason is missing too much school and his girlfriend, Paola is also in concerned.
In Fortuna Jason plays a priest, Father Allesandro who listens to confessions and then skims some of the money from the confessor's contributions. He desires to become a bishop and soon sees that his ambition comes with a financial cost that spills over into his real world. Because of this he realizes he needs to get some money and goes to his Uncle Frank who had been a business partner with his father to get a job. You find out that Jason comes from a wealthy father, Nick Fibonacci who was a huge contributor to Stanford and has a building named after him. His father died in a car accident about 9 years ago.
At this point in the book, the author takes us back 9 years to meet Jason's father, Nick Fibonacci. We learn about his relationship with business partner Frank Stocker. Jason got his computer savvy from his father who created a computer program that was siphoning money from the business.
The story then goes back and picks up with Jason again who in working for Stocker and discovers what his father has done. Will this solve Jason's own money problems? What really happened to his father? Who is the mysterious woman in Fortuna and is she actually someone he knows? Read this thriller to find the answers. Michael R. Stevens tells an interesting story weaving together Jason's real life and his life as Father Allesandro that you will not want to put down.
Posted April 12, 2010
I know these kinds of games. This game feels real. I'd like to play this game. I'd like to go there. Read it by the light of ur glowing iPad screen. You won't be disappointed, but you might wake up gone. I mean dead. I mean offline. Go ahead, login...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2010
Bored computer science major at Stanford University Jason Lind loves playing the online game Fortuna, based on Renaissance Florence economics. However, his role playing character Father Allesandro da Scala begins to take over more of Jason's time than his real life. He soon falls into heavy debt due to his character, but remains addicted to playing the game even as he is aware of what he is doing as the Renaissance Father
Broke he leaves Stanford to work for his Uncle Frank at Global Packet Control (GPC); the same firm his dad worked at before he died in a car accident almost a decade ago. At GPC, Jason uncovers questionable probably illegal deals and underhanded practices that leave him wondering what to do, but he thinks Father da Scala would know how to proceed.
Though the premise feels over the top of Mount Whitney, this is an intriguing blending of on-line role playing and global economics, as Michael R. Stevens argues that both consist of players starring in roles other than themselves. Except for a romantic subplot that feels forced and required, readers will find the saga of Jason-Father Allesandro fascinating.
Posted December 28, 2011
No text was provided for this review.