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I thought you would have caught it, I mentioned it just after the stream closed.
The bartender’s collar / hood aren’t the same colors. The combination in the third panel is the correct one, according to page 19. He’s also missing the trim on his pockets.
Lin’s bracelets appear to have switched order. this order matches page 20 and 19, but not 21.


This is something that has been bothering me for a while now. Does Dan have some kind of Russian/Slavic accent? I would assume so because Stradania is in the post Soviet Union.

Well, he (and the rest of Stradania-based cast) would have a Russian accent if he spoke English, sure. But so far the English spoken in the comic represents Russian, just “dubbed over”, so it should sound as…whatever language you’re used to, I guess? (having said that, actual English might be spoken in future chapters :P)

To be honest, as a Russian speaker I’m always amused by how they give non-English speakers accents in movies/TV – even when people speak among themselves and English is representing a different language. To me foreign put-on accents in what should be their native speech just make it seem like speakers don’t have a grasp on their first language and that’s just weird. But I’m just ranting now. Kind of a pet peeve of mine. Sorry! :D


I like that, it’s what makes logical sense – un-accented Russian renders as un-accented English, and it’s what you need to make the story work too, because if Dan’s dialogue was written with an accent it would make you think of him as someone who would seem like a hick or a foreigner *to the people around him*, which is wrong.

(There HAS been English dialogue actually, remember the bake-off? But there everyone’s speaking English so again it’s shown as standard dialogue. If the two sets of people ever meet the comic will have to get more creative about indicating it.)

Reminds me of Chapter 5 of “Widdershins”. (That juxtaposition is hurting my head.) The first section is set in 18th-century Prussia, so it taxes this kind of thing to the utmost, but it follows the same kind of logical conclusions.
German is represented by English.
Non-standard German is represented by the appropriate kind of non-standard English (“Good work, lad”; “The lieutenant wants us to identify some fella called Loewe”).
Actual bad or accented German is represented by broken English, whereas good German is represented by good English without accent.
And – here’s the kicker – you know how in comics small bits of foreign dialogue translated for the reader’s benefit are often shown in ? So if you have French characters talking in the background of an English comic, their dialogue might be rendered as “” – ““? Well, when an English-speaking character turns up in that chapter, *his English dialogue is shown in angle brackets* to show that it’s not German!
” – FOOD! Eat… is good!”
“We should just hang him and be done with it!”

Edit: Sorry about the above gobbledygook, it ate my angle brackets, must have mistaken them for HTML, so I’m going to repost that bit with square ones.

And – here’s the kicker – you know how in comics small bits of foreign dialogue translated for the reader’s benefit are often shown in angle brackets?
So if you have French characters talking in the background of an English comic, their dialogue might be rendered as “[What’s he say, Pierre?]” – “[I haven’t a clue.]”? Well, when an English-speaking character turns up in that chapter, his English dialogue is shown in angle brackets to show that it’s not German!
“[Food, yeah! What’s th’ bloody words?] – FOOD! Eat… is good!”
“We should just hang him and be done with it!”
“[That wasn’t th’words.]”

Good point, actually, we will have to start differentiating between different languages in future chapters. Angle brackets seem like a common solution, so i might do that, or play around with speech bubbles and formating.

Alternatively I was thinking of using actual Russian, but that’d mean subtitling or part of the dialogue becoming inaccessible for a large part of our readership (though it would make for an amusing effect if shown from a perspective of a foreigner who actually doesn’t know what the other characters are saying). I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there :D


Maybe this will make Dan rethink his plan of trying to switch on his headware? Probably not…

I do have a question about the technical side of the implant. What kind of persistent memory does it have that would allow the virus to remain active/dormant? Or is Lin just using that as an excuse to force Dan into taking time off?

As I see it, implants like Dan’s have a reasonably sophisticated BIOS stored on flash memory. How much Lin is leading Dan on about Skullfuck and its effects, though – that’s best left to reader speculation for now.
– Io

The use of a BIOS makes sense and is in line with what I more or less assumed about the tech. Though BIOS can be reflashed if required if the unit hasn’t been completely bricked. Of course given the fact it seems to have completely shorted out Dans brain that ship may have already sailed…

I do enjoy the speculation :)

You’d think just flashing the BIOS would do the trick, but then you remember stuff like BadBIOS back in 2013…

Sufficiently advanced malware is indistinguishable from magic.

I actually thought about things like Bad BIOS but the first real BIOS exploit used as a computer virus/attack was Chernobyl and that didn’t hit the world until 98 which is three years after current time in D&W. (I remember Chernobyl very well, through sheer luck I was the only person in my circle of computer gaming friends who didn’t fall victim to it) If Lin flashed his headware’s BIOS with a version she knew was clean I would think it would do the trick since there probably isn’t any other persistent memory in the DS-909 . If you look at the hardware here it’s very simplistic, the core processor is going to be a hardwired circuit, no way for the worm to rewrite it. The OS/Storage has been shown to be removable, it’s what Dan dramatically threw away at the end of Dreamspace and it makes sense to configure the unit like that. Since you wouldn’t want the interface itself to be replaced constantly (since brain surgery is a big deal) making the OS modular and easily replaceable/upgrade-able makes a lot of sense. Pretty much everything else is I/O ports. Flashing the BIOS and putting in a brand new pristine copy of the OS should be relatively easy since those should be the only two places the worm could lurk and once those two variables are replaced it should be smooth sailing to reset the hardware and get everything running the way it’s supposed to again.

