Dresden Codak

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raudorn
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Dresden Codak

Postby raudorn » Wed Aug 30, 2017 6:46 pm UTC

First, allow me to make a few observations:
  • The comic can be found here
  • The current story line, Dark Science, has gone into the fourth (and final?) arc.
  • Somehow, there's no forum thread for DC yet. How?
  • The comic has been going on for a while, so presumably a few people might've heard of it.

Now, onto the rambling part:
I am confused. About Dark Science in particular and the continuity of the comic in general. Before Dark Science we had a collection of one-shots, some recurring themes and then the big Hob arc. Hob picks up the themes and the general lore of the strips before it and spins it into a tale about human ascension, for lack of a better word. As far as I can tell, while Hob starts in the canon Codakverse, it represents one possible timeline for what could've happened to Kimiko and its end doesn't leave much room for further stories.
The thing is, that I have a large amount of doubts that there even is something that could be called canon in the Codakverse. The one-shots contradict each other one occasion and Hob spun things beyond a point where there can be coherent worldbuilding without, like, a hundred pages specifically dedicated to explaining what the world looks like after Hob.

So what does that leave us for Dark Science? From the beginning I couldn't really tell how it fit into the loose canon and that hasn't really improved. I do like the arc itself, no doubts about it, but I'm left with the impression that it reboots canon (far stronger than Hob did?) and will leave things once again in a state of unclear canonicity.
The solution here might be to simply accept that Dresden Codak will never a coherent canon and such a thing might even be detrimental to what its trying to tell us. Still, stories demand to be analysed.

Thoughts?

Edit: Wrote Hub, but it's Hob. Fixed.

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Pfhorrest
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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:58 am UTC

i share your questions but don't have answers

general impression i had at the beginning is that dark science follows after hob in the same timeline, that being a timeline where people from a future that may or may not happen now intervened in the present. those events left kim with the cyborg arm, which she still has at the start of dark science, so it seems like they're in the same universe, same timeline, but i can't really piece together a real big picture of it all.

her parents and that rising sun icon seem to have a lot to do with it though.
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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby raudorn » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:11 pm UTC

You might be entirely right, here. I reread Hob and Dark Science and have now to conclude that my initial assessment was built on my own faulty memory. Not only is Hob very much continueable, it's almost suspicious how much of the ending seemed like a Reset Button.

Before Hob, Kim was a plucky mad scientist with a famous father and a low opinion of humans.

During Hob, Kim got the memories of future1!Kim downloaded into her, where future1!Kim was a "mediator" between the remnants of humans and the superintelligence "Mother". Presumably she still has that memory?

At the end of Hob, all the technology from future1 as well as all the machines and humans ascend to the heavens and are gone from Earth.

After Hob, Kim is now a regular human again, even if a cyborg one. The question is if the Codakverse allows for multiple futures or only closed time loops. If it were the latter, wouldn't Kim know it from the memories she got during Hob? Hm, unless those were conveniently removed during the ascension. The closed loop would also explain why this strip from Hob looks an aweful lot like this strip from Dark Science.

With Dark Science, we realise that either Kim had false memories to begin with or Nephilopolis is misinformed about the state of the world, which is very likely with the state of the Department of Empiricism as shown. Interestingly, the map in the strip above also suggests that the world (of Nephilopolis) is much like ours, except sufficiently far in the future to allow for significant sea level rise or maybe some other event caused basins to be flooded.
Dark Science also introduced the floating islands and the giant shells of... something, which presumably have existed for at least a century or so, but probably for much longer.

Long story short, up until the later parts of Dark Science, it kinda does make sense, even if we still don't know for sure in which future the story continued. And hopefully the mystery of false memories and destinies and parentage will be explained later on.

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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:21 pm UTC

Oh wow, I didn't realize there hadn't been a Dresden Codak thread before now. I love this comic so much.

As far as continuity with Hob, Aaron has said on his blog that Dark Science and Hob share continuity, but Dark Science is self contained. There are references to Hob in Dark Science, but Hob doesn't contain any hints or necessary story information for understanding Dark Science.

In Hob Here Kim speculates that actually meeting visitors from the future implies multiple and/or branching timelines as a single, closed timeline would involve too much danger of paradoxes. A few pages later Kim deduces the actual method of time travel used and indicates again a branching-timeline.

