So, regarding those “Ethnographical Questionnaire” chunks I have posted occasionally – I conclude that I’m going to start posting smaller chunks, on the grounds that (a) it takes me so damn long to finish a section, and (b) smaller and more often is better than giant and occasional. So, that said, here’s a new piece:
What are the most common domesticated animals here? And what are they domesticated for?
This, of course, varies quite radically by planet – so here’s the original most common domesticated animals of Eliéra, the eldraeic homeworld:
The adhaïc [honeybee] – hive insects, greenlife, kept for their honey, wax, and pollination services.
The bandal – a canid greenlife species, or more accurately, another subspecies of Canis lupus, differentiated from the Earth dog by virtue of having spent its domestication mostly being bred for smart, rather than obedient, being expected to operate more as junior partners in civilization than tools (including, say, the ability to operate clockwork automata in at least a limited fashion) in many and varied roles; distinguished by a higher forehead and more manipulative forepaws. Also associated with Tárvalén, the Binder, Eikone of Loyalty (see myth).
The cerrúr – a four-horned hexapedal browsing bluelife animal, used for riding.
The certárúr – a four-horned (with stunted horns) hexapedal browsing bluelife animal, used for riding and as a draft animal; also for leather.
The chiashaïc [silk-spider] – a bluelife pseudo-arachnid, used for fiber.
The ékaláman – a hexapedal flying carnivorous bluelife reptile with a mid-wing, used for hunting, as we do raptors.
The élirúr [dormouse] – a greenlife rodent, used for meat.
The fírastal – a slightly larger greenlife relative of the Earth cat, kept for pest control and occasional hunting.
The hasérúr – a hexapedal browsing bluelife animal used for meat and milk.
The kuléra – a four-winged bluelife bird, used as a scout and messenger.
The líhasúr – a quadrupedal rooting greenlife animal, used for meat; a close relative of the Earth pig.
The nekhalyef – a quadrupedal grazing greenlife animal, used for meat, milk, and fiber; a close relative of the Earth sheep.
The pengál – a bluelife pseudoserpent, kept for pest control.
The reshkef – a hexapedal browsing bluelife animal, used for meat, milk, and fiber.
The quebérúr – a quadrupedal grazing greenlife animal, used for meat and milk; a close relative of the Earth bison.
The sevesúr – a two-winged greenlife game bird, used for meat and eggs.
The tiryef – a large flightless bluelife bird, used for meat.
Underwater, the ííche [dolphins – well, technically, it means “cetaceans”, but in this specific case; greenlife] and cúlnó [octopodes; greenlife], which occupy a similar niche Below as the bandal do on the surface. Also, various farmed fish.
Which animals are likely to be pets? Which ones won’t be?
The most commonly kept as pets – but for values of pets which usually involves working (which, in their terms, includes “for companionship”), rather than simple ornamentation, since the eldrae have ideas about dignity and what they shouldn’t expect any animal smart enough to be a pet to do – would be the bandal, the firastal, and the kuléra; underwater, and to a lesser degree in space, some species of cúlnó are also popular.
As for which won’t – anything that’s too dangerous or insanitary, as usual, plus anything not smart enough to hold the interest of their keepers. With the possible exceptions of aviary birds, aquarium fish, and butterflies – but then, they are ornamental.
“Smuggling is a prestigious career with a long and honorable tradition – being invented something like seven minutes after trade itself. Ideologically speaking, the smuggler and the Market Liberty Oversight Directorate are identical in theory, only differing in application. Markets, like information, want to be free. Demand leads to supply, which leads to trade, which leads to mutual profit, which leads to prosperity – and rot any corporation, government, or bunch of prodnosed kveth-lickers who say it ain’t so! Folks have a right to trade, and to buy what they want, and for me to sell it to ‘em, and damned if that changes just ‘cause some jackass tells us elsewise.”
“Of course, there are those who disagree. That’s what makes it fun.”
– Líse Varavélen, master of IS Favorable Supply Curve
The distinction between the three generally accepted primary Eldraeic dialects is both informal and quite simple:
“Low Eldraeic” is the language as it is actually spoken day to day, using the common-sense medium of language features and vocabulary that are of use to most of the people most of the time. (It’s still complex and formal by most language’s standards, but it has had most of the rough edges and unnecessary complexity in its native speakers’ eyes rubbed off it.)
