No Man’s Sky

No Man’s Sky: five years of meteors, mining and metaphysics

As it celebrates with a teaser of a new update, the strange, metaphysical space exploration has survived a tricky take-off and retained its vital spirit

Expanded and improved ... No Man’s Sky.
As soon as I set foot on my first planet in No Man’s Sky five years ago, dying almost immediately in the boiling atmosphere of an utterly barren, deserted world, I was hooked. Here at last, was a space game for the rest of us, and by the rest of us I mean kids who grew up watching Silent Running and Solaris, and reading the trippy existential sci-fi of Ray Bradbury, Stanisław Lem and Ursula K le Guin. Here was a space game with no space marines, where making a bad decision on a hostile alien planet or in some distant asteroid belt could have deadly ramifications, and where existence among the stars was about toil and patience and long periods of silent travel.

This wasn’t how everyone felt about the game upon its much-hyped launch in 2016. No Man’s Sky was famously revealed at the 2014 Game Awards, a hugely popular showcase for new mega-budget blockbusters, the gaming equivalent of advertising during the Super Bowl. This high-profile introduction, together with some ludicrously ambitious plans from tiny Guildford developer Hello Games, led to wild expectations – a gigantically detailed massively multiplayer space opera, combining elements of Elite Dangerous, Eve Online and Star Citizen into one giant production.

No Man’s Sky wasn’t that game (at least, not back then). It was a strange, lonely space exploration sim, giving players a small craft and some laser tools to wrestle resources from often ugly procedurally generated planets. These rocks, chemicals and components could be sold at space stations to buy slightly better equipment, and an oblique storyline was unpicked through hours of mining, trading and travel. But that was it. You were on your own – metaphorically and literally. On release there was furious controversy. Many felt their expectations hadn’t been met; YouTube videos listed frenzied complaints, revealed bugs and made unflattering comparisons with pre-release promises, pulling in hundreds of thousands of views. And of course, this being the video-games industry, the development team and their families were threatened with violence.

Somehow, amid this bewildering maelstrom, Hello Games kept working. Over five years, No Man’s Sky has been expanded and improved through a series of updates and additions – all free. Players can now construct bases on planets, explore landscapes in robotic suits, buy huge freighters to seek out new galaxies, have pets. Friends can also meet up and explore together or visit each other’s base stations – like an intergalactic version of Animal Crossing. Another major update was announced as part of the game’s fifth birthday celebrations.

No Man’s Sky remains, however, an unashamedly strange, metaphysical space exploration adventure, a chill-out experience as much as a game. It is about the lonely beauty of distant travel, about finding places that maybe no one else has ever seen, and trying to stay alive there, often accompanied only by the wonderful ambient soundtrack from 65daysofstatic. You can sit out under purple skies and watch meteors explode as they enter the atmosphere, or see starcraft zoom past in formation; you can view distant space battles from orbit, accompanied by the rattling hum of your engines.

When I wrote a defensive polemic about No Man’s Sky just after its release, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such anger, such vicious recrimination, from gamers in the comments section and on forums. They listed bugs and broken promises at me for days. But the game was always what I expected, and despite all the excellent improvements and additions, it still retains its original spirit. It is Roy Batty’s Blade Runner speech, it is Kubrick’s Star Gate sequence, it’s the SF book cover art of Chris Foss and Bruce Pennington rendered into life. Ultimately, No Man’s Sky is the interactive embodiment of Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell’s famous quote about space travel:

“Something happens to you out there.”

The Island of Missing Trees

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak review – superlative storytelling

A tale of love and division moves between postcolonial Cyprus and London, exploring themes of generational trauma and belonging

'What do those of us who are immigrants do with our yesterdays?'... Elif Shafak.
The feeling of being ‘in between things’ is good for [writers],” said Elif Shafak in a 2014 interview. This delight in liminal spaces forms the bedrock of her 12th novel, which charts the moving story of Kostas and Defne Kazantzakis, young lovers in a painfully divided postcolonial Cyprus – one Greek and Christian, the other Turkish and Muslim – and the emotional price they continue to pay after moving to England.

