Allen Lane has pre-empted Mind Games, an “astonishing” debut non-fiction work by Dr Kelly Clancy explaining how scientists have begun to understand and exploit the power of games in all forms of human endeavour.
Laura Stickney, publishing director at Penguin Press, bought UK and Commonwealth rights from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit UK. North American rights were sold to Courtney Young at Riverhead after a seven-way auction.
The synopsis explains: “Games are fundamental to all biology, and have been key to the evolution of intelligence. From the play undertaken by lion cubs, to the hunter gatherers who use games to randomly generate strategies that won’t be predictable by their prey, through the famous use of game theory by John von Neumann to develop military gambits during the Cold War, and culminating in Kelly’s own use of games to design prosthetic neurological interfaces at the University College London, this book is a deliberate echo of both Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene and James Gleick’s The Information.
"Like Gleick’s book, it will tell the story of a cutting-edge scientific theory which has shaped the last century, and will define the century to come. Like Dawkins’ book, it will be a ground-breaking contribution to the field, by a leading researcher and virtuoso communicator.”
Clancy is a leading neuroscientist whose research is focused on elucidating the general principles of intelligence. She develops novel brain-computer interfaces to reveal aspects of how brains control their own activity, serving as a platform for studying agency. Her writing has appeared in publications including Wired, the New Yorker and Harper's.
She said: "I'm thrilled to be working with Courtney and Laura on this book, and feel honoured to have them help bring to life ideas that have been incubating in my work for over a decade."
Stickney added: “It is remarkable that a book on the significance of games and game theory to intelligence and scientific progress doesn’t already exist, and I’m so glad that the multi-talented Kelly Clancy has chosen to write it. She is a thought-provoking and nuanced thinker, an expert in her field who also has a healthy dose of scepticism, and she writes compellingly about a range of utterly fascinating figures from John von Neumann to George Price. We’re thrilled that she is joining our list at Allen Lane and hope to publish many books from her.”