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Dream Park  By  cover art

Dream Park

By: Larry Niven,Steven Barnes
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
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Publisher's Summary

A group of pretend adventurers suit up for a campaign called "The South Seas Treasure Game". As in the early role-playing games, there are dungeon masters, warriors, magicians, and thieves. The difference? At Dream Park, a futuristic fantasy theme park full of holographic attractions and the latest in VR technology, they play in an artificial enclosure that has been enhanced with special effects, holograms, actors, and a clever story line. The players get as close as possible to truly living their adventure.

All's fun and games until a park security guard is murdered, a valuable research property is stolen, and all evidence points to someone inside the game. The park's head of security, Alex Griffin, joins the game to find the killer, but finds new meaning in the games he helps keep alive.

©2017 Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Dream Park

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    3 out of 5 stars

Role-playing to death. What is real? What is fake?

Live action role-playing (or LARPing) is a real thing, believe it or not. As mixture of improvisational acting and strategy it is an event hard to categorize if you never heard of it before. It's not really acting, not really a sport, not really a convention, nor really a board game...it's a blend of all of these things and people really do participate in these organized events to goof off in a fictional scenario have fun with fellow enthusiasts.

This book was written in 1981, to play with the concept of what such events would be like in a future with advanced technologies used to enhance the immersion of these LARPing games. Ironically, it's spooky how close this book comes to ideas being implemented today. "Dream Park" is basically a murder mystery set in a theme park in a future where virtual reality, reality television, videogames, and special effects have become so advanced and blended together that the gamers discover that this immersion can be potentially harmful  when you can't distinguish between real or fictional threats.

While the murder mystery is the over arcing threat of the story, this audiobook would mostly be recommended to listeners who appreciate ideas and concepts built around the plot rather than the plot itself. Again, written in 1981, it's a tad dated in some respects, yet it has the same imaginative feeling that opening an old journal or time capsule filled with predictions and ideas would inspire.

33 people found this helpful

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I’m Old

Here, let me adjust the controls of my Way-Back Machine and put it on auto.
I first read this book when it originally came out and thought it was great. Back then, I thought that of almost all of Larry Niven’s work. I was surprised to find an audible version and it is still a good story. Though with time I think everything would change to more of a “WestWorld” technology if it was written today. Anyway, an excellent adventure story.

22 people found this helpful

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The True Fathers of LitRPG

Larry Biven & Steven Barnes are the true fathers of LitRPGs, and this book is the proof of it. It's not the greatest compared to the stuff we have access to now, but it is worth the read. A good story with a fun mystery included.

9 people found this helpful

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Boring


The concept of this novel is great and the chapter about the young couple enjoying the park's California earthquake attraction was excellent, but the detour behind the scenes with a ton of new characters and details about their lives brought an interesting story to a screeching, boring halt. There are very small details that are likely important to the story there; for example, it is probably important that one of the park's staff had to leave and change shifts due to being burglarized causing a change in normal staffing. That's clearly foreshadowing, but it is heavy-handed and unnecessary as a single paragraph about how the antagonist manipulated the schedules later in the story would have been sufficient. Instead, we get a full chapter about staffing changes and a ton of characterization for a park manager who probably becomes important at some point, but who is boring now.

In my opinion, every chapter should build a story. They don't have to always do so directly, but when they're indirect, that should include an event that is at least as interesting as the main story. When you read *The Song of Ice & Fire*, the viewpoint switches constantly, but it switches from interesting scene to interesting scene with plenty of action and drama occurring. When he needs to have something happen that isn't that interesting, it happens before or after a scene and the characters just talk about it. You don't have park managers talking about staffing changes or R&D employees discussing their plans to have children and religious background with one another.

Finally, I'm not a fan of Grover Gardner's narration. It's adequate, but seems to be low effort. My guess is that he did this at a time when competition for narration was low and pay wasn't great so it was a volume business.

6 people found this helpful

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I read this in hardback in '81

A blast from the past. I knew I'd love the story still, and the audio production did not disappoint!

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WAY better than expected

The best way for me to describe this is generation one of ready player 1.

4 people found this helpful

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1981 written and it is very dated

Only got to chapter 9 and just couldn't continue. Written in 1981 it comes across as very dated now. I was really looking forward to hearing this book because I like the authors and have read most of their work........but not this.

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Slow going for a Long while

Slow going for a Long while, but quite good for sci-fi gaming book from 1981.

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Amazing

Just as the Original Star Trek series was barely ahead of it's time in technology, so Dream Park could occur today! It would only need a slight increase in the technology surrounding Holograms. An enormously fun read!

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I just can’t listen to a female character that has a voice like a 60 year old man

Hard to listen to. I couldn’t even get past the first chapter. No energy in the narrative

2 people found this helpful

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  • Slam T. ‘’Badd’’ Badger
  • 06-28-21

Absolutly terrible.

For 40 years i counted myslef as the biggest fan of Larry Nivens work. I read dozens of his ''Known Space'' books not long after they originally came out, and i remember having multiple shelves full of his books more than anyone elses. When it comes to mankinds future history and technology, alien races and civilizations, and the possible history of our galaxy, then Nivens vision and scope is usually right up there with Arthur C. Clarke.
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But i have just finished this audiobook. I know that this is supposed to be a loving dig at the role-playing-game community, but there seems to be only two types of women here. 99% of them are are breathy nymphomaniacs described by Niven (and portrayed by Grover Gardner) like Dr Goodnsexy from Futurama. And the rest of the women are (of course) the frumpy old maid type.
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And it's not just his description of women that feels overly simple AND overly sexual. It feels like almost every conversation is forplay of some kind. Pretty early on i began to wonder if i was listen to something by Benny Hill by mistake. Or perhaps an audio version of one of the ''Carry On'' films. This constantly reminded me of that awkward feeling of being a child in the 70's when i could sense everything else in the world was so sexual, but i just wanted to skateboard or whatever. By the fifth or tenth time that a couple are described by what the male does, and by the females hair, lips, and body, then i just kind of mentally checked out.
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But even everything else about this book was just a big ''so what?''. Maybe it didn't help that the forward by Niven was so self congratulatory that i was expecting his ultimate masterpiece. But combined with the few extra words at the end this now feels more like Alan Partridge patting himself on the back when he dosn't realise what an egotistical idiot he is.
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Yes, i played this audiobook all the way to the end, but i don't know why as i'd stopped caring about 15 hours beforehand, and it was all just academic. Maybe i was hoping it would suddenly grab me. Because no book by Larry Niven, in fact no sci-fi book ever, has left me thinking ''who cares?'' at the end, until now.
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  • Andrew Lawn
  • 01-07-22

loved it.

I loved it.
But I did find the technical descriptiveness a bit laboured.
I think if you press thru to the story you'll enjoy it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Eliot
  • 03-13-21

Great story

I first read this years ago. Hearing the audible version was great- very well read and presented.

Very imaginative and prescient re modern gaming.


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  • Dr Susan A T Law
  • 01-09-19

Read the original

Always liked Larry Niven, liked this reading of what is still a good story, plan to get the rest