Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Science Fiction Hobby Games: A First Survey

We just purchased a copy of Neal Tringham's Science Fiction Hobby Games: A First Survey, which is out in print, Kindle, and iBook formats. The print version comes in the 6" x 9" format found in many indie game books, but it is a whopping 352 pages long!

Neal Tringham authored the RPG entries for John Clute's magisterial Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, a resource which you can access from the right sidebar on the FATE SF blog. A number of the entries from the Encyclopedia were revised for publication in this book. But there are also many new entries, including quite recent RPGs such as Ashen StarsCthulhutech, and Eclipse Phase, and Etherscope.

I would say that the First Survey is just that - a first survey - rather than a comprehensive encyclopedia of SF RPGs. For example, the FASA Trek game is represented, but not the more recent LUG and Decipher Star Trek games. Diaspora isn't listed, but you'll find information on two other SF FATE classics: Starblazer Adventures and Mindjammer. I am a bit surprised to see some supers games here, but genre boundaries are porous after all!

There is also a shorter section on SF wargames.

We may have more to say once we have had time to digest the book a bit!


  1. I don't think stroon inspired melange based on the timing. The earliest story that would become Nostrillia was published in 1964 and the earliest parts of what would become Dune were published in 1963. Now, I don't know where stroon and melange are first mentioned in those respective works, but at best they seem contemporaries, which would make Herbert influencing Smith as likely.

    1. You may be right, Trey. Stroon is mentioned in earlier stories before Norstrilia, but the fact that both created galaxies with a monopoly (and long distance trade) in an anti-agathic drug (one with religious implications, albeit much more explicitly so in Dune) may be a coincidence - or mutual inspiration. And there are a number of other parallels.

      This "official" source speculates that they may have influenced each other (mutually): http://cordwainer-smith.com/blog/norstrilia-and-dune.html There is a commentator who expresses doubts about it.

      The really sad thing for me is that by the early 60s, Smith only had a few years left. One part of the novel Norstrilia was published in 1964, but he died in 1966 and the other part of the novel wasn't published until the late 60s. They were fused together later.