An exciting and well conceived pulp "rocket ships and ray guns" type sci fi setting for Fate Core Rpg. The thing that makes it particularly interesting and different from standard fare, is the basic premise that the players characters are all heroic loyal citizens of a Utopian Mars colony. Adventures will have them struggling against oppression from Earth, and against implacable alien foes. Like the best of the Fate "Worlds of Adventure" books, Red Planet gives just enough setting detail to provide a springboard for GMs and players to create hours of interplanetary adventure. As with other "Worlds" books in the series, there are character generation rules with a few sample setting-appropriate character stunts, some details of the technology available, and rules, or subsystems to add flavour for the particular setting. In this case the new rules are concerned with detailing political and philosophical debate or "conversion", which leads me on to the subject of the controversy that has accompanied the release of this book.
What has made this a contraversial setting, and has led to some fairly rabid reviews of it, and critical ccomments about it, in certain discussion groups, is that the Utopia depicted is a communist society. Some of these critics seem to have taken it as implicit, that the society depicted in this game as "communist", to be an endorsement of 20th Century earth communist states. As if the game is attempting to promote the idea that these are somehow utopian or admirable societies. That is not my reading of it however, as the Red Planet book clearly explained the Martian Communist Utopia has amongst it's enemies the earth based Soviet Union, as well as capitalist America. (and incidentally The book also includes a fairly lengthy sidebar detailing the very real evils of the historical Soviet style Communist regimes), clearly indicating that the team involved in its production, at least, are well able to distinguish between real world societies, and their real problems, and playing games; role-playing in fictional worlds, with fictional problems). Interesting, and saddening, that this setting with its depiction of an idealised Communist Utopia with lofty goals of working for the common good, should be more offensive, than, say, the default sci fi RPG mode of "space bastards" making money. But of course, each to their own.
Well done Evil Hat, and author Jess Nevins, for packing so much setting, intrigue, and down right "this would make an awesome game" into such a small package. Good work!
[5 of 5 Stars!]