Synthetic Memories: Fallout 4’s Nick Valentine

“Well, that’s some real solid detective work”

                                           – Nick Valentine, ‘Getting a Clue’

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In a recent review of Black Mass published in The Independent, the writer argued that ‘Hollywood was always going to make a film about the life and crimes of James “Whitey” Bulger’. Hardly an entirely new ‘story’, it’s already been the inspiration for Showtime’s Brotherhood (2006-2008). Now the story of the ‘notorious US mob boss’ who ran South Boston with the Winter Hill Gang has also made its way (allegorically) into the Boston depicted in Fallout 4, as have the codes and conventions of the detective/mobster genre, through the storyline of Detective Nick Valentine and his pre-war mobster nemesis, Eddie Winter.

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Follow the Past, Find the ‘Future’: Fallout 4’s Freedom Trail

This blog post follows from the previous, general look at the use of the past in Bethesda’s Fallout series, and more specifically, the repeated reference to and use of American historical memory as the foundation for alternate-history narratives. Here, one Fallout 4 quest is discussed at in more detail, ‘Road to Freedom’.

Chris Sullentrop of Kotaku already blogged about ‘Approaching Fallout 4 like a tourist’,  and how this one quest in particular allows the player to ‘role-play’ as one. But there is arguably more to the use of these historic sites than giving players the chance to be tourists.

(Trying to keep spoilers to a minimum, but obviously, for this quest in particular, they’re unavoidable). 

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What is it with Fallout and American Historical Memory?

N.B. My intention is to keep blogging about Fallout 4 as I go, commenting on anything I find particularly interesting or noteworthy in terms of historical representation or memory. If anyone who reads this wants to point me in the direction of something they think should be written about, get in touch!

And, of course, there will be spoilers.

After less than a week since its release, Fallout 4 is already making history: but in more ways than one.

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The First World War (Brought to you by Sainsbury’s)

It’s that time of year again: from now until Christmas all we are meant to eat, sleep, think, breathe, and feel is Christmas. This means, of course, Major Retailer’s Christmas Adverts! We’ve seen the Magic and Sparkle Christmas Fairies, and John Lewis’s Monty the Penguin (and all the related memorabilia that can be yours). Now Sainsbury’s has taken its cue from 100 years ago, and based their advert on Christmas 1914:

The advert has had over 2 million YouTube views in just one day, and generally, my social media feeds have been awash with positivity; this has clearly ‘won’ the competition for ‘best advert 2014’. It’s not clear whether the advert is meant to pay any reference to the much uttered fact that many people in 1914 assumed that the war would be ‘over by Christmas’. My cynicism says probably not.

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Counterfactuals = Unproductive?

‘Too much of the current debate about 1914 and the outbreak of the first world war focuses not on why it happened, but how things might have been if Britain hadn’t entered it’, says Richard Evans, in an article arguing that counterfactual, “What if?” history is ‘a waste of time’. His arguments are informed by the recent spate of TV documentaries on the First World World to mark its centenary. He says that to speculate on what might or might not have happened is unproductive, because of course it is unprovable. Speculation is after all speculation and, traditionally, ‘not history’.

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Review: Her

I thought I’d write a short review with a couple of my own thoughts on Spike Jonze’s Her (hopefully) without getting too deep and off-putting.

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“It’s the pursuit that’s guaranteed”: Reflections on The Sopranos

Now, I won’t bore you with yet another theory of what I want to prove happened at the ending of The Sopranos and the infamous Cut To Black. I’m fairly sure at this point I won’t be able to offer anything new. So rather than that I’d like to explain my own reflections on the series and how it finished, which have just made some sort of sense in my head nearly a month after finishing it.

Warning: This post will obviously spoil the ending of The Sopranos, so if you’re yet to finish the series, avert your eyes and go watch it instead. You won’t regret it. 

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