Interestingly, the map in the strip above also suggests that the world (of Nephilopolis) is much like ours, except sufficiently far in the future to allow for significant sea level rise or maybe some other event caused basins to be flooded.


Can't be significant sea-level rise as Florida and other low-elevation coastal areas are still clearly depicted. Also, a waterway connecting the Pacific ocean to the Gulf of Mexico through the Rockies (and therefor the Continental Divide) is extremely improbable. The map looks to me more like some kind of catastrophic tectonic event. Possibly a result of the war with the Nephilim 6,000 years ago, which seems to be some sort of stalled or aborted Singularity similar to the one shown in Hob. The landscape of Nephilopolis with the floating islands and arches all over the place looks a lot like the landscape from the post-singularity future in Hob.

I'm having all kinds of thoughts and ideas while writing this, it's getting hard to put them down in a structured way.


Supposition:
Near the end of Hob, we see Kim has come around and sees Humanity as a necessary component of the Singularity, while "future1!Kim" believed Humanity should allow the singularity to obviate them.

Dark Science is the far future of the world of Hob. Giantslayer Kim is the Kim from Hob, fighting on behalf of Humanity against the Nephilim which represent the forces of the Singularity willing to abandon them. The war ended in some kind of stalemate where the Nephilim were left broken all over the landscape but Giantslayer Kim was imprisoned under what would later become Nephilopolis.
Nephilopolis Kim is the Giantslayer rescued by Kim Young-Soo, the false Kaito Kusanagi. Her apparent false memories may from a world (and solar system) transformed by the Singularity.

Theory:
Nephilopolis was created or has become a method for stagnating technological progress. The best and brightest are attracted there and then obstructed and ultimately broken down and cowed by it's obtrusively omnipresent bureaucracy. This in some way serves the interests of The Morningstar and the other 'Dark Scientists' who are neither on the side of the Nephilim nor the Giantslayer. Though what side they are on and what their goals are other than apparently holding Humanity in technological and scientific stasis is unclear.

Or I could be completely wrong, and this could all just be apophenia.
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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 01, 2017 4:49 am UTC

I may be recalling incorrectly but I had the distinct impression that Dark Science started off with Kim recovering from her injuries at the end of Hob, and then going off to Nephilopolis from there afterward because her house burned down or she was looking for her father or something? (I think her father maybe visited her at the hospital but she was asleep and just missed him, or something?) So I had the impression that Dark Science was happening soon after Hob, not thousands of years in the future. Unless we were seeing Kim's false memories in the beginning, but that seems very weird.

I think I remember that during the Hob timeline we saw flashbacks to Kim's parents when they were young, being some kind of archaologists in South America maybe, and discovering something with that rising-sun imagery. So it seems possible that this war with the Nephilim happened 6,000 years before our present, which is presumably when Hob happened, and Hob doesn't take place in our world, but in a different world, with differences that only became apparent after we saw more of it in Dark Science. Maybe wherever in North America (presumably) Kim was living at the start of Hob is more or less like our world, but there's the differences we see on that map in Dark Science, and somewhere far away is Nephilopolis.

I do like your theory about the events of 6ka being an aborted singularity, and with time travel already known to be a thing in this universe, it's possible that the world at the start of Hob was already the after-effects of some (other) future's intervention in history 6ka. That date, and the Biblical names (Nephilim, The Morningstar, etc), seem like they're intentionally suggestive of some kind of Abrahamic creation myths being based in actual sciency events in the past.

Also, the impression that I got about the end and 'moral' of Hob, is that Mother wasn't going to destroy the world or wipe out humanity or organic life or anything like that, she was turning the world into a beautiful garden of living organic computronium organisms. Like how everywhere Hob stepped, flowered bloomed, and Kim discovered that the flowers were made of stuff capable of computing. Mother was good, trying to do good things, she didn't "control" the Mediators, they just understood what she was doing, and the rest of humanity were just terrified of something they didn't understand and smashed it all, to their own ruin, out of fear.
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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:20 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I may be recalling incorrectly but I had the distinct impression that Dark Science started off with Kim recovering from her injuries at the end of Hob, and then going off to Nephilopolis from there afterward because her house burned down or she was looking for her father or something? (I think her father maybe visited her at the hospital but she was asleep and just missed him, or something?) So I had the impression that Dark Science was happening soon after Hob, not thousands of years in the future. Unless we were seeing Kim's false memories in the beginning, but that seems very weird.


