Trope-a-Day: Gate of Truth

Gate of Truth: The Transcendent Core may not know all knowledge in the universe, but it does know everything any part of the Transcend knows, and whatever a weakly godlike superintelligence can reasonably deduce from that that it’s had time and occasion to think about, including a small amount of information harvested from the future via acausal logic processing.

And yes, you can ask it to share, hopefully in quantities small enough to fit into mere postsophont minds.  Just visit your local contemplationary.  And be prepared to have a real personal religious experience…

Trope-a-Day: Gargle Blaster

Gargle Blaster: Several of them, indeed.  Most notable would be much vereldrae liquor (made from only fruit and sap, really, but distilled in ways designed by demented alchemists and with a kick that mules or moonshine would envy – and a lot of these are flammable), essentially everything brewed on Paltraeth (the kaeth enjoy their tests of strength, including booze that is high in alcohols – including the ones that make humans go blind – high in heavy metals, and not quite highly radioactive), anything produced by a Military Moonshiner or indeed a spacer moonshiner, especially if it mentions reactor coolant, thruster fuel, or antimatter in its name, and in general, lots of things made for species whose biochemistry doesn’t quite match one’s own, which may not kill you, but will certainly void your ‘shell’s warranty.

There are also the nano-powered drinks that stimulate various brain regions in interesting and unlikely ways, but honestly, given what people will do with simple chemistry

The Perils of Memetic Contamination

I have, so far, sat down on at least three to five occasions to attempt to wrap some firm-SF details around the group of technologies in my universe which go under the general name of ‘vector control’.

Thus far, I have devised three to five different versions of the mass effect.

Well, not quite, but almost the mass effect.


Trope-a-Day: Military Moonshiner

Military Moonshiner: Played straight for some reason, despite the fact that neither the Imperial Navy nor the Imperial Legions is a dry organization.

(Also in the Imperial Exploratory Service, which contains the expected number of people who consider “can we make booze out of it?” to be one of the mandatory tests worth performing on alien plant life.)

Trope-a-Day: Futuristic Superhighway

Futuristic Superhighway: Well, now.  They have lots of those.  Apart from a few changes in materials, most of them look much like roads everywhere; the differences come in the technology buried in the road, such as the built-in power grid that lets vehicles recharge as they drive, and warms the road in winter to melt snow and ice, the road-grid that provides automated traffic management and routing (in cities and on the main routes, no-one drives on manual), the data connectivity, and the accompanying smart-road nodes that let the road itself provide you with local information and geosocial data.

While cargo delivery is mostly done at or below ground level (by wheeled – well, sphered, for ease of maneuvering in urban spaces – vehicles, even), the most common personal vehicle is the four-to-six-person vector-control flitter, a “flying car”; and while a fair few of them mingle with the freight traffic at ground level, even more are herded into the flyways at various heights above the highways to take them wherever they wish to go, all delineated by augmented-reality signs and guides (and, in urban areas, by actual building spars holding support hardware.

Oddly enough, while there is a lot more traffic than there used to be, the roads really aren’t that much wider, which is a combination of so much traffic being shunted into flyways above the highways, and of the road-grid automation letting cars pack much more closely together, when needed, than merely biological reflexes would support with the same safety margins.

And, of course, some changes in road features; the embarkation loops and bays where vehicles can stop to deposit or pick up their drivers before heading off to park themselves (and, obviously, no vehicles parked by the side of the road when the automation can let them drive themselves off and stow themselves in a buried parking hive until called for); the skymerge lanes in the middle of the highways where flitters transition between highway and flyway; and in general, a distinct lack of road markings and traffic signals which are all handled by AR systems – or at the very least, the vehicle HUDs – or automation in lieu of messy street furniture.

(And sometimes, they do have highway tunnel systems, extraordinarily long bridges – of multiple, even many miles – air-conditioned or environmentally supported highways on hostile worlds or in hostile regions, or highway tubes that dive beneath the oceans.)

Trope-a-Day: Future Food is Artificial

Future Food is Artificial: Played straight in one area, but averted in two more, depending on which end of the food range you are sitting at.  Averted first because there still is plenty of natural food at the high to middle end of the range.  Sure, it’s expensive, because after the changes mentioned below and under Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap, the surviving – due to economics, not environmental issues – natural-food producers are practicing exotic types of organic farming to beat the vats on quality, and so are producing the equivalent of top-grade Kobe beef right across the food spectrum, but it’s not out-of-reach-of-the-average-person expensive.

At the middle to low end of the range, where the most commonly eaten food, the express food, the served-in-your-local-eatery food is found – well it’s somewhat artificial.  Which is to say that the vegetable products are grown hydroponically in vertical farms (for groundlings) or skyfarms (for spacers), and the fauxflesh and fauxfish came out of a carniculture vat – but is still indistinguishable for most purposes from an actual steak, say.  Same tissue, carefully stimulated to reproduce its natural environment – with the exception of being guaranteed free of bacteria, parasites, etc., etc.  But, of course, this is not what most people mean by ‘artificial food’.

Where it is played straight is at the low, low end of the market, where you can buy algiprote (made from Spirulina-like algae, comes in pressed bars), mycoprotein (made from modified fungus, comes in cubes, like tofu) and/or nutriyeast (made from yeast, and comes in… well, glop, like Marmite).  Nutritionally complete, unbelievably cheap to buy – even the manufacturing equipment is unbelievably cheap to buy – and will support life indefinitely on even the tiniest resource budget.

Which is not to say all yeast and fungus based products are like this; some are expensive luxury foods, but those take time, care, specialist nutrients and attention to detail to achieve high levels of quality and deliciousness.  These were engineered for robustness in the face of inattention and low-grade equipment, nutritional completeness if you’ve nothing else to eat, and minimal resource cost, and they taste like it, too.  Even processed and flavored, it does not take long at all living on algiprote, mycoprotein and nutriyeast before you’re craving something else.  Anything else.