Early on, Shafak hits us with a perfect juxtaposition of beauty and violence, imagining the day when two corpses, lost in a well, “swim toward the chink of sky overhead, shimmering in the refracted sunlight”. In a London scene, anthropologist Defne and her colleague interview an elderly Cypriot for his war memories but are chased away by the man’s son for invading his privacy. Sheltering in a pub, “both women were laughing so hard … the other customers began to look … no one imagining it was pain they were setting free”. The book is stuffed full of such transitional experiences, where joy and beauty are under threat, or on their way to becoming something else entirely.

The novel moves back and forth in time and place and is split into three narratives. In 2010s London, we meet 16-year-old Ada, daughter of Kostas and the recently deceased Defne. Ada’s mourning for her mother is becoming painfully public, as a video of her distress, shot by a schoolmate, goes viral. Her parents have protected her from their past in Cyprus, and Ada doesn’t know her Cypriot family – “She’s a British child” – but the arrival of her maternal aunt, Meryem, unravels the truth.

Back in 1974 Cyprus, Defne and Kostas were forbidden lovers. The couple’s clandestine meetings took place at The Happy Fig, a taverna run by sympathetic owners. The catastrophic events that follow are watched by the resident parrot Chico – and by the fig tree growing in the middle of the building. It’s this tree that claims the third narrative, a sapling plucked by botanist Kostas and replanted in their new English backyard, growing up alongside Ada. The fig later witnesses the grieving father and daughter and is a mouthpiece for Cypriot history, illuminating human carelessness and hypocrisy.

As a heartbroken Kostas ineffectually circles his quiet teenager, Aunt Meryem arrives with two suitcases emblazoned with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and as many recipes as aphorisms, plaiting and replaiting her hair and never knowing when to mind her business. Every culture has an auntie like her. “‘Signs of the Apocalypse,’ mutters Meryem, turning off the TV. ‘It’s climate change,’ says Ada, without lifting her gaze from her phone.” She is a wonderful counterpoint to Ada’s teenage superiority, and the women eventually come to mirror each other in their vulnerability at a time of change. “‘I blame the menopause,’ says Meryem. ‘I was always tidy and organised … I don’t want to clean up any more.’”

The Island of Missing Trees asks us important questions about losing home, about coping and secrets. What do those of us who are immigrants do with our yesterdays? How are our children affected by our pain? Ada has no Cypriot culture and what’s missing wounds her; Shafak suggests that generational trauma is inevitable, offering a take on depression that will feel familiar to many communities. “We are afraid of happiness. From a tender age we are taught … that for every morsel of contentment, there will follow … suffering …” I read this novel during Euro 2021, and I thought about being afraid of happiness, in an England rocked by the racism that many knew would follow second place. In Shafak’s fictional world, after violence devastates The Happy Fig, Defne and Kostas make love for the first time, clearing away the nettles on a hill behind the taverna – their own tiny hopeful revolt against despair. But this is not a love story for the blinkered; decades later, Ada’s mother might try to keep painful events from her child, but Shafak rightly insists her readers witness the real-life devastation of colonialism.

Given Shafak’s affinity for the natural world, with whole pages of soaring, rich detail about songbirds or butterflies, the occasional cliched sentence was a surprise. No brilliant writer ever needs her character to pace a room “like a caged animal”. Especially when she so beautifully honours a tiny ant queen: “Here she mated and chewed off her wings as though discarding a wedding dress.” The personification of the fig tree is a mixed bag, a device I worried might infantilise this adult text. And the more “human” the tree – its love for Kostas, the way it feels “jet lagged”, even its concern for Ada – the less interesting, even mawkish, it seemed. Add the contrivance of small creatures whispering plot points to its branches and for me, coincidence trumped craft. But when Shafak goes deeper into its arboreal life, the tree’s voice is a delight: reports of the mischief made between carob and fig; the subterranean world of roots; the gorgeous diversity of bees; the constant noise, textures and vulnerability of a perpetual ecosystem. And when the novel’s sure and towering end arrived, nearly all Shafak’s decisions made sense, moving me to tears and humbling me with the confidence of a storyteller for whom every decision is deliberate. This is a beautiful novel – imperfect, but made ferocious by its uncompromising empathy.


