Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Steppe - Piers Anthony

An interesting story that is a precursor of work like Larry Niven's Dream Park, but on a bigger scale.

A very settled Galactic Society uses a live action roleplaying historical scenario as entertainment and an outlet for those that seek adventure. The game scale has compressed time to allow for different eras to be played out. Interestingly this Galactic society is displayed as largely post-literate, from a book from 1976.

A group of players decides to gain an advantage by time travel - but snatching a Uigur man just about to die from the 800s to use his knowledge to tactical advantage.

However, he is intelligent and cunning, and decides to use his knowledge for himself, getting into the game - as staying in Galactic society is better than being a dead Steppe dweller. So time for alliances, raids, etc.

The other nice twist is that the game substitutes spaceships and stunners for the historical weaponry, so the scale is interstellar, while still talking about 'bows' and 'horses', and this actually works.

And if you know a bit of your Asian nomad barbarian history, you might have some inkling of what is coming.

3.5 out of 5

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