Book Report: Perfect Dark: Initial Vector by Greg Rucka (2004)

Book coverI picked up this book after Perfect Dark was an answer to a question at a recent Geek-centric trivia night, and I did not know the answer. Of course, because I’m encountering this book as a book and not a video game, I probably won’t have it in the proper context should I ever be asked about the franchise again. On the other hand, it’s a book that I get to count towards my annual total.

I thought I recognized the author’s name. I thought perhaps he was one of the authors on the The Starcraft Archive, but I was mistaken. I remembered the name, vaguely, because he’s the comic book writer who last year said that Wonder Woman, canonically, is gay. Which is kinda overreach, if you ask me: If you’re just a small contributor to a canon, you don’t get to pronounce ex cathedra things that cover the canon which began before your birth and might well continue after your death. But I don’t tend to write in existing mythos because I’m a control freak.

At any rate, I guess this book is a prequel to the game series, but I’m less clear on the game mythos than I am on the modern DC mythos (this research notwithstanding). But as a standalone book, it’s all right. It’s set in a corporate future, the kind where the big corporations have replaced nations, have their own armies, and have re-written international law to the benefit of the corporations. One organization, the Carrington Institute, is working to expose wrongdoing among the corporations, and it has working for it a woman named Joanna Dark (of the game title). A young Mary Sue, she’s very good at fighting and shooting and whatnot.

So when one of the corporation’s CEO disappears, it triggers a race for his successor, and it comes down to a woman programmer-turned-executive and a doctor with a pharmaceutically enhanced henchman. The Carrington Institute prefers one over the other, and it looks to help her by finding a mysterious blackmailer who has information on the other candidate, who might have triggered a global pandemic.

There’s a lot of corporate intrigue going on, people not knowing what other peoples’ angles are, and so forth. Then there are some action set pieces which lack a certain amount of verisimilitude (people flipping up tables or ducking behind sofas in a firefight kinda thing).

But, as I said, it was okay.

And if you’re wondering, is there room in this other canon that the writer is working in for gay characters? Well, there is a moment where a woman touches another woman’s face tenderly, so all indicators point to yes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re known more as an outspoken person than a writer, people are going to be more sensitive to your outspokenness than to your writing, and that’s not a good thing for your reputation as a writer qua writer.

So, how does it stack up on the scale of books from video games? Better than The Dig, not as good as HALO: First Strike and most of the aforementioned Starcraft Archive. There are probably more in the series, but I’m not sure I’ll run out to get them.