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God Game

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Andrew Greeley, priest and sociologist, is also the author of many best-selling novels, including THE CARDINAL SINS and ANGELS OF SEPTEMBER. GOD GAME, however, is his first venture into science fiction; not surprisingly, it has theological overtones.

While the narrator is testing a new computer game called “Duke and Duchess,” lightning strikes his satellite dish, and he abruptly finds that he is literally “God” in a parallel universe. His “characters” look to him for guidance, solutions, and protection, but he finds himself able merely to influence, not compel their responses; by free will they can resist “God’s” grace. As he comes to love his created characters, they begin to invade his dreams and even seem to appear as friends and neighbors in his own world. He struggles to end the war between the Duke and Duchess and bring them together in love with the help of Ranora, an “ilel” (an angel/imp/ fairy of sorts) in the form of a saucy teenage girl. Like God, he loves this universe he has created and feels both responsible for and frustrated by his contrary, stiff-necked people.

Greeley has created an interesting variation on the old science fiction theme of being a deity in another world. This narrator, a thinly veiled self-portrait, is a compassionate and responsible “God” who often finds himself unable to do the good he intends. His people thwart him, curse him, and desperately need him, but his powers are strictly limited. In the end, they have as profound an effect on him as he on them. Unfortunately, Greeley seems a bit embarrassed to be writing science fiction at all, and, as a result, he has difficulty taking his own story seriously. Even at the most dramatic points, he cannot quite get his tongue out of his cheek; his own flippancy makes it hard to grasp the more serious implications of his theme. GOD GAME remains, however, an enjoyable and entertaining novel.