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Eric: On the other hand, he *is* adorable.

Narbonic

(From Narbonic.)

A long, long time ago, as webcomics measure time (well, okay, 2004), Artie said something telling to Dave. Artie, for those few people reading my words who don't know from Narbonic, is a superintelligent gerbil created by the evil mad scientist Helen B. Narbon as... well, some kind of plot to destroy the world. It didn't really take, as it works out. Anyway, Artie was the only character who self-identified as 'good,' but he occasionally got disheartened, as he showed in this strip:

I never meant to do harm, but... I was created by an evil scientist, presumably for evil purposes. I sometimes worry that everything I do, no matter how well-intentioned, is doomed by my nature to end in madness, chaos and death.

That particular mission was intended to get a series of androids controlled by the evil Professor Madblood freed of his control once and for all. It seemed like they were successful, getting the androids to a safe haven in Winnepeg, Canada. Sadly, that simply gave their control over to a group of intelligent Objectivist hamsters who dismantled them to create humanoid walking suits with faces made out of paper plates.

I never said this stuff made sense. Just run with it.

But it comes back to a central point. Whenever Artie tries to do good, terrible things happen. In a way, he is Helen Narbon's crowning achievement -- a hero who does by accident what villains the world over have desperately tried to do on purpose.

And as we come to a horrible confrontation and the end of Narbonic, with Dave finally caught in the grips of sheer, unmitigated madness, now shacking up electronically inside his erstwhile girlfriend's supercomputer body (which would be weird, if he hadn't gender swapped on a fairly regular basis just to have kinkier sex with Helen as it is -- look, seriously, just run with it), Dave's old body lying on the ground with splattered brains everywhere, Helen desperately trying to outthink a mad scientist smarter than she is before he can destroy her and very possibly the world, all the while any real chance at happiness she ever had was lost months ago, and any chance to make Dave's descent into insanity a positive thing (for Narbon and the crew, anyhow) instead of a negative thing, I find myself thinking the same thing, over and over again.

"This is all Artie's fault."

Seriously, it is. Artie is the one who demanded that Helen end her experiments with Dave (which were progressing as Dave was, but even though Dave was becoming more dangerous, there was a solid sense of control -- not to mention his deep love for Helen to ameliorate his eventual descent into madness). Artie was the one who gave a million dollars to hamsters he knew nothing about, ultimately making them capable of destroying the entire world. Artie was the one who triggered the confrontation between Dave and Madblood that caused him to start cracking, leading to this situation. Artie was the one who didn't let Mell either kill Doctor Helen Narbon or Dave, after it became clear to Mell that Dave had to die.

Hell, when the future President Melody Kelly destroyed the entire universe to send matter back through time, she did it explicitly to save Artie, which means that an entire universe of living beings was slaughtered and destroyed on Artie's behalf.

If in fact the future is set in stone... if in fact Dave's trip through time was prophetic, then eventually a balding Dave will be the solitary master in Madblood's former lair, Helen's brain floating inside a giant tank, much of the world devastated by nuclear war. And just when it seems this world can't possibly get any worse, just remember -- Mell Kelly is the Vice President and is going to be the President, and then the entire universe is going to be destroyed.

We're heading in that direction, right now. Future.Mell told Dave that his last relationship was with a computerized hologram, which is almost certainly Lovelace. Unless Dave remembers the advice his future self gave him (and is in any mood to actually act on that advice), this is all going to come to past. Destruction, death, brain-tanks, President Mell, Universal Oblivion.

And it's all Artie's fault.

Evil tries its best, but you can only really screw things up if you have the best of intentions.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at August 18, 2006 12:01 AM

Comments

Comment from: Kazrak [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 12:14 AM

I've been thinking about this. I think this event is the linchpin of the future. This (from the future) is when Artie dies. And so, if Artie dies now...Mell gets to hear Hail to the Chief before she destroys the world. And, well, in Dave's position, nuking that threatening flying island is just a natural thing to do...

Comment from: Kazrak [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 12:59 AM

The other thing I've been thinking about recently is the Observer Effect. This is the idea that, in time travel, what a time traveller sees is fixed and cannot change - it has been Observed, and so changing it creates a paradox. (Now, they may not be seeing what they think they're seeing...) Part of me is wondering if this whole destroyed future thing is a prank on Mell's part (with Helen's help), played on Dave. But that doesn't make sense - it's too big, too many things that were done that wouldn't need to be (such as the video tape to Helen Sr.). However, I could quite easily see Dave, Helen, and Mell (maybe with Artie's help) rushing about trying to fix things up so that past-Dave saw what he needed to see in the future to prevent a temporal paradox...