what size skateboard for 5-year-old

What size skateboard for 5-year-old children?

Skateboarding is a sport that many children love and choose after stressful and tiring studying hours. Skateboarding sport is suitable for children from 5 years old and up. What size skateboard for a 5-year-old child? Choosing to buy skateboards for children is extremely important. Refer to our article below to find out the right skateboard size for five-year-olds.

About Skateboard

What is a skateboard?

It is the most common and popular type of wooden skateboard. It has a curved design at the top two, sunken in the middle. The tail and top of the board are rounded.

Skateboard is often used to practice trick, ollie (jump over obstacles), skatepark, or slide on city terrain. There are special cakes for bad roads such as bricks, sidewalks, asphalt; Or the wheel makes no noise for videographers.

Structure of a skateboard

  • Deck (a piece of board): the deck is usually made of high-grade plywood, usually pressed with seven layers of wood, with extremely high strength.
  • Truck (axle): are two axes of the board that help link the board with four wheels. It helps you adjust the direction when sliding,
  • Wheels help the skateboard move and are a place to store bearings.
  • Griptape: glued on the board to create friction with training shoes to help you stand on the board.

Should five-year-olds skateboard?

Today, Skateboards come in a variety of designs, and sizes. However, children under the age of seven really shouldn’t play skateboard. Of course, you can wear skates and protective gear for 4-5-year-olds. Experts agree: children under seven years old should not play skateboard because their bodies are still unstable and prone to injury. Therefore, five-year-olds starting to play with skateboards can lead to injuries they shouldn’t have.

What size skateboard for 5-year-old children?

If kids still want to play skateboard, we will detail What size skateboard for a 5-year-old below. For five-year-olds, you can choose small skates, the length of which does not exceed 22 inches. Skateboard should be strong, light, and resilient. Bright colors, cute pictures will make many children love.

Most importantly, you should choose the width of the deck according to your child’s shoe size. Generally, children between the ages of five and six will have shoe sizes (according to foot length) 11-12 UK, 30-31 EU, or about 18.5cm. The height of the children is not more than 1m. Therefore, the five-year-old skateboard size we would recommend for you is 27.2 x 6.5 inches or 27.6 x 6.75 inches (length x width). The skateboard height is about 3.9inches (approximately 10cm).

Things to watch out for when letting five-year-olds play skateboards

  • Parents should choose the right skateboard for their child’s activity because different skateboards will work differently. When playing with slopes, it is best to prepare a skateboard with spiked tires for your child. If your child plays skateboard in the park, you should choose a small wheel for the skateboard.

  • Also, parents make sure that all parts of the skateboard are in good working order. Before you let your child use the skateboard, you should check for some possible problems. These are cracks, sharp edges, damaged wheels, and loose parts.
  • Parents should equip their children with a helmet of high standards for skateboarding. The helmet should have a strong strap and buckle.
  • Parents can buy a pair of shoes made of leather or suede that is suitable for the child’s feet. You must make sure your child ties their shoelaces tightly before playing skateboard.
  • Children who are just starting to learn to skate should use knee and elbow pads. This pad should have a hard plastic cover to withstand the impact of a fall and not interfere with the child’s activities.

Above is detailed information about what size skateboard for 5-year-old kids and related information. Wherever children play skateboard, parents should be there to observe and ensure the safety of the children.

