Marathon / Destination: Void

It would be fairly accurate to describe my years in High School and University as a balance between sleeping through class, writing code (Apple II projects, MUSH code, and so on), and haunting used bookstores. As an example, for High School english classes I typically wrote computer games - for Dune, a thumper-placement/avoid the worm action game. For King Lear, a "choose your own adventure" game. I picked up a tattered, second-hand copy of Destination: Void as a teenager while on a Frank Herbert binge.

It was only years later that I learned that there was a sequel (by Herbert and Bill Ransom), The Jesus Incident. As a rather religion-averse person I had never picked it up and flipped through it - the name put me off.

Flash forward to 2004. I'm a little bit obsessed with Halo - not playing the game, mind you, just the beautiful game world. See previous entries about Iain M. Banks - they cribbed massively from his writing. The Halo itself is an Orbital (mini-ringworld). Guilty Spark 343 is a (somewhat senile) Drone.

Looking for backstory stuff for Halo, you quickly run into Bungie's previous game series, Marathon. Think Doom for the Mac, but with a plot. You're a hapless security cyborg who's trying to defend a starship under attack from a multi-species civilization of aliens. And your starship's three Artificial Intelligences are either offline, damaged, or perhaps going crazy (rampant).

It's pretty obvious that at least one of the people that worked on Marathon had read Destination: Void years ago and internalized many of the concepts. It's not the same story or plot by any means, but there are some similar concepts - a colony ship headed to Tau Ceti, three disembodied intelligences, the danger of intelligences going crazy, and full blown rampancy leading to godlike powers.

Which leads full circle, and a quick Google search tells me that there are two more sequels: The Lazarus Effect and The Ascension Factor. This would be an interesting set of custom Marathon scenarios:
  • Marathon: Void
  • Marathon: Incident
  • Marathon: Effect
  • Marathon: Factor
In Void the game wouldn't have (much) shooting. The role would be that you're a 5th member of the Tin Egg's crew acting as a remote set of arms for both the other clones (Bickel, Timberlake, Flattery, etc) and the OMCs. The plot starts before Destination: Void begins. You're down on the decks and gravity is going crazy. It would utilize the same same Marathon-style dispatches you'd read on terminals, messages coming to you from the crew and the OMCs that move the plot along. You need to take the insane OMCs offline, get others started, defend the ship against damage (e.g. punctures, system malfunctions), and eventually fetch parts for the Artificial Consciousness project.

(Since I wrote the above, I found copies of the latter 3 books. They are radically different from what I envisioned. Incident would make a neat scenario for Marathon, but the others would be a stretch. I'm also not the first person that's noticed this similarity, and someone may have even started on one of these scenarios.)