Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
Constellation Games (original 2012; edition 2012)
by Leonard Richardson (Author)
Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson (2012)
No current Talk conversations about this book.
The premise of this book was intriguing -- first contact with aliens and learning how to interact with them by studying their videogames. The book stuck to that premise, but unfortunately was very fan-boy based. Very. Other than the AI girl conversing with the best friend (who the protagonist obviously loves), it wouldn't pass the Bechdel Test.
I picked this out based on Ready Player One and Red Shirts, so I guess I got what I should have expected. (I think that Armada is a better match for this book than Ready Player One.) Still, it would be a good beach read if you're looking for one.
Great book, loved the comedy tone. Plus, video games.
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.]
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.
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.
First contact isn't all fun and games. Ariel Blum is pushing thirty and doesn't have much to show for it. His computer programming skills are producing nothing but pony-themed video games for little girls. His love life is a slow-motion train wreck, and whenever he tries to make something of his life, he finds himself back on the couch, replaying the games of his youth. Then the aliens show up. Out of the sky comes the Constellation: a swarm of anarchist anthropologists, exploring our seas, cataloguing our plants, editing our wikis, and eating our Twinkies. No one knows how to respond--except for nerds like Ariel who've been reading, role-playing and wargaming first-contact scenarios their entire lives. Ariel sees the aliens' computers, and he knows that wherever there are computers, there are video games. Ariel just wants to start a business translating alien games so they can be played on human computers. But a simple cultural exchange turns up ancient secrets, government conspiracies, and unconventional anthropology techniques that threaten humanity as we know it. If Ariel wants his species to have a future, he's going to have to take the step that nothing on Earth could make him take. He'll have to grow up.
No library descriptions found.
LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum
Leonard Richardson's book Constellation Games was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
Unfortunately the author doesn't have a consistent style or tone throughout the novel and it gets distracting. At first it is an epistolary story told in emails and blog posts. Then it adds "real life" sections which change the tone abruptly.
Also it morphs from a commentary about video games, alien first contact story, love story, singularity, and probably a few other things that I've forgotten. More focus on a couple of things would have made this novel stronger.
Still worth reading, but with some caution. ( )