Chapter Five – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

The Odds Game

Conor and his new friend Samuel Milton took in the view as they sat comfortably in the warmth of the Eagle & Child. They watched as the rain lightly tapped against the windows, as the puddles slowly formed on the street corners. Passers-by were pulling out their umbrellas and frantically running to shelter. The tables and chairs inside quickly filled up with shivering punters shaking off the rain.

‘Have you ever heard of the human regression theory?’ Samuel asked, handing Conor a shot of tequila. He glanced to the new arrivals coming in from the cold. Conor shrugged.

‘It’s the belief that the human race will eventually peak in its ascension. Achieve all that we are capable of, and then over time, slowly regress, forgetting all that has been learned.’ He picked up his tequila and gestured to the room. ‘It can make you wonder, when will we know that we’ve peaked?’

Conor had met Samuel during his first week at University. He was staying in the opposite room at Tennyson House and had given an almost immediate impression of wealth and boyish charm. He spoke with a rich, distinctly royal English accent and projected the self-worth and confidence you would expect followed a childhood spent wanting for nothing.

‘So, what are you taking?’ Conor had asked him.

‘Strictly class A’s, often with whisky. And you?’

Samuel’s dry sense of humour had taken a while to get used to. He had a cold exterior that would deflect questions and repel interest, a demeanour that required perseverance and patience. Instantly Conor had considered him the first test of his new mindset, an opportunity to meet someone he would have otherwise never met; and after several exhausting evenings attempting to keep up with his provocative intellect and rapid switches in conversation, an acceptance between them grew. Some would call it a friendship, but it was early days.

Conor had spent the past hour sharing memories and drinking stories from back home. Samuel listened intently in parts whilst on occasion drifting his focus, distracted by the mock Tudor character of the pub, the visible wooden beams, the lamps and roaring fire place. It offered an ambience which appeared to remind him of home.

Conor would have happily listened but depending on his mood Samuel would often be guarded when talking about where he came from and, in particular, his family.

He was also proving a strong drinker; three rounds with an accompanying shot and there was no sign of effect. Conor started to imagine that he had a silver flask of whisky tucked away in his jacket pocket at all times.

‘So, how’s your course going?’ Conor asked, the taste of tequila still warm on his breath.

‘Tiresome,’ Samuel sighed.

Conor wasn’t thrown by the response.

‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t think it was for you.’ He was still confused by Samuel’s choice on studying Finance Math at Pembroke.

‘No offense taken, chap. To be fair it’s more my attendance at University that’s the driving factor here, rather than any purpose.’

‘So why are you here?’

Samuel looked away, appearing to choose his words before returning his attention.

‘I am here, dear boy, because I find the thought of contributing to society troublesome at best.’ His tone became less playful. ‘I’m here because parents like mine offer to pay the tuition fees of their children just to remove you from their sight. I’m here at the courtesy of my beloved ex girlfriend Michelle, who took my virginity and my heart and then replaced me with a pretty boy named Craig. Turns out she’s engaged now, which makes you wonder why stupid decisions aren’t rewarded more often!’

He took in a mouthful of his pint and swallowed it down.

‘I’m here for the stories, Conor, the experience. Something to tell my grandchildren when I have them, God forbid. I want proof that I lived… Why are you here?’

‘I told you. A degree in Computer Science.’

‘Oh yes, that’s right. Fascinating.’ Samuel rolled his eyes. ‘Why are you here?’ he asked, pointing down at the table. It was clear he meant Oxford.

Conor paused to think on his answer. No one had asked him it before. Oxford was deemed an achievement in anyone’s eyes, the instinctive reaction was to congratulate him, ask what he was studying and wish him the best of luck. But Samuel didn’t seem to carry the same enchantment to his new digs.

‘I was jaded. No, jaded is the wrong word; frustrated would be better,’ Conor admitted. ‘Back home I rotated my evenings around the same bars and clubs, regurgitating a copy of a night over and over… All my life, I’ve just wanted to do something worth remembering. I guess I’m looking for something.’

As he spoke Conor noticed a red-head by the bar ordering drinks.

‘A chance to meet people,’ he said softly. She had a lean athletic body and was wearing skinny jeans and a tight pink top.

Samuel frowned, noticing Conor’s sudden daze and followed his eye line to the bar.

‘Remember, dear boy,’ he smiled. ‘Women are an odds game that’s never in your favour.’

Undeterred, Conor rose from the table, wobbling slightly as he stood to his feet. Unlike Samuel the pace in which they had got through the first few rounds was not without effect.

‘Just give me a minute,’ he said.

Samuel watched jeeringly as Conor carefully walked towards the bar, heading straight for the girl. Weaving in and amongst the crowds and tables, he moved as quickly as he could, reaching the bar in time to see that she was being served her drinks. He casually positioned himself next to her. Aim high, aim far.

‘Hello,’ he said, trying his best to sound charming.

His greeting prompted her to glance at him for a brief second before turning back to her drinks.

‘Hi Fresher.’

