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Dream Park (Dream Park #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  2,800 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
A group of pretend adventurers suit up for a campaign called "The South Seas Treasure Game." As in the early Role Playing Games, there are Dungeon Masters, warriors, magicians, and thieves. The difference? At Dream Park, a futuristic fantasy theme park full of holographic attractions and the latest in VR technology, they play in an artificial enclosure that has been enhanc ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Tor Books (first published 1981)
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First of all, Kudos for the incredible cover art by Rowena on the Phantasia Press first limited edition...

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You can be forgiven if you think the cover art is a bit campy, for Dream Park is a campy novel. Written during the height of the Dungeons & Dragons craze, it depicts an amusement park in which the participants role-play in an incredibly technologically advanced environment. There's a murder involved but the fun for the reader is in escaping into this world and wishing such a park actual
P. Aaron Potter
This book is not very deep. It has little artistry. It will not make you a better person. It will not attend our sorrow. It will not console our children. It will not be able to help us.

But holy crow is it fun.

This is, for my money, the most sheer fun I've ever had reading a book. It's absolute popcorn fare for the dorkiest gamer, trekkie, cosplayer, or other form of geek with which you might be familiar. It's pure fan service. In addition to the sheer indulgenece of the setting (a nerdtastic mi
I wouldn't rate this book as high as I did when I first read it a little over thirty years ago, because now I notice more of it's flaws particularly some of the early dialogue between Griffin, Harmony and Skip being horrendous. It reminded me of cheap 1950's SF movies. Also long ago it was one of the first novels I'd read about fantasy gaming something I was very much into. I've since read many more novels on the subject that I feel are much better, last year's Ready Player One is a prime exampl ...more
An odd book, re-read recently during a moment of nostalgia. Dream Park was written in the early 1980s, and its age shows in a couple of different ways. There's the obvious - people smoking indoors in the workplace – and the subtle.

Dream Park was written when RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons were relatively new, and it was inspired by those games and by the Society for Creative Anachronism. But it doesn't have the feel of something written by actual gamers. The titular Dream Park is a Disneyland
Dec 18, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This book is pure wish fulfillment for the D&D/fantasy crowd. (Darn it, the back of the book review quote is "Unadulterated wish fulfillment". No originality points for me.) The Dream Park setting is an Xtreme Disneyland. Instead of amusement rides, they have full scale D&D type adventures, thanks to liberal use of special effects and holograms. If you are good enough at winning these adventures you can become a star and make a living off the videos of your games.

I can't say anything els
Jon McDonald
Dec 05, 2007 Jon McDonald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Mar 31, 2014 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit worried re-reading Larry Niven's and Steven Barnes' "Dream Park." I initially read the book way back when it was release around 30 years ago and really like it. Because of the nature of the book, I was very worried that the advances in online gaming and computers over the intervening three decades would have made the book seem silly. Thankfully, that's not the case. The story has actually weathered the time fairly well. Oh, there are some small things that Niven and Barnes missed the ...more
Doc Bedlam
Apr 05, 2013 Doc Bedlam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a murder mystery, it's okay. As science fiction, it's all right. The most bizarre thing about it is that when I first read it in 1981, it was SCIENCE FICTION! Wowsers!

Having finished it tonight, though... it's not science fiction any more. It's a murder mystery set in a high tech move/TV theme park that also runs a televised LARP reality show. With technology that exists today. A lot of it was sci fi back in the early eighties, but now? Robots in theme parks... actors in special effects makeu
Oct 04, 2011 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I read this book the first time right after the book was released, and loved it. I have been meaning to go back and read it again in the past 30 years, but never quite got around to it. Funny, that in my memory of the story, it was very similar to Jurassic Park, and I was quite surprised to realize that the premise was a actually a gaming fantasy park (as in Dungeons & Dragons) and not prehistoric dinosaurs!

