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BioShock: Rapture (Novel)

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BioShock: Rapture
Novel Paperback Cover
John Shirley
Cover Artist
Craig Mullins
Release Date:
July 19, 2011
432 (Tor), 400 (Titan)
978-0-7653-2484-9 (hardcover) 978-0-7653-2485-6 (paperback)
$27.99 (hardcover, USA) $14.99 (paperback, USA)
$31.99 (hardcover, Canada)
£7.99 (paperback, UK)
Novel Hardcover

An alternate cover for the novel.

BioShock: Rapture is a science-fiction novel set in the eponymous BioShock universe and released on July 19th, 2011. It was written by John Shirley and published by Tor Books in the U.S.A. and Titan Books in the United Kingdom. Its story covers events from the creation of Rapture until a certain point before the first game. Both familiar and lesser-known characters from the BioShock universe are expanded upon in the story, as well as locations like Apollo Square or Point Prometheus.


"I am Andrew Ryan and I’m here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow? No, says the man in Washington. It belongs to the poor. No, says the man in the Vatican. It belongs to God. No, says the man in Moscow. It belongs to everyone. I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose....Rapture. A city where the artist would not fear the censor. Where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. Where the great would not be constrained by the small. And with the sweat of your brow, Rapture can become your city as well."

It was the end of World War II. FDR's New Deal had redefined American politics. Taxes were at an all-time high. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has created a fear of total annihilation. The rise of secret government agencies and sanctions on business had many watching their backs. America's sense of freedom was diminishing . . . and many were desperate to take their freedom back. Among them was a great dreamer, an immigrant who pulled himself from the depths of poverty to become one of the wealthiest and most admired men in the world. That man was Andrew Ryan, and he believed that great men and women deserved better. So he set out to create the impossible, a utopia free from government, from censorship, and from moral restrictions on science, where what you gave was what you got. He created Rapture---the shining city below the sea.

But this utopia suffered a great tragedy.

This is the story of how it all came to be . . .and how it all ended.[1]



1945, New York City, Andrew Ryan, a successful businessman, receives from his chief of security, Sullivan, reports on the terrifying results of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the United States. Convinced of the impeding doom that will befall on civilization, Ryan shares with Sullivan the project he has been designing in secret to escape from an Atomic war. With all the preparations done (sending researchers and picking a spot), Ryan is ready to start this grand work. Remembering his exile with his father from Russia and Communist persecution, Ryan dreams of what will be a fortress against the madness of the men in power, dedicated to freedom, Rapture.

Part One: The First Age of RaptureEdit

Chapter 1Edit

1946, New York City, Bill McDonagh, a freelance plumbing contractor, is sent to do maintenance work on the toilets of a recently built and expensive penthouse apartment at the top of the Andrew Ryan Arms in Park Avenue. He catches the eye of the owner, Andrew Ryan, when he starts replacing the tin fitting with brass, pretexting better quality at the cost of a higher price he is willing to pay for himself. Ryan grows impressed by the plumber's honesty and sense of initiative, traits that they both share, and send Sullivan the next morning to offer McDonagh a job as his new building engineer.

Chapter 2Edit

1946, New York City, Sullivan goes on to the docks to inspect The Olympian, the largest of the three ships Ryan bought for his secret North Atlantic project and filled with pre-fabricated parts. He meets there with Ruben Greavy, head engineer for the Wales brothers, the architects commissioned by Ryan for his plans, and both men discuss the project, how Ryan gathered the means for it as well as its attraction to prying eyes such as government agents. Greavy shows the same concern as Ryan about a world divided by the United States and the Soviet Union, and trusts in the man's need for secrecy in his accomplishment.

Meanwhile, a rising con man going by the name of Frank Gorland takes over The Clanger from his owner, Herv Merton, after cheating him over a loan. Frank then enjoys the boxing setup at the bar, but mostly use it to gather informations from his customers. One day, he receives the visit of Voss, a FBI agent, asking him questions about anything happening on the docks, mentioning the North Atlantic project bankrolled by Ryan and millions of dollars in values being sent out to sea. Working to find out more and eventually profit from this secret operation, Frank learns a few days later from a grieving woman about the death of her lover Irving, employed by Seaworthy Construction on underwater construction for Ryan. His efforts finally pay off when he finds The Olympian and, after making one of the ship's deckhand spill the beans, discovers its use to supply the construction of an underwater colony in the Atlantic.

Part 2: The Second Age of RaptureEdit

To be completed

Part 3: The Third Age of RaptureEdit

To be completed


1959, New York, Elaine McDonagh brings her daughter to a medical examination after their fleeing Rapture and reaching North America.

Author's NoteEdit

The following is an unpublished author's note which was intended to be included in the novel.

This novel is a dramatization of the backstory of BioShock and BioShock 2. It is essentially a “prequel” to the events in the first two BioShock games. It incorporates information I gleaned in playing the games through several times and in consulting with designers, online sites, books, interviews. I also pored over background and timeline materials provided for me by 2K and by Tor Books.

The tale you hold in your hands begins shortly after Rapture was first conceived, and carries on, through Rapture’s civil war, into 1959. The main characters, and some minor characters, from BioShock are to be found here; characters from BioShock 2, like Sofia Lamb, and the Wales brothers and even Delta, as well as settings and historical details from BioShock 2, are also incorporated.

While we sometimes leap several years from one chapter to the next, the story’s arc is unmistakable, and is close as possible to the tale that emerges in the audio diaries, public address announcements, and radio conversation found in the game. It also incorporates consultancy provided by Ken Levine (through the conscientious efforts of Sarah Rosa). I drew terminology, large events, and characters from the game, but invented a certain amount of connective story and character background. I created a few new characters, as required in the composition of a novel, but never knowingly contradicted BioShock. As suggested by Ken Levine, the narrative’s chief protagonist is Bill McDonagh.

Most of the narrative threads begun in this book are resolved by its finale. A few are resolved within the games themselves. I was very pleased to be involved in adapting this unique, artfully designed game.

—John Shirley, [2]

See AlsoEdit

References Edit

  1. The synopsis of the novel on
  2. "BioShock: Rapture – interview with the author, John Shirley" article at Console Obsession

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