Conor reeled. ‘Jesus, that obvious?’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t say that,’ she said, turning her head slightly, a touch of sarcasm in her tone.

‘Well, ten points in any case.’

She gave no response. Conor made every effort to keep his eye line above her neck.

‘Nice place, Oxford,’ he tried again. ‘You live here?’

‘Of course.’

‘You come here often?’ Quickly he regretted his choice of words.

‘And why would you ask that?’ she moved to face Conor, giving him her complete attention for the first time. She had dark hazel eyes.

‘You don’t do this very often, do you?’ she asked, smiling. ‘Not that I’m suggesting you’re inexperienced or amateur. No, you’ve had some experience with girls or you wouldn’t have approached at all. It’s just that you’ve got insecurities. I’m guessing it’s because this is your first time away from home. Are you studying IT?’

Conor couldn’t hide his surprise.

‘Computer Science. How did you know?’

‘You’ve got a look about you.’

‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’

‘Take whatever helps,’ she said, looking away to shield a smile.

Conor caught it but played along.

‘Thank you. What makes you think this is my first time away from home?’

‘Well, for one thing it explains this newfound courage of yours.’ She took a sip of her drink. ‘You can’t quite believe your luck, can you?’

He looked away before returning with a smirk.

‘OK, maybe.’

The barman served the last of her drinks onto a tray and took the twenty pound note she had held out folded between her fingers.

‘So, what’s your name?’ Conor asked, feeling a sudden need to act fast.

‘Oooh, direct. I’m impressed.’

‘But not enough?’

‘Not today,’ she took the change from the barman, giving him a wink, and turned back to Conor. ‘So why Oxford? What’s wrong with the University in Leicester?’

‘What makes you say Leicester?’

‘Well judging by your accent I’m guessing it’s Leicester, but I suppose it could be Coventry or outer Nottingham even.’ Conor did his best not to give her anything. She studied his face and smiled. ‘But it’s Leicester, definitely Leicester.’

‘I have my reasons for Oxford,’ Conor said enjoying her interest. ‘But we don’t know each other well enough and perhaps we should. Can I give you my number? You can’t learn everything from a glance and I think…’

‘No, not by a glance,’ she interrupted. ‘But by watching the way that they talk, dress, compose themselves in conversation.’ Conor noticed that he was leaning against the bar and stood up straight. ‘You can get enough… And after looking at you and a minute’s conversation I’m guessing you were born and raised in Leicester. Perhaps a little excessively mothered from a young age, middle class of course, kept your head down in school and did well but not as well as you hoped.’

She squinted in thought. ‘From there you went on to further education definitely, no doubt fuelled by binge drinking and nights out with equally testosterone driven primates. But that of course led to boredom and boredom to escapism. I’m sure Oxford felt like a logical choice.’ She took another sip of her drink.

‘How many points do I get?’

Conor leaned back up against the bar, wondering whether there was any point in speaking at all.

‘Have you ever heard of the human regression theory?’ he thought to say.

She smiled and picked up her drinks.

‘Have fun, Fresher, but not too much fun. OK?’

‘Don’t you want to know my name?’ Conor called out as she walked away.

‘I don’t need it,’ she replied, disappearing into the crowd.

He stood at the bar, dazed by the elegance in which she had palmed him away. If the odds weren’t in his favour back home, they weren’t worth calculating in Oxford. He glanced back to Samuel to find him grinning ridiculously and saluting with his pint. He’d enjoyed the show.

Conor thought for a second, trying to imagine how the exchange could have played out better for him. Was it the way he was dressed? His hair? He sighed, eventually settling on a reason that his pride painfully allowed him to accept.



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A GAME FOR THE YOUNG

THE STORY

For the past two years Ellie Swanson and a team of scientists have devoted their lives to a project. An experiment destined to change the course of history.

When their funding is pulled on the eve of their biggest discovery, the team are left with a choice; abandon everything they have worked towards or continue on in secret.

Conor Martin is a young man, full of hope, beginning his journey at St John’s College, Oxford. With a curious nature and a point to prove, he becomes caught up in an interviewing process like no other.

As paths collide and the true potential of the project is revealed, the impact of their creation is suddenly shaken, concluding in a chilling discovery that will change their lives forever.

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fourandahalfstars
“Curious insight into a topical mind. A little chilling in places. Fascinating!”

fivestars
“I love this book! It’s thought provoking and packed full of twists and turns. A great read.”

fourstars
“Packed full of thought-provoking ideas, daring night-time information raids and enough secrets to fill a dozen spy novels, A Game for the Young is deep, insightful and incredibly clever. Science enthusiasts will enjoy its focus on research and experimentation, but there is something for all readers in this novel. The twists and turns are sharp, unexpected and thrilling and will draw the reader in until the final, gripping line.”

fourandahalfstars
“A brilliantly written book that grips you right from the start. The fascinating and ethically challenging plot makes it very hard to put down. A fabulous first novel and looking forward to the next one.”

fivestars
“One of those books you look forward to picking up all the time… Looking forward to book number two as the first book was brilliant!”

