April 20, 2012
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The Beautiful People: I refer you to the comments about “impossibly beautiful sexy immortal billionaire genius demigods” made under Can’t Argue With Elves. The engineering works, people. However pretty a people the baseline Eldrae alathis were to begin with – and they were – by the time autoevolution reached the very transsophont Eldrae kirsunar, it had gone Up To Eleven. The self-designated Supreme Eldrae and their cousin species in the Empire are self-consciously designed to be perfected, unflawed, soul-churningly beautiful, marvelous to behold, exquisite and/or excruciating in unsurpassed elegance.
(And if you’d care to sign up, they can do it for you, too. Queue for applications starts to your left.)
It’s a sort of inherited status, I suppose, inasmuch as you acquire it – most commonly – by being the offspring of an Imperial citizen-shareholder, although most of it is offered freely to immigrants and, well, anyone who turns up waving checks or cashy money at the right businesses… but since this does represent more or less the entire society, these Beautiful People do, at least those who haven’t yet earned their way into the investor-leisure class, have to work for a living, and many of those continue to anyway.
And yes, the surroundings also match (see: Emotion Bomb and Scenery Porn), because it’s not like they stuck to just improving themselves. Also played straight, again for almost everyone, with regard to the clothing (see: Sharp Dressed Soph), the housing (see: Big Fancy House), the wealth levels (it is a materially mostly-post-scarcity society, after all)…
March 30, 2012
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Everything Is An iPod In The Future: “Right now, being cutting-edge is all about plain black and white (maybe pastel colors if you’re lucky), translucent plastic, smoothed edges, screens that slide and flip out, touch screens, unobtrusive buttons, minimalist advertising and displays, lights that come out of nowhere and catchy little chimes when the devices start up. [...] Interfaces are designed to be soothing, easy to use and colorful, and if intelligent they’ll probably be annoyingly helpful.”
Well, it’s one element in the aesthetic, sure. But see under Crystal Spires and Togas and Raygun Gothic for more.
March 29, 2012
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Raygun Gothic: The other major influence on the Empire’s aesthetics (albeit adapted to much newer technologies and materials than would be usual), along with Crystal Spires and Togas and – to a lesser extent – Everything Is An iPod In The Future. This one is notably major because for a variety of reasons – some of which involve obvious worldbuilding features and others of which would, if described, sound like a The Reason You Suck speech – its host culture never lost the optimism and essential idea that there’s a big bright beautiful Tomorrow just around the corner, courtesy of Science! (Capital and exclamation point definitely included.) Particularly since they actually did keep arriving.
(This is also why the second movement of their national anthem is just like Make Way For Tomorrow, Today, sung without a single trace of irony.)
March 28, 2012
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Crystal Spires and Togas: Well, the Imperials have the crystal spires down. Although, a little unusually, this wasn’t the follow-on from the “big, shiny, and sciency!” period (that is happening simultaneously) – it’s just that the saerymaharvéi silverlife, descendants of Precursor materials-processing nanites, left the surface of Eliera scattered with giant readily-accessible lumps of crystal right from day one. The school of architecture stuck, intermingled with art deco, the closely related Gernsback style, a soupçon of (often literally) organic designs, and highly polished steampunk/clockpunk/electropunk in-your-face mechanism, even when it’s really ultratech with “holographic” interfaces. With big chrome fins.
Note: this is not a Gilded Age. That’s hammered gold, you philistine.
There are not, however, togas. Also, the technology isn’t all that so-subtle-it-can’t-be-seen; sleek and shiny it may be, but it’s almost as obvious as in Steampunk. Imperials like their tech.
See also: Everything Is An iPod In The Future.
December 27, 2011
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The Aesthetics of Technology: Oh, the Imperials play this one completely straight. After all, the Imperial motto is Order, Progress, Liberty, and it would never do to make all those neophilic people think that they weren’t getting their Progress, capital-p included. So not only should it be all future-y, but it should look that way, too.
Which is why the stereotypical piece of technology looks like an Art Deco iPad rendered in organic shapes, out of burnished metal and crystal and gleaming stone and oiled wood, with some probably unnecessary glowy bits added around the side, and generous use of trigraphic (“hologram”) interfaces displaying all the information you need and quite a bit of information you don’t need but might quite like to have anyway. Larger industrial machinery takes this and adds a few tons of brass piping on top. Just to really take the futurity up to eleven, most of it is happy to respond to thought commands without you actually having to use a physical interface at all, although – especially on the large industrial machinery – it’s present anyway just in case you need it, and because it wouldn’t look machine-y enough without it.
And it’s all polished until it gleams, because it’s supposed to look beautiful as well as impossibly high-tech. These chaps know their market.