That makes sense when I think back to what everyone around me was into at the time, a
Ralph Pulner
Read this when I was 15 and blew my mind. Complete nostalgia 3 star even though it was filled with more absurdity than I remembered. Also the ending was a truly WTF moment. Contemplating reading the series though I'll be more critical.
Robert Defrank
Sep 12, 2016 Robert Defrank rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought about writing a review for this book, what I would say, but really another reviewer nailed it:

This book is fun.

It's just pure fun.

Quick summary of the plot: in the not-too-distant future RPGers go to Dream Park to play 'real' games. Sure, it's a lot of holograms, animatronics and actors, but it's as close to real as technology can make it, and capable of creating adventures in any sort of virtual world and genre.

The game is complicated by a high stakes rivalry between an ambitious lore
Mar 13, 2013 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun read with an imaginative view of the future of entertainment and amusement parks. Nothing terribly deep in terms of exploring the human psyche or anything but decent character development and an intriguing murder mystery. Solid, enjoyable read and it fit perfectly in my cross-country flight. I just found out there are more books in the same universe but this story is satisfyingly self-contained if you're not interested in getting involved in a series.
Gianna Cappuccia
First of all: I definitely enjoyed both the concept and execution of this book. A futuristic theme park in a sci-fi story? Sign me up! The fantasy elements were also very unique, and the prose was excellently written.

My main criticism of this book has to do with the characters. Specifically: there are way too many of them, which means that they're near impossible to keep track of, and most of them get little to no development. Also, every character has like 5 names. I understand that due to the
Feb 06, 2016 Macjest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never been into Dungeons and Dragons, but this book makes me wish that I were. I'd totally become a gamer if a park like Dream Park existed. Imagine going to a park where it's hard to tell the difference between holograms and real people. Then, imagine being able to live out your D & D fantasies. The Game Master watches the game and runs the computer software to make all of your incantations and gestures come to life. A place like this puts Disneyland to shame. Why don't we have a place ...more
Ian Banks
Serviceable murder-mystery set in a theme park where folks are able to LARP. It manages to predict the mainstreaming of nerd culture as well as the rise of gaming as a spectator sport but falls down a bit in the relationships between adults and the use of security cameras in the workplace. There are also very few technologies and extrapolations that feel really predictive or ahead-of-their-time and are just contemporary ideas turned up to 11. This fits with the hard-SF rep of the authors but it ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Although I've never been involved in role-playing, I really enjoyed this book and loved the idea of an amusement park entirely dedicated to real-life "gaming". I was pretty impressed when I saw that the book had been written in 1981, it's aged particularly well! A great read, I can't wait to read other books written by Larry Niven!
Mor Ben Moshe
Feb 02, 2016 Mor Ben Moshe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites. As a teenager, I loved the fantastic idea of going on a real RPG adventure. Couple that with a murder mystery and you have a sure winner.
Loved it then, love it now.
James Boles

I read this at the recommendation of a friend. He'd read this as a teenager and was curious how it would hold up after all of these years. Well I can safely say that it still reads well. Some of it feels as if the authors has not made up their minds about the tone. But the ideas were fun and interesting, the primary character was engaging, and the secondary characters were appealing (although some of the gamers were not always distinct). I thought the "twist" was made pretty obvious early on
Sep 17, 2016 Random rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this when I was young, maybe 7th grade, and loved it, or the concept of Dream Park, anyway, but I'll admit I had trouble making sense of it at that age. I was a little frustrated by something I felt I should be able to grok, being a Gamer myself.
I was a little trepidatious picking up this used paperback. I figured, like many favorite novels of youth, it wouldn't stand up.
I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn't put it down. Despite the technological inconsistency from modern times (this was
Chris Jackson
Nov 01, 2010 Chris Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a RPGamer's dream. A vividly told story with good characters, but the setting... oh man. LARP taken ten steps forward and made into a world-wide sporting event that creates "champions" the way pro football does today.
Apr 17, 2011 Hilary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tripped over this at the library the other day. I remember loving it madly as a teenager, so I thought a re-read was in order. Ultimately, not up to par with my recollection, but still enjoyable.
Jul 15, 2016 Dwight rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted at

What can you say about this story within a story. Even now, thirty-five years after it was published I find it a novel idea. Yes yes, it was tried in actuality and failed some years back and they even made a tabletop (I still can't quite grasp that I need to add 'tabletop' to make sure you know what I mean) roleplaying game out this novel (or series of novels).