fivestars
“I could not put this book down. The author has clearly done a considerable amount of research and made a compelling, worrying and fascinating read.”

fivestars
“Excellent first book from this author. Tempo builds to a real page turner, with twists and turns right up to the last chapter. It will give you a detailed insight into the lives of Oxford students trying to cope with the pressures and moral dilemmas brought on by a truly life changing discovery. I strongly recommend this as a must read and look forward to the next book.”

fourstars
“A well paced and engaging read. Characters have unique and individual voices. Some interesting themes are explored here and questions asked regarding the ethics and morality of enhancing the human being’s natural capacity through scientific means. 4* as I would have liked it to be longer (because I was enjoying it thoroughly)… maybe I am just being greedy.”

fivestars
“A gripping read taking you through the lives, past and present of a group of students on a mission to change the future and the world we live in, with underlying secrets that bring the book to life! The mysterious build up to how the inquisitive main character becomes involved in this project reflects how i felt as a reader and why this book could not be put down. It has a perfect balance of information to make it compelling read but holds enough back for the impact of the final twist. I look forward to the next novel!”

fivestars
“Definite worth a read! I had a hard time putting it down! Can’t wait to read the next novel! Always love a fiction I can actually learn something from, research and detail brilliant.”

fivestars
“Couldn’t put this down – best book I’ve read for years.. intriguing from the start, gripping, very well written – whens the next one out?!”

fivestars
“Absolutely brilliant story. A book which one cannot put down for a moment once into it. I have passed it on to be read by others. Beautifully written and deserves to be a film or a TV thriller. Well done David and look forward to the next one. This is 5*”

fivestars
“This is a good read. An interesting storyline with plenty of plot twists. I agree with an earlier reviewer, this would make a great movie script!”

 

David P. Philip


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Chapter Three – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Leap Of Faith

‘Inconclusive.’

The professor repeated what he’d told Ellie earlier that day.
It was nearing midnight and a young team of scientists had assembled on the ground floor of a Computing Laboratory – one of their agreed meeting points in the Department of Engineering Science.

They kept the room dark. Desk lamps glowed around them offering a soft light.
There were four shadows in the room: Ellie, James, another student named Sara and the professor, who was standing perched against a desk while the others sat in front of him.

‘Inconclusive? What the hell does that mean?’ Sara asked, rising to her feet.

Sara Morgan, a charismatic biologist studying Chemistry at Keble, was prone to speaking her mind. She was often considered fiery by the professors who taught her (or ‘worked with her’ as she would put it).

James was more composed. ‘Are they questioning the validity of the research?’

‘Not exactly,’ the professor said softly. ‘The Board have… concerns. Look, guys, this happens more often than you might think.’ The professor tried to reassure them. ‘The funding required to take this project to the next level is extensive. The Board need to ensure that all areas are covered, that the very best in their chosen fields are assembled and consulted… That the right approach is taken and that the correct equipment, support and… expertise is in place.’

‘Bullshit!’ Sara erupted. ‘They can’t do this! This is ours!’

Her face was red with fury, the vein on her neck throbbing and defined. Her fists clenched.

The professor spoke calmly.

‘They can, they did and it’s done. I’m sorry.’ He knew what this meant to them.

‘Motherfuckers!’ Sara shouted at the floor, pacing up and down. The professor let it go. Sara’s temper was always going to struggle when dealing with this.

‘So what’s the next step?’ James asked, ignoring the sound of Sara kicking her chair in the background.

‘There isn’t a next step, not for a while. The funding is pulled. But I can assure you that all your names will be credited as key contributors to the research when it’s published.’

‘And when will that be?’ Sara asked, barely holding back the aggression from her voice.

‘Most likely in the next few years. It depends on the Muscular Dystrophy research. I hear significant progress is being made. Perhaps in a couple of years they’ll…’

‘Oh, come on,’ James interrupted. ‘It’ll go private. They’ll never get the funding to take this all the way. Some corporate American pharmaceutical will take this on and reap the rewards.’

The professor paused before speaking. He had to choose his words carefully.
‘Perhaps… not exactly like that, but in a way… yes, that’s possible.’

Sara slumped into her chair, the stages of acceptance were passing quickly and giving way to the sadness now showing in her eyes.

Whilst they had been waiting for the decision their minds had run riot. They had convinced themselves that only the very best outcome was possible.

Ellie sat waiting for her turn. Unlike the others she had been given the time to process what had happened. But it didn’t make it any easier; she had watched as they arrived beaming with hope and eager to hear the news. The disappointment was unbearable.

Ellie looked around the room, deciding it was time to speak.

‘Look, I don’t know about the rest of you but this isn’t over for me. I can’t just walk away.’ Everyone looked at her confused. ‘Look, we’ve started something, and it’s more than… this…’ Ellie rose to her feet. ‘This would be a cure to the human weakness. It would change life as we know it. How can we be expected to step back? Is it vain that I want to be part of this? I’ve given two years of my life… We’ve all given… We owe it to ourselves!’

