SFF sports of all sorts

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThis coming Sunday is a big day in American football, and is by far the biggest day in American sports for the year. The streets in Boston and New York will be vacant as fans are glued to their TV screens to watch the big game. Sports are important to the entire human race. One only needs to be outside the United States during the World Cup to realize exactly how important it really is. I personally love American football, MMA, and I even watch the  English Premiere League Football on the Soccer Channel whenever I can. I’ve also been known to watch basketball, baseball, tennis, cricket, Aussie Rules, X-Games, and even Curling.

Quidditch, Harry PotterIt’s obvious I’m a sports fan, so it’s no surprise that I enjoy reading about cool new sports in fantasy novels. There have been some incredible games created in the realms of fantasy and science fiction. Perhaps the most famous recent example is Quidditch from J.K. Rowling‘s HARRY POTTER series. Science fiction readers love their futuristic sports, such as in Matt Forbeck‘s BLOOD BOWL series.

Tell us about a sport you’ve read about in a fantasy or science fiction novel that you wish you could watch or play. If you like, tell us about your plans for this weekend’s festivities, whether it be the Superbowl, or the Chelsea vs. Manchester United match. Or maybe you just plan on locking yourself up in a quiet place with a book until it all goes away?

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JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit's staff since September 2009) is a Cyber-Security Analyst/Network Engineer located in Northern Kentucky. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on authors like Tolkien, Anthony, and Lewis. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. When he is not reading books he is likely playing board games or Tabletop RPGs. Justin lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife, their daughter, and Norman the dog.

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  1. First thing to come to my mind is the Running Man, which is the Schwarzengger movie based on the Stephan King short under his pseudonym Richard Bachman.

  2. The first ones that come to mind (other than already mentioned Quidditch) are:
    Brockian Ultra Cricket from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (also, contains a brief mention of Intergalactic Bar Billiards)

    The Superbowl variant of croquet found in Jasper Fforde’s Something Rotten

    Moira Moore’s “Hero” series has a competitive sport called Bench Dancing.

    Lev Grossman’s “Magician” has some sort of team wizard sport in it, although I don’t recall the details having ever been particularly clear.

    Robert Asprin’s Myth books had a couple of sports and games in them including Dragon Poker and whatever-the-hell the three-sided football/soccer hybrid game was called in Myth Directions (Did it even have a name?”)

    Essentially a sport, and definitely treated as a spectator event, Niven and Barnes’ Dream Park virtually invented LARPs.

    From movies and TV, Battlestar Galactica had the basketball/handball hybrid game that looked decently fun (don’t recall the name), and I always thought Tron’s disc battle would be fun (without the death part).

    Honorable mentions go to semi-sporting event survivalist “games” such as from Stephen King’s “Running Man” and “The Long Walk”, as well as Collins’ Hunger Games.

    Lots of books have various spectator’d competitions that run along the lines of “duel to the death” or “compete in basic skills” (medieval tournaments, for example), but these are not really unique or invented in the sff world.

  3. A few more that just came to mind as well (starting to stretch a bit more):

    An episode of Sliders had a universe where mathematicians competed against each other in public contests and were treated as rock stars. I believe at least one or two books have done something similar with hackers, but I can’t quite pin it down in my mind (Snow Crash?)

    There have been numerous SF stories which have games and sports which take advantage of the lack of gravity to create more 3D style sports than we can do on planet. Again, it’s hard to pin down specifics, but I think there’s one in Neuromancer, one in Ender’s Game (which is really a war-training module, but falls into the same category in some sense), and one in some sort of space-opera’ish series like the Vorkosigan series or the Honor Harrington series, but I can’t quite mentally lock down where I read it. I wish I could remember these more clearly, because some sounded really fun.

    Finally, a number of books/movies have fantastical or SF variants of chess and similar board games (e.g., the holochess is Star Wars) which might be more fun than the original.

  4. Of course I would love to see a Quidditch match! But besides that, Hurlee (from Exile’s Valor by Mercedes Lackey) sounds like it would be really exciting to watch or play.

  5. I just last night read William Gibson’s short story “Dogfight” in which a league of players duel with miniature Fokker and Spad airplanes over a pool table in a bar. They’re remote-controlled by the brain with a console placed behind the ear. Cool.

  6. SandyG265 /

    The only fantasy game that I’d like to attend would be Quidditch. I certainly wouldn’t want to watch the Hunger Games.

  7. Mike, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.


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