Science fiction, fantasy and both - a Mephisto review
The Constellation of Alarion
The Constellation of Alarion is a short story collection by John Houlihan, known in the roleplaying scene for his publication for the roleplaying game Achtung! Cthulhu. In The Constellation of Alarion he presents ten short stories, usually set against a science fiction background and sometimes with a dash of fantasy. One story, for example, is about competition and confrontation with a robot assistant. Then a mismatched brother and sister must prepare for a gladiatorial battle in a chariot to secure supplies for their town. Sometimes it's about the consequences when lies become impossible, and sometimes about the devious machinations of a supposed war hero in a futuristic retirement home. The stories are varied, original, and well told. Especially Most Exalted from the villain's point of view has an exciting and black-humored approach. But the eponymous story, very reminiscent of classic roleplaying scenarios, in which a diverse group of characters seeks treasure in a trap-filled labyrinth, also provides excellent reading entertainment.
The Constellation of Alarion provides a diverse and entertaining collection of short stories that has to offer a good range of original ideas in the science fiction genre - and the fact that some of the stories are somewhat reminiscent of roleplaying game settings is a bonus, in my view.