The Spirit of Pong by Larry Hodges
May 26, 2015 – “The Spirit of Pong” is a new fantasy table tennis novel by Larry Hodges, about an American who goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis, where he trains and learns from the spirits of past greats. It is available at Amazon in print and Kindle versions.
It’s a relatively short novel, exactly 100 pages long. There are 14 chapters, each illustrated at the start. Here’s the description from the back cover:
“Andy ‘Shoes’ Blue wants to be a table tennis champion, but he’s just another wannabe American. And so he goes to China to learn the secrets of table tennis. He is trained by the mysterious Coach Wang, and begins an odyssey where he learns the secrets of table tennis from the spirits of Ichiro Ogimura (who helped spawn China’s greatness), Rong Guotuan (China’s first world champion in 1959, whose tragic story Andy must relive), and others, and must face the mysterious ‘Dragon.’ Can he overcome treachery and learn the final secret of table tennis in time to defeat his ultimate nemesis?”
Besides Ogimura, Rong Guotuan, and the “Dragon,” numerous other past and present stars make appearances, either as translucent spirits or as “spirits of what made them a champion” (for players still alive). Some of the others who make appearances include Deng Yaping, Jan-Ove Waldner, Istvan Jonyer, and Marty Reisman. You’ll learn about the “Masters of Pong” – Ogimura, Rong Guotuan, Zhuang Zedong, Stellan Bengtsson, and others; meet the spirits of 24 former Chinese stars in a late-night training session; meet suspiciously familiar-sounding characters such as Chinese Men’s Coach Kong Guoliang, U.S. Men’s Coach Dan Steth, and U.S. Men’s Champion Derek Klaus Hsu; and relive tragedy in the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
The cover was created by table tennis artist Mike Mezyan. The novel includes a bonus four-page story at the end – “Ping-Pong Ambition, the story of a table tennis player who is imprisoned inside a ping-pong ball by a genie for 10,000 years, where he practices table tennis and studies to be a genie himself – with a huge twist at the end.
Larry Hodges is a member of the U.S. Table Tennis Hall of Fame (for his coaching and writing), a full-time table tennis coach at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, and a daily blogger at TableTennisCoaching.com. This is his ninth book, including seven on table tennis. He’s also a science fiction & fantasy writer, with a previous fantasy novel and over 70 short story sales. With “The Spirit of Pong,” he’s combined his two interests.