Writing Per Aspera

Spoilers for Observation, Per Aspera and The Stanley Parable (computer games). Red Planet, Green Planet.(Per Aspera, promotional material) As our computers have become more sophisticated, one of the questions which has loomed over philosophers like the sword of Damocles has been At what point can we say that an artificial intelligence is, for lack of…

Writing Bioshock

Spoilers for BioShock (computer game franchise, including BioShock 2 and BioShock Infinite, henceforth BS, BS2 and BSI respectively). But purer and higher and deeper shall bethat wonder, that Rapture, in cloud and in sea.(Promotional material from Nintendo) The core concept of the Bioshock franchise is that some ideas are bad, a sentiment perhaps at odds…

‘Disco Elysium’ and Framing Devices

Spoilers for Disco Elysium (computer game) and The Sexy Brutale (computer game). Disco Elysium, promotional material. Let me prefix everything that I am about to write with this: I really enjoyed Disco Elysium (henceforth DE) and was glued to it for a week over Christmas, thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave it…

Observations on Observation

Spoilers for Observation (computer game). This week, I was supposed to get back to books: my plan was scuppered, however, when the book I chose to read turned out to be underwhelming, and then construction work in my neighbourhood made any attempts to read utterly impossible due to the constant noise. That is why, somewhat…

Writing Dune

Spoilers for Dune and all Dune-derived media (books, films, games, television series). In the grim darkness of the 23rd Millennium, there is only... wait, no, that's the other one. In 1965, Chilton Books, a publisher known for producing engineering manuals, published Dune, a science-fiction book which had originally appeared as a serial in the magazine…

How to Invent a Religion: Part 2

Eschatological Escapades Eschatology is the theology of endings, the counterpart to ætiology. Eschatologies are as varied as ætiologies, and just as important for shaping religious practice. Norse mythology's final battle at Ragnarök, the Buddhist prophecy of Maitreya revealing to a once-more-benighted world the concept of dharma, the theme of a time of judgement shared by…

How to Invent a Religion: Part 1

Edifying Ætiologies An ætiology is a beginning of something expressed in historical or mythological terms, and therefore a highly appropriate concept with which to begin this short series. Last week I spotted a tweet which drove home to me the inherent problems with discussing religion in fiction. In the West, our experience of life is…

Writing Strangely Familiar Things

Spoilers for Stranger Things (television series) seasons 1 - 2. On 15th July 2016, Netflix released the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things (ST), a nostalgic love-letter to the '80s filled with concentrated fun and then ground down into an addictive substance and unleashed on the world, ensnaring an entire generation of unsuspecting viewers. Many fans resorted…