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Fiction Literary

Player One

What Is to Become of Us

by (author) Douglas Coupland

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Sep 2010
Literary, Suspense
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2010
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2022
    List Price

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In his 2010 CBC Massey Lectures acclaimed novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion and macroeconomics and the afterlife in the form of a novel, a 5-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.

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.

About the author


Douglas Coupland was born on a Canadian NATO base in Germany and raised in Vancouver, where he still resides. Among his best-selling novels are Generation X, Shampoo Planet, Polaroids From The Dead, Microserfs, Miss Wyoming, Hey Nostradamus! and Eleanor Rigby, altogether in print in some 40 countries. Coupland also exhibits his sculpture in galleries around the world, indulging in design experiments that include everything from launching collections of furniture to futurological consulting for Stephen Spielberg.


Douglas Coupland's profile page


  • Unknown, Best Books

Editorial Reviews

As Player One haunts the pages of this book, the ideas and inferences you read will haunt your mind every time you indulge in a modern day convenience, such as filling a vehicle up with gas, making this book a worthy read.

The Silo

...there is an odd tenderness to this novel, and it has to do with recapturing the sense of life as a story in a world of information overload and non-linear narratives.

The Guardian ease with the language of modernity that contemporary Great North American Novelists should envy... his Eeyorish pessimism, left-field humour and admirable ability to enunciate all of our halfformed thoughts raise this from a sterile dissertation on why modern life is rubbish into the realms of really great fiction.


Douglas Coupland takes readers on a captivating ride...

Winnipeg Free Press

As always with Coupland, the ideas come thick and fast, they're quirky, often funny and frequently profound...

Daily Mail

packed full of ideas and always a joy to follow...

Big Issue Scotland

The way Coupland moulds his fiction from the throwaway debris of North American popular culture is quite brilliant...

The Guardian

...this is a superior read for those who want the latest thoughts from a nimble, complex author who thinks about this kind of stuff all the time.

The Tampa Tribune

User Reviews

Becoming Coupland

I had a similar reaction to this novel as seeing Coupland speak about ten years ago. It started off like a regular, enjoyable easy read. Then the satire-scale tipped over to horrific, but like a bad highway accident, it was impossible to look away. In return Coupland offers a poor, confusing story-arc, stitched together with thoughts, half-formed,half-funny, half-incredibly memorable, relevant and profound, and leaves us with the sensation of accidentally stumbling backstage during the best magic show you’ve ever seen in your life: disappointment, relief, fascination, annoyance and delight. Also the sense that there is some type of intention, you were meant to read this novel atthis particular point in time.

There is more and less to say about this book. He quotes himself no less than three times, which drives me crazy both in that it is incredibly vain and narcissistic and also that even in fiction, I find it maddening when direct quotes are not properly cited. On the plus side, they are the same bits I have quoted numerous times to friends when raving about Coupland, so who could blame him :)

There are alot of other thoughts, pleasant and kind of unsettling that are repeated motifs that run through the book. I understand it is not a perfectly constructed novel, it can’t be. It was designed to be read chapter by chapter to five different audiences nation-wide. This makes the repetition both useful as well as comforting and emphatic.

This book was by no means a disappointment, but perhaps a testament of Coupland’s exhibitionist approach to the victimization of his success.

Full review and others:

Coupland for the non-Coupland reader

One of my favourite reads these last few years. Great speculative fiction, big science sci-fi, a love story, a short-run dystopia (long ones are too devastating sometimes, like THE ROAD by McCarthy, which kills me), even moments of gun play: this is the book for the Coupland-curious who never really felt in touch with Generation-Xers or the subsequent gens of Y's, Pepsi, or whatever as followed. A must in-flight must-read. Action. Bullets and explosions. Robots. Love. For the dad who rented Ninja Assassin.

Other titles by Douglas Coupland