The Games

The Games

by Ted Kosmatka


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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.

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345526618
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/13/2012
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.46(w) x 9.74(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ted Kosmatka was born in Valparaiso Indiana in 1973 and attended Indiana University where he studied biology.  For most of the new millennium he’s been employed by various laboratories in the steel industry, but he now writes for a living.  Although his job has changed several times over the years, the need to write never has. 

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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The Games 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Webbed12 More than 1 year ago
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.
Rob_Ballister More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very gripping. tuff to put it down, but very perdictible.
AmericanVA More than 1 year ago
amazing premise...unfortunately, it couldnt live up to what I forsaw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very intriging. Definitely recommended!
CharlieCascino on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to read this book. I have read some of Ted Kosmatka's other works, short stories and a novella, and I was curious as to what he would be able to accomplish in a full-length medium. It was fast-paced, well written with fully realized characters in a very realistic imagining of a "near future" America and world as a whole. The great scientific leaps described in the novel have not altered reality to the point where things are unrecognizable to readers, making the setting easier for a reader to relate to - as opposed to the "far-into-the-future" worlds consisting of space travel and alien life so prevalent in science fiction.The novel tells a good story. The problem is that it tells TWO good stories. The first being that of the scientists' creation of a genetically-altered being for the purpose of sanctioned "blood-sport" and the moral and biological repercussions of that act. The second story, interwoven with the first, is that of the super virtual reality computer with a sentience of its own working to break free of its virtual constraints.These are two stories with the common theme of the morality of creation, the exploration of either of these stories would make an excellent novel. The creation of an actual biological being, or the creation of artificial intelligence either of which would have wants, needs, desires of their own, constrained by their creators. With the two stories told at the same time, and the author's tying of them together, makes the moral exploration of either one only half way complete. I would like to have read more about the creature's motivation in and of itself, as opposed to only seeing the reaction of its human handlers. I would like to have seen more of the interaction of the computer-generated sentience with the rest of the world instead of its interaction with just one man.I liked this novel, and I liked the author's take on the battles for humanity and morality in the cases of both of the stories he told. But they were put together in such a way that neither of the stories were fully told. There was a definite ending, but since both stories seemed incomplete during the telling, that ending was lackluster and a little disappointing.I will definitely seek out more works by this author. As he has only written in short form before, I understand that he felt the need to fill an entire novel. I hope that, in the future, his work becomes more focused, more complete. It is always better to tell one story fully and well, than to tell two incomplete stories. I look forward to this author's work as he matures in this new medium.
storyjunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dr. Silas Williams is a preeminent geneticist, charged with creating the gladiator for the Olympic Arena - where combatants fight to the death, and the only rule is no Human DNA. The stipulation regarding Human DNA was a marvelous red herring - it successfully drew my attention away from The Branning - as did the constant references to "Chandler's baby" or "Chandler's creation" - usually by characters in reference to the gladiator, but the actual threat, the actual villain remained to the side and could have been described in just that way.The plot consisted of a nice parallel structure between Dr. Willaims' work with the gladiator, and Chandler's work getting to Pea, until the two meshed at the end. The sequences leading up to Armageddon were rote, we've seen some combination of all of them at some point or another in the past, which lead me to make comparisons to books by Clancy and Crichton. This includes having the heroes do something dumb at the end so as to get a bigger explosion and leave room open for Armageddon pt 2.While the plot was familiar and mostly predictable, the characters were a joy - with backgrounds and motivations I am unused to seeing in this genre. While I'd have liked to see more of Dr. Joao being a scientist, she wasn't as wince inducing as The Girl usually is.
madnessabides on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast near future sci fi thriller. The title (maybe by design) evokes the Hunger Games, but I do not think there are very many similarities (I have only seen the movie) - the previous review mentions Jurassic Park as well, which is a more apt comparison... the possibilities and horrors of near future technological advances are used to tell an entertaining yarn. Definitely a good beach book for the upcoming summer - page turning thrills that won't tax the brain too much while still being "smart".