Call it the "Noises Off Effect" if you need a name for it.

Comment from: Ford Dent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 1:14 AM

And the question comes around once again:

Did Helen plan for all of this? We all remember her manipulation of the Madblood android situation, which is how she kept Mel under control; was her plan all along to be in part responsible for the destruction of the world?

After all, all parties involved are her "creations." She created Artie, who (as you've displayed) sets things in motion. Dave is in essence her creation, it's been her decisions all along that have brought Dave to the brink of madness, as it were. The same can be said for Mel--Helen's her teacher.

Dave nukes the world, Mel eradicates the universe, and Helen floats in a tank as the mastermind of it all.

Comment from: Nentuaby [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 1:24 AM

Of course, we are taking it on faith here that the VHS's transmission would *actually* destroy the universe, and that the nuclear incident was really as destructive as it seems.

After all, we only have Mell's word on the first- never terribly reliable, and SHE was only getting it from her researchers. On the second, well, Dave never saw too terribly much of the world. Most questions about its actual state got "heh-heh-hehed."

I'm still pretty certain there are a few enormous twists left in this saga. :)

Comment from: Erik Larsen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 1:45 AM

And now all we need is a PvP snark for the trifecta; I think webcomics aren't the only ones hitting the New Fall Season. Damn, I've missed you, Eric :)

Comment from: roninkakuhito [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:11 AM

Well, we do have, in this particular universe, the fact that time travel can change the past's future, though not without some amount of messed up memories in the case of the traveller. While they are of different scales, making someone never have started smoking implies that you can also prevent the destruction of the universe.

Comment from: admanb [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:27 AM

The webcomics world just wasn't the same without you around Eric. :)

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:51 AM

The other question is, since Narbonic is supposed to end at the end of 2006, how is Garrity going to destroy the universe in four months? With the exception of that "Unstuck in Time" storyline, the story has been pretty straightforward, and stuck closely to "real time." I think that Garrity will either put things in a situation where they can't be reversed, or she will reverse them at the last minute. Either way, I'm pretty confident Artie will die. Whether his death will function as a point of no return or a sacrifice that saves the universe remains to be seen.
And Eric, kudos not only to the insane amount of work you've put up lately, but also for letting Garrity's storyline develop. A lot of your previous Narbonic snarks would pop up at a crucial point in the storyline, you'd guess several times as to how it is resolved, and when it was resolved, you wouldn't do another snark, for what reason I don't know. This time, you've waited it out, and gotten good results from it.
One last thing I need to get off my chest. The Little Nemo cartoons in Narbonic have so far functioned as foreshadowing (note the cartoon on Jan. 1, 2002, describes events that happen as late as August 2002). The last Little Nemo, of course, showed Helen falling down an infinite canvas, ending with her saying, "Oh" inches from the ground. Now here's the question: Does she say "Oh," because she realizes, too late, that she's going to hit, or does she say "Oh," because she stops in midair, right where the comic leaves her? This could be key to deciding what Narbonic's outcome will be.

Comment from: McMartin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 3:05 AM

Eric, you didn't link to the 2004 strip, so I will: http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/narbonic/series.php?view=archive&chapter=10167

Doug, I'd note that we really haven't had anything that maps conveniently to the *next-to-last* Little Nemo strip, either.

It's arguable -- barely -- that the "Oh! It is you! You are horrible!" confrontation is between the sane and mad aspects of Dave's personality, but as someone else pointed out to me, multiple Daves usually implies the involvement of the Dave Conspiracy. And the last we've heard of *them* is indirectly, when Mell was hired by them to off Alpha in the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil.

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 3:18 AM

I've been thinking about that actually. Right now, Helen is trying to prevent Dave from escaping from Madblood's lab. What do you think the odds are that he finds a clone of himself back at Narbonics Labs? That could possibly cover it. The first panel is obviously Mell's ultimatum to Helen- get rid of Dave or I kill him- and notice that Dave is dressed much differently than before. That could suggest his madness. Then again, I could be entirely off-base. Maybe someone who's more familiar with Little Nemo could make more out of it.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 7:55 AM

Ever since Helen stated that she doesn't like the side-effects of the cure for science madness, I've been wondering aloud in this space how she knows what they are - i.e., who she's been testing it on. You know, whatever they are, in deciding not to subject Dave to them - and in breaking up with him For His Own Good - she exercised a regard for consequence totally not in keeping with mad science. And now she's charging into Madblood's lair with the every intention of assisting Madblood in his, left to himself, incompetent efforts to keep Dave under control. I now believe Helen's test subject for the cure was herself.

