the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘solar system

what a board game map usually looks like:

  • it has places on it.
  • sometimes a road, or a line, between those places showing paths you can take
  • it has barriers or hazards you have to go around

Except if you are Phil Eklund, a boardgame map looks like this:

cropped map small

my photo doesn’t do it justice. This is seriously the most beautiful game board map I’ve ever seen.

it still has all the things a game board map should have – places,  lines between the places, barriers and hazards.  High Frontier is a game about developing technologies to travel to the solar system.   Figure out which thrusters or engines and robonaut your ship should have. Take a crew if you want. Water is the only currency. If you take enough resources you can build a factory wherever you end up, maybe a colony. But don’t make your ship too heavy, this game uses real physics and the heavier your ship is, the more fuel it needs to escape Earth’s gravity. And yes, there is a solar sail. All the techs in the game are real.  Makes you wonder why we’re not already using them.

Some more close up photos:

We used the sun's radiation area to store our extra water tokens

We used the sun’s radiation area to store our extra water tokens

I really don’t want to go to Mercury.

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth. Once your mission is ready to go, you can boost your components in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and then High Eccentric Orbit (HEO), and the Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). Each of these movements costs you burns of fuel, cuz we’re using real physics.  those “L” spots are Lagrange points, where it doesn’t cost you any fuel to change direction. you can just fly right through them and be on your way!

A great way to learn how the game works is getting a crew to the moon, and then getting your crew home alive.  You’ll learn how your different ship components work, and how much fuel it costs you to move around.

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2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Published by Orbit Books, May 22 2012

Where I got it: received review copy from the Publisher









So many books I’ve been reading lately have been fast paced adventures, where characters are scrambling from one action scene to another, trying not to get killed, always trying to get towards the goal. 2312 isn’t that kind of book. The plot and the characters meander, people discuss that they aren’t sure what to do next, no one is scrambling anywhere, no one is in a hurry.  And yet, there is plenty of suspense and tension, just not the kind we are used to seeing in a standard science fiction novel. Again, 2312 isn’t your standard plot-based science fiction novel.

Existentially sprawling, and scientifically fascinating yet completely accessible,  I’m reluctant to categorize 2312 as science fiction. Yes, there is plenty of science and it takes place in the future, but of the three plot lines, only one (and it’s the weakest one) of them has anything to do with anything remotely science fictional. This is more a story about a woman trying to find her place in the world than anything else.

We first meet Swan Er Hong at her grandmother Alex’s funeral. There is some concern that due to Alex’s political connections perhaps her death wasn’t natural. Swan meets up with the Saturnian league ambassador Wahram and police investigator Jean Genette to discuss  the projects Alex had been working on, which leads to a discussion on the bitter feelings of Terrans towards the spacers.  Shortly after the investigation into Alex’s death begins, there is a terrorist attack on Terminator, the rolling city of Mercury. One more thing for Swan, Wahram and Genette to investigate, as it may be connected to Alex’s death. This is the obvious, overt plot line, and it’s the least important and least interesting part of the book.

I was continually amazed at my emotional reaction to 2312. After the attack on Terminator, Swan and Wahram escape into the underground utilidor system. Kim Stanley Robinson may be about to take us on a tour of the solar system, but the most beautiful parts of this book are the intimate moments between Swan and Wahram, which begin in the utilidors under the Mercurial surface.   These slower yet intensely focused tunnel scenes were a blessing in disguise, as without the gorgeous distraction of the cosmos, the reader can more easily concentrate on Swan and Wahram. Swan is whiny, defensive and over dramatic, and Wahram is patient and non-judgmentally curious about her life choices.  Swan never struck me as a very likeable character, yet I found myself completely emotionally invested in her life. Maybe I saw a little too much of my own indecisiveness, my own lack of concern for my own future in her.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.