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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon Judging from the hulking robot bodyguard behind Doctor Haas, we can see that he has taken Doctor Juruna's warning to heart.

If you're wondering why Rocco and Greta are taking Haas's takeover so calmly, all I can say is: all will be revealed. (Imagine I'm waving my hands like Criswell from Ed Wood and making spooky theremin "wooooooo" noises.)

(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs I can't go into details quite yet, but I am cautiously optimistic that we're through the rough patch: the missed comic last week will be the last one for a while. More on that later. Yes, I could be more vague, but I'd have to work at it.

So now the story goes back to Venus. In the course of laying out this page I had to put some additional thought into what an average neighborhood in a Venusian city looks like, given a) the planet's somewhat wacky mid-terraforming climate and b) its harsh and authoritarian government. I briefly entertained the thought of the stratified city, where the downtrodden masses live in slums underneath the perpetual rainclouds while the privileged few live in towers atop mesas like the ones in the background, which extend out of the rain layer. However, I quickly dropped that idea, because it's stupid.

I mean, seriously. This two-tiered city idea shows up everywhere, in books, in movies, in video games, and does it make any sense? No! Of course it doesn't! How much money would it cost to build something like, say, Final Fantasy 7's Midgar (where the aristocratic area is built on giant plates suspended high in the air) or the elevated cities built by the Squires of Sark in Isaac Asimov's The Currents of Space? By the time the aristocrats have finished taxing themselves to build such a ridiculous structure, they're not going to be able to afford to live on it. The literary point is usually some inane parallel about how the poor are kept down by evil, rich corporations. Well, whatever, but it seems kind of a stretch to pick on disputed multi-decade trends in income inequality as the Worst Thing Ever when we (unfortunately) have plenty of examples in the real world of how autocratic societies look and act.

Perhaps the romantic idea of a divided society is copied so often because the truth is, autocratic societies are much more mundane. Positively banal, in fact. There are freeways and automobiles and sleazy bars -- they're centrally planned and they're awful, but they're there so that the government can pretend everything is normal. Basically, there's no need to build a suspended city to oppress the masses when it's much cheaper to just send the secret police around to bash some kneecaps. That's the atmosphere I'm going for with Venus: the depression and banality of an autocratic culture. It's really a background element of MoS but I felt like going into a bit of detail on my thoughts about the issue today.

On a brighter note, RouJoumis wrote in to let us know that she has set us up the meme. I'm impressed and, honestly, a little alarmed at how widely the Brazil thing spread. To that end I would like to extend a hearty welcome to everyone who came to read MoS because that one guy put "Brazil has decided you're cute" into his signature file.