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Contest by Matthew Reilly

Contest (original 1996; edition 2001)

by Matthew Reilly

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924229,467 (3.66)13
Authors:Matthew Reilly
Info:Pan Books (2001), Paperback, 763 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, 20th Century, Australia, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Aliens, Libraries, Science Fiction, Blood Sport, Galactic Contest, Killers, Suspense

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Contest by Matthew Reilly (1996)



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Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
A man and his daughter are drawn into a battle to the death called the Presidium. Seven life forms from different galaxies come together once every thousand years to determine superiority. This year’s labyrinth of choice is the New York Public Library. Human’s are the only representatives not aware of this ongoing “contest” and are the only species drawn into the event without consent. Of course, no human has ever won. Enter Dr. Steven Swain and his daughter (via teleportation of course) and the contest is on. Oh – did I forget to mention that there is a big, bad monster that has to be defeated at the end and some annoying interference from NSA?
This was another entertaining book from Mr. Reilly. It is his first novel (originally self published), so a little less intense than the Jack West series. I liked it for that reason. The style of this book also seems to foreshadow some of the author’s favourite elements used in the Jack West series. (Spoiler alert - Many book lovers will cringe at the destruction of the landmark and its contents … I did … but what does one expect when pesky aliens are involved)
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  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Stephen Swain is teleported, along with his daughter, into the New York State Library to participate in the oldest living Contest. A battle between the 7 intelligent races of the Universe and one the will blow your mind. Only one may leave and even that is not a given.

It is Reillys first book and you can tell. It is a raw, it never stops moving at breakneck speed and the best part is the realism of the main character. Swain has a talent for reactive thinking(?), that is taking in every option, quickly making a decision, and then acting. The whole book Swain is running and on the move, very rarely having any chance at all to set up an offence as it were, and fighting beings who are both Alien and frighteningly similar to us.

A good cast of villains with Bellows the Shape Changing Trophey taking hunter who has taken on a massive human form (makes sense as all weapons and objects available will be made for human hands) and has illegally brought his 'dogs', the paralysing Lobster Reese that just never quits and thats only mentioning a couple of them.

Include in this the natural curiosity that is caused when the Library becomes covered in an electrical shield designed to stop anyone or anything getting in and out. Well when the army finds out there going to be interested aren't they!

Very imaginative and one of the best books I've read. There was an initial run of just 1000 copies for the first edition so if you ever find one in a book store grab it quick. ( )
  areadingmachine | Aug 19, 2014 |
The book took quite a while to begin. I think this is because of the amount of unnessecary characters and sub-plots. The NSA sub-plot seemd to have very little purpose, and I am sure the author was visualising his movie on screen as he wrote the prologue - pointless.

I never became attached to any of the characters. The daughter was written as an agressive and assertive third grade girl initally, however later she delivered lines that would be expected from a four year old. The author had not real idea about how children behave. I really don't understand why she was in the book in the first place, other then to tick another box in the list of sterotypical characters that every good blockbuster must have. Strong intelligent male lead (check), helpless female (check), big and babd bad-guy (check), bad guy that turns good (check), beauracracy that botches up (check), official that turns into a good guy too (check), government agency that bosses another government agency around (check).. and the list continues.

The contest itself was full of plot flaws. Why would this event is only held once every 1000 years was never explained. Presumably the author thought it sounded like a good round number, without bothering to consider the differing length of a year on other planets. Why such a prestigious event is held with no audience. With all this technology I think motion-detecting video cameras would be easy. Why the forceful inclusion of the earth race. Why are earthlings made to seem so holy and pacifist. A more plausible plot would have seen the NSA with full knowledge of what was happening, hand selecting a participant and keeping the event secret from the people on Earth. Surely when a planet gets to host the event they are allowed to choose the location, or is it common to lose national treasures? Why were humans fit to fight these superpowered intergalactic beings, but the guides considered too small a race to participate?

Lastly, why did the officials make such a stupid ruling at the end. With the intergalactic prestige this event is supposed to have I thought they would actually care about having an outcome. Why did they not just disqualify the cheating contestant. It seems rather than referee the event they decided just to leave everyone to blow up.

The author seems more occupied with creating the follow-up to "Jurassic Park" (an author who he admits to being a huge fan of) than actually writing a good book in his own style. The book is unoriginal and very predictable. It bothers me when the author admits in his note to leaving out descriptions of several aliens in the self-published version of the book because he could not think of any.
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1 vote alsocass | Oct 12, 2013 |
This was part of an elimination-style book club, and did surprisingly well because it does its thing and doesn't care what you think. I respect that.

The fundamental premise is that several intelligent alien species hold duel to the death once a millennium for no good reason. They think humans are (and have been for millennia) too backward to learn of their existence; but not too backward to be kidnapped to take part in the contest, whereas all the other contenders are hand-picked and know all about it. The other aliens have such evolved morality that the honour of taking part in a not-strictly-necessary fight to the death outweighs the simple fact that such humans (lacking preparation, or any knowledge of the contest, or their opponents' abilities, and having never seen an alien in their lives) will inevitably die ignominiously.

It's vitally important that humans not learn anything about them, so they decide to hold this contest in a public building in the centre of a major city. Rather than finding a deserted warehouse or something, they pick the city library. Their cunning plan to avoid detection is to drop a savage alien monster into the library, where it can kill a few passers-by with no connection to the contest whatsoever. Next, they wait until the local law enforcement come in, seal off the building, and set guards inside while monitoring it constantly. Then, and only then, do they use powerful force-fields to block any exit from the building and start porting in contestants, in the process neatly sealing in a few more humans to die pointlessly. Luckily their Advanced Alien Morality has no problems with that.

This is about averagely plausible for every other aspect of the book. Much of my enjoyment came from mocking and then rolling with the preposterousness that confronted me on every page. The sequence of hardcore characters set up, one by one, to seem like the protagonist, each kickier-ass than the last! The exploding wristbands! The alien guides whose sole purpose is to be a living webcam and exposition-device! The magnets! The alien cheating! The explosions! The Men In Black!

It's incredibly fast-paced, not particularly well-written and utterly implausible at every step, but it were a laugh and it doesn't work the old brain too hard. ( )
1 vote Shimmin | Feb 12, 2012 |
The back of this book makes you think it's a mystery. It is also science fiction. ( )
  katiehuber | Jul 27, 2011 |
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Do I dare/Disturb the universe? - TS Eliot
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312990049, Mass Market Paperback)


Dr. Stephen Swain has found himself locked in the after-hours darkness of the New York Public Library. It isn't a mistake. He's been entombed in the historic sanctuary for a reason--as the guest of an unknown host, chosen for a night of fun and games. He's unprepared. He's afraid. And he's not alone.

Six other contestants roam the black halls, room by room, floor by floor, in the dead silence. Each strapped with an explosive set to detonate should they escape before the night is over. The terms are simple: seven players enter--only one will leave.

Now Swain must navigate the labyrinth to outwit the unknown moves of his mysterious opponents, and to outlast the unimaginable dangers that await him. Against insurmountable odds the contest has begun. Should he win, the greatest, most unfathomable terror lies at the night's end: the very reason behind the game…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:17 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The New York State Library: one hundred years old, a silent sanctuary of knowledge; a dark labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow isles and spiralling staircases. For Doctor Stephen Swain, it is the site of a nightmare. With his eight-year-old daughter, Holly, he has been summoned to the library for a terrifying battle - a contest.… (more)

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