John Golden: Freelance Debugger is a short urban fantasy novella by Django Wexler, published by Ragnarok Publishing, and the first book in what I hope is a lengthy new series. It is a very different beast compared to his epic fantasy, The Thousand Names, but it is no less accomplished, and I can't wait to read more.
John Golden works in IT, he is a debugger, and his job is to delve into computer networks and eliminate fairy infestations. When I say he delves into computer networks, I mean that he can move himself into a different dimension called a burrow where the network and the fairy infestation are manifested as a sword and sorcery medieval world, and once inside the burrow he can get to work exterminating the fairy presence. It’s kind of like The Matrix meets A Midsummer Night's Dream. In this book, John has been hired by an IT security company to sort out a particularly nasty burrow that somehow got past their firewall. It is an unusual case for Golden right from the start, and as things start to get weirder, they also start to get a lot more dangerous.
This book is full of lots of geeky / nerdy / pop-culture references and plays on words (like when John Golden learned how to program in KOBOLD). The humour is quite dry and understated, constructed from observations of how IT support is largely treated. This book has also been written in a unique way with the main character's sister providing something similar to director's commentary as small footnotes that pop-up from time to time as the story progresses. Kind of like the footnotes that Terry Pratchett uses in his Discworld books. I feel like the footnotes are a little too frequent and slightly jarring at the start of the book, but after reaching the first quarter mark they started to feel much more like a natural extension of the story.
John Golden: Freelance Debugger is a fast read with a great style and a unique spin on incorporating the fairy realm into our own. If you have ever worked in IT or if you enjoy watching The IT Crowd, then I think you will really get a kick out of this book.
Review by Ryan Lawler
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