Gamers and Gods is a Kindle format “boxed set” trilogy by author Matthew Kennedy.
The overarching story is a massive and complex tale involving computer science, physics, metaphysics, and philosophy. No worries about it getting boring or tedious though, because it’s all woven up in a rather amazing way with good old aliens, virtual reality gaming, futuristic speculation, and heroes and villains.
The plot premise is that a future Earth has been devastated in terms of population as a consequence of war and plague. The result has been a sad mix of loss and an abundance of resources – from food to education – for survivors. Technology continues to advance in all areas, but the realm of virtual reality takes a front seat in this story. It’s main attraction for users seems to be gaming first, education second. But a self-aware NPC appears, and as his sentience becomes increasingly evident, more people get pulled in to understand, from game company programmers to high-end players. There’s even a psychologist and a physicist in the mix, and for good reason. The story delves deeply into the potential not only for learning but communication – with other humans as well as technological creations. It’s very, very difficult to explain much more of the plot without giving any spoilers, and so, I’m not going to. This story is too good to spoil. Absolutely worth the read.
In book one, Aes, the entire story line is introduced as Aeskeplios, the ancient Greek healer, finds himself in what appears to be his homeland of Hellas… but only on the surface.
In book two, Machaon, Aes’ son faces a new opponent for the freedom of Earth, and must find his own way to victory, although things do not unfold as expected.
In book three, Alexaron, Machaon’s son and Aes’ grandson faces the final battle for the freedom – or servitude – from Earth. Perhaps the most rebellious of the three heroes, his independence takes him through paths of self-education and understanding to prepare him for a fight no one thought he could win.
A few heads’ up for you homeschooling mamas:
These three books are absolutely crammed with delicious content to spark imaginations:
- Examination of Greek and Egyptian mythologies, with contrasts of culture and examination of their history. They’ve been “adapted,” of course, for the purpose of the story, but more over, the story of alien beings vying for control of Earth builds on the natures of these ancient pantheons. Great fodder to encourage deeper research and discussion of these ancient literary figures.
- Physics: Just… wow. One of the characters , Liz, is not a primary, but a strong secondary character. She is present throughout the trilogy and key to the final resolution comes from one of the heroes considering the implications of her work. Liz is a physicist, and spends quite a few chapters “thinking out loud” (for us, the readers) about her work, how the universe works, how the mechanics of all the tiny bits that are unseen by our eyes interact. These are some of the most challenging and meaty sections of the book, and will seize the imagination of anyone who has pondered these notions.
- Psychology: Another secondary but key character is the therapist, Dr. Wu. After decades of working with human patients in virtual reality therapy, he is incredibly excited at the opportunity to meet a truly sentient artificial intelligence… and then he learns about the aliens. I found Dr. Wu’s intellectual psychological and emotional development of other life forms thoughtful, and certain cause one to reflect on human emotional development as well.
Words of caution.
- The three books contain various sexual encounters. Some are in “real” life, between a married couple, with the remainder in virtual reality. They are all necessary to the plot, and illustrate the range of physical (virtual?) relationships that are born of love, those that are honorable, but also instances where one participant is using the act to manipulate the other. While I read nothing that offended my sensibilities, I did feel that some information here was best received by a reader with a mature level of life experience. As always, I strongly urge you to pre-read before offering the book to your teen (I do not recommend this book for middle school grades at all)
- There is a lot of religious… mish mash. Know this: the premise of the entire plot that throughout the trilogy relies on the concept of reincarnation. Personally, I am able to compartmentalize when I read and appreciate a story for being just a story. But if this is a premise with which you have extreme discomfort, this will not be a story for you.
- Here it is… the F-word. Over and stinkin’ over. The very first occurrence in the book, I actually thought made sense. The use in context was mildly offensive, but supposed to be. But the usage came back, again and again… by the third book, I had concluded the repeated usage of this specific word in no way adds to the story. There is some other (mild) cursing, and while not a part of my normal everyday language, seemed understandable and even expected in the circumstances of the story. But I just couldn’t even contrive such support for the F-bombs. They became a waste of photons in my Kindle, and a waste of precious nano-seconds when I really wanted to read what was happening next in this great story.
Each book in the series is also available individually, in both paper back and in Kindle format. IN fact, at the time of posting, Aes is available completely free for Kindle, so you can download it, check it out, and then get the trilogy package when you decide you have to know how the heroes face their challenges.