Monday, October 5, 2009

Cthulhu and Python

Andrew Kuchling broached the topic on twitter so I think that makes it fair game.

For those of you who don't know H.P. Lovecraft wrote the short fiction horror story The Call of Cthulhu in 1926. The story would only become popular much later, and only in recent decades it has been every sci-fi writer's rite of passage to embellish and extend the genre. It is to those authors what The Aristocrats joke is to stand-up comedians - everyone tries to take the same idea and make it their own. Like The Aristocrats the Cthulhu Mythos is widely pursued because it is opened ended (inviting mutations) and nobody gets sued for riffing on it.

There are some sci-fi authors that routinely include Python in their fiction. Charlie Stross is one of those; as it happens at a PyCon I was chatting with a developer who was extolling Stross's work (his girlfriend happened to be DoD and working on a counter virus predicted by Stross and which Stross named in his book after a 1967 experimental Swedish soft-core movie). I had recently read and enjoyed Stross's short variation on the Cthulhu mythos A Colder War (in which Ollie North and Reagan damn us all to Hell using not nukes, but instead weakly godlike beings) and I've been a Stross fan ever since.

Charlie has featured python-3000 in his last couple books, the first of which was put out when py3.0 was just a joking reference. His politics are plain enough (though Scottish he's more of a Fabian Socialist) but his writing is tight so the occasional implausibilities (python dominates the world; the US economy becomes third world in ten years) are forgivable.

I would have tiwttered all that, but the medium doesn't allow it.