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The Game-Players of Titan

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  4,094 ratings  ·  245 reviews
In this sardonically funny gem of speculative fiction, Philip K. Dick creates a novel that manages to be simultaneously unpredictable and perversely logical.
Poor Pete Garden has just lost Berkeley. He's also lost his wife, but he'll get a new one as soon as he rolls a three. It's all part of the rules of Bluff, the game that's become a blinding obsession for the last inha
Paperback, 223 pages
Published August 2001 by Voyager Classics / HarperCollins (first published 1963)
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Iris Schechter 1) I would say they have been replaced by vulgs after the birth of the third child.
2) I understand the dark zone as his human soul, unreadable to ano…more
1) I would say they have been replaced by vulgs after the birth of the third child.
2) I understand the dark zone as his human soul, unreadable to another species. (less)

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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,094 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Checklist of common PKD novel elements present in Game Players of Titan:

drug use – check!

mental illness – check!

flying cars – check!

pre-cogs – check!

con-apts – check!

vid-phones – check!

homeopapes – check!

mass hallucinations – check!

paranoia – check!

psionic abilities – check!

telepathic aliens – check!

and of course,

simulacra – check!!

First published in 1963, one noticeable omission from the above list is any deep theological undertones. This is one of his more fun novels, in the category with Gala
Glenn Russell
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Power to the people! Unfortunately, in Philip K. Dick's 1962 novel The Game-Players of Titan, we're two hundred years into the future, the people are the entire human race and humans have anything but power – in the aftermath of Hinkle radiation and losing a war with the Titanians aka vugs from Planet Titan, the human population has been decimated, only a handful of couples can have kids and those vugs hold the real power.

This is a world of advanced technology with such things as The Rushmore E
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The first time I read this was years ago and I remember thinking how wild it was to have so many of PKD's normal theme soup all in one place. You know... simulacra, psi, suicide, drugs, intrigue, murder, aliens, altered realities, dark fate for humanity, etc... but I didn't remember this novel being so funny.

I mean, aside from the fact it's not quite as good as the Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, the two are quite similar. I can see Banks sitting down to write and think, how could I improve up
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
A potent and amusing brew of many of PKDs favorite themes, e.g. paranoia, conspiracy, depression, hallucinatory drugs, psi, and really weird aliens with seemingly insidious intentions posing as humans. On top of this luck plays a central role, as embodied in the strange monopoly/poker like game called Bluff, played to determine economic and marital fate and ultimately that of Earth itself, the "luck" of a mostly barren post-apocalyptic population in conceiving children, and the incredible luck a ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, scifi, american, fiction
"Anyhow, Pete Garden, you were psychotic and drunk and on amphetamines and hallucinating, but basically you perceived the reality that confronts us…"
― Philip K. Dick, The Game-Players of Titan


Books seem to float into my life in pairs, like aces, kings, or quite often twos. I guess I could count "The Game-Players of Titan" as my second gambling novel in a month. The first was Jonathan Lethem's A Gambler's Anatomy: A Novel. There is something fascinating by the whole literary genre of game novels
Dec 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
In the aftermath of an inter-species war somewhere around the 22th century, Terrans and Vugs settled on a military 'Concordate', stating the rules which both species have to obey from then on.

Take one of these rules : As Vugs frown on plain causality, now your life as a Terran is determined by how you fare playing a game. The stakes in this game from Titan are extensive urban areas, called 'binds'. If you are lucky, then you become a powerful Bindman, if not... you live under one, who rules over
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Philip K. Dick's 10th novel, "The Game-Players of Titan," was originally released in 1963 as an Ace paperback (F-251, for all the collectors out there), with a cover price of a whopping 40 cents. His follow-up to the Hugo Award-winning "The Man in the High Castle," it was one of six novels that Phil saw published from 1962-'64, during one of the most sustained and brilliant creative bursts in sci-fi history. Like so many of the author's works, the action in "Game-Players" transpires on a futuris ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gregg_press-own
New introduction by Robert Thurston.

Note: This is not a library copy.