Now with that nice segue to RPGs, it's actually in issue #1 of Journeys mag
Dave White
As I'm trying to find any good words for this book while poison myself with chocolate puff cereal, I can't really find any. Bad ones either.

The story follows the live action role playing game in futuristic game park. As game picks up, murder is discovered and plot obtains certain "who-done-it" undertone.

So it is mix-match of genres and this is where most of it's problems comes from. None of the genres are felt hard enough. It introduces few neat ideas but by middle of the book it just started f
David Youngworth
I'm giving Dream Park 5 stars for the shear amount of fun I had reading it (I'd probably give it 4 if I were simply judging its structure as a novel). Dream Park has something for everybody: sci-fi/fantasy, action, mystery, suspense, a reluctant hero.. not to mention virtual reality mixed with role playing games back before holodecks and online gaming made these concepts mainstream! The characters were compelling and the world with its complex rules and creative settings captured my imagination ...more
Oct 11, 2007 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite fantasy sci fi books. I wish there really was a Dream Park.
Jun 13, 2015 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy, rpg
Lent this by a gaming friend who was surprised I'd never read it before, and having finished it I can see why. Dream World imagines a theme park where roleplaying games can be lived out in Real life through holograms and other trickery. To make the book a little more interesting than simply reading someone else's game campaign, alongside this a murder has taken place. Can the main character survive the game and solve the crime?

As a gamer I really enjoyed this, although reading it now in 2015 rat
David Ambrose
I had a little trouble deciding whether to rate this book 2 stars or 3 stars. Two main negative points are that much of the dialogue is truly terrible, and that most of the characters are all quite sexually agressive, for lack of a better description (it comes across really strange for a book about DnD-style roleplaying to be so much about sex). Also, I realize that the book was written in 1981, and some things may have changed culturally between now and then, but I feel something huge was misse ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Role-players, young adults, sci fi fans
Recommended to Michael by: Dragon Magazine
I read this book as a young adult and role-player, basically its target audience, and thought it was great, if not quite brilliant. Today, it's mostly serviceable, but still entertaining. It was written by two authors, and in fact reads almost like two books in one, although I’m not certain which of the authors worked on which storyline, or even if the collaboration was divided so simply.

Storyline #1 is The Adventure Story. Dream Park is a future (2051) amusement park based on holography, wherei
Scott Rhee
I've never been into gaming, both computer or role play. I used to play the occasional Dungeons & Dragons game with friends, but I never really got as excited about it as some of my friends. I did like the concept of role-playing games, creating one's own character and destiny, even one's own universe. I always admired the imagination and thought that went into preparing and playing a D&D game. I know, too, that there are some pretty intense video games out there that have attempted to s ...more
May 11, 2013 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's just not that great. And in fact why it gets so many 4 star reviews is beyond me. I remember eyeing the paperback version in a bookstore back in the mid-80's and was greatly intrigued by it's premise. I think I even read the first two chapters in the store way back then. I finally checked it out of the local library just recently, read the whole thing, and was utterly unimpressed. The writing is pretty solid from start to finish. However that leaves two pretty big flaws - the "adventure wit ...more
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Hoyt's Huns: Dream Park -- September 2016 -- no spoilers 4 3 Sep 02, 2016 03:44PM  
Larry Niven and Steven Barnes Appearance 1 15 Jan 26, 2010 04:24PM  
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Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths ...more
More about Larry Niven...

Other Books in the Series

Dream Park (4 books)
  • The Barsoom Project (Dream Park, #2)
  • California Voodoo Game (Dream Park, #3)
  • The Moon Maze Game (Dream Park #4)

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