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The Game-Players of Titan Paperback – October 23, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reissue edition (October 23, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780547572437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547572437
  • ASIN: 0547572433
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,064,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Blaze on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Bindmen play a game of "Bluff." The usual stakes: marriages, and the legal rights to land. The matches take place on Titan, where the native "vugs" watch over, feeding their obsession with gambling. Meanwhile, Earth is barren from a previous war and the use of "Henkel Radiation." The vugs rule Earth, but don't occupy it, or perhaps they surreptitiously do?

The story was great in my opinion. Classic sci-fi management featuring talking drugstores, new-age pregnancy tests, telepaths (imagine playing a poker-monopoly hybrid against a mind-reader!) and many more clever ingredients. There is even a "whodunnit" noir vibe midway through the book. Above all, it carries with it Philip K Dick's usual between-the-lines commentary about his views on war, prejudice, and the need to move on from the past to create a better, healthier future.
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I am an avid fan of Philip K. Dick and I see each novel or story as part of a great oeuvre of a brilliant and immensely creative mind. That said, “Game Players of Titan” is probably of middling quality. The story depicts a post-apocalyptic world dominated by a silicone-based life form from Titan called “vugs.” Their invasion was facilitated by devastating planetary war involving the use of “Henkel Radiation” by Red China, which reduced earth’s population and sterilized much of the remainder. A couple that is able to conceive a child has gotten “lucky.”

Humans now occupy their time in a game called “Bluff.” Winners not only acquire property but other people’s spouses. Pete Garden, the protagonist, owns large amounts of property. However, at the beginning of the story he has not only lost an area of prime real estate but also his wife. The quality of marital relationships is judged by how well the partners succeed at Bluff together. Pete also suffers from depression and a preoccupation with suicide.

The story involves the mysterious murder of an infamous “Bindman” (player and property owner), Pete’s unexpected fatherhood, and the culminating contest between humans and the gambling-addicted vugs; the stakes being the vugs’ withdrawal from Earth or the replacement of the human players with simulacra.

There is, as in every Dick novel, there is the never-ending conflict between appearance and reality, and moments in which reality dissolves into its fundamental, frightening “Abgrund” (abyss).

This is not one of the Philip K. Dick novels I would read multiple times, such as “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” “Ubik,” or “Now Wait for Last Year,” but any of his novels and stories is both a challenge and a pleasure to read. As with the greatest writers, his style and imagination are one of a kind.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kat Hooper VINE VOICE on March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
Originally posted at FanLit.

After a devastating atomic world war, the humans of Earth have mostly killed each other off. Only about a million remain and most are sterile due to the radiation weapons developed by the Germans and used by the "Red Chinese." Some humans now have telepathic abilities, too.

The alien Vugs of Titan, taking the opportunity to extend their domains, are now the Earth's rulers. They seem like benevolent conquerors and overseers. For their amusement, they allow human landowners ("Bindmen") to play a game called Bluff, which is much like Monopoly where the stakes are real pieces of property on the ruined Earth. The Vugs, who seem (but may not be) intent on not allowing the human race to die out, also use the game to mix up couples, hoping to serendipitously find viable breeding pairs. Any Bindman can play in the district where they own property, using their land and spouse for stakes in the game.

Pete Garden is a pill-popping suicidal Bindman who plays Bluff nightly. With the roll of a die, Pete has just lost his 18th wife and -- worse -- Berkeley, California. When the man who won it from him is murdered, Pete is the prime suspect and since his memory of the night of the murder is gone, Pete isn't so sure he didn't commit the crime. As he and his friends investigate, they uncover plots and conspiracies and eventually travel to Titan to play Bluff with their alien overlords. This game has really high stakes.

The Game-Players of Titan, first published in 1963, is chock-full of the elements we see in so many of Philip K. Dick's stories -- appliances that talk, alien simulacra, miserable marriages, precogs, psychiatrists, paranoid delusions, lots of alcohol, and hallucinogenic drug trips... I could go on.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Scott McFarland on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've got to rank this in the lower half of Dick's novels, as the last third of the book feels rushed and it doesn't come off as very coherent (even in comparison to his other dense mind-benders). But, the book has its charms. It's got plenty of ideas per square inch, the usual quota of highly imaginative scenarios and incisive moments, and a vivid assortment of characters and alien life forms. It resembles "Solar Lottery" a bit in its unpredictable plot turns (as well as in being nominally centered around some large-scale version of a game - TV Quiz Shows in the earlier case, and a complex board game resembling Monopoly in this case). It also reminds me a bit of "Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldridge" in terms of what Sutin calls Eldridge's "tight plotting" and "hairpin turns".
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