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Dante’s Inferno: The Video Game

7 Sep

Practically since video games were invented, groups of geeky bookworms have passed the time joking about a game based on Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri’s masterful epic poem known as the Divina Commedia. “Hey, and Minos could attack you with his giant tail! Ha ha! That would be great.”

Heads up, nerds: EA finally did it.

Dante's Inferno booth

I went to the Dante’s Inferno booth at the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo intending to annoy its staff with smartass questions about how closely the game adheres to the poem. (Maybe a dick move; but turning Inferno into a video game is potentially also a dick move, so let’s not get judgmental here, okay?) As it turned out, the EA rep at the booth was completely prepared to address whether players would encounter various obscure political figures from 14th Century Italy in his company’s hack-and-slash video game.

“The biggest change we made was to turn Dante from a poet into a warrior,” the rep said. Indeed!

Real Dante:

Real Dante

Game Dante:


I’d contend that the biggest change EA made is theological. (By which I mean everything that the poem is actually about.) Confronted with the reality of sin and sustained by a vision of his love Beatrice, Poem Dante recognizes his dependence on God. From what I heard and saw, Game Dante is a warrior in a secular universe where human and cosmic evil can be defeated through skill, muscle and intelligence. Game Dante is on a mission to fight his way through the Nine Circles with a badass scythe made out of a dinosaur spine or some crazy shit, and rescue Beatrice from Satan’s clutches. He looks as if he might be able to pull it off.

By telling a story of a human hero who tries to get the better of Satan through strength or cunning, the Dante’s Inferno game could be located in the tradition of Western folklore. Exploring this idea further would make a great blog post that I’m never going to write. Much better than this one.

He was of course thinking this in 14th century Tuscan dialect

But anyway, yes: the EA rep said that they couldn’t put everyone in the poem into the game, but players will meet many of the historical figures that it mentions. Dante’s earthly enemy Filippo Argenti will play a large role in the story. Players who want to know what’s going on and who all these people are (as opposed to blowing past them as quickly as possible to get to the next battle) will have many opportunities to be enlightened by Virgil.

The game’s website contains some good information about the poem, and who knows? Maybe kids who dig the game will check it out. Attention, teenagers: Dante’s Inferno contains demons, people being cut in half with huge swords and people drowning in a massive river of shit. Beg your teacher to assign it to you.

Posted via web from Rockett Science Labs

What I read in 2007

19 Jan

Answer: A crapload more Star Wars novels than I thought.

My addiction to the Legacy of the Force series led me to read other Star Wars novels while I waited for the next book to come out. But it also prompted me to read more adventurously in science fiction and fantasy than I had in a while, leading to some real gems.

This was also the year I joined the Gravity’s Rainbow Death Pact, in which a group of friends and fellow travelers across the Internet all started reading the massive and often bewildering Pynchon classic at the same time. And I emerged victorious.


The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey Into The Disturbing World Of James Bond by Simon Winder (I rarely read nonfiction. This was some wonderful nonfiction right here.)

Podcasting For Dummies by Tee Morris and Evo Terra

The Big Book Of The 70s by Jonathan Vankin


Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston (And so it begins. I picked this one up because I’ve always relied on Aaron Allston to deliver fun SF page-turners. The problem is that he is one of three authors on this series. So to get to the next Allston book, I have to read the previous two non-Allston books in the series, and repeat each cycle until it’s done.)

Overclocked by Cory Doctorow

Time’s Black Lagoon by Paul Di Filippo

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Bloodlines by Karen Traviss

The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin (I’d been meaning to read this for decades. No exaggeration.)

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Tempest by Troy Denning


Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Exile by Aaron Allston

Star Wars: X-Wing: Wraith Squadron by Aaron Allston

Star Wars: X-Wing: Iron Fist by Aaron Allston


Three Days To Never by Tim Powers (He just gets better and better.)

The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld

Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine

Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise Of Darth Vader by James Luceno (The author won me over with a description of what it’s like for Darth Vader to be in this big, bulky suit. At every moment he is excruciatingly uncomfortable. No wonder he chokes people a lot.)


A Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart (What the hell? I have no memory of reading this book.)

Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path Of Destruction by Drew Kapyshyn

Star Wars: X-Wing: Solo Command by Aaron Allston


Buddy Does Seattle by Peter Bagge

Welcome To Sunday by Christopher Webber

Housekeeping Vs. The Dirt by Nick Hornby (I love Nick Hornby. The only reason that I haven’t yet read everything he’s written is that I don’t want to come to the point where there’s nothing left for me to read.)

July (Gravity’s Rainbow Death Pact begins)

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby


Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (Excellent military SF. He’s got a great blog, too.)
The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi


Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Sacrifice by Karen Traviss

Ex Machina: March To War by Brian K. Vaughan

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman (Heard his interview on The Sound of Young America.)


The Braindead Megaphone: Essays by George Saunders (Also heard his interview on The Sound of Young America. Here’s my favorite piece from the book.)

Beluthahatchie And Other Stories by Andy Duncan (Crazy Waldropian stories. Must find more by him.)

Star Wars: Legacy Of The Force: Inferno by Troy Denning


The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert (A graphic novel about mummies in love in Victorian England.)

Echo Burning by Lee Child


In Persuasion Nation by George Saunders

Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (FINISHED!)

The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (Oh, this was a good find. Pushed on me by my wife, it’s fantasy in the vein of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar stories – something that’s almost never done well. This was fantastic.)

Ask The Optimist!

13 Oct

Jazzed by The Sound of Young America‘s interview with satirist George Saunders, I picked up The Braindead Megaphone from the library. Good stuff!

The day after I finished, Jesse Thorn produced an audio version of Saunders’ piece “Ask The Optimist”, featuring (among others) John Hodgman as Small Penis, Jonathan Coulton as Hurt But, and Maria Bamford as Not Altogether Hopeful.


Full post, including video version with puppets

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