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Godplayers [Paperback]

Damien Broderick

Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

28 Mar 2005
August Seebeck is in his twenties, a man of average looks and intellect. Then comes the claim of his great-aunt Tansy that she has been finding corpses each Saturday night in her bath (they vanish by morning). August dismisses this tale as elderly fantasy until he stumbles upon a corpse being shoved into the second-floor bathroom window of his aunt's house. Even that wouldn't faze him, but then someone steps out of the mirror...August suddenly discovers he is a Player in the multi-universe Contest of Worlds and that his true family is quarrelsome on a mythic scale. His search for understanding follows a classic quest pattern of the Parsifal kind, except that August is nobody's fool. An epic quest that is funny and engrossing, Godplayers is in the best tradition of Zelazny, Van Vogt, and the Knights of the Round Table, from one of science fiction's hottest up-and-coming writers.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press; paperback / softback edition (28 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560256702
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560256700
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,421,111 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A frustrating, plotless read 6 Mar 2006
By K. Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Sorry to be wrench in the works but I hated this book...even though I did finish it. It had me hooked when the first few pages contained some very cool concepts: Super beings looking in on a collapsing universe and rooting for the hyper-evolved intelligences contained therein to achieve a sort of godhood--I'm loving all that. Somewhere near the middle I realized with dread that the author was going NOWHERE with any of it.

The book changes reality frames so randomly and often that I just couldn't believe any of it. That kind of thing can work if the author lays the groundwork to make it feel plausible (so masterfully done in John C. Wright's "The Golden Age"), but Broderick just doesn't bother with the legwork. The tech is never explained or even differentiated from fairy tale magic. The characters hardly have a chance to interact before they're hurled off into another reality and have to deal with it. It's hard to get involved with any situation when you know the carpet can be pulled out at any second.

If someone asked me to explain the plot I really couldn't tell them. It's one of those books where a bunch of stuff happens and the characters react to it. The main character certainly has no plan other than exploring and scoring with babes, and the superintelligent players of "the game" NEVER explain what "the game" even is. This is actually what kept me slogging throught to the end. Surely he'll tell me what "the game" is since that's the very reason the characters even exist. But I guess that was asking too much. I had a feeling it involved apposing the "K-machines", but the book pretty much ignores that angle in favor of jumping around "Sliders" style.

Most frustrating of all was the main character who I grew to hate passionately. He gets hurled into a multiverse of super beings and acts like he's at a neighborhood barbeque. He NEVER asks the kinds of questions an actual person would. At the rare occaisions when he gets a chance to talk with friendly characters I'd be mentally screaming at him, "Ask what the hell is going on, you fool!" but he always managed to find other distractions more important than the things crucial to his survival. By the end I was rooting for his death. If we had a Darwin award for fictional characters, he'd be a shoo-in.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Energetic and engaging: intriguing speculative SF 22 May 2006
By Richard R. Horton - Published on Amazon.com
Godplayers is an extremely energetic and engaging novel, one in which the author is obviously having fun, and just as obviously a work by a writer who knows and loves the SF field.

The main action of the novel follows a young man from Australia named August Seebeck. His parents disappeared, presumed dead, when he was a boy, and he was raised by relatives, in particular his Aunt Miriam and later his Great-Aunt Tansy. He comes home to Tansy's house after herding cattle in the outback, to find that she claims dead bodies have been showing up in her bathtub. She's a bit dotty, and works as a psychic, so he tends to discount this, and goes to wash up. And naturally a dead body shows up soon after, carried through the mirror by two women, one of whom, Lune, is sufficiently beautiful that August is drastically smitten despite the unfortunate circumstances of their meeting. Especially when he notices that she has the same curious metallic design in her foot that he has. But Lune and her companion inform him that they will have to wipe his memory, and out comes the "green ray"...

