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A.E. Osworth Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

We Are Watching Eliza Bright (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

A.E. Osworth is an author who made their debut in 2021 with the release of We Are Watching Eliza Bright. The book tells the story of a game developer who is dealing with harassment. The book is told in a unique way as the story is collectively narrated by a fictional subreddit. It is an interesting way to tell the story as the narrator is inherently unreliable as they aren’t witnessing all that happens and often imagine what happens. We Are Watching Eliza Bright was long listed for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

Osworth teaches part-time at The New School, teaching undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. They also teach fiction at Catapult, with emphasis on joy-centered nonlinear drafting, and teach creative non-fiction at Fledgling. Their focus at the latter is on accessing memory through the writer’s relationship with other art.

They live in Portland, Oregon and have many They also work freelance and have had their work appear many places, including Autostraddle, Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright has an interesting origin story as the author was angry about GamerGate. They were working for Autostraddle as Geekery editor and while covering nerd culture, they watched the story unfold and just got madder as the story went on. GamerGate was a harrasment campaign that took place only where sexism and anti-progressivism was promoted in video game culture. The campaign mostly targeted women who worked in the industry, from game developers to journalists, and featured doxing and threats.

Specifically, they were upset about how anyone who is not a straight white cis man must deal with harassment like that. They loved the internet and want everyone to use it, but things like this showed just how far that was from happening. They were also big proponents of the act of play as they believe it is one of the most valuable things that people do in life. So GamerGate angered them on another level there as it not only treated so many people badly, but also messed with the human act of play and took the fun out of it. Osworth couldn’t stop thinking about it and used writing as a way to process the thoughts. They didn’t know if anyone would like the book at first, but it was something they felt that they had to write and they have said that they wrote it out of spite.

The Reddit part of it came as they were on the app and started to take things from it. They realized that the narrator didn’t actually like the lead character in the book and that it was actually the “manosphere” narrating the book. The narrators of the book have been running unchecked and not getting any consequences for their action which makes a point about how that type of community and groupthink can be toxic. It certainly was during GamerGate.

They also developed the Sixsterhood voice as a narrator who are the opposite of the Reddit narrators in many ways. These differences even appeared in the style of writing as the Reddit narrators speak in short sentences while the Sixsterhood don’t use periods and use creative capitalization. The book often deals with what’s real by blending the offline and online worlds.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright was named a Best Book of 2021 by NPR, Harper’s Bazaar, CrimeReads, Electric Literature, and Autostraddle. The book was called “unputdownable” by Harper’s Bazaar and “The book I most fervently devoured this year.” by Emily VanDerWerff, reviewing the book at Vox.

Eliza Bright is working as a video game coder and considers this to be her dream. She works at Fancy Dog Games and her dream becomes a nightmare when her private life becomes public. Eliza is a self-taught coder who gets on the wrong side of many when she calls out the toxic masculinity and chauvinism that is prevalent in her industry as well as her own work place. However, there are some who believe that she needs to be destroyed in order to protect the sanctity of gaming culture.

The story kicks off as Eliza reports an incident of workplace harassment and it is dismissed without much action by her bosses. It all starts with a line of code that she wrote is changed after she completed it and she notices it. The code has a line that reads: “//80085,” and she worries that is a bug. When she asks friends what it means they recognize that it simply reads “boobs” and is a prank by some of her male co-workers.

She decides to take her frustrations to a journalist and her story is soon online. This leads to disaster as she is fired soon after and doxxed online. She becomes a rallying figure for women in America, but she also becomes the target of male gamers. Their collective voice narrates the story as she is in their cross-hairs. They monitor her every move online and offline as she she is threatened and stalked.

The power of this collective spreads their hate to everyone in Eliza’s life and she soon starts to wonder who to trust. She’s brought into an under-the-radar Collective known as the Sixsterhood who take her in and protect her. However, the violence of the gamer’s rage moves from online to the real world as one fan sets out to exact his revenge in real life. The Sixsterhood and subreddit incels will guide the reader as this situation reaches its violent conclusion.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright is an unputdownable novel that gets into the dark parts of the internet where male rage reigns while also exploring the thin line between online and real life. The book is a story of the resilience of women and provides a powerful feminist message. The book isa great read, but it will also make you mad at just how real and true the harassment that Eliza goes through is.

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