James slouched in his wheelchair, his spirit broken.

‘What are you suggesting? It’s over.’

Ellie hesitated before continuing. She’d been thinking long and hard on the best way to broach this.

‘Well, what did they say? ‘Inconclusive’, right? Fine, then we take that on board. We take it to the next level ourselves.’

‘Animal testing?’ James frowned.

Sara glanced at him pitifully, muttering something inaudible under her breath.

Ellie tried to sound as confident as she could.

‘This isn’t about the money… Screw the funding! We have nearly everything we need already. We take it to human trials.’

The room fell silent. Ellie was uncertain even as she said it, but she had done it. She had put it out there. If anything she was convinced everyone else was thinking it too.

‘Who would be the test subjects?’ James asked, knowing the answer.

Ellie gestured to the team, palms open.

‘I can’t just walk away… and I’m surprised you can?’ She turned to the professor.

He had kept quiet, choosing to observe. Often a closed book, he was difficult to judge at times.

‘I understand that you’re angry,’ he said, speaking with a tone that was more forceful than usual. ‘I can’t deny that I’m disappointed too, but we need the funding and this needs to be research accredited to the University. We can’t go rogue. We need the support. This is too significant to act alone. The risks are…’

‘I’m in,’ Sara asserted, biting her nails as she spoke.

The professor recoiled. Shocked by the simplicity the team seemed to view this decision with. Considering the time they’d spent together over the past two years it was easy to forget they were so young and their immaturity at times took him off guard.

‘Me too,’ James said, turning to the professor for a reaction. He had begun putting on his coat.

‘I’m sorry, I cannot be part of this. What you’re suggesting… It isn’t safe. I’d lose my job, my career.’

‘You could oversee the project,’ Sara offered. ‘Make sure that everything was being done correctly. We’ll do whatever it takes.’

‘No,’ the professor replied, putting a scarf around his neck and checking the time on his watch.

‘But this is our chance!’ Ellie tried not to sound desperate. ‘You said yourself the amount of faith you put behind your science will reflect what you get out of it. This is our leap of faith. This is our moment. How can you say these things and then…’

‘Do not use my words against me, Ellie!’ the professor snapped. ‘I wouldn’t have got any of you involved in this if I thought it was dangerous.’ He seemed angered by the idea that the team were doing this under his guidance.

‘Let it go,’ he pleaded, lowering his head with almost a whisper.

‘We won’t,’ Sara spoke defiantly. ‘We can’t and you know that.’

The professor could see the determination in their eyes, the devotion. He’d seen it before.

‘You don’t know what you’re asking,’ he warned.

‘All we’re asking is that you trust us, Professor,’ Ellie pleaded.

They knew the truth just as he did. The history of pharmaceutical publications were rife with law suits and damage claims from scientists protesting that their research had been stolen or misused in some way. This would be no different.

The professor offered each of them a glance, acknowledging the sincerity in their eyes. He knew they wouldn’t let this go. How could they? Why should they? Of course they are right.

They were a young team and couldn’t help but be ambitious, but unlike them he knew what they were asking; the risks, the danger.

The project now verged at the pinnacle of two years in extensive planning; an Everest of research had been overcome. Their opportunity was now.

He needed time. Time to think, time to assess, time to weigh everything up, but there was none. If he didn’t agree tonight he may never see them again.

Was it too late to turn back? He had started this. He had put them in this situation. The responsibility bore down on him like a curse. They needed him. He couldn’t risk a side project led by a team of students spinning off out of control. No, he would have to see it through. And the risks? The risks would be the ante to a reward beyond comprehension.

The professor stood, rooted to the spot, muttering under his breath and privately debating. Eventually he nodded as if in agreement with himself.
Walking to the exit, he left the group awaiting his response. He opened the door and glanced down the corridor to check it was clear.

The professor looked back at the team he’d assembled, leaving an uncertain pause before he spoke.

‘Follow me. There’s something I need to show you.’
 
 

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Chapter Six – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Page 36-37.

“It started as a myth, a whisper around campus. Conor first heard the rumours over a pint with Samuel and then again during a Digital Systems workshop a week later. Some were saying that it began in Cambridge, but no one truly knew. It was never first hand, always a friend of a friend or the roommate of a stranger.

There was no explanation given, nor did there appear to be any pattern or connection, but students at the University were being chosen, singled out. Those who were selected spoke little of it, only to say that they had been sent a mysterious message, an encrypted invitation that they found in their mailbox or slipped under their door.

The message would contain a code that was unique to each student; a series of numbers and letters which would appear at random, encrypted by an elusive cipher.

Quickly, gossip had speculated on its purpose, the prize of breaking the code ranging from University acknowledgement to the absurd, but from there the stories would differ. Some would attempt to break it and fail whilst others instantly discarded the code refusing to participate in whatever this was.

Even now he couldn’t believe it. It had been four days since Conor had found a mysterious code in his mailbox, sandwiched between a pile of takeaway menus and college leaflets.

