This is Not a Game (#1)

Next: Deep State

When you play one of Dagmar’s online games, you can’t just shut down the computer and walk away. The games pursue you into real life: you start getting emails and phone calls from fictional characters, perfect strangers ask you to help solve their problems, and sometimes you’re asked to volunteer for a mission to discover a vital clue.

But now something is pursuing Dagmar.  

From the anarchy of a street riot in Indonesia to the brutality of a Mafia killing in Los Angeles, from the seedy glitz of Hollywood to the ruthless international currency market, Dagmar finds herself at the center of an intrigue far more desperate than those she devises for entertainment.

And somehow, she knows, the key to the puzzle lies in her own past, and the gaming group she joined in college.  

Dagmar must draw on all her powers, not the least of which is her circle of online gamers whose well-honed puzzle-solving skills may prove vital to preserving her life.

This Is Not a Game. And there is no Second Life. 


“Williams weaves intriguing questions about games, gamers and their relationships with real life into this well-paced near-future thriller […] it’s convincingly written; the characters are realistic and absorbing, and the story deeply compelling.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Walter Jon Williams begins with a knowing and sympathetic grasp of gamer culture, and proceeds through schemes and stratagems with a good deal of gamesmanship himself. THIS IS NOT A GAME is a tale every bit as engaging as one of the intrigues its characters might have dreamed up.”


“THIS IS NOT A GAME succeeds not only as a suspense novel, but as an incisive portrait of a subculture for whom reality is increasingly contingent, and increasingly mediated.”


“Masterfully written and executed, scarily relevant, and massively entertaining, THIS IS NOT A GAME is a gem of a novel and should be on everyone’s reading list.”

Fantasy Book Critic

“Williams’ dialogue is razor-sharp, his plotting breakneck, his eye for trends keen and his empathy with his characters deep. He allots equal time to the emotional development of Dagmar and the book’s conceptual brain candy. She emerges from this tale changed, but with her core values reinforced. A reluctant hero for our era, she proves that with and geekdom trump brute force and greed.”

Sci-Fi Wire

Awards & Accolades