Player One: What Is to Become of Us
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Player One: What Is to Become of Us

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  3,370 ratings  ·  408 reviews
International bestselling author Douglas Coupland delivers a real-time, five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true hum...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by House of Anansi Press (first published October 1st 2010)
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What Is To Become Of Us?

Player One by Douglas Coupland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: International bestselling author Douglas Coupland delivers a real-time, five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true human contact; and finally a mysterious...more
It's hard to write about any of Coupland's novel because they are much more than mere plots and characters smudged together. This hits its peak in Player One, possibly the clearest manifestation of Couplandism: where do we go after Postmodernism. When was Generation X published? Let's Google that. 1991. Will the future generation remember a time when information required more physical labour? Look, I can't even get to my review without quoting Coupland, this is how much I love him. So it has bee...more
One star for the shot.
One star for the appendix.
One star for Coupland's ability to glorify the sadness of humanity.
One star for God's opinion on evolution.
One star for sentences like, "personality is a slot machine, and the cherries, lemons, and bells are your SSRI system, your schizophrenic tendency, your left/right brain lobalization, your anxiety proclivity, your wiring glitches, your place on the autistic and OCD spectrums - and to these we must add the deep-level influences of the machi...more
Emma Sea
I've got mixed feelings about the book. Neither female character read as completely believable to me, and yet they were both far better realized than the men, who were mere sketches.

Here's partly why. Our MC is in an airplane:

"[Karen's] a little too warm, so she undoes two buttons at the top of her dress, hoping that if anyone sees her they won't take this as a sign she's a slut."

Snap poll: friends, does this accurately describe your thoughts at any time in your life?¹

The other woman is on the a...more
Too bad books don't get remakes like films sometimes do. This book deserves one. The ideas, questions and characters in this novel are remarkable, confrontational and thought-provoking and the book is sprinkled with wit and good-to-know facts. Did you know that for every living person, there are only 19 dead people? But this book is like the Singapore sling Karen is drinking: too many ingredients for such a small container. 246 Pages is just not enough to offer more than a sketch of the issues a...more
Sam Quixote
The Massey Lectures are an annual event in Canada where noted scholars give week long lectures on political, social, cultural, or philosophical topics. Douglas Coupland's contributions to these lectures is, rather than a standard long essay, the novel "Player One". The novel is divided up into 5 "hours" where the novel happens in real time and during the lecture week Doug will read 1 "hour" a day. For the rest of us who aren't going to the Massey Lectures we have this book.

Four strangers strand...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

As I've been learning over the years now, as I become a greater and greater completist of his work (this is now the tenth book of his I've read, of the fourteen major titles he's now published), Douglas Coupland at his weirdest is usually Douglas Coupland at his best; and there's not much better an example...more
It's kind of strange that I read Player One in two days before the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Player One has many parts that I found great and moving, parts similar to other books by Coupland I have read. This time around it all clicked with me and I was taken back and moved. I seem to feel a little less alone when I read a Douglas Coupland novel and have a better grasp on our complex, mordern and digitally connected world. Read it if you're feelig a little alone and blue and in a mood to th...more
If this book had decided to just go ahead and be a novel, it would've been great. If it had decided to just go ahead and be a series of essays on existentialism and the transformations (and implications of) humanity and society, it probably would've been great, too. Instead, it tries to be both, and only gets halfway with either.

The book is -- at first -- about five people who meet in a hotel bar during a major, global crisis. They each get a chance to tell their tales -- including a mysterious...more
Ben Babcock
Recently I stole the soapbox in another person's review of Shampoo Planet to pontificate about my personal reader's theory of Douglas Coupland. JPod was the first Coupland novel I read, and it is also my favourite. We all react to Coupland differently—i.e., JPod is my favourite, but some of my friends hate JPod with a passion and love Girlfriend in a Coma or Eleanor Rigby. Despite the fact that Coupland always deals with the same themes, his variations are subtle and diverse enough to create tho...more
Player One tells the story of five people trapped in an international airport during a global disaster. Over the next five hours, these lives are changed forever; a single mother waiting for an online date, an airport cocktail lounge bartender, a pastor on the run, a cool blonde bombshell incapable of love and a mysterious person known as Player One. The novel follows the interactions of these five people as they react to the chaos as we slowly find out just what happened.

