Player One

What Is to Become of Us : A Novel in Five Hours

Coupland, Douglas

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Player One
International bestselling author Douglas Coupland delivers a real-time, five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true human contact; and finally a mysterious voice known as Player One. Slowly, each reveals the truth about themselves while the world as they know it comes to an end. In the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and J. G. Ballard, Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion, and the afterlife. The book asks as many questions as it answers, and readers will leave the story with no doubt that we are in a new phase of existence as a species - and that there is no turning back.

Publisher: Toronoto, ON : House of Anansi Press ; Berkeley, CA : Distributed in the U.S. by Publishers Group West, 2010
ISBN: 9780887849688
Branch Call Number: FICTION COUPLAND 2010
Characteristics: 246 p. ;,21 cm


From Library Staff

Coupland explores how technology is changing relationships, using five people trapped for five hours in an airport bar after a mysterious disaster. The suspense builds as the book unfolds in real time and the reader gets to know the characters as they get to know each other.

From the critics

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Sep 11, 2012
  • diesellibrarian rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I agree with others who stated that this somewhat experimental novel doesn't work. I forced my way through it, because I am a big Coupland fan and in general I think he has something relevant to say. I think this book does have a message, but a cast of cardboard characters and a contrived plot line make it impossible to figure out what that message might be. The last few pages neatly tie up the dangling threads of the narrative, but left me feeling like Coupland had just run out of time or energy and simply wanted to end the thing.

Aug 09, 2012
  • Karenina rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I normally like Coupland's work, and I applaud the concept of trying to do something different for the Massey Lectures. Unfortunately, though, the premise does not pay off. In trying to be too many things, it fails at all of them -- as a novel, as an apocalyptic cautionary tale, and as a lecture.

Oct 14, 2011
  • DEWLine rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Not sure whether to file this under "glass-half-full" or "glass-half-empty" worldview...?

Sep 18, 2011
  • Basileus rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Interesting premise that loses steam as soon as the characters start navel gazing.

Aug 17, 2011
  • beegre rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Can't give it more than two stars. For a story taking place in five hours, it seemed much longer. I found it difficult to garner any concern for the otherwise flat characters. Coupland seems more concerned about trying to impress us with his clever 'labels' than creating depth to characters and a tight, engaging story. The regular occurrence of glitchy spacing in the typesetting doesn't help. I was really looking forward to this one after hearing a bit on CBC Radio. Sigh. Maybe next time, eh?

Feb 06, 2011
  • LR_Seattle rated this: 2 stars out of 5.


A little self-indulgent as usual.

Jan 10, 2011
  • Lauren31 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Really enjoyed this Douglas Coupland novel, leaves you with lots to think about. The main characters are the typical quirky Coupland creations, but as well it was easy to find parts of each to identify with. Highly recommend!

Dec 22, 2010
  • dougsl rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I liked the four(five) main characters and their thoughts and actions, they seemed real. I did not like the secondary characters though as they seemed unreal and would rather they not even have been in the story. Overall though it was an easy fun quick read.

Nov 12, 2010
  • teacupfaerie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

listened to it read on CBC. It rocked.

Nov 09, 2010
  • Cecilturtle rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I find that Coupland's books are a miss and hit. This one is definitely a hit! Using a cast of five characters in a enclosed set (it would make a good play, actually), Coupland asks questions about human relationships, religion, ethics, society. While there are sketches of answers, it is really up to the reader to mature the thought: I found myself thinking about the book long after I closed its cover. The characters are fairly stereotypical but they have enough depth to make the conversations and plot interesting and unconventional. The glossary itself is worth reading carefully: Coupland likes to redefine the world through his lens!

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