Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

11 Dec 2011, 10:07 a.m.

Constellation Games

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2011 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

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.

Constellation Games is a novel by my spouse, Leonard Richardson. You can read the first two chapters for free. It's now available for purchase as a serial -- for USD$5, total, you'll get a chapter in your email every week. If you pay a little more, you'll get a print paperback, bonus stories, a phrasebook, and so on. And for free, anyone can read the author's commentary, Twitter feed, &c.

This is a great book. I love it. Oh, and for all of December, Leonard's publisher is running a give-one-get-one special. So I encourage you to read those sample chapters and I hope you'll decide to subscribe.