Book Recommendation

I made a book recommendation elsewhere today, concerning the problem of writing beings with senses or abilities or other things that we don’t have, and since for myself I think it’s a rather good recommendation, well, I’m going to make it here, too.

Specifically, Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz.  It’s a fascinating examination of the canine umwelt – per von Uexkull – their subjective view of and interaction with the world, including the many differences in their sense perceptions.  I originally found it useful to help me think about the different mindset of the dar-bandal, the uplifted near-wolves of the Eldraeverse, but a good many of the concepts and ideas I picked up in there have helped me a lot with imagining the perceptions and internal view of much stranger creatures.

(After all, dogs and wolves are close cousins of ours, who may have different models of the traditional five senses, but still use those; it’s rather more challenging to try and imagine the perceptual world of the five-minded ice snakes that are the murast whose “vision” includes none of our visual-light spectrum, the seb!nt!at who perceive the world through nuclear force and magnetic domains, or the mezuar, who as sophont forests, don’t even have a similar sense of self-identity to ours!)

Highly recommended for both worldbuilders and those of everyone fortunate enough to have a dog in their lives.

2012 Conlang Card Exchange

This year I’m planning to take part in the 2012 Conlang Card Exchange, in which participants from the conlang and conculture mailing lists I subscribe to exchange:

“a card-sized, mailed, ordinary or concultural, written-in-a-conlang item such as:

  • a this-cultural greeting card in the conlang
  • a this-world postcard in the conlang
  • a postcard of a concultural location (in the conlang… take this as read for the remainder of the entries)
  • a greeting card for a concultural holiday
  • a concultural card-like, written artifact that may or may not be related to a holiday, which may or may not be occurring this December or associated with solstices or anything at all
  • something that the participant feels fits the spirit of the above, is written in their conlang, and can be mailed like an ordinary card”

But since I’m feeling all generous-like this month, what with recent events in the world of books, I thought I’d throw this offer open to my blog readers, too.  Fancy getting some pretty far-wandering conmail from some conpeople?  Let me know in the comments, and I’ll get in touch and tell you where to send your mailing address.

Author’s Note: Multiple Jeopardy

So, yeah.

Here’s how the legal system – well, the Empire’s legal system, anyway – copes with forking.  You are liable for all the crimes committed by you, or by the lineal fork-ancestors from which you descend.  So if you commit the crime first, and then fork, both of you are liable.  But if you fork, and then the other you commits the crime, you’re not liable, because you had neither mens rea nor actus reus.  See?

(And, obvs., if you merge, you’re liable for whatever your constituents did, pre-merge.)

Unless you decided to commit the crime before you forked, and only one of you actually did it, because then both of you had mens rea.  In which case, the one of you who did it will be prosecuted for committing the crime, and the other one of you will be prosecuted for conspiring to commit the crime – with yourself, sure, but conspiracy is conspiracy.  And conveniently enough, under Imperial law, the penalty for conspiring to commit a crime is almost always identical to the penalty for actually committing it.

This applies even if you, the fork that didn’t commit the crime, don’t remember conspiring to commit the crime, because your progenitor redacted it out of your mind-state.  Whether you remember it or not, you’re still the person that decided to commit the crime, which means you still had mens rea, even if you don’t remember having had it.

Unless, that is, the redactions and other mental editing done to you are sufficiently large to render you a different individual, for legal purposes, because that’s legally equivalent to killing yourself and creating someone new, and you can’t be held liable for the crimes of your creator any more than you can be held liable for the crimes of your parents.

And then there’s what happens if you decide to commit a bank robbery, say, and then fork, and then the fork that commits the crime has his plan go south and kills someone in the course of the robbery, in which case that fork can be prosecuted for corpicide or cognicide, as relevant, but the other fork of you can only be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit the robbery, since mens rea for that existed before the split, but that for the murder did not.

Now, about those three-fork cases…

Multiple Jeopardy

AIÖ (IMPERIAL CORE) — The Watch Constabulary announced today the capture of more instances of Werg yilKorin hinAnkar, estrev and sole member of the Shrouded Suns Selfdom, a criminal syndicate based out of the Sivrin Freeworlds, notorious for their ventures in blacknet operations, infojacking, reputation gaming, identity fraud, loansharking, forknapping, brainspiking, genetheft, semislavery and sophont trafficking.

The three captured instances, Werg.1032, Werg.1033, and Werg.1120 were executed upon verification of identity, under the sentence of death passed against their lineal fork-ancestor, Werg.37, in 4982.  At the present time, the Constabulary estimates that 383 instances of yilKorin remain at large.

An Inglorious Coda

Arkuel Múras: Where’s next on the agenda?

Ethly 0x4414CC2B:  Freylis.  Fourth planet of Ardylis in the Dark Sea, two moons, oxy-nitro-water garden world with a levo-protein, levo-lipid, dextro-carbohydrate, DNA-encoding ecology.  And most interestingly, a former sophont civilization, or what’s left of it.

Arkuel Múras: How former?

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: By the aging on the city cores and the radio shell, five or six centuries, approximately, and the remaining artificial satellites and the artifacts we found on the major moon – some rocket parts, scientific instruments, and monumental engravings, dating to perhaps a century or century and one half before the end – would bear that out, as would the current levels of common industrial pollutants in the atmosphere and the available bioarchaelogical records showing their fall from a peak shortly before that time.

There are some signs that the civilization took some time to die out – the remaining cities appear to have been abandoned from the outside in, suggesting a population eroding by attrition.  No signs of general war or natural disaster.

Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: These satellites – any habitats, shipyards?  Signs of star travel?

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: No, no habitable stations.  The technology of the artificial satellites is equivalent to our Middle Information Age, which suggests that they could have had the technological capability, but don’t appear to have exercised it.  The technology of the lunar artifacts is older, pre-Information Age, I would say, but no later —

Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Feh.  It’s another bloody choker.

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Choker?

Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Pedant.  General Socioeconomic Systems Failure, Etiology Unknown.


The biosapient equivalent of an elliptic collapse.  Where a civilization stops or greatly slows development for one reason or another – one economic blind-alley or another, factional protection, neophobia, safety paralysis – runs the complexity overhead of their socioeconomic systems up beyond what their infotrophic pyramid can support, relying on the legacy of the past to keep going – then discover the hard way once they start slipping that they can’t build back up again.  In this particular model, they keep ignoring the problems until they slip all the way.  It’s a classic civ-killer trap.

Arkuel Múras: Anyway, back on topic, gentlesophs.  Any exceptional recommendations for this one?

Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Anything particularly unusual about their technology that, say, our cousins over at Probable Technologies would be interested in?  Or any connections to other extant civilizations?

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Nothing in what we’ve been able to dig up so far.  The cities are all pretty wrecked, anyway, not much to find even partially intact.

Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: So, a fossil world in a bad part of space with nothing but some academic archaeology and a few artifacts for museums of the ironic going for it?  Scrub it.  File the plat and toss it to the auction guys at the Registry.

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Well, there could be some interesting successor species… but, yes, not a high priority for us, I must concur.

Arkuel Múras: I also agree.  Good.  Where’s next up?

Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Galróp.  Third major moon of a gas giant, fifth planet of Pesdiné, in…

– from the minutes of an IES review meeting

Dedicated to the alt-text of this xkcd strip, but noting that studied, and remembered – especially in any grander sense than a footnote in a dossier in a filing cabinet in storage room 32-3-C-19(a)may be a little too hopeful, at least when you consider that the people who will find them have an entire galaxy filled with cultures that haven’t got EPIC FAIL scrawled right across them to play with, instead.