By Their Warnings Shall Ye Know Them

Structural Metallic Oxygen
Do not remove from cryogenic environment.

Not for use in reducing atmospheres or vacuum.

Defended Privacy Boundary
Do not transgress with active sensoria.

Please check biochemical compatibility coding before consuming or tasting.

Low Bandwidth Zone
Do not enter with ‘weave-routed cloud cognition, full-spectrum telepresence, or other high-quota services in effect.

Contains active nanodevices; do not break hermetic seal while blue status light is illuminated.

Spin Gravity
Gravity may vary with direction of motion.
Freely moving objects travel along curved paths.

Motivation hazard: Do not ingest if operating under a neurokinin/nociceptin addiction/tolerance regime.

No Ubiquitous Surveillance
Unmonitored hazards may exist within this zone.
Manual security and emergency response calls required.

Tangle channels utilize macroscale quantum systems; do not expose to potential sources of decoherence.

Diamondoid Surfaces
Slippery even when dry.

WARNING: This hyperlink references gnostic overlay templates that may affect your present personality, persona or consciousness. Are you sure you wish to proceed?

Dynamic Spacetime
Contraterragenesis reactor contains a synthetic spinning/charged gravitational singularity of mass 120,000,000 tons.  Take all appropriate precautions during servicing.

CAUTION: Palpable microwave pulsation power feeds in operation.

Legislative Boundary
The zone you are entering exercises private legislative privilege under the Conlegius Act.
By entering voluntarily you accede to compliance with applicable private law (see v-tag).

Trope-a-Day: Benevolent Alien Invasion

Benevolent Alien Invasion: Well, sort of.  It’s almost never an invasion (although there are some groups, like, say, the Sanguinary Enforcers of the Liberty Ethic, who don’t mind holding Blast The Shit Out Of The Oppressors And Bugger Off Again Day from time to time).  Much more common is the First Contact Whose Aftereffects Are Pretty Benevolent, But Really, All They Had In Mind Was Entering A New Emerging Market.

Exercising Government by Means of Virtue

Some governments maintain a rigidly defined chain of command, rights and duties, from top to bottom – from a monarch, an autocrat, an elected council, or what have you, directives emerge and are complied with by the lesser strata of administration.

This is at best theoretically the case in the Empire.  While section VIII of the Imperial Charter does instruct the runér to owe fealty and duties to their superiors and receive them from their inferiors, it leaves what precisely these consist of unsaid, and specifies that they are owed to the Empire first and the Imperial Couple second before that; and in defining the duties of the runér, it requires subordination only in the command of local garrison forces, otherwise saying that their administration shall be “in accordance with their right of coronargyr and the Imperial Mandate”.

In practice, then, the Empire’s runér are an independent and fractious group, proud of their demesnes, and prone to vigorously defend their prerogatives and perquisites to govern as they see fit.  Such cooperation as can be expected as of right is limited to that enshrined in Imperial law and their letters patent.  Moreover, while the power of a runér to govern is strictly circumscribed by the Fundamental Contract and the Imperial Charter, most well-established or founding runér command extensive tapestries of properties, investments, easements, circles, pacts, favors, and reputation within their demesne which grant them extensive socioeconomic power and influence outside their formal command of justice, defense, and the public infrastructure.

Thus, the successful Imperial Couple or upper-stratum executive learns to avoid commanding the runér when possible; and when necessary, to apply persuasion, influence, incentive and leverage in equal measure.

– from the Scroll of Staves, fifteenth recension

Trope-a-Day: Belief Makes You Stupid

Belief Makes You Stupid: Subverted, mostly, by the Church of the Flame, whose official doctrine adheres to an Enlightenment-friendly attitude that expecting the eikones to come down from the Twilight City and tell you everything about everything, or even just a subset of it that you “need to know”, would be completely missing the point, and that your job, Mr. Believer, is to run and find out, then go and implement, and then iterate until it’s perfect.


The smell was a warning, hot, organic and yeasty like fresh-baked bread, with an underlying tang of metal, blowing across my chemosensors as I crashed into the apartment; the characteristic effusions of an active nanosystem.  It was a useful warning, since this amateur nanohacker had ignored the procotols and the caution-warning channel was silent but for the emergency-in-progress tags I and building management had posted manually.

