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Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

Constellation Games

by Leonard Richardson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1281394,050 (3.74)14
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English (13)  French (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Great book, loved the comedy tone. Plus, video games. ( )
  hotsoup | Jul 16, 2015 |
When aliens show up and say they want to give us lots of knowledge, Ariel Blum (reluctant programmer of pony games for girls and game reviewer, also male—born just before The Little Mermaid came out) asks for their video games. The aliens comply, leading to this mostly epistolary/bloggary novel in which Ariel reviews alien games, tries to translate the games into something that would be commercially successful on Earth, deals with threatening Men in Black, goes up in space, meets lots of aliens with incompatible worldviews, and basically lives out his dreams while discovering that he’s still the same unhappy person who had the dreams in the first place. Also the aliens are trying to save the world and some of them are trying to keep humanity from disappearing into culture shock. This wasn’t for me—I think if I’d played more video games I might’ve gotten more out of what’s obviously some kind of dialogue with actual game reviews. [Insert “it’s about ethics in video game journalism” joke here.] ( )
  rivkat | Nov 17, 2014 |
My favorite new book in years. Excellent review by Cory Doctorow here: http://boingboing.net/2013/02/20/constellation-games-debut-sf.html
A multi-species first contact mission comes to Earth, and a game developer decides to investigate their database of all knowledge... for classic video games from the aliens' own early technological history. While writing blog reviews of 20 million year old games and trying to port one to human consoles (we can't see radio waves, so there are interface challenges), he's recruited by a helpful alien club called "Save the Humans" (along with "Plan B" in case that doesn't work out). At first it seems they just want to help mitigate climate change, but he gradually realizes it might be a bit more like a Star Trek "Prime Directive" culture shock fiasco in the making, and his experience with games gives him a unique perspective.
This book is funny, clever, and amazingly creative and original (with alien cultures that feel *alien* for a change, along with a few who are charmingly human). The game reviews are hilarious; the book is worth it just for those, but it really ends up being personal and character driven, with some quite beautiful and reflective moments.
It's only $5 on iTunes for an eBook version.
  Clevermonkey | May 29, 2014 |
A hugely ambitious book with multiple distinct types of aliens, technologies well beyond our ability of extrapolating from the current state of knowledge, narrative chunks with alternating disparate styles, and (human) characters with a completely worked-out set of conflicting aims plus a propensity for hiding the truth. It's all quite a lot to consume in the form of a weekly serial, which is what I did, and I am planning to go back and read it again as a whole to try to understand just what was going on. The author's commentary (posted online, also weekly) was a big help, and the character Twitter streams I thought to be a cool concept too. ( )
  rmagahiz | Dec 21, 2013 |
Brilliant, funny, clever. This is a great perspective on first contact with a very old alien confederation, set in pretty much the current day.

I liked how the use of blog entries and letters augmented the 1st person viewpoint. The story is otherwise entirely told through Ariel's eyes. And what I really liked was how big of a story can be told from such a limited viewpoint. Other authors have accomplished this but it is rare.

I also enjoyed how alien video games from millions of years ago were mapped onto the current situation. Modern human video games and their industry were also comprehensively aped, but no real game was referenced. Unless I missed where "Temple Sphere" was released, lol. Ariel's explanation of video game company behavior was too funny because it felt too true. You'll get a huge kick out of it you are any sort of industry watcher (reading sources like Gamasutra, Polygon, Penny Arcade or similar sites).

Ariel had just about the right mix of "OMG aliens!" and "hey, want a beer, lizard-dude?" He proved to be a very likeable character. Harmless but not quite hapless. His love stories were poignant and I can only hope that in the time after this novel he finally "gets the girl."

Absolutely loved the portrayal of Earth bureaucracies. The Homeland Security extension was hysterical yet probably what would happen.

There is one aspect to the story I did not "get." I'll poke through the other reviews and see if someone else has an idea about this. The largest issue facing the contact scenario is the 70-years-until-full-exposure to the Constellation. I get that such exposure is likely to consume our culture and 90% of us would chose to be uploaded, to become Slow People. If we branch out to extraterrestrial colonies that percentage conversion will drop. I get that too.

What I don't get is, why is preventing full culture contact and delaying uploading desirable? The author explicitly mentions, if only one time, this is the normal course of events and only aliens who volunteer for contact missions think it is less than desirable, because they are themselves abnormal. I'm not sure why Ariel jumps on the meat-wagon instead of rooting for virtualization.

Read this book! Mr. Richardson deserves to be noticed. ( )
  Penforhire | Oct 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
How would you react if aliens came to Earth? I’m not talking about Independence Day, The Darkest Hour, Cowboys vs. Aliens sort of aliens. No, more like foreign anthropologists, come to study our ways of life and catalogue everything on the planet, bringing world-changing technology. A society that has been around for millions of years.
added by psybre | editWired / GeekDad, Jonathan Liu (Jan 4, 2012)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leonard Richardsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sobolowski, ChrisCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, KateDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Sumana, again, and all the time.
First words
What the hell is up with the moon?
"Curic, what was that you said to the immigration guy?" I said. Bai backed us out of the parking space and honked at some rubberneckers.
Curic took her tongue out again. "K'chua!" she said.
"Don't be a guy who feels bad," said Tetsuo. "Nobody ever knows what to do. Our life-task is to decide what to do."
"Coercion is how coercive rules are enforced," said Curic. "Nobody enforces the rules of a game. Nobody makes photons carry the electromagnetic force. That's just how the world works."
"They wanted us to change," said Tetsuo. "They came to our planet and they wouldn't shut up about fluid overlays and unhierarchical forms of social organization. We felt like we had to listen to them, because they were so powerful. But secretly we thought of them as monsters from space. And now here we are at your planet, and we are the monsters from space."
"Why'd you come here? Why even bother?"
"Don't you want to be a monster from space, too?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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