That's the end/epilogue of Hob. Dark Science begins with Kim financing Vonnie's brother making terrible film maladaptions of classic novels in order to capture the dead authors' indignation as a clean energy source. But the movies flop at the box office and the plan fails, so the bank blows up her house. The contrast between the destroyed cityscape at the end of Hob, and the heavily weathered rural coastline of the beginning of Dark Science give me a sense that a long time has passed, though I suppose it's also possible the two locations are not supposed to be geographically proximal.

Reading through the archives again, I noticed here that the floating base of Nephilopolis was apparently discovered in '1884'. So the Dark Science Timeline definitely has some timey-wimey shenanigans going on. Though we don't know the current in-universe year/date of either story, so we can't really use that to determine any kind of relation between them. (Also, Kim is referred to as being from 'the Pacific Frontier' in Dark Science, while the page above indicates Nephilopolis is in Arizona.)

We know the Hob timeline diverges from the one the Time Colonists come from several millions of years ago or longer when Hob arrived via a naturally occurring wormhole, but presumably developed along a parallel path until the events depicted in Hob. It's possible that the future humans who sent Hob through a wormhole back in time may have sent many Hobs through many wormholes and Hob and Dark Science may two different timelines they invaded.

Also, the impression that I got about the end and 'moral' of Hob, is that Mother wasn't going to destroy the world or wipe out humanity or organic life or anything like that, she was turning the world into a beautiful garden of living organic computronium organisms. Like how everywhere Hob stepped, flowered bloomed, and Kim discovered that the flowers were made of stuff capable of computing. Mother was good, trying to do good things, she didn't "control" the Mediators, they just understood what she was doing, and the rest of humanity were just terrified of something they didn't understand and smashed it all, to their own ruin, out of fear.


This is the page I was talking about (I had thought the mediator Kim 'talks' with here was a future version of herself, though I see now that's not obviously true. It's may just be 'a' mediator instead of Future Kim). Mother wasn't trying to destroy or wipe out the humans, but she was indifferent to them. Over time, it appears the mediators also grew increasingly separate from and indifferent towards Humanity. The Mediators are content to allow humanity to die off, and it is this attitude that seems to spur the Humans to action, to save themselves and also to destroy the 'Mother' that would abandon them to their fate. Here we see Kim take the stance that Human's are an integral part of what the Machines are evolving into, and only together are they able to fulfill their true potential and ascend.

The message of Hob appears to be that the machines need humans, the time colonists come from a time where machines have disregarded and even scorned humans, to their ultimate detriment.

in Dark Science, we see a society where humans have largely disregarded and scorned the machines, and that doesn't seem to be going very well for them either.

Kaito Kusanagi wrote: Never say "us" and "them."
You separate Man from His tools-
take His clothes, His history and His language away... He becomes an animal.
The Machines... They are the hands and we are the head. Only together do we make Humanity.
Roosevelt wrote:
I wrote:Does Space Teddy Roosevelt wrestle Space Bears and fight the Space Spanish-American War with his band of Space-volunteers the Space Rough Riders?

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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby raudorn » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:53 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Can't be significant sea-level rise as Florida and other low-elevation coastal areas are still clearly depicted. Also, a waterway connecting the Pacific ocean to the Gulf of Mexico through the Rockies (and therefor the Continental Divide) is extremely improbable. The map looks to me more like some kind of catastrophic tectonic event.

You can't hardly expect me to know the geography of some obscure continent like North America. *cough* Yeah, a straight through the Rocky Mountains would mean something slightly more catastrophic than sea level rise. The point about the Nephilim War is a good one. It connects to Dark Science with the Giantslayer Kim and "only" throws up the question of how she got to the past or alternatively what kind of advanced civilization spawned her.

EdgarJPublius wrote:This is the page I was talking about (I had thought the mediator Kim 'talks' with here was a future version of herself, though I see now that's not obviously true. It's may just be 'a' mediator instead of Future Kim)

I thought so too at first, but a surface analysis of the exact grammar and content says the mediator is either future1!Kim or future1!Mother speaking through Kim in the following pages. "I don't want to remember you." and "A long time ago, in the future, I came to understand..." are both rather ambiguous as to who "I" is.

