If you, like every other nerd on the planet, are eagerly awaiting Mass Effect 2, here's something that might help tide you over until the game hits on January 26: An unofficial developer diary about the first Mass Effect, written by Chris L'Etoile, one of that game's writers*. L'Etoile's since left BioWare, the developer behind all things ME, but his insights on how the Mass Effect universe came together are pretty fantastic, filled with stuff like this:
Mass Effect presents a hypothetical future for man. It hearkens back to the optimistic, hardware-driven visions of thirty years ago, but is tempered by the diminished expectations and futurist visions of the present. Our technology matures swiftly. Our species does not.
This is why, in Mass Effect, the Earth groans under an overpopulation of 11.4 billion souls.
This is why the Third World is still poor and polluted, while the First World gorges on the resources of a hundred planets.
This is why global warming occurs despite all the warnings, and the sea levels rise.
That is why there is the “Earth first” political party Terra Firma, railing against cultural and economic integration with the rest of the galaxy.
And this, which is great:
What I didn't understand as a child was that science fiction is not about a gun that atomizes someone; it's about what a human does when they can commit murder and not leave a corpse.
If you're into Mass Effect—or even just science-fiction in general—it's a great read. Check it out here, and thanks to Mike for the heads up.
*Or, you know, so the always-reliable internet claims. Seems solid to me, but that's hardly concrete proof, and these posts are without specific attribution to L'Etoile, so maybe take it with a grain of salt.