Thursday, August 16, 2018

"Game of the Gods"

Jay Schiffman is an award-winning writer and creator of games, animations, apps, and web experiences. He was a practicing attorney for several years and has been involved in a number of successful businesses in the digital, educational, and technology spaces. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and children.

Schiffman applied the Page 69 Test to Game of the Gods, his debut novel, and reported the following:
Game of the Gods is the story of Max Cone, a revered military commander and High Judge in the Federacy, the world’s most powerful nation. Max no longer wants anything to do with the Federacy’s politics or wars. He wants to stay on the sidelines as the world slowly slips into chaos. But when his family is taken, Max has no choice but to fight back.

In trying to save his family, friends, and eventually the world, Max travels through different political landscapes fighting enemies and uncovering truths. One of his early adventures takes him through what he believes to be a friendly territory, Abstainer Territory. The Abstainers are apolitical—they don’t believe in any “isms” other than the potential for humanity to be compassionate and kind.

On page 69, Max spends time with leaders in the Abstainer Movement and begins to form some close connections. (I can’t say more than that, but there is more than that). The scene is not necessarily representative of Game of the Gods, because Game of the Gods is first and foremost a fast-paced plot-driven action adventure. But, the scene does a representative job of developing the characters, which is also integral to the story.

In this scene, an elderly Aquarius Rollins, a trailblazer in the Abstainer Movement, and her daughter Nayla, enter Max’s bedroom. Aquarius and Nayla are true believers in the principles of the Abstainer Movement, but Aquarius’ son Trace, a recovering morzium- addict, has left the movement.

From page 69:
“I’m really glad you’re here, Max,” Trace says. “I’ve never had a brother. But I kind of feel like maybe you and I could kind of be—”

Nayla and Aquarius enter the room, and Trace quickly stops talking. He’s embarrassed, and I’m thankful for the intrusion. Like Trace, Nayla and Aquarius just seem to walk into rooms without being invited. It’s not rudeness. It’s openness. Federates are all about boundaries. Abstainers are about breaking them down.

“It’s time for our morning meditations, Trace,” Nayla says. “Will you join us, Max?”

“I don’t know about Max,” Trace says, “but sure as hell I’m not joining you.” Nayla doesn’t take the bait. She ignores Trace and waits for me to answer. I stumble a little and then say, “Thanks for the offer, but I think I’ll just get my things and go.”

“If it’s not too much trouble, Max, I would like for you to stay while we do it. You can just watch.”

Trace and I sit on the bed like petulant children while Nayla and Aquarius kneel to the floor. They sit on rust-colored carpet with their palms facing the sky. “Thank you for hearing our words. Thank you for being present. I am Nayla. This is my mother Aquarius.”

“We are a family filled with love. We are present. We hope that we bring virtue to the day and goodwill to all we meet.” She rises to her feet and helps her mother stand. Aquarius and Nayla chant:

Our suffering is like water.

It ebbs. It flows. It roams. It returns.

Our suffering is like water.

It follows. It compels. It evaporates. It returns.

Our suffering is like water.

It moves. It changes. It leaves. It returns.

Our suffering is like water.

Nayla pauses for a moment and asks me if I would like to chant with her. I feel beyond uncomfortable at this point. I would rather run naked through the Omniplex.
This passage does a solid job of providing the reader with a snapshot of these characters’ interpersonal dynamics and their views of the world. A few pages ahead, however, some of them are hopping into a transport, getting ambushed, and fighting bad guys. That would be more representative.
Visit Jay Schiffman's website.

My Book, The Movie: Game of the Gods.

--Marshal Zeringue