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'BioShock Infinite' is getting a prequel -- in novella form

Irrational Games

Irrational Games announced Tuesday that its highly anticipated video game — "BioShock Infinite" — is getting a prequel ... one that comes in novella form.

"BioShock Infinite: Mind in Revolt" is an e-book for the Kindle -- one that will be available beginning February 12 for $2.99 and free for those who pre-order the "BioShock Infinite" game through Amazon.

The story gives readers a unique look into the mysterious, weaponized airborne city of Columbia that is the setting for the game while also offering insight into some of the factions and the key people who inhabit it. Written by Irrational Games writer Joe Fielder with creative director Ken Levine, the 40-page story takes us to the city in the early 1900s — a few years prior to when the game takes place in 1912.

It’s a time period when the leader of the Vox Populi — the rebel faction inside Columbia — has been captured by the Founders — the group that not only rules the city of Columbia but worships America's founding fathers like they're gods, Fielder told me in a recent interview. 

Daisy Fitzroy is the captured rebel leader. And Fielder describes the novella as a "battle of wills" between the her and a psychologist who is interviewing her in an effort to do research into the roots of mankind’s rebellious nature.

"His goals are to understand where it comes from so that it can then be eliminated," Fielder explained. "When she was captured she seemed like she was going to be the ideal subject for his research, but he ends up with a little more than he bargained for."

Fielder said the prequel plays out as a collection of private journal entries and transcripts of interviews. And it was the punk rock history book "Please Kill Me" that, in part, inspired him to approach "Mind in Revolt" this way.  That is, "Please Kill Me" delivers the oral history of punk rock simply as a series of interviews with the people who lived it (Iggy Pop, Danny Fields, Dee Dee and Joey Ramone among others).

"I'm really kind of fascinated with books that handle oral history," Fielder said. "That format of just no editorial intrusion — just a series of interviews — I thought was fascinating."

Of course, the question is: Should you read the prequel to "BioShock Infinite" before playing the game ... or after? ("BioShock Infinite" launches March 26.)

Fielder says: "Both."

"You know, it’s written in such a way where people can read it before and enjoy it," he said. "And then there are aspects of the story that they will appreciate more after playing the game."

Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.