Douglas Coupland master...more
I read this book in French, which is dumb because it was written in English originally, but I found it in a bookstore and couldn't resist, so here we are. A lot of terms had me shaking my head in confusion, before realizing that the terms had no translation. New words don’t spread virally in French culture like they do in English-language cultures around the globe. For instance, there’s no French translation for “MILF” (the translator used “maman sexy”, which is poor and guts the expression of i...more
Darrell Reimer
Alright, so I lied — or spoke too soon, at any rate. After Generation A I was determined to never again pick up another Douglas Coupland novel. But then the CBC announced Coupland as last year's Massey Lecturer; to clinch any potential listener disappointment, they immediately added that Coupland would be “lecturing” in a novel format. Well . . . I suppose that was indeed a “novel” approach to take, if only by CBC standards.

The Massey Lectures are a platform for a Canadian blowhard-at-large to s...more
David S.
There is something disturbing about writers as intelligent as Douglas Coupland. Underneath the brilliant psychological dialogue, the haunting charismatic cast of underachievers, and the creative plot that is impossible to predict, lies writing that is so fresh and honest that it is scary truthful. Player One is that book, depicting the tale of five characters trapped in a cocktail lounge during a world changing event. The discussion topics: humanity vs. everything else and whether we are worth i...more
I wouldn't have believed it myself, but Douglas Coupland, one of my favorite writers in his heyday, makes a strong and moving return to form in "Player One". I first heard the ending of this, possibly the most stirring and poetic part, broadcast as the radio lecture one night while driving around, and went on a desperate search for the book at a Borders within the next few days when I found out the beautiful passages I was hearing were from my once-beloved Coupland!

The scenario of five strangers...more
the primary thing i felt reading this book was embarrassment. It's almost entirely recycled (sometimes literally) ideas and sentiments from his previous works. it's sock puppet theatre, a cast of characters who all sound like robot versions of Coupland himself. And the audacity at turning real world concerns (oil shocks, civilization collapse) into not just a trite, but flimsy trope to serve as backdrop for another episode of Clever People Talking With Hip Indifference is positively shameful. Co...more
Il pensiero predominante del libro è stato: ma come diavolo siamo arrivati a questo punto? Da un inizio almeno all'apparenza promettente, ci si ritrova poi ad affrontare un tono pretenzioso e vagamente moraleggiante, camuffato dai discorsi dei personaggi sulle questioni ontologico-esistenziali. E avrei volentieri evitato di leggerli, visto anche che non pensavo proprio di trovarne, se non fosse che tolti quelli, da un certo momento in poi, non rimane altro.
Ma tant'è, il libro in sé si merita un...more
Djordje Nagulov
I wanted to like this book more than I did. It raises some interesting questions and grapples with the human condition. But it feels very contrived, from the setup to the cast.

The characters open up way too easily and are willing to discuss philosophical matters with each other at the drop of a hat. A great many subjects are raised, talked about for a little while, and then discarded so that the next 'big' idea can enter the conversation. Characterization is broad, and some characters seem unint...more
Paul Eckert
Player One is a novel that Douglas Coupland wrote as a series of one hour lectures to be given at the CBC Massey Lectures. Because of this, I believe there are probably different ways of approaching this story from a critical point of view, either as a lecture (meant to inform) or as a novel (meant to entertain). I read it as a novel, so that’s the basis of my review.

The premise of Player One is about five people who have converged in an airport hotel bar in Toronto, all for different reasons. L...more
I'm a Coupland fan. But I wouldn't recommend this to non-Coupland fans. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who needed something to read for a book report or plane flight no matter how agreeable the novel's length would be for the latter. I would recommend this for someone who has read one of his books like Gen X, Gen A, Life After God, Nostradamus, Girlfriend in a Coma, Shampoo Planet. If all you've read is Microserfs and JPod than I wouldn't bother with it.

Like many people in previous review...more
Title aside, Player One: What is to Become of Us, a Novel in Five Hours is an almost-perfect synthesis of what Coupland's writing has to offer.

Ever since a savvy librarian recommended me Generation X in high school, I've been a fan of Coupland's. His ironic commentary on modern life suited my sensibilities, which were jaded as only an introverted teenager's can be. What's kept me with him though are his metaphysical and spiritual meditations, his characters' search for meaning in our information...more
Douglas Coupland is one of those artists, like Woody Allen or Kevin Smith, whose characters all speak in his voice. Now whether this technique/failing works for you very much depends on the voice. I love me some Woody Allen. Boy howdy, do I hate me some Kevin Smith.

