Steppe (Trade Paperback)

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by Piers Anthony, with an introduction by Chris Roberson

The Most Dangerous Game

From Piers Anthony, New York Times bestselling author of the Xanth series, comes an exotic tale of time travel and space adventure.

After facing a brutal death at the hands of enemy tribesmen upon the Eurasian steppe, the 9th-century warrior-chieftain Alp awakes in a world of “demons”—sinister businessmen who have brought him fifteen hundred years into the future to make him a soulless pawn in a ruthless game that spans the stars. Based on secret records of Earth’s past, the Game sets players in the roles of historical figures, pitting them against one another in a decadent and deadly fight for supremacy. For Alp, however, war is never a game. With his own execution imminent, Alp must adapt quickly to both his new century and the strange rules of the Game world, facing off in bloodthirsty battles against the most notorious figures in history. For if Alp doesn’t emerge victorious, he’ll never live to claim the woman he loves...

Introducer Chris Roberson (Paragaea: A Planetary Romance, Iron Jaw and Hummingbird) provides an introduction to the book and its formative effect on his own successful writing career.

First printing in 16 years!

128-page softcover trade paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-182-4


About the Author

A New York Times bestseller many times over, Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (1934– ) is one of the most prominent and prolific science fiction and fantasy authors of all time. In addition to over a hundred unrelated novels, his wildly popular Xanth series is currently 34 books long and growing, its unique brand of lighthearted fantasy remaining a high-profile staple of the genre since its inception in 1977. As a result of his enormous body of work, Piers can claim to have published a book for every letter of the alphabet, from Anthonology to Zombie Lover. Many of his popular novel series have been optioned for film, and the Xanth series has spawned both computer and board games. 

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****( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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A Clever Concept

****( )

Steppe is a Piers Anthony science-fiction/fantasy novel from the mid-1970s that anticipates, in a surprisingly accurate way, some concepts that have become commonplace today. The story involves a 9th century Uigur warrior from the steppes of central Asia being abducted into the future in order to play a role in a vast game. The game, run by a powerful central computer, allows people to take on roles in a historical simulation and tracks their progress (and rewards) by how well they succeed. If a character "dies", the player exits the game but can pay to come back in with a role that could be better or worse depending on how well the player did with the previous role. In short, it's the idea of a massively-multiplayer online RPG about twenty years ahead of its time! Anthony's story has a clever way that the computer anthropomorphizes entires countries as individual people in order to teach players history before they enter the game. The story drags a little in the latter half and could have a more interesting conclusion, but the basic concept is really cool. A good add to the Planet Stories line.


****( )

An interesting story that is a precursor of work like Larry Niven's Dream Park, but on a bigger scale.

A very settled Galactic Society uses a live action roleplaying historical scenario as entertainment and an outlet for those that seek adventure. The game scale has compressed time to allow for different eras to be played out. Interestingly this Galactic society is displayed as largely post-literate, from a book from 1976.

A group of players decides to gain an advantage by time travel - but snatching a Uigur man just about to die from the 800s to use his knowledge to tactical advantage.

However, he is intelligent and cunning, and decides to use his knowledge for himself, getting into the game - as staying in Galactic society is better than being a dead Steppe dweller. So time for alliances, raids, etc.

The other nice twist is that the game substitutes spaceships and stunners for the historical weaponry, so the scale is interstellar, while still talking about 'bows' and 'horses', and this actually works.

And if you know a bit of your Asian nomad barbarian history, you might have some inkling of what is coming.

3.5 out of 5


I thundered across the Steppe

****( )

Admission: this was the first time I ever read a Piers Anthony novel. I was pleasantly surprised--to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect. It's based on ideas we've seen done many times since 1976, but done much better. It's divided into two parts that make it convenient for a two-sitting read. The action is exciting, the treatment of the concept not at all dated, and the story flies along, fast as a space-horse. There is also more character depth than is often present in such stories. The illustrator is also to be commended for the cover and interior--I was initially a little unhappy with the change of format in PS, but it lends itself very well to being illustrated.



