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The Cusanus Game

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Biologist Domenica Ligrina fears her planet is dying. She might be right.

An atomic disaster in Germany has contaminated Northern Europe with radioactivity. Economic and political calamities are destroying the whole planet. Human DNA is mutating, plant species are going extinct, and scientists are feverishly working on possible solutions. It becomes increasingly apparent t
Hardcover, 540 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  152 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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No matter how much I praise this book, I keep coming back to the one problem that I’m circling around in this review. I just didn’t buy it. It was well done, atmospheric, well written, and multifaceted – all the things I typically love in the books but it just didn’t work for me. The characters were too distant for me to really care too much about. Their motives behind many of their actions were understandable, but not really believable. I can sum up my overall feelings of the novel like that. I ...more
Alex Telander
Aug 10, 2014 rated it liked it
From the so-called “grand master of German science fiction” comes The Cusanus Game, a work of hard science fiction and philosophy that forces the reader to think far beyond the story.

It is the year 2052 and the world is in a sorry state, especially Northern Europe after an atomic disaster along the French-German border, contaminating the continent with radioactivity. As the threat and fear begins to spread, paranoia and terror break out, affecting the entire planet. The radiation is
Ted Diamond
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book is so complex and multifaceted, it's hard to know where to begin. Dystopian fiction? It provides a chilling and near-to-life vision of the effects of global warming on European politics and civilization. Time travel sci-fi? At points, it reads like Connie Willis. But with an interesting backstory of the physics that would make time travel plausible. But then the physics shades into cosmology, and before you know it, you're in the realm of philosophy, having passed through a Gaia-like b ...more
Amanda Richards
This book got me out of my reading rut. I had forgotten how much I liked hard sci-fi because I'd been reading so much YA.

Anyway, the story was good although a little slow at times and the ending was perfect.
The writing is a bit stilted with some awkward description - meaty paw to describe a hand is one example. The overall concept of the book is interesting, but the mc is unlikable and uninteresting and the story is just so so. It feels like there isn't a real ending which works on some level given the time concepts, but in reality just falls flat. There is also a burdening amount of science talk which isn't wholly necessary to the story. Overall a slogging read with no real payoff in the end.
Henry Lazarus
Dec 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Wolfgang Jeschke’s The Cusanus Game ( trade from Tor and translated so well by Ross Benjamin that it read as if it had been written in English) is the best time travel tale I’ve read in several years. Fifty years from now Europe is politically separated because of pressure from Global Warming that has sent refugees fleeing from uninhabitable Norther Africa, and a terrorist nuclear attack that radiated a huge part of Germany. Rome is on the edge of disruption and the Papacy has moved to Salzburg. ...more
Mar 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
I can't read this book.

maybe it is because I'm american and we don't have much history packed into buildings and physical spaces. maybe it is the translation that isn't conveying to me the intended meaning behind these intricate passages about specific streets and cities and towns.

the fact is, this is the first book in years I am giving up on. I nearly gave in at 25 pages, but urged myself to keep trying. 30-49 at least give some slight hand waving towards character sketc
Uuuuuuh time travelling - exciting!!! I read this book when I was much younger, so I can't recall all the details right now, but I remember it in a positive way because I found a bank-note used as a bookmark somewhere in the middle. Yay^^
Anyway, the story is set in the not-so-distant future in Europe after a nuclear accident and civiliation is pretty much shit. I remember there were a lot of things like rape in public and gory gang wars and lots of people suffering from horrible mutations,
Mary Anne
Jan 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I won a free advanced reader copy of this through a Goodreads giveaway. This perhaps would be a better fit for some other reader besides myself. I don't mind dystopic science fiction as a genre/subgenre, however the opening chapters repeatedly feature too much violence and degradation of women for my taste. To be fair to the author, I don't think that he means to condone or endorse the behaviors. However, I'm just not in the mood to read through it to where things might change. And I am tired of ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was greatly intrigued by the basic description of this post-apocalyptic world resulting from nuclear events, climate change, and resulting breakdown of civil authority, environmental immigration, and related problems.

I was highly disappointed though when I dove into the book and was faced with a nearly incomprehensible morass of characters and lack of story line. By the time I reached about page 60 I was still largely in the dark about where the book was heading. And, call me a pru
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Clever set up which revolves some of the inherent problems of a time travel novel. However, there is something unlikable about the characters.
Jeanne Boyarsky
Jun 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I read the first 75 pages. There was a ton of history/facts and a lot less character development/world building. Or maybe there was and it was lost in the facts.