Comment from: Bequita [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 8:03 AM

Eventually, Dave is going to end up in his clone. The minute Dave was cloned, one of them was going to go 'splortch' - it is the way of things.

I do think that events from Unstuck in Time in Narbonic will play out like the B5 episode the title was borrowed from - the moments will remain, but will mean something different in the proper context.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 8:58 AM

I'm thinkin' Artie's gonna die to save everybody. Surely there ain't only ONE version of the future in which Arties dies.

Comment from: baf [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 9:34 AM

Lest we forget: Artie created Dana. So Artie's culpability in the hamsters' actions goes beyond just supplying them with materials and funding.

In a way, the Artie/Dana story is like the Helen/Dave story in miniature. (Cough.)

Comment from: Stephen G [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 10:07 AM

I do think that events from Unstuck in Time in Narbonic will play out like the B5 episode the title was borrowed from

Note that the title was borrowed from the same source B5 borrowed it from: Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, which begins, "Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time."

Comment from: Stephen G [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 10:08 AM

Also, note the falling image from the Nemo comic and Future Dave's advice to refill the swimming pool.

Comment from: Freeptop [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 10:28 AM

"If in fact the future is set in stone..."

I'm surprised nobody else brought this up yet: Dave doesn't smoke. He never did.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 10:30 AM

Actually, I've been wondering about the whole deal with the Dave clone. Sure, I imagine that original Dave could easily take over the body of Dave'. However, Dave' has the cure for madness rearranging his brain. If Dave tries to take over Dave', maybe he'd become normal again, and be able to stop this all.

Or, maybe Dave will neutralize the cure in Dave', driving him mad and making two Daves that are causing problems.

Finally, let's keep in mind that mucking in time could cause the collapse of the entire universe. So attemptint to alter the timeline in a significant way (or maybe on top of alterations already done) could cause the universe to collapse - making it absolutely necessary that Dave kill Artie, make Helen a brain in a jar, and all that.

Comment from: vilious [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 10:49 AM

I beg to differ. If it were all Artie's fault, we would be looking at a straightforward anti-moral fable, with evil and madness taking the place of goodness and sanity. That would be kind of dumb. Garitty isn't dumb. Ergo, that isn't happening.

Artie is trying to act right while surrounded by evil. Under those circumstances, it is unlikely that anything he does will have any good effect. He can't judge his actions by their probable consequences, because no matter what he does, the consequences will probably be bad. All he can do is act on right principles and with good intent. Right principles and good intent say that you don't experiment on people without their informed consent, and particularly not on people you love. He told Helen that, and he was right. Dave is not trying to get revenge on Helen because he he has gone mad, but because she used him as a test subject while professing love for him. It is Helen's bad actions that are the cause of this situation, not Artie making her stop.

What Artie has to do now - and by "has to", I mean that he inevitably will, because whether or not the future is predetermined, character is destiny - is to try to explain to Dave that Helen let him go free because she loved him and because it was right to do. This will probably get him killed. We will see what the consequences of that will be.

Comment from: storiteller [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 11:03 AM

Ever since Helen stated that she doesn't like the side-effects of the cure for science madness, I've been wondering aloud in this space how she knows what they are - i.e., who she's been testing it on.

She tested it on the Dave-clone. Once she cloned Dave, she gave the clone the cure for mad science. The Dave-clone became boring and ordinary computer-geeky as a results, not at all the man that Helen was in love with. I don't think she has tested it on herself yet, but I think she'd considered it and that someone will have it tested on them before the end of the strip.

Comment from: Jon Lapak [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 11:18 AM

Thanks to the links, I just re-read the time travel arc. In it, Future Dave tells Current Dave that he must "refill the swimming pool" when the time comes.

I have no idea what that means, but I suspect that if the future is mutable it's going to become relevant very soon.

Also, we know that Helen definitely *didn't* test the cure on herself because she contemplates using it on herself just before teleporting to Madblood's lair.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 11:48 AM

Dammit.