Wickedmick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good quick read. Well written and thought out. Kind of a cross between the the Hunger Games and Jurrasic Park.
JanaRose1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in a futuristic America, Silas Williams is the geneticist in charge of creating the U.S. entity for the Olympic Gladiator competition. The competition is a fight to the death between genetically (no human DNA) created creatures. For this event, the U.S. Olympic committee has allowed a supercomputer to design its gladiator. Unfortunately the creature is more intelligence than they had ever expected.I thought that the book was well written and the characters were interesting. However, this just wasn't my type of book. I think people who are interested in science fiction or genetics would have appreciated it a bit more than I did. Overall, not a bad read, I think many will enjoy it.
tottman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Games is an entertaining thriller with a dark side. It combines high-tech, genetic manipulation and gladiator style blood sport into a fast-paced and frightening look into the future.The Games is about a future where genetically engineered creatures compete in an olympic gladiator competition. The event becomes incredibly popular and the competition between nations fierce. The United States dominates the event, but with each Olympics, the pressure to maintain that dominance grows. The latest US engineered creature is designed by an incredibly powerful new type of computer. The resulting creature is so bizarre and menacing that the persons in charge of training it call in an xenobiologist to try to understand it and unlock the secrets and dangers that may be hiding in its genetic code.This book has all the things you look for in a good thriller. Engaging characters, fascinating plotline and a sense of danger that continually ratchets up leading to an explosive climax. My only complaint is a slight disappointment in the third act. The tension and build-up from the first two-thirds of the novel perhaps had me thirsting for an even bigger conclusion. There was also a stray plotline involving the designer of the virtual reality computer that felt rushed and incompletely resolved. Those concerns for me were relatively minor but the difference between being a very good book and a great book. The Games taps into a very real fear about could happen when technology advances faster than our ability to understand it. It is in the tradition of the best of Michael Crichton and explores the dark side of scientific advancement. Highly recommended. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book through librarything.
Radaghast on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a great book. I wasn't really expecting that much. A monster tale, the kind that has been written a hundred times, but nothing special. How wrong I was. If Kosmatka writes all his books like this, he will be the heir to Michael Crichton's legacy. I say this, not because Kosmatka has copied Crichton. Not even close. I say this because, like Crichton, Kosmatka is very skilled at giving us a glimpse into our near future and warning us about what might be the result. The novel tells the story of a group of scientists working on a project to continue the U.S.'s win streak in a future gladiatorial Olympics. To end the practice of genetic engineering on human olympians, the world has decided to allow one event to be a test of such engineering. I'm not sure this would actually work, but I bought the premise. Each country enters a combatant and they fight to the death, just like the Coliseum. The only rule is no human DNA allowed in the fighters. The U.S. having won the event since its inception barely wins in the year previous to where the book begins. They are nervous. And so they utilize the latest and most powerful super computer to provide a template. The only requirement that the combatant "survive the competition." The pitfalls should be obvious, and yet they are the sort of mistakes humans would and do make. The book doesn't just tell us "science can be bad". Several characters make the argument convincingly for why the games are good. Though things go out of control, Kosmatka does not directly refute these arguments. Sometimes science can only progress painfully. This book isn't a commentary on the dangers of humans playing God only, it hints that sometimes that may not be avoidable.As far as characterization, the characters more than supplement the plot. Kosmatka seemlessly weaves characterization into every interaction. I never had to be told someone was like this or had this personality, I read it through their dialogue and action. So all the pieces of a great novel are here and Kosmatka puts them together.Please don't think that this is just some warning novel. Kosmatka is primarily just telling a great story. He's a superb writer, and I can't imagine many sci-fi fans not enjoying The Games.
