The Games

( 24 )

Overview

Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new high-energy, high-concept tale from first-time novelist Ted Kosmatka, a Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Brilliant geneticist Silas Williams oversees U.S. selections for the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one ...

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Overview

Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games in this stunning new high-energy, high-concept tale from first-time novelist Ted Kosmatka, a Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award finalist.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Brilliant geneticist Silas Williams oversees U.S. selections for the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: No entrants may possess human DNA. Desperate to maintain America’s edge in the upcoming Games, Silas’s superior engages an experimental supercomputer to design the ultimate, unbeatable combatant. The result is a highly specialized killing machine, its genome never before seen on earth. But even a genius like Silas cannot anticipate the consequences of allowing a computer’s cold logic to play God. Growing swiftly, the mutant gladiator demonstrates preternatural strength, speed, and—most chillingly—intelligence. And before hell breaks loose, Silas and beautiful xenobiologist Vidonia João must race to understand what unbound science has wrought—even as their professional curiosity gives way to a most unexpected emotion: sheer terror.
 
Praise for The Games

“Blends the best of Crichton and Koontz.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“Outstanding . . . very like something Michael Crichton might have written . . . [a] bold mix of horror and SF . . . Expect big things from [Ted] Kosmatka.”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“Kosmatka successfully captures the thrill of groundbreaking technology. . . . The pleasure of his polished, action-packed storytelling is deepened by strong character development. This near-future SF thriller . . . seems destined for the big screen.”—Library Journal (starred review)

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Games and Ted Kosmatka

"Exacting science and meticulous attention to detail provide the backbone for this thriller, which blends the best of Crichton and Koontz." —Publishers Weekly [Starred review]

"Very like something Michael Crichton might have written...An outstanding debut novel; expect big things from Kosmatka." —Booklist [Starred Review]

"Kosmatka successfully captures the thrill of groundbreaking technology characteristic of Michael Crichton’s technothrillers. . .The pleasure of his polished, action-packed storytelling is deepened by strong character development. This near-future sf thriller will capture the imagination of 'unstoppable monster' lovers and fans of disaster fiction alike and seems destined for the big screen." —Library Journal [Starred Review]

“Kosmatka’s debut novel is a…technological thriller that revs up like a racecar with a dose of bad attitude and steadily creeping horror… [Readers] who enjoy the karmic boomerang of authors like Michael Crichton or Preston and Child should eat this up.–School Library Journal [starred review]
 
"I stayed up very late just to finish this, and The Games certainly lives up to its buzz...The Games is a sci-fi/thriller with unexpected depth and humanity, and a few twists that I didn’t see coming. Very highly recommended!" —My Bookish Ways

“Modern SF started with something like E. E. Smith’s The Skylark of Space and progressed to Jack Williamson’s The Legion of Space, then to Heinlein’s classics, and on through the work of Larry Niven, John Varley, Greg Egan, Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow—and now, writers like Ted Kosmatka.”—Jonathan Strahan

Publishers Weekly
In this tense debut, Kosmatka embraces scientific horror, envisioning a future in which genetic engineering is used to create terrible crossbreeds. These creatures are pitted against each other as gladiators in the Olympic Games, with fortunes and careers riding on each battle. While most competitors resemble their natural “parents,” America’s latest creation is unique, designed by an ultra-advanced AI that was given one simple operating directive: survive the competition. As the nameless gladiator grows to maturity, it demonstrates feral cunning and intelligence, a taste for human flesh, and a murderous agenda. Now Silas Williams, the head of the U.S. gladiatorial program, and Vidonia João, a brilliant xenobiologist, must unravel the monster’s genetic secrets before things get out of hand. Exacting science and meticulous attention to detail provide the backbone for this thriller, which blends the best of Crichton and Koontz. Agent: Seth Fishman, Sterling Lord Literistic (now at the Gernert Company). (Mar.)
Library Journal
A new gladiatorial contest between genetically engineered monsters has proven to be a popular Olympic sport. For this year's games, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) uses its most sophisticated AI computer to design the latest combatant. Felix demonstrates a precociously advanced intelligence coupled with an insatiable thirst for violence—seemingly an ideal candidate for Olympic gold. Despite disturbing signs that the program's reclusive creator is losing touch with reality, the USOC clears Felix for competition. The stage is set for a catastrophic finale, with international repercussions. VERDICT Kosmatka successfully captures the thrill of groundbreaking technology characteristic of Michael Crichton's technothrillers as well as the intensity of blood sports as envisioned in Richard Matheson's short story "Steel," the inspiration for the film Real Steel. The pleasure of his polished, action-packed storytelling is deepened by strong character development. This near-future sf thriller will capture the imagination of "unstoppable monster" lovers and fans of disaster fiction alike and seems destined for the big screen.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345526625
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 641,619
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ted Kosmatka was born and raised in northwest Indiana and spent more than a decade working in various laboratories there before moving to the Pacific Northwest. His short fiction has been nominated for both the Nebula Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He now works in the videogame industry, where he’s a full-time writer at Valve, home of Half-Life, Portal, and Dota 2.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
Somewhere in the blackness a videophone rang.  Through force of will, Silas brought the glowing face of the clock radio into focus: 3:07 a.m.  His heart beat a little faster.