Mysteriously, the memory wipe doesn't stick. Quickly August is involved in some very strange doings indeed. He tries to follow the mysterious women through the mirror, and in very rapid order indeed he is jumping from universe to universe. It soon comes clear that August is part of a family he has not suspected (the other members have significant names like Maybelline, and Juni, and Marchmain... see the pattern?), and that the family is engaged in something called the Contest of Worlds.

And so the novel goes, recomplicating again and again, as August desperately tries to make sense of things, to find his Aunt Tansy, and to learn the secret behind his new family and his parents' disappearance. He's also trying to forge a relationship with the beautiful Lune (one that develops perhaps just a bit implausibly quickly). In the process we visit numerous parallel worlds, and several different "levels" of the universe -- mostly based on real (if perhaps not precisely mainstream) physical theories. It's all great fun, very fast moving, clever stuff.

The afterword mentions as influences Fritz Leiber and Roger Zelazny. "Destiny Times Three" is the Leiber story Broderick mentions, while the obvious Zelazny parallel is Amber. And indeed the novel recalls those writers a bit, as well as perhaps Charles Stross' new series that has also been compared to Amber, The Merchant Princes. But Broderick's work is not simply hommage, nor is it derivative -- it is original SF that happily nods to its precursors. And it is, put simply, purely fun, and at the same time intriguing speculative SF.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What Happens When You Write a Book Without an Outline? 3 July 2006
By Elliot Bowers - Published on Amazon.com
After reading the last hundred pages of this mess of a book, I am slowly attempting to reassemble my sense of coherence. It will no doubt take some time and some therapy to do that...along with perhaps some gallons of fruit punch drunk in sight of a midget. Does that make a great deal of sense? Of course it doesn't--as does the book GODPLAYERS. There are so many self-contradictions, acts of illogic and downright reams of rants that the book gets lost in itself. Then there is how the book is so full of itself that the plot gets lost in the sauce. The lack of sense and sensibility in this book is enough to make a grown man scream for his mommy--or another glass of fruit punch.

Now, a glass of the red stuff down my gullet, let me try to at least begin to make sense of the senseless. This book begins with a young adult-ish character named August--muddling through life and living with his aunt. Corpses start appearing in the aunt's upstairs tub. The aunt disappears in one of the least coherent two paragraphs ever to appear in a science fiction novel. August takes it upon himself to use the mystical hieroglyph-thingy on one of his ankles to pull an Alice-in-Wonderland stunt and ends up dealing with a hoarde of incestuous flesh-robot relatives that have as much sense in the head as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears combined: a group of space-faring, metaphysics-ranting, zebra-hunting, gourmet-cooking psychotics who seem more obsessed with fashion and etiquette than they do in dealing with the threat at hand due to some never-defined contest. Oh, did I fail to mention that this book switches between the first-person narrative and third-person for no good reason other than variety? Again, this barely begins to make sense as a plot--if there WAS a plot. Even after drinking a liter of fruit punch--the powerful red kind--it does not make too much sense.

Not only has the plot been beaten into a senseless melange, but it also moves at a truly constipated pace. So what happened after August meets his relatives? What happened was pointless. After the first hundred pages, the book steeps into a drool-inducing series of chapters with August and his inbred flesh-robot-clone relatives doing nothing but wining and dining, ranting about the multiple universes and mucking up big time. Some other critic hereabouts said to not skim. Guess what? A person could chop out the middle hundred and forty pages and not miss much. In short, the plot progression hits a major blockage for the center of the book. I ought to give away the equally pointless ending just for that...including the fact that the main character dies a pointless death and is resurrected to find out that a pet is a petty god or something.

The book's plot was senseless; the book's progress was constipated... On top of that, it should be noted that the writing style fails. The language is nearly incoherent to anyone who didn't take any philosophy or physics cognate courses at the college level. There is little to no neutral narrator to actually explain the drivel. There is very little in the way of a narrator at all. No, the writer of the book pretty much just let the characters talk their trash without bothering to make a great deal of sense about it. It generates the impression that the writer himself probably did not know too much about what was going on--not that much was happening in this book at all.