Roaming the pristine landscape of Earth, cared for by machines and aliens, the few remaining humans alive since the war with Titan play Bluff, allowing them to win or lose property and also form new marriages in order to maximize the remote chance some pairings will produce a child. When Pete Garden, a particularly suicidal member of the Pretty Blue Fox game-playing group, loses his current wife and his deed to Berkeley, he st
Charles Dee Mitchell
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
"Anyhow, Pete Garden, you were psychotic and drunk and on amphetamines and hallucinating, but basically you perceived the reality that confronts us..."

PKD must have dreamed that any one of his five wives or several girlfriends would one day sit across the breakfast table and speak those words to him. I don't know that he was ever psychotic, that term was tossed around differently in the 1960's than it would be today. But drunk and on amphetamines,? Yes. Hallucinating? During the time he was writ

"It had been a bad night, and when he tried to drive home he had a terrible argument with his car."

A vintage record store owner. A mysterious crooner by the name of Nats Katz. Characters who are all casually familiar with the theories of Jung. Yes, you've stepped into another Philip K. Dick novel. Also, get ready to hear a lot about Vugs. What's that, you don't know what a Vug is? Well, I can see how that might bug you.

The Game-Players of Titan (written '63, published '63) is another novel in Ph
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, lit
Not exactly what I expected with a title like that or a blurb like the one found on this 1973 printing but what I didn't expect (and don't ask me why I ignored it) was an allegory of Cold War America told through an interstellar cold war with aliens from Titan.

So Dick wanted to be thought of as a literary writer not a pulpy sci-fi author, and I say fair enough as my experiences of his work so far point to the obvious conclusion that this drug fuelled writer had a lot more to say than most sci-fi
Jason Young
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018
Maybe the most PKD book PKD ever wrote. It's trippy and weird, and has a slightly upsetting and unsatisfactory ending, yet is still so good. ...more

Reading Philip K Dick, for me, is like hanging out with a super odd friend and just marveling at how very odd he is. This is the ninth book I have read by him. I am reading his books roughly in the order he published them though I have skipped a few. He was very prolific at the beginning and it seems I can only take so much of his clunky prose. However, he was so prescient, perhaps the most of all speculative writers ever and that is why he fascinates me and many other readers.

In this one, Ear
Hertzan Chimera
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
In the future there’s nothing more important the board game ‘Bluff’. A great war with the Vugs, an alien race from the planet Titan, has seriously decimated the human race. Mankind finds a way to win a decisive victory against the Vugs, but at the cost of infertility throughout the majority of those few humans who survive the conflict. There really are no more than a few thousand Americans left on the planet. They spend most of their time playing Bluff, those that have no psi-ability - psis are ...more
Randy Ray
I've only read one other novel by Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, but based on these two novels, I'm not really that interested in his writing. The Game-Players of Titan is strong on plot but weak on characterization. The book has too many characters, all of whom are pretty one-dimensional, and it switches perspectives from character to character too often. The book does present several intriguing ideas, like the post-apocalyptic world with a tiny population, the game of " ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover
This is great fun pulp written only the way PKD could. It's a hilarious romp in his weird future world views. The over-all idea was more what I had expected "Solar Lottery" to be, but it was so much more. The world is ruled by some sort of alien slug creatures from Titan. Earth's population is practically sterile, therefore, a big deal is made over the media when a couple manages to get pregnant scores. A man may go through many wives during a lifetime, hoping that they might make that rare comb ...more
Nov 06, 2016 rated it liked it
It's interesting how comprehensive a novel Gameplayers is - it comprises so many of the bizarre, unique elements characteristic of the PKD classics. Gameplayers is not a particularly amazing novel or a favorite, but it is bizarre and exceptionally memorable - and certainly a quick, worthwhile read. ...more
Physic characters, bizarre ideas and a ending that wanders. Yet again another PKD novel that didn't really work out for me. This is now normal for his full length novels. ...more
Wilde Sky
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
The few remaining people on Earth play again called Bluff where they can win or lose all their property or partner, but alien forces mean they could lose even more.

This was another inventive / surreal book by this author, not quite as good as some of the others by this writer, bit still a rollercoaster of a read.

