The Reality Engineers: Volume 1: What Happens At Con Stays At Con by William Hainline – 4 stars
It’s Geeks versus Aliens in a zany, irreverent sci-fi comedy that’s larger than life and out of this world! When inventor Terry “Gadget” Anders heads to RetCon with his cosplaying pals, he has no idea what’s in store. From malevolent aliens walking the convention floor to the superheroic geek-girl of his dreams, this is one weekend Terry will never forget — if, that is, he can survive it! Put on your costumes and tune up your filking guitars folks, ’cause this gonna be the best RetCon EVER!
From start to end, this book is packed full of more geek culture references than you can shake a TARDIS full of tribbles wearing browncoats and brandishing wooden stakes at. The author manages to invoke nearly every fandom in existence at least once. There’s more to this book than just nergasming, though. The characters are vivid and delightful, and the plot snaps.
There were a few small problems with the book itself. Italics get used so much to emphasize words that it’s distracting, and there are places where the paragraphs run together, making them hard to read. The author is fond of very long sentences, which can be good or bad, depending on your preferences. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a sentence with two semicolons that didn’t involve a list. Overall, this book would benefit from one more read-through edit.
This book has a segment with a flashback inside a flashback, and I can’t decide if that’s brilliant or annoying, but it’s definitely brazen. The dream sequence section is enchanting, and I loved the Matrix-style scene.
If you don’t really know much about geek culture, most of the humor and a lot of the dialogue will zoom right over your head at Warp 9. This is a book about geeks written by a geek for geeks.