What Is Arrgle? – Newsletter 11/07/2023

NOVEMBER 7, 2023
What is Arrgle?

Arrgle is a giant tech company. Thirty years from now, it’s the largest company in the world.

Jim Rowson and Bruce Berls have written some novels about people’s adventures with Arrgle technology. In Uncommon Scents, an engineer comes up with a plan to leak details of a shadowy secret project. The Avatar Murders is a Raymond Chandler-style detective story about a PI investigating a series of high-profile murders. A young woman assembles a team to hack into a powerful computer in Veilpiercer.

Arrgle is fictional. You got that, right? It has four endearing characteristics for a fictional company name:

1) It’s a mashup of Apple and Google.
2) It has “AR” at the beginning, a reference to augmented reality, the technology driving the company’s success.
3) The domain name arrgle.com was available.
4) It sounds silly and it’s impossible to hear it without thinking of pirates.
In newsletters to come, we’re going to tell you about what it means to be a writer in the 2020s. Self-publishing, traditional publishers, editors and book coaches, discoverability, marketing – we’re having adventures.

We’ll shamelessly promote our novels and writing projects. You can read Uncommon Scents today. The Avatar Murders and Veilpiercer are works in progress. We’ll share excerpts and give you glimpses behind the scenes at the process of turning ideas into books.

Jim is an inexhaustible source of information about classic SF. He’ll tell you about some of his favorite novels and you’ll fill up your bedside table with books to read. After you finish our books, of course.

Author Iain M. Banks created a fascinating future civilization called the Culture. A far future utopia, the Culture is a mix of super smart AIs, called Minds, and several humanoid races. It’s a post-plenty, post-money society that provides all physical needs. Well, except most cool things are at least as smart as you are, so you can’t own them. The Culture is also post-planet. Citizens live on huge spaceships holding a billion people and on other interesting manufactured habitats.

The Minds and humanoids interact with other galactic cultures through a special group called Contact. An even smaller and more special group, called Special Circumstances or SC, tends to meddle in other civilizations. SC attempts to help others improve, defined as acting more like the Culture.

PLAYER OF GAMES follows Jernau Morat Gurgeh, the best game player in the Culture. He’s drawn into intrigue in an alien empire built around a super complicated game. Azad, the game, selects the next Emperor for Azad, the empire, by whoever wins an empire-wide game contest. Special Circumstances arranges for Gurgeh to play in the next contest, causing complications to abound.

Azad has many of the failings of our Earthly civilizations, including gender inequality, wealth and power inequalities, corruption and perversion. Gurgeh’s eyes are opened to things his society has grown past.
The book teems with wild invention as we learn about the Culture and Azad. When Banks writes about gameplay, the book becomes addictive as you’re drawn into high stakes battles. Gurgeh’s innocence is destroyed as we’re treated to a critique of our own societies.

I recommend this book highly. In my opinion, it’s the best introduction to the Culture. There are multiple books by Banks set in this far future, each fascinating in their own right. If nothing else, read the Banks Culture books for his truly alien aliens.

Oh, and I’d give anything to live in the Culture.