LARRY NIVEN is the award-winning author of the Ringworld series, along with many other science fiction masterpieces, and fantasy novels including the Magic Goes Away series. He has received the Nebula Award, five Hugos, four Locus Awards, two Ditmars, the Prometheus, and the Robert A. Heinlein Award, among other honors. He lives in Chatsworth, California.
STEVEN BARNES’ first published collaboration with Larry Niven, The Locusts, was nominated for the 1980 Hugo award. He has also written several episodes for The Outer Limits, Baywatch, and other television shows.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Not all I'd hoped forAug. 21 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I am a Dream Park fan. I've read the first book in the series five times and the other two at least three times each. When I learned two years ago that Nivens and Barnes were coming out with a fourth novel, I was ecstatic. It was a long time waiting for it. Now after reading it, I struggle with disappointment. Not that it isn't well written and exciting; anyone purchasing this book will get their money's worth in story value. But as a Dream Park novel it felt perfunctory with more emphasis being given to the terrorists and their story than to the gamers or the game. The books in this series have always functioned at three levels: the imaginary game with its puzzles, the gamers, and the mystery. The fun of this series has been the interaction of the three, and in the other three books, it's the wonder and mystery of the game that holds them all together. Nivens and Barnes would make incredible Game Masters for real. In this fourth entry, the game is reduced to being merely a setting for a hostage/captive scenario. For me this was too bad, for the game mythos the authors have developed for their Moon Maze Game is excellent and deserved more elaboration and unfoldment than it's given. It should have been center stage rather than a backdrop. The sense of High Adventure that is so essentially a part of these LARP games is built up in the beginning and then abandoned as the terrorists take over. Not that the resulting story isn't exciting and well-done. It is. It's just that if I wanted to read about African politics, terrorists, hostages, etc., there are lots of other books I could purchase. In a Dream Park novel, I wanted to read about--and vicariously participate in--the Game, feeling the drama between the Game Master and the players, and see how the gamers use their skills to figure out the game's puzzles. In Dream Park, the game's the thing, and in this respect, this novel disappoints. The game may be afoot, but it ends up limping.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Very disappointingAug. 24 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
I liked the first book in this series (Dream Park) and absolutely loved the follow-up (The California Voodoo Game). This, on the other hand, was a big disappointment.
We're set up for basically two different plots here, the stereotypical "evil genius gm out to get certain players and yet stay within the rules of the game" and the rather more interesting "professional kidnappers go after one of the players". The first is dropped once the second becomes known to the players. The game itself didn't seem all that interesting to me, but I'll admit that because of what happens the reader is only getting disjointed pieces to look at. There's more than enough ideas here to make a good book, but we don't get that. We get cardboard characters being pushed around a board. Most are barely one-dimensional. We get the terrorist with the Irish accent, the player that everybody loves who is handicapped, the politician on his way up who sells out. One member of what we are shown to be a possible budding relationship is killed off with no reaction from the other member at all. The final twenty pages probably didn't take much longer to write than they did to read. I don't mind the occasional mindless adventure in my fiction, but I don't expect it from Niven and Barnes.
Purists should wait for the paperback, everybody else can just skip it.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Weak charactersAug. 22 2011
Carl W. Taitano
- Published on Amazon.com
The best books in this series (Dream Park & The California Voodoo game) had better drawn characters that invested you in the resolution of the game and the mysteries around it. I think this book was casually written with very cardboard like players and comical protagonists. I pre-ordered this book based on the previous books. I am very disappointed.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
New generation of characters but story was phoned inAug. 23 2011
L. C Glover
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Spoiler warning...may contain some spoiler information....
