Book Jacket

 

rank 4153
word count 15488
date submitted 17.11.2010
date updated 22.04.2011
genres: Fiction, Fantasy
classification: adult
incomplete

Games

Robert Whelan

If I gave you the universe to play with, would you still believe in God?

 

Who gets to play and who gets played? Who is playing the player?

If you don't know the rules or potential moves, how can you play?

Making your own rules might work for a while, right up until the point you realise the pieces are players too. When the pieces start playing by their rules and making their moves; what happens then?

 
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tags

betrayal, computers, contemporary, cyberspace, dark humour, deceit, delusion, drugs, episodic, experimental, games, lies, madness, manipulation, nihil...

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18 comments

 

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elmo2 wrote 1034 days ago

philosophic, short story like, episodic, good quotes, i am not sure if there is a thread here, maybe something to do with an apathetic god, interesting discussion about apathy by the way in one of the chapters, i read about four of them, the need to communicate comes through - phone calls - the need to keep distance, good use of the plain language, not a lot of tortured metaphors, i like that, though some good descriptions, i'm backing it, if you get a chance please take a look at one of my pieces 'ghost dance' or crow diary'

j.l. wood-miller wrote 1008 days ago

Robert Whelan devles into the 21st C. ethos of juxtaposition in an intriguing melange of storylines: minimalist dialogues operating on the edge of poetry, carefully descriptive passages, intriguing and strongly drawn characters. A singular structure and also subtly funny in a kind of Samuel Beckett way. A lot of readers are not going to like this—they won’t know what box to put it in. But those who like a philosophical bent mixed with drama and real people—those who are willing to suspend their disbelief and trust the author should find this (as writers) an inspiring read.

j.l. wood-miller
An Unfinished Innocence

Roman N Marek wrote 1118 days ago

I enjoyed this. Very intriguing and fun, with plenty of wit. I struggled to work out who was who and what was what in a few places, but I just let it flow on the assumption that all would come clear later. After 16 chapters I see there are still plenty of loose ends, but then it wouldn’t be interesting if there weren’t! So, how does it all fit together? And I still don't get the texting chapter - but that's probably just my age. I also wondered what the Games of the title are – pool, computer games, God’s dice – but they’re obviously the games you’re playing with your reader’s head! Fun games nevertheless.
Some typos for you: Ch.2 “Zizorce” becomes “Zizzorce” and then “Zicorce”; “moments pause” should be “moment’s pause”. Ch.5. “hand-ringing” should be “hand-wringing”. Ch.7 “had he had” should be “he had”. Ch.10 “you’re” should be “your” (three times). Ch.11. “Rinser” becomes “Rincer”. In the long pitch “thier” should be “their”.
Very good. Best of luck with it.

Sly80 wrote 1235 days ago

With so few clues in the pitch and the first couple of chapters, I was floundering a bit - Why ring Adrian up at 6:30 am to arrange a meeting for the next day? - then I reached chapter 3 and things started to slot into place: 'Biffskin cuvah'. By 10, I'm none the wiser but I am entertained and intrigued.

Bloody clever writing: 'The warm calming colours of something that looked an awful lot like a car bombing', 'passed the metaphorical exams', 'started out being "forever" and "always" and ends up being "too long"', 'a speed nearly touching tectonic'... they just keep right on coming. Such an experimental novel won't be to everyone's tastes, but you know that well enough. It shows you are a gifted and versatile writer, and I'm giving it a high rating and a place on my backing shortlist (might take a couple of weeks at the moment).

Possible nits: 'had to [be] better than having one imposed'. 'drink[-]sodden'. I love the Annie Dillard quote, but you have it on both 5 and 7. Take care not to go into lecture mode for too long - with a novel like this, you're preaching to the converted.

Elizabeth Wolfe wrote 1235 days ago

Dear Robert,
I have finally found some time to start reading your book and have read through chapter 6. Overall, I find your writing to be complex and interesting. I enjoy the way each chapter starts with a rather profound quote. I especially liked the first one about nothingness showing through God's work - so true, wish I had written it!

