Off To Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer Book Review

Off To Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer 
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: March 18, 2014

Martin is a normal guy with a normal job doing normal computer hacker things, until the day that he discovers The File. This seemingly ordinary file allows him to manipulate reality, revealing that the entire world as we know it is just a computer program. Martin starts small, floating in the air, teleportation, adding a few digits to his bank account, but it turns out the government frowns on money appearing out of nowhere. So Martin travels back in time to the Middle Ages hoping to pose as a wizard. What he finds are a handful of other computer nerds who also discovered the program and are living quite happily in medieval England playing at being wizards. It turns out though, that even when reality is just a computer program, things can get very real.

This is one of those books that I would consider a crossover. Although Martin is certainly a grown-up with a job and his own apartment, it still feels very much like a young adult book. Martin even ends up at his parents house at one point, which are some exceptionally funny moments by the way. In truth, that is what is awesome about this book, the humor. This book knows the genre it is in and the kinds of people who may read it. It makes fun of itself and the genre in a way that felt fresh and interesting. There are so many great geek moments and some fun ideas concerning their "wizard" powers. Martin is definitely not a smooth kind of guy in modern America or medieval England, which just makes him more charming in my opinion. There are some wonderful secondary characters as well, my favorite being Martin's mentor Phillip who has an borderline obsessive loathing for Jimmy who also calls him Merlin.

One of the interesting aspects of creating a world in which reality is just a computer program though is that it takes away the immediacy. Even when there are fatalities, it felt more like video game deaths rather than something extremely serious. To be clear, there are some very real consequences to misbehaving as a wizard, but they almost seem petty and childish. Maybe not to the characters who receive the punishment, but I was never really worried about anyone losing their life or anything since the main punishment seemed so petty.

Perhaps that was the point though, as this book is pretty lighthearted throughout. Something heavy like murdering the antagonist would have been out of character for these guys anyway. An enjoyable lighthearted romp that is perfect for those who love computers, fantasy, wizards, or computer hackers pretending to be wizards.