raistlinsshadow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The premise of the book is an interesting one: around the world, mutant "gladiators" are engineered in labs to fight to the death during the Olympics, with the only rule being no human DNA may be involved in their making. This comes about because humans were being engineered to be better at their respective sports¿swimmers with webbed feet and the like. The bulk of the story takes place inside a lab in southern California and in the gladiatorial arena in Phoenix.I wasn't terribly struck by the gladiator¿stick mature wings on Stitch from the movie Lilo and Stitch and paint him black, and that's the mental image I get¿but I was intrigued by the character development. I liked these characters, I was afraid for these characters, I was sad for these characters; I could relate to them and they didn't seem to contrived or forced in spite of the rather typical surroundings (yes, you've got to have the conflicted main character, the love interest, the harsh-bordering-on-evil boss, the conflicted main character's idealistic protégé, the misfit savant...). What I liked more was the cinematic storytelling along with those characters. Everything jived clearly in my mind and that made me completely buy into the story¿sure, this is totally plausible! There's not a whole lot of thought involved, but what happens when you do think about it?Well, you realize that there are a couple oddities. What point does the VR creation in the supercomputer serve? Is it anything more than a literal deus ex machina to better serve the last hundred pages? Probably not. Why is the supercomputer's operator¿said misfit savant¿given such a prominent story in the beginning and then only cursorily developed after that? No idea. I was expecting him to take a central role, have the story told from his eyes, but that was definitely NOT the case¿instead, he becomes barely even a side character.There are a few hiccups in character development, but it was certainly a fun and mindless read.
Oryan685 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Games by Ted Kosmatka left me wanting more. I was initially attracted to the book because the description sounded like something Michael Crichton would have written about-bioengineering gone wrong-but the execution just wasn't quite there. The characters were interesting but not fully developed enough to really invest in. The plot was a good idea and I didn't see the ending coming...but that is because the flow wasn't necessarily logical. I stopped reading a few times and said to myself, "where is this thing going?" Then when I found out where it was going I was surprised but only because it didn't entirely make sense. The buildup to the big finish wasn't built up, it just sort of happened. Something that I have always loved about Michael Crichton's writing that was missing in The Games was that if the topic was scientific then Crichton always wrote it in such a way that it seemed believable, adding in technical details to make the technology being used in the story plausible. The Games didn't seem to bother trying to help the audience understand the technology or the science that was commonplace in the world that it existed in, or even really understand it itself.All of that being said, it was a good try, but overall lacking in depth. Perhaps, not surprisingly, it would be more successful as the backstory for a video game.
JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the not to distant future, the Olympics has expanded to include an event that showcases the genetic engineering prowess of the major global powers. Each country spends an exorbitant amount of money to genetically engineer a gladiator that cannot be comprised of any human DNA. The United States, in order to maintain home field advantage, will go to any lengths to win this event. A super computer with an embedded Virtual Intelligence is created to generate the ultimate fighting machine. The parameters are fed to the machine and the Olympic committee, eager to win, blindly follows the blueprint with no understanding of the end result. The VI may have an agenda beyond creating a winning gladiator.The Games is an enjoyable thriller reminiscent of Michael Crichton. The book was a bit bleak and depressing at times, but overall an enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more books by Ted Kosmatka.
Ed_Gosney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ted Kosmatka¿s new novel The Games is an entertaining ride into the future world of genetics, morality, and good old Japanese giant monster movies.Coming into this book never having read a word Kosmatka had previously written, I immediately enjoyed his prose style and the way he pulled me into the story, giving me reason to care about people like Silas and Vidonia, and the strangeness of Evan and the mysterious Pea. While I loved the story, I must admit that with this being the first of a trilogy, I¿m a little skeptical of the next two books, due to circumstances that happened in this one. I don¿t want to put any spoilers in here, because this book is definitely worth reading, but after how this ended, some of my reasons at the halfway point for being glad it was the first of three books sort of came crashing down to earth by the end. So do I trust Ted Kosmatka enough to get book two and see where it goes? Probably, since I enjoyed the ride so much with The Game.