That being said, there are two other issues that could remain. 1. Lin could be straight up lying to Dan to keep him from jacking in. He does not have a healthy state of mind right now (or possibly never has) and he’s pushed himself and his headware to obvious extremes. It’s very likely that if he had the chance to jack back in he would do something overboard and melt his brain in short order. 2. The DS-909 itself could be damaged beyond use without being replaced entirely (which is something that I’m willing to bet Dan’s brain couldn’t handle right now). I know I said that a software worm can’t rewrite a hard wired system but if it infested the OS it could have damaged components anyway. Years ago when I was in college doing CompSci a friend and I messed around with error capturing. You can physically destroy computer components by removing the computers ability to tell that there is anything wrong with them. (Long story very short, computers are programmed to recognize all sorts of faults and usually they will throw an error code and stop what they are doing so it can be addressed, it’s possible to divert error codes so they are never addressed and the computer keeps doing what it’s doing even if it shouldn’t) This is purely speculation on my part but it looks like based on what happened to both Dan and Shitparade that the worm works by locking the user in some kind of feedback loop until the headware burns itself out. In both cases the loop was interrupted before they died (by Lins intervention and bad soldering saving the day at the last possible second) If my feedback loop speculation is correct and the worm does work in this manner it would only effectively be able to do so if it was in the OS capturing errors that would normally cause the system to dump the user dump back into reality with some sort of error message. So even though Lin may have interrupted it before it reached the fatal burnout there’s a possibility that components were still damaged beyond their ability to be used safely.

That and Dan’s implant got hit with a log earlier today. That couldn’t have helped any either.

TL;DR I’ve put way too much thought into how this worm and fictional technology probably work :P

You probably did, but I choose to be impressed anyway.

It does make sense, though. The only way I could see the worm writing itself back after a BIOS flash would be if it could somehow infect the meat beyond the implant, and that crosses the line from malware to neurochem.

Right. Though now that you mention that it makes me wonder if it’s possible for the worm to cross through the implant in the other direction, that being his PC’s support software somehow since it sounds like the headware is mainly used as an interface and the real horsepower comes from the computer it’s linked to. Hmm.

I think any malware maker worth their salt would cover their bases there. If the PC is an important hub for Dreamtripping activity, then it’s an attack surface to exploit.

Really, though, if Lin/Dan were going to go so far as to reflash to BIOS and install a new writable memory fresh from shrinkwrap in the implant, why not go to the extra mile and reflash home computer BIOS, pop out the hard disk(s) and toss them in the river and get some new ones. Data loss sucks, sure, but better clean hardware than a reinfection risk.

If it were my brain in the proverbial line of fire, absolutely. Scorch it all and move on. But playing devil’s advocate and seeing things from Dan’s point of view there are two reasons I don’t think it will happen or even be needed.

First, Dan’s going to fight tooth and nail to keep his old trip files. He obviously hasn’t let go of xxfuckallsystemsxx and he’s not going to want to lose their shared trips and simulations.

Second, even though it probably could I don’t know that Skullfuck.exe would be programmed to propagate by infecting anything other than the users headware. The MO of these guys has been extremely targeted. They know their targets, they know them well enough to know who communicates to them and how (they knew Shitparade well enough to not only know that his friend sent him links to shitty trips but also well enough to know his friends typing patterns, they knew Dan well enough to know he had been dumped and based on Nate’s reaction to the news his single status wasn’t something Dan was broadcasting, perhaps he was in one of his “off the grid” periods, any way you look at it speaks of impressive surveillance) and the links to the worm were sent specifically to them. Since the creators of the worm are trying to target individuals it doesn’t appear to be a true worm or virus that is trying to replicate itself and spread, infecting the PC as well as the headgear may cause someone beside the intended target to get infected which would be collateral damage this crew doesn’t seem to be after.

While realistically it would make sense to assume the PC is infected by the worm, my gut says it probably isn’t.

Definitely very targeted malware. Infected PC might be able to phone home and check against a flagged target list, but odds are you’re right.

Either way, the degree of sophistication behind Skullfuck.exe implies (to me) State or corporate backing. And Lin is neck deep in it somehow, I’m convinced of that.

This is a fantastic thread, though it’s quickly becoming clear that I’m going to have to tread quite carefully when it comes to talking tech in the comic. As it happens, Chapter 3 will talk a bit more about the ins and outs of Dan’s headware and his current situation, but some of this speculation is definitely on the right track.
– Io

Haha! I love how completely useless the Dreamspace Op’s are. They’re children pretending to be badasses.

I’m not worried about Dan, Lin’s reaction suggests it’s serious but nothing fatal. Aftermath and recovery will be interesting though. Maybe this has wrecked all the hardware infected by Skullfuck.exe, like cleansing with fire?

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