Creative Sterility: Completely averted; even the technical non-sophonts (non-volitional sapients) can be creative; you just have to tell them to be. But in general there’s no art form that doesn’t have some digisapient, etc., practitioners.
“Me? I’m a logotect. I make words – well, there’s lots of kinds of us, some specializing in ordinary words, some in jargon, or in seals, or in meaningful names, or whatever. Technically, I’m a euphemigen. I’m the opposite of a normal eonymic; I make words that sound unlike the thing they name.”
“Some that you’ve heard of? Spend any time in finance? I’m most well-known for the division names I cooked up for Asymptotic Alpha, a couple of hundred years back: Suprapolitan Facilities, Sovereign Liability Management, Legislative Combinatorics, and Indirect Freight Services. Not my best work, but they’ve become quite popular in the industry.”
“Well, some offworld investors get quite skittish when things are called what they actually are. My terms sound so much nicer – or easier to just quietly slide past and collect your dividends – in the annual reports than ‘company habs, tax avoidance, regulatory manipulation, and smuggling’ would be.”
“So, what do you do?”
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.”
“By vote of three to one, the Photonic Network abstaining, the Presidium of the Conclave finds no justification in the any of the Accords to disbar any species from signatory status or from signatory-member status on the basis of its origin. By vote of three to zero, the Photonic Network and League of Meridian abstaining, the Presidium of the Conclave finds that homeworld status under the Common Volumetric Accord is properly granted to the first colonies of the temísi, arthál, and zal!en under the nomadic-species precedent set by the róthich in in re Rothichican. And neither the Presidium nor the Conclave as a body has any further comment on this affair. Please refer your questions to individual legations. Thank you.”
– Peliakos Amvarixin ve-Sintich, spokesman for the Conclave
“‘Playing god?’ is it? ‘Fake bodies and rootless environment’? Oh-ho! I scent the stink of Never Last, Parents for Natural Children, or some others of that baseline-uber-alles, rah-rah crowd upon that so-innocent article sent anonymously to the Router. All they need is to mention impurifying their essence and we’d have the whole set. Unless that’s what they meant by that ‘natural species’ emphasis which – speaking as one of the enthusiastically Reengineered Esseli Biosystem – they can shove right up their excretory vacuoles.”
“The soph’s an idiot. Makes no sense at all. Fictional government — all governments are fictional until you implement them, and with people like the Iltines and the Galians and the Vonnies out there, they can hardly do worse. And as for culture, these new species may not have much self-generated culture now, but that’s a problem that will solve itself in just a few decades or centuries spent living.”
“I’d offer to grow him a new exocortex, but this much stupid’s got to be contagious.”
– GTTAAACATATGGAGGCCATACGA, letter to the Accord Journal
“It’s certainly not what we expected when we sold the rights to ith-Vinithinios. And for myself – when we first heard about it, I thought it was the weirdest damned thing. Just a game setting, you know, no more than that. I and my design team just made them and their cultures and all the rest of it up for the sake of the story we wanted to tell. It never crossed my mind – never crossed any of our minds – that people might actually want to live there.”
“Now? Well, no offense intended to those involved, but it still seems a little weird. But mostly, I think we’re proud of having invented peoples, places and cultures that they wanted to make real. And I very much look forward to seeing what they do with them.”
– Camdal Essenye-ith-Haranye, lead designer, Mirajdíä Studios
“Oh, great. Nice for them. But how are we supposed to play the games now?”
– overheard in a skymall, at Asché (Lilium Drifts)
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.)
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.
Just to warn y’all, things are going to look a little off in the trope-a-day world for a while, because while the next trope up technically is The Beautiful People, it happens to be sitting on top of a dependency chain 24 tropes deep.
So we’re going to be rather spectacularly out of alphabetical order for most of the month of April, okay?