The juxtaposition between story lines is confusing but I grew to expect to be challenged by them. It's an experimental approach that the average reader won't understand and will likely give up on fairly soon into the book. What all the chapters I've read so far have in common are treatises or statements on power and control. Who's in control, who lacks the power, who tries to take it away, who plots to gain it. Even the technology of the phone and voice mail have some control. The Stranger/shepherd who doesn't know his clan is trespassing will no doubt have to confront the powers that be and choose his spot in this universe.

Just something odd came to mind as I was writing this...it's something like Moses arguing with God about why God picked him to lead his people to freedom. Moses felt as though the power was being forced on him and tried to get God to find someone else, just like "I" in chapter 5 is playing that same 'game' with the phone. (One of the difficulties of this site is that I can't flip back and forth between chapters while I'm writing this, so I'm at a loss to remember everything exactly to reference it correctly.) The first chapter very much reminded me of the Exodus story (not that I'm anything close to an expert on Bible stories, so take this with a grain of salt!) The idea that a person has the power within to do what s/he pleases and what makes sense. Moses argues with God but in the end takes on the tasks by accepting that he is the best person for the job. He leads by following, just like your character Z...., though hopefully with more generosity of spirit than mean old Z..!

Chapter 4 felt a little out of place. It was more a lecture on existentialism than moving the story ahead. Perhaps it will come together later on.

Lots of really nice writing and alliteration! I enjoyed the alternative words you used in the Stranger/biff chapter. If I could offer a suggestion, it would be to help the reader out a bit by identifying "I" at least by chapter 6 so that we can know if it's the same "I" as at the beginning (is it God the Christian, God the Jew, God the Muslim? or are they all the same God? or is it just another human being?)

I know these comments are rambling on. Your book is playing games with my head - probably your point exactly! In which case you have hit a home run.

Thanks so much for introducing me to your fascinating story.

BACKED (though it will still be a week until I can put you on my shelf due to prior commitments)

Elizabeth Wolfe (MEMORIES OF GLORY)

Mark Kirkbride wrote 815 days ago

I've been meaning to check this out for a while and I love the edgy late-night calls (i like the way you laid them out on the 'page', by the way), the empowering opening, the philosophical quotes... I look forward to coming back for more but intend to back this on the strength of what I've read already.

Mark, The Devil's Fan Club

DPMartin wrote 858 days ago

Hello Robert. First of all, your writing is superb; you compose your sentences in a manner that is easy to follow and structured well. Second, I'm not really sure what this is you're writing about. If it is a book of short essays, then maybe you should preface each chapter with a very brief synopsis of that chapter, such as: "A brief essay on the character of God." To me, it seems that the chapters are not linked, and I am confused as to what your objective is for the reader. Beautiful prose and descriptions, but not much explanation of the reason for your book. Best of luck!

Debbie Martin

j.l. wood-miller wrote 1008 days ago

Robert Whelan devles into the 21st C. ethos of juxtaposition in an intriguing melange of storylines: minimalist dialogues operating on the edge of poetry, carefully descriptive passages, intriguing and strongly drawn characters. A singular structure and also subtly funny in a kind of Samuel Beckett way. A lot of readers are not going to like this—they won’t know what box to put it in. But those who like a philosophical bent mixed with drama and real people—those who are willing to suspend their disbelief and trust the author should find this (as writers) an inspiring read.

j.l. wood-miller
An Unfinished Innocence

elmo2 wrote 1034 days ago

philosophic, short story like, episodic, good quotes, i am not sure if there is a thread here, maybe something to do with an apathetic god, interesting discussion about apathy by the way in one of the chapters, i read about four of them, the need to communicate comes through - phone calls - the need to keep distance, good use of the plain language, not a lot of tortured metaphors, i like that, though some good descriptions, i'm backing it, if you get a chance please take a look at one of my pieces 'ghost dance' or crow diary'

Clive Eaton wrote 1090 days ago

"Games" appeared on the Authonomy homepage 'pitch me' slot and I thought the short pitch was very clever, and reading the full pitch made me immediately watchlist the book. (There is a small typo on the last line of your pitch - "thier" is incorrect.) Good luck with this one. I'll give it a read and comment once I've completed my backlog.

