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*Freelance Traveller

The Electronic Fan-Supported Traveller® Resource

#50: I Hate It

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue.

I’m going to say it: I hate this book.

I’ve tried to love it because its Traveller. I’ve tried to admire it because it’s mostly very good. I’ve tried to tolerate it because I can’t love everything equally. I’ve tried to just dislike it because it’s not my ‘thing’. But I don’t; I can’t. I hate it.

* There is a review in the September/ October 2019 issue of the magazine. The Naval Campaign Sourcebook should have been a firm favourite as someone who’s grown up in a naval family (Dad in the Royal Navy, mum in the WRNS, brother in the Royal Naval Reserves) not to mention involvement across much of my life with the Naval Christian Fellowship – holidays with them as a youth, New Year houseparties with them as a young man. This confession isn’t really a review*, it’s more of a rant and a sadness.

Much of the book really is excellent and just what I hoping for. Then, in its last few pages it wrecks all the good work done previously with its notes on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I’ve written in these pages before about my struggle across years and even decades with CFS, sometimes called ME or myalgicencephalomyelitis in the UK. It’s so little understood, still, that essentially diagnosis is “we’ve tested you for everything else and nothing’s come up positive so it must be that”. Treatment is, well, there is no treatment. You sometimes hear about Graded Exercise Therapy and it can help some I hear but it can also be tantamount to telling someone with a broken leg to walk themselves better. You sometimes hear about CBT solutions which have helped one or two but for others is like telling them to think themselves better. I read with interest research developments with possibilities on the horizon but none have come to fruition yet.

Traveller is about fantasy and escape from the real world. While Charted Space is hardly anyone’s idea of a utopia and I don’t know any Referees who have aimed to run a game or campaign in some kind of utopia, the game lets us break out of our mundane lives here on earth and do exciting things we couldn’t do ordinarily.

Traveller is also about reality. Or at least a kind of reality. The amount of detail in astrography and history across nearly half a century is truly staggering and helps us all believe in a ‘Far Future’ that could exist. When I’ve written in the past, following submersion in writing an adventure like Ashfall, that I feel I’ve walked on the surface of Spume and seen the volcanoes in the pictures, I’m only half joking.

So for me it’s mentally disheartening and emotionally devastating to find that by the 57th Century medical science still hasn’t found a cure for CFS. It would have been easy enough for the author to have called it something else; it would have been even easier not to include that section which sits oddly in any case. Including it tells me there’s no hope.