Trope-a-Day: Space Whale

Space Whale: Not naturally, at least – so far, no-one’s found naturally evolved space-native life – but, y’know, once they’d got around to uplifting cetaceans it was close to inevitable that some of them would take an interest in that other endless three-dimensional environment (not to mention being better instinctually equipped than most hominids to serve as a starship’s sailing master), and between them and hydrogen-breathing gas giant life and ambitious genetic engineers, it was equally inevitable that people would engineer actual Space Whales, equipped to swim-sail the vacuum (with biosolar sails, mostly) and harvest volatiles where they can find them.  Just how it goes.

And then there are their cousins that prefer to dwell in the solar corona…

Trope-a-Day: Portal Network

Portal Network: The stargate plexus, which is the collection of all the stargate pairs in the Associated Worlds.  Pretty much every civilized system, except for really newly discovered ones, which may not, has at least one stargate in it.  Overall, the network vaguely resembles a spiderweb – the nodes being clusters of a few dozen systems (called constellations) linked together by a cluster of short-range wormholes, then hooked to neighboring clusters by longer-range wormholes.  The stargates themselves serve both to maintain the wormholes and act as communications relays for the extranet. Unlike many SF universes, these aren’t precursor gates; the system was established by the current polities, although only a few of the largest powers in the Worlds can manufacture their own gates – the Empire (and more specifically Ring Dynamics, ICC), and the Voniensa Republic (who make a point of maintaining their own state-run Portal Network – the Empire’s network, which forms most of the framework on which the Associated Worlds are based, they generously let the Accord of Galactic Polities treat as a common-carrier system, in exchange for, shall we say, consideration?) being the biggest two.  Almost everyone else piggybacks off theirs under the aegis of the Accord. While expansion used to be manual and painstaking, with improved automation making the Mark III Stargate more or less perpetually autonomous, most of the expansion of the network these days is being done by von Neumann wormhole-layers with only a little guidance from head office, so there are connected yet unexplored systems out there in the Periphery, and it’s entirely possible that the arrival of a stargate in their outer system, rather than that of explorers, will be many species’ first introduction to Life Out There.

Trope-a-Day: Standard Sci-Fi Setting

Standard Sci-Fi Setting: Taking this collective trope point-by-point, and marking off positive matches and negative differences:


+ Easy FTL: Check.  (Although the Portal Network is contemporary, and still being expanded – and getting to places that aren’t yet connected to it, including to connect them to it, is neither easy nor FTL.)

Space is an Ocean: Definitely not.  (See the above trope… later.)

– Mystical/Metaphysical elements: No Life Energy, no Functional Magic (although there is Sufficiently Advanced technology), and, in general, very little that would contradict a materialist’s (and nothing that would support a supernaturalist’s) view of the universe.

(While there are some Psychic Powers, since their operating principle is essentially WiFi, they don’t count against that principle here.)

– Plenty of The Singularity (lots of regional soft singularities), and the exact opposite of No Transhumanism Allowed; indeed, it’s mandatory.  And there’s probably more Fantastic Racism against the remaining baselines.


– No humans at all, in fact; while they may well exist, it’s somewhere in the Beyond, as a worldbound species not of any particular galactic relevance.

+ Neglectful Precursors, if only by default.

– The truly proud Proud Warrior Races are too proud to indulge in this sort of Interstellar League of Tribal Chiefdoms posturing, because they know how big an idiot it makes them look in front of everyone else out there.  And while there are some others who’d like to act this way, none of them are significant enough, galactopolitically speaking, to be the ancient and hidebound proud warrior race – just a scattering of minor powers.

+ The only seriously genocidal alien race around (the skrandar) are all very dead, and it is almost certain that anyone else who gets similar ideas will receive much the same treatment.  (And while it’s at least possible that the galactic equivalent of the Mongol Hordes crossed with Space Nazis are lurking somewhere beyond the Periphery, as the creator of the universe… Word of God says I’m not planning on it.)

Played straight although not genocidal with the Leviathan Consciousness, though, a hegemonizer (i.e., The Virus) which would happily subsume and optimize your mind-state, given half a chance.  (And the known galaxy is, for the most part, united in the belief that they’d rather not give it one.)  But it, for various reasons, is not the sort of thing that’s likely to turn into a clear and present danger unless the Associated Worlds take their eyes seriously off the ball.

