Marathon's Narrative, Arthur C. Clarke, Jo-Ha-Kyu
Posted By: UrsusArctosDate: 5/13/22 5:38 a.m.

I have the mental image of a certain green face asking me if hanging around here is getting a little bit boring, and asking me to scram -

I guess I've been around here an awful lot lately after intermittent lurking over the years, for reasons I don't quite understand myself.

That being said, I've been thinking of the way each of the three Marathon games is structured. The ending of Marathon doesn't necessarily tie in to the start of Marathon 2: Durandal since it appears that the Security Officer is left behind in the original ending, but has been taken aboard Boomer at the start of the second game. Likewise, the final screen of Marathon 2 is at odds with the starting of Marathon Infinity. Re-reading this made me think back to Arthur C. Clarke's classic Space Odyssey series, in which all four novels are orthoquels, a term coined by Clarke himself to explain how each one of the novels started from a position somewhat different from the previous novel.

The original 2001 novel has the giant monolith on Iapetus, Saturn's moon, and ends with the Dave Bowman/Starchild creature returning to get rid of all of Earth's nuclear arsenal. The sequel novel 2010 follows the movie's placement of the monolith in orbit around Jupiter, and sets the events there instead. 2061 likewise is at odds with certain elements of the ending of 2010, such as the fates of Heywood Floyd and Dr. Chandra, and takes its own peculiar take on the whole Space Odyssey universe. I wouldn't be surprised if Greg Kirkpatrick or someone else had thought about the Space Odyssey series when concocting the seemingly discordant endings to each of the three Marathon games. Making Marathon Infinity an orthoquel to Marathon 2: Durandal does explain quite a few things...

Incidentally I happen to be something of a Japanophile, and it occurs to me that the three games tend to roughly follow the narrative structure used in a Noh drama, a structure called "Jo-Ha-Kyu" (or in music, Gagaku), with a slower-paced beginning dealing with familiar themes, a middle portion where the action picks up (often characterized by "warriors and battles"), and a rapid portion towards the end. The third section, or "Kyu" of the drama often contains some kind of massive plot twist leading to a dramatic climax or great pathos.

When applied to all three games taken together, it seems to fit quite well : the original game has you fighting largely on familiar territory and with familiar stakes, the second game takes you far away and amps up the stakes while battles on a far larger scale (Durandal and Boomer vs T'Fear and Battle Fleet Seven) become part of the story, and the third game takes things to a cosmic level and completely warps everything that happened so far with the W'rkncacnter, Dream Levels and Timeline-jumping.

Whether or not the orthoquel or Noh dramatic structures were deliberately chosen, it seems that one can never read too deeply into Marathon!

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Pre-2004 Posts


Marathon's Narrative, Arthur C. Clarke, Jo-Ha-KyuUrsusArctos 5/13/22 5:38 a.m.
     Re: Marathon's Narrative, Arthur C. Clarke, Jo-Ha-Godot 5/13/22 9:16 a.m.
     Re: Marathon's Narrative, Arthur C. Clarke, Jo-Ha-Herald Of Oblivion 5/17/22 8:28 p.m.
     Re: Marathon's Narrative, Arthur C. Clarke, Jo-Ha-Clouds 6/7/22 4:24 a.m.

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Pre-2004 Posts



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