Christopher Brookmyre is one of those authors you can rely on to give you a great escapist read. His books generally rely on the ridiculous being told with a straight face, which somehow just makes it work. At first glance, Bedlam appeared to be quite a change of pace for Brookmyre. Instead of his typical crime scenario, he takes the leap into fantasy.
A couple of years from now, Ross Baker is a science drone working for international corporate giant, Neurosphere. After a particularly shitty day at work, he volunteers to be a test subject for a new brain-scanning device his colleague is working on. But after the scan, Ross finds himself trapped in the sci-fi video game Starfire, a favourite from his teen years. Even worse, he’s not the human hero, but rather one of the faceless alien baddies. How did this happen? Is there a way out? What happens if he dies in the game?
It doesn’t take long for this story to sweep you up. I’ve never been a gamer, but even I picked up on references to DOOM, Assassin’s Creed and Silent Hill amongst others (okay sure, all the ones with bad movie adaptations). Unlike many other of Brookmyre’s novels, this is a stand-alone and can be read without reference to any of the others. I think my favourite of his novels would still be Quite Ugly One Morning or All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses an Eye, but if the video game scenario grabs you, this is a great place to start.