I really wanted to like Harp SF. So precious few decent SF games out there. And for the first chapter I loved it: the best part of the game is its setting, the Tintamar Universe (though I don't get why it was named after the so-named space station). The setting contains just the right amount of history, tech, aliens and worlds. Then you start reading the rules, and your smile fades.
SO complex! My head hurt trying to keep straight all of the Development Points, Skill Ranks, skill sources, resolution types, Talents, charts and tables, professions, cultures, something called "concussion hits," etc. Write down the character creation process and keep it next to you, otherwise you will get lost. The game provides too many options, exceptions and too many mechanics. And I am someone who normally likes a deep and complex mechanic, especially when it serves to promote realism. The rules of HSF will likely only promote stress. One of weakest links in the game is the Profession system: many of the professions seem suitable only to Humans (it is hard to imagine a Madji Entertainer). Adding to the tangle of the rules is the author's constant referals to Harp Fantasy: explaining the differences, adding conversion rules, including magic in SF game for "completeness". No. I don't need to know how many Power Points my Silth has.
All this said, the game is interesting enough to keep coming back to and puzzling with, and with several close readings I might be able to play it without hiring a full-time secretary. For playability the games needs a serious revsion and simplifcation. Fewer Professions, fewer talents and skills, a very simple and easy to follow character creation system that does not require reams of scratch paper. And scrap Cultures altogther: just give me more skill ranks in my Profession. I look forward to Harp SF Second Edition some day, as the core of a great game is here.
[3 of 5 Stars!]