lkz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a new book by Ted Kosmatka. I have previously never read anything by this author, but I am glad I read this one! The games is scifi book about genetics with a Japanese twist. I really enjoyed the book and I believe you will too. It is a very fast read and truly a great book to unwind with after a long day of work. It was exactly what I look for in a book I am reading for enjoyment. It instantly pulled me in and captured my attention. I am looking forward to the next books in this trilogy. My only complaint would be that I dislike reading books in a trilogy with the others not yet released as I want learn more about what happens to the characters. You will enjoy getting to know Silas, Vidonia, Evan, and the rest of the cast! This is not the author's fault just my own personal pet peeve.
ansate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable thriller, and mostly I didn't see where things were going. None of the science annoyed me, but it never thrilled me with new possibilities either. The last 100 pages had me gripped though. I needed to know where this was going.Total Bechdel test fail. Two female characters, both of whom were solely there to prop up our protagonist. A lot of stuff just felt unnecessary, failed to drive the larger plot. The sports car, (spoiler) the nephew being at the games. For me, 4 stars is "good if you like this kind of thing". and this kind of thing is weakly scifi thriller novels that you'd rather not think too hard about. The problem with writing a review is that I went and thought!
ladycato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received my copy through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.My outlook on this is rather conflicted. First of all, it's a fast and engrossing read along the lines of Michael Crichton. It hooked me within the first two chapters, as I couldn't help but wonder why a super computer would design such a creature. The book is very fast-paced; even when characters are simply talking, it moves along and proves quite readable.There are two main plot lines: Silas Williams and Vidonia Joao and their research as the gladiator grows, and crazed genius Evan Chandler and his connection to his computer computer that made the gladiator. The Silas plot is the one that has emphasis, and is gripping. As for Chandler... I never really understood him. The prologue felt unnecessary, and when he emerged later he feels too much like a cliche overweight computer geek. I was left wondering why he created the computer as he did, to be like a virtual reality son.As the climax built, I was amused that the gladiator event took place in Phoenix, near where I live. There was a definite sense of doom about the whole thing, but I didn't expect the direction it would take: a fictionalized version of my husband's workplace. This is where the story went from believable, enjoyable science fiction to Hollywood-style ludicrous.Nuclear power plants are almost always portrayed wrong in the media. I had my husband read these portions of the book, and he was laughing out loud. One could argue that the book takes place in the near future and elements like control room design and panels can change, but in this case, things just plain didn't make sense. Things Go Wrong in an impossible way. This strikes me as a shame because the earlier portions of the book, talking about genetics and biology and laboratory equipment, felt well-researched (to this layman-reader, anyway). I wish the author had taken that care with the ending so that it didn't end up as a Hollywood cliche.The ending is also where the weaknesses in Chandler's plot became even more apparent. The villains in this, the computer and the gladiator, never became fully realized to me. The gladiator is designed to be a killer, but this creation proves to be highly intelligent, so that "oh, he was made to kill" argument feels too pat. The computer also seems to plan for villainous things to happen before it has genuine motivation to do so. It left me scratching my head.The book gets high marks from me for the pace and the concept, but so much depends on a surprising, believable ending, and I hate to say it, but The Games just falls apart there.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿Nothing less than the original sport¿Ted Kosmatka¿s debut science thriller, The Games, takes us into a near future when genetic manipulation is the stuff of sport. Literally. It¿s a gladiatorial game in the Olympics, where each country gets to genetically cobble together the most powerful killing beast they can design. The only rule¿absolutely no human DNA allowed.Dr. Silas Weir, head geneticist for the US team, is at the heart of this story, which opens at the birth of their latest competitor. This is the first time that Silas wasn¿t the creature¿s designer. Instead, for the first time ever, the gladiator was designed entirely by a supercomputer. A supercomputer arguably overseen by a genius madman. And the creature born of this unholy collaboration is¿ a thing of beauty. Oh, it¿s a killing machine to be sure, but it doesn¿t look like the chimera creatures previously developed for the competition. It looks like a perfect creature, like nothing the world has seen before, or is likely to see again. The scientists realize they have very little idea of how his thing was made, so as training gets underway, they start the process of reverse engineering the creature to try to understand the monster they¿ve made. Towards that end, they invite a theoretical exobiologist into the inner circle.Having read the description of this novel, I assumed that much of the action would take place in the Olympic arena, a sort of monsters-only Hunger Games. Even the novel¿s title suggested as much, having originally been ¿The Helix Games.