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.

Trope-a-Day: Electric Instant Gratification

Electric Instant Gratification: Exists, in a variety of forms as unsubtle as classic “wireheading”, known as “electrobliss” – only much simpler to implement, since you can actually achieve it perfectly well with transcranial magnetic stimulation – or orgasmatronics through more subtle pleasures like slinkies with better-than-life emotional tracks, all the way up to the really subtle things like neuroviruses that will not only rewire your brain for endless pleasure, it will overcome the alpha baseline’s removal of the pleasure addiction/tolerance systems (as the general solution to electrobliss and drug addiction) by imprinting a philosophy designed to justify the endless pleasure involved into your personality.

Trope-a-Day: Eldritch Abomination

Eldritch Abomination: There have been a few elder races and Gone Horribly Right seed AI, and other postsophont entities, that are not terribly, shall we say, sophont-friendly, or indeed sophont-comprehensible.  (Start with the Leviathan Consciousness, and work down the list.)  And statistics – and bright EM spots elsewhere in the galaxy – suggest that there are probably more than a few more of those out there.

Do not ask.  You might find out.

Clearly, This Is The 1.0 Release

Responses to the advent of Information Physics, and the proposal that the universe, in essence, is a self-simulating simulation, a program using itself as a processor, usually fall into one of four classes.  The ambitious immediately wonder how we can apply this in the short-term to build better, faster, more fundamental using-the-same-techniques-as-the-universe – or possibly built out of small universes – processors, ushering in a whole new revolution in computer technology free from all the inconvenience of leptons and photons and other messy materiel.

The exceptionally ambitious, contrariwise, begin formulating a long-term plan to recompile the whole damn thing without various of its more irritating limitations, usually involving removing the Luminal Limit and making some serious revisions to the Laws of Thermodynamics.

The curious, pointing out correctly both that a logos will run in just about any medium possessed of the ability to execute certain non-deterministic mathematical operations and sufficient free energy, and, indeed, that the evolution of so many disparate forms of sophont life demonstrates that they also arise spontaneously in many different places, wonder who might be living in the interstices of our natural laws, and how we might go about contacting them.

And the incurably paranoid, agreeing with the curious, go on to wonder if these fast-running fundamental-stratum information lifeforms are coming to eat all our brains, or worse, if they already have?

– It Thinks Therefore We Are, Lylvíëve Lochran-ith-Lochran

Trope-a-Day: Elaborate Underground Base

Elaborate Underground Base: The Imperial Military Service (various, with special props going to the Imperial Navy’s hollow hangar moon at Palaxias IIb), the Imperial Emergency Management Authority’s Crisis Citadels, more than a few data havens, the original location of Argyran Depository, the Nightfall Complexes (retreats for city populations in the event of nuclear war, asteroid impact, etc.), and oh, yes, all the entire cities built down there by people who just found that they liked it…

Trope-a-Day: Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette

Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: This is the stereotypical – and yes, actually, very common – look for the eseldrae race, with actual close-to-cream-white skin, and usually differing only in hair that may be dark brown, rather than black.  Many of the kireldrae can also carry it off, although their skin is translucent enough to give it a faintly blue tinge rather than pure white, and genetic atavisms sometimes give them very outré hair colors rather than the more common dark brunette.

Trope-a-Day: Easy Sex Change

Easy Sex Change: Reinstantiation (see Body Surf) into a body of the appropriate sex, if available, will do it instantly; meanwhile, if that’s not available or desirable, a day or two spent in a medical vat while the proteus nanomachines take you apart and reassemble you appropriately will do the job.  Neuter and hermaphrodite are, of course, also options.

Of course, this just changes physical sex.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are different matters – which are dealt with by appropriate editing (animus-anima remapping, et. al.) of the relevant regions of one’s mind-state vector to suit – a service usually offered by the same clinics that offer the physical change.

(See also: In Just Seven Days…)

Trope-a-Day: Easy Logistics

Easy Logistics: Averted, even with nanotech, cornucopias, and suchlike, because it’s not like they don’t still require supplies of feedstock and energy, not to mention being inefficient to use for bulk manufacturing of things like ammunition – which is not a good place to be if the other side isn’t obliging you by being equally inefficient.

