The Potlatch 25 Book of Honor is Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson.
Constellation Games is a smart, funny and thoughtful story. It draws on many classic science fiction ideas and thoroughly modernizes them. The Constellation is an immense galactic civilization of dozens of strange and diverse alien species with millions of years of history. When the aliens arrive on our moon, they connect to our Internet (they add the .luna domain). Among the first people to contact the aliens are a young video game programmer and his cosplayer and geek friends. The story is revealed in a sequence of tweets, emails, blog posts, and video game reviews.
At one level it is deeply personal: Will Ariel find a job that doesn’t suck? Will his friend Jenny find success as an artist? Will any of them have a love life? It is also cosmic: If the Fermi Paradox is because most intelligent life goes extinct before it can be discovered, what does that mean for us here on Earth? Can we stop ourselves from wrecking the ecosphere? Or will we just blow ourselves up first? Can the aliens help us without triggering a xenophobic reaction that makes things even worse?
If anyone on Earth is going to succeed in understanding the aliens, in bridging the gaps between alien and Earthly politics, it’s going to be the young geeks who grew up on science fiction, for whom meeting aliens is entirely natural. It also helps that the aliens who came to meet us are outliers in their own community, the ones who were willing to take a leap into unknown in the hope that maybe there’d be new life on the other end. Constellation Games has some wonderfully weird and individualistic alien characters. You will enjoy meeting them, and miss them when the story is over. Maybe someday they will come here for real.
Finding the Book of Honor
The author’s web page is a great starting point. It has links where you can buy the book as a DRM-free PDF ($5), trade paperback ($20), or through Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Kobo. There also are free sample chapters, commentary on every chapter, and bonus chapters (to avoid spoilers read the book first).
Not mentioned on the author’s site: Constellation Games is also available in the iBook store ($4.99).
Constellation Games‘s ISBN is 1936460238.
Two thematic elements throughout Constellation Games are Negative Space and Replicas. How many places can you spot them? Do they make any difference to the story, or are they just an artistic conceit?
The Constellation is similar in many ways to Iain M. Banks’ Culture but with some significant differences. Do the Slow People play the same role as the Minds? How are the politics different? Which one would you prefer to live in?
Do you have a thought or question you’d like to add to this guide? Please feel free to post it in the comments. But no spoilers please. We have another page for discussion with spoilers, over here.