DESPERATE GAMES by Pierre Boulle


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Boulle's latest cosmic diversion -- once again seeded with irony -- takes place on this planet of very advanced apes where a new Scientific World Government is instituted and manned by thirteen of the highest intellects in the most demanding disciplines previously screened by a panel of Nobel prizewinners. The immediate aims -- the elimination of hunger and cancer -- are quickly accomplished and physical needs are taken care of even if the people become more demanding (the Eskimos want Larks). And even if there seems to be a prevailing anomie (the suicide rate goes up and up) which the Department of Psychology counters with a program of various games based on epic events -- Waterloo -- the Battle of the Marne -- which the different disciplines engage in before the finale in which pure science is most ingloriously ticked off. The at first slow-motion story is minimal -- the message(s) are certainly abecedarian (there is no passionate interest in science, and no raison d'etre without conflict) but Mr. Boulle makes them attractive with his own kind of paradox -- a certain fastidious nonchalance.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1973
Publisher: Vanguard