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Novel Hardcover

An alternate cover for the novel.

BioShock: Rapture is a science fiction novel set in the eponymous BioShock universe and was released on July 19th, 2011.[1] 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 point before the first game starts. Both familiar and lesser known characters from the BioShock universe are expanded upon in the story, as well as locations like Apollo Square and Point Prometheus.

The cover art was designed by Craig Mullins.[2] The glowing light on the globe indicates the coordinates of Rapture.

Development and Book Status[]

On July 17th, 2009, in an interview with Gamasutra, creative director Ken Levine indicated that he was working on a novel set in Rapture with writer John Shirley.

"I'm working on the BioShock novel being done, with a writer named John Shirley, and I'm going to just sort of peek my nose in and write the prologue and the epilogue of that. And I'm sitting down to write it, and it's like, 'Oh! I can just write about Tenenbaum! I can just say what she's saying! And she can talk! And the audience may not go off and, like, shoot her in the head while she's saying it!'"[3]

The novel was originally planned to coincide with the release of BioShock 2 seven months later in February 2010. However, it was reported in January 2011 that the publication date was moved to March 1st, 2011.[4] One month later, the date was pushed back to July 19th, 2011.[5]

On May 6th, 2010, Levine reported being "excited" about receiving a new draft of the novel.[6] On February 10th, 2011, Ken Levine announced that he had finished writing the foreword of the book.

"I wrote my tiny corner of the BioShock novel last night. Hard to describe the feeling of writing for Ryan again after 3 years."[7]

Later that day, he was asked by reporter Brenna Hillier (@draqul)[8] about whether he was responsible for the novel's delays. Levine responded with a sarcastic comment that he was responsible for personally delaying the novel similar to how he broke up the Beatles.[9]

When asked whether he was responsible for delaying the novel, Levine replied:
"I also broke up the beatles."[10]
… which means no, and he didn’t and isn’t, for those of you incapable of detecting humour.

Five months later on July 19th, the day the book was published and made available for sale, Ken Levine replied on twitter in a response to the novel's canon status that he had not read the book.[11][12] It is unclear if this was also meant to be another sarcastic reference to the book having just come out.

On July 26th, in an interview with Console Obsession after the release of the book, writer John Shirley noted that one of the reasons for the novel's delay with the incorporation of BioShock 2 into the plot as well as getting Ken Levine's approval on the content.[13]

In February 2014, Levine made a number of tweets clarifying that he "actually enjoyed the bio novel" and never hated it.[14][15] His least favorite page was "the one that said 'Copyright 2009'."[16]

In 2015, Ken Levine revealed on twitter that a book based on BioShock Infinite was underway with a new collaboration with writer Joe Fielder.[17]

On the BioShock Wiki, to segregate between information only given in the novel versus what is established in the games, a banner will appear above the paragraph with the following format:

The following is based on the BioShock: Rapture novel and has not been confirmed by canon sources.

Author's Note[]

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, [18]


"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 has 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 has 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.[19]


This page is under construction. Please check back later.
This message was added 23:06, January 17, 2016 (UTC).


In New York City, 1945, Andrew Ryan, a successful businessman, receives a report from his chief of security, Sullivan, on the terrifying results of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima by the United States. Convinced of the impending doom of civilization, Ryan shares with Sullivan a project he has been designing in secret to enable escape from an Atomic war. With all the preparations done (employing researchers, sending surveyors, and picking a spot), Ryan is ready to start building this grand work. Remembering the 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, called Rapture.

Part One: The First Age of Rapture[]

Chapter 1[]

In New York City, 1946, Bill McDonagh, a freelance plumbing contractor, is sent to do maintenance work on the bathroom of a recently built penthouse apartment atop the Andrew Ryan Arms on Park Avenue. He is noticed by the owner, Andrew Ryan, when he starts replacing the tin-plated fittings with brass, rebuilding it to a better quality at his own cost. Ryan is impressed by the plumber's honest craftsmanship and sense of initiative, traits that they both share, and sends his man Sullivan the next morning to offer McDonagh a job as his new building engineer.

