Alien Gamers

I was re-reading Iain M Banks’ 1988 book The Player of Games yesterday, and was surprised to see a couple of familiar game-related words on the same page: Morat and Shuro.

Now it’s obvious to all that Corvus Belli aren’t shy about borrowing bits from Shirow’s Appleseed manga (Orc suits, for example), so I wondered whether Morat was borrowed as well. Hmmm…

Knowing Alessio, I entirely believe his Sanskrit definition (Shuuro means warrior), though I’m also sure(o) that he’ll find the coincidence amusing 🙂

Incidentally, in the book Morat means  ‘player-of-games’.

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12 Responses to Alien Gamers

  1. Elromanozo says:

    I’ve never read any of the “Culture” books from that author… Do you recommend them ?
    I was surprised to learn that he’s still writing them. With a space-faring civilization so advanced (from what I heard) I would have assumed he ran out of stories years ago. I’m happy to be proved wrong !

  2. Quirkworthy says:

    I am not the greatest of Culture fans, and when I first read them many years ago I found them very much not to my taste (they were a bit clean and tidy for me, if that makes sense). Having matured a little over the last 20 years I am a little more tolerant of a wider style of SF and would say they were well worth reading. Perhaps it is also that they do vary considerably, and that the order I read them in gave me an unhelpful impression. I’m not sure. Without being an expert, I’d say that the continued source of stories lies in the tensions between the organised and “perfect” Culture, the alien races they encounter and the natural obstinacy and contrariness of humans. Most of the stories concern the “Contact” and/or “Special Circumstances” sections of the Culture who deal with alien races and awkward situations (as you might expect). The AI Minds who run the Culture are also quite human and characterful in their own ways, being individuals who are not above lying and misleading the human protagonists to get them to do what they want (but all for their own good).

  3. Sam Dale says:

    There’s a chap who writes for Kerrang magazine (or used to) goes by the name Morat. Wonder if he pinched it from that.

    Didn’t know that “droog” means “close friend” in Russian until last night. Watched Clockwork Orange, read up on it online while watching, found out that the slang Alex speaks includes bits of Russian and German.

    Polyglots are funny buggers.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      When I first read Clockwork Orange as a lad I was fascinated by the language. Luckily the ancient and disintegrating copy I’d borrowed form my father had a glossary at the back which explained its (partly) Russian origins and what the words meant. Without it I couldn’t have really followed the story properly. Many years later I went to buy my own copy and found to my astonishment that the new version omitted the glossary. Idiots. I hope they’ve sen sense now.

      It’s a perfect example of how a few well chosen words can greatly colour your whole impression of an environment; a lesson that game writers can use as well as the CIA.

  4. I asked this question a while back about ‘Morat’ and got a couple of answers, somebody claimed it was derived from a Hindi word meaning herder (as in animals) or tamer of wild animals. I was never able to verify it. But Morat has come up a number of times in other science fiction as well, its also a Hungarian surname apparently and a town in Switzerland and which was the site of a very famous battle. I never got an answer from anybody direct from CB, but in the past they’ve been open about there influences and talked about them. I’d love to know if the word being derived from Hindi is true though.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Well Wikipedia says:

      None of the online translators I tried thought it was Hindi, which doesn’t mean it’s not, just that you’d have to ask a native speaker rather than a bot.

      I just thought it was amusing, that’s all, especially with Shuro further down the same page 🙂

      • Well I can stick up for Alessio on that one, he is absolutely right about Shuuro being Sanskrit for warrior. 😛

        The Morat thing though I’d really like to know because its bugging me, its not just in Infinity its been used by others as well so I assume its being ‘borrowed’ from somewhere and has a meaning. These sorts of thing bug me. That’s all. Like Dasyus in Infinity somebody told me it meant demon or goblin and I was certain it was actually a phrase used to describe certain tribesmen in India I eventually found an Indian historian who confirmed both uses of the word, they couldn’t however verify Morat although annoyingly they told me they did recognise the word but couldn’t remember where from and thought it was vaguely something to do with savage animals but couldn’t be sure… grrrrr. 😀

      • Quirkworthy says:

        I can see I’ve irritated an intellectual itch here 😛

        Where else is Morat used then?

  5. Morat has been used in the Halo games I believe it was a military operation. Its also been used in various MMO’s, fantasy ones mainly. There was also a Morat I believe in Battletech novels. Its been used a lot. When it was brought up a few years back on the old Infinity forums people came up with loads of examples of its use in modern culture and nobody had any idea where the word comes from or what it means. Normally I can track down the route of such words, but in this case I’m stumped. However type in Morat urdu or Morat Hindi into google and you get a song title on Youtube!!! I think its a name. Gaaahhhhhhh, I hate not being able to track these sorts of things down. I hate you Jake Thornton, I HATE YOU!!!!! 😛

  6. Oh yeah I also forgot Morat is also a type of Mead made with berries in it as well, well that’s what some Israeli told me two years ago when the word first started bugging me.

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