Author’s Notes: Food and Headlines

Which is to say, on this and that:

On the first, just a quick linguistic note, concerning the name of the Thousand Scents Road.  Eldraeic has two words which could be glossed as “thousand”, because it has two systems of numbers.  The “traditional” system, and the “syllabic” system, in which each of the possible digits are encoded as a syllable, and the syllables are simply strung together in digit order, most significant to least significant, to produce a number word for absolutely any number.

Neither of these, however, represents 1,000; the Empire uses base 12, if you recall?  (Or were prompted by the As and Bs you saw in the street numbers; although obviously their own digital system has unique symbols for 10 and 11.)  They represent 1,728.

The compromise translation convention I have settled upon is that where syllabic numbers are used – which in the modern era means for virtually all mathematical, scientific, and commercial purposes – it’ll be translated accurately, as 1,728 – or higher multiples as appropriate.  But there are plenty of places where “thousand” is simply used as a metonym for “a great many”, such as in the name of the street in question; no-one has actually checked how many perfumiers and products there are along its length, but it’s certainly not exactly that, and probably is a great deal more.  Fortunately, these are also the places where people would tend to use the traditional numbers, for reasons of euphony, and so, I feel free to translate that as “thousand”, since Thousand Scents Road conveys the intended meaning to the human reader much better than 1,728 Scents Road.

This, incidentally, is also what high-quality machine translation, of the kind that most travellers and aliens abroad use in the setting, does with them.

(Also, for those curious, a reshkef – and that’s pronounced approximately rehs-h’kef where the apostrophe represents a glottal stop – is a meat, milk and wool animal most closely analogous to a six-legged browsing sheep.)

On the latter, just some comments regarding the Infoclast.  When I was going over the draft with my lovely wife and beta reader, she remarked that some of their phrasings seemed a little off, for serious news reporting: the “now annual tradition” of the Voniensan diplomatic protest, for one, or the “laughing all the way to the bank”.

To clarify a little, I should perhaps explain that the Worlds’ news media does not, by and large, follow the American tradition of being as serious and objective as possible (insofar as that’s possible; I find it pretty risible myself), but more the fine British tradition that I’m used to of, while reporting essentially the same facts, catering to the slant that their readership would prefer the news to have.

You can get something very close to pure objective news.  The Objective Eye offers that by virtue of being the closest thing possible to completely machine-produced news, with the few sophonts involved in the process having emotion-suppressors and objectivity overlays firmly clamped on to their brains while at work.  Feeds to other news organs aside, virtually all of its small subscriber base is AI who are closer to the machine than most, and even most of those find it stultifying in its steadfast refusal to ever take any position on anything.

Of other major news organs which I currently know about, Imperial Certified Interstellar News is unashamed in its pro-Empire slant and reporting of “happy news”, such that even the people who work there call it “Propaganda Prime”.  The Exchange Times, out of the tradeworld Seranth, takes an editorial position of such strict economic rationality that it makes even other financial papers look like fuzzy-minded hippies.  The Accord Journal (probably the largest news organ of all of them) tries to maintain a position somewhere close to the mean of the entire Associated Worlds, which makes it contradict itself a lot of the time.  The Independent Worlds Router takes no position in the other direction to the Eye, by printing absolutely everything that turns up and complies with their editorial standards and reality, and so contradicts itself all the time.

And the Imperial Infoclast caters to those people who enjoy snarking at positions the Imperial mainstream thinks are stupid and people they think deserve it.