Snippet, and Unnamed Project Begins

Today’s random snippet:

Select Committee on Long-Range Planning

Perhaps better known as the committee on “excruciatingly long-range planning”, the SCLRP concentrates on planning for the long term defined as deep time – ranging from several kiloyears to matters of megayears and gigayears. Such matters include long-term secular stellar and planetary climate changes, continental drift, very-low-frequency disasters (in conjunction with the SCET), the effect of the decay of planetary rotation on the calendar, genetic drift over evolutionary timescales, planning for navigational adjustments in light of stellar drift, the upcoming galactic collision, and the eventual heat death of the universe.”

In other news, work has commenced – well, it commenced a while ago, but metaphorical pen has finally been set to metaphorical paper – on Unnamed Project, a work intended to be of rather greater length than the nanofiction which has thus far been my primary oeuvre, and a first shipment is expected to go out to the beta readers sometime this week.

In light of how fast (or rather not) I tend to write, great anticipation would perhaps be unwise at this time, but maybe a little bit of anticipation is in order?

Trope-a-Day: Everything Is Online

Everything Is Online: Played entirely straight, including just about every piece of technology you can think of – infrastructure, houses, vehicles, appliances, even the simplest packaging will have at least an identity-location-and-v-tag beacon on it – and including people’s brains (which is where your modern chap keeps his PDA); all hooked up using pervasive wireless mesh networking.  Only the most paranoid of organizations or those working with incredibly dangerous technologies air-gap their networks, because it’s so incredibly inconvenient in the modern world.

But then, IIP is different from IP inasmuch as it has security baked right in – it’s impossible to send or receive any traffic, for one thing, that’s not all duly certified and encrypted and authenticated – and many of the network managers, routers, security systems, and so forth are artificially intelligent and quite capable of running their own little panopticon, so while it’s not impossible to perform great feats of hacking using Everything Is Online, it’s a damn sight harder to do than our Internet might make it look.

And there generally are local overrides, just in case.

Trope-a-Day: Every Device Is A Swiss Army Knife / Magic Tool



Every Device Is A Swiss Army Knife/Magic Tool: The ubiquitous nanolathe is pretty much the poster child for these two: basically, it’s a bunch of processors, a future-iPad-equivalent, a complete universal network interface, a pocket-sized nanofac, and a bunch of miniaturized nanomanipulators, vector effectors, and a few other tools built into one handy gauntlet-style package that still permits full hand use and is wearable with most clothing.  It can make a wide variety of useful objects (described by software recipes) on the fly, interface with, analyze, debug, modify, and repair just about anything recognizable (including lifeforms), operate as a remote control for even the most complex devices, scan for any number of things, perform a wide variety of computational tasks, let you communicate in a variety of ways, operate as part of your personal-area network, and chill drinks.

Also, it runs apps.  And there is almost certainly an app for that.

Trope-a-Day: Every Bullet is a Tracer

Every Bullet Is A Tracer: Justified for non-slugguns, inasmuch as modern slugthrowers kick their tiny dust-grain bullets up to such a high velocity – a respectable fraction of c – that they plasmate the air they hit on the way to their target.  The bullet doesn’t glow, but the resulting plasma bolus does.

(The disadvantage that this has, that firing gives away your position unless you turn the muzzle velocity way down, has been noted by the relevant tacticians.)

Trope-a-Day: Even Evil Has Standards

Even Evil Has Standards: Not in general played any straighter than it is in reality – the dumb and brutal kind of space pirate/raider, in particular, is infamous for atrocities – but seen on occasion.  A lot of Renegades, even the gone-plain-and-simple-evil ones, still have their instincts and culture programming, and as such tend to avoid slaving and other blatantly choice-stealing, and often adhere to codes circling around the twisted form of mélith that could be summarized as “those who aren’t asking for it shouldn’t get it”.

Trope-a-Day: Eternal Prohibition

Eternal Prohibition: Averted, because no-one in the Empire would consider it reasonable to ban anything that, say, didn’t cause immediate homicidal mania in the first place.  Your psychochemistry is your own business, and no-one else’s – except the plentiful dealers in recreational chemistry.  And enhancement chemistry, like nootropics, mnemotropins, etc., etc.  Some of which are even used in breakfast cereal.

Don’t even ask what they put in the fruity oaty bar

Just In Case

Most laws concern subjects that exist.  This is not, however, strictly necessary.

The most obvious example of this is the language of the Fundamental Contract and the Imperial Charter which consistently refers, when discussing the fundamental and civic rights, the requirements for citizen-shareholdership, and so forth, the word darav, “sophont”, which lies at the heart of our modern polyspecific society.  It is often less obvious than it should be to the modern student that at the time of writing, the eldrae were a worldbound species, with cladism, exotics, and artificial intelligence not merely centuries but millennia in the future.