Clive
The Pyramid Legacy

Roman N Marek wrote 1118 days ago

I enjoyed this. Very intriguing and fun, with plenty of wit. I struggled to work out who was who and what was what in a few places, but I just let it flow on the assumption that all would come clear later. After 16 chapters I see there are still plenty of loose ends, but then it wouldn’t be interesting if there weren’t! So, how does it all fit together? And I still don't get the texting chapter - but that's probably just my age. I also wondered what the Games of the title are – pool, computer games, God’s dice – but they’re obviously the games you’re playing with your reader’s head! Fun games nevertheless.
Some typos for you: Ch.2 “Zizorce” becomes “Zizzorce” and then “Zicorce”; “moments pause” should be “moment’s pause”. Ch.5. “hand-ringing” should be “hand-wringing”. Ch.7 “had he had” should be “he had”. Ch.10 “you’re” should be “your” (three times). Ch.11. “Rinser” becomes “Rincer”. In the long pitch “thier” should be “their”.
Very good. Best of luck with it.

CarolinaAl wrote 1118 days ago

I read your first and second chapter.

General comments: An intriguing start to what promises to be a captivating story. Interesting characters. Thought-provoking narrative. No description in these two chapters. Excellent tension. Good pacing.

Specific comments on chapter one:
1) "God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through" Period after 'through.'

Specific comments on chapter two:
1) "I am human; therefore nothing human is alien to me" Period after 'me.'
2) - ..... Huh? What? Who's this ...? When using ellipses ( ... ), only use three dots. Using more than three dots is unusual and pulls the reader out of your story while they try to determine what you mean to imply with five dots. You don't want that. There are more cases of this type of problem.
3) -Its about half past six ..... Its (possessive pronoun) should be It's (contraction for it is).
4) -... who said I needed to get away, for fucks sake. Fucks (plural) should be fuck's (possessive).

I hope this critique helps you further polish your all important first chapters. These are just my opinions. Use what works for you and discard the rest.

Would you please take a look at "Savannah Fire?"

Have a fine day.

Al

curiousturtle wrote 1119 days ago

Robert,

I started reading your Opus and thought I would give you my cent and half:

The first thing that jumps here is the style. Is a moment by moment perception where every moment is a dangling act promising the next to have the same urgency....

..... and that you deliver.

Since you stated in your bio you want constructive criticism, I would leave aside the accolades and concentrate on the the former

Some Minor/Minorest/Minormost points:

First, it looks like you have two prologues going. First the "otherworldly' statement then the dialogue.
I would bring it down to one, the stronger one being the conversation

The dialogue in ch 2 is right on the mark: compressed, succinct, action oriented

What is missing is the sense of place; where are this people?
If you are trying to be a minimalist in order to create a hook, fine.
But at least one line that would open a mind picture in the reader's head.
Second some connective tissue in between the dialogue would help also (i.e. body language description)
The reader needs images to visualize dialogue, otherwise it reads like a play

At the start of chapter 3, you need the landscape shot. There is a reason why 30% of the budget on a Sci fy movie goes out the window on the first 3 minutes and that is landscape shot.

Think of the start of Star Trek. The Fifth Element. AI

That is a visually poetic world that entices the reader into a world he has never seen, which acts as a motivator for him to engage in the kind of suspension of disbelief that would make plausible all the fantastic premises that surround Scy Fy narratives

"his grim expression dissuaded" "apparent fury" "stupidity of" "maddingly"
I would cut a bit on the emotional labeling
Why?
Because when the writer labels an emotion, the reader reads ...the label
when he describes...the reader feels

"never(1) really (2) explained" "minuscule patience" 'solidly silent"
I would also cut a bit on the modifiers
why?
because as Updike said: "the modern reader can fill in the blanks"

Let me know if that helps,

Overall, wonderful

david

rhine wrote 1130 days ago

You have an extra - at the end of chapter 1.
I would either use the play/script convention of putting names at the start of each line, or change the symbol for each character. That's what I do in my handwritten story notes.

Scott Rhine (Foundation for the Lost)

J.S.Watts wrote 1167 days ago

Distinctive and intriguing text, tightly and smoothly written and at times more than a bit confusing, but I guess that's the intention. Like the philosophy. Like the humour. Not keen on the latent misogyny.

