Deep Dive

Ron Walters. Angry Robot, $14.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-85766-926-1
Until a rushed conclusion, this nightmarish sci-fi thriller, Walters’s debut, is powered successfully by a father’s fear of losing his family. Video game developer Peter Banuk spends far too much time away from his wife and children as he obsessively finalizes his new game, Starflung, following the failure of an earlier one, Scorchfell. With help from his tech mogul best friend, Bradley Moss, Banuk plans to add VR to the game, promising “full sensory immersion.” But a trial of the Deep Dive VR headset leaves Banuk disoriented and distressed, awakening to find that Scorchfell was a great success and Bradley’s been dead for over a year. More horrifying, his two school-age daughters, Evie and Cassie, are missing, and his wife, Alana, doesn’t remember them existing, explaining that they were just two characters in Scorchfell. Banuk’s anguish is palpable as he searches for any proof that his children were real, despite nagging fears that he could be suffering from false memory syndrome. The ultimate explanation, depending on clichéd villains and some high-tech gizmos, is rather perfunctory, but the bulk of the story is convincing due to Banuk’s panicky love for his wife and daughters. Walters doesn’t stick the landing, but he pulls off some emotional entertainment on the way there. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 09/17/2021
Release date: 01/11/2022
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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