Comment from: Abby L. [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 12:03 PM

That and when someone is cured of being a mad scientist, he or she no longer percieves things born of mad science and no longer really believes in it, as is evidenced by both Clone Dave being cured and the extra story in volume one where Helen goes sane.

I'm surprised nobody else brought this up yet: Dave doesn't smoke. He never did.

That's what I'm talking about. The future is changeable in this universe, and this is the proof. I'm glad because so far the future as we the readers know it is very depressing.

Comment from: sun tzu [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 1:43 PM

Holy crab, Eric, you're right. Amazing entry.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 1:49 PM

Fill the swimming pool up with that half mile of chocolate ganoche.

Comment from: Vosh [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:32 PM

Perhaps the future Dave, seen in Unstuck, is the Dave clone, sane from the drugs. That would explain Helen's comment that they'd never had a relationship - she didn't have one with the clone, right?

Or maybe not. Either way, Narbonic is great.

Comment from: Egarwaen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:34 PM

Artie is trying to act right while surrounded by evil. Under those circumstances, it is unlikely that anything he does will have any good effect.

I don't think so. Remember the incident with the gender-swap formula? (Last strip of Week of Dec 3-8, 2001) The start of the Doppleganger Gambit? (Third strip of Week of Dec 23-28, 2002) Signing over his money to the hamsters at the drop of a hat? The whole mess with Dana in the first place? The Madblood battle android union? Artie's just as mad as everyone else in the strip. (Mell included, I should note) He doesn't seem to consciously realize that he's mad, but subconsciously makes up for it by trying to "do good" in his "off time". Like pre-madness Dave, he doesn't necessarily have bad intentions, but he also does tend to be impulsive and easily swayed.

If anyone's a hero character, it's Zeta. And Antonio Smith, Forensic Linguist, of course.

Now, some interesting points about the future.. We know that Mell wasn't elected President, but we don't know who was. We know that the land around the former Madblood base is a blasted, radioactive wasteland. We know that the site of Zeno's Coffee House from the Unstuck in Time arc is a radioactive zone. So someone gets hit with either the missiles or the Dana Device. Take a look at Mell's bodyguards in the future. The hamsters are after Helen's transmogrification technology. Mell mentions mass extinctions. Hmmmm...

It's also worth noting that despite her being a brain-in-a-jar, Dave still appears to be working for Helen. She's the CEO of Narbonic Labs, Dave's just Dr. Davenport.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 2:36 PM

She never came out and said they never had a relationship. She avoided the question.

Mell, on the other hand, said that they had never been married.

And who cares if she's good or evil -- Zeta rocks! More Zeta!

Comment from: Chris: Wannabe Academic [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 4:04 PM

I do also beg to differ as to whom the finger should be pointing at. Dave, qua Dave, is mad. Or at least prior to the Everlasting Ices of the North, exhibited the criteria necessary to go mad. Narbonic, to me, is a romance, in the Northrop Frye sense of the word. It is a story about the discovery of identity. The sources for the most conflict in the story have been the confusions of the identities of the individuals, be it through gender-swapping, transmogrification, death and zombification, or just plain denial. This is a story about learning what it means to be oneself, whether that means Mad Dave or Mad Helen. Dave, qua Dave, truly loved Helen. He lied to himself about that, and so he turned to Lovelace in the Lovelace affair. But we saw how well that worked, didn’t we? The only moments of happiness for our cast are when they admit to the truth. Dave and Helen first kissed (and then more than kissed, in Zero – G, no less) when they were being truthful and admitted things. It was Helen’s attempt to conceal Dave’s true identity to himself that drove them apart, that drove even Helen’s internal conflict. It was her last parting Lewis Carrol allusion that truly unlocked the Madness that resided in him. Do I feel Helen is truly at fault? Not as much. She is only human, albeit mad. But I do feel she acted as unwise, if not more, than Artie.


He is adorable, yes.

Comment from: ApM [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 4:17 PM

Just to nitpick: It's spelled "Winnipeg".

It's a wonderful place when it's not winter! Really!

Comment from: J.(Channing)Wells [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 4:23 PM

"This is a story about learning what it means to be oneself."

One could make the argument that the strip is also about learning what it means to be Dave, considering that no fewer than three principals have been transmogrified or nearly transmogrified into him at various points in the storyline.