There’s a reason why the Eighth Lord of the Admiralty has the biggest stratarchy (the Stratarchy of Military Support and Logistics), which works very hard to keep equipment, fuel, ammunition and materials standardized, and to maintain the largest set of depots and fleets of oilers, tenders and transports around anywhere.  Tactics win battles; strategy wins campaigns.  Logistics wins wars.

Cost of Breathing



RECIPIENTS Anlave-Kateris Household
  – Anlave Claves-ith-Estenv
  – Kateris Muetry-ith-Muiris
ADDRESS OF RECORD 1-00003-01496-0223
Liméri Station
14, Avenue of Focative Mirrors
PERIOD COVERED Tílenmot, 3502
Charge (Es.)
Base Habitat Fee eldrae x 2 74
Air Usage Increment barbecue x 3 1.6
Air Usage Decrement greenhouse, 960 sq. ft., active -0.70
Cogeneration 1,953 kWh net
(23,934 kWh use / 22,981 kWh gen)
Dependent Increment bandal x 1 3
Dependent Increment child, eldrae, x 1 6
Hive Processing Rebate 15,961 state-usage infoblocks
4,117 hab-usage infoblocks
Thermal Overage Decrement +5° -0.42
TOTAL   84.28

This assessment mailing is for informational purposes only.  Applicable habitat fees have been deducted from the designated Active Debit Account as selected, and no additional charges are due.

For further queries or requests please do not hesitate to contact me.

Given under my hand and seal this day, 31 Tílenmot 3502,

Galén Sallantar-ith-Sallantar, for and on behalf of,

Liméri Station HabCorp, ICC

Memorable Words

One problem with the very long lifespans of the eldrae and, thus, the equally long institutional memory of the Empire, is that while it has preserved for posterity many of the great examples of rhetoric, like Alphas’s first Speech from the Throne, Olbria Amanyr’s fiery Senatorial style, or the elder Corith’s opening address to the Conclave of Galactic Polities, it has also preserved a great many speeches upon which the polishing effect of fading historical memory would only have been a mercy. Take, for example, the too-often-quoted address of Petrae Sargas to the Seventh Legion before the Second Battle of the Iselen Vale:

“Well, my lads and lasses, looks like the Amynmahar have caught us with our asses hanging out right and proper. But there’s only twelve thousand of them up in the vale, and there’s three thousand of us, and one by-the-Contract Imperial can whip any five kórasan’s lackeys under sun or stars, so we’ve still got ’em outnumbered. Now let’s get out there and kill the bastards, and I’m buying the beer when we get back.”

– A History of Imperial Rhetoric

An Opening

Not a fic-a-day – although I’m trying to get back to those now I’m almost done editing and publishing –  just the opening to something I’m working on…

Her Divine Majesty’s Star Station Eádínah’s Bower is built in hell, or as close to it as they could find.

Scuttlebutt says the Naval Intelligence headquarters aerostat floats amid the warm ammonia storm clouds near the dark pole of epistellar Battlefield, in Palaxias with the rest of the IN’s worlds, but no-one knows for sure – since it was built, the only way to get there is to mindcast to the right address in the ISE darknet and hope your mindprint is on the access list. It would certainly suit our sense of institutional paranoia to hide it in some other gas giant altogether, maybe not even in the Empire at all.

It’s in one, though. Fleet Admiral Sarthal has his office right at the apex of the sky-dome so he can give his briefings with continent-spanning lightning bolts in the background – and arcing to the conductor terminal right above the office. It keeps us on edge enough to suit him, I suppose.

Trope-a-Day: Earth Shattering Kaboom

Earth Shattering Kaboom: The Ulijen Disaster.  If you’re going to build an experimental power plant that taps power from your sun using a wormhole, don’t build it on the planetary surface!

Also, relativistic kill vehicles and really big strangelet bombs, or even antimatter bombs; and in theory, some other esoterica like twist-pinch bombs and causal weapons.  All of which are utterly, utterly illegal to use (which doesn’t stop everyone with a sense of paranoia from maintaining a relativistic deterrent fleet, of course) under pain of serious obliteration.