Friday, December 13, 2013

Book review: LEGO Space: Building the Future

LEGO Space: Building the Future by Peter Reid and Tim Goddard, 2013, No Starch Press

Please note that I'm posting this same review across all my blogs, but I'm appending some blog-specific information at the end of each one.



My next review in my journey through the LEGO books that have come out recently is LEGO Space: Building the Future, by Peter Reid (aka Legoloverman) and Tim Goddard (aka Rogue Bantha). This book plays a dual role. On the one hand it is a science fiction story in the genre of future history. On the other it is a showcase for Pete and Tim's amazing models. The book starts out with a few pages of real space history, with some description of Sputnik, the Apollo program, and subsequent unmanned probes, with accompanying LEGO illustrations. I really loved this, and part of me wanted this to go on. I'd really love for these guys, or some other builder like Stephen Pakbaz, Dave Shaddix, or one of the other great builders of 'real space' would do a book dedicated to the actual space program.



That said, I'm not going to fault this book for failing to be something they never intended. LEGO Space quickly jumps ahead, skipping through the centuries of space colonization, and ultimately landing in a more detailed story set in the 26th century, which takes up 90% of the book. The story itself is good but not great. There was some good development, but I was left at the end wanting a little more. The plot surrounds the first contact between human space colonists and a sinister force of aliens. I read the whole thing in a sitting, so it moved along at a good pace, but it's not a story I would go back to again and again.



However, I didn't get this book for the story, and so I don't want that to taint my review. It is the LEGO that is the real draw here. Pete and Tim have created a whole series of spaceships, bases, robots and aliens, and woven them together in a visually stunning landscape. The models come in four distinct color schemes that fit together like the sub-themes of Space that LEGO came out with in years past. Both fig-scale and microscale models fit in, and they seem to mesh really well, like the microscale MOCs are truly just smaller images of the fig scale. The book includes sets of instructions (intermediate to advanced level) for many of the smaller MOCs (mostly the microscale ships and also the robots), so you can build your own micro fleet.



AFOLs will certainly recognize Pete and Tim's building styles, and even a few MOCs that they've shown before (sometimes reworked for this book). Of course we all know Pete's amazing Exo-Suit, that has been chosen as an upcoming Cuusoo set. That set, when it comes out, would be perfectly paired with this book as a great gift for the LEGO fan in your life, or just for yourself. Many (all?) of the characters are based on AFOLs, and the world that is colonized was originally a Brickish Association display a couple of years ago. Many of the models reflect Classic Space color schemes, and even reinterpret specific official sets, so old-time space builders will find much to love. There's also a variant on the popular Vic Viper meme. So in all this is a very community-focused book, though not in any way that would leave non-community members scratching their heads.



All in all, this is one of my favorite LEGO books of the year. The audience is pretty much anyone who like space at any level, from a young kid up to an advanced AFOL. I'm a little less thrilled by the writing, but I have to qualify that by saying that I pretty much judge future history by Clarke, Asimov, etc, so I set a pretty high bar for my science fiction reading.




Blog-specific content - As you can probably expect when one of the two authors is Tim Goddard/Rogue Bantha, whose micro work has been featured here countless times, this book is chock full of great micro spaceships and space stations, including many sets of directions. I'm assuming the micro stuff is largely by Tim, while the fig-scale stuff is largely by Pete, though they probably both had a hand in both scales of building.

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