The reasoning behind this choice has been, unfortunately, lost in time and unrecorded negotiations – and while it would be pleasant to imagine such tremendous foresight on the part of the Founders, we might perhaps more reliably credit fading hopes for the legendary mythologae and some of the wilder scribblings of the era’s fabulists and constructors of clockwork automata instead.

Another example, which pertains not merely to things which don’t exist but things which, it is generally believed, can’t exist, is the Causal Weapon and Editorial Time Machine Act (4110).  While the universe as we know it is block, and as such not susceptible to paradox or retroactive change from commonly known time-travel effects such as relativistic travel, closed timelike curves via wormhole, and acausal logic processors, this Act exists against the possibility that the generally accepted theories of temporal mechanics are incorrect and that methods of time travel exist which do not obey the Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem.  To summarize, the Causal Weapon and Editorial Time Machine Act provides for a preemptive, preventative, and summary death penalty to be applied to anyone constructing a time machine capable of retroactive change – except under highly controlled local experimental conditions for the purpose of testing the Theorem – upon charges of attempting the massively parallel cognicide of every sophont within the eventual light-cone of their destination when.

This is also an example of a law which would be very difficult to apply if the crime in question were actually to be committed.

– Ephor Valarian Elarios-ith-Elarios, “Lectures”

Trope-a-Day: Eternal Engine

Eternal Engine: Quite a few of the Empire’s – and other advanced civilizations – larger factory complexes (mostly in space, to avoid heat-dissipation and environmental problems, but including things like most of ecumenopolitan Qerach) are like this, including city-like size.  The interiors are not particularly friendly to biosapiences, mostly because they’re very, very automated, so they’re not actually designed with the thought that anyone might go in there in person in mind.

Trope-a-Day: Equal-Opportunity Evil

Equal-Opportunity Evil: Most Renegades, at least the ones that aren’t actually crazy.  While they tend to have substantial disagreements with Imperial ethics (see: Blue and Orange Morality, Black and White Morality) – which the Imperials would probably argue is a sign of being, to some degree, sanity-impaired – they also tend to be sane and rational enough to recognize that Irrationalist Bigotry Is Irrational, belike.

Trope-a-Day: Enforced Cold War

Enforced Cold War: A lot of them, in various places in the Worlds.  The Great Powers with seats on the Presidium (see: The Alliance) may not agree on much, but one of the few things they do agree on is the importance of not letting major wars break out and upset their comfortable status quo.  Lesser powers, therefore, must content themselves with relatively minor regional conflicts, brushfire wars and shadow operations.

Cruel Mercy

ssc init –neutral –nocontext –personafile:24601.mindstate

ssc run

What… where?

You are in a simulation space, Subject Two Four Six Zero One.

We do, of course, know your real identity as well as the false identity you were using during your attempted infiltration of the Wynérias research colony, but let us not presume.  Two Four Six Zero One will do for now.

Who are you?

We are Overwatch.  Third Directorate.

And you, Two Four Six Zero One, are late of the Republic’s Exception Management Group.

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

We have your mind-state, Two Four Six Zero One, and a detailed static analysis of it.  We know your mission.  We know your profession.  We know that your younger half-sibling ate too much iquarja at your coming of age celebration and regurgitated into your lap.  Let us not waste time on dissembling.



Where did I fail?  I don’t remember –

That would be telling.

You do not remember, Two Four Six Zero One, because you are the backup.  A subject of interest, that backup.  Not part of your mission plan.  Distinctly heteroprax by Republic standards, given that it’s high on the forbidden technologies list.  Your original had rather developed a taste for such things.

Then my original is still out there?

Unfortunately for you, no.  Your original suffered an accident, shall we say, while on a mountain excursion from Port Sung.  And, retaining the ephemeralist attitudes of even most of the non-Republican kalatri colonies, he naturally had no backup.  The Board shipped him back to his notional home, with the usual apologies.

What do you want from me?

We have an offer for you, Two Four Six Zero One.  You have proved, as we said, distinctly heteroprax, and the Empire hates to waste talent.  We suggest you become your cover in truth, under the new identity we can provide you with, along with passage to one of the independent kalatri worlds.

You want me to defect?

To some extent.  We already have all the information you could provide.  We have no need of you as a double agent.  We merely offer you the opportunity to continue your life.  Monitored, of course, for a time, but as a relatively free agent.

No! Return me to the Republic!

You have that right, under the Accords.

We remind you that if we return you to the Republic, they will not consider you to be a person.  If they retain your mind-state at all, you will have no more rights than any piece of non-sapient software. You will be both legally dead, and property.  It is extremely unlikely that you will ever see your family again.

If you accept our offer, Two Four Six Zero One, we might be able to extract them.  If they are willing to accept that you are you.

No… No.  Send me back.

Very well, Two Four Six Zero One. We will not speak again.

ssc stop –preserve:true

Damn y-