Cultural Crossovers #17: Thor: Ragnarok

In which there is an apocalypse.

  • Man, that’s a lot of chains.
  • Well, you’re an unlikely flaming chap. But I guess if there are ice giants, there should be fire giants.
  • Thor, you’ve been hanging out with Tony Snark too much.
  • Oh, you shouldn’t have said that. Keep your special hat secret.
  • We approve this music choice.
  • Well, Asgard’s standards in gatekeepers have gone all to hell.
  • …even by ontotech standards, Mjolnir is hax.
  • Don’t think their standards in Viking-inspiring women are doing so well, either.
  • Oh, Loki. Evidently you gave up completely on subtlety and subtlety-adjacent things when you kinged yourself.
  • Awwww. But you two were so cute! And no Jane means no more Darcy, Best Intern Ever!
  • Well, isn’t that… Strange.
  • Implication: Asgard also has wizards. Of course, Earth also had wizards all along.
  • Loki is having a really bad day.
  • And Odin seems to be enjoying his retirement.
  • Well, this introduction is going well.
  • Mew-mew! Noooo!
  • Hm. Bifrost is also a place. Interesting. And one you can be thrown out of mid-transit.
  • Well, shit. We’ve seen those guys fight, and so… implications unpleasant.
  • Is that… a planet-sized landfill? With wormholes dropping garbage out of the sky? But… but… (economists have meltdown)
  • (I mean, I suppose it could be natural, but there had to be something better to use it for.)
  • Guessing these folks got landfilled too, at some point.
  • A very drunk Asgardian?
  • Not bad “going through them” for someone that drunk. “Blowing through them”, one might say.
  • And so passes the last of the Warriors Three. (Hm. I wonder where Sif is right now.)
  • Ah. So, they have a sideline in slave gladiators. Delightful planet, this Sakaar.
  • (Oh, right, where the paper people come from.)
  • Of course Loki would turn up there.
  • This one is laid back for a gladiator. Insert obligatory stoned pun here.
  • One might think slaughtering the entirety of Asgard’s military forces would be something of a self-own for the new queen…
  • (And this is why historical revisionism is problematic.)
  • …oh. A giant army of the mostly dead. And giant wolf!
  • (Awww, puppy.)
  • The hammer is his… hammer. Yep. Just his hammer.
  • Okay, so if there was this elite force of women warriors, what was that whole deal back in Thor about Sif being one?
  • Tough crowd.
  • Oh, that’s where you ended up.
  • Not sure he likes that name.
  • Like he said, god of thunder…
  • puny god of thunder. And Loki gloats, of course…
  • …or not. Someone’s feeling their elemental associations today.
  • Es. 10 says Heimdall is running the resista —
  • — thank you.
  • Evidently extended runtime is good for Hulk. And he’s got himself a life now.
  • And a robust sense of humor. And, ooh, a statue.
  • Ah, Heimdall has an exit. Guess when you can see everything in the universe, you pick up on all the back doors.
  • Nice escape. Well, right up until the Quinjet got Hulked, and the Hulk got dehulked.
  • Man, how bad must two years worth of Hulk-hangover be.
  • “Melt-stick,” seriously?
  • The Valkyrie rode pegasai. Okay, let’s revise the mythologae recreation list.
  • “You’ve been on a planet before.” Heh.
  • And soon it will be three.
  • Well, except for Hulkfest Carnivale whatever-local-year-this-is.
  • Worst impromptu name ever.
  • The “Devil’s Anus”? Apt. And dreadfully entendric.
  • You have a terrible job, Grand Master’s chief minion.
  • That is a terrible strategy, but that’s a really nice ship.
  • That, on the other hand, was a very nice strategy. If a mite dickish.
  • …something about a black light…
  • That would be a fairly odd thing to have a doctorate in.
  • Maybe not a gun, but it’ll do.
  • Awwww, puppy.
  • One would think they’d have better methods of interrogation on Asgard, but maybe Hela gets her kicks this way.
  • A very convenient wormhole, indeed.
  • And Thor teaches us all how to do provoke and confront.
  • DON’T SHOOT THE — well, okay, guess you have to.
  • Well, that wasn’t the plan.
  • Just you and your undead slaves, eh, Hela?
  • Welp, Loki and an opportunity to be theatrical. Should’ve called it.
  • Big-ass lightning bolts speak louder than words.
  • This is the best fightin’ music ever.
  • Alas, poor Fenris. You deserved a better mistress.
  • (But, hell, no-one else even wounded the Hulk. Ever.)
  • Even unavoidable sacrifices suck.
  • And Skurge of Asgard, at the last, dies well.
  • Bloody hell. He wasn’t kidding about being mountain-sized.
  • The audience also hates this prophecy. Civilizations should not fall. That is literally the opposite of the proper course of events.
  • Hulk is disappoint. Biggest challenge yet.
  • Korg, your timing is just the worst.
  • Well, won’t Earth be surprised to receive a sudden shipful of Asgardians? (Especially those Asatru whose worldview wasn’t already beaten all to hell in the last few years.)
  • …assuming that leaves anyone alive, that is.
  • And what’s about to couldn’t happen to a nicer planetary slavemaster.