Summary (2.5 stars): -------------------- The Dream Park Milieu is brought back for the 4th book in the series. It is set roughly 30 years after "The California Voodoo Game" was set. The location is Heinlein Base on Luna (the moon). The basic plot goes something like this: 1) The biggest game ever is about to be played on the Moon. 2) During the game, a kidnapping takes place of the son of the King of an African country (might be benevolent tryrant or not...). 3) The PCs in the game have to both solve puzzles to stay ahead of the kidnappers for personal safety but they also want to show they can be heroes in real life.
You only get to see hints of the "Moon Maze Game" story, props and settings. It is actually quite frustrating as the game has some great potential for a Dream Park story/game. Disclaimer: I do run Dream Park RPG games from time to time, so I have a particular bias here. The story of the kidnappers and the interaction with the PCs plus moon base staff is very simplistic and not very compelling. It appears that Larry and Steven just phoned in this part of the book. It is rather disappointing especially when they do have a diamond in the rough here.
If you like the Dream Park book series, the book is worth reading. If you have not read the other books, I suggest that you read the first and third books before thinking about reading this book.
World Setting -- 3 stars: -------------------------- Nothing really new here from the other Dream Park novels. If anything it seems that world society has become lazy and complacent. The joy that you felt from the gamers in Dream Park games / experiences is just not present in this story. The rich world environment built up in the first three books is not utilized very well.
Plot -- 2 stars: ----------------- I have to write this up in two parts: Main plot -- 2 stars: It is a very basic kidnapping story with a team of well organized and professional criminals. However, the team is very much out of there element on the Moon...very bad tactical planning. It would have been much easier to kidnap the target on earth.
Game plot -- 4 stars: The game plot (for what you can get out of the book) could be really interesting. It is based on Steam punk technology and H.G. Well's various stories. The part of the game that you get to experience are well done. I wish the editor had said to stick more to the game plot.
It seems like the a couple of minor plot points took control of a good story / plot.
Writing -- 2.5 stars: --------------------- The writing is ok...not great and not terrible. The writing does not show much polishing but rather just a slightly fleshed out outline. There are some very good bits in the story....but not much wheat amongst the chaff.
Characters -- 2 stars: ----------------------- The characters in the story are based on advancing the Dream Park milieu about 30 or so years into the future. One of the main characters is Scott Griffin (son of Alex Griffin). I am not sure if I wanted to see a Griffin connection to a main character or have a new character come to fore. The kidnapping target is probably one of the better written but as a teenager do not expect anything too fancy.
The characters are basically two-dimension which is to be expected with a book of this length. It would have taken many more pages to get some go character development. I wish the book was longer with more character development expressed via how the people reacted to the game scenario. It would have really helped the book overall.
The initial build up of the GM and PC rivalry was done pretty well. But, it did not turn into much unfortunately.
A general point is that the PC playing in what is supposed to be the greatest game ever seemed very weak to me especially compared to the characters in "The California Voodoo Game". It does not make sense to have such weak gamers playing in the first ever game on the Moon that has over 20% of humanity watching the game. I would think that you would have done something a bit more impressive and with more dynamic characters. You could have brought in many characters and knock out many showing the Game Masters personality through actions instead of a small bits of dialog.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Readable but not great, and full of careless mistakesAug. 23 2011
Mr. Roy Stead
- Published on Amazon.com
A bit of a lacklustre by-the-numbers entry in the "Dream Park" series.
This is readable hokum, but pales in comparison to the previous volumes in the series. And is seriously let down by laziness and poor sub-editing. There are whole chunks of the narrative which feel slightly out of order (where something happens, is mentioned by a character and yet that same character finds out about that "something" a couple of pages later on), jarring repetition of adjectives within the same sentence or phrases in multiple places in close proximity. And, most gratingly...
...the authors seems to have confused *themselves* about which of the pair of identical twins they're talking about at various points in the narrative. Compare, for example, pages 269 and 287 (hardback edition), where the authors (note, not characters: The authors' own narrative voice) mix up which twin is in the gaming environment and which is not.
All in all, lazy editing drowns a mediocre story and makes the novel feel like something of a rush job.