But it was also a redundant warning.  The bloom was already macroscopic, gaping gaps showing in the ceiling and wall paneling where nanites had harvested them for materials.  I punched through the hole-riddled remnant of the wall that separated the atrium from the apartment’s main room, spraying around me with abandon the chemical nanobinder semi-affectionately known as ‘phlegm’, and brought myself up short.  The center of the floor had collapsed into the utility space, and the remnants of a chair and a table that had probably once contained lab equipment had now mostly deliquesced into the domed pseudopuddle below.  All that remained of the chair’s occupant were the hard-to-digest fragments of a carbon-reinforced skeleton, still gleaming with the rainbow colors of machine-phase nano.  This was clearly the center of the outbreak.

A vector stack was still pinging from one side of the puddle, though, so I selected a justheart from my panniers and lofted it as close as I could to the stack’s location.  It shattered on impact, the liquid nitrogen pouring out already boiling and freezing the puddle medium.  Good.  Citizen Idiot should be back in time to to face the foot-high stack of lawsuits this venture had already bought him.

Spraying more phlegm, targeted now to coat and seal off the pseudopuddle, I moved in to sample and contain…

Space Programs

title text: “The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space—each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.”

Initially (economically) irrationally decision, anyway.

I used this trope extensively in developing the Eldraeverse; of course, those single-planet cultures which find themselves overtaken by the expanding edge of the Associated Worlds do eventually get into space. Only to find themselves relegated to playing catch-up in a galactic society that sees them as eternal second-placers, but, hey, lack of ambition has consequences.

[Originally posted elsewhere, 2011/5/3 – I ran across it again, today, and dammit, it’s still relevant.]

Public-Private Partnership

The degree of cooperation which you can expect to receive in the course of your work abroad will usually – not universally – be a function of the local government class.

Our most successful relationships are usually with the many private sovereignties of the Associated Worlds, large or small – the independent habitats and freesoil worlds.  We have made no secret of our national origins in the private-law providers that sprung up after the Drowning of the People, and while the historical processes that caused those PPLs to join together into first the Old Empires, then the Union of Empires, and finally the Empire have led to many changes, we still show the marks of our origin.  The Imperium Incorporate is still exactly that; the rights and obligations of, and the services provided to and fees paid by, our citizen-shareholders are matters of written and individually sealed contract; and in this way, we acknowledge that our sovereignty – our mandate – is delegated to us explicitly, and on an individual basis, by the people.

In short, it’s not too difficult for them to see us as the same type of organization.  Yes, by any standards, we are a hypertrophied PPL, having taken on other functions such as externality management and certain types of service provision; we are a monopoly within the majority of our service area; and so forth.  But we operate in the same essential paradigm, and we govern, inasmuch as we do govern, by the unanimous consent of our citizen-shareholders.

We treat them, moreover, with respect that most archist polities do not.  We are signatories to the inter-PPL Warden-Bastion Compact, and operate according to its strictures where their clients and our citizen-shareholders interact.  Quite simply, we take them seriously as sovereignties and peers, whether in individual negotiations or before the Conclave, or whether they are managed by PPL corporations operating across dozens of worlds and systems, or are a single habitat with a double-digit population, and are accorded courtesy and cooperation in return which those governments which only respect their fellow public-geopolitical sovereignties are not.

Our relationships with the aforesaid public sovereignties, conversely, are considerably more difficult, and for much the same reason.  Our national myth, incorporating both the fall of the korásan and the Drowning of the People, makes our opinion of public sovereignties of both the autocratic and democratic scholia clear, as do frequent public statements from organizational-engineering theorists examining the principles of contract and consent and libertist action groups alike.

And while we are not treated – by virtue of size and Great Power status – with the same degree of public disdain that the major public sovereignties reserve for the small private sovereignties, the Empire’s steadfast support for the principle of individual self-sovereignty and self-determination and consequent willingness to treat with private sovereignties – many of which have seceded from, or whose population is drawn from ex-citizens of, existing public-geopolitical sovereignties – further significantly impairs our ability to maintain cordial relations.

– excerpt from an early training lecture at the Ministry of State and Outlands