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Alien Tongue: An Interview with Drowned God creator  Harry Horse

The man known as Harry Horse (real name: Richard Horne) is a children's book author, a forger and, now, a game designer. His newest project is Inscape's Drowned God - a bizarre tour through the history of the human race in which he presents the theory that extraterrestrial beings have played an integral part in our evolution. GameSpot recently talked with Harry Horse about his game, his theories, and the future of humankind.

Tell us a little about your history as a writer - you're known for some diverse activities.

I've done a few things to get by. I started out at seventeen as an illustrator in Edinburgh, Scotland. I wrote my first book, The Ogopogo, in 1983 about the Canadian version of the Loch Ness Monster. I began a career as a forger about the same time to try to make ends meet. It was ironic that the year after I began the forgery I was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Writer of the Year for the above book, the first time that a children's book had won the award. There's a complete account of this on Inscape's Drowned God web pages, complete with all the weirdness of that story. In short, I forged a manuscript dated 1846, about a forger who makes prophecies through a false medium. The book is sold and the experts agree that the book is genuine, because it bears the name of a rare English poet, Richard Horne (which is also my real name), who lived and worked in 1846, had written an epic poem, Orion, and had an interest in the legend of the Sons of God. This was all unknown to me, but it was exactly the subject of my forgery. I was a political cartoonist for Scotland on Sunday for six years, worked for the Independent and Observer as a cartoonist. I formed the band Swamptrash ("the world's only gothic bluegrass band") in 1987, which was another grand hoax. Currently I make a living writing and directing games, but I still work as a caricaturist for the New Yorker, and still write books for children.

Please explain the theories behind Drowned God for readers who are unfamiliar with the premise.

The idea behind Drowned God is that history may have been manipulated to hide certain facts that might drastically change the way we see ourselves as a race. We put forward the idea that maybe the evolution of mankind was aided or altered by outside forces. Darwin calls this stage in between evolution from ape to intelligent modern man the Missing Link. We suggest that the enduring mystery behind the pyramids and other ancient sites points to a previous and highly advanced civilization that was lost in the Flood. This is not a new idea. My involvement began with the forgery I did in 1983. At that time I wrote about the Flood and the civilization that it destroyed. It wasn't until ten years later that I began to re-examine all I had learnt about certain secret and occult groups, and from that the common thread of a lost continent led me to write Drowned God.

What was the inspiration for the theories behind Drowned God?

There are many writers who have examined the myths and legends that surrounded Atlantis and the Fall of Mankind. I was awakened to the possibility of an alternative genesis of the world by Professor Ian Halpke way back in the early 80s. He showed me the way that the Cabala and certain ancient Jewish chronicles hide and encipher the secret, coupled with the story of the Ark of the Covenant, which he theorized was a nuclear device. At that time he claimed, to the horror of any that would listen, that we shared compatible genes with the pig, a mutated victim of past genetic experiments. The religious taboo surrounding the eating of pig was a direct result of this knowledge. Naturally he could clear a room with this remark. It's interesting now that pigs are the favored creatures to supply us with body parts for organ transplants. Makes you think. Long pig anyone? Seriously, the list of inspirations is too long to mention.

For players who want to learn more about the theories of Drowned God, which books or other informational resources would you suggest they explore?

I would suggest that anyone interested in the broad subject of ancient astronauts and secret history read titles by Erich von Daniken, Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, Colin Wilson, David Wood's Geneset, Charles Berlitz, Ignatius Donnelly's Atlantis the Ante-Diluvian world, Madame Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, Brinsley Le Poer Trench's Secret of the Ages, Edgar Cayce right the way through to the wonderful Illuminati series by Robert Anton Wilson. For those who want to read about the UFO subject and Fortean issues, I suggest anything by Timothy Good, John Mack, Stanton Friedman, Glen Campbell (not the singer), Whitley Strieber, Le Poer Trench, Carl Jung, MK Jessup, Major Donald Keyhoe, and especially Jacques Vallee. There are so many wonderful books that would entertain the hardest cynic.

What historical events can be explained via the theories put forth in Drowned God?

Essentially the recorded wisdom of the ancient world was burned in the Library at Alexandria by the early Christian church, because it conflicted with the Biblical interpretation of the Creation. The story goes that the bathhouses of Alexandria were kept warm for five months. That's a lot of books to destroy. This forbidden knowledge was suppressed and those that sought to keep the tradition alive were killed, from the Knights Templars right up to the Inquisition of the Witches. One of the groups that guarded portions of this knowledge were the Templars, and the Lodge of the Priory of Sion. Its leaders were picked from the most prominent men and women of the day, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Alexander Dumas, and Jules Verne to name but a few. We look at the modern phenomena of Ufology and place it besides some of the myths and legends of the ancients, and in particular we examine the modern conspiracy surrounding the Secret Government and the Visitors. There is a full chronological breakdown of these events in the game, starting with the infamous Philadelphia Project initiated by Tesla and Einstein in 1943. We claim that this opened a temporal doorway to another dimension, springing Legion. Pandora was opened a second time by the detonation of the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico a few years later. Certain information supplied to us suggested that a secret agency acting independently in the government has maintained a liaison with the Visitors since the crash at Roswell. Certain key players, notably Secretary of Defense James Forrestal and President John F. Kennedy, were removed when they attempted to make these findings public.

