Trope-a-Day: The Game Come To Life

The Game Come To Life: Doesn’t happen literally, but perhaps a little played with inasmuch as there are augmentality games – designed to integrate seamlessly with the real world and make use of real-world elements during gameplay – which blur the boundary more than a little. (Enough so that a number of them have been manipulated by various sponsoring entities to achieve real-world goals. Amazing what people will do for progress towards an achievement…)

And then, of course, there was the Lord Blackfall incident.

…And Your Enemies Closer

“Among the torang, when crisis strikes, it is safer to be among your enemies than among your friends. A friendly torangta may expect you to sacrifice yourself in the name of the friend-group; an enemy will keep you alive as an assertion of superiority.”

– To See The Outer Worlds And Live!, Peregrine Press, 7930

Trope-a-Day: Galactic Superpower

Galactic Superpower: Somewhat true, in the “United Nations” sense, since the Accord of Galactic Polities doesn’t actually wield all that much power over the Associated Worlds, but the Associated Worlds do make up the majority of the setting. (Less so in numbers, given the presence of the 4/5ths as large Voniensa Republic, but more so in terms of attention paid and interesting things happening.) Averted, however, inasmuch as the Empire is a mere few hundred systems among ten-thousand, even if they are the largest polity of the Worlds and one that punches well above its weight militarily, economically, and culturally.


“That?” Cathál glanced at the slate-blue pipe in question, then down at her slate. “Water coolant source for distillation unit 02-367, tap off main section 11-9120, return through 02-3683, automatic flow valve controlled by sector utility server #2, manual cutoff accessible via service panel 02-38.”

“Distillation unit? This isn’t a machinery section.”

“Not that kind of distillation unit. It’s a… personal still.” Seeing her apprentice’s still-confused expression, she continued. “A starshine still.”

“You have those on the plans?”

She looked at him appraisingly. “You’re new-up, aren’t you?”

“First spaceside rotation, yeah. What’s that –”

“Look around you. The hab’s maybe two-thirds, or a little more, plumbing by mass. All kinds. Potable, non-potable, gray, black, steam, rad-hot, loaded, non-aqueous – hell, we’ve got reactor lines in section one circulating liquid sodium. People around here get all kinds of upset when they find a pipe that’s not on the plans, especially if they don’t know what it’s for or what’s in it. So we have an Agreement. We agree to put all the, um, unofficial plumbing on the master plans and hook it into the control systems, and the adminisphere agrees not to bug us about it unless it causes a genuine issue.”

“And it’s still unofficial?”

“Surely. But it’s officially unofficial.”


In Which Reality Is Exactly As Strange As Fiction

In today’s news, it turns out MSNBC’s legal correspondent, Ari Melber, has proposed treating “fake news”, or more technically “disprovable media claims” as a species of fraud along the same lines as fraudulent advertising – and therefore something the FTC can protect the public from.

Long-time readers may notice a certain similarity to the Empire’s  long-standing principle that “the freedom of speech is not the freedom to deceive” that establishes lies on matters of fact as criminal fraud, only aggravated by the number of people you’re lying to.

It’s just a more limited (concentrating only on “deceptive businesses” and keeping the government away from “actual journalists” and “citizens exercising their right to lie” – O tempora! O mores!) and government-centered (rather than creating a cause of action for anyone lied to) version of it. Which differences probably make it worthless anyway, but just in case anyone’s getting ideas from my fictional politics…

…it works there because of a millennia-old tradition of intellectual integrity (“right to lie, indeed!”) and of principled valxíjir and of not being a bunch of malevolent means-justifying sons-of-bitches. Both I and my fourth-wall-breaking characters strongly anti-endorse the notion for use here, where approximately none of those conditions hold true.


Trope-a-Day: Gaia’s Vengeance

Gaia’s Vengeance: One of the worlds the trikhad invaded and attempted to strip-industrialize during their brief conquistador period was Fynfil (Tanion Wilds), with its highly complex, highly interlinked, universally mutualist ecosystem. To say it went very badly indeed would be something of an understatement, because there’s not a lot you can do when pretty much every lifeform on the planet is willing to cooperate in killing you. Indeed, when pretty much the entire ecology is dedicated to the war effort.

And the word went forth: fuck not with the myriasoma.

Space Is Crowded… For Space

Something I was reminded of – by some of the comments here (…There Is Only Awesomeness) that suggest an assumption of ground combat as a default – is the surprising emptiness of space in many settings.

(I’m looking at you, Star Trek, where even the freakin’ capital of the Federation, Sol System itself, may have only one starship or even none at all present at any given time. Star Wars is usually better about this, but even then, there’s a lot less traffic than you might expect. And so on, and so forth and forth and forth.)

This is, needless to say, not the case in the Eldraeverse, in any reasonably developed star system.

Orbital space, in particular, is insanely crowded. (See the quote from Manna, here.) There’s the orbital defense grid, of course, but even leaving that aside, there are commsats, navsats, weather satellites (both monitoring and control), orbital mirrors, remote sensors of various kinds, space telescopes, junk sweepers, solar power satellites…

And then there are the orbital stations. Highports, research stations, orbital factories, skyfarms, residences (from city-sized habitats to personal mansions), skymalls, warehouses, control centers for some of the satellite constellations, data havens, propellant depots, autochandleries…

And all the OTVs, commuterspheres, satellite oilers, resupply skiffs, dock-n-snacks, and other small craft bustling about between them even before you get to regular traffic like orbital shuttles, tugs, commercial inbounds, commercial outbounds, the Watch Constabulary’s Orbit Guard…

Basically, near-planetary space is an ever-changing maze. And that’s true for pretty much every developed planet or moon in the system, to one degree or another.

That’d be bad enough if the universe worked on the kind of FTL where you can drop out of hyperspace close to planets. But since it doesn’t, then there’s the rest of the system, which isn’t by any means that crowded (it is, after all, much bigger), but which does still contain —

Long-range commsats and navsats, space weather satellites (and, close in, stellar husbandry arrays), bigger space telescopes, power-beam relays, drift stations (more farms, factories, habitations, etc., for people who like a little more distance), inhabited rocks likewise, transshipment stations for through traffic that doesn’t want to have to go downwell, smelterships, prospectors, rock pushers, comet herders, commercial traffic inbound and outbound, the Watch Constabulary’s Stellar Guard, stargates with their associated space traffic control and defense stations, more propellant depots and autochandleries…

…and, oh yes, the Imperial Navy, which in a valuable core system will mean an actual system garrison, but which even in a small, new colony will imply a system picket. With forward-deployed sensor platforms and AKVs thrown in, even by the minimal one-ship system picket.

All of whom are running their own local-space monitoring systems for space-traffic-control purposes, at least, and who are themselves being watched by SysCon’s own big track-everything-in-the-system arrays.

Which is to say, tl;dr, that your chances of making a successful approach from deep space to your target planet and making a successful landing without being detected are functionally zero, and your chances of doing it without being engaged are within delta of zero. To use an analogy, it’d be like trying to fly a Predator drone from mid-Atlantic and park it in the middle of the tarmac at Chicago O’Hare, past everyone in between, at the height of Thanksgiving traffic. Without being noticed.

Trying to do it with a viable planetary invasion force is like doing the same thing, except that instead of a Predator drone, you’re doing it with the battleship Iowa.

Which, to bring it back to comment-relevancy, means there ain’t no ground combat of any size without enough space battles to brute-force your way past that lot first, and there’s definitely no ground combat that the defenders don’t have all the time that they need to get set up for. Period.