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Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Shot is a comic sf novel based off the role-playing game Paranoia (see that node for details). It was written by Ken Rolston, one of the designers of the game; I have never actually played the game, but it sounds as if the book is pretty true to the world of the game.

Background and Premise

Alpha Complex is a (very very) large domed city, governed by The Computer. The Computer is All-Knowing, Benevolent, and Infallible. It has only Your Best Interests at heart. If you step out of line, it will, regretfully, kill you. It does a lot of killing.

This is not as bad as it seems, for the organic citizens of Alpha Complex are all clones, and what with The Computer's advanced methods of memory transfer, you can have another clone replacement to pick up where you left off in a matter of hours. If there is enough of you left to get a tissue sample. And if the memory transfer works. Which it does, of course, since Our Friend The Computer does not make errors. (Why, even suggesting that The Computer made an error would be traitorous. And that would get you zapped. But you are perfectly safe, because The Computer will never make an error, and thus this whole discussion is moot).

Troubleshooter* Homer-R-Ick and his troubleshooting team are sent out on a dangerous mission: to assassinate a rogue High Programmer. This is an extremely dangerous mission; not only are the troubleshooters likely to use up their entire allotment of reserve clones just getting to the High Programmer, but if they don't, there is a very good chance that The Computer, in its infinite wisdom, will kill them all at the end of the mission for destruction of Computer property, being Commie Mutant Traitors, or for assassinating a High Programmer.

Subjective Commentary and Criticism

It's not a great book, overall. The first few hundred pages are a slow, blow-by-blow description of the low quality of life in Alpha Sector, with more adjectives than you can shake a stick at. Rolston also has a thing for compound nouns (synthpaper, synthalgae-cake, synthcrosstrainingshoes, etc.) which gets old fast. The team spends a lot of time running around in circles -- apparently to demonstrate that nothing ever gets done in Alpha Complex unless you are willing to shoot someone. Most of these madcap antics don't further the plot.

Then, around pages 200 or 250, suddenly the story starts moving. Some of the characters start acting sane (before this they ranged from bloodthirsty maniacs to just plain insane). Things start happening that have a direct and obvious role in furthering the plot. Things are Explained. It turns into a Good Book, or at least a Decent Read (if you like comic SF, anyway). This change seems to have a direct correlation to the removal of The Computer from the picture -- but he comes back at the end, and things start to get chaotic again.

So... I guess that unless you are a fan of Paranoia, you should give this book a miss. It's just another low quality hack comic SF story (Comic sf draws poor writers like synthhoney draws synthflys). If you are a fan of comic sf, it may be worth reading for those last 150 pages (I've read it twice, so it can't be all that bad).

Technical Info and Etc.

Extreme Paranoia: Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Shot, Ken Rolston. 1991, West End Books, West End Games, Incorporated. ISBN 0-87431-162-4. As far as I know, there has been only one publishing run. It was paperback, and the cover art was by Walter Velez.

Other books based on the Paranoia game are:

Sadly, I have not read either of these.

* Troubleshooters are citizens who are appointed by the computer to shoot trouble. Usually, this means Commie Mutant Traitors. Unbeknownst to... well, despite what The Computer tells us, everyone in Alpha Complex is a mutant. And everyone in Alpha Complex belongs to a secret society, which are forbidden by the computer, thus making them traitors. The Commie bit is up for debate. But really, if a troubleshooter says that someone was a Commie Mutant Traitor, who are you going to believe? The troubleshooter (he's the one with the big gun), or the smoking corpse?

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