The dialogue and conversational narrative are particularly strong.

Not sure where this is headed, but it's largely a fun ride.

J.S.Watts
A Darker Moon

Nigel Fields wrote 1188 days ago

Hi Robert,
Well, I couldn't find anything to crit, and I'm a natural critic. I see this notion in the comments, but I must echo: This is a very unique piece of writing. Unique with a big appeal. I think this is a refreshing find. Thank you for uploading it here.
All the best.
John B Campbell
Walk to Paradise Garden

Rachael Cox wrote 1222 days ago

This is a very unique piece of writing, I really enjoyed the flow of your narrative and the dialogue was brilliant. I read several chapters and was engrossed. I didn't quite understand how chapter 3 and 12 fitted into the story, though I loved them non the less. Maybe I need to read on. Your synopsis was very intriguing but I don't feel it really represents your book and you might want to revisit it, not wanting to sound negative!
I really enjoyed what I read so far of Games and will read more when I get time.
I wish you the very best with this very original and captivating book
Rachael
Dreamscape

Tari wrote 1226 days ago

This had me whisking through the chapters trying to tie up the phone calls. The first chapter was philosophical almost metaphysical with the debate on spirituality, emotions and states of mind.

Second chapter - loved the phone call with an unknown caller and Adrian. You are obviously an informed writer to carry that through without recourse to exposition, scene or description. You have Finchley Road Station at twelve o'clock firmly entrenched in my mind.

So I went off again and was caught up in the chapter of debates such as apathy as against solitude - you have a point there.

Loved the humour in chapter eight - Rinser and Declan are such strong characters. It's a bit surreal and thought provoking again.

Your words almost dance, they are so refreshing and scoop the reader's mind up in a net of questions, answers and energy.

I will most certainly be back for more. It is a book that begs the reader to find the answers or at least think about them.

Best wishes,
Katy.xx
Phobic Dawn.

Marita A. Hansen wrote 1233 days ago

Your book’s chapters are witty bite-sized stories. I had no idea I was getting this from the synopsis. I’d put something like this in there, because it will probably pull more readers in, and they will also be more likely to click over the pages due to being curious about what the next story is about.

I also wasn’t sure what I was getting after chapter 1, but really did like chapter 2. I thought the dialogue was well done, and Adrian is rather amusing. I particularly liked the line (quote): “Also known as ‘what-the-fuck’ o’clock’.
**An editing point: The fullstop needs to be put on the other side of the apostrophe, eg. o’clock.’
I also noticed this elsewhere. Also, fullstops and commas shouldn't be after question-marks.

I thought chapter 3 was also good, with the Stranger, savage Zizorce, and the cunning Rawk. It gives the reader a taste of something else, as well as showing your skill at writing fantasy.

You’ve got a great sense of humour. In chapter 4 I smiled at this: ...they cheat at Cricket..., and also grinned at the Yoda comment relating to fear: Fear is a big step on the way to the dark side, and according to him, the dark side was not a place to go. (Did you know why Anakin turned to the dark side? Because he was whiny. His character building in those films sucked a major one.) I also liked the Star Wars reference because I have a conversation in my book concerning The Return of the Jedi. Don’t bother looking for it as it’s in a chapter that isn't uploaded here.

Anyway, I’m going off track here, so back to your chapters. Chapter 5 had an amusing quote at the top concerning Eskimos, and chapter 6 probably was my favourite because Chen was a highly entertaining character. You had very clever lines throughout your stories, but most noticeably in this one. Examples: Perched like a drink sodden gargoyle on a tall stool... and: the caked make up she wore like some sort of colour blind geisha. And, I loved the marshmallow comment.

Chapter 7 also had some good ones: I’d take up fighting if I was you. You ain’t that much of a lover.

I think your strengths are in your dialogue, the narrative voice, and your originality. I can’t really criticise anything as there is nothing really wrong with what I read, it’s just a very unique approach to writing, which I like. If you asked me if there is anything I think you should look at changing, again, it would be the synopsis as it doesn’t aptly describe your book. Also, you could possibly add comedy to your genres, and there is also philosophy in there. It really is a cornucopia of genres.