Chapter 2[]

In New York City, 1946, Sullivan goes to the docks to inspect The Olympian, the largest of three ships Ryan bought for his secret North Atlantic project and being 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 of prying eyes such as government agents. Greavy voices the same concern as Ryan of a world divided by the United States and the Soviet Union, and trusts in Ryan's need for secrecy for this project.

Meanwhile, a rising con man going by the name of Frank Gorland takes over The Clanger (a bar) from its owner, Herv Merton, after cheating him over a loan. Gorland then enjoys the boxing setup at the bar, but mostly uses it to gather information from his customers. One day, he receives a visit from Voss, an FBI agent, who asks him questions about things happening on the docks, mentioning the North Atlantic project bankrolled by Ryan and millions of dollars of materials being sent out to sea. Working to find out more and a way to eventually profit from this secret operation, Gorland 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. Gorland's efforts finally pay off when he locates The Olympian, and makes one of the ship's deckhands spill the beans, discovering the ship's use in supplying construction of an underwater colony in the Atlantic.

Chapter 3[]

In New York City, 1946, Bill McDonagh is waiting outside of Andrew Ryan's office with the secretary, Elaine, to deliver a report about the progress made on the tunnel. When Ryan arrives, he tells Bill that he's already aware of the progress made on the tunnel and instead tells him that the two of them will be going on a trip with two stops: one in the city and one that is far outside of the city.

In a limousine ride to their first stop, Bill tries to talk about the figures of the tunnel project with Ryan, but he is silenced by him. Ryan informs him that the tunnel project can progress without him and instead asks him if he is ready to meet the greatest challenge of his life. Bill doesn't hesitate to let Ryan know that he's ready for whatever he can throw at him, to which Ryan asks if he's ever heard of the North Atlantic Project. When Bill mentions his knowledge of the words only, Ryan attests the secrecy of the project from government agencies, including the OSS, British, and Soviet intelligence. This leads Ryan to question Bill on the concept of loyalty, to which Bill explains how he's loyal to who he's fighting against; not who he's fighting for. His answer pleases Ryan, who claims that he only aligns himself with people who are loyal like Bill. After denouncing the interests of the world's governments, Ryan asks Bill to take a trip with him to Iceland to see the North Atlantic Project firsthand. Naturally, Bill is taken back by the request to leave New York on a trip to Iceland, but given Ryan's seemingly deep trust in him, he tells him that he trusts him and will make the trip with him. As he agrees to make the trip, they arrive at the first stop of their trip.

In another part of New York, Frank Gorland arrives at Seaworthy Construction disguised as a delivery driver named Bill Foster. While snooping around, a man who seems in charge finds him and quizzes him. Frank tells the man he has a delivery of canned goods for a Mr. Andrew Ryan, but when he is told that Ryan never shows up at the docks, Frank takes the opportunity to gather more information by threatening to deny the delivery. Doing so nets him the news of the project being off the coast of Iceland and that they'll need tons of more canned goods to feed the project's workers. He also learns that a man named Rizzo is in charge of Seaworthy Construction while Ryan is away. When Frank tells the guard he'll find Rizzo to have him sign for the delivery, he is questioned on what delivery company he works for. Though Frank says he's with Acme, the guard doesn't trust him and makes him return to his delivery truck, but not before Frank sees a bathysphere in one of the warehouses. This makes Frank realize that there is a ton of money to be made if he can manage to get into Ryan's operation.

