Playing Go in Literature (Books, Comics, etc.)

(Crosspost: FB, L19, DGoB, G+)

Currently reading an extremely exciting SF novel by John Sandford & Ctein: “Saturn Run” and what shall I say, I was happily surprised to see that Our Game is mentioned in it.

I’ll let you know if I find other instances there.



Nice. I read that book, but didn’t notice the reference.

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Patrick Rothfuss’s tremendous fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and Doors of Stone) features a game that is closely modeled on go, or is perhaps go under another name. I haven’t read the third volume yet, as it has come out recently. Rothfuss has the finest English prose style in modern fantastic literature. Highly recommended.


Name of the Wind? I think I bought that one a few years back… never read it though. It was recommended to me by a friend who reads like… a book a day.

Not related to Go, but if anyone likes SciFi, I highly recommend everything by Vernor Vinge. True Names is the timeless classic; personally, I think it’s way better than the Neuromancer trilogy. If you don’t have time to read all of his books, read Rainbows End, my personal favorite. Marooned in Realtime is also nothing short of amazing, I don’t think many others even considered a similar premise.

As for Saturn Run, I have heard the name somewhere… will see if I can find it somewhere.


I have those Vinge books, but haven’t read them yet. Marooned is generally highly regarded, so I guess I should move it up the wait list.

Go is mentioned in the best seller “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”, written by French go player Muriel Barbery and published in 2006. It was adapted into a film, The Hedgehog, released in 2009.


Japanese Nobel Prize winner Kawabata has a novel The Master of Go. It’s from quite awhile ago

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As I already posted in another topic old chinese novel “Journey To The West” known to many simply as “monkey king” contains some references to go including some neat verses

“Approach with extreme caution
As if facing a deep canyon.
Such is the meaning thereof.
The poem says:
The board is the earth; the pieces are the sky;
The colors are light and dark as the whole universe.
When playing reaches that skillful, subtle stage,
Boast and laugh with the old Immortal of weiqi”

Yeah. Given my progress I am not boasting or laughing with old immortal of weiqi anytime soon :joy::joy::joy:

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Meanwhile I have advanced a few dozen pages in “Saturn Run”, and I can tell you that Go does play a role a few more times but I won’t spoil it for you.

Just one thing: if you have read the awesome thriller “Shibumi”(*) by Trevanian you will get a special kick out of one passage in the book

* Re: “Shibumi” see here:

Actually, Shibumi should have an entry here of its own because, although it is a thriller, Go plays a HUGE role in this book. If you can get your hands on a copy, read it!


I once read a sci-fi called ‘Starbourne’ by Robert Silverberg in which Go was prominently featured…This was before I knew the game, and at the time I thought it was simply a fictitious element. Then, some time later, I described to my roommate the story of this novel. Later that same day, we watched ‘A Beautiful Mind’. After that particular scene with Go, it rushed in on me that the Go of that novel I just described to my roomate in that very day was not, in fact, fiction. :slight_smile:

Looked it up, got hooked. Never been the same since.


Ordered a used copy, thank you! And BTW, it’s “Starborne”, for anybody searching for the title (my first search didn’t bring up any hits :wink: )

Also, I created a new thread for books:

Actually, I think I should move these two comments to that thread … hope it’s okay for y’all.

Das Glasperlenspiel (The Glass Bead Game) by Hermann Hesse is set in a futuristic academy and is said to have been inspired by go. I read it many years ago, long before I heard of the game. So long ago that I can tell you almost nothing else about it. It’s quite literary, and I don’t think it delves much into the particulars of the game.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (recently deceased) has a brief reference to go. As I recall, it’s a couple of guys in a tent playing the game with pebbles on a crudely drawn surface.

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You damaged your book by highlighting it just for our sakes? Woah.


If that highlighting was done manually (ironically, instead of digitally), Tom’s got the steadiest hand and most evenly distributed amounts of highlighter ink I have ever seen.


Doh! Ironically, I did a search to double check the correct-ness of the ‘e’ on the end, but missed the incorrect use of the ‘u’. :smiley:


I have a vague recollection that one of Iain/Iain M Banks books had two characters playing Go or a Go like game…?


LOL, I lurve you folks :smiley:

Yeah, @smurph, I did it in Pshop:

  • selection
  • then slightly transformed the selection (using a mesh)
  • then made a solid color fill layer of it (Yellow)
  • multiply

But TBH, I purchase most of my books used (this one I got via Abebooks for 4,34 €, incl. shipping!), and I wouldn’t mind purchasing an extra copy to mark it IRL for you if I weren’t a media professional anyway.


I buy all my books secondhand too… always hoping to find some secret notes (preferably written with a pencil) inside. Library editions are great, as well.


I think it’s cool that Go fits seamlessly into almost any fictional/fantasy universe archetype, whether ancient, modern, or futuristic.


Speaking of fantasy … Wheel of Time readers may suspect that the game of ‘Stones’, mentioned every now again, is in fact Go.

I started reading the series before I knew Go, and finished after … was tickled when realizing where the game of ‘Stones’ seemed to have been inspired from. Even more so on seeing that the game is so darn common in that universe…at some points it seems like everyone knows how to play, or at least knows about it. :smiley: