Trope-a-Day: Great Big Library of Everything

Great Big Library of Everything: The Empire’s Repository of All Knowledge, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Apart from containing copies of every work in every medium published anywhere in the Empire and many of the unpublished ones too, it routinely sends out collections agents to make sure it has a copy of any work it can get its hands on anywhere else within its light-cone, too. (Such agents can be quite persistent. The Black Chamber does not like to take no for an answer.)

Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (9)

An Ember-class star distinguished only by its relative proximity to the Eye of Night (Last Darkness), orbited by a scattering of asteroids and an equally undistinguished dwarf planet (Geydagan Actual), the Geydagan (Last Darkness) System is occupied only by the Servants of Geydas, a cruel, hostile, aggressive, and secretive cult dwelling in a number of shabby surface habitats.

The Servants of Geydas are a polyspecific cult whose origins are lost in unreliable history. Their doctrine, pieced together from defectors, refugees, and espionage reports, is one of prostration before and service to their deity, Geydas, who is said to be imprisoned within the depths of the Eye of Night. Supposedly, Geydas created many ancient sophont races and offered them many gifts of knowledge, enabling them to ascend to enormous heights of scientific and technological prowess, but these species chafed under the control of their deity and grew jealous of its power, turning on it and collapsing an inescapable prison around it. Their victory came at the cost of their own destruction, as the deity’s rage lashed out even as he was imprisoned and brought their societies crashing down around them, but the deity remains imprisoned even now. The cult claims to have been contacted by the imprisoned deity, offering knowledge, enlightenment, and power in exchange for its freedom. At this task the Servants have labored for nearly three millennia.

There is, of course, no scientific evidence for the existence of Geydas, or for the historical events depicted, or for the Eye of Night being anything other than a perfectly natural black hole; and the notion that an entity can communicate from within the event horizon is flatly denied by known physics. In any case, the liberation of such a hypothetical deity from its prison would assuredly require the application of sophisticated ontotechnological space-time engineering techniques, and not merely the adept groveling, literal self-flagellation, or even sophont sacrifice that the Servants of Geydas have occasionally descended to.

In short: there are no security concerns whatsoever arising from these deluded cultists or their hypothetical deity. At worst, there is a minor req for pest control.

– Core Sextant Security Report, 7925

Trope-a-Day: God Test

God Test: Have gone rather out of fashion since most examples of a miracle became something people could purchase at their local hardware store, leaving things people could ask to be done as proof of divine bona fides too academic (“Violate conservation of energy!”), too insane (“So make a rock too heavy for you to lift, then lift it anyway!”), or impractically large (“Go ahead then, CREATE A UNIVERSE.”).

A Pistol With One Shot

black cell (n.): An originally-improvised form of prison or brig cell used by various independent drifts and starships designed for long-duration flight, a black cell is adapted from an airlock, in which the outer door is not equipped with a docking collar, and the inner door is only controllable from the outside. The prisoner is often (although by no means always) held in as much comfort as a standard cell would provide, supplied with air, water, and food, but always retains the option of opening the outer airlock door and choosing a quick death by spacing.

Opinion is mixed where the use of black cells, improvised or designed, is concerned: whether they are a means of providing their prisoners with an honorable alternative (or, in many spacers’ eyes, a way to spare their comrades the life-support burden), versus offering only a sadistic choice between a quick death and a slow, as they clearly do in those cases in which water and food are not provided. As in the case of so many technologies, it’s the application that determines the ethicality.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

 

Trope-a-Day: A Glitch in the Matrix

A Glitch in the Matrix: Avoiding this sort of thing, when it comes to virtual reality, is one of the few legitimate uses for the Out-of-Mind visual textures. (Others mostly including hiding gifts and playing really terrible practical jokes.)

A more commonly seen variant are “weavespiders”, small metallic fractal spiders (which everyone knows to ignore) used in virtual realms to collect trash, reassemble broken scenery, and otherwise do maintenance. While, obviously enough, this can simply be done programmatically without requiring any visual metaphor, reifying them like this is a simple way of avoiding the uncanny valley effect of changes “just happening” with no apparent in-world cause.

Worldbuilding: Those Wacky Galians

A somewhat snarksome summary written for use elsewhere, which I repost here for general interest:

Theomachy of Galia

A polity controlled by and largely made up of religious fanatics, well-known for despising unbelievers, anyone they perceive as weak, the female of the species, any species1, and for some incomprehensible reason, “all that walks on six legs,” despite their homeworld being void of any hexapedes larger than insect-sized. Unpleasantly militant, ephemeralist, baseline-supremacist, slaveholders, possessors of not-at-all-secret plans to conquer the galaxy for their insufficiently-grovelled-before deity, etc., etc.

Also, in blissful and complete denial of the inability of fanaticism to compensate for technological inferiority, and of the way in which even fellow members of the Socionovist Association consider their outright fondling of the Villain Ball to be slightly less subtle than Snidely Whiplash2.


1. Even in cases such as the qucequql, which considering the qucequql male is little more than a non-sapient wrapper around a gamete packet, makes even less sense than the rest of their doctrine. Also, makes conversations at diplomatic dinner parties downright tedious.

2. Only without the sense of style or the awesome mustache.

Trope-a-Day: Giving Radio to the Romans

Giving Radio to the Romans: Tends to happen quite a bit, given the lack of any Prime Directive-equivalent and the large number of free traders around who are more than happy to sell anything to anyone who can pay – and that’s not even counting the “fell off the back of a starship, guv, ten bob to you for cash” crowd – and the desires of most people on most worlds for shiny toys.

Some of the real life consequences mentioned are prevented by the Empire’s also having a bunch of private organizations of various kinds, including professional civilization-uplift consultants, who go around helping people not to be total screwups under these sorts of circumstances… but not all of them. But, y’know, free will and all, and it’s not as if they made you invest in technologies granting you the capacity to be total dicks and then use it in that exact manner, belike. That’s on you.