I never thought I will ever read an autobiography and like it. It's not very interesting genre, if you're mostly into sci-fi/fantasy like me. But Shamus Young can make anything worth reading, and his autobiography is not exception.
It's a very good read for every geek, because you would probably find you have a lot in common with author, and it's very inspiring too. Its funny moments made me laugh, and its sad pieces make me feel for author/hero.
This book is good, but not excellent. I only hope that it's Shamuses "Colours of Magic", and his "Guards! Guards!" and "Soul Music" are to follow.
The wit is there, plot holes are very few or non-existent, but action pieces are weak, and this book is more about action than about dialogues, which is very unfortunate, because I think Shamus would have much more success with a book where heroes talk more and do less.
When I tried to play System Shock, I didn't like it at all. It was too dark, monsters were too horrible etc. I hate horror movies and games, and System Shock had too much of that genre.
So, I stayed away from Mr. Young's novel-sized fan-fic of that game for a long time. But after The Witch Watch, I just had to try it.
I liked it. No, I LOVED it. To my surprise, it is written about as professionally as the second book, and it looks much more like a labor of love. Maybe it's because Free Radical is a case of "Write what you know": Shamus is a programmer by trade, and inner workings of a sentient AI are more his thing then Victorian era adventures with magic. Or maybe it's me. Anyway, I found action in this book to be far superior to anything found in Witch Watch, with more details and more suspense. While humor is nearly lacking in here, the story still glued me to the screen of my old, beaten-up PDA.
But the biggest plus I can give, I give thins book for its ending. If you are wondering - it's not the same with the game. Also, it's not what I would expect of most authors. Some may find "happy end" forced, maybe, but I think it is just... Sweet? A bit like GLaDOS redemption in Portal 2. Maybe it's a perversion, but I have a thing for non-murderous AIs who actually like humans. There are so few of them in all works of fiction...
Anyway, give Free Radical a reading. Even if you're not video games fan. It's a VERY good book, only a little spoiled by novice mistakes, like repeating phrases (I think Shamus mentions "remains of some long-burned fire" about 4 or 5 times through the text).