A Protracted Game [Web Serial]

by G. Michael Rapp

Original ONGOING Action Drama Sci-fi Tragedy Cyberpunk Grimdark Multiple Lead Characters Ruling Class Slice of Life Space Opera War and Military
Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity
  • Sexual Content
  • Traumatising content

eBook Update: For those of you who would like to leave behind the computer screen, I have released all installments under a compilation eBook through Amazon's KDP (link here). The eBook is $2.99, which will help support this wonderful Web serial. All updates, i.e., new installments, will be added to the compilation every two months or so. These updates will be free, as they will be pushed through the distribution systems as "updates" to the original content. If you can't afford the eBook through Amazon, or just hate the evil empire of Amazon, you can find a compiled version of all installments on the companion Website for A Protracted Game

In the near future, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and the definitions of human are being stretched to their very limits. Humanity has spread out amongst the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets of the solar system, fashioning together new societies and new opportunities, but the stars beyond are still outside of our reach.

Old and new geopolitical blocs are seeking to dominate the new order beyond Earth and Luna. One such bloc, codenamed the Alliance, recruits Yang Ru to destabilize Mars, in hopes of securing a political and economic foothold on that planet. Yang Ru’s work stokes the flames of civil war on Mars. Two factions emerge, Colonel Valesquez’s 508th Vanguard and Zeyk Duval’s Concerned Citizenry, claiming ownership over the direction of Mars’ uncertain future.

As Mars burns, the violence begins rippling outward. The Alliance and the Alliance’s adversaries begin posturing and readying for bloody and protracted shadow wars throughout the Verse.

To make matters worse, an emerging (and sentient) artificial intelligence, named Osma, is on the rise, infecting computer systems and infrastructure, making her presence known and felt. The warring factions see Osma as a potential ally and weapon in their war for dominance, and they attempt to recruit her for their respective causes. Others, such as the mega church known as the Brethren and Sistren of the Abrahamic Faiths, hope to convert, destroy, or help Osma, as she grows and blossoms into something either uniquely human or something else altogether.

A Protracted Game, a space opera/sci-fi Web serial, is an account of the next steps in humanity’s evolution, as witnessed by Osmanthus, those who built her, those who wish to control her, those who wish to escape her ominous presence, and those caught in the crossfire.

Current Release Schedule. New installments for A Protracted Game will be released on Fridays and Saturdays, starting 07 February 2020. All episodes are released at 23:00 (MST). 

Cover Design. We have a new cover! The new cover was designed and illustrated by Jeff Brown

Coming Soon! A Protracted Game has some exciting developments coming down the development pipeline. These include a fancy new cover, designed and illustrated specially for the Web serial, and a dramatized podcast, which will be free to anyone who uses the official companion Website. 

P.S. If you enjoyed the last few installments, consider dropping a review or rating. It'll help this little Web serial take off. 

  • Overall Score
  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score
  • Total Views :
  • 5,857
  • Average Views :
  • 150
  • Followers :
  • 24
  • Favorites :
  • 4
  • Ratings :
  • 5
  • Pages :
  • 218
Go to Table of Contents
Rate it
Fiction breaking rules? Report
G. Michael Rapp

G. Michael Rapp

Fledgling Reviewer (I)
Word Count (VII)
First Comment!
Group Leader (III)
First Review Upvote

Leave a review

Sort by:
  • Overall Score
  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score

This is definitely one of the best character based novels I have read on royal road, these characters feel impactful and real. They have their motovations that a real life person might have. 

The problem with this is the large amount words this takes make the chapters drag on with little to no story for hundreds of words, while this is fine if you like long and deep character studies, if you don't reading starts to feel like a chore. The story is definately the weakest part of this novel even with it's amazing concept and world building it just doesn't always seem to be happening.

The grammar while technically perfect from my experience suffers from structural verbosity with so many word stuffed in when they don't need to be, while this is good for essays and some story moments, in this exagerates the problems with the dragging story. This is in my opinion the area that the author could improve the most, as if the writing was more concise without losing to much of it wonderful styling then it would greatly improve the story.

Overall I would say this story is worth at least an initial reading to see if this more character based writing is the style for you to enjoy, if you find it a chore to read then find something else.

I plan on coming back to this in a couple of months to read a bit more as I have become quite attached to some of the characters.

  • Overall Score

I almost didn't read this webnovel, which would have been a shame. The description of this book may sound abstract and aloof, but it hides the deeply human aspect within this story. The people feel real, and have struggles and motivations. The near future setting is also quite believable, with many technologies and social systems already existing or in development today, along with modern social issues such as class division, unrest and terrorism. 


The grammar is impeccable; I haven't found a single typo or wonky sentence in the 5 chapters I've read so far, surprising given the normal Royal Road editing quality.


The author also seems to update quite frequently also.


In all, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in near future sci fi or sci fi in general. The genre is quite limited here on Royal Road so it's always nice to see a new one popping up.

  • Overall Score
  • Style Score
  • Story Score
  • Grammar Score
  • Character Score

Mature and professional, but difficult to follow

Reviewed at: 1.1.8b (Early Release)

"Tián just couldn’t understand the crudeness of the design. It was ugly to her. Machines, to her, should be works of art and not slaves to function."
I couldn't agree more, Tián! =)

A Protracted Game is distinct in that it doesn't feel like a story made on a whim with some quick editing and then slapped online. I get the impression that it's very deliberate, well-planned, and crafted with care. Although the story feels like it lacks direction in the first handful of chapters, there is still a lot of merit to this prose.

The grammar – essentially flawless. If there were any grammatical mistakes, they were so minor and/or infrequent that they didn't detract from the story at all. Very well done in that regard. Although the writing style itself is very mature and professional – something you'd expect to see in a full-fledged publication – it did feel just a little bit "purple" to me at times; in my opinion, there are a few descriptive sentences of feelings or settings that could be trimmed down without removing much value from the story.

As noted in another review, the story takes a long time to get going, and it felt a bit disjointed to me. The first chapter had me hooked well, and I was quite eager to continue reading. Unfortunately, it felt hard to follow because of the frequent setting and perspective changes. After 1.1.0, the scene changes to the past when Tián was not as fortunate as she was in the setting of 1.1.0, but then the perspective changes to another character in the next chapter. And then it changes again and again with each new chapter. I'm not against having multiple perspectives in a story, but it happens so rapidly and with so many perspectives that I struggled to get attached to the world. 1.1.0 hooks you and sets the plot up brilliantly – I just wish there was more of it.

To the story's credit, this could certainly be a technique to set the world up for a slow-burn, longform plotline with several different parties involved, which is why I don't want to be too harsh on the story element unless I've read enough to make a solid judgment call on that.

On a related note, the characters we meet are all quite diverse, and even though our time with them is somewhat limited with each chapter, they all still feel very well-developed and real. They're a very strong element of the serial, and if the plot eventually ties them together, they would be an amazing foundation for some great character interactions. If you take interest in reading into interesting and unique characters, you may love this serial for that alone.

A Protracted Game has a lot of potential. It may not be for everyone for the above reasons, but if it does sounds like your cup of tea, dig in – you'll have a good time here.