I liked the first three pages a lot which showed people in the middle ages encountering tech from the present. And I imagine the book gets back to that. But it is taking so long to get there. After the first 75 pages, the main character has applied for the secret job we know will become about time travel. She hasn't gotten it
Joseph Carrabis
Jul 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Wow what a disappointment. Consider the kudos this book has from authors like Modesitt, Morrow, and Benford, I expected so much. My bad, expecting so much. I kept wondering if the authors supplying kudos read the same book I did. Slow going, didn’t care about the characters, too many things happened without precedent (seemed more like convenient conveyances the author dropped in).
Sorry, no.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't hate it..but I didn't love it either...
A. J. McMahon
Nov 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
I have long had an interest in Nicholas of Cusa, so I was not slow in reaching up and taking this book down off the shelf in a local bookshop. I found that it was a science fiction novel about time travel involving Nicholas of Cusa by a German writer acclaimed as a grandmaster of science fiction. It all sounded good, so I bought the book. I do not know how people get to be grandmasters of science fiction because Jeschke can hardly write at all, being one of those authors who seem to believe that ...more
Timothy Pecoraro
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it
The Cusanus Game is like every movie or television show about hard science fiction you’ve ever seen. There is a distant future where things have gone to hell. There are time travelers, there are cross timelines, there is an oppressive government that is trying to purify the races. There is an elitist church faction with seemingly unlimited funds and questionable motivations. I was both surprised and disappointed by Cusanus Game. I found the beginning of the book much too drawn out and the change ...more
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Cusanus Game, by Wolfgang Jeschke, is a book with almost too many ideas in it. It was as though Jeschke had made not of all the possible questions that time travel brings up and put them all in one book. There are the practical and technological questions of time travel. There are the psychological questions about coping with time travel and alternate realities. Above all, however, are the philosophical questions. Chiefly, I think this book is about whether or not one should meddle with a reality ...more
There is an interesting, *really* interesting, premise underlying this novel. I can't think of a time when I haven't wanted to like a book--but yet could not stand a book--so very much. It's redundant, the female characters are painfully two-dimensional, did I mention the redundancies? Yes, I did? And dear god, all the extra words. Oh, and redundancies.

Also, as a woman, I can't say I've ever thought much about the sensation of sweat between my breasts. I think, "Damn, it's hot out" or "I'm swea
Maggie Hesseling
Sep 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
I had a really hard time getting into this novel and then it became to struggle to finish it. But I'm glad I did. If you can 'buy' into the premesis of it, then it's not only a great story but you'll encounter fantastic writing. However, it's hard to do. Also the translation seems to be almost flawless, which made me really want to finish the novel- purely to enjoy the great work of the translator.
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, sci-fi, first-reads
I liked the premise of this book, bleak dystopia, time travel, ripple effects. Unfortunately, it just didn't all come together. The pace was glacial, which was a big part of the problem. There were parts that were quite exciting and interesting but they were followed by long passages where nothing interesting was happening. Edited a different way it may have been more successful, but as it is, it's only so-so. 2.5 stars

I was provided an advance copy of this book.
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book a ton. Jeschke put in a ton of research and manages to infuse philosophy and physics, Middle-Ages politics and the mechanics of witch-burning, all without losing joy in his subject or the pace of the plot. This book did for me today what Michael Ende's "The Night of Wishes" did for me when I was 9: blend humor and magic and good humor with a bright intelligence that left me thinking for a while.
Casey Hampton
May 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: time-travel
Well, the writing is good. The subject is interesting. But the story's continuity is cumbersome and distracting.

What about the characters? Umm, I do believe there were a few... yes, I'm quite certain characters did stuff.
Keith Clasen
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Slow starter but became interesting. A few interesting cocepts about how things could be in a different future. Overall I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they are just fanatics of time travel.
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, 2013, alt-history
I received a promotional copy, and frankly, I just couldn't get into this book. The formatting made it impossible to read. There were gaps with missing sentences, and it was just disappointing.

Interesting premise though.
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
One of the oddest books I think I've ever read. Took much too long to get to the point, then had rabbit trails everywhere. Not sure it translated from German very well. Glad I won it, would not have wished to buy it.
Feb 08, 2014 rated it liked it
I must echo the voice of other reviews in saying that I never really felt invested in the characters. It felt very dispassionate about their fates, which personally I do not mind.

Just do not go into this expecting a page-turner. It isn't.
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can't believe I made it to the end of this. The basic idea on which the story is based is quite interesting, but the book itself was boring. The characters never seemed real. The combination of unreal characters and unreal situations is a definite looser.
Curt Hopkins Hopkins
May 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
The science didn't quite work in this story. And, a few days after reading it, I can't even remember how it ended.
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
a real mind bender! Dystopian future and time travel (plus a talking rat). I didn't understand half of the science but it was an interesting read.
Norman Howe
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Wonderful. A tale of a dystopian future"," which turns into a time-travel novel"," and then into something else entirely.
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Wolfgang Jeschke was a German sci-fi author and editor, publishing at Heyne publishing house (Heyne-Verlag). He lived in Munich. His best known novel was The Last Day of Creation (Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung)