Meat wrote:has anyone touched on the Awaken Online series?
I read the Awaken Online books recently. It's part of the binge I went on the last couple of months.
The past couple of months, I've been running through LitRPG books. I find it facinating that an entirely new genre/subgenre is developing before our eyes.
At first, when I originally encountered the term "LitRPG" thrown around (several months or maybe even over a year ago?), I assumed it referred to books like Dragon Lance, Forgotten Realms, Shadowrun, etc. that were based on D&D or other pen and paper RPG games. Or even that it referred to books involving the main character entering a virtual reality type RPG game, such as novels from the 90's like Kilobyte or The Sherwood Game, or even the recent Ready Player One (some consider Ready Player One to be soft LitRPG). So I simply dismissed the term.
So it was only a couple of months ago that I discovered I was mistaken. LitRPG is an entirely new genre/subgenre that formed a few years ago, originally in Russian literature where the term was first coined. It seems similar to things like Sword Art Online. The writing is distinct from things like Dragon Lance through the use of stats and character and skill leveling, as if you were actually playing an MMORPG.
I found that fascinating since the last new subgenres formed in SFF were steampunk, and cyberpunk prior to that . So it is always interesting to see an entirely new subgenre created. Since it is a new field, the general quality of writing is pretty lacking. It seems to be currently filled with lots of amateurs, writers still experimenting with the new medium, and foreign language translations from Russian writers. It seems to be a very "pulpy" genre in many ways, and it is not really high quality writing since the new genre is still finding its feet. There are already tropes and cliches being formed in the genre. But there doesn't seem to be a single completed series in the genre since the genre was only created a few years ago.
The Awaken Online series by Bagwell, which certainly has its flaws, is one of the better ones. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series. (I also enjoyed the similarly titled Ascend Online series by Chmilenko.)
Of recent releases, I found Life Reset by Kuznits to be intriguing and one of the better books in the genre.
And within the LitRPG genre, there are even finer gradations, such as the dungeon core subgenre. They may be some of the weirdest books I've read -- where the main character is a sentient dungeon! And yet it works. I would suggest the Divine Dungeon series by Dakota Krout (first book is Dungeon Born) for a fun wacky example of the dungeon core books. It is a definite change of pace to see things from the perspective of a sentient dungeon.
Currently, I'm interested more in the village/base/guild/faction/nation building books rather than just action and adventuring. Or books with less popular races/character classes rather than standard fantasy stereotypes. (I've avoided the Aleron King books so far, since the buzz is that his writing is full of very immature and juvenile humor, despite the good base-building mechanics. And apparently he is an asshat to the community as well.)
The LitRPG genre has a prop of easily depicted stats/character/skills leveling or quest completions/rewards to give a sense of progression. But the challenge is to find an interesting and meaningful story beyond those artificial trappings, which many books in the genre fail at.
But, yes, I liked the Awaken Online books, despite the obvious flaws (very ham-handed and unrealistic beginning scenes, especially with respect to the school). I thought books like Ascend Online and Life Reset did a better job by not having their main characters be adolescents.
It's facinating to see a new genre/subgenre develop even if the general quality of writing is low as yet, as is typical of unrefined new things. Have to go back to steampunk and cyberpunk for the last time a new genre opened up in science fiction or fantasy. Hopefully better books come out as the LitRPG genre matures. The fact that there isn't a single completed series speaks to how young the genre is.
One thing I don't really like is the Russian influence that started the genre, inevitable since the first books in the genre were translated from Russsian literature. Specifically, I dislike the Russian worldview of all society's elite, government, corporations, police being corrupt mafia oligarchs and that people should just hide their heads and accept their lot in life to not stand out. And the outright sexism, misogyny, homophobia in many of those Russian books (how much did the iron curtain and now Putin stunt their social development that they lag behind so much?). Many Russian writers have such a horribly cynical, outdated, and pessimist worldview...which I suppose is understandable since they had to live through decades of the Soviets, oligarchs, and Putin. All the same, I'm glad the genre is moving away from that since it is no longer dependent on Russian writers. (Side note: The Ascend Online books by Luke Chmilenko don't have these flaws, since he is a Ukrainian-Canadian writing in English, and not part of the wave of translated Russian books that kickstarted the LitRPG genre).