Invitation to the Game

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Invitation to the Game
Author Monica Hughes
Country Canada
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 192 pp
ISBN 0-00-639365-9
OCLC 56752172

Invitation to the Game is a science-fiction book written by Monica Hughes. It has recently been published as The Game.

The book is a hard science fiction dystopian novel set in 2154,[1] a time when machines and robots perform most jobs and children go to government schools. Because of this, very few people are employed, with many people living on a social welfare system for support. The unemployed people have nothing to look forward to, except various illicit drugs. Some have formed gangs, some are shown to be agitating for political reform (in chapter 5 there is a reference to leaflets printed up), and many are involved in organized crime of some form or another. The government, possibly the only government in existence at this point, is shown to have complete control over its citizens by restricting the unemployed to designated areas (DAs), and having similar control over the working-class.[2]

The working-class people are taught to hate the unemployed citizens, and the unemployed generally want money and employment, in a classic class struggle.[3]

The story is told from the perspective of Lisse, a recent graduate of school.

Plot summary[4][edit]

Lisse and her eight friends are unemployed after graduating from a respected private school, despite their intella (or DA), and allowed to live as a group in an abandoned warehouse. They discover that by day, the area they live in is a dreary, dirty, unsafe place. By night, however, the unemployed folks go out to party and otherwise spend care-free evenings after they realize that they are a team and that this is their life now. The thought police quickly step in to quell any large problems or disputes. For their own safety, they study karate and other self-preservation skills. In the night, Lissie and her friends hear of this mysterious 'game', called "The Game" with capital letters. It is known that participants can only be selected, and whoever requests it, will always be declined... In the unsafe night, they encounter a suspicious man named Charlie, that offered Alden a partnership with him in chemistry. As Alden declined, he was beaten up by a gang of Charlie's thugs. Lisse and her friends learn that they need to protect themselves, and Brad scrounge for materials and built a protected "castle".

One day they get invited to a virtual-reality full-world simulation referred to as "The Game". This simulation seems be survival based in an outdoor environment. Having little else to look forward to in their lives, the group focuses on training and information gathering during their time between Game sessions. They develop a schedule of regular exercise (consisting of jogging and weight-training), search for information in the local library, and discuss their experiences and motivations. As they progress in The Game, they find that they have needs (for a doctor and someone with agricultural knowledge). The government swiftly moves people they knew from school into their lives, filling those needs.

After a year of such training, the game session changes—they are placed in an area much like the one they visited, except this time, they are not awakened if they are in danger of hurting themselves.

Eventually, it is revealed that The Game is a kind of training meant to prepare the group for an off-world colony project. This project is designed to halt the massive overpopulation the world is suffering.

It is hinted that part of the reason such a group of people were unemployable out of school was to help in the colonization of other worlds, since each seed group would need a variety of talents. Indeed, an early portion of the book reinforces this supposition, as it explains that the prestigious school from which Lisse and her friends graduated once had a 90% job-placement rate, which is now a mere 10%—meaning that the most qualified workers are being placed within the Game system rather than the workforce.