Anisoptera Games

SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen
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Author:  ZeroGravitas [ Fri Sep 11, 2015 5:08 am ]
Post subject:  SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

I know I'm not the only one who was excited to see that Arthur had named a faction after The Culture; Ian M Banks is (was :cry:) my favourite author of all time, as some might have deduced from my gaming name, here. But I now realise that this is only an unofficial faction name (seen in guides), with the game itself using "Farmers" (which is probably the sensible choice, if a minor disappointment).

After sifting through these here forums, I also see that naming was, in fact, largely a group effort, via a poll. So I wonder if there is an uncanny alignment in member's cultural identity, possibly stemming back through Lego spaceships, out through space opera (and out into a similar selection of Steam games, etc). It seems probable that Reassembly exemplify a certain taste, a lightening conductor (and yet is also an unencumbered blank slate :) ).

I also wondered what other references, or serendipitous similarities I wasn't getting from the game... "Terran" is a fairly generic stand-in for "humans", perhaps the most notable reference being StarCraft(?). My old train of thought was that Tinkrell might be a hat tip to the "Tinkers" in Vernor Vinge's "Peace wars" (another favourite author). But that was definitely a longer stretch. Beyond that, the Reds as "Fire Nation" I can only link to "Avatar, the Last Airbender"! Although I gather the faction is more generically that type of aggressive archetype (a little bit Klingon, or Kazon from Voyager).

Also, what are everyone's favourite authors (or directors), or scenes from books, movies, TV, comics, manga, etc, in general?

My taste in sci-fi has always been towards the 'hard' end of the spectrum, but with a predilection for those novels that are absolutely packed with new ideas and concepts. I guess I'd long had the unquenchable desire to know the future... So, other than Banks and Vinge, I also loved some of Alastair Reynolds (e.g. "Revelation Space"), liked Ian McDonald's "River of Gods" (in theory, though it was a slow read). Charles Stross actually took over as my number one for a while, with "Singularity Sky" and "Accelerando", and then Hannu Rajaniemi took the mantel from him with his "Quantum Thief" series (I'm still trying to read the last part of this). Lot's of Scottish/Celtic based authors in there, oddly...

Note: I was in two minds about posting this in the Reassembly discussion section, but I guess it gives more latitude in discussion here. What are you each into and/or recommend?!

Author:  sumplkrum [ Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

You may be over-intellectualizing the naming;
Terrans - starting faction = earthlings
Farmers - plant seeds
Reds - err... they're red
Tinkrell - probably came from 'tinkers' and the modular guns
Crytallines - shape of blocks
Bees - drones
Sentinels - over-powered nukes = some higher race

But then you have Borgs. I'm sure everyone knows what that refers to.

I used to read a lot of Sci-Fi, but don't any more. Too many old sci-fi predictions have come true. :)

My list of authors, top means more liked:
Ray Bradbury
Michael Moorcock
Douglas Adams
Robert A. Heinlein
Frank Herbert
Orson Scott Card
H.G. Wells
Anne McCaffrey
Andre Norton
C.J. Cherryh

Never cared for Isaac Asimov and Piers Anthony. Michael Crichton annoys me because his plots are always full of holes.

Special mention for H.P. Lovecraft. Not necessarily sci-fi, but kinda is.

You can also consider more fantasy-slanted writers as well. George Lucas borrowed heavily from the other genre when he created Star Wars. Sometimes the division between the two genres is minuscule.

Author:  Owlfeathers0117 [ Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

Vernor Vinge, Orson Scott Card, Larry Niven, and H.P. Lovecraft are some of my preferred sci-fi authors, just off the top of my head.

Author:  ZeroGravitas [ Sun Sep 13, 2015 11:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

sumplkrum wrote:
Too many old sci-fi predictions have come true. :)

It's true; the future keeps getting closer, and it's a big challenge for sci-fi writers. For me, anything that ignores, or fails to set aside, the technological singularity immediately seems far less relevant. That's been a pre-requisite for me since discovering Ray Kurzweil in 2005, anyway.

I.M.Banks never did deal with this (fundamentally illusive) part of future history too directly, but always talked about why the Culture ships didn't simply "sublime" to true God-hood, and such. He's such a good writer I've found all his non-sci-fi fiction to be fantastic reads too. I'm currently on his last: "The Quarry", and all the little idiosyncrasies of the central character's autistic spectrum mental processes and habits keep chiming with me, heh (brilliantly researched). I've usually been an all or nothing reader, but I've been finding it extra hard-going, of late, and tough to be enthused about anything, so this book's been half read on my bedside shelf for most of the year...

Anyway, Sumplkrum, are you genuinely into all the older, classic authors? (More than the more recent ones?) I mean, Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" is undeniably a classic, but so much so I studied it at high school. Are you ranking the godfathers of the genre higher because they are so influential and (seem) more original in their inspiration? Or perhaps they made a bigger impression on you, at a younger age? I'm not accidentally insulting your superior years, am I? I was kind of assuming the crowd here would be mid to late twenties, early thirties (like me)...?

