Playing God

$24.95 inc. GST

by: Morton Benning

330 pages
129mm x 198mm
ISBN: 9780648208112
Publish date: 7.11.2017

SKU: 9780648208112 Category:


Keenley Turnshoe is a young apprentice cleric living in Utopia, a medieval-like fantasy world of magic and monsters. But unknown to Keenley and the other inhabitants of Utopia, their world is also the virtually rendered plaything of a very wealthy and self-absorbed young man named Jeff, AKA the Great God Avatar.

When Jeff’s ‘answering machine’, the Deus Interface, decides that it is the Great God Avatar, it identifies Jeff as a threat and strands him in his own virtual world. Jeff seeks help from Keenley and his companions as he tries to return to his virtual throne room.

As they risk their lives on a quest to find the Great God, will they discover the true identity of their difficult travelling companion? And will the Deus Interface be able to locate and destroy them before they fulfil their quest?

About the author

Morton Benning is an artist and writer and lover of all things science fiction and fantasy. He holds an MA in Creative Writing and lives in Adelaide, South Australia with his wife and two daughters. This is his first novel. Visit the author at


  1. D.M. Cornish, author of Monster Blood Tattoo series

    In Utopia the jeopardy is real, the stakes matter and yet there is a lovely touch of wry humour laced throughout. As a player of MMOs and RPGs, seeing from the denizens of a “game world’s” point of view is fun, intriguing and compelling; I thoroughly enjoyed the double narrative – the two worlds, and loved every time Jeff was made to squirm.

  2. James Cooper, head of Creative Writing, Tabor College of Higher Education

    An original and timely exploration of how apt we are to get it wrong in matters of ultimate importance. Anyone who’s ever attempted to create a world – on page or on screen – will find characters and themes to warm to in Morton Benning’s Playing God.

  3. Rosanne Hawke, author of Wolfchild, Across the Creek and The Leopard Princess

    A fascinating and thought-provoking journey through a virtually rendered world. With interesting characters, twists and surprises, this is a riveting story for readers from eleven to one hundred.

  4. Ash Pearce (verified owner)

    I absolutely love the premise, the story itself is well balanced and shows off the author’s storytelling talents. I enjoyed the journey, and I was kept entertained and engaged the entire time which I am grateful for. I really enjoyed Playing God, and I really hope to read more.

  5. Sue Jeffrey (verified owner)

    Playing God follows the story of Keenley Turnshoe, an apprentice cleric in the medieval fantasy world of Utopia. One day Keenley attempts to use the prayer glass in the clerical school’s library to ask the Great God Avatar a question. But something goes wrong. The God doesn’t respond as Keenley expects and the prayer glass goes blank. Keenley is terrified he’s broken the Great God.

    What Keenley doesn’t know is that his world is virtual, created to be the play-thing of Jeff Masters, a spoilt rich-kid. Through the Deus Interface, Jeff acts as the God of the world, the interface a form of ‘answering machine’ for the prayer requests of the people.

    The problem is that the Deus Interface has decided that it is the Great God Avatar and perceives Jeff to be a threat. It strands the self-absorbed Jeff in his own virtual world where he is forced, to his disgust, to live by the rules of the world. Jeff joins forces with Keenley and his friends in a quest to return to his virtual throne room and fix the problem. Meanwhile Paley, the creator and coder of the virtual world must race against time to rescue Jeff. Failure has real-world consequences. If the Deus Interface cannot be defeated, not only will Keenley and others of the world be ‘killed’, Jeff and Paley may die.

    Playing God is an entertaining tale that bridges the genres of science fiction and fantasy. I especially appreciated Benning’s humour which is, at times Pratchett-esque. In describing Keenley’s friend, Miyako, Benning writes: ‘She was the only one of her race many people in this part of the world had ever seen but she was so unassuming her teachers would often mark her absent by mistake.’ Later in the story, Jeff’s attempts to assert his Great God-ness are ironically contrasted with his impotence. ‘ “I’m God. This is my world. I’m in charge and I decide when it stops.” After a moment Jeff looked at the others and said, “So what’s the plan?”’

    The story draws to a tension-filled conclusion where the two realities collide and a temporal twist raises the stakes even further.

    One of the benefits of writing in different worlds is that an author can explore issues and ideas out of their normal context. In Playing God, Benning considers the question ‘why is it that people want to be God, or be their own God, yet are really bad at being God?’ This subject has been dealt with frequently in pop culture, such as the iconic 2003 movie, Bruce Almighty. In this film, Jim Carey plays a down-on-his-luck news reporter who tells God he’s not doing his job properly. God, in response, gives him the job, with disastrous results. While Playing God is set in a completely different genre than Bruce Almighty, a similar truth is conveyed. The self-centred Jeff’s extreme lack of God-like character has, at times, dire consequences for the people who live within his created world.

    Playing God is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it for gamers, science fiction/fantasy aficionados, and anyone else willing to take the leap into Benning’s thought-provoking and entertaining virtual world.

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