Mark Sachs (ksleet) wrote,
Mark Sachs

MoS update.

Eh, I'm sure it's already Monday somewhere.

I should note that the next page is already mostly inked, a couple of days ahead of schedule even. Could this be the beginning of a new era of MoS timeliness??? (Hint: probably not.) There's also a few more words about the Logarithmic Map of the Universe in there. Man, I love that thing.

More stuff (about Doom 3 and old SF novels) which you might or might not find entertaining behind the cut.

So let's see. The last couple of days I played through the Classic Doom for Doom 3 mod. This is in fact exactly what it sounds like: some industrious modders precisely recreated the giant, tangled maps and hectic gunplay of the original Doom, except in the Doom 3 engine. So you got your fancy stencil shadows and normal mapping and remixed MP3 soundtrack and whatnot, but other than that it's the same game we all knew and loved over 10 years ago. It's an impressive accomplishment, and I should note that the old-school gameplay plus the ultramodern graphics makes for an alarmingly intense experience.

Also, being as I'm alarmingly short on books, I re-read the old Niven/Pournelle potboiler Oath of Fealty. And granted, science fiction is supposed to be about incomprehensible alien worldviews and characters who are utterly unlike the human beings we see around us, but I'm not sure they meant it like this. Published in 1981 and so probably written in 1980, the book is set in what would presumably be 2006, i.e., now -- but its culture is harder to understand than Heinlein's '40s style tin-can rockets filled with chain-smoking soldiers and engineers. As a response to crime and terrorism making major cities virtually ungovernable, a Swiss-based corporation has laundered Middle Eastern oil money to build an arcology in Los Angeles. Radical environmentalists try to sabotage the place, the arcology operators respond with deadly force, and tensions between the decayed old city and the shiny new privately-owned one (which has evolved a culture of corporate feudalism) spiral. But it's the attitudes that are so bewildering, the little social details that we take for granted. Everyone in the book spends most of the time drinking, and tranquilizer shots are brought out without a second thought. Homosexuality is regarded with shock, while the idea of an orgy is regarded rather casually. Loss of human life is quite a meaningless thing to the larger society. There's a weird bit at the end where a black executive who worries about being at the receiving end of casual racism heads off at the end of the book to run the corporation's new branch in Zimbabwe. And so on, and so on...

This weird society could just be Niven and Pournelle being, well, Niven and Pournelle, but then again I dunno. I remember the period of time when this book was written just a little bit and (at least in the United States) it was a truly grim era: high crime, pollution, institutionalized prejudice, PLO hijackings, a rotten economy, nuclear Cold War constantly threatening to run hot, with for much of that time no real promise that things would ever get better. I suppose if you were writing SF at that time, why not just assume everything would keep going to hell? The world of Oath of Fealty has moon bases, orbital factories, and neural implants, but... y'know... if we're picking I prefer the world we've got now even with all its own problems. It's not even close.
Tags: a miracle of science, comics, games, nerd
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