Outsize

“Finally, let us turn to the biggest megaships of them all, the fleet carriers. Including them in this work is a choice which I expect to be somewhat controversial – many would argue that a fleet carrier is a formation, not a vessel – but with respect to those readers who may hold that position, since the Imperial Navy treats fleet carriers as a single vessel for asset accounting and command designation purposes, so in turn shall I.

“Let us begin with a look at the history of the type. Fleet carriers were not known before the Exterminomachy (5782-5901). While before that time lighthuggers had met with occasional hostility, they had proven more than capable of defending themselves against local system defense forces, in particular with the Perreinar Wheel1 – and in those cases where they were not, it was because they had encountered a Power not readily opposed by pure military force. This changed with the arrival of the skrandar berserker probes, whose numbers and willingness to embrace suicide tactics made them a serious threat to even well-defended vessels, and eliminating breeding site for which required the transport of full task forces to their host systems.

“The first fleet carriers, then, were improvisations; lighthuggers pressed into service under the right of angary. Stripped down by removing all cargo capacity, much crew space, and all other less-than-essential facilities, and enhancing their fuel capacity with multiple drop tanks, it became possible to clamp a small number of light units – overstocked with fuel and supplies – to the spine of such a vessel, and have it haul them slowly and painfully to a target system.

“Such crude improvisations were fraught with problems, from wear and tear on ships and crew during the slow transit, to the risk of interception before the transported units could free themselves from the carrier – both due to the inefficiency of the mechanical clamps, and the need to cut clamps frozen in transit or actual hard welds used where clamps would not suffice, to even entire vessels lost from the carrier in transit. (The last of these to be recovered, CS Bloodwashed3, was salvaged with all hands in 6722.)

“Fortunately, by the third year of the Exterminomachy, new designs were emerging from the cageworks at Ashen Planitia and Armory. The second-generation fleet carriers were custom-built starships, or rather, the specialized elements (the “propulsion head” and “collier module”) were, since the second generation eschewed the rigid designs of the first in exchange for dispersed tensegrity structures.

“In effect, the starships transported by the fleet carrier, along with the specialized elements, formed the floating compression struts of the overall structure, while being linked by braided cables (derived from orbital elevator technology) into a unified structure. The majority of the propulsive thrust is provided by the dedicated propulsion heads, while specialized fleet mediator software enables the use of the drives of the various carried ships to balance the structure and correct attitude. Meanwhile, supplies carried in the collier modules, distributed by rigged flexpipe and by cable-crawling logistics robots, eliminated the need to overload any individual ship with supplies, and indeed enabled the transportation of greater volumes of fuel and replenishment. Moreover, such fleet carriers could separate instantly if intercepted by simply blowing the explosive cable-couplers and engaging their drives independently, the dispersed tensegrity structure providing adequate safety separation for this.

“Such dispersed-design fleet carriers served with distinction throughout the remainder of the Exterminomachy, and have remained a key element of IN subluminal doctrine since. While there exist a third generation of fleet carrier designs, these merely reflect the evolution in technological reliability that allows the physical cables of the second generation to be replaced with vector-control tractor-pressor beams, and does not reflect any change in fundamental design or doctrine.

“As ad hoc structures, of course, it would be incorrect to say that fleet carriers have classes, in the strictest sense. However, the individual propulsion heads and collier modules, the former full starships in themselves, do. Thus, we shall begin our examination of fleet carriers with a look at the most common propulsion head in Imperial service, the Legends-class…”

– Megaships of the Imperium, Lorvis Maric, pub. 7290


  1. Perreinar2 Wheel: a fight-and-flight maneuver in which a lighthugger puts its stern towards the battle and engages its interstellar drive, thus retreating from the engagement while simultaneously treating the enemy to the close-range efflux of a pion drive – a situation which is very rarely survivable for anything larger than a baryon.
  2. From the eponymous horse archers who had perfected the “Perreinar shot” centuries before.
  3. Lost in the wreck of CS Cúlíän Daphnotarthius, which suffered a structural collapse of the spine while outward bound to IGS 31238 in the second year of the war.

Social Diseases

cognitive osmosis: The process, according to rumor, by which farspeech or other telepathic or techlepathic contact, especially the forms based in the exchange of neural gestalts, with the stupid causes one, oneself, to become less intelligent.