Andrew Ryan and Bill McDonagh arrive at a theater where Sander Cohen is performing his final number. A bunch of drunks outside the theater frustrate Ryan with their negative comments about Cohen, but he and Bill push on and enter the theater through the stage door. Together, they watch the end of Cohen's performance, to which Ryan admits it to be one of the more lackluster shows. After the performance is over, a dancer named Jasmine briefly discusses with Ryan her inability to advance beyond the chorus at the hands of Cohen. He assures her that she will have her time and offers to pay for elocution classes so she can improve her vocal performance. She is not entirely happy with his offer, but Ryan continues by offering a place in the new community he's developing. She's content with his offer and walks away as Sander Cohen arrives. Cohen and Ryan briefly talk while Bill feels uneasy about the way Cohen calls Ryan by his first name. Cohen reminds Andrew Ryan about an invitation to a gallery opening at the Verlaine Club, which will be showcasing a new art style called tableau vivant. Ryan admires Cohen's dedication to art, but Bill feels that Cohen's true side is hidden away deep. Cohen informs Ryan that his show will likely be closing earlier than expected, but Ryan assures him that he will have a special, captive audience in their own venue and that Broadway will be outdated. Cohen is pleased as he leaves Ryan and Bill to go to the dressing rooms. Before Bill can say anything, Ryan admits that Cohen can be a bit outrageous before changing the topic to ask if Bill is doubting himself whether he wants to travel to Iceland with him. Bill tells Ryan that he is committed and ready to go with no second thoughts.

Chapter 4[]

In the works...

Chapter 5[]

In the works...

Part 2: The Second Age of Rapture[]

Chapter 6[]

In the works...

Chapter 7[]

In the works...

Chapter 8[]

In the works...

Chapter 9[]

In the works...

Chapter 10[]

In the works...

Chapter 11[]

In the works...

Chapter 12[]

In the works...

Chapter 13[]

In the works...

Chapter 14[]

In the works...

Part 3: The Third Age of Rapture[]

Chapter 15[]

In the works...

Chapter 16[]

In the works...

Chapter 17[]

In the works...

Chapter 18[]

In the works...

Chapter 19[]

In the works...

Chapter 20[]

In the works...

(part of chapter 20): 1959, New York, Elaine McDonagh brings her daughter to a medical examination after their fleeing Rapture and reaching North America. Elaine is clearly a changed woman after persevering through the events in Rapture, and it is obvious that she knows her husband, Bill, was murdered for his actions against Andrew Ryan.



In the works...

Ethics and Morality[]

In the works...

Free Will[]

In the works...

Altruism vs. Egoism[]

In the works...

Control and Order vs. Freedom and Chaos[]

In the works...


In the works...


In the works...


In the works...

Good vs. Evil[]

In the works...


In the works...

Main Characters[]

Main article: BioShock: Rapture Characters


The following is a list of every location visited or mentioned in the novel. Some are familiar, but others completely new:


  • New York City, United States of America
    • Broadway
    • Fifth Avenue
    • Park Avenue
    • Ryan Building


List of Known Contradictions[]

Even with oversight from creative director Ken Levine, the novel is known to show inconsistencies and contradictions with evidence presented from the games.

It should be noted that the novel was published in July 2011 with BioShock being released in August 2007, BioShock 2 in February 2010, and the Rapture-based DLC for BioShock Infinite, Burial at Sea, released in November 2013 for Episode 1 and March 2014 for Episode 2.

