(((READ EPUB))) ☚ Constellation Games ↡ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free
The galactic civilization has arrived in Earth orbit They ve turned a big chunk of the moon into a smart matter space station, and they come in peace While others see the arrival of the Constellation as a watershed event in the history of humanity, Ariel Blum s greatest ambition is to find out what kind of video games ETs play and write about them on his snarky game review blog.The book is lush with science fictional thought experiments the entries in the Constellation Database of Games of a Certain Complexity alone deliver some fantastic one off jokes alongside memorable explorations of what a game can say about a culture What lifts Constellation Games from merely funny and inventive to something great, though, is the individuality of the characters.The book derives both humor and dramatic tension from the variety in the Constellation species distinct, non human ways of thinking Whenever attention lingers on one species, we see that there are differences of culture and personality and motivation within it Even a hive mind embodies dissent, with some of its members at one point blowing raspberries at their own supermind Among the humans, not even the spooks from the hastily assembled Bureau of Extraterrestrial Affairs can stay on the same page Ariel and his friends like each other, but they often don t understand each other.Naturally, Ariel discovers that playing some alien games becomes a window onto serious matters He has an entertaining, sympathetic point of view, but he s also sometimes a creep to the people close to him Richardson s master trick is in letting us care about him the way you care about a longtime friend who you probably wouldn t like if first meeting them now not approvingly, but with understanding, some frustration, and some hope.UPDATE The last chapter of the serialization arrived today, and the end and the whole lived up to all my expectations.
(((READ EPUB))) ☔ Constellation Games ↶ First Contact Isn T All Fun And GamesAriel 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 YouthThen The Aliens Show UpOut 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 GamesAriel 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 TakeHe Ll Have To Grow Up This is a book that s brilliant enough that I don t always get it, whether because I miss some of the references or because I m just not thinking at the level of the author It s the kind of book I want to read again sometime to see what else I can get out of it.It s true speculative fiction What I mean by that is that it isn t just another genre sausage, with the same basic shape and contents as all the other sausages in that genre it actually has a new angle This is first contact as seen through the eyes of a video game developer and reviewer who attempts to understand the aliens by playing their games The Constellation, the peaceful alien civilisation that contacts Earth in 2012, is a post scarcity anarchy fans of Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross will know what that is, and probably enjoy this book a lot They re pleased to discover that Earth is not another of the planets where a civilisation has destroyed itself, leaving only fossils, since this sad fate is common than the survival scenario They d like to keep it that way, but humans are irrational and get upset when the aliens try to help with things like global climate change The story is told largely via a series of documents, mostly blog posts, but there are also IM conversations and a few other formats Some of the short chapters, though, are headed Real Life and a date, and since they re written in almost the same style as the blog posts, I did often find myself checking back at the beginning of the chapter I d just finished to see if it was a blog post and hence public, or at least circulated to the narrator s friends or not That s important, since as the story goes on, the blog posts contain and lies for various reasons Mostly, these have to do with the narrator protecting himself or someone else.The language has some wonderful moments Not only the slightly distorted English of the aliens, but some of the narrator s phrases He twisted some vowels into balloon animals, for example, as a description of an alien speaking an historical language of his race The several alien races, by the way, are referred to by various words that different human groups use to mean alien besides the Aliens, there are Auslanders, Gaijin, Farang There are also some lovely moments of commentary on our society As if we d all gotten together and agreed to do whatever it said on signs, the narrator observes when a minor official glares at him for not doing something posted on a sign There s a strong thread of anti authoritarianism, if you hadn t already picked that up also, as one of the aliens observes, the narrator swears a lot The references to technology and video games are a mixture of real life and invented There s a character called Dana Light who is or less a Lana Croft, for example, but not exactly That s helpful for someone like me, who hasn t played a great many video games, because if a lot of the point depended on intricate knowledge of the trivia of popular culture as in, for example, Ready Player One , I would have enjoyed it a lot less than I did Instead, it s about the phenomenon of gaming and how it expresses and shapes culture and psychology, and using that as a lens to examine things about culture and psychology.The editing could have been better The book deserved for it to be better, in fact Based on this and on another book I ve read from Candlemark Gleam, the small press that published it, what you get from CG is developmental editing on your high concept book, rather than meticulous proofreading and copyediting What the customer gets is probably pretty much what comes out of the author s word processor In the case of the other book, that included a lot of homonym errors In the case of this one, it means a number of what are basically typesetting mistakes missed words, misspellings, lost quotation marks, one instance of an inconsistent time in a sequence of tweets , plus a few apostrophes missing in phrases like ten mortgages worth of signatures or misplaced in words like children s It s a long way from terrible, but I wish it had that extra polish.Between the less than flawless proofreading and the slight unlikeliness of some of the aliens, this isn t a perfect book, but it is an excellent one, funny, thought provoking, original and possessing a rare depth, and that is why I ve given it five stars. What a beautiful book Constellation Games is a sci fi that s a