Book Review: Fortuna

Bored, frustrated computer graduate student Jason Lind chaffing at the constraints of Stanford crafts a new persona as Father Allesandro de Scala in the online role-playing game Fortuna. There, Jason finds the adventure so lacking in real life (RL) and begins spending an increasing amount of time role-playing to the determent of other facets of his life until he is deeply in debt. In an effort to get solvent, Jason leaves Stanford to work for his uncle Frank Stocker, owner of Global Packet Control. Jasonís father worked for Frank before being killed in a car accident nine years earlier. At work, Jason comes to realize GPCís business practices are not exactly on the up and up. In a melding of RL and gaming, Jason starts drawing on his identity as Father de Scala to ferret out whatís really going on but in this high stakes game itís difficult to keep fantasy separate from reality.

Renaissance history, gaming and economics come together in this improbable yet enjoyable suspense that more then makes up for its slow start. Jasonís character has all the usual headaches facing college students trying to build a career while confronted with a mountain of debt. The role playing romance has a more authentic feel then Jasonís RL encounters with a fellow student which comes off as unconvincing and contrived but donít let that keep you from picking up this unusual thriller.

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