Dick wrote a string of entertaining books in the 60s after winning the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle in 1963.
In The Game Players of Titan radiation from a nuclear war has wiped out much of Earth’s population. The remaining people, most of whom are unable to reproduce, gather together to play a Monopoly-like game where they win controlling deeds to American cities and pair off with spouses with the hope of finding the ‘luck’ to conceive children.
A race of aliens from the Saturn moon Titan has colonized Earth, but these telepathic vugs have problems of their own as a faction of moderates feuds with extremists with psionic powers who have infiltrated Earth disguised as humans. Pete Garden stumbles upon this secret one night during a drug-fueled bender celebrating the luck he found with his new wife. This leads to a showdown on Titan with the game-players of Earth and the vugs who play their own version of the game.
I have to make a note about the Rushmore Effect, because I love it. It’s a kind of limited A.I. given to all inanimate objects. Tea kettles and ice machines say ‘thank you’ and cars and elevators have polite and objective conversations with people, all except for Joe Schilling’s car which is cantankerous and seems to hate him.
Cast of characters
- Pete Garden – our protagonist. Member of Pretty Blue Fox and former Bindman of Berkeley, California
- Freya – Pete’s former wife and member of Pretty Blue Fox
- Jack Blau, Clem Gaines, Bill Calumine, Silvanus Angst, Stuart Marks– Bindmen who play with Pretty Blue Fox
- Jerome Luckman – Bindman of New York who purchases the title to Berkeley
- Walt Remington – Pretty Blue Fox member responsible for the Berkeley title ending up with Luckman
- Dotty Luckman – Luckman’s wife
- Joe Schilling – record store owner and former Bindman of New York. Lost to Luckman. Joseph Schilling is also the name of the record store owner in Mary and the Giant
- Dave Mutreaux – Luckman’s precog
- Sid Mosk – Luckman’s secretary
- Patricia McClain – former B barred from the game because she’s a telepath. Pete’s neighbor in San Rafael
- Allan McClain – Pat McClain’s husband
- Mary Anne McClain – Patricia’s 18-year-old daughter with powerful psionic powers. Her name was repurposed from Mary and the Giant (unpublished when this book came out) along with Joe Schilling
- Nats Katz – popular tv recording artist
- U.S. Cummings – the vug District Commissioner
- Carol Holt – Pete’s new wife
- E.B. Black – the vug police officer investigating Luckman’s death
- Wade Hawthorne – the Terran police officer investigating Luckman’s death
- Laird Sharp – Pete’s attorney
- E.R. Philipson – a psychiatrist
- Rothman – leader of the group of psis