Friday, June 18, 2021
HomeGamingSomeone should make a game about: Flann O'Brien

Someone should make a game about: Flann O’Brien

As a native of the Emerald Isle, I’ll be the first to admit that the phrase ‘Irish science fiction’ sounds like an oxymoron. As Netflix’s noted begorrah-fest, Wild Mountain Thyme makes clear, in the popular imagination we are still a people more closely associated with Aran sweaters, turf fires, and animal excrement than we are with cyborgs, inter-dimensional travel, and quantum mechanics. Yet, in the mid-twentieth-century, an apparently unassuming Private Secretary in the Irish Department of Local Government and Public Health set about secretly bridging the gap between these two worlds in some of the most imaginative, thought-provoking, and downright hilarious writing ever to emerge from Ireland, and some of the strangest writing about bicycles ever committed to print.

Meet ‘Flann O’Brien’: inspiration for the greatest deconstructionist, science-fiction, comedy game no-one’s made yet.

Brian Ó Nualláin [Brian O’Nolan] – alias ‘Flann O’Brien’, alias ‘Myles na gCopaleen’ [Myles of the little horses], alias ‘Brother Barnabas’, alias ‘Count O’Blather’, alias ‘George Knowall’, alias ‘Lir O’Connor’, alias ‘Velvet Texture’ (my personal favourite) – was born in 1911 to an Irish-speaking family in Strabane, County Tyrone, in what is now Northern Ireland. Educated at University College, Dublin, where he became a prominent (and provocative) member of the intellectual scene, he wrote prolifically in both Irish and English, evolving a form of post-modern meta-fiction in which gangsters and cowboys rub shoulders with Irish mythic heroes, good novels have not one beginning, but three, and characters rise up to put their author on trial for the many indignities to which he has subjected them.

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As a native of the Emerald Isle, I’ll be the first to admit that the phrase ‘Irish science fiction’ sounds like an oxymoron. As Netflix’s noted begorrah-fest, Wild Mountain Thyme makes clear, in the popular imagination we are still a people more closely associated with Aran sweaters, turf fires, and animal excrement than we are with cyborgs, inter-dimensional travel, and quantum mechanics. Yet, in the mid-twentieth-century, an apparently unassuming Private Secretary in the Irish Department of Local Government and Public Health set about secretly bridging the gap between these two worlds in some of the most imaginative, thought-provoking, and downright hilarious writing ever to emerge from Ireland, and some of the strangest writing about bicycles ever committed to print.

Meet ‘Flann O’Brien’: inspiration for the greatest deconstructionist, science-fiction, comedy game no-one’s made yet.

Brian Ó Nualláin [Brian O’Nolan] – alias ‘Flann O’Brien’, alias ‘Myles na gCopaleen’ [Myles of the little horses], alias ‘Brother Barnabas’, alias ‘Count O’Blather’, alias ‘George Knowall’, alias ‘Lir O’Connor’, alias ‘Velvet Texture’ (my personal favourite) – was born in 1911 to an Irish-speaking family in Strabane, County Tyrone, in what is now Northern Ireland. Educated at University College, Dublin, where he became a prominent (and provocative) member of the intellectual scene, he wrote prolifically in both Irish and English, evolving a form of post-modern meta-fiction in which gangsters and cowboys rub shoulders with Irish mythic heroes, good novels have not one beginning, but three, and characters rise up to put their author on trial for the many indignities to which he has subjected them.

Read more

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