The Gate of Heaven (2013)

A Triptych, Phenomenon, Canberra, June 2013.

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe.
– The Beatles.


We can never stay the same without changing. As individuals. As cultures. As humans.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
The colony: imperilled, at war with itself.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.
The Redoubt: forbidden repository of technology and power.
Nothing, nothing.
The refugees: orbiting, denied planetfall, increasingly desperate.
Nothing, nothing.
The nebula: a deadly jewel in the night sky.
Nothing’s gonna change my world.

Five women of an ancient and powerful settler family. Keepers of the Redoubt. Mothers, daughters, sisters: united by blood but divided by civil war.
Five women, younger than the dawn, older than starlight.
Five women. Hoping for life. Waiting for death.
As the stars burn red.
And the mountains too.

A systemless science fiction meditation by John and Philippa Hughes. Our themes are family and power, secrets, war, loneliness, love; and the terrors of ecstasy.

(And yes, there will be a birthday.)

The Gate of Heaven

The Gate of Heaven, a deadly jewel in the night sky.

Player Characters

Nuwa, the grandmother

Guardian, Historian, Keeper of the Redoubt, holder of secrets.

Rong, the mother

Speaker. An accomplished politician, attempting to  guide the colony’s survival as it moves closer to open civil war.

Jia, the mother

Ambassador, representing the rebellious cities of the Islands. A believer.

Ling, the daughter

WorldMaker. A planetary biologist and terraformer, battling to maintain the colony’s fragile ecosystem.

Chen, the daughter

Heir. A young activist who sees how things might change, struggling with the demands of the adult world and the heavy burden that her family’s duty entails.

Game Ratings

Characterisation — 5/5. What makes these powerful women really tick?

Story/plot — 3/5. The end of the world – on a screen near you.

Genre — 5/5. Family and political drama set in an isolated Iain M. Banks ‘Culture’ style utopia. Or is it?

Seriousness — 4/5. The end of the …. yeah, that bit.

Rules knowledge — 0/5. You’re here to share a story.

Adult content —MA (adult concepts, girly bits, boat people, religious cults, intimations of genocide).

Player Briefing


Player Guide – web version (1.8 meg).

Player Guide – print version (11.2 meg).


mountain poster

Opening, closing, the gate of heaven
Can you be like a bird with her nestlings?
Piercing bright through the cosmos,
Can you know by not knowing?

To give birth, to nourish,
To bear and not to own,
To act and not lay claim,
To lead and not to rule,
This is mysterious power.

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin).

The Space Crone – an essay by Ursula Le Guin.

The feminine and the Tao: an interview with Ursula K. LeGuin

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