Luckily, Coupland's dense, florid, fact-packed inner and outer dialogue does it for me big time. From page one where a MILF on a plane ruminates on whether the teenager taking sneaky snaps of her will be sharing them online as soon as...more
Jennifer Spiegel

I know what I think, but what does everyone else think? Does Douglas Coupland, author of GENERATION X, write literary or genre fiction? I’m curious about why his name so rarely surfaces among the writer-people I know.

My two cents. Coupland writes literary fiction; it’s character-driven. While genre-fiction is often discussed in terms of being plot-oriented, with characters and everything else serving the plot, I’d suggest that Coupland write...more
As part of the Massey Lecture series, this novel is already an unusual kind of creature. But. In addition to being a lecture and a novel, there's also a trailer for the book! A TRAILER for a BOOK. I've never heard of that before. You can check it out on YouTube:

Of course because it's a lecture it's also a 'big ideas' kind of novel, but don't let that fool you. The ideas are presented in a fascinating way without being didactic. I read a lot of 'big idea'...more
Tim Gingrich
The story starts simply enough: five individuals trapped for five hours in an airport hotel lounge, which coincidently corresponds to five chapters, which each neatly correspond to an hour in real time.

But no sooner does Douglas Coupland set up Player One’s orderly world than he relinquishes that simple world to chaos.

It comes in the form of a news ticker on the lounge’s television – and things go downhill at the speed of cable news: a bomb is detonated at the OPEC summit, crude oil skyrockets,...more
Carolyn Gerk
This novel is a breeze to get through. It masquerades as a quick light read, so long as you don't internalize the issues and questions Coupland features. The pressing issues that plague the characters in a rapidly evolving world that shifts from what we know to what we fear, are as such: What makes us human? Who or what is God? What is time and how does it affect us? And does any of it really matter?
That being said, these heavy topics are wrapped up in a smooth lyrical flow of words that sucks u...more
This was a good one. I listened to the podcast of the live CBC Massey lectures, which was slightly abridged, and perhaps not for the better -- it sometimes felt like relevant materials was left out.

Anyway: The novel uses a seemingly apocalyptic scenario to address the question "What is it that makes us human?" I've kind of got a boner for that question, because I think it's important to our getting along peaceably on planet Earth, so my reaction to the novel was probably skewed in a positive dir...more
Dec 09, 2010 tim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I would be hesitant to call Player One a return to form for Douglas Coupland. Without a doubt it his best novel since Hey Nostradomus! but it really reads more like a "lost" novel from the Generation X - Girlfriend in a Coma era. In Player One, Coupland does what he used to do best--lovingly craft believable, realistic characters and puts them into a world that is fantastic, yet not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Gone is the forced self-indulgence of jPod and shorter, quicker narrativ...more
I spontaneously picked this book up from a shelf at the library dedicated to authors who took part in the recent Reykjavík International Literary Festival. I'd never read anything by Douglas Coupland and loved the idea of Player One's compressed timeline, as well as the motley cast of characters. The book starts gorgeously—it almost reads like a one act play, with snappy dialog and full passages that you can't help but read out loud to the person next to you—but the momentum dissolves rather abr...more
This book would make a horrible movie. Mainly because of how fantastic the writing is! The character development, the expression on life...ah, it's fantastic. I would say this is a thinking book. If you need an escape---and I can understand that feeling --- this book wouldn't be for you at that moment. But if you want a book that will make you think about life, the after-life and the "fallen angel" in all of us. To summarize it's plot: it's a post-apocalyptic type theme with humor twisted in the...more
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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever...more
More about Douglas Coupland...
Microserfs Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture Girlfriend in a Coma JPod Hey Nostradamus!

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“You know, I think the people I feel saddest for are the ones who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder, who felt their emotions floating away and just didn't care. I guess that's what's scariest: not caring about the loss.” 94 likes
“By the age of twenty, you know you're not going to be a rock star. By twenty-five, you know you're not going to be a dentist or any kind of professional. And by thirty, darkness starts moving in- you wonder if you're ever going to be fulfilled, let alone wealthy and successful. By thirty-five, you know, basically, what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life, and you become resigned to your fate...

...I mean, why do people live so long? What could be the difference between death at fifty-five and death at sixty-five or seventy-five or eighty-five? Those extra years... what benefit could they possibly have? Why do we go on living even though nothing new happens, nothing new is learned, and nothing new is transmitted? At fifty-five, your story's pretty much over.”
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