love story, a coming of age novel that s a comedy, a computer games fest that s serious Get it, read it, savor it The background story seems at first our typical aliens contact Earth, but quickly dissolves in a discussion about bigot and liberal, Aliens and Earthlings playing in both camps The storyline gets messy very quickly, but there is an optimistic line that makes it beautiful The epistolary style should I call it blogary style is distracting at first, but then becomes increasingly suitable to represent the life of the main characters, who are as disconnected online as they are in their real lives, and characterise quite well the documented lifestyle of the born digital generation.I also liked very much the part about computer games, with the book s detailed discussion about game design, with the barbs aimed at today s industry many problems Poneis brilhantes FTW , with the accurate desc of how it is to go indie Perhaps I liked this part too much, to the point where I stopped often to think about game designs derived from this book s Funny, I spent less time thinking about the moral implications of aliens stealing the Polar ice caps yes, it happens in this book The characters are well cast, and the macho gamedev culture and the rebel indie artist are captured spot on The Feds are stick figures and could have been done better The aliens are for me surprisingly well contoured, especially given the length of the material in which they feature truly a good sci fi writ Enough said, go read this fun and learning and even some depth Not your typical sci fi, not your typical gamedev book The plot aliens visit, and they call themselves the Constellation They re kinda strange, but they want to help, even if they don t understand humanity all that well A video game programmer who also reviews old games writes to them, and for some reason they write back and start sending him alien games to play.Maybe I m old Maybe I m tired Maybe I m an emotionally hollow shell of a man But this book isn t all that great.The idea of starting off with an alien first contact and somehow establishing contact on the basis of proposing to review alien video games is a nice conceit The idea that much of the novel starts off in the form of game reviews and blog posts is well, Dracula did it first, but I suppose if you re going to write something that s introspective and navel gazing, a diary review format is a good choice.The issues I have with this book spoilers view spoiler Ariel the protagonist is not a programmer It s not about dropping the right buzzwords he just doesn t have the mindset you d get from squashing logic errors and preconceptions all day.The government is too damn incompetent There are only two ex TSA boobs talking to Ariel, and he s one of only three thousand people who ve captured individual interest on this level I understand it s being played for laughs, but Slaughterhouse 5 this is not the aliens exist, and they re the most important thing in the world Not only does the government not take any real interest in Ariel, but even the Media and readers don t give a crap Imagine a world in which a single guy is getting video games from ALIENS, and can just leave them around his apartment.The aliens are too damn incompetent Again, this is supposed to be played for laughs, but seriously taking away the icecaps Without even asking That s not comedy, that s terrifying Creatures that powerful and that invasive making impulsive decisions for humans isn t even remotely funny it s the difference between the idea of a drunk teenager, and a drunk, politically motivated teenager with a tank.Ariel is too damn incompetent While he does find some decent computer games and finds some interesting social commentary that points out what other civilizations were going through when they met the Constellation, it doesn t really make any difference to the plot, or make Ariel any insightful He s consistently babied by the aliens and his friends, and gets invited to huge earth shaking events only to stand there and wonder if he s going to get laid by the hot astronaut hide spoiler Constellation Games made me mad That is why I liked it Say I am driving to work after reading a bit of the book in the morning I am mad Why the hell would Ariel main character do THAT It doesn t make sense What the hell is going on here Sometimes I feel this a bit when I read a sloppily written book Some hack author will write a book and then have the protagonist execute a series of random, unlikely decisions That is just trash It doesn t stay with me and instead serves as further proof that the author was crap But I could tell this was not the case This was clearly a smart author who had to LIVE each of his characters to be able to write the book at all So then what the hell was going on What was going on was the hook I cared about these characters and really wanted to resolve whatever was going on Leonard Richardson would eventually solve all of these issues for his readers, but you would have to wait for it Keep reading, he would whisper in between the lines That is a good feeling I hope that he writes some books This one was very fun. I bought this after reading Cory Doctorow s rave on Boing Boing, and was not disappointed A truly original plot in which our narrator a hapless but very appealing video game designer becomes the inadvertent ambassador for humanity to a loose confederation of aliens who have approached Earth to see if it s ready to join the Constellation In reviewing the Constellation s archive of long defunct games, Ariel Blum gains insights into its ancient culture and its plans for the Solar System Richardson updates the classic epistolary novel form to include blog posts, emails, and IMs, creating a pace that makes the novel un put downable The aliens are the true stars charming, unforgettable characters who you absolutely wish you could meet for real An amazing debut that should appeal to all readers, even those who dont usually pick up hard SF. Constellation Games is an alien first contact story told via the medium of video game reviews Before I get all caught up on narrative structures and literary merit, let me just say this was a completely enjoyable book It s full of in jokes about video games, game design, and the early internet, and if you re the kind of person who is in on those things, you ll get the jokes and feel gratified It s also a really funny book, though it gets darker as it goes on It s so funny and so enjoyable that I was ready to give it four 4 stars, based on enjoyment alone to get five you also have to have literary merit , except then I got to the ending and was a bit let down by the lack of resolution.Like, don t get me