This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone ... Mayday, Mayday ... we are under attack ... main drive is gone ... turret number one not responding ... Mayday ... losing cabin pressure fast ... calling anyone ... please help ... this is Free Trader Beowulf ... Mayday ....
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... and then there is Bill the Galactic Hero.
I would love to see a computer game give me the same crazy experience as the film Where Eagles Dare.
This reminds me of finding some of my grandfather's old books when I was really young, there were a few books of science fiction with some absolutely amazing art. I have always loved the smooth lines and curves of the space ships and suits from that era - spaceships looking like bullets with fins pushes my buttons, it's one reason I love Futurama. One reason I loved reading the Lensman books even though I have to admit they're horribly dated. Never read any of Lem's stuff for some reason - I need to get that on the list.
Its like one of those restaurant games but in space.
FTL 2, more open ended story, bigger ships, more advanced battles, co-op and pvp battles and greater ship customisation....
Yes please :)
Very nice read—thanks, Bruce. And holy crap, I remember Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons, and the text not making as much sense as my eleven-year-old self was thinking it should, and stopping at one point and going "wait a minute, that's the cover on one of my Elric books" (Michael Whelan's Urish's Bane, IIRC).
And hey! My local library has Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and it's on the shelf!
Nice Traveller quote! I had so many books from that system but only played maybe once.
Anyone familiar with the World of Kong? It was basically the same thing, except comprised of concept art for the Peter Jackson version of King Kong. It was essentially the best dinosaur book never made, and why National Geographic or the Smithsonian don't put something of similar quality together for real dinosaurs is beyond me.
Speaking of golden age skiffy tropes, have you seen the Pulp-o-mizer? There was a short thread on Qt3 back in February.
I actually had seen that but totally forgot about it. That's exactly the stuff I'm talking about, awesome!
You're the first person I have come across who recognizes that book. Although I guess I don't go around asking people if they ever read Space Wars Worlds and Weapons. Interesting that both of our childhood reaction to the history part were pretty much the same.
You may see Traveller mentioned again in this series...
Add me to the list of people fascinated with Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons - my parents bought it for me when I was 9, and the disconnect between the text (basically a literary history and overview of science fiction) and the illustrations (classic SF covers with captions, as Bruce says, narrating an elaborate future history) confused my young mind, but the implied narrative fascinated me. (I wonder what the backstory of its creation is.) I particularly loved the plan-view sketch of the Stardart fighter, with its 'pin mines' and Complete Long Axis Weapons System. For years afterwards when I wrote primitive computer games they'd always have a Stardart in them.
I was just on the verge of selling mine to some appropriate used book store, but perhaps I'll hold onto it.
I'm curious enough now to see if I can find another copy of it. I remember (eventually) figuring out that the "history" in the captions kind of spuriously tied together unrelated illustrations. Presumably it was easier to flavor the images with a whole new invention, rather provide the background to each? It was evocative, at least, if somewhat confusing.
Was Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons the one with the Interstellar Queen? The spaceship that looked like a swan? I loved that book. Beautiful illustrations.
Edit: no, apparently I'm thinking of Spacecraft 2000-2100AD. Similar concept, though: gorgeous pictures of SPACESHIPS with a vague unifying theme in the text.
"for a very reasonable price I was able once again [to] satisfy"
Great description of the appeal of FTL and of Lem. The big ideas in Lem's books seem to be what people remember, but for me it's the way he combines huge conceptual stakes with routine bureaucratic and technical problems that makes his work so interesting. I think someone else could have hit on the idea of a sentient ocean and tried to deal with the themes involved in confrontation with the truly alien or whatever, but I don't think anyone else could have rendered that quasi-mothballed observation station and its skeleton crew, or suggested the of reams of sketchy and inconsequential scholarship about the ocean, or given the impression of the huge administrative apparatus behind the whole thing.
Even the best narrative sci fi computer games, like the Starflight games or Star Control 2, really draw more from the Star Trek thing where the ship is basically a cruise liner rather than from grittier if not necessarily harder sources which recommend treating it like a submarine. Maybe because it's free from any real larger plot goals, FTL's is free to build the entire game around the "day to day" stuff that I love. And while its mechanics are nearly perfect from the physical ship upkeep perspective, I'd love to see a sequel or spiritual successor add something like King of Dragon Pass-style personalities and events for dealing with the inevitable interpersonal strain that would probably come with that environmental uncertainty.