I am currently in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where I am working on a book. The following is a work in progress.
“There’s this Great Attractor thing, and no one knows what it is. Maybe a monster sphere made of gravity waves or something. Maybe a magnetic hole in the universe big enough for all the galaxies. Our sun and the other planets are flowing towards it, right? Flowing at millions of miles an hour. And then there’s the surface of the Earth…”
“...which is spinning.”
“Correct. Spinning and traveling ‘round the sun. Superfast. So, this ramshackle little prata place we’re in is actually moving at a zillion miles an hour. At least.”
Three something in the morning; we’re exhausted. Waiting. One minute feels like a long week. The policeman near the door flicks his lighter and the friction of its little rough metal circle is heard everywhere. Outside, in the canyon of night, a big motorcycle rides past, its roaring engine like a huge threat.Overhead, eight fluorescent lights: six are working. It will rain soon.
Sleeplessness stretches and magnifies perceptions-- very big bunches of bananas are upon the very big tables in this very big mamak stall. Big buns in clear plastic bags are are also on the tables. They hover like clouds. My kopi and her teh halia o kosong are the size of glass oil barrels. Half-formed dreams float into logical thoughts, then disappear. There are three huge customers. “Hotel California” blares, a reggae version.
The guy who took our order is probably a Bangladeshi. I catch his eye, point at the speaker and move my little hand down. “Great cover, but we can’t talk.”
“No problem, boss.”
“ Bob Marley?”
“Could be, boss. I’ll check.”
I look at my glass like I’m seeing coffee for the first time. Maybe her head is moving slightly back and forth to the rhythm. Relax said the white man, we are programmed to deceive. “It’s reggae and Mexican music together. I saw The Eagles once. I like it when musicians mix styles. Hybrids. Like Ziggy Stardust was rock and chanson.”
“Who? Ziggy Sparkle?”
“Bowie. David Bowie...Ziggy Stardust?”
“Boss, that’s the Moonshiners.” He’s carrying a huge cone of tissue prata on a silver plate.
The tops of the floating buns have burn marks that look like big black lips.
“You only listen to classical, right?”
“Not really. All kinds.”
“Like what? What was the last thing you downloaded?"
“A Chinese dance song. "My Little Apple"...”
“That seems about right. You remind me of a lawyer. But you’re not in thousand dollars an hour mode now, right? Maybe I’m wrong, wrong to say that. Hard to think straight right now...”
She rotates her glass mug. It’s half full. Looks around, looks at me. “So, is this speeding intergalactic prata place in your game?”
“Maybe. It’s interesting because it’s not interesting. Boring comes first. Then, back end stuff like static variables and resolution issues. I do what I can to keep the frame rate high. Make everybody happy without them knowing it. You make the little dull things exciting, the big things go boom. Megaboom! When a player actually enjoys an office level-- that’s gold. It’s about death and self-portraiture. Like all great art.“
“Great art...” She stops herself, rubs her finger on her glass of tea. ”And the Chinese asked you to make a game for Spring Valley?”
“Yep, biggest site-specific AR game ever. There’s a stadium. Four artificial islands with everything, like a city. There’s gonna be four, five hundred thousand residents. A million times better than Pokemon.”
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