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(Exterior of Westward orbiting a planet at daybreak)
Danika: How did it go? Did you tell him?
Elizabeth: What a universe. Realities wink in and out of existence. Stars freeze. Oceans boil. But men–men never change.
(We see that Elizabeth holds a photograph of herself and Lamont at the 1989 World’s Fair)

Happy Epiphany, space cadets! If you know Westward, you know that something big always happens on Epiphany. As mentioned with the previous strip, it may be a few weeks before you see another strip published. Besides focusing on a larger freelance workload (building websites and designing books), I’ll be busy trying out a new format for Westward that I hope will yield some advantages in the future. Want more Westward content? Support me on Patreon. As a patron, you’ll get sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes looks at what’s happening in Westward. More importantly, you’ll help provide me with a more stable income so that I can spend more time producing Westward content. And gosh, that would just tickle me pink.

  • Homunclus

    Just like war!

    • Men, what are they good for? If you ask me…

  • Matt [in Middletown]

    Having escaped the gelatinous cubes, you find yourself in what appears to be your sleeping chambers.
    Exits are East.
    Visible items are: wardrobes, jar, clothes.
    What now?:_

    • Text-based adventures could be the next big thing for Westward. Does anyone here know BASIC?

      • Matt [in Middletown]

        I only dabbled in BASIC on the C-64 and C-128 back in the 80’s.
        I wasn’t very good at it.

        • You’re not very good at BASIC, I’m not very good at art. We’re meant for each other!

          • Matt [in Middletown]

            I find that the feel of the art style rather.. fits?
            It has a gritty sci-fi noir vibe.

            As for my BASIC programming skills, I actually got a Commodore 128 (original) to do it’s version of a bluescreen before bluescreens were a thing.
            Yeah, I’m that bad.

      • bayareajohn

        Westward has more of a Fortran vibe…

        • I’m not a programmer myself (except for some frontend Web development) but I have some books about computing from the ’50s and ’60s on my shelf that I’ve used for Westward inspiration. To my uneducated mind, there’s a sort of visceral connection to actual circuits and transistors that’s missing from today’s more abstract programming.

          • bayareajohn

            You mean like old sci-fi movie’s obsession with lots of large levers and switches. It gave the reassurance that things were at some point controllable…. if not currently under control. HAL could plot against us, but as long as there was that glowey chamber of sliding lucite slabs, humans could prevail. Now, ALEXA is clearly just humoring us. Biding her time.

          • Today’s technology–our smartphones, for example–remind me of the obelisk from 2001: Clearly manufactured for some purpose, but opaque and unknowable out of context. An archeologist unearthing an iPhone or Echo 2,000 years from now would have little hope of determining its function by looking at it. I find it unsettling that our lives are dependent on and dominated by technology that is faceless, formless, dubious in its intentions and edging toward superintelligence. There’s an increasing feeling that we are being made into components of a machine that we do not understand or control.

      • bayareajohn

        But yes I did a lot in BASIC on Atari’s in the 80’s. Wrote most of and ran a BBS system that was very popular, what was essentially a blog way back then got me an editor’s job for Computer Shopper Magazine back when each month was 300 pages.

        Yeah, I’m old.

        • That’s fascinating! I didn’t realize Ataris were used for anything except gaming.

          I feel pretty old myself, but it’s encouraging to see that, as far as I can tell, some of Westward’s most loyal readers are older than I am. It gives me some hope that the stories are at least verging on being intelligent.

  • Walex B

    Women’s need for drama and playing with men never changes either, given that Elizabeth has that photograph… 🙂

    • …or at least male writers’ penchant for portraying women as being inscrutable and manipulative, despite our best intentions.

  • Matt [in Middletown]

    When next we know, Ben has been infected with a mustache too.
    Unfortunately, it got confused and grew over his eyebrows.
    “I find I look like a space wizard with these bushy eyebrows, don’t you think?”