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Nethack Where You Don't Expect It: I decided to do something similar to my adventure to find the first known mention of the ARPAnet in popular culture. I'd find books that mentioned Nethack but were not books on computers or game design.

This adventure was fun but noticeably less successful. There were a number of government documents and books about oil mentioning "nethack agreements", but this was just an OCR error for "netback". I also saw one "setback" become "nethack".

There was a collection of User Friendly comics and one of BBspot news stories. I found only one work of prose fiction that mentioned the game Nethack: "Dyl", a self-published piece of French SF by Mirko Vidovic. Here's my machine-aided English translation of part of the section called "Rogue":

The system, which had seemed to boot normally, was suddenly seized with hiccups. The screen was going mad. Instead of presenting the expected prompt, Dyl found himself in the middle of a game of Hack, the successor to Rogue, itself the originator of Nethack.

"The system has managed to intercept the launching of Sarge [the Debian release?], and substituted the utility routines which it considers best suited to a strategic confrontation. Something tells me that in these dungeons are two antagonists which expect me," whistled Dyl. "I will play the game, go down there and beat them both."

Michael P. Kube-McDowell's "Vectors" contains the string "nethack", but it's a cyberpunk nonsense word ("covered with nethack gear"), possibly used as an in-joke.

Marylin Schrock's "Wake Up, Church! The Enemy Is Within Your Gates!: Astral Projection and The Church" tries to bring 80s-style Bible-thumping fantasy buzzkill into the Internet era by, near as I can tell, taking claims of astral projection at face value and blaming it all on Satan. Its big section on "Astral Projection in Our Culture" (hey, Wikipedia didn't want it[0]) says: "The astral plane is the final level of the computer game Nethack. The player must sacrifice the Amulet of Yendor to a deity in order to win." Otherkin, mentioned on the same page, are apparently an even bigger problem than Nethack.

On the other end of the spectrum, a Christian nerd with the ominous nom de plume of "Anakin Niceguy" has self-published "Rethinking 'Getting Serious about Getting Married' : A Biblical Response to Debbie Maken's Book and to the Assault on Unmarried Men by Religious Leaders". I know that religious leaders were always mounting assaults on me until I got married. Here's the Nethack graf:

A bachelor may indeed have his "golf or other hobbies" but married people have their weddings, receptions, honeymoons, McMansions, oversized SUVs [several other stereotypical status symbols elided], and piano lessons for Junior to make the parents proud. As a lawful [sic] as these things are, I fail to see how they bring a soul any closer to God than the time a single man spends in front of the computer playing NetHack.

I'm not really sure what is up with Benjamin Rowe's "The 91 Parts of the Earth", but I doubt Marilyn Shrock would approve of its "Enochian magick". The Nethack graf makes Rowe (?) sound like H.P. Lovecraft's most milquetoast narrator:

Possibly in reaction to this, I now find myself slightly reluctant to try entering the Part again. I've put off starting several times already today, on the faintest excuse, and a couple of times with no excuse at all. (In fact, I'm going to do so again as soon as I save this file, and play Nethack for a few minutes.)

Dishonorable mention to Ralph Roberts' "REBOL for Dummies", which implies that Nethack is a text adventure, and to Timothy Albee's "CGI Filmmaking: The Creation of Ghost Warrior" which implies that Nethack is a MUD. Frankly, I expected better from you.

[0] But seriously, folks: the section is largely plagiarized from Wikipedia.


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