The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

LitRPG: New virtual-reality MMO-set books coming out of Russia


So what's this LitRPG thing everyone seems to be crazy about?

LitRPG is a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy which describes the hero's adventures within an online computer game. LitRPG books merge traditional book-style narration with elements of a gaming experience, describing various quests, achievements and other events typical of a video game.

The defining feature that sets LitRPG fiction apart from traditional portal fantasy is its use of interactive gaming language, such as the inclusion of various system messages, players' stats, items' characteristics and other elements appreciated by gamers. The narration in a LitRPG novel has to abide by the rules of a game while filling it with conflict and drama as the hero tries to survive in this new environment. This "book meets game" experience proved to be exactly what many gamers-turned-readers were looking for in a novel.

LitRPG books are not the same as traditional game novelizations. As a rule, LitRPG books are set in fictional game worlds which are entirely their authors' invention, such as D. Rus' AlterWorld, V. Mahanenko's Survival Quest or A. LIvadny's Phantom Server. Also, their use of gaming elements and attributes sets them apart from traditionally penned game novelizations.

Initially unrecognized by traditional publishing, the genre kept growing, gaining a truly insatiable readership that devoured such cult series as Sword Art Online, Ready Player One and The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor. In 2012, Russia became the first country in the world where the genre was officially recognised, receiving its current name - LitRPG - and its own place in libraries and book shops. Since then, dozens of new game-set novels have been published in Russia, some of them national bestsellers such as Play to Live by D. Rus and the Way of the Shaman by V. Mahanenko.

The first LitRPG books are already selling successfully on Amazon. More will be coming soon, so stay tuned!