No I don’t! I take it back! I still love you! Please don’t leave me!
This emotional freakout brought to you by the book “Reamde”, Neal Stephenson’s latest. Neal Stephenson is, arguably, my favorite author depending on whether I’ve reread a Vonnegut novel recently. Why? Because he writes sentences like this: “The young woman had turned toward him and thrust her pink gloves up in the air in a gesture that, from a man, meant ‘Touchdown!” and, from a woman, ‘I will hug you now!” Even his worst books have nuggets of gold like that.
So why am I so angry at Neal? Because he stole my idea. The main character in “Reamde” creates a new MMORPG where the world is based on advanced algorithms that actually mimic real life world creation with plate tectonics and continental drift, etc. instead of the human generated worlds with incongruous landscapes and massive creative liberties. In this world, called T’rain, players can actually dig into the terrain (T’rain, terrain, get it?) and mine for gold. The society is feudal and players pay based on how much fun their character is to play. Miners and farmers are free, wizards and warriors cost money, etc.
Reading about the world of T’rain was like reading my mind. It was freaky. Almost every aspect of the world has been floating in my mind for over a year now. I have been reading about how the Earth was formed and trying to come up with ways to mimic it for a computer generated world. I have been thinking about how to create a world that is actually round and not demarcated by server boundaries. I have been toying with simplistic economic models that would be usable as a stable MMORPG economy. For over a year now, I have been thinking about T’rain!
Then I start reading “Reamed” and find out that Neal Stephenson has beat me to it. I can only assume that Neal is a mind reader because there’s no way that hundreds of geeks the world over have thought of the same thing as me. No sir!
Of course, there’s a reason why the world of T’rain doesn’t exist yet. There are still lots of technological hurdles that Moore’s Law hasn’t quite allowed us to accomplish yet. But Neal Stephenson’s putting the idea of T’rain to paper means that not only are there hundreds of dorks that thought of this on their own, but now there are tens of thousands who are now thinking about it. Many of them are much smarter than me. So I doubt I’ll be getting rich the MMORPG route now.
There is a certain smug satisfaction, though, knowing that your favorite author thinks at least somewhat like you do. That little voice that is my id telling me, “Good job!” Then there is that littler voice that is my super-ego telling me, “Why didn’t you write ‘Reamde’?” I, like most people, spend far too long listening to my id.
I’ll have a review of ‘Reamde’ in the year 2214 when I finish reading it. Like most of Neal Stephenson’s books, it can be used as a murder weapon.