Everyone was talking about it, but not once did he imagine being chosen. To him this represented one thing alone: a test. An opportunity to stand out among the elite. To rise above the cream of Oxford.”



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DAVID P. PHILIP

David lives with his wife and daughter in a village on the south coast of England.

Fascinated by stories that explore the brain and challenge human behaviour; David’s first novel ‘A Game For The Young’ was written following months of research in the field of cognitive neuroscience.

His story contains themes of obsession, addiction and abuse of power, but at its heart it toys with the idea of knowledge being a drug. A theme David is keen to explore.

Currently working on his next project, David is hoping ‘A Game For The Young’ will be his first of many novels.

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Five Interesting Videos To Watch
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My Favourite Author Interviews (Part 1)
My Favourite Author Interviews (Part 1)

 

Thank you Etc Magazine!
Thank you Etc Magazine!

 

Ambient Sounds: Stellardrone
Ambient Sounds: Stellardrone

 

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My Favourite Motivational Videos

 

Writing Tips (Part 1)
Writing Tips (Part 1)

 

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My Top Ten Favourite Movie Scenes

 

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Five Proven Techniques To Achieving Focus

 

Davidpphilip.com – Website Launched!
Davidpphilip.com – Website Launched!

 

17 Interesting Facts About The Brain
17 Interesting Facts About The Brain

 

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My Top Five (Six) Favourite Books

 

How To Write A Book Review
How To Write A Book Review

 

The Top Five Writers That Have Inspired Me
The Top Five Writers That Have Inspired Me

 

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A GAME FOR THE YOUNG

DISCOVER THE EXPERIMENT DESTINED TO CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY

Exploring obsession, addiction and the abuse of power, David P. Philip’s debut novel, A Game for the Young, expertly toys with the idea of knowledge being a drug. After being accepted into Oxford University, Conor Martin finds himself thrust into an interviewing process like no other—with a chance to join an enigmatic team. This group of individuals have sacrificed the last two years of their lives to a project so important, it has the potential to change every life on the planet… read more

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Chapter Four – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Four (Opening) – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Three – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Six – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Two – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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A Game For The Young – Afterword

 

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Chapter Five – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Eight – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter One – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Images From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Nineteen – Excerpt from ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Prologue – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Book Launch Photos – A Game For The Young

 

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Frequently Asked Questions – A Game For The Young

 

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Publication Day – Thank you!

 

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The ‘Unofficial’ Soundtrack to A Game For The Young

 

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A Game For The Young – Press Release

 

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A Game For The Young Ebook Retailers

 

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The Locations In Oxford Used In ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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First Review of ‘A Game for the Young’

 

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Chapter Thirty – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

 

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Chapter Two – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Message In A Bottle

It had been over a week since Ellie had submitted her research. More than two years of intensive study and theoretical science, packaged into a collection of documents, flow diagrams and chemical formulas that equated to one of the biggest discoveries in human history. Finally the weight had been lifted.

At first there was relief, overwhelmed by a sense of achievement. She marvelled, reflecting on what they’d accomplished and gave some thought to what it meant for her future at Oxford.

The feeling wore away quicker than she expected. Now Ellie played the waiting game, indulging in a futile attempt at returning to ‘normal’ everyday life.

As she expected this wasn’t coming easy for her. All of the team had stepped up their commitment to the project when they realised there was realistic chance it could succeed, but Ellie had immersed herself from the start.

The world and its distractions had faded into obscurity – nothing else had mattered. Her only frustration was that this unreserved devotion to the research was known only to a select few. To everyone else, outside of the team, her consistent apathy throughout the lectures of the past year was puzzling and uncharacteristic; a balancing act she had failed to maintain. She was fortunate that her coursework had been unaffected.

It had been long over a week since the team had last assembled and nearly three weeks since she received the phone call she had so desperately been waiting for. ‘Ellie, I think we’ve done it. I think we’ve found Hawking.’

The plan was simple. Everyone packaged up their notes into the agreed format, submitted their research to the professor and waited. The professor would present their findings to the Board of Science at the University and request the funds to take the project to the next level.

Everything had seemed clear and under control. She gave her work blindly and waited patiently. But time had now passed and with hindsight playing on her mind she became mindful that nothing had really been agreed at all.
She didn’t know when the professor would present their research or when they would hear the outcome. How would they find out? What kind of reaction should they expect?

During the first few days Ellie had expected to be pulled out mid-way through one of her lectures. She spent most of her time during seminars watching the entrance, expecting to see a face appear in the glass panel of the door, gesturing her to come outside.

By the end of the week Ellie began to expect a phone call from the professor or an email to the team with an update, some sort of indication on his progress. But there was still nothing, not a word. She was now becoming impatient, annoyed even.

If this had continued she would have considered approaching the professor directly herself, something the team were strictly forbidden to do, but she needed to know, she’d worked too hard to be left in the dark this way. Thankfully she wouldn’t have to. Today the professor would come to her.

Like many of the courses at St Anne’s the diverse subject matter was separated into modules, covered by various Professors on the basis of their expertise and experience.

