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The Moon Maze Game (Dream Park) Mass Market Paperback – September 25, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Dream Park Series

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Editorial Reviews


“A cat-and-mouse chase in which role-playing serves as perfect training for heroics and survival.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The characters are nicely drawn and the plotting is intensely tight. This one brews up nicely.” ―The San Diego Union-Tribune

“It is a book that demands to be devoured in big, meaty chunks…[there is] an un-put-down-able quality between the covers of The Moon Maze Game.” ―New York Journal

“A solidly satisfying story. Series fans and lovers of gaming fiction should enjoy this action-filled collaboration.” ―Library Journal

About the Author

LARRY NIVEN is the award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces, and fantasy novels including the Magic Goes Away series. He has received the Nebula Award, five Hugos, four Locus Awards, two Ditmars, the Prometheus, and the Robert A. Heinlein Award, among other honors. He lives in Chatsworth, California.

STEVEN BARNES' first published collaboration with Larry Niven, The Locusts, was nominated for the 1980 Hugo award. He has also written several episodes for The Outer Limits, Baywatch, and other television shows.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dream Park (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Reprint edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765365448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765365446
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #950,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Spangler on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a Dream Park fan. I've read the first book in the series five times and the other two at least three times each. When I learned two years ago that Nivens and Barnes were coming out with a fourth novel, I was ecstatic. It was a long time waiting for it. Now after reading it, I struggle with disappointment. Not that it isn't well written and exciting; anyone purchasing this book will get their money's worth in story value. But as a Dream Park novel it felt perfunctory with more emphasis being given to the terrorists and their story than to the gamers or the game. The books in this series have always functioned at three levels: the imaginary game with its puzzles, the gamers, and the mystery. The fun of this series has been the interaction of the three, and in the other three books, it's the wonder and mystery of the game that holds them all together. Nivens and Barnes would make incredible Game Masters for real. In this fourth entry, the game is reduced to being merely a setting for a hostage/captive scenario. For me this was too bad, for the game mythos the authors have developed for their Moon Maze Game is excellent and deserved more elaboration and unfoldment than it's given. It should have been center stage rather than a backdrop. The sense of High Adventure that is so essentially a part of these LARP games is built up in the beginning and then abandoned as the terrorists take over. Not that the resulting story isn't exciting and well-done. It is. It's just that if I wanted to read about African politics, terrorists, hostages, etc., there are lots of other books I could purchase. In a Dream Park novel, I wanted to read about--and vicariously participate in--the Game, feeling the drama between the Game Master and the players, and see how the gamers use their skills to figure out the game's puzzles. In Dream Park, the game's the thing, and in this respect, this novel disappoints. The game may be afoot, but it ends up limping.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked the first book in this series (Dream Park) and absolutely loved the follow-up (The California Voodoo Game). This, on the other hand, was a big disappointment.

Spoilers follow.

We're set up for basically two different plots here, the stereotypical "evil genius gm out to get certain players and yet stay within the rules of the game" and the rather more interesting "professional kidnappers go after one of the players". The first is dropped once the second becomes known to the players. The game itself didn't seem all that interesting to me, but I'll admit that because of what happens the reader is only getting disjointed pieces to look at. There's more than enough ideas here to make a good book, but we don't get that. We get cardboard characters being pushed around a board. Most are barely one-dimensional. We get the terrorist with the Irish accent, the player that everybody loves who is handicapped, the politician on his way up who sells out. One member of what we are shown to be a possible budding relationship is killed off with no reaction from the other member at all. The final twenty pages probably didn't take much longer to write than they did to read. I don't mind the occasional mindless adventure in my fiction, but I don't expect it from Niven and Barnes.

Purists should wait for the paperback, everybody else can just skip it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best books in this series (Dream Park & The California Voodoo game) had better drawn characters that invested you in the resolution of the game and the mysteries around it. I think this book was casually written with very cardboard like players and comical protagonists. I pre-ordered this book based on the previous books. I am very disappointed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Spoiler warning...may contain some spoiler information....

Summary (2.5 stars):
The Dream Park Milieu is brought back for the 4th book in the series. It is set roughly 30 years after "The California Voodoo Game" was set. The location is Heinlein Base on Luna (the moon). The basic plot goes something like this:
1) The biggest game ever is about to be played on the Moon.
2) During the game, a kidnapping takes place of the son of the King of an African country (might be benevolent tryrant or not...).
3) The PCs in the game have to both solve puzzles to stay ahead of the kidnappers for personal safety but they also want to show they can be heroes in real life.

You only get to see hints of the "Moon Maze Game" story, props and settings. It is actually quite frustrating as the game has some great potential for a Dream Park story/game. Disclaimer: I do run Dream Park RPG games from time to time, so I have a particular bias here. The story of the kidnappers and the interaction with the PCs plus moon base staff is very simplistic and not very compelling. It appears that Larry and Steven just phoned in this part of the book. It is rather disappointing especially when they do have a diamond in the rough here.

If you like the Dream Park book series, the book is worth reading. If you have not read the other books, I suggest that you read the first and third books before thinking about reading this book.

World Setting -- 3 stars:
Nothing really new here from the other Dream Park novels. If anything it seems that world society has become lazy and complacent. The joy that you felt from the gamers in Dream Park games / experiences is just not present in this story.
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