Was it ever good news at 3:07 a.m.?

He fumbled for the light near his bedside, sliding his hand up to the switch, wondering who could be calling this late.  Suddenly, he knew¾the lab.  The light was nearly as blinding as the darkness, but by squinting he found the phone, being careful to hit the voice-only button.

“Hello,” he croaked.

“Dr. Williams?”  The voice coming through the speaker was young and male.  He didn’t recognize it. 

“Yes,” Silas answered.

“Dr. Nelson had me call.  You’ll want to come down to the compound.”

“What’s happened?”  He sat up straighter in bed, swinging his feet to the carpet.

“The surrogate went into labor.”

“What?  When?”  It was still too soon.  All the models had predicted a ten-month gestation.   

“Two hours ago.  The surrogate is in bad shape.  They can’t delay it.”

Silas tried to clear his head, think rationally.  “The medical team?”

“The surgeons are being assembled now.”   

Silas ran his fingers slowly through his mop of salt and pepper curls.  He checked the pile of dirty clothes lying on the floor next to his bed and snagged a shirt that looked a little less wrinkled than its brethren.  Above all else, he considered himself to be an adaptable man.  “How long do I have?”

“Half hour, maybe less.”

“Thanks, I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”  Silas clicked the phone off.  For better or worse, it had begun.

 
The night was cool for Southern California, and Silas drove with the windows down, enjoying the way the wind swirled around the cab of the Courser 617.  The air was damp, tinged with a coming thunderstorm.  Eagerness pressed him faster.  He took the ramp to Highway 5 at seventy miles per hour, smiling at the way the car grabbed the curve.  So many times as a youth he’d dreamed of owning a car such as this.  Tonight his indulgence seemed prophetic; he needed every one of those thoroughbreds galloping beneath the low, sleek hood.

As he merged onto the mostly empty interstate, he punched it, watching the speedometer climb to just over a hundred and five.  The radio blared something he didn’t recognize—-rhythmic and frenzied, almost primeval, it matched his mood perfectly.  His anxiety built with his proximity to the lab. 

Over the years he had become accustomed to the occasional midnight dash to the lab, but it had never been like this, with so many unknowns.  A vision of Evan Chandler’s grossly jowled face entered his mind, and he felt a rush of anger.  He couldn’t really blame Chandler.  You couldn’t ask a snake not to be a snake.  It was the members of the Olympic Commission who should have known better.

He switched lanes to avoid a minitram, his speed never dropping below 95mph.  His dark eyes glanced into the rear view, scouting for a patrol.  The ticket itself wouldn’t bother him.  He was exempt from any fine levied by local authorities while on his way to and from the lab, but the time it would cost to explain himself would be the real expense.  All clear.  He pushed the gas pedal to the floor.  Minutes later, he hit his brakes, down shifted to third, and cut across two lanes to catch his exit.  He was now out of the city proper, and into the suburbs of San Bernardino. 

Silas passed the brightly lit main entrance of Five Rings Laboratories without taking his foot off the gas.  He didn’t have time for the main entrance, the winding drive.  Instead he veered left at the access road, whipping past the chain link that crowded the gravel.  At the corner, he spun the wheel and hooked another left, decelerating as he neared the rear gate.  He flashed his badge to the armed guard, and the iron bars swung inward just in time to save his paint job.

The lab grounds were vast and park-like—-a sprawling technological foodweb of small, interconnected campuses, three and four story structures sharing space with stands of old growth.  Glass and brick and trees.  A semi-circle of buildings crouched in conference around a small man-made pond. 

He followed his headlights to a building at the west end of the complex and skidded to a stop in his assigned parking spot.

He was surprised to see Dr. Nelson standing there to greet him—a short, squat form cast in fluorescent lighting.  “You were right. Twenty minutes exactly,” Dr. Nelson said.  
Silas groaned as he extricated himself from the vehicle.  “One of the advantages of owning a sports car,” he said and stretched his stiff back as he got to his feet.