I’ve never read any Piers Anthony, is there any connection between Steppe and Sos the Rope?

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Theris Nordo Ichka wrote:
I’ve never read any Piers Anthony, is there any connection between Steppe and Sos the Rope?

Nope. Steppe is a standalone book, a fairly imaginative romp involving a real-world barbarian transported into a futuristic game. Sos the Rope is post-apocalyptic fiction, the first of three Battle Circle books.

I'm a fan of both.


The only Piers Anthony I ever read was On a Pale Horse, and I thought it was so very terrible that I stopped reading after the third chapter or so. I did indulge in the author's egocentric "Author's Note," where he blew his own horn about how he had run a marathon and what an incredible writer he is. I cringed, laughed, and almost cried.

Hopefully the man has written some good books, because he's certainly written enough of them.


btw, that flag in the background of the cover looks very similar to the flag of Cheliax. Odd. Oh, and the character could be a Harrower. Hmmm... perhaps more placeholder art?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:
btw, that flag in the background of the cover looks very similar to the flag of Cheliax. Odd. Oh, and the character could be a Harrower. Hmmm... perhaps more placeholder art?

Yep.

Generally, if the release date is anything more than about two months away, it's almost certainly placeholder art.

Liberty's Edge

A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:

The only Piers Anthony I ever read was On a Pale Horse, and I thought it was so very terrible that I stopped reading after the third chapter or so. I did indulge in the author's egocentric "Author's Note," where he blew his own horn about how he had run a marathon and what an incredible writer he is. I cringed, laughed, and almost cried.

Hopefully the man has written some good books, because he's certainly written enough of them.

I love Anthony's work. I actually find his author's notes (usually very lengthy) to be what I look forward to the most.


Andrew Turner wrote:
A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:

The only Piers Anthony I ever read was On a Pale Horse, and I thought it was so very terrible that I stopped reading after the third chapter or so. I did indulge in the author's egocentric "Author's Note," where he blew his own horn about how he had run a marathon and what an incredible writer he is. I cringed, laughed, and almost cried.

Hopefully the man has written some good books, because he's certainly written enough of them.

I love Anthony's work. I actually find his author's notes (usually very lengthy) to be what I look forward to the most.

:D

And this kind of thing is what makes the world go 'round. Different strokes for different folks. ;)


Russ Taylor wrote:
Theris Nordo Ichka wrote:
I’ve never read any Piers Anthony, is there any connection between Steppe and Sos the Rope?

Nope. Steppe is a standalone book, a fairly imaginative romp involving a real-world barbarian transported into a futuristic game. Sos the Rope is post-apocalyptic fiction, the first of three Battle Circle books.

I'm a fan of both.

Thanks!

A question for whoever is in the know:
Is Planet Stories going to publish the entire Battle Circle trilogy?

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Theris Nordo Ichka wrote:

A question for whoever is in the know:

Is Planet Stories going to publish the entire Battle Circle trilogy?

Last word on it was that they'd only signed the first book. Down towards the end of this thread.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the cover with the final art. It's still a mockup and is subject to change slightly, but that is the actual artwork that will adorn the finished product.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I read his bio of a space tyrant. I was fairly pulpy in style though with some interesting ideas (as it was set mostly around Jupiter) and some unsavory aspects too (he seemed to have a bit of a rape and under-aged sex thing) but I'll be interested to see what his earlier fantasy is like. Based on what I have read I would definately not call him a great writer but I'm interested in both this and Sos the Rope.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the product description and corrected the ISBN. The cover text has also changed slightly from the last version.


Piers Anthony's old stuff (if I remember right - it's been a while) is better than the later stuff. I can't stand Xanth but I really enjoyed the Battle Circle trilogy (Sos the Rope etc.) when I read it as a teenager.


