T o Hie From Far Cilencia
• KARL SCHROEDER, 2009
• The story is thick with placenames, personal names, references to specific
locations. These don’t necessarily identify anything.
1. “It’s his accent. Danail Gavrilov doesn’t speak English, he’s Bulgarian. But he’s
parroting English perfectly, right down to the accent. And it’s and American
accent. Specifically, west coast. Washington State or thereabouts” (2301)
“THIS IS TODAY’S LOCATION OF THE GRIFFIN RAMPANT, HE SAID” (231).
1. “Internet nations break down traditional barriers,” she said. “You can live in Outer
Mongolia, but your nearest netneighbor might live in Los Angeles. The old
geographic constrain ts don’t apply anymore” (238).
2. “I don’t understand why he can’t just tell us where it is” (243). “Because it’s not a
place,” said Gennady, a bit impatiently. “It’s a protocol” (243).
THE DEFINITION OF ‘LOCATION’ ITSELF IS CALLED INTO QUESTION AND
REDEFINED CUMULATIVELY THROUGHOUT THE FICTION.
• Can ‘location’ include digital constructions, and, if so, how?
• Are there any ways in which we have already redefined ‘location’ in the above
way, for example in videogames?
• The reality –augmentation glasses placed another set of visual information onto
the surface reality we otherwise see, transforming it stylistically.
• Players wear steampunk costumes they make or purchase within the gameworld
and are thus recognizable to one another; the gameworld can be entered and the
surroundings will be restyled.
• Rivet Couture’s city, Atlantis, is a simple level, which offers an alternative
lifestyle, and economy divorced from that of the ‘actual’ country the players
ATLANTIS IS NONGEOGRAPHICAL IN TERMS OF THE WORLD ONTO WHICH
• “I’m coming,” he said; he stood up, and stepped from Stockholm into Atlantis”
• “Rivet Couture… usually added just a touch or two to what you were seeing or
hearing, enough to provide a whiff of strangeness to otherwise normal places”
• Atlantis is not as strange to Gennady as the realworld settings in which he’s
CONCRETE VERSUS DIGITIZED: IRONIES AND PARADOXES
• Miranda’s icons of Atlantis are her gearsandwheels earrings, concrete objects
she wears in the digital overlay; Gennady’s realworld icons are locations: “Instead of an icon of brass and gears, he wore memories of dripping concrete
halls and the shadowed calandria of ruined reactors, of blueglowing pools packed
with spent fule rods… of an unlit commercial freezer where an entire herd of
irradiated reindeer lay Jumbled like toys” (224).
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR CRIME?
• “We’re pretty sure that organized crime has started using games like yours to
move stuff. Drugs, for instance. You can use two completely unrelated strangers
as mules for pickups and handoffs, even establish long chains of them” 229.
Hitchens had admitted that he hated Alternative Reality games. “They destroy all
the security structures we’ve put into place so carefully since 9/11… Geography
doesn’t matter, identity is a joke...everybody on the planet is like Fraction. How
can you find a conspiracy in that?” 22930.
ANSWERING HITCHENS’ QUESTIONS:
• The crimes are the same; the overlaid world is just as accessible if you go through
the same gates as everyone else – Gennady and Miranda go through them.
• Post 9/11 efforts to find terrorists and conspiracies have not been extremely
successful either. They still exist.
• Pre 9/11 crime detection was only successful sometimes.
• Hitchens seems unwilling to accept that crime detection methods always have to
keep moving into new territory – or new ‘territory’ of the nongeographical kind.
New technologies have to be mastered all the time.
FALLING IN LOVE WITH A NEW WORLD
1. “I watch them, now, day by day – the walking cities, the new countries that appear
like cicadas to walk their one day in the sun, only to vanish again at dusk…” 222
2. These are new concepts of place, bewitching and ephemeral, and yet the
phenomena of the human mind extended into new realities.
HUMAN NEEDS REALIZED ALTERNATIVELY
3. Gennady dislikes meeting people facetoface, finds himself unable to relax and
speak easily. There are now online social networks for autistics and people more
comfortable socializing out of physical presence. These needs are often
mistakenly considered something which demands a cure, rather than a normal
state for many humans.is at first uncomfortable with the new people he meets, but
becomes a sort of avatar of himself, something he’s already familiar with.
4. “[He’d] been briefly famous after stopping an attempt to blow up the Chernobyl
sarcophagus some years before. He’d taken that assignment in the first place
because in the abandoned streets of Pripyat he could be utterly alone. Being
interviewed for TV and then recognized on the street had been intensely painful
for him.” (227)
5. “He resented that she thought of him as some kind of social cripple who had to be
accommodated. He had a job to do and, better than almost anybody, he knew want
was at stake.” 228 WHAT ARE THESE NEW CITIES THAT RISE UP FOR ONE DAY AND WALK?
WHAT COULD THEY BE?
6. Suppose a group of people wanted to experiment with new social worlds,
economies, spiritualities, and so on?
7. A city for people who communicated by sign language?
8. How about a city for people who are more comfortable when utterly alone –
9. “She explained that any human society had membership costs, and the currency
was commitment… and the str