Monday, December 18, 2017

The Game Players of Meridien (Chronicles of the Second Interstellar Empire of Mankind, Book 1) by Robert I. Katz

Release date: December 16, 2017
Subgenre: Space opera

About The Game Players of Meridien:

Douglas Oliver loves to play games.

He’s good at games, but the game he likes best is the greatest game of all, the game of life, where success is measured first by survival and second by rising to the top.

The world of Illyria was settled three thousand years ago by the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind, with the goal of breeding the toughest soldiers in the galaxy, men and women who would glory in competition, never give up and endlessly strive to dominate their environment; but the First Empire went down in flames and Illyria was isolated for two thousand years, until a new Empire rose from the ashes of the old and spread among the stars.

Douglas Oliver is a respected member of Argent, the foremost Guild in the nation of Meridien. The Guilds offer their members financial backing and military assistance but no Guild member is immune to challenge. Douglas Oliver doesn’t mind being challenged. Challenge goes along with success. Douglas Oliver accepts this. He enjoys it. Sometimes, he even loves it, until a challenge arrives from an unknown agent and suddenly, the Game is no longer just a game. It’s an all-out war where the stakes are survival, not just for Douglas Oliver, but for the nation of Meridien and the entire world of Illyria.

You will love this hard hitting science fiction adventure from Robert I. Katz, the award winning author of Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future and The Cannibal’s Feast.


Chapter 1

“Hold him down.”
I winced. Both men were tall and broad shouldered, with shaved heads, wide, sadistic smiles and tattoos running up both arms and across their chests. They were holding a third man, slightly smaller and leaner, immobilized on the ground. The smaller man struggled. His face grew red and he gave out a high pitched, desperate squeal. The big guys restrained him with professional competence. One of them pulled a Bowie knife from a holster at his belt and pulled the smaller man’s head back. “I love this part,” he said.
I pressed the stop button on my control panel and sighed. I had gone through this scenario more than once already. I knew that if I continued, bright red blood would spurt from a severed carotid artery and agonized screams would come from the victim’s throat. He would thrash his legs, drum his heels against the ground, struggle and die. Points would then be added to my score.
I had a professional interest in games of all sorts but this one was a little too obvious for my tastes. Violence, like sex, always sells, but I have limited patience for gratuitous violence, violence that does nothing to advance a plot or to highlight a theme.
Such games will always have their fans. I know that, but I have no interest in catering to them. This game was popular, particularly among young men of the Commons, but it wasn’t popular among the Guilds. If you want to reach the top levels of the game, the real game, a certain amount of restraint is required. You have to know when to go in for the score but if you’re going to survive, and ultimately to prevail, then you had better be able to identify a losing hand because nobody wins them all.
It paid to keep up with the competition, though.

I was seven years old when I invented my first game. The game started with a circle which turned into a square which turned into a wheel which turned into a spinning cylinder which turned into a torus and so on. It was a simple game but my father was smart enough to register the copyright and then he took it to one of the bigger conglomerates who decided to finance it. That game made me a lot of money, which a few years later, I used to fund a small corporation which financed another game, and then another, and pretty soon, my small corporation had grown into a larger corporation.
I was good at games. Games have patterns, some meant to be obvious, some meant to be concealed, and I had a talent for spotting patterns.

Some of my games are story games. You have to have a good story. It’s surprising how often storytellers lose sight of this fact. You can tell a story in the simplest of ways and it will hold the attention of your audience. A caveman sitting around a fire could do it. A medieval schoolman in the town square. Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, wise men with strong voices, writing their stories down on clay tablets or papyrus scrolls, if they even knew how to write. It’s easy to sell a good story and all the special effects and computer-generated crap isn’t worth shit if the story doesn’t cut it.
You start with a hero. There has to be someone for the audience to focus on, to identify with. If you don’t have a hero, then you need an anti-hero, someone for the audience to hate. If you have neither, then it better be a comedy, but you still need someone they can laugh with (or at). I’ve never lost sight of the need to have a good story. It’s made me rich.

My corporation, or what has become just one of the divisions of my corporation, continues to make games, but we do many other things, as well. All of my products are among the best in their field. I’ve found that it’s not too hard to make money if you’re better than your competition.
You have to keep it all in perspective, though. You can’t fool yourself. Fooling yourself is the quickest way to lose. I’ve done well. I’m a medium sized fish in a very deep ocean. My corporation is profitable and respected but it’s nowhere near the biggest corporation around.
But that’s alright. I have plenty of time.




About Robert I. Katz:

I grew up on Long Island, in a pleasant, suburban town about 30 miles from New York City. I loved to read from a very early age and graduated from Columbia in 1974 with a degree in English. Not encouraged by the job prospects for English majors at the time, I went on to medical school at Northwestern, where in addition to my medical degree, I acquired a life-long love of deep dish pizza. I did a residency in Anesthesiology at Columbia Presbyterian and spent most of my career at Stony Brook University, where I ultimately attained the academic rank of Professor and Vice-Chairman for Administration, Department of Anesthesiology.

When I was a child, I generally read five or more books per week, and even then, I had a dim sense that I could do at least as well as many of the stories that I was reading. Finally, around 1985, with a job and a family and my first personal computer, I began writing. I quickly discovered that it was not as easy as I had imagined, and like most beginning writers, it took me many years to produce a publishable work of fiction. My first novel, Edward Maret: A Novel of the Future, came out in 2001. It won the ASA Literary Prize for 2001 and received excellent reviews from Science Fiction Chronicle, InfinityPlus, Scavenger’s Newsletter and many others.

My agent at the time urged me to write mysteries, as mysteries are supposed to have a larger readership and be easier to publish than science fiction. Since I have read almost as many mysteries as science fiction and fantasy, and since I enjoy them just as much, I had no objection to this plan. The Kurtz and Barent mystery series, Surgical Risk, The Anatomy Lesson and Seizure followed between 2002 and 2009. Reviewers have compared them favorably to Patricia Cornwell and Robin Cook and they’ve received positive reviews from The Midwest Book Review, Mystery Review Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Lady M’s Mystery International, Mystery Scene Magazine, Library Journal and many others.

In 2014, I published a science fiction short story, To the Ends of the Earth in the Deep Blue Sea on Kindle for Amazon. Since then, I have made all of my previously published novels available for purchase on Kindle. A new science fiction novel, entitled The Cannibal's Feast, was published in July 2017. The next, entitled The Game Players of Meridien, a tale set far in the future after the collapse of the First Interstellar Empire of Mankind, is the first in a projected seven book science fiction series, and will be published on December 16, 2017. The second novel in the series, The City of Ashes, will appear early in 2018. In addition, a fourth novel in the Kurtz and Barent mystery series, The Chairmen, will also be published in the first half of 2018.

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