Checklist of common PKD novel elements present in Game Players of Titan: drug use check! telepathic aliens check! In this novel, Phil describes a far future Earth where we have been defeated by a race of telepathic slugs from Titan. Wildly fantastic, subtly absurdist and altogether fun for PKD fans, Game Players of Titan is one of his better offerings.
Dick's 1962 novel The Game-Players of Titan, we're two hundred years into the future, the people are the entire human race and humans have anything but power in the aftermath of Hinkle radiation and losing a war with the Titanians aka vugs from Planet Titan, the human population has been decimated, only a handful of couples can have kids and those vugs hold the real power. Oh, yes, Pete can get extremely paranoid, frequently for good reason - he has hallucinations that we humans are all surrounded by vugs. And you've has such bad luck playing the game recently, Pete! What you really need, Pete, is some luck - either in yourself or in a new Game playing partner. But thanks to his good buddy Pete, Joe can rejoin the game. Once at the table for the ultimate stakes, Joe shares a true gem of wisdom: the biggest enemies for a game player are greed and fear. Mary Anne is Pats eighteen-year old daughter, a young lady having the power to invoke the Poltergeist effect, moving people and things through space and through walls. Carol Holt: Pete's new wife. Vugs on Titan: There's the ultimate Game. It's Pete and his group versus the vug master game players on Titan. The vugs just might take W.C. Fields seriously when he said, "Its morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money." Life, a Game of Chance: But seriously folks, theres a great sense of play in The Game-Players of Titan. Pete recognizes we ordinary humans are at such a disadvantage - we can't see into the future, we cant read other peoples minds, we simply have to take our chances. No answers are provided (unlike VALIS and other PKD novels, The Game-Players of Titan does not even touch on theology). Dick, The Game-Players of Titan
The first time I read this was years ago and I remember thinking how wild it was to have so many of PKD's normal theme soup all in one place. simulacra, psi, suicide, drugs, intrigue, murder, aliens, altered realities, dark fate for humanity, etc... I can see Banks sitting down to write and think, how could I improve upon this novel.
Dick, The Game-Players of Titan Books seem to float into my life in pairs, like aces, kings, or quite often twos. I guess I could count "The Game-Players of Titan" as my second gambling novel in a month. Dick uses the basics of a game of chance to introduce the idea of a group of people on Earth who gamble not for small stakes, but for cities and counties.
When we first meet the book's central character, Pete Garden, a suicidal, 150-year-old landowner, he is sorely upset due to his recent loss of Berkeley at that night's game...not to mention the lose of his 18th wife! For example, the car that Joe Schilling, Pete's best friend (a bearded manager of a classical music store, as Phil had been in the early '50s, and a clear stand-in here for the author), drives, is a riot, responding to its owner's commands with comments such as "Up yours." The book has a typically large cast (47 named characters, including the 16 in Pete's Pretty Blue Fox game-playing group); some human, some vugs, and many with ESP-type abilities. Those vugs, by the way, are silicon based, Phil here beating "Star Trek"'s Horta to the silicic punch by a good four years! Typical for a Dick novel, the book is compulsively readable and brimming with ideas. In this book--where the vugs are capable of mind control, and many characters lie to one another, and red herrings abound, and in which Pete Garden takes so many pills with his booze that he has psychotic episodes--it really is impossible to tell what's what.
"Anyhow, Pete Garden, you were psychotic and drunk and on amphetamines and hallucinating, but basically you perceived the reality that confronts us..." PKD must have dreamed that any one of his five wives or several girlfriends would one day sit across the breakfast table and speak those words to him. Along with Berkeley, Garden loses his current wife, but acquires a new one that same night. Another purpose of the game is to keep reshuffling human couples in hopes of finding those who can still "get lucky," the current term for becoming pregnant. Garden's spectacular bender that takes up much of the book occurs when he discovers that with his new wife he has gotten lucky for the first time and on their first night. What he discovers are conspiracies within conspiracies, Vug infiltration of his closest friends, and an offer to play the ultimate game to decide the fate of the earth. Game Players of Titan is PKD really hitting his stride.
The constant paranoia and second guessing was a little too much by the end of the novel and perhaps is a good representation of what it might have been like to live through; nobody feeling 100% comfortable in their own skin, with their neighbours and loved ones or with their governments behaviour making every action and reaction an awkward or painful one to make.
This is the ninth book I have read by him. The set piece is a game of Bluff on the alien planet Titan, with the two races competing for Earth.
In the future theres nothing more important the board game Bluff. A great war with the Vugs, an alien race from the planet Titan, has seriously decimated the human race. Mankind finds a way to win a decisive victory against the Vugs, but at the cost of infertility throughout the majority of those few humans who survive the conflict. If the Vug-Human police alliance finds any psic playing Bluff, theyre banned for life. He foresaw how control of a basically-addictive populace could be achieved in a number of ways; in his book A Scanner Darkly, its substance D; in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, its Mercerism; here its a simple board game. Bluffs poker-like overlay ensures that your opponent never knows whether the move youve made is a true move or a fake move to increase your score.
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.