A nervous smile crept to the corner of Nelson’s mouth.  “Yeah, well I can see the disadvantage.  Someone your size should really consider a bigger car.”

“You sound like my chiropractor.”  Silas knew things weren't going well upstairs; Nelson wasn’t one for quips.  In fact, Silas couldn’t recall ever seeing the man smile.  His stomach tightened a notch. 

They made their way to the elevators and Nelson pushed the button for the third floor. 
“So where do things stand?” Silas asked.

“It’s anesthetized, and the surgical team should be ready any minute.”

“The vitals?”

“Not good.  The old girl is worn out, just skin and bones.  Even the caloric load we’ve been pushing hasn’t been enough.  The fetus is doing okay though.  Still has a good strong heartbeat.  The sonogram shows it’s roughly the size of a full term calf, so I don’t think there should be anything tricky about the surgery.”

“The surgery isn’t what I’m worried about.”

“Yeah, I know.  We’re ready with an incubator just in case.”

Silas followed Nelson around a corner and down another long  hallway.  They stopped at a glass door, and Nelson slid his identification card into the console slot.  There were a series of beeps, then a digitized, feminine voice: “Clearance accepted, you may enter.”   

The view room was long, narrow and crowded.  It was an enclosed balcony that overhung a surgical suite, and most of the people were gazing into the chamber below through a row of windows that ran along the left wall.

At the far end of the packed room, a tall man with a shaggy mane of blond hair noticed them.  “Come in, come in,” Benjamin said with a wave.  At twenty-six he was the youngest man working on the project.  A prodigy funneled from the eastern cytology schools, he described himself as a man who knew his way around an oocyte.  Silas had taken an instant liking to him when they’d met more than a year ago.

“You’re just in time for the fun,” Benjamin said.  “I thought for sure they wouldn’t be able to drag you out of bed.”

“Three hours sleep is all any man needs in a thirty-six hour period.”  He grabbed Benjamin’s outstretched hand and gave it a firm shake.  “What’s the status of our little friend?”

“As you can see,” Benjamin gestured toward the window.  “Things have progressed a little faster than we expected.  The surrogate turned the corner from distressed to dying in the last hour, and it’s triggered contractions.  As far as we can tell, it may still be a little early, but since you can’t sail a sinking ship…” Benjamin pulled a cigar from the inside pocket of his lab coat and held it out to Silas. “It looks like our little gladiator is going to have a birthday.”

Silas took the cigar, smiling against his best efforts.  “Thanks.”  He turned and stepped toward the glass.  The cow was on its side on a large stainless steel table, surrounded by a team of doctors and nurses.  The surgeons huddled around their patient, only their eyes and foreheads visible above sterile masks.

“It should be any time now,” Benjamin said.

Silas turned to face him.  “Anything new on the sonogram visuals?”

Benjamin shook his head and pushed his glasses up his long, thin nose.  For the first time his face lost its optimistic glow.  “We did another series, but we haven’t been able to glean any additional information.”

“And those structures we talked about?”

“Still can’t identify them.  Not that people haven’t had a field day coming up with ideas.”

“I hate going into this blind.”

“Believe me, I know,” Benjamin’s voice soured.  “But the Olympic Commission didn't exactly leave you with a lot of room for maneuvering, did they?  The fat bastard isn’t even a biologist for Christ’s sake.  If things go wrong, it won’t be on your head."

"You really believe that?"

"No, I guess I don't.”

“Then you’re wise beyond your years.”

“Still, one way or the other, Evan Chandler is going to have a lot of explaining to do.”

“I don’t think he’s that worried,” Silas said softly.  “I don’t see him here, do you?”
 
 
The scientists stood crowded against the glass, transfixed by the scene unfolding beneath them.  Inside the white stricture of lights, a scalpel blinked stainless steel.  The cow lay motionless on its left side as it was opened from sternum to pelvis in one slow, smooth cut.  Gloved hands insinuated themselves into its abdomen, gently separating layers of tissue, reaching deep.  Silas felt his heart thumping in his chest.  The hands disappeared entirely, then the arms up to the elbows.  Assistants used huge, curved tongs to stretch the incision wide.

The surgeon shifted his weight.  His shoulder strained.  Silas imagined the man’s teeth gritting with effort beneath the micro-pore mask as he rummaged around in the bovine’s innards. What did he feel? A final pull and it was over.  The white smocked physician slowly pulled a dark, dripping mass away as a nurse moved in to cut the umbilical cord.  Faintly, a sporadic beeping in the background changed to a steady tone as the cow flat-lined.  The medical team ignored it, moving to focus their energies on the newborn. 

