I don’t usually post stuff like this (though, I suppose, lately I don’t usually post much of anything, so it’s probably good to get back in the habit), but it’s a good enough deal to warrant bringing to folks’ attention, on the off chance I have any readers (let alone any to whom it applies).
For the next 23-odd hours, as part of their year-end sale, you can buy the Morrowind Game of the Year edition (which includes the two expansions) on Steam for $5. If you haven’t played Morrowind, you really owe it to yourself to grab it. There’s still a huge, thriving mod community despite the game being eight years old, and it’s easy to spend hours browsing TESNexus, Planet Elder Scrolls, and UESP — not to mention the incredibly ambitious Tamriel Rebuilt project — working out exactly what you want your gameplay experience to be like. The game world is immense, the plot interesting but entirely optional, and it (and its predecessor Daggerfall and successor Oblivion) is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a genuine roleplaying experience in a video game. It still imposes artificial constraints, of course — there are things that simply aren’t possible, because the engine isn’t programmed that way; dialogue seems virtually unrestricted at first because Bethesda just put so much time into writing text for the game, but is really just the same old branching trees of question and response we’ve had since the first adventure games; there are a limited number of ways of interacting with objects in the world; and there’s no physics engine, so you can’t knock things over — so you haven’t got the kind of freedom a genuine (i.e. pencil-and-paper) RPG affords, but especially with some well-chosen mods it’s a remarkably immersive and enjoyable game.
* Well, two things. The masterful Indigo Prophecy is available through tomorrow for $3.40, and it’s well worth your time.
** Assuming you play video games and have a Windows machine.
*** If you don’t already own it.
Iä! Iä! Bruuuuuuce Fhtagn!, or, Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born to Summon Unspeakable Doom from Beyond the Stars
The Device of the Sinister Magician in Lovecraft and Springsteen
Fair warning: I’m about to be a huge nerd right here.
First of all, what I’m not claiming. I am not claiming that the writings of H.P. Lovecraft have had any significant direct, or even indirect, influence on Bruce Springsteen’s songwriting; much less that Springsteen has consciously based any lyrics on Lovecraft.
What I am claiming is that both Springsteen’s song “Magic,” from the last year’s record of the same name, and Lovecraft’s iconic short story “Nyarlathotep” draw on a literary trope I’ll tentatively call the Device of the Sinister Magician, and that if present in such disparate works, the Device can reasonably be surmised to predate them both, and with a bit of looking can probably be found in other texts.