To be honest, I've not read anything from most of your listed top 10 (of even heard of some of them), except Hitch Hiker's Guide and C. Clark's 2001 to 3001 books, which were part of my ark into space opera (along with Niven's "Ring World" series).
Owlfeathers0117 wrote:
H.P. Lovecraft

sumplkrum wrote:
H.P. Lovecraft. Not necessarily sci-fi, but kinda is.
Oh, sure. I mean, I've not read him directly, but Lovecraft's legacy is enormously influential at the moment. There were a few pieces in my feed a few weeks back about his racism and xenophobia and how it does (or doesn't) inherently influence and flavour his works. Either way, he's long dead, yet his creations explicitly dominate the progression of my (other) main game (Terraria - "Eye of Cthulu" boss, etc) and are an intrinsic part of Charles Stross's "Laundry" series. That's a far more direct tribute, adjoined to a satire of UK workplace (IT) idiocy and techno-gadget anti-heroism - recommended.

Oh, and going back to age, would I be right in thinking that many of us grew up with (the proper) Transformers indelibly marked upon our souls (along with Lego spaceships), and can probably still quote random lines for the 1986 movie?: Cup - "The Decepticons are in our way!", Hot Rod - "[?]"...

Author:  sumplkrum [ Sun Sep 13, 2015 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

Anyway, Sumplkrum, are you genuinely into all the older, classic authors? (More than the more recent ones?)

The marketplace is flooded with people writing novels, but many of them are not writers, and I can't be bothered to sift through all the crap. If I can predict where your story is going, or it misses the fine-tuning necessary to suck me in, I'll never read another book from that guy. It's easier to find a Hemmingway story I haven't read, than to buy a new paperback and be dissatisfied with it.

I have few authors that I actually buy:
George R.R. Martin
Joe Abercrombie
Steven King

Most of the other stuff I care for is written by dead people.

Author:  ZeroGravitas [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

sumplkrum wrote:
I have few authors that I actually buy
Yeah, in practice I've not deviated much out of my favourites, or certainly much beyond my genre niche, (but then I've rarely gotten through much by volume, as a slow reader).

But given that I aim to be a person who explores, I made a bit of an effort and read a couple of sci-fi anthologies a while back (e.g. "Reach for Infinity" Edited by Jonathan Strahan, also "Engineering Infinity" which I was moved to summarise). It's definitely a good way to sample a lot of new authors fairly quickly. Sure, a number of the shorts had me saying "that's just stupid!", and it mostly confirmed that my known favourites in there are good, so too the new guy I was going to read anyway... But it was interesting, certainly a very dense collection of ideas and good for context.

Anyway, @MonsPubis, you bid me start a thread like this (after recognising my name reference, etc) - what are your favourite works and why (in no less than 1000 words). :P

Author:  sumplkrum [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

Anthologies are good. You get a taste of a variety of writers and can pick-out those you like. Even the 'Best of Year' sci-fi and fantasy anthologies can be good because you'll find new writers you never heard of. There's also a lot of good stuff that crosses boundaries into horror.

Part of the reason I don't read much sci-fi any more is because it takes so long to 'set the stage'. You need all that time to describe the environment, new rules, usually whole new concepts and history. If I do read it, I prefer shorter stories that are more focused on a single concept.

I kinda drifted to fantasy for the blood and guts. One guy with a knife trying to stab another guy with a knife, and maybe some witty dialogue inbetween.

For movies, I think 2001 a space odyssey is still one of the best sci-fi flicks.
Not necessarily the most entertaining to watch, but I haven't seen anything else that encapsulates the isolation and oddity of space to that extent. It's arresting in it's own weird way.

Author:  MonsPubis [ Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

ZeroGravitas wrote:
Anyway, @MonsPubis, you bid me start a thread like this (after recognising my name reference, etc) - what are your favourite works and why (in no less than 1000 words). :P

They're probably a bit more widely known than most of the suggestions on here, but I've found Gattaca and Sphere immensely entertaining for their value on small social implications of certain technologies. I also rather enjoyed In Death Ground, though I haven't read it in a while and recall it largely being about the relationships between formerly hostile alien species fighting to survive against a foe that cannot be reasoned with more than focused on the technology itself. I think Soldier may also fit, though the sci fi part is more background noise than a major feature. Space: Above and Beyond was also pretty interesting from what I recall, but it was a series cut short and it's been a while. I make no promises of other people finding them interesting and in looking back at my post, my interests are predominantly military-side of sci fi.

As far as games go, the Mass Effect series does some neat things if you don't mind listening to the Codex for a while. Tons of background information about how things work, although it sometimes gets retconned moving forward into the subsequent games for mechanical reasons and there is some hand waving. Starsiege is also worth looking into, I suppose. It's a mech-type game, but the mechs are slow, cumbersome, and not terribly mobile. They just happen to project a lot of firepower and carry heavy defense systems. They're even less mobile than MechWarrior's mechs. Chromehounds may also fit, but that game is kind of a wash at this point because it was designed for multiplayer (the 'campaign' is just a tutorial) and the servers were shut down long ago.