“High Eldraeic”, on the other hand, is the language with every idiosyncracy, grammatical feature, additional functionality, and pedantic technical distinction put together by the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology over generations, for reasons technical, philosophical and political, in play. It is used lightly in scientific and technical documentation where it aids in clarity, brevity and accuracy, more heavily in formal ritual, high-falutin’ rhetoric, and particularly grand opera, and most heavily when one speaker in a conversation wishes to browbeat another about just exactly how much better educated, more intelligent, and generally superior they happen to be.
“Trade”, the third dialect, is the worn-down and bastardized form of the language used widely by non-native speakers who learned it from other non-native speakers, or who found themselves reduced to stammering confusion after taking a mnemonetic course and wondering just how the heck they use all these registers and modes and affixes and non-temporal tenses in practice, and just what is an evidential anyway?
A random thought I posted elsewhere, on the importance of worldbuilding to (my) writing:
I know writers differ on this point, but for myself, I can’t have Líse Varavélen walk down the street without knowing what the street looks like – is it gravel, or concrete, or slabs of black diamondoid treated to be non-slick with a rainbow-striped flowstone slidewalk running down the middle? (In town, it’s the last one.) Is she walking, standing on the flowstone strip and gliding along with the traffic, or psychokinetically hovering a foot or so above the ground? (Depends on her mood and the weather.) If her dog needs to go, does she leave it, does she clean it up, or does a tiny robot dash out of the nearest robot hotel, clean it up for her, polish the street to its customary perfection, and bill her three millis for the privilege? (Again, it’s the last one, and three millis is a good price for municipal poop-robo service.) I must know these things, or my scene-setting imagination just sits there and goes poit!
Posted also, I am not ashamed to admit, because I am rather pleased by the phrase “municipal poop-robo service”.
Energy Weapons: Present, even if by and large Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better and therefore much more used. Lasers and grasers exist, despite their limitations, primarily as heat-pumping weapons, knife-fight range point defense, and as blinding lasers, as do electrolaser stunners/anti-machine weapons, with all their limitations of atmospheric composition and humidity. Plasma lances exist too, although they only work at point-blank range, even in space, due to dissipation. (And regular flamethrowers, of course.) There are microwave heaters and other kinds of algetics. And there are limited-use, short-range, vector-control based gravitic weapons (based off the tractor-pressor principle, either to yank, slam, or vibrate).
But for all that existing, it’s still the slugthrowers that see the most use.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: For most things, yes. It’s not that they don’t have perfectly functional energy weapons, or power cells which can manage the job – if you can run a mass driver that can get a flechette or slug up to a respectable fraction of the speed of light, yep, you can power a laser with it too, just fine. Nor do energy weapons lack their place – lasers are a damn fine way of pumping heat into things, which is very handy in starship combat, for example, and electrolasers (fire the laser to ionize a path through the air to your target, then dump a lot of voltage down it) make excellent stunners and anti-machine weapons, and EMP weapons are also handy for the latter, if really hard on the infrastructure. Blinding lasers are effective on at least many species and relatively humane.
But in practice, it’s a lot easier to solve the problems of making really awesome kinetic weapons than of dealing with beam dispersion (while you can do some cool blasting-shit-apart – not slicing it up – with a big laser or graser, you would generally prefer not to have to let it get that close), atmospheric humidity (a big problem for electrolasers), and other such things, and in some cases vulnerability that varies sharply by the precise way the energy is delivered, and suchlike. So while energy weapons of various types are part of the arsenal, in the special uses for which they excel, the jack-of-all-trades weapons still Throw Stuff At You Really Damn Fast.
Energy Economy: While the esteyn is not a pure energy currency (it remains, in our terms, a fiat currency using indices to carefully balance the money supply against the productivity of the economy), in the modern era, given the ready availability of nanofacs, energy forms a major part of these indices (the major indices used are the prices of energy, computational cycles, volume, and standardized feedstock mass; the former two usually predominate).