The false memory thing is a bit annoying, though. It's certain that Kim in Dark Science has some false memories and it's also heavily suggested that Nephilopolis is kept in the Dark about the true state of the world to some extent, but if we throw both in together it means that pretty much any and all speculation is moot until the end of the story line. The comic has already once provided an "explanation" of things only to go "Psyche! Just kidding!" a few pages later.

One thing where speculation might not be entirely futile yet is the question of Kim's parentage. The "Kusanagi is a fake character" thing seems solid now, as we got the perspective of the department mezzodes on it and not through the filter of potentially false memories. If we assume Kim Young-Soo is Kimiko's real father, that... explains not a lot and is almost certain to be wrong.
If he awakened and "adopted" the Giantslayer then why give her this elaborate backstory? Presumably to mold her into a form where she acts in his interests without him being there. So basically Kim never really was an ordinary human, but a legendary warrior from a past transhuman civilization that got manipulated into thinking she was a "normal" teenage girl for the purpose of fighting a conflict that has stalled presumably for a long time. Well, hell of a backstory.

Actually, scratch whatever I just said. What I really want to say is: The whole false memories thing is really fucking annoying, especially since it has the potential to invalidate the entire Hob arc retroactively and I hope it gets resolved soon and without further ambiguity. Yeah, I'm sure that will happen...

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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:31 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:
Kaito Kusanagi wrote:The Machines... They are the hands and we are the head. Only together do we make Humanity.

That reminds me suspiciously of Kim's alternate-prehistory fanfiction. Has anyone counted how many moons are in the sky in Dark Science?
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Re: Dresden Codak

Postby EdgarJPublius » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:50 pm UTC

I dunno how I missed it before, but I found a (more-or-less) solid link between the Hob and Dark Science timelines.

Exhibit 1 from Hob's epilogue" Kimiko is in the hospital and is visited by Kaito, who gives here a pocketwatch containing a picture of him and Serena with a very young Kimiko.
Exhibit 2 from Dark Science: We see the same (or a very similar) scene. Kaito, allegedly wearing a 'bad disguise' visits Kim in the hospital after her run in with Hob and the time colonists, with what appears to be the same pocket watch (although we are not shown it's contents).
Exhibit 3 from much later in Dark Science: Melchior reveals that he was unable to find evidence of Kimiko Ross existing prior to her appearing in a hospital seven years ago.

However, there are some complications.
Here Balthazar says that the last time Kaito was seen alive was 7 years ago, around the same time Melchior found the first concrete evidence of her existence. But Kimiko says the meeting with her Father in the hospital happened 3 years after that, which would therefore be 3 years after Melchior says she first turned up in a hospital. Was she in that hospital for 3 years? Did she turn up in a hospital, then spend three years running a nostalgia clinic before the events of Hob put her in another hospital where her father visits her?

Another interesting thing about that page, Balthazar shows Kimiko a photo of a young Kaito with the rising sun symbol on a chalkboard, from 40 years ago (or 40 years before the interview from 7 years ago, so really 47 years ago I guess?). Well before the appearance of Kimiko, and according to Lilith on this page no photograph exists of Kaito before 33 years ago, years after the photo Balthazar has was taken. And Kim Young-Soo was an architect, not an engineer, scientist, or presumably mathematician, it seems unlikely he'd have any connection to the rising sun symbol before assuming the role of Kaito Kusangi. Also, Kim Young-Soo would have been like 8 when that photo was taken.

Here Melchior told Balthazar that Serena Ross didn't exist. However, Kaito mentions her name in the final interview he gave before disappearing shown to Kimiko by Balthazar Here

Something else I noticed, when Kimiko first meets Allisa Caspar, Alisa calls her 'Azrael' before learning her name. The Giantslayer was called Azra-el Memita. What that means I have no idea.

There's also the newspaper clipping of 'Local Teen Finds Wormhole' that is found in one of Kaito's boxes marked with the rising sun symbol here and shows up again here when Vonnie-as-Leviathan confronts Kimiko. What the significance of that is I don't know either. Though I will note that since Hob was carrying a wormhole, when Kimiko finds Hob, she is a ''teen' who 'finds a wormhole'...

I don't think Hob is a manufactured memory. For one thing, even after she leaves the hospital we see the aftermath in the destroyed city. And the Tokamak twins appear to be aware of what happened. Though now I'm not 100% sure that the Tokamak twins and tiny Carl Jung aren't manifestations of her mind...
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