I've recently started playing Paranoia online so picked this book up to get a flavour of the game to enrich the roleplaying experience.
This book is based on the roleplaying game Paranoia, a game set in a dystopian future where Citizens live in Alpha Complex, a huge self-contained world where everyone is happy as their every need is taken care of by The Computer, a benevolent artificial intelligence that oversees every aspect of Citizen's lives.Of course the reality is somewhat different, dealing with The Computer is a bureaucratic nightmare, nothing really works properly or on time.Quality of life is actually pretty much rotten and life is cheap.But that's okay because citizen's don't bother with breeding, they clone.If your clone dies then one of your replacement clones simply takes your place.Citizen's are designated by colour and it is a great honour to rise through the ranks (one simply has to obey a citizen of higher rank, your quality of life is infinitely better.However, the truth is it is probably better to keep one's head down and not rise through the ranks and draw the attention of The Computerr.
In this novel Home-R-ICK-2 is a Troubleshooter Team Leader - there job is to find trouble and shoot it!This is because despite The Computer's all seeing wisdom some citizen's seek to destroy the happy life of Alpha Complex due to being Commie Traitors, Mutants, members of Secret Societies and any other number of illogical sins.However, The Computer hasn't guessed that pretty much everyone is a member of a Secret Society and / or a Mutant. And of course pretty much everything is Treasonous and liable for Confession / Execution (like turning up late to a briefing when the meeting is in the past).So everyone is a Commie Traitor.
The story of Home-R-ICK-2 is fun for a while but there isn't enough material in here for a full book.Rolston has written many role playing games and I've enjoyed much of what he has written previously but he just isn't a good enough writer to make this book interesting.The early part of the book covers a number of Paranoia tropes, for instance being on a mission but being unaware of what the mission is or even where the briefing room is (because everything is classified at your security level).We have the rigmarole of trying to obtain equipment and actually getting pretty cool and dangerous (I meant PERFECTLY SAFE) test equipment to use / not destroy.It does read like the early stages of a Paranoia game but then the book kind of falls apart and isn't just to interesting.There are a couple of laughs in here (I particularly liked the pop culture references to wrestling robots and the nods to Star Wars and The Hobbit).That said, there isn't enough quality humour to push the story on.
The story itself was quite linear and it didn't seem to matter if Home-R-ICK-2 succeeded or not.That's kind of the point of the game - it's the treachery and confusion that makes it fun but it just wasn't that good of a read.