wrong, I ve read a lot of postmodern novels and I m pretty cool with books leaving you hanging a bit But the way this book was, its frankly lightweight nature, made me expect a traditional ending Which it didn t give me Here s what isn t wrong with this book.The structure is fascinating, and towards the end of the book, I think the structure tells us quite a bit about the plot The story is delivered entirely via artifacts surveillance blog posts, emails, and chat messages, all contributed by or collected from our main character, Ariel.Ariel is a guy who runs a game review blog Like a lot of blogs ostensibly focused on a particular topic, it meanders to his personal life sometimes When an alien coalition of multiple species of peaceful anarchist aliens lands on the moon and starts a contact mission with earth, Ariel wants to play and review their video games So, an alien anthropologist gets in touch with him, and sends him an emulator, and he starts playing and reviewing As Ariel learns about the games, he also starts to understand the people who created and played them Meanwhile, he has interpersonal problems with his friends and legal problems with shady federal agents I don t want to give away too much of the plot because one of the delightful things about this book is the constant re framing As Ariel starts to understand the aliens better, his problems get a lot interesting But they also become the kind of problems that you have to have built up to in order to understand them.One of my gripes with the book is that the aliens, despite their weird bodies and sexual habits, are remarkably relatable to the human characters Only toward the very end of the book do you get a little bit of re framing when one of the alien characters explains how they experienced what Ariel had thought was a thoroughly positive interaction That was good I would have liked to see of that Despite its flaws, Constellation Games is a well realized world, with fully developed characters bonus all the female human characters are individuals , an intriguing plot, and lots of humor I had a shitty week and reading Constellation Games was a wonderful solace against that I hope Leonard Richardson writes fiction because I could use feel good space opera. I m in a sweet spot now where there are a lot of authors that seem to be about the same age as me give or take a decade So I m starting to see and references I can relate to The main character of this book, Ariel Blum, seems to have also grown up in the video game revolution of the 80s I appreciate his not Laura Croft, Dana Light, in a way that I doubt those much older or younger than me would And, while it s not singular in this respect, a book told mostly through blog posts, IMs, and emails, definitely speaks to me as someone who straddles the Gen X Millenial age cutoffs Ariel s work on phone games continues to be and relevant as clickers and free to play games become ever prevalent The over arching story is that of first contact between a present day Earth and an Star Trek Federation like alien collective At first I was left ever frustrated at the story to latch on to any of the first contact tropes it was throwing out there We re introduced to two threats, Slow People and another I can t recall because it s that inconsequential, but involves some organism that eats fossils Eventually it became clear that this was because first contact was really only the backdrop being used by Mr Richardson to explore a different story one that has existed for a long time in a modern context, but which seems to really strike a chord with the last two generations of Americans is what I do for a living and for recreation worthwhile and fulfilling Ariel makes stupid phone games for a living Before that he made stupid first person shooters for a living He had realized his dream of working to create video games and it turned out to be soul crushing When the aliens arrive, he decides to review alien video games This eventually leads to personal growth and understanding this is a story about Ariel that happens to have aliens The writing style and dialogue remind me of Neal Stephenson at his best think Snow Crash or Crytonomicon The characters are witty, but believable and the plot is depicted in an almost sarcastic manner while still being moving, emotionally I might also compare it to Old Man s War by John Scalzi.If you re a gamer somewhere between your 20s and 40s, I think you ll find resonance with the plot and writing style If you re not, but enjoy sci fi I think you can definitely find something here Edit 20160909 While watching , I wonder if Dana Light is actually supposed to be a play on Joanna Dark Or if it s just parodying that name while still being a parody of Laura Croft The book mentions posters with the PS1 version which makes me think Laura Croft I am a big science fiction fan One of the most seen tropes in the genre is the First Contact Scenario, in which humanity is faced with the existence and arrival of aliens I really enjoy good first contact stories, from The Day the Earth Stood Still to Carl Sagan s Contact Constellation Games is by far the most entertaining first contact story that I have ever read One of the themes of just about every first contact story that I have ever encountered is that of finding a commonality between humanity and the extraterrestrials In this story the commonality or at least on of them is video games Another common theme of these stories is that the aliens are really just reflections of ourselves In my opinion, these aliens reflect what we could achieve in the future They live in an anarchic society with very little hierarchy there is no real scarcity They represent a the kind of future that techno optimists like Kurzweil write about Yet despite this, they are not quite perfect There is still conflict in their society over what course to take, and how best to minimize the damage to humanity of the rapid changes brought on by their contact.The writing style is unique and entertaining Much of the book is made up of blog posts and IM conversations The story is fast paced and moves right along Readers will not have to sit though a lengthy introduction before getting to the good stuff The aliens arrive not just in the first chapter, not just on the first page, but on the very first sentence Not only is the main character well developed, but so are his human and alien friends, from his ambiguous relationship with his best possibly than friend, to the alien Curic who redefines the meaning of internal conflict , to his Alien with a capital A friend Tetsuo on of my favourites in the book.Perhaps the best praise I can give this book is that I hope the author write a sequel.