I read the "Ler" trilogy when it was first published in the late '70s and thought that it was excellent then. Recently, I found the books again and re-read them. If anything, I am even more impressed now than I was then. This was the second book published, but serves as a "prequel" to the first, "The Warriors of Dawn". My edition contains a note from the publisher claiming that three years were spent writing it, which would indicate that Foster started it a year before "Warriors" was published; and in fact "Warriors" contains a major spoiler for "Gameplayers". For this reason, I strongly recommend reading this book first. "The Gameplayers of Zan" is about the ler, an artificially created offshoot of Home sapiens. Although Foster never uses the word, they resemble elves in that they are slightly smaller than humans and are unable to grow any bodily hair "lower than their eyebrows". While not immortal, they live longer than humans but have a correspondingly low birthrate. Finally, they live a decidedly rustic life. The story takes place on Earth in the year 2550, but life in the ler reservation strongly resembles that of present day Quakers. Prior to my re-reading it after 20 years, the most memorable part of this book was the ler themselves. They are one of the most fully realized non-human races that I can recall. As Tolkien did in the Lord of the Rings, Foster devotes many pages to discussions of language and lifestyle yet leaves you wishing for even more. And although the ler are much more alien than hobbits ever were, Foster succeeds in taking the reader inside their minds, so that even when they act in non-human ways, the reader understands exactly why. Now that I have read it again, I am most impressed with the plot. Though the ler are living in an Eden, a snake has secretly made its home among them and planted the seeds of evil. One of my biggest complaints with the whole "Star Wars" trilogy is that although Darth Vader keeps urging Luke to join the Dark Side, you never see any reason why Luke would spend even a second considering doing so. "The Gameplayers of Zan" does not have this problem; by the climax of the book the protagonist will discover that his species is in mortal danger, and its salvation may require him to acquiesce to the desires of a murderous madman. In summary, I feel that this book is the equal to any science fiction I have ever read. I do not know how it managed to avoid nominations for the Hugo or Nebula awards, but the fact that it is out of print is a crime, especially when I compare it to contemporaneous stories that did get nominations. From checking old Usenet postings, I see that M. A. Foster only wrote 8 books, the last being published in 1985 when he was only 46. I don't know what happened to him, but I for one certainly miss him.