If anything, this is an example of what happens when a person acts without forethought--or at least without a plan. GODPLAYERS is an example of a book written without an outline. Now I have heard of people doing such things, much as I have seen an Internet video of someone dressing up like banana, shouting "LET'S ROCK AND ROLL!" before setting himself aflame in front of his videocamera-holding relatives--expecting to be unsinged. A decade or so before this act of astounding human wisdom, there was also a movie director some years ago who made movies without scripts. I remember one of his films somehow involving ninjas, midgets and a triple-decker birthday cake... Then there are the irate Neanderthal husbands who insist that they can navigate hundreds of miles of highway without maps. The book GODLAYERS is nowhere close to being as amusing as setting oneself alight in a banana costume or making movies with midgets fighting triple-decker ninja birthday cakes, but it maybe makes just about as much sense. Now I'm off to consume the remainder of my red fruit punch before some psychotic robot clone-girl with hairy legs threatens to wipe my memory. Better yet, I wish that she would as so I could forget this book all the more sooner.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun SF, if you enjoy a challenge. Stimulating! 11 Mar 2006
By Brenopa - Published on Amazon.com
I don't have to understand every single scientific principal in an SF novel, and I certainly didn't understand the ones in Godplayers! Still, it was an enjoyable, fast-paced read, with likable, if somewhat shallow, superbeings trying to save the world. The book is very challenging--don't skim! pay attention!--but it is a refreshing change from dumb books about space travelers and aliens. Don't get me wrong; those elements are in this book too, but presented in a much more imaginative way. I actually enjoyed bouncing around with the childish lead character; when HE was confused, well, so was I. A sense of humor, and a brain will help you enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Godbenchwarmers 9 Mar 2007
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
It's hard to figure how an acclaimed veteran author could come up with something as incoherent as this mess of disconnected ideas and directionless contrivances. In the "story" (and I use that term loosely), the young slacker protagonist finds himself mixed up in a violent mess of clashing universes, as he has some vague connection with an annoying group of demigods (who are also somehow his lost interdimensional relatives) who are in a videogame-like grudge match called "The Contest" in which multiple universes are played like chess pieces. This is a fairly serviceable premise, and Broderick gets a few points for ambition and creativity, but his construction of the ensuing "story" is nonsensical to the point of pomposity.

Broderick's unbelievably amateurish method of creating suspense is for the other characters to refuse to explain things to the protagonist until finally doing so, obscurely, near the end of the book. And not only is that amateurish, it doesn't even make sense for this book's plotline, as the other characters need the protagonist's help in their epic battle. If you desperately needed someone's help, but he had trouble figuring out what the problem was, wouldn't you explain everything to him precisely and immediately? You have to wonder if Broderick himself even knew what was happening while he wrote this claptrap. But don't despair because the amateurishness continues unabated. The characters nonchalantly fail to ruminate on all the vast implications of their violent multiversal struggle (which nobody else even notices, by the way), characters understand their own words after they say them, and vague subplots and entirely new concepts keep popping up before the significance of earlier ones are explained - all with diminishing connections to the main storyline.

And regardless of all of the above flaws in logic, this book is a rapidly deteriorating mishmash of disconnected explorations that subsume the already directionless plot. Broderick goes absolutely nowhere with contrived big ideas on cosmology, cyberpunk, alternative philosophies, programming languages, and even Norse mythology - not to mention the lifelike robots, talking animals, conspiracy theories, and mystical ancient tomes. All the while, the characters converse in faux-ironic loquaciousness and frequently interrupt their eternal struggles with over-described gourmet wining and dining. And Broderick didn't even try to wrap up this "story" in one book, as we have to (not) wait for the sequel to get even basic explanations of how all these characters and settings originated. Illogical storyline construction, nonsensical character interactions, disconnected subplots, and a hodgepodge of malnourished philosophical musings do not make a novel. Not even for a veteran. A high school creative writing workshop student would flunk for this. [~doomsdayer520~]
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