(Curiously, none of these stories ever suggests that this process makes the stupid themselves more intelligent.)

While having no basis whatsoever in sophontology, noetics, cerebroergetics, neuroscience, or indeed anything else but the unpleasant psychic odor of ill-formed thoughtforms, it remains an occasional phobia, a common urban legend, and a popular insult among everyone who has ever felt the urge to demand to know why they are surrounded by these incompetent fools.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Elementary, My Dear Reader

This wasn’t what I intended to post next, but I’m still working on the “fleet carriers” post. In the meantime, have some more words.

So, among the basic words in a language, certainly for chemists, are those for various substances, and this is as true in Eldraeic as it is for any other language.

If we are to begin at the beginning, it would be with the classical elements, which in the Old Empires region were usually held to be six: air, fire (andra), water (alír), wood, metal, and stone (azik). But that is not quite enough to describe anything but what were, in the ancient days, considered the most fundamental substances, it being their combinations that gave rise to all the myriad components of the world.

And so, in the next step down, the first eldraeic alchemists divided substances into airs (gases), clays (“woody earths”, of which there seemed to be rather a lot), crystals (“metallic stones”, likewise), fires, metals, oils (“fiery waters”), salts (“stony waters”), waters, woods, and stones, thus:

  • aessoth: a (type of) crystal; any crystalline (to the eye) substance
    (from aesa “crystal” + oth “substance, stuff”)
  • alíroth: a (type of) water; any watery substance
    (from alír “water” + oth)
  • azikoth: a (type of) stone; any stony substance
    (from azik “rock, stone” + oth)
  • claithalíroth: a (type of) oil; any oily substance
    (“dark/shadowed water”, from claith “shadow” + alíroth)
  • ésaeroth: a (type of) salt; any salt or similar substance
    (“many little crystals”; from é [diminutive prefix] + aesa + oth)
  • múszikoth: a (type of) clay; any clay-like or earthy substance
    (from músel “soft” + azikoth)
  • nistraöth: a (type of) metal; any metallic substance
    (from nistra “forge” + oth)
  • teliroth: a (type of) air; any airy substance, or gas
    (from telír “sky” + oth)
  • lethroth: a (type of) wood; any woody or fleshy substance
    (from leth “life” + oth; note that lethroth includes both wood and meat, as the classical element does)

There is also:

  • andradoth: a (type of) fire; any fiery substance

Resulting from the common ancient confusion that fire is an element, rather than a process. Although while not substances, it is still possible to consider various different types of fire (i.e., different combustion reactions) and arguably plasmas as subcategories of andradoth.

To provide a comprehensive list of substances would of course be a virtually endless task, but let’s simply start with the metals, of which there were a pleasantly limited number known in ancient days:

  • andralis: uranium (“fire-metal”; it’s warm to the touch)
  • arídanis: gold (“sun-metal”; from the color)
  • ashínis: silver (“star-metal”)
  • brans: iron; also bransael, steel, and telbrans (“sky-iron”), meteoric iron.
  • glénis: tin (“key-metal”, so called because it unlocks the potential of other metals, such as copper and lead)
  • morins: copper (“red-metal”; from the color)
  • púlnónis: lead (“mass-metal”; obviously, it’s heavy)
  • traäshínis alír (“star-metal water”): mercury

And there you are. Go forth, and talk about stuff!

Eldraeic Word of the Day: Lechné

lechné: sweat, perspiration; technically, lechné refers to any fluid intentionally used to carry heat away by evaporation, and so cooling water for planetary power reactors, liquid hydrogen coolant used for evaporative hull cooling, and so forth, can all be described as lechné, as well as the original referent, biological secretions used for this purpose.

For-Profit Orbit

From: Qory Estenv, Flight Overadministrator
To: All Astronauts

In response to your request for clarification about the Initiative’s “souvenir policy”, we don’t particularly care if you want to shove a box of postcards, or vanity coins, or model kits of the Phoenix, or whatever else you like in your personal mass-allowance to make an esteyn or two.

We’re going to be cramming any spare cargo mass/volume we can find with our own official souvenirs, after all, and telling the people who’ve volunteered to ride a stack of bombs into space they can’t do the same would hardly be square play.

However:

Flight Dynamics has informed me that he will personally throw the owner of anything that doesn’t show up on his mass-balance charts out of the airlock.

Inventory & Materiel Test were less colorful about it, but their response was substantively the same.

And both Accounting and I, as your obligator, would request that if you come up with a scheme that makes the kind of money that’d show up in the Initiative’s budget — share the wealth with the ones that flew you, okay?

– a sign once posted at SIFC,
from the Spaceflight Initiative archives