Overall rating 3.5.
Kat  Hooper
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit.

After a devastating atomic world war, the humans of Earth have mostly killed each other off. Only about a million remain and most are sterile due to the radiation weapons developed by the Germans and used by the “Red Chinese.” Some humans now have telepathic abilities, too.

The alien Vugs of Titan, taking the opportunity to extend their domains, are now the Earth’s rulers. They seem like benevolent conquerors and overseers. For t
Alec Cizak
This is vintage PKD at his most insane. What's interesting about this book is that it starts off rather boring. I felt myself wanting to give up on it for the first fifty pages or so. Then a murder happens and it gets interesting. Not too long after it gets interesting, it gets quite crazy. So crazy that, in many spots, I had no idea what was going on. But, it's PKD, so, a good reader knows to stick with it and Phil will bring everything together at the conclusion of the book. And he did. I'd gi ...more
8 I won't want - don't
24 patiend - patient
26 remembered. Formerly - remembered, "Formerly
41 how about his? - this
41 enter his group - this
69 if I did it I'm glad - Missing comma
77 Sharp said, I'm a geriatric - said, "I'm
99 you and they found - if they
106 did you daughter - your
130 rlationship - relationship
145 admissable - inadmissable
148 tapepd - tapped
149 Pet shrugged - Pete
161 abook - a book

On page 95 Pete gets out of the bathroom minus a coat, yet on that same page he eventually finds his wa
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the first few pages, I was like, hmm is this one slight? Well, of course, it's not because Philip K. Dick always builds complex stories in his scifi page-turners and this one goes from a Chandleresque dystopian story incorporating infertility issues and slug-like alien invaders to a battle of psychics of all stripes: telekinetics, mindreaders, and pre-cogs. With its alcoholic antihero and superpowered antiheroine, "The Game-Players of Titan" is interplanetary, interspecies noir. ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a crazy crazy book. Packed full of PKD's eccentric and paranoid ideas, it's a page-turner. But as is the problem with most of his longer writings, this one too tends to lose its way after a while. The lines between reality and delusion seem to be non-existent; in fact, parts of the book exist in the spaces between those lines. However, that's a problem that can be overlooked, considering how utterly bizarre and inspired the premise is. ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a surprisingly fun, fast, and furious novel from PKD. It also was fairly straight-forward and managed to keep the plot moving forward efficiently and, while having a ton of characters, avoided the multi-perspective jumping around that sometimes affects PKDs books negatively. I felt like the ending was a bit too slight, but other than that I had a blast reading this one.
Randomly found a PKD I'd not read before on This one was a little slow to get going but once the hallucinations started it was proper PKD and thoroughly enjoyable. I really loved it. I have missed being inside his head. Definitely need to track down the last few books of his I've not read. ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Now this is vintage PKD. Simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. A real mind-bender.
David Agranoff
Working a review/notes for the Dickheads podcast. Full episode of the podcast is coming so stay tuned.

The new Dickheads Podcast is here! Who's up for a little Space Monopoly? You can find out how to play in PKD's 10th published novel The Game-Players of Titan. And in the first book episode of our second season, you can listen to what the Dickheads have to say about a world where real-life property is won and lost by gambling on a board game marshaled by psychic aliens from Titan. Plus: PKD's Bar
Perry Whitford
After the Terrans destroyed and sterilized most of their own population, they went on to lose a war against the jelly-like Titanians. Nice work humanity! As part of the peace concordant The Game is introduced, a way for chance and luck could to distribute property and the Earth to be repopulated through random couplings.

Pete Garden is a Bindman, a property owner of various territories on the west coast. Through eighteen marriages over a hundred odd years he has yet to experience any 'luck', to
Dimitris Kotsakis
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
It's probably the worst book I ever read. The key word there is read and since I read it, I give it 2 stars. What helped was that the book is quite small and the task was manageable. Half way through had already decided that the book was bad and would finish it and give it an honorable 3 starts, just because I read it all. But the more I was reading it and reaching near the end, the harder it was to be nice. Nothing makes any sense from the start to the end. We have lost a war to an alien nation ...more
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more

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