Saturday, September 28, 2019


Elves. More unsubtle allegory.

TriadCity's Elves are a defeated and displaced people. They're Native Americans, they're Syrian and Honduran refugees flooding Barmalindar and less seemly encampments in the other Thirds. Their remnants are riddled with alcoholism, they live on the dole, and those who don't live by selling a packaged and clean-scrubbed version of their cultural history.

Younger Elves are radicalizing. In the University milieu they join underground circles on the far-left. They're among the most accomplished Liberators. There are rumors of Elf-Orc alliances and secret cells operating in Rubble City and inside the barbed wire in Maboj Bot Ob.

The allegory is unsubtle but there is a more nuanced component. We're commenting as pointedly as possible on the racialism of the MUD tradition which descends from Tolkien and D&D. Why are the bad guys always black, why are the good guys always white and outnumbered? Helm's Deep, Zulu, The Green Berets, the climactic battle at Winterfell with the Night King: beleaguered bands of white brothers who slaughter the subhumans. Exactly the point and purpose of the mainstream MUD tradition before TriadCity. We turn it around, turn it inside out, stick it up its own ass. Bonus question: what race lives in NorthWest? There are a lot of pareus and breadfruit trees over there.

The Elves help us make fun of the smarmy near-left. Elvish epigones who appropriate and bowdlerize their culture, and argue among themselves over "Who are the true Elf-friends?" Dressing in worn blankets 'cos that's what the real Elves do.

Elves in TriadCity are not Tolkien's superspiritual superbrains with the brawn of Orlando Bloom. They're passed out drunk on Sanctuary Island, or huddled in detention centers in Maboj Bot Ob. Or fleeing with heads down from the Elvish Ghetto off MacArthur Boulevard in NorthEast. They're held in contempt by everyone in NorthEast and nearly everyone in the South, while even the generous NorthWesterners resent them for their drain on public resources.

Robert Natkin, abstract


TriadCity vampires faint at the sight of blood.

While they portray themselves in their Disney-like theme park as predators at the apex of the apex, for the most part they hire humans to prey on other humans. They're extremely vain, extraordinarily charismatic, for the most part fabulously wealthy, horrendously elitist, and not in the least bit interested in anyone's well-being apart from their own.

Vampirism in TriadCity is a thinly wink-winked allegory of Neoliberalism, where the Vampire Pater is Fred Hayek and the vamps erect statues to his epigones Milton Friedman, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Ayn Rand, the Mont Pelerin Society, the Chicago Boys, Sam Brownback, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the American Bipartisan Neoliberal Consensus. It's not subtle, unless you suck at Google.

The Vampire Theme Park is one of the oldest concepts in the TriadCity universe. I wrote special procedures for it in C in 1997 using the CircleMUD code base. Finishing it now is appropriate, as Neoliberalism unravels before our eyes everywhere in the world. The Theme Park feels like a fitting tombstone. Or a fitted tombstone. Some kind of heavy fit. Or heavy-handed fit.

Hints and cluelets in the Theme Park are meant to suggest subtle questions. Are the Vampires truly native to NorthEast? Or are they just now trying to muscle-in from their secure control of the South? The South is a Neoliberal utopia: everything's for sale, the police are omnipresent, the streets are clean and free of homeless, and you never see poor people except when they stagger down from their hillside favelas to sell their kidneys. NorthEast satirizes an earlier capitalism, the 19th century Dickensian universe of corruption and cronyism which Neoliberalism idealizes. Mashed-up in our TriadCity way onto both ancient Rome and Nazi Germany. There Blackshirts rule, Elves are driven out or into camps, Orcs organize underground, slaves do the work and provide the entertainment. I think the Vampires are invaders from the future, but I could be wrong.

Robert Natkin, abstract