Novel Note(s)
Andrew Ryan's memory of fleeing Russia in 1918,[20] the departure involving the death of his uncle.
  • In-game address announcements[21] state that he fled Russia in 1919.
Bill McDonagh kills a Spider Splicer with a tommy gun during the raid on Fontaine.[22]
  • In an audio diary found on his corpse, McDonagh states that he has never killed a man.[23] The Rapture Civil War appears to have been going on for quite some time.
  • The audio diary is also directly mentioned in the novel. However the line about killing is omitted. McDonagh details being inebriated and erasing the tape later on.[24]
Andrew Ryan strangles Jasmine Jolene to death.[25]
  • Jasmine Jolene's room in Eve's Garden shows a large amount of blood and bloody footprints. This along with a bloody section of pipe implies a far messier death.
Diane McClintock stops by Pauper's Drop in the Fishbowl Diner and observes Atlas taking charge of a bread line.[26] Though no exact date is given, two sections later it is shown to be Christmas Eve, 1958.[27]
The novel states that Dr. Yi Suchong is alive in 1959.[30]
  • In BioShock 2 Gilbert Alexander reveals that Suchong had died at some point in the past, and his work was used to create the Alpha Series, the first successful candidate being Subject Delta.[32] In the beginning of the game, Delta is actively wandering the halls of the Adonis Luxury Resort. It is stated to be 1958.
Roland Wallace is captured and taken by Ryan's men to Dr. Suchong, sometime in 1959.[33]
  • Suchong's experiment on Wallace is detailed in the Enrage Trial audio diary. However, it is established that Suchong was still working for Fontaine Futuristics. Wallace also seems friendly and affable.
  • A newspaper article about Suchong seen in the Silver Fin Restaurant mentions the Enrage Plasmid, revealing it had been already been created and released in 1958.
The novel makes no mention of Tears opening up in Rapture.



  1. BioShock Prequel Novel in Stores Today! at
  2. Craig Mullins' portfolio with the uncropped, full version of the cover art
  3. Ken Levine on Studio Culture: From Looking Glass to 2K Boston from Gamasutra
  4. Bioshock: Rapture novel due in March from VG 24/7
  5. BioShock: Rapture novel delayed into July from VG 24/7
  6. tweet by Ken Levine "Just got new draft of the BioShock novel. Excited to check it out."
  7. Tweet by Ken Levine
  8. @draqul twitter account has since been deleted. Archived version of the @draqul twitter account showing Breena Hillier is @draqul
  9. Ken Levine’s BioShock: Rapture foreword completed from VG 24/7
  10. Tweet by Ken Levine
  11. tweet by Ralph Arend "@IGLevine ugh I hate that I'm asking this, but is Bioshock: Rapture considered canon? I assure you I feel appropriately disgusting now."
  12. reply by Ken Levine "@ralpharend since i haven't read it, would have to say no."
  13. "BioShock: Rapture – interview with the author, John Shirley" article at Console Obsession
  14. tweet by Ken Levine"RT @GrantTMoore: @IGLevine why do you hate the bio shock book. --I never said I did."
  15. tweet by Ken LevineRT @Kamalabootz: @IGLevine I actually enjoyed the bio novel ---To be clear, I meant a decent CHANCE of another.
  16. tweet by Ken Levine RT @benjaminroffman: @IGLevine what’s your least favorite page in the Bioshock novel you hated? --the one that said "Copyright 2009".
  17. tweet by Ken Levine"RT @TS6154: @IGLevine anything new about mr. fielder and the novel? --He's handed in first draft! We'll review when prototype is done."
  18. "BioShock: Rapture – interview with the author, John Shirley" article at Console Obsession
  19. The synopsis of the novel on
  20. BioShock: Rapture, Prologue
  21. Andrew Ryan's Speech, Public Address Announcement
  22. p.329
  23. Bill McDonagh's Audio Diary: Stopping Ryan
  24. p.399
  25. p.396
  26. p.348-352
  27. p.353
  28. BioShock Loading Screen Quotes: "Ryan takes down smuggling operation… Fontaine and thugs killed in fiery shootout!" - Headline, Rapture Standard, 9/12/58
  29. Moses Lydecker's Audio Diary: Left Behind
  30. p.389-392
  31. Yi Suchong's Audio Diary: Protection Bond
  32. Gilbert Alexander's Audio Diary: The Pair Bond Mechanism
  33. p.426-427
  34. Yi Suchong's Audio Diary: Observation #17
  35. Yi Suchong's Audio Diary: Observation #22
  36. Yi Suchong's Audio Diary: Observation #33