Message me if you want to ask anything about my review. All the best, Marita.

Elizabeth Wolfe wrote 1235 days ago

Dear Robert,
I have finally found some time to start reading your book and have read through chapter 6. Overall, I find your writing to be complex and interesting. I enjoy the way each chapter starts with a rather profound quote. I especially liked the first one about nothingness showing through God's work - so true, wish I had written it!

The juxtaposition between story lines is confusing but I grew to expect to be challenged by them. It's an experimental approach that the average reader won't understand and will likely give up on fairly soon into the book. What all the chapters I've read so far have in common are treatises or statements on power and control. Who's in control, who lacks the power, who tries to take it away, who plots to gain it. Even the technology of the phone and voice mail have some control. The Stranger/shepherd who doesn't know his clan is trespassing will no doubt have to confront the powers that be and choose his spot in this universe.

Just something odd came to mind as I was writing this...it's something like Moses arguing with God about why God picked him to lead his people to freedom. Moses felt as though the power was being forced on him and tried to get God to find someone else, just like "I" in chapter 5 is playing that same 'game' with the phone. (One of the difficulties of this site is that I can't flip back and forth between chapters while I'm writing this, so I'm at a loss to remember everything exactly to reference it correctly.) The first chapter very much reminded me of the Exodus story (not that I'm anything close to an expert on Bible stories, so take this with a grain of salt!) The idea that a person has the power within to do what s/he pleases and what makes sense. Moses argues with God but in the end takes on the tasks by accepting that he is the best person for the job. He leads by following, just like your character Z...., though hopefully with more generosity of spirit than mean old Z..!

Chapter 4 felt a little out of place. It was more a lecture on existentialism than moving the story ahead. Perhaps it will come together later on.

Lots of really nice writing and alliteration! I enjoyed the alternative words you used in the Stranger/biff chapter. If I could offer a suggestion, it would be to help the reader out a bit by identifying "I" at least by chapter 6 so that we can know if it's the same "I" as at the beginning (is it God the Christian, God the Jew, God the Muslim? or are they all the same God? or is it just another human being?)

I know these comments are rambling on. Your book is playing games with my head - probably your point exactly! In which case you have hit a home run.

Thanks so much for introducing me to your fascinating story.

BACKED (though it will still be a week until I can put you on my shelf due to prior commitments)

Elizabeth Wolfe (MEMORIES OF GLORY)

Sly80 wrote 1235 days ago

With so few clues in the pitch and the first couple of chapters, I was floundering a bit - Why ring Adrian up at 6:30 am to arrange a meeting for the next day? - then I reached chapter 3 and things started to slot into place: 'Biffskin cuvah'. By 10, I'm none the wiser but I am entertained and intrigued.

Bloody clever writing: 'The warm calming colours of something that looked an awful lot like a car bombing', 'passed the metaphorical exams', 'started out being "forever" and "always" and ends up being "too long"', 'a speed nearly touching tectonic'... they just keep right on coming. Such an experimental novel won't be to everyone's tastes, but you know that well enough. It shows you are a gifted and versatile writer, and I'm giving it a high rating and a place on my backing shortlist (might take a couple of weeks at the moment).

Possible nits: 'had to [be] better than having one imposed'. 'drink[-]sodden'. I love the Annie Dillard quote, but you have it on both 5 and 7. Take care not to go into lecture mode for too long - with a novel like this, you're preaching to the converted.

Walden Carrington wrote 1240 days ago

Robert,
Games is an entertaining read with a philosophical bent I like very much. Those quotations at the beginning of each chapter are thought-provoking. I've rated it with six stars and placed it on my watchlist.

Walden Carrington
Titanic: Rose Dawson's Story

A. Zoomer wrote 1245 days ago

GAMES

Dear RW,
I love the idea of this book, we need it. The writing is clear and understandable.
The structure is a bit jarring for this reader.
Chapter One, I am god, Chapter Two a conversation between two people,(are they both men, no names no background). Chapter Three a descriptive piece with three new characters, Chapter Four back to the I.
I have starred the book and will put it on my bookcase because after you massage it I want to read the whole thing.
A Zoomer

1