Steppe isn't bad...I had a copy way back in the day...Xanth was ok in the first three book but got a lot worse after that...Incarnations of Immortality only makes sense if you read all 7 books...and some of his short stories are distinctly..sick.


A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:

The only Piers Anthony I ever read was On a Pale Horse, and I thought it was so very terrible that I stopped reading after the third chapter or so. I did indulge in the author's egocentric "Author's Note," where he blew his own horn about how he had run a marathon and what an incredible writer he is. I cringed, laughed, and almost cried.

Hopefully the man has written some good books, because he's certainly written enough of them.

Never read that. But I grew up on Xanth novels (the first 5 or so--the only ones I've read) and they are full of awesomeness. I am currently waiting for this one to arrive.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Kruelaid wrote:
A 2E Floppy-Eared Golem wrote:

The only Piers Anthony I ever read was On a Pale Horse, and I thought it was so very terrible that I stopped reading after the third chapter or so. I did indulge in the author's egocentric "Author's Note," where he blew his own horn about how he had run a marathon and what an incredible writer he is. I cringed, laughed, and almost cried.

Hopefully the man has written some good books, because he's certainly written enough of them.

Never read that. But I grew up on Xanth novels (the first 5 or so--the only ones I've read) and they are full of awesomeness. I am currently waiting for this one to arrive.

I read this when it first came out, and still have my old copy on the shelf. I loved this book, and truly hoped that Piers would do more of this, making it a series, but a lot of folks back then didn't like this book, since they were expecting more of the Xanth style.

I definitely can recommend it!

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

DM Wellard wrote:
Steppe isn't bad...I had a copy way back in the day...Xanth was ok in the first three book but got a lot worse after that...Incarnations of Immortality only makes sense if you read all 7 books...and some of his short stories are distinctly..sick.

Yep. In the Barn comes to mind as really warped.

Also, Steppe predated the first Xanth book by three years (1976). It was reiussed in 1980 when Xanth was becoming a hit.

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'm reading this currently and greatly enjoying it. I really need to set aside more time to read none gaming manuals.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I special ordered this from my local independent bookseller (along with Robots Have No Tales) and can't wait to get it. It sounds really good.

Sovereign Court

I read this one years ago, but it is still one of my favorites. A lot of science fiction tales will borrow a little splash from history books to give their story an extra grounding and verisimilitude. This book does far better, incorporating the Game of the far future with the legends of the past in a refreshingly believable spin. If you haven't read this yet, you should.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

I found it entertaining how the game resembles MMO in so many player actions.

you have PKs, alliances, respawn zone hunting, looting your companions...

The ending was a bit spoiled for me because I knew enough of the historical characters to know he chose wisely, but the twist with the 'GMPC' was kind of nice.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I was at a Barnes & Noble in midtown Manhattan today and they had this featured on the endcap in the Sci-fi/fantasy section! Way to go, Planet Stories.

Scarab Sages

Just a quick question to those who purchased this book. Does you paperback cover fit the pages correctly?

My original subscription book arrived and was partially damaged. It also, noticibly, had a cover that was too short. The pages jutted out from the cover by around 1mm.

Today I received my replacement copy. The book is in mint condition but to my surprise I again noticed that the cover is too small in comparison to the pages.

I am interested in knowing if this dilemma is unique to myself or shared by others.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

I would not have noticed it, but now I have looked at my subscription copy, and the pages jutted out from the cover by around 1 mm on the right sight. But it is barely noticeable and the book overall is fine.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Lanx wrote:
I would not have noticed it, but now I have looked at my subscription copy, and the pages jutted out from the cover by around 1 mm on the right sight. But it is barely noticeable and the book overall is fine.

Hmm. Looks like it's that way on every copy I've looked at.

Scarab Sages

Thanks for that guys.

I was just freaking a bit but I can live with it. My books have a gap on the front and back covers. Weird.

The Exchange Contributor, RPG Superstar 2008 Top 6

Mine too.

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