Comment from: Chris: Wannabe Academic [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 4:35 PM

One could make the argument that the strip is also about learning what it means to be Dave, considering that no fewer than three principals have been transmogrified or nearly transmogrified into him at various points in the storyline.

A very good point, and it has a pleasing unity to it that a good many of my ideas lack.

Comment from: Egarwaen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 18, 2006 4:41 PM

One could make the argument that the strip is also about learning what it means to be Dave, considering that no fewer than three principals have been transmogrified or nearly transmogrified into him at various points in the storyline.

And what it means to be Dave is, in fact, a very complex question. Can you picture Dave with a cigarette? I know I can't!

Comment from: Nerrin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 19, 2006 3:03 PM

I'm convinced that the Future Dave is still the insane Dave, mainly in how he talks and the fact that his glasses are clear instead of the sane-Dave opaque (and how current-Dave's glasses went clear when he went mad). I know that the two younger Daves also had clear glasses, but this could just be a matter of aesthetics, or a statement that humans aren't naturally "sane" but become adjusted into it as we grow up. I'm inclined to the latter explanation, though I am likely very wrong.

Also, a thought. In the future, might the "recording" of Future Dave in fact /be/ the Future Dave? Supposing Dave' is still around, he could be used as a biological "node" of Dave, the body that Dave jumped into when he was unstuck. The hologram might not have been a recording, then -- 20 years is a long time to remember the precise details of a conversation like that, and we have no indication Dave has an eidetic memory (while Artie points out his own eidetic memory several times). Our two major mad scientists, Madblood and Helen, both express some kind of pain and even regret at their own madness, and Dave may wish to prevent it from happening if he can (I wonder how many mad scientists would pay Helen good money for the cure once she announced it). Except he's mad, which means he can't explain it in a straightforward manner to himself no matter how much he wants to. (Which makes me also think the Princess Leia impersonation in the hologram, "Help me, Dave, you're my only hope," is much more than just a joke. It's the clearest way a mad Dave can speak to himself about there being a real danger.)

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 19, 2006 6:13 PM

From today's strip, I can safely say....

...holy fuck.

Comment from: Doug Wykstra [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 19, 2006 7:30 PM

"Holy Fuck" is putting it mildly. Also, I could have sworn that somebody on this site predicted a 2001 joke coming up. I can't find who did it now. Whoever it was, bask in the warm comforting state of mind that is being right.

Comment from: Miller [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 19, 2006 9:35 PM

Egarwaen said: "I'm convinced that the Future Dave is still the insane Dave, mainly in how he talks and the fact that his glasses are clear instead of the sane-Dave opaque (and how current-Dave's glasses went clear when he went mad). I know that the two younger Daves also had clear glasses, but this could just be a matter of aesthetics, or a statement that humans aren't naturally "sane" but become adjusted into it as we grow up. I'm inclined to the latter explanation, though I am likely very wrong."

I've been wondering myself about what the sudden switch to transparent lenses meant for Dave. The "mad people see clearly" idea is seductive, but Madblood (whom we've never seen sane) has opaque lenses, too. I think it's probably just aesthetic.

Dave really is adorable when you can see his pupils, though.

(What? Artie? Oh, yeah, I guess he's adorable, too.)

Comment from: sun tzu [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 19, 2006 9:42 PM

I concur - "Holy Fuck" IS putting it mildly.
I was expecting Lovelace to meet an unhappy fate ever since her romance with Dave started...But this? Like I said in the Narbonic boards, it's a real kick in the guts.
Oh, it is possible that, through the magic of backups or whatever, she may be salvageable. Nothing guarantees it, though. And that Dave would, without hesitation, do something like this...to Lovelace, of all people...
Narbonic has suddenly become very, very scary.

Comment from: Mr Myth [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 12:24 AM

Yeah. I think scary is really the term to use.

Myself, I know I'm an optimist at heart, and look for the so-called 'happy ending' in stories - but even if I was a bit more of a realist, I don't think I could see Dave acting so... so dark.

I mean, Helen's been saying for ages how much of a danger Dave would be once he went mad, and I just didn't believe it.

Now?

Now I damn. well. believe.

Comment from: Ford Dent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 7:06 AM

Sweet Christ, I miss one update and look what happens.

This is no longer the Dave we've known and loved. That Dave never killed anyone. This new Dave is, as Helen predicted, relentless in pursuit of his goals. He's going to get out, and I don't think Helen and Madblood are going to be enough to stop him.

