12.14.2004

Lego science and microwave temporal manipulation

I was playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II last night, but before you tune out entirely I assure you this has nothing to do with that midi-chlorians crap nor will I regress entirely into indecipherable geek.

Anyway, it’s a fairly straightforward RPG, full of the regular benefits (escapism) and detriments (mindlessly annoying puzzles, linear plot, time devouring game play). What I’d like to focus on is something that can be found in a host of futuristic games, movies, and books: modular technology with apparently infinite adaptability.

Throughout the game robots, pardon me, “droids,” engines and computers are constantly being damaged or destroyed. It would seem a strong grasp of quantum engineering has not led society to develop anything more durable then a Faberge egg. These items are almost always part of some annoying little riddle which can easily be solved by opening up various hatches and finding the egregiously named “spare part.”

The future is rife with spare parts. I picture a vastly advanced civilization which uses nanobots the way I use a fork and black holes the way I use a toaster. Also, instead of rats boarding every damn thing we build, sentient spare parts will lodge themselves in everything from the refuse bin to the heat duct.

In any case, any item in the game that is broken can easily be fixed by adding a number of spare parts to it, a number conveniently known before hand. Doesn’t matter the size, type or application, three of whatever the hell will fix a hyper drive. I like to mix it up, fixing one droid with a part I found in the storage locker and another with a part I found in an ion cannon. One step above tinker toys and one step below erector sets.

Now I’ll admit I know some clever fellows in mechanics and computers. I also remember a couple of years ago when the dream was a totally modular computer, basically a power supply with slots in it wherein a motherboard, hard drive etc. could be swapped out and in with ease. I refuse to believe, however, that no matter how advanced we become we will be able to adequately fix a fried cpu with a heating coil, a piston ring and one of those screws with triangular slots found on happy meals toys.

Infinitely advanced technology, yeah. Then why the hell can’t the things fix themselves, like those self-healing gels? Why aren’t they nigh impenetrable? I understand a laser or light saber or whatever the hell is exceedingly damaging, but if it can be fixed with two ball bearings and some telephone cable it ain’t that broken.

The sci-fi fantasy community needs to band together and rid themselves of this nuisance once and for all, even if it means the next time I play KofOR III I have to spend four hours finding the right sized bolt to fit a desk lamp.

This completely fails to bring me to my next topic: cell phone precognition. I freaking love this. I know why it happens and still I love it.

Before my cell rings, the phone has to receive data from the tower and then send back “yeah, I got it.” When it sends back this signal the little micro/radio/fairy waves interfere with the sensitive electronics/components/gnomes of computer monitors and speakers. Result: about 5 seconds before it rings monitors and computer speakers fizzle. Bam, I’m psychic.

Of course they continue to fizzle while it rings, and while I talk and whenever I smile to big, but what the hell. I still feel like a super cyber ninja, from space.

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