Five Books to Read in Preparation for Bioshock Infinite

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January 22, 2013 by karynwolo

BioShock InfiniteWhen the original Bioshock was released in 2007, much ado was made of its influence from, and criticism of, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Bioshock Infinite is one of our most anticipated titles of 2013 with the potential to be an even richer experience (than Bioshock 2, at least). Gamers will no doubt spend their time discussing the many references and influences hidden throughout the game. Sound like the smartest guy on the block by reading GamerCheese’s primer on works that may have influenced Irrational Games’s upcoming sequel:

1. Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen

Bioshock Infinite’s Lead Designer, Ken Levine, has stated that Devil in the White City was a significant influence on his conception of the floating city of Columbia. The true-life story is an account of the 1893 World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago and the serial killer who uses the influx of tourists to hunt his prey in anonymity. The Chicago Exposition and Columbia are both gleaming, neoclassical tributes to American exceptionalism masking untold evils.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia is a city torn apart by war. Revolutionaries, called Vox Populi, are battling against the ruling class on behalf of the common people. Despite fighting against tyranny, the Vox Populi has become corrupted by revenge and violence. Similarly, the French revolutionaries in A Tale of Two Cities are as cruel and arbitrary as those they overthrew. The red banners of the Vox Populi in Bioshock Infinite mirror the red caps of the French revolutionaries, both revel in public executions, and both seize private property for public use.

3. Uncle Sam by Steve Darnall and Alex Ross

Similar to Bioshock Infinite, the comic book Uncle Sam pulls the curtain back on nostalgia, shining a light on the more sinister aspects of the American mythology. It tells the story of a disturbed, homeless Uncle Sam who is forced to confront his nation’s history of slavery, war, and civil rights abuses. Alex Ross’s painted panels, influenced by J.M. Flagg’s Uncle Sam posters and the Columbia Exposition, share a remarkable similarity to the aesthetic of Bioshock Infinite.

4. King Kong by Delos W. Lovelace (based on the film)

The novelization of King Kong was actually released prior to the 1933 film. Everyone knows its story of a giant ape’s tragic infatuation with starlet Ann Darrow. This echos the protective relationship between Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth and the giant, robotic Songbird. Time will tell if these two have a happier ending.

5. Aurorarama by Jean Christophe-Valtat

Aurorarama tells the story of New Venice, a steampunk-influenced city that sits near the North Pole and outside of time. New Venice’s Council of Seven has enacted strict laws oppressing the local Inuit tribes, similar to the Founder’s xenophobia in Bioshock Infinite. With action, magic, and special powers, any fan of Bioshock will love Aurorarama.

Bioshock Infinite’s release date has been pushed back to March 26th, which gives you plenty of time to check out some of these selections. Before you head to your nearest library, let us know about any literary influences you’ve noticed in Bioshock Infinite, or in your other favorite games!

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