I have mentioned over the years how much I despise the month of February and this year doesn’t feel much different. Well, aside from the fact that winter seems to be leaving quite a bit early. It’s a ho-hum month of blah, stuck at the tail end of the holiday season and before the March break. The middle child month I suppose, certainly because the only days of note are for scams romantics or drunks. Or maybe both, depending on how you’re feeling. Ah well.
Three Body Problem
Continuing my Hugo journey, I picked up Three Body Problem, a sci-fi novel from a rather popular Chinese author. Of course it’s a trilogy, it’s sci-fi. I’ve finished the first book and moved onto the second.
I generally try to avoid translated material, as the nuances of a given language rarely ever translate properly. I speak 2 languages fluently and understand chunks of a few others, and stuff just doesn’t move over. You lose the flavor and nuance of that culture. This is a clearly evident in the books. It’s written at a high school level mastery of English, which I think is quite appropriate. But when you compare to the vividness of English-first sci-fi, you’re left wanting more. The story is solid, with some neat twists within. It’s not hard to follow either.
The general premise is that scientific research is going haywire and scientists are freaking out. There’s a hidden organization that needs to be infiltrated by a scientist and the stuff he uncovers changes the reality for all humans. The final quarter starts to stretch the imagination, in particular in the description of sophons. At a very basic level, the question is “what happens if we can’t move past the quantum mechanics wall”? A story that is rooted in relativistic physics is more fiction related than science-fiction, but the ideas mesh well.
The second book deals with the aftermath of the first book’s discovery and how humanity has to deal with the idea of a no-win situation for their progeny. If you’re read Childhood’s End by Clarke, then you have an idea where this is going.
I can’t seem to find a translated ebook version of the 3rd book yet, so we’ll see where I end up after the 2nd one. I’m rather liking moving from recent, down to the golden age. I have read a fair chunk of Heinlein, Clark, Asimov, Dick, Herbert, Gibson, Niven, and Bradbury. Having that as a basis, it really makes you appreciate the foundations they’ve built for today’s authors.
I don’t get how GMG makes money. I had a 25% voucher for XCOM2 on Steam through GMG. Dan Stapleton is my go-to reviewer for strategy games and if he’s happy, then it’s a done deal. My understanding is that it’s XCOM refined with lessons learned from both Enemy Within and the Long War mod.
Enemy Within was a great addition, since it forced you to keep moving rather than play a defensive style. It also added a lot of customization options, which meant that I was no longer running 5 snipers. The Long War mod…that’s just a whole other topic. You can call it a remake of a remake I guess, since it took all the basics of the game and tweaked the balance in order to make much more strategic. Placing the right resources at the right time, being able to recover from un-winnable decisions (like losing a country’s funding), and just extending the entire session to something epic.
Given the early reviews are extremely positive, this seems like a done deal.