Ephemera - 5th April, 2018

Well I broke the chain again, though to be honest it was more just to a lack of anything to talk about rather than procrastinating/forgetting to write something like usual.

Reading

Provenance by Ann Leckie

I spotted this on this year’s Hugo Awards shortlist; I had no idea that Leckie has a new book out already, so it was a pleasant surprise. I’m only about halfway through it, but Provenance is so far proving to be of the same calibre as the Ancillary series, with the same world-building that has a way of making you question your own preconceptions about society.

All rise and no fall: how Civilization reinforces a dangerous myth

As a strategy game fiend and someone who sits very much on the political left, this article hit very close to home for me. A lot of historical strategy games ascribe strongly to the “great men” view of history, paving over the realities of the eras they’re set in. But it’s of course a tricky situation for developer who must balance historicity with fun, and it seems to be a rather large challenge simulating the fall of a player’s empire. As an aside, the article offer Crusader Kings 2 as a good example of an alternative to Civilization’s growth at all costs mentality, but I’d suggest another game from Paradox, Victoria 2 as a better example - it’s simulation of communist or fascist uprisings, or the brutality of an economic depression show a path where a player can lose almost all they’ve built up but still have the opportunity to turn it around and “win” the game.

Stephen Hawking (1942–2018)

There were lots of great obituaries for the great scientist Stephen Hawking, but I found this one particularly interesting due to it’s insight into Hawking’s political activism, an area of his life that I was unaware of.