Thursday, November 5, 2009

space 1889

In the continuing series on Victorian Science Fiction wargaming, I present to you another find of Scott Perry's over at Pictors Studio: Space 1889.

What, exactly, is Space 1889? According to Heliograph (the official, if outdated website for the game):

Role-Playing In A More Civilized Time. Everything Jules Verne should have written. Everything H. G. Wells could have written. Everything A. Conan Doyle thought of, but never published because it was too fantastic. Everything you need for adventures of the century! The Space 1889 role-playing game covers the exciting background of Victorian science fiction: ether flyers and Martian cloudships, the canals and ancient civilizations of the red planet, Venus' swamps and dinosaurs, the honeycombed interior of Luna, and the thrills of inventions and inventors: the driving force behind Victoria's multiworld empire!

image source: Heliograph
It's essentially another alternative history wargame, this time based on the idea that the Victorians created a multiplanet empire by the end of the 19th century. Instead of British soldiers fighting the Zulus of South Africa or the Mahdist rebels in the Sudan, they battle dinosaur-like creatures on Venus or winged Martian beast-men on Mars. Other nations have colonies on Venus and Mars, but Britain appears to be the strongest presence, and even has a scientific base on Mercury (the other planets have not been explored or colonized at this point.) The idea behind the technology of this game apparently comes from disproven scientific ideas of the 19th century about outer space that the author treats as if these ideas actually worked. This concept may explain why the Victorian explorers don't need oxygen masks and travel to planets in ships powered by ether propellers invented by Thomas Edison.

The game first came out about 20 years ago, and the rulebooks were reprinted about eight years ago. But it appears that there are no longer any serious sales of these figs, at least from what I've been able to find.

I'm not sure that I'd like to play this game. I like historical gaming in familiar settings against familiar enemies more so than bizarre ones found in fantasy or science fiction wargaming, as impressive as they often are. But for those interested in the scientific, or want to find a new use for those late-19th century 28 mm British soldiers in their collection, they might want to consider purchasing a few Martian natives for an entirely new type of 19th century battle or skirmish.

1 comment:

  1. I like this concept of taking the scientific ideas that were disproved and imagining what it'd be like if they were real. Science fiction is a genre I've never really gotten into, maybe because I don't really understand it. Like what does something need to be considered science fiction? I'm an English major; I should probably know this.