¿ However, my supposition was dead wrong. We don¿t get anywhere near the Olympics until we¿re fully halfway through the novel, and the time in the arena is not the focus of the story. It might have been a better novel if it had been a Hunger Games clone because, truthfully, it takes forever before all that much happens.There¿s nothing I love more than a good science thriller, and while this novel had a sort of veneer of science, there really wasn¿t that much there. Nothing too speculative or all that interesting, when you got right down to it. Some of the best passages were the ethical debates between the exobiologist and the geneticist. She says, ¿All this talent, all this scientific knowledge, and all we can think to do with it is build a better killer.¿ He says:¿Without the gladiator competition, this specimen you seem so impressed by would not exist, because the funding behind it would not exist. I was in college when the gladiator competition first became a part of the Olympics, so I¿m old enough to remember what the field of genetics used to be like. This competition is the best thing that could have happened. When you combine scientists with capitalists, great leaps forward are made, always. Throw in a healthy dose of national pride, and anything can happen.¿Okay, this is good. We¿ve got some fireworks sparking! Alas, there¿s just not enough intelligent discourse to keep things afloat. And there¿s entirely too much of a ridiculous storyline about the mad computer genius and his creation. There was a relationship at the heart of that subplot that was so absurd and deeply unbelievable that it made me want to throw the book across the room. And speaking of absurd, what the hell does this mean:¿The boy¿s smile transformed his face into something too beautiful to look at with the naked eye. It was suddenly the face of a god-child, and Evan averted his face to save his sanity.¿Never mind who the boy is, or who Evan is, that is just self-indulgent crap. Sorry, I calls `em like I sees `em.I¿ll admit that the second half of the novel has a lot of action, but it all felt so predictable and generic, and that very much includes the ending. So, not much happens in the novel¿s first half. There isn¿t enough smart science to make it a worthwhile read on that count. Characters are poorly developed and relationships are patently unbelievable. And the book is predictable and generic.Having no
realfish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ted Kosmatka has created an interesting thriller taking place in the not too distant future. The Olympics has added a sport(?) where genetically engineered gladiators compete for the gold. Countries can engineer a gladiator for the competition, the only rule is that no human DNA can be used in the engineering process. The gladiators fight to the death with the gold going to the last gladiator standing (a bit gruesome especially for the Olympic Games). What drives this competition, why big business of course, especially those businesses in or related to the field of genetic engineering. As you might imagine, a gladiator is engineered that is nearly unstoppable and not just be his (its ?) fellow competitors. The gladiator is designed by a super computer designed by a savant who is emotionally unstable and created by a well known geneticist, Silas Williams. Silas realizes he has no idea what he's created so he brings in a xenobiologist, Vidonia João. It is up to Silas and Vidonia to "save the world" from the gladiator.This is an interesting science fiction type of thriller. I t reminds a little bit of a book Michael Crichton might have written. That being said, I found the relationship between Silas and Vidonia tedious at times and the story was totally predictable. The characters were interesting and the pace of the thriller was fantastic. In addition, the author certainly portrays the dangers lurking in a future where genetic engineering is pushed to the extremes. I enjoyed reading "The Games" and look forward to other books by this author. If you are looking for a fast-paced science fiction type of thriller this just might be a good read for you.
The_Doctor_Is_In More than 1 year ago
Concept was intriguing, but the story was very lacking. Incredibly predictable (you'll se the ending coming about 1/4 of the way in), but it reads fast. If it is free I'd pick it up; otherwise I'd take a pass.
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