Level Zero

Rated 5.00/5 based on 1 reviews
When the sequel to a popular virtual reality game is released for a special beta test, what seems like harmless violence quickly turns all too consequential when the players realize the game's biggest error: They can't log out. The players must battle against an endless army of monsters programmed to kill their avatars and find a way out of the game... before the real world catches up to them. More
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Words: 69,110
Language: English
ISBN: 9781466416482
About Jaron Lee Knuth

Jaron Lee Knuth was born in western Wisconsin in 1978. Suffering from multiple illnesses as a young child, he was forced to find an escape from his bedridden existence through the storytelling of any media he could find. Science fiction and fantasy novels, television programs, films, video games, and comic books all provided him with infinite worlds for his imagination to explore. Now he spends his days creating stories and worlds in the hope that others might find somewhere to escape as well.

He would love to reply to any questions or comments you may have for him at jaronleeknuth@gmail.com. You can also check out his news and updates at facebook.com/jaronleeknuth or follow @jaronleeknuth on Twitter.

Also in Series: The NextWorld Series

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Review by: Francis W. Porretto on Nov. 10, 2011 :
This is a hopeful, yet ambiguous, vision embedded within a dystopian conception of the future, with some cautionary-tale leavening for good measure. It qualifies as SF, but it's refreshingly un-cliched; indeed, it focuses where good fiction always should: on the human heart.

Mr. Knuth bills "Level Zero" as for young adults, but this 59-year-old codger enjoyed it immensely. It asks questions about the nature of reality, and about how much of our "classical" reality we'd be willing to give up for a simulation that pleases us better. It also asks whether we're ready for the long foretold (but painfully slow in actually arriving) emergence of artificial intelligences that possess the gamut of human capacities -- including our ability to love.

The aspects of "Level Zero" that do aim at a YA audience would be:
-- The use of a digital game as a simulated universe and field of action;
-- The selection of teenagers as the principal characters;
...yet in neither case does that make the story unpalatable to an older reader.

The plot is fresh and ingenious, without demanding excessive suspension-of-disbelief. The characterizations struck me as spot-on. The metamorphosis of Arkade from a borderline-sociopath antisocial to someone capable of loving was handled exceptionally well. The overall theme -- that anything with human-scale intelligence will ultimately demand to be valued as such, and to be free -- is as important as anything SF is being written about today.

If only all young-adult fiction were this well executed, and aimed this worthily. Highly recommended!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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