Comment from: Egarwaen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 11:09 AM

I've been wondering myself about what the sudden switch to transparent lenses meant for Dave.

The impression I got from the "Dave goes mad" panel the first time I saw it was that he suddenly looked like a kid. Specifically, like a kid who'd suddenly been exposed to something really, really horrifying.

Like a kid, I think Dave's now kind of vague on a few basic concepts. Like "other people are real and I shouldn't hurt them".

Comment from: abb3w [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 11:14 AM

As an insane computer geek (currently on medication with medium effect), let me throw in a few items. First, in regards to the fate of Lovelace, two words: BACKUP COPY. Dave, prior to going mad, was a highly comptent computer geek, with excellent disaster recovery plans routinely in place. (See the February 4th 2002 comic; sorry no link, but WCN is 404 from where I sit today; I'm working from a local copy.) You can't tell me that he wouldn't have a backup scheme in place... especially (given his current workplace) one designed to handle a nuclear strike or an AI running amuck. Still, this may put a damper on Lovelace's affection for Dave.

Next, let me agree with the assessment that Artie is as Mad as the rest. Evidence the comic from February 8th, 2001: I have been assured by my psychiatrist that seeing pixies is a bad sign for the sanity. However, the "clear glasses" theory of sanity is also worrisome, when you consider the time travel arc (EG, August 3, 2003). What trauma could possibly have driven teenage Dave sane?

Third, let me suggest that the July 10th 2006 comic is evidence that the time travel story put Dave into the clone, and that the hologram "recording" was indeed the now-uploaded Dave. I'll wager $2 to the first person who'll take the wager that the "first dome" is where the Lovelace (now Dave) Supercomputer is housed.

Penultimately, as far as the New Year's 2006 Nemo strip, the question is whether the Artic swimming pool beneath is full, or empty?

And last... exactly how much ganache is going to hit the propeller blades, since Zeta now has indications (2006/06/22) that neither Artie nor she are human?

Comment from: Egarwaen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 1:32 PM

What trauma could possibly have driven teenage Dave sane?

College and/or MIT Student Dave Barker.

As for Lovelace, I feel compelled to point out that she e-mails herself from the exploding moonbase to safety in the "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit". Thus while humans may consider a copy from a recording or archive to be a different person, Lovelace definitely considers it to still be her. Of course, she also probably wouldn't be particularly happy with Dave...

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 1:59 PM

As for Lovelace, I feel compelled to point out that she e-mails herself from the exploding moonbase to safety in the "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit".

And I'm sure she would do so again....

...had Madblood not killed her internet access.

(I suspect that yes, Dave backed up her code several times since they were tweaking it, and he was sane at the time so he'd follow good coding practices. At the same time....)

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 3:05 PM

If nothing else, I imagine Madblood has some backups. This is a man who felt he needed no less than 15,000 robot duplicates of himself. You're telling me that Madblood wouldn't be meticulous about creating backups of Lovelace?

Comment from: abb3w [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 3:43 PM

For one of the best allegorical discussions of the "Copy versus Original" question since the first posing of the Argo problem, see John Barnes "The Armies of Memory." It's the fourth in his "Thousand Cultures" series, which while not a Legacy For The Ages, is worth borrowing if your local library has it.

Madblood didn't kill Lovelace's internet access; he firewalled it. What with Dave having been tweaking the code lately, that may not have been enough. Helen's instinct to kill the DSL cables may have trapped Dave... but it may also have prevented a last backup of Lovelace. The time window was probably too narrow.

On the other hand... smaller servers that can't run an AI may have enough space to store an incremental backup. And Dave is focused on revenge — how can revenge on the woman who dumped you be complete without finding someone better to live Happily Ever After with?

The question is, does Dave truly need Lovelace for his revenge... or does he just want her for her "body"?

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 4:14 PM

Also, looking through the archives again...

Who went to Madblood's lair to take the job? Who was the one who set Artie up on the Internet, which resulted in Artie forming his philosophy which prompted him to give a million bucks to homicidal hamsters? Who ignored Artie's pleas for help in stopping the hamster threat? Who guided the Madblood robots to the hamsters, giving them the resources to enact their plan?

Most of all, who gave Artie the plan to use the intelligence serum on gerbils not created to withstand it, which resulted in the creation of Dana and by extension the hamsters about to nuke the world?

