Desperate Games Hardcover – Jun 1973
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About the Author
Pierre Boulle (1912–1994) was a French novelist best known The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes. David Carter is the author of Brief Lives: Honoré de Balzac, Brief Lives: Marquis de Sade and Brief Lives: Sigmund Freud. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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The scientists begin working on eradicating the pressures of disease, strife and conflict quickly allowing all mankind to work less and have more. The required workday is cut to about 2 hours with plenty of time for recreation and rest. The new leaders, the physical scientists, believe that they have achieved the optimum conditions for all the planet's inhabitants and everyone is happy with the new status quo.
In a short time it is noted that the rate of suicides has gone up and it is quickly determined that these are due to the lack of challenges for the people. The scientists decide that they will provide games to entertain similar to those held in the ancient world. Namely fights to the death between trained individuals. This works for a short time until the rate of suicides again climbs. The answer, of course is to increase the participation and number of fatalities in the games. Continuing on to staging great battles based on real incidents fought throughout history. Namely massive assaults such as the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the world war I battle of the Marne.
While the tone of the book is tongue in cheek and has some similarities to "Animal Farm" it can also be taken as a serious condemnation of allowing any group to achieve absolute power without normal checks and balances on it. It was true while Boulle was alive, and just as true today where philosophies of one group are forced on others causing strife and war. If the book had received more publicity at the time Boulle wrote it it has the potential to be part of works like "1984" and "Animal Farm" and taken it's place as a classic example of power run amok.