Anda is a teenager eager for a place to spread her wings, and she finds it in Coarsegold Online, a massively multiplayer role-playing game in which she can make friends, slay monsters and build self-confidence. But when she befriends a gold farmer -- a poor kid from China whose avatar collects valuable game objects to sell to players with money to spare, in violation of the rules -- Ada quickly learns life is more complicated than it first appears online.
Arriving Tuesday from First Second Books, In Real Life is Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang's adaptation of the acclaimed author's 2004 short story "Anda's Game." It's a beautifully illustrated graphic novel that touches upon myriad timely issues, ranging from bullying to economic inequality to safe spaces for female gamers, while maintaining the strong emotional thread of Anda's journey.
To celebrate the release of his debut graphic novel, Doctorow -- the author of Little Brother, Homeland and Pirate Cinema -- participated in a "30 Questions" blog tour, answering a few questions at a different site each day. Today is ROBOT 6's turn.
ROBOT 6: What led you to revisit your 2004 story “Anda’s Game” after all this time for In Real Life?
Cory Doctorow: It was really First Second’s call -- they really liked the story and wanted to adapt it to comics!
In your introduction, you begin by saying “In Real Life is a book about games and economics,” but it’s much more than that – it’s about a teenager discovering freedom and building self-confidence, online bullying, and girls and women creating welcoming places for themselves in the gaming world. How have those latter issues changed since you wrote “Anda’s Game”?
Well, back then it was obvious to me that the Internet was at the center of every political and social question in the world, because everything we did involved the Internet in some way, and very shortly, everything would REQUIRE it. Today, that’s obvious to a LOT more people.
The distinction between “online” and “real life” has always been artificial -- our lives are our lives, and our relationships are our relationships, no matter whether they’re mediated by technology, no matter whether that technology is language, cars, aviation, nation-states or the Internet.
Anda is such a relatable, and completely believable, character. Would you consider visiting her again?
It’s always possible, though I’m not much of a fan of writing sequels (Homeland notwithstanding). For me, so much of the joy of writing comes from discovering a whole world in my subconscious, and it’s hard to get the same satisfaction from retreading that ground after I’ve traversed it and mapped it once.
Here are the other stops on Doctorow's "30 Questions" tour:
- Wednesday, Oct. 8: Bunbury in the Stacks
- Thursday, Oct. 9: Stacked
- Friday, Oct. 10: Forever Young Adult
- Saturday, Oct. 11: ROBOT 6
- Sunday, Oct. 12: The Midnight Garden
- Monday, Oct. 13: Cuddlebuggery
- Tuesday, Oct. 14: Guys Lit Wire
- Wednesday, Oct. 15: Novel Thoughts
- Thursday, Oct.16: The Book Rat
- Friday, Oct. 17: Alice Marvels