Let's face it - Dave has doomed us all.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 6:44 PM

If nothing else, I imagine Madblood has some backups. This is a man who felt he needed no less than 15,000 robot duplicates of himself. You're telling me that Madblood wouldn't be meticulous about creating backups of Lovelace?

Megalomania does not work that way. You don't think, "I want 15,000 robot duplicates of myself! And to rule the world! And to make a slave of my one near-equal in this world without resorting to mind control, just with the force of my personality! And weekly backups of all my data! Bwahaha!"

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 7:13 PM

By the way, where is Artie in all of this?

And someone has to survive this, right? Right?

Comment from: abb3w [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 20, 2006 8:06 PM

Paul: agreed. Megalomania does not lead one to make backups. Paranoia leads one to make backups. Which Dave has taken in with his coffee on a regular basis ever since he first interviewed with Narbonic Labs. Which paranoia, in turn, is why his first serious piece of mayhem on going librarian-poo was... making a backup of his important personal data. So to speak.

The scary thing is how much I identify with Dave. Grabbing for another (remote) backup copy would be the obvious first move, followed by the nukes.... which, in both cases, Helen anticipated. Drat. Potential weapon which Helen may not have anticipated.... Aha.

COFFEEMAKER.

Of course, Helen is a Mad Genius, too. (Of a caliber to make Lupin look merely Piqued Savant; he's clearly struggling to keep up here.) She's probably going to ask for a list of what Dave's been working on at the base since he arrived; expect Mel to meet coffeemaker shortly, so that's probably out. On the other hand, I think Beta's already made one error in her strategy tree. She worried about small servos making big servos... not small servos making much smaller servos. Hurry with that, then find some titanium to scavenge on the base at later leisure.

There was going to be a teleporter here in twenty years; if that's still around, what can I do with that? Steal a satelite uplink at earliest convenience. Ooh, and I'll be able to get a backup and the new season of Battlestar Galactica.

But those are just side issues; annoying bosses are lower priority on the revenge list than ex-lovers. Oh, wait, what about those annoying gerbils? They have a weapon, which the force field protects against; turn off the protective forcefield (with the power, for good measure), or possibly just restrict it to the main computer core. Now, how to get them to use it? Maybe shoot at them with something other than the nukes? Where were those auxilary weapons controls for the exterior cannons and death rays.... Or I could try to get Mel to shoot at them. Decisions, decisions.

Comment from: McMartin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 21, 2006 12:36 AM

Mell will probably survive.

Comment from: Egarwaen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 21, 2006 12:49 AM

And I'm sure she would do so again....

...had Madblood not killed her internet access.

The point I was trying to make is that Lovelace doesn't particularly care. As far as she's concerned, the backup is her. The question of souls that humans face (provably, in the case of the Narbonicverse) doesn't seem to come up for her. She'd be miffed at Dave, but on the level of "You ass, you just punched me!" rather than "You ass, you just killed me!"

Now, this doesn't address the question of whether or not there are backups of her anywhere. It would be the sensible thing to do but, after all, that's why it's mad science.

(Though I'm guessing that, in the cosmology of the Narbonicverse, souls would follow backups as long as the original wasn't still around. I'm betting it follows the same principles as reanimating Dave's dead body.)

Comment from: Wistful Dreamer [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at August 24, 2006 9:58 PM

Backups aren't important, what Dave actually did is what is important. We could very easily not see Lovelace again before the end of the strip and things be okay (I'm guessing we won't see Dr. Narbon Sr. again either, to no ill effect). What we cannot abide is the knowledge that Dave MURDERED the innocent woman/program that loved him in an attempt at revenge against the not-so-innocent woman whom toyed with him and (he thinks) doesn't love him. (I know, murder is an odd word to use amongst people that routinely take over the world or turn people into ant-men, but it's a big deal in the confines of the genre). Dave can nuke the whole world and it be part of the naughty bad mad scientist fun (we are rooting for the bad guys here, after all). If Dave just murdered Lovelace, this becomes something else entirely. Destroying the ones that love you for an insane cause works in something like Antigone or the Tempest, but here it is completely out of place and very, VERY scary.

I still think we aren't seeing the big picture. Too many unclosed plotlines. Zeta needs to learn her true nature (I had assumed she and Artie would couple off in the end, but then he went gay), foot hasn't had any major role, Antonio smith is still unconcious, and caliban doesn't even know anything is happening. It's a prognosticator's cop-out, but I have to say, "we haven't yet seen the method behind this madness."

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