Ellie was taking a Biology degree, en route to a Masters, and the modules for Molecular Genetics and Cell Membrane Structure were being run by Professor William Henry Daniels, a man Ellie had grown to know outside of the University more so than in and who the team affectionately called ‘The Professor’.

Today she was set for another seminar on Molecular Genetics. One way or another, today she would find out what was happening.

Ellie started the day as a coiled spring. The time to think had given her every version of the conversation she was going to have.

She awoke early, lying in bed and watching intently as the sun rose from behind her window. The cream roller blind provided her small studio room with a soft and gentle raise in light. Soon after came the morning chirps from the birds and the occasional car setting off early to beat the traffic. She stared at her alarm clock, counting down the minutes until 8.00AM. Today everything mattered.

Ellie climbed out of her bed, tied back her hair and headed for the shower. By 9.00AM she was wide awake, fully dressed and focused, ready for the day ahead.

Her class didn’t start for another hour and it took less than fifteen minutes to get to campus on foot. She paced back and forth. This would be the longest hour.

* * *

Ellie arrived at the seminar composed and with plenty of time to spare. The room was already a third full. The professor’s teaching assistant, Angelo Mosso, had let the usual suspects in early to get the best seats. Given the choice she would have been among them, but that would have stuck out as strange and today needed to appear like any other day.

Ellie looked around to see that the professor was yet to arrive. This wasn’t out of the ordinary.
She sat in her usual spot, greeted by Marie and Sally, two distant, we must catch up friends she’d come to know during the course.

‘Hey you,’ she said to Sally, unpacking her module book along with some notes from the previous lecture.

‘Els, Marie was just saying, it’s been ages since we’ve seen you out. Where have you been?’

‘Oh I’ve been busy, this and that, you know.’

‘What’s his name?’ Marie asked, leaning in for some gossip.

Ellie smiled, shaking her head. As if! It had been years since Ellie had even thought about getting to know someone intimately – just another sacrifice that she’d given gladly to the project.

As students drifted into class, the room volume grew until it was awash with noise – a strange collection of characters allowing for an odd mixture of conversations. Idle chat that kept them preoccupied and oblivious to the professor’s absence.

Ellie tried not to clock-watch as the final minutes of the hour gave out.

She did her best not to appear relieved when the professor came through the door a handful of seconds past 10.00AM, the rest of the room remaining ignorant to his lateness.

Mid-sentence she stuttered whilst glancing over. He seemed distant, preoccupied. Unpacking his things without acknowledging the class or even thanking his teaching assistant. It was confusing. The professor’s manners were usually impeccable.

After several minutes he gave a thankful nod to Angelo before turning to face everyone. Standing in front of the class and leaning back against his desk, he quietly looked out at his students.

Ellie was now facing forward, noting with intrigue the subtle differences in his composure. As always his frame carried the comfort of middle age spread and his short brown hair was seasoned with the occasional grey. But she could see that he’d not shaven. There was at least three days’ worth of stubble growing on his face and his shirt, always immaculately ironed, was showing creases on the arms and shoulders.

One by one the groups began to quieten. They were accustomed to the professor telling them to settle down and take control but today seemed different and a gradual hush fell over in response to it. After a brief pause he headed for the white board.

‘Good morning marines.’

‘Good morning sir.’ The class responded as one; it was a running joke.

‘Before we get started today I wanted to touch on an important subject. Something that defines not science, but scientists; who we are and what we do.’ He then picked up a red marker pen and wrote on the board a single word. He turned, for a moment studying the puzzlement on his students’ faces. He had everyone’s attention.

‘Now, who can tell me the history of the first full-body MRI scan?’ he asked. ‘And lets stay away from the Nobel Peace Prize controversy if we can, please.’ He began pacing back and forth in front of the class.

‘An MRI is a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan,’ a student called out. ‘It uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of the brain.’

‘Along with the rest of the body,’ the professor added. ‘Yes, thank you Steven, but we hopefully all knew this.’ He gestured to the room.

‘Let’s talk about her history.’

The professor picked out another student.

‘It was invented in America,’ a Spanish student offered. ‘In the seventies, I think.’

‘That’s right, but can anyone tell me about the first full-body MRI?’

The class fell silent. A history lesson on the tools and instruments used in pathology examinations wasn’t normally part of their seminars.

Ellie kept quiet. Where is he going with this?

The professor waited through several seconds of silence before starting.

‘Cancer tissue cells have an abnormal amount of potassium and sodium. Dr Raymond Damadian knew this. Collaborating with a team of graduate students he spent years developing a device that he hoped would one day help to diagnose cancer and other serious medical conditions without cutting the body open.’

He rested against his desk.

‘By 1977 they had constructed a superconducting magnet that could be used to detect the abnormal cells. It was impressive stuff for the time I can tell you.’

The professor paused, seemingly for effect.

‘So it was finally ready, everything was in place. But there was just one problem… Can anyone tell me what the problem was?’