How did the project with Inscape come about?

We did not originally sell the game to Inscape. It was a hard title to sell because of the subject, and originally it was commissioned by another company in Time Warner. Inscape took over after the closure of that division, and I guess that we were lucky to fall into their laps. They have produced some of the weirdest CD-ROMs, from Devo to the Residents. I think we fit in well because they have such a seminal approach to the medium.

How closely did you work with the designers integrating the story and the game?

As close as you can get without moving in with them. I worked with Inigo Orduna and Anthony McGau for the first six months on the design of the game, then with the modelers and artists for the rest of the game. It has been the hardest work that I have ever done, and I think that anyone who that worked on the game would agree that if you want a life outside you don't get involved making computer games. It pays off when you are able to sit back two years later and actually play it. Someone described it recently as the Apocalypse Now of computer games, and we have reviews that said it was like watching an episode of The X-Files under the influence of illegal substances, or that said it made the Twilight Zone look like Pee Wee Herman's Big Day Out. If that's the most that is ever said then it was worth it.

Why did you choose to present your theories regarding the origins of civilization via a computer game?

I don't know how to answer this question because I've always felt the two elements were inseparable. When I first saw a CD-ROM all I could think about was how I could tell a portion of this story. This is like rolling a film, record, and book into one. Drowned God is enormous, but it still can't put across all the elements that I want it to. I think we got some of the way.

When will the total truth be revealed?

I'm afraid that with even three CDs I couldn't tell it all. The last pieces of the puzzle will be supplied in CULT, the sequel to Drowned God.

What do you hope the outcome will be for players? In other words, are you trying to convert them? Do you expect them to take this seriously - more seriously than they would the claims made in Myst, for example?

Myst was the first CD-ROM that I ever saw and after that I began my conversion from Luddite to user. Mark Burgess, later the UFO researcher for Drowned God, showed me the game and it opened up another world for me. I cannot say that the story greatly interested me, but I loved the sustained continuity and detail in the artwork - the immersion in the world itself. I bought a computer straight after that and began work on Drowned God. I think that all of us, Algy Williams, Alistair Graham, and Mark Burgess, felt that the story should be told and that this medium would be the best for bringing it to fruition. We knew that it would upset some people. You have to remember that when we first pitched the game to developers there was no X-Files, and naturally enough we were regarded as cranks. Still are, probably. I want people to use Drowned God as a springboard to discover for themselves the rich history behind the game. Drowned God can be played by those who merely seek entertainment. However, most of our testers, drawn from all walks of life, told us that they had begun to find connections of their own to the myth.

Speaking of The X-Files, how do you feel about the contemporary "Alien Mania"? Do you feel as if it trivializes the belief in extraterrestrial life?

In some ways, yes - and it's apparent in the recent split in the serious ranks of Ufologists. I would recommend the film Roswell because it comes closest to tying the subject together. It's very difficult to be entirely subjective because you could say that we are contributing to that mania. Expect more as Hollywood attempts to cash in on Independence Day, which I felt - apart from the computer animation - missed the mark by a long way. Still millions voted with their feet and went and saw it. It may be that we are undergoing the same craze that began just after the war for all things alien, preferably in rubber suits with tentacles. I wish that someone would make a subjective film about the Abduction Phenomena. Fire in the Sky is the best film that broaches the subject at the moment, though there are numerous low budget clones. Could be that things are hotting up for the approach to the millennium and that we are being prepared for the next revelation. But that's just the conspiracy paranoiac talking. It's just a game after all...isn't it?

Will civilization as we know it survive into the 21st century?

Who knows? The Maya and the Hopi believed that this world ends just after the Millennium. "The time has come for destroying those who destroy the earth," says Revelations, and there are many millennial cults that reckon we are in the last days. Personally I subscribe to the view put across by Bob Marley in Redemption Song, that we don't have to fulfill the Book. You would have to be seriously crazy or just asleep to see that we are in a bad way at the present. I find it interesting that a new feeling of security has taken over since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The threat of nuclear or chemical warfare is almost held to be a dim and distant memory. Not with a bang, with a whimper...

For more information about Harry Horse and Drowned God, visit
Inscape's Drowned God Site.


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