If this isn't a creepy coincidence given the imminent release of Mass Effect 3, then I don't know what the **** is going on here. I have always wondered about where the writers got their inspiration for the metanarrative of Mass Effect and I think I may have found something quite uncanny to say the least.
If any of you reading this have explored Frank Herbert's novels (his most famous is of course the Dune saga) you might know of or have read his novel The Dosadi Experiment.
Tonight I came across an interesting paragraph in the book which may or may not explain the original idea behind the game franchise. Of course, this could all be a total coincidence, and maybe Bioware simply came up with the same idea by chance.
Anyway, in Herbert's typical style of writing, he begins each chapter with a small preceding piece of text to shed more light on the novel's setting. This particular text is as follows:
Behavioural engineering in all of its manifestations always degenerates into merciless manipulation. It reduces all (manipulators and manipulated alike) to a deadly "mass effect". The central assumption, that manipulation of individual personalities can achieve uniform behavioural responses, has been exposed as a lie by many species but never with more telling effect than by the Gowachin on Dosadi. Here, they showed us the "Walden Fallacy" in ultimate foolishness, explaining: "Given any species which reproduces by genetic mingling such that every individual is a unique specimen, all attempts to impose a decision matrix based on assumed uniform behaviour will prove lethal". - p.95
Assuming it's not the origin of the game's name, the concept of uniform behavioural responses and manipulating people en masse has an interesting parallel with the intentions of the Reapers don't you think? To manipulate entire civilizations along a desired path toward a premeditated destination. Not to mention the premise of the gameplay which has always been to decide the fate of characters through your dialogue choices.
I, for one, am looking forward to kicking some reaper ass next week :D