The room was still but for a few mumbles. He looked out at his students, appearing expectant.

‘Anyone?’

It was rare for the class to be so regularly silenced. Often at least a few vocal students would have an opinion to offer, but everyone seemed caught looking to someone else for the answer.

‘No one wanted to go first,’ Ellie replied, her eye line fixed to the floor.

‘That’s right Elizabeth,’ the professor said, pushing away from his desk. He still insisted on calling her Elizabeth as opposed to Ellie in front of the other students. ‘No one wanted to be the first. No one wanted to be scanned. After all it wasn’t safe, why be first? Why take the risk?’

The professor continued pacing.

‘So who went first?’ Sally asked, appearing drawn in by the story.

‘Dr Damadian,’ the professor answered. ‘But it doesn’t end there. When they tested it on him nothing happened. Damadian and his team were looking at years of research and funding wasted.’

The professor came to a stop.

‘Moments of trial are often weighed by the ‘what ifs’. Perhaps Damadian was too big for the machine? Perhaps it would work for someone lighter? Someone thinner? Possibly someone younger? But who could know for sure? Not Damadian and not anyone in his team.’

The professor began pacing again.

‘Someone had to believe… Someone had to see past their fear of the uncertain… It was July 3rd 1977. A graduate student volunteered. And this is known as the date the first full body MRI examination was performed on a human.’
He paused next to Ellie. Close and yet seemingly going out of his way not to give her any eye contact.

‘You all want to be great scientists. I see it in your eyes. The hopes that you’ll discover a cure to a disease, that you’ll save lives. I was the same. And on a good day, I too will have that same glint in my eye. But what you need to remember is that with every inspiration there is always at first belief.’

He stared up at the word he’d written on the board: Faith.

‘The very definition of an experiment is a test for the purpose of discovering something unknown. As scientists some of what we do is blind journey, an adventure even, and the amount of faith you put behind your science, the amount of belief you invest, will reflect what you get out of it. If we forget this, if we stick to what can only be proofed and formulated, we lose something. And perhaps it’s not something we can put into words but it’s something important, it’s something that defines us.’

The class sat quietly, smiling and acknowledging his advice. Historical metaphors always seemed to pack a punch.
‘You’re the new breed, the next hope for the future of science. Believe in what you can offer and you’ll make a difference, I promise.’

He rubbed the board clean and opened the module literature.

‘OK, let’s pick it up from our last session. Can you all turn to chapter seven for me please.’

* * *

Ellie sat muted and still, blankly gazing forward as the session passed her by in a two hour blur. She couldn’t move on from what the professor had opened with.

She had covered the rise of the Fonar Corporation and its multiple patents in MRI technology as an essay during her A-levels. The company was founded by Dr Raymond Damadian himself.

Ellie had given it as long as she could before answering his question. She hated standing out, but she couldn’t help feeling as if the question he had put to the class was for her.

Language was an incredible tool. The ability to say multiple things with a single statement. The same words sending entirely different signals depending on the tone and context.

The professor had delivered a message, in a way only he could. Subtle, delicate and allowing time for Ellie to digest it.

The clock above the white board bore down on midday as the professor began summarising the points that had been covered. The class recognised this as the round up and promptly folded up their notes.

‘Your take home assignment is on my desk. I want you all to take a copy of this.’ He held up an assignment sheet. The students began rising from their seats.

‘Also spend some time studying up on Protein Interaction Networks and Signal Transduction ready for Tuesday’s lecture. If you have any questions please take these up with Angelo.’ The professor gestured to his teaching assistant.

The lecture room emptied quickly. The students bustled out of the door, their noise gradually filtering away.
Ellie sat, pretending to write, as if she were making her final notes. She said her goodbyes to Marie and Sally, and offered a series of plastic smiles and we must catch up promises she’d never keep. She packed her bag as slowly as she could, anxiously waiting for them all to leave. Poised at the edge of her seat, doing her best not to lose composure.

Professor Daniels wished the last of his students well before turning to pack up his things. ‘I’ll meet you in the Main Hall,’ he said to Angelo, filling his leather bag with books and the remaining assignment sheets. Angelo nodded with a smile and left the room.

Ellie took a deep breath to gather herself. The professor offered a brief glance before walking over to the main door to close it. He pulled down the window blind, concealing them from the human traffic in the hallway.
She stood up, her face filled with a mixture of emotions. They stared at each other, sharing silence for a few moments before the professor began walking towards her. He didn’t need to say anything. She couldn’t believe it.

‘They said no, didn’t they?’




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David P. Philip


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Chapter Five – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Page 26.

“Conor and his new friend Samuel Milton took in the view as they sat comfortably in the warmth of the Eagle & Child. They watched as the rain lightly tapped against the windows, as the puddles slowly formed on the street corners. Passers-by were pulling out their umbrellas and frantically running to shelter. The tables and chairs inside quickly filled up with shivering punters shaking off the rain.

‘Have you ever heard of the human regression theory?’ Samuel asked, handing Conor a shot of tequila. He glanced to the new arrivals coming in from the cold. Conor shrugged.