The first surgeon put the bloody shape on the table under the lamps and began wiping it down with a sponge and warm water, while another doctor peeled away the dense layers of fibrous glop that still clung to it. 

The surgeon’s voice sounded over the speakers in the view room from a microphone in his mask.  “The fetus is dark . . . still covered by the embryonic sack . . . thick, fibrous texture; I’m tearing it away.”

Silas’s face was nearly pushed against the glass trying to get a better look over the doctor’s shoulder.  For a moment he caught a glimpse of the newborn, but then the medical team shifted around their patient and he could see nothing.  The sound of the doctor’s breathing filled the view room.

“This . . . interesting . . .I’m not sure. . .” the doctor’s voice trailed off in the speakers.
Suddenly, a shrill cry split Silas’s ears, silencing the excited background chatter.  The cry was strange, like nothing he’d ever heard before. 

The doctors stepped back from the wailing newborn one by one, opening a gap, allowing Silas his first real glimpse. 

His mouth dropped open.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 5, 2012

    I read this book cover to cover and am looking forward to the da

    I read this book cover to cover and am looking forward to the day that there is a movie adaptation of this book. The Games is an exceptionally well written book with a foundation in sound biological scientific research. Although this book is classified as Scifi, I would dare to say that Kosmatka writes in a manner that has grounding in truth and therefor lends believability to the scenario established in the story. I highly recommend this book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    In the near future, the Olympics as we know them are preceded by

    In the near future, the Olympics as we know them are preceded by a Gladiatorial event where genetically engineered creatures fight to the death for their nations' glory. Those who support the games refer to them as the ultimate science fair. Those against the games refer to it as bloodsport.

    This is the world where Ted Kosmatka's THE GAMES takes place. The US has won the first three gladiatorial contests, and this year is the favorite again. Silas Williams is the head of the US program, and one of the top geneticists in the world. But unlike the first three contests, where the gladiator was "built" to his genetic design, this year he has been given the genetic blueprint to which to build. The result is a killing machine the likes of which the world has never seen, with physical abilities and intellectual capacities beyond comprehension. And when it escapes the killing arena, all hell breaks loose for Silas in particular and the world in general.

    This is a well written, fast moving and very entertaining story. The science is not overdone, but is totally believable. The characters are well developed, and the hero and villain both are well described and easy to understand. All in all, one of the better science fiction stories I've read in a while.

    Fans of JURASSIC PARK or CONGO (both by Crichton) will find a lot to like here.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Good quick read

    Very gripping. tuff to put it down, but very perdictible.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2012

    amazing premise...unfortunately, it couldnt live up to what I fo

    amazing premise...unfortunately, it couldnt live up to what I forsaw

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Great story

    Very intriging. Definitely recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    "The Games" is a decent book. It has a well-developed

    "The Games" is a decent book. It has a well-developed story but it could have better.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    Locke

    This book is so far amazing i have read to adout page onehundred in one day and i would compare it to hunger games because of the tournament in which they put the animals they bevolpe

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2014

    To katniss

    I am a female and ur from 12 not 13 so i can volenteer

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Annabeth Odair

    *The twelve-year-old girl from Four sits in her train car nervously.*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Katherine Hart

    Doesn't know much about Hunger Games, but chooses District 11 anyway... please tell me more!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Jennifer Hadiro

    A girl feom district 8 walked in (which is the ine wuth technology?) She looked around wondering about the other tributes

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2014

    J

    J

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2014

    Kaileh to Jennifer

    (District 8 is Textiles. District 3 is Technology and Factories.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Kevin

    Walks in..a screen the number 4 decorated with seashells and seaweed with waves crashing in the background displayed behind him

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    LET THE GAMES BEGIN

    3,2,1... May the odds be evr in your favor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    Good premise, well-researched, but needed better organization an

    Good premise, well-researched, but needed better organization and fewer subplots. It is clear that the author researched this well, and I enjoy scientific thrillers in the Crichton style as this is. However, there were distracting and unnecessary subplots and characters which could have been dropped to allow greater development of the main story.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Page-turner

    Kosmatka has a knack for bringing complex scientific concepts down to earth and making them even more thought-provoking than they already are, and THE GAMES is no exception. Set in a near-future world where one Olympic competition is focused on genetic engineering, the author explores the potential ramifications of "playing God." This book is by turns hopeful, grim, and horrific and always tense. This is a stay-up-past-your-bedtime, read-with-one-eye-closed kind of book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Great story!

    Great story. Think...Frankenstein meets Jurrasic Park.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews

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