Fiction Review: Net Impact by Donald J. Bingle

Yes, I know this is a gaming blog, right? So why am I reviewing another book of fiction? Well, first and foremost, we all know that there’s a great deal of bleed between gaming and short stories, movies, song titles and lyrics, among about a million other creative pursuits. And often, we as gamers have more stories than will comfortably fit in a single campaign or session.

Apparently Donald J Bingle has fallen into that trap. He’s been a gamer forever and been quite a prolific writer, contributing to anthologies as well as some full-length novels. And here’s the thing… He’s really good!

At first, Net Impact had me a bit confused, but I caught on pretty quickly as we dove into the life of Dick Thornby, bird watcher and spy. No, this isn’t a scene from The Big Year, following a birder as he strives to see as many species as he can in a single year. But apparently it makes a great cover for someone on a mission in unfamiliar territory, stumbling around places people aren’t usually supposed to be…

This is a spy novel that intersects with the world of MMORPGs and combines a set of topics I haven’t seen before. It is a bit of The DaVinci Code with some James Bond and a modern virtual reality spin. We are not talking Lawnmower Man here. Bingle gets it right, making it more Second Life than true interactive virtual reality.

I won’t spoil it for you, but there is some international and corporate espionage-style intrigue, family strife, and a fun bit of conspiracy theory. Plus, it’s very well written book and a fun, fast read.

The funny part to me is that Denver International Airport (DIA) figures in prominently late in the book and you’ll never guess where I am writing this review from!? I am resisting hunting down any of the strange clues here simply because even if the conspiracy is true… I really don’t want to be arrested today. 🙂

Looking for a modern spy novel to sink your teeth into? Net Impact is a great way to while away some time. And it bodes well for gamer-created mainstream fiction writers everywhere!

For more from Donald J. Bingle, check out his website. And pick up a copy of Net Impact at Amazon and other places here.

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