EDIT: Presented better.
Gattaca (Movie) - Genetic selection and the effects it has on society.
Sphere (Book/Movie) - A relic is discovered at the bottom of the ocean in a ship older than civilization. A crew is dispatched to study it.
In Death Ground (Book) - Enemies-turned-allies fight against an alien menace that cannot be reasoned with. Arms race and adaptation of tactics and strategies are a major focus.
Soldier (Movie) - Children are raised to be soldiers, selected within days of birth. Story follows a Soldier who is replaced by a 'newer model' and shows his struggles in society and having lost his purpose.
Space: Above and Beyond (TV Series) - Cut short, but follows some Marines in a war against an invading alien race. Some parallels to WW2 Pacific Theater.
Mass Effect (Game Series) - Codex has lots of interesting details. I also happen to just enjoy the games. Play as a Commander trying to save the galaxy from extinction.
Starsiege (Game) - After discovering a cache of alien weapons, miners convert construction mechs into combat vessels to rebel against a tyrannical government.
Chromehounds (Game) - War is largely reduced to small-scale mechanized combat due to availability and potency of weapons involved. Fight as a mercenary for one of three nations. Not recommended to pick up unless very inexpensive as primary functionality is gone. Watch some YouTube videos instead.

Author:  ZeroGravitas [ Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

MonsPubis wrote:
Gattaca (Movie)

I found pretty boring as a film. Bio-science fiction seems to tend towards being particularly shallow in the scope of issues explored, like the "Orphan Black" TV series, which started off fairly well, drops in a few interesting references but is overly stretched out, action mostly coming back to the kind of mistaken identity, Freaky Friday, clone standing in for other clone, drama. But then there are a bajillion Hollywood sci-fi flicks that stick entirely to examining one unimanitatively dystopian scenario stemming from one unrealistically isolated technological development (like Surrogates, the Island, etc).

sumplkrum wrote:
2001 a space odyssey is still one of the best sci-fi flicks.
Hmmm, perhaps. Certainly a physcolgical one, think I last watched it on VHS at university (first time as a fresher). Certainly more recent flicks like "Moon" didn't really capture that level of surreality. Stross does pretty well at describing at length how unsuited human(oid) bodies are for (real physics compatible) space flight with his "Saturn's Children" - pretty claustrophobic, verging on horror. (Although Alastair Reynolds is the most baroque, noir, horror or my fav' space opera authors, with some truly spooky feels from his descriptions of FTL travel, the Wolves, etc, in his "Revelation Space" trilogy.

Of big budget films I quite liked James Cameron's "Avatar", where many didn't; very realistic in it's level of details, actually looking forward to those sequels, if and when. "Ex Machina" was alright, recently and "Her" was the best film I'd seen for a long while, certainly best Singularity related movie (with or without Scarlet Johansen).

Stross (and Rajeniemi) is (are) pretty good, generally, at starting right in the action and covering a lot of ground fast, so not spending ages on exposition and data dumps. Like I tried to read "Grid Linked" (Neal Asher), but so slow to get into with literal dumps from fictitious future encyclopaedias (Peter F Hamilton's "Pandora's Star" similarly). But then I've never been able to cope with large volumes of text.

MonsPubis wrote:
Mass Effect
Was an great game series. I got well into that (and went to some length blogging about them 1&2, 3). Can't say I went through all the codex entries though. Like you say, it's really only detail for the sake of detail, interpolated between the plot, ignored and contradicted on a whim. Lots of interesting references, no doubt.

Examples of filler 'plots', totally disconnected from the gaming action (off the top of my head) would be "Creeper World (3)", I think. "Defence Grid" (The Awakening) too it to a new level, but in an amusing way, with totally over the top voice acting; a whole cast in the sequel. Funny because it's basically impossible to have a story fit into a tower defence game where aliens turn up in perfectly formed columns and patiently walk around obstacles, hell bent on grabing the power core's you keep leaving lying about, heh. A rare win for satire though, heh. Am glad Arthur left out the lore, here.

What other (classic) computer game sci-fi is memorable for peeps here? The original "Deus Ex", or "System Shock (2)"? Missed them first time around, and couldn't bring myself to go back to those outdated graphics and gameplay. I figure having covered the Bioshocks (and recent Deus Ex) is somewhat of a substitute...

Author:  ZeroGravitas [ Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: SCI-FI - game related or just favourite books or screen

Going off on a total tangent: If we had a forum wide vote on Star Trek verses Star Wars, which do you think would 'win'?

I was far enough into Trek (Next Gen onwards) that I ended up with several volumes of their 'fact files' as a teenager :geek: (but no answers to the future there, much like the Mass Effect codex(es)... Didn't even watch the original Star Wars trilogy until I was about 20. Preferred episode II and III, actually. People have expectations for the new ones?

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