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How would this novel fare as an RPG? Could elements of this book find their way into your games? What elements would you take?
I'm not sure Newton would be a PC in a game: the detail of creating and running an industrial empire doesn't seem like a great deal fun to play through. Newton's identity could be the core of a mystery scenario, but I'm not sure that game would fit into an ongoing campaign of indefinite length. I'm a bit surprised the Newton's existence didn't have a larger effect on the world of the novel.
Another connection is to Gibson's novel The Peripheral (soon to be released as a TV series on Amazon, I think). That also features an advanced culture interfering in "our own". I can see
Could you invert the plot and have PCs working for an organisation in which they have to uncover the identity of the head? It's probably been done a gazillion times with Facebook and all
Still thinking about this. I think playing it has many of the same problems as playing the Buried Giant would. Currently am tending towards it would be easier for a group to communally construct something new than adapt some individual vision, but I suppose this is about whether the GM should be thought of as filling a director's role, or more of designer.
I have adapted Apocryphal's second idea: "The other playable aspect, I think, is to have the PCs be an alien team who arrive on earth to try and save their fellows on their decaying planet. They may or may not agree on the methods. Some may fall in love with locals. Can they stay united in their mission, or will one of them become Icarus?" for a pitch, though it's urban fantasy rather than SF - the PCs are scouting for a location on our earth for a fantasy kingdom to apport into en masse on the run from a evil Sauron-type.