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This issue’s cover illustration is from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Thanks to Scholastic Children’s Books for their help with this November cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 191 November 2011.
Runners in The Maze could be ghosts, or corpses, inhabiting someone else’s body, or they might even be themselves. They could be dead or alive, or about to resurrect (provided their accounts aren’t closed). They’re not staring at screens, but they’re virtually there, playing a sophisticated, dangerous game. They’ve entered the Maze by stepping into a tank inside The Crater, an enclave for the rich and fortunate, since beyond its chemiglass windows, acid rain falls on the city of Undone and its wretched denizens, dragging out a living death on its toxic streets.
Rick is as good as they come as Gamerunners go. Running the Maze is what gives his life meaning. And that’s a problem for readers of this dystopia – Rick and the handful of characters who play out the novel are so far removed from the complexities of our own emotions and relationships that we might care about them no more than – well, ciphers on a computer screen. In the absence of characters of any depth, we’re pretty much left with action and setting. Words describing the adventures and encounters of 2D characters inevitably move more slowly than images on a screen, so rapid actions are described in what feels like slow prose. The encompassing world of The Crater is featureless, permeated by a cold threat of manipulation and control.
Rick races through the Maze, clashes and makes up and clashes again with Daed (Daedalus) who may or may not be his father, who may or may not love him, and who may or may not be dead (if that has any meaning) by the end of the book. Other figures briefly come and go without touching Rick in any significant way. It might well be that younger, more game-wise readers than I will be more absorbed; for me B.R. Collins has saddled herself with too many ways of precluding involvement.