The Glory Years by Michael Pye review

Antwerp: The Glory Years by Michael Pye review – the medieval Mammon

This beautiful snapshot of Antwerp in its 16th-century pomp reveals a city flush with money but with no idea how to spend it

Antwerp is the star of this charming and rather lovely history. The “trade of the whole world”, wrote the Venetian ambassador and cardinal Bernardo Navagero in the middle of the 16th century, could be found in this city. It was hardly an exaggeration: all kinds of spices could be bought there; so too could books and art, produced by the score for all tastes and inclinations; when William Cecil wanted “little pillars of marble” for Burghley House – along with a ready-made classical gallery – it was to Antwerp that he turned.

It was not just goods and products that could be acquired, for in Antwerp everything had a price, including knowledge, information and secrets – although distinguishing truth from scurrilous rumours was not easy, especially when it came to sex. Tales of “filth and wicked pastimes”, alongside those of “dancing, nightly buffooneries and ravishing of virgins” excited commentators as much as (and perhaps more than) accounts of the disputations between Catholics and Protestants that dominated so much of the social, political and religious history of Europe in the 16th century.

Michael Pye’s focus is not on Antwerp of the past and present, but in its “glory years”, which filled most of the century that began in 1500. “Commerce was its identity,” he writes, “the energy which held it together.” Fundamental to that was a very “pragmatic kind of tolerance”: Antwerp’s “business depended on foreign traders, so it had no interest in abolishing the heresies to which so many of those traders were attached”. In Antwerp, money mattered, not God.

Pye draws on a rich tapestry of sources – and individuals – to paint his portrait. Some were little known beyond inventories of the goods they left behind. We know of Adriaan Hertsen, for example, from lists of things he owned, from toys to beds, glass and a large quantity of silver. And yet, as the author notes, although we do not know what Hertsen valued most, let alone what he thought, we can tell something about the wealth being generated at a time when Antwerp grew to become a dazzling emporium famous across Europe.

The city’s success was a surprise for, unusually, it lacked a court, a bishop, or a ruling dynasty – to say nothing of a backstory. It owed its success, in part, to being located in the heart of a northern Europe that was booming, thanks to wealth flowing back from the Americas, Africa and Asia. In part, too, it was because it was “full of people passing through”, including Portuguese Jews, who plugged the city’s traders in to wider commercial networks. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that Antwerp should become a victim of its own success.

As the Reformation took hold in the 1560s, tolerances and freedoms gave way to religious suppression, with consequences for the traditional live-and-let-live approach that made the city such a good place to do business; key too was that Antwerp’s wealth caught the eye of those who had wars to fund and treasuries exhausted by almost endless confrontation and competition. The magic ingredients in Antwerp’s success were dissolved – and quickly. By the early 1600s, the city’s streets were said to be more or less deserted, without a man on horseback or a coach in sight.

Pye writes beautifully, has a lovely eye for detail and an obvious affection for this period of Antwerp’s history. I am not quite so sure the “glory years” would have been quite so glorious to live through. For one thing, the overwhelming concern of people making lots of money was to make even more, in what one observer described as “a gross insatiable appetite for extraordinary gain”, often at unjust profits. That sounds like utopia for the few, rather than for the many.

And, as the author hints, those who did well could and perhaps should have spent more time enjoying the fruits of their success. People spent more attention to making and saving money than they did to spending it “on showy things”, wrote one contemporary visitor, who could not conceal his shock at how bad the food was. It was so awful, he noted, that “it would be hard to live more poorly”. Even the beer was pretty ghastly, thanks to the city’s water.

The citizens of Antwerp thought the good times would last for ever, and bet heavily on the future by ploughing cash into property. Once the music was up, traders moved away in droves to build their fortunes again elsewhere. Antwerp’s loss was Amsterdam’s gain, with the latter “feeding off the corpse” of the former. Still, it was fun while it lasted.