One of my goals for 2017 was to read more foreign fiction, particularly ones that have to be translated from their native language. I have to admit however, that I was concerned that translated books wouldn’t have the same flow as reading in your native language. I was sure that I would have to put in some work to comprehend what is happening in each scene. Thankfully, More Than a Game has broken down this wall for me. Of course, every book will be different, but More Than a Game has shown me that it’s possible for translated books to read just like native English books.
More Than a Game by Russian writer Andrey Vasilyev (and translator Jared Firth), is a quirky take on gaming related cyberpunk. The protagonist Harriton Nikiforov is a society columnist at a news publication. He’s called to his bosses office and given a talking to about producing something worthy of being printed. His boss assigns him the task of writing a series of articles about a VR video game phenomenon called Fayroll. The required equipment to play the game is shipped to Harriton’s home and he immediately begins playing and finds himself engrossed in this new fantasy world.
More Than a Game serves fans of two genres as it has elements of both cyberpunk and fantasy. What’s great about it is that the story isn’t dense or convoluted. It’s simply an easy read that you can easily get lost in. You’ll find yourself being just as immersed in the Fayroll world as Harriton (who is known as Hagen the Warrior in the game). The fusion of these flavours has actually given birth to a new sub-genre called LitRPG. Gamers will understand that RPG is an acronym for role-playing game; and the progression of Harriton’s in-game character is based on this genre of games.
It can be said that you’ll enjoy More Than a Game more if you’re a gamer. However, I do feel like those who simply enjoy a simple fantasy story can also enjoy this book. There certainly is a level of gamification to the story, but it never feels overdone to the point that it alienates those who aren’t particularly into gaming.
Going back to the translation, I expected them to be presented very literally. Often when written work is translated, it can lose a sense of emotional depth because the priority is for it to simply make sense. With More Than a Game however, I was delighted to see that it included emotional depth that appeared to be directed entirely at people who are native English readers. Nothing ever feels lost in translation, and on the contrary it appears that additions to the story were made to serve the English speaking audience.
After speaking with a representative at the publisher, Litworld, it’s easy to tell that they are passionate about these projects. Their aim is to ensure that as many people around the world get to enjoy their works. This is reassuring for the reader as many times a publisher will translate their books simply as a means to earn more money, without attempting to deliver a good overall reading experience.
Andrey Vasilyev has created a beautiful world, and has opened the gates to a series with mass potential. I look forward to future additions in the Fayroll series; as well as upcoming books from publisher Litworld.
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