‘It’s the belief that the human race will eventually peak in its ascension. Achieve all that we are capable of, and then over time, slowly regress, forgetting all that has been learned.’ He picked up his tequila and gestured to the room. ‘It can make you wonder, when will we know that we’ve peaked?’”



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Thank you Etc Magazine!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Laura Cartledge and everyone at Etc Magazine for their support.

In the September issue of Etc Magazine’s Sussex edition, there is a generous two page spread on me as an author and ‘A Game For The Young’ – along with snippets from a telephone interview I had with Laura last month. You can find the article on Pages 108-109.

Click Here To Download The Article in PDF

Here’s the text:

Quite a tale
LAURA CARTLEDGE discovers the remarkable story which began with a bucket list.
If you see books flying around Bognor Regis, David P. Philip might be to blame.As the author admits, when the box of his first novel arrived, he was tempted to ‘go out and Frisbee it at people – shouting ‘read this, read this’.’
“Everyone talks about that moment but I didn’t give it the credit it deserved,” he confesses. “Then it rocked up and it was amazing.”
A Game For The Young had been five years in the writing and was sparked by David making a bucket list of things he wanted to do.
“I was waiting for something I suppose,” he admits. “Then I read a book about focusing your ambitions, about setting them out rather than just dreaming about them.
“Along with skydiving and all the other clichés, one of mine was to write a novel,” he recalls.
“Because it was the only one which didn’t involve spending a lot of money or booking a holiday I went with it and it grew from there.”
The theme for David’s ‘pet project’ came about because of his long-standing interest in neurobiology.
“Not just how memory and thought patterns work but hallucinations, mindreading and subliminal messages – I find it all fascinating,” he enthuses.
“It was a case of finding a format of a story that would allow me to find out more.
“Then I was watching Minority Report and realised whenever you see anyone interacting with the brain it is always in a real slick and sci-fi way,” adds David. “But I thought the concept itself was big enough so I wanted a very raw story about the impact of something like that happening.”
The result is ‘an intimate story’ which is set against, and explores, a vast background subject.
At the centre of the tale is a group of Oxford students who ‘make a scientific discovery that changes their lives’.
What follows touches on themes of obsession, addiction and abuse of power, and plays with the concept of knowledge being a drug.
“It came about in a very chaotic way,” David smiles. “I read a lot about writing online, the pace, introducing characters, but I think I made every mistake you could.”
Asked if there were any surprises during the process, David says the friendly nature of the book community in general really struck him.
“I found if you want to speak to an author you get a message back quite quickly,” he admits.
“There is a lot of support and free advice, that took me back, it is not quite as competitive as I
feared it would be.
“I also didn’t realise it was so much fun to be creative in that way,” continues David. “It was just great to get stuck in to it – I am really proud of it.”
The experience has led him to feel that ‘everyone should do it’, even if just in terms of improving their grasp of the English language.
“I think everyone has a story. Now I have done it I can’t imagine not having something like this on the go,” he enthuses.
“Whenever I have spoken to people they always say ‘I have an idea’ for a book but it is such a long process, I understand that now.”
As a software company account manager for his day job, David describes becoming an author as being ‘a left turn at the traffic lights’, but credits it with giving him a ‘techie mindset’.
So what has he enjoyed the most?
“It is great when you have a reader you can’t immediately connect with, someone who isn’t a friend of a friend – while you do appreciate them – that is a big rush, you feel you have achieved it and there is a buzz with it,” David replies. “Now the hopes and dreams of being an author full-time are definitely there.”

‘A Game For The Young’ was published on March 31by Rowanvale Books, a paperback copy costs £8.99.
Visit www.rowanvalebooks.com or www.davidpphilip.co.uk for more information.

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Chapter Eight – Excerpt From ‘A Game For The Young’

Page 37.

“It started as a myth, a whisper around campus. Conor first heard the rumours over a pint with Samuel and then again during a Digital Systems workshop a week later. Some were saying that it began in Cambridge, but no one truly knew. It was never first hand, always a friend of a friend or the roommate of a stranger.

There was no explanation given, nor did there appear to be any pattern or connection, but students at the University were being chosen, singled out. Those who were selected spoke little of it, only to say that they had been sent a mysterious message, an encrypted invitation that they found in their mailbox or slipped under their door.

The message would contain a code that was unique to each student; a series of numbers and letters which would appear at random, encrypted by an elusive cipher.

Quickly, gossip had speculated on its purpose, the prize of breaking the code ranging from University acknowledgement to the absurd, but from there the stories would differ. Some would attempt to break it and fail whilst others instantly discarded the code refusing to participate in whatever this was.

Even now he couldn’t believe it. It had been four days since Conor had found a mysterious code in his mailbox, sandwiched between a pile of takeaway menus and college leaflets.

Everyone was talking about it, but not once did he imagine being chosen. To him this represented one thing alone: a test. An opportunity to stand out among the elite. To rise above the cream of Oxford.”



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David P. Philip


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