Sunday, September 4, 2011

Life on Mars, tales from the new frontier: "LARP on Mars" by Chris Roberson

Summer is nearly over, but I’m still reading my way through Life on Mars: Tales from the New Frontier (Viking, April 2011), the new original Young Adult science fiction anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan that's comprised of stories from a range of contemporary international writers, including the late Kage Baker, Alastair Reynolds, Nnedi Okorafor, Stephen Baxter, Nancy Kress, and Kim Stanley Robinson.

The tenth tale in the anthology is “LARP on Mars”, penned by Texas SF author Chris Roberson. Set in and around the O. H. Morton Research Facility down on the southern slopes of the Hellas Planitia, the plot revolves around three friends (Ravi, Penn, Jace) who share a fanatical passion for gaming. What kind of gaming?
Real-time strategy games, turn-based combat, virtual simulators, and tabletop spoken-word role-play. Puzzle-based spell games, hack-and-slash melees, hunt-and-seek dungeon crawls, and magicians’ duels in unreal realms. But best of all were those rare games that allowed them to get out of the habs and onto the surface—albeit in constrictive “walker” suits—to get up and move for a change, away from the stale recirculated air of the clubhouse. And best of those was the LARPing.
While Roberson's tale is based on a neat premise and has some educational science, it reads like it was hastily assembled in pieces rather than passionately written as a whole. Also, as a SF&F fan who is not a hardcore gamer, I wasn't familiar with some of the acronyms used in the story, including LARP: Live Action Role-Playing game.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting book. I read the sample for "Attlee and the long Walk." Pretty interesting world-building.