+-? The eldrae might well qualify as the wise/spiritual race with the Crystal Spires and Togas (although not the togas), and their ships are sleek and blue (well, indigo, and government ships, that is, since private vessels are painted in all kinds of colors), although being asupernaturalists many would dispute spiritual (and also, there goes the metaphysical), and at least as many would look at their dedication to libertarianism, decadence, and Mad Science and dispute the heck out of wise, too.  (Also, no “Dark” faction, just a scattering of Renegades.)

+-? While they also might qualify as having the Space Babes, the Uncanny Valley (and/or unfortunate resemblance to The Fair Folk) may well be in play, here.  Or so I might speculate.  In any case, just about every species in the rest of the galaxy are nonhumanoid, so.

– No Greys, no Little Green Men, no Reptilians.

+ Plenty of other races, most of them at least a little more consequential than that, but never mind.  Robots, heretics and slavers all included, maybe even Eldritch Abominations if you count blights and perversions, but a distinct shortage of zombies of all kinds.


– Neither the Voniensa Republic (The Federation) nor the Empire is human, in the habit of fielding giant grey ships or little grey fighters, or descended from the Precursors.  Nor do either of them have noticeable rebel factions engaged in active warring against them – the Voniensans have their escaped digisapience slaves (a decent proportion of the Silicate Tree) and some scattered colonies of kalatri and others who left to form non-Republican colonies in the Associated Worlds, and the Empire has its Renunciates as individuals, but neither is organized into a political faction, and neither prosecutes active war.

+ Yes, there are Space Marines.

+ There are occasional Space Pirates, most of them not the traditional sort.

+ And yes, there are occasional corporate states.


– The Standard Sci-Fi History does not apply, inasmuch as there was no World War III stage, and the Decline and Fall and subsequent stages have yet to happen, if they’re ever going to.  Also, there’s never been an ecumenical civilization, Empire or other.

– And if there is an epic Space Battle upon which the gross future hangs in the balance, a great many people in the sensible and non-risky solutions business are going to be very, very disappointed.

SFFS: Balance

SFFSat logoBehold, my first snippet – plucked from my deep internal slush/ideas pile – for Science Fiction & Fantasy Saturday, an authorial web-ring I’ve seen here and there in the past, and thought I might contribute something to from time to time. Welcome to all new visitors from thereabouts, and do click through here if you’re not a new visitor, and take a look at the snippets of the other participants!

“Quadrant 45 primary ballast transfer booster pump, main and aux bus.”

“Check, check.”

“Quadrant 135 primary ballast transfer booster pump, main bus and aux bus.”

“Check, check.”

“Quadrant 225 primary ballast transfer booster pump, main bus and aux bus.”

“Check, check.”

“Quadrant 315 primary ballast transfer booster pump, main bus and aux bus.”

“Check, check.” The tech glanced down the row of warm amber lights on the newly installed panel, flipped the associated command switches into ‘auto’ with the flat of one hand, watched the lights flicker into blue-enable, and closed the wiring case. “What’s the deal, Cal? We’ve been behind on getting these things installed for three months, so what’s made ’em so urgent now?”

“Flash mobs.”

“Flash mobs?”

“Yeah. Scuttlebutt has it that Elalie Celestial’s coming here in a couple of weeks to do some filming. The spinmaster was very clear that if he couldn’t pump twelve thou soph-equivalent-masses to wherever on the rim she wasn’t faster’n her fans could storm the transpods, we’d all be on triple-shifts for a year rebalancing the bearings and tryin’ to clean up the mess.”

Trope-a-Day: Homosexual Reproduction

Homosexual Reproduction: This is a trivial matter of routine bioengineering.

(Says it all, really.)

…actually, since this is so short and so is the one that linked to it, here, have that one too…

Has Two Mommies: See Homosexual Reproduction.  Obviously, this happens a lot, as does its Spear Counterpart.

…and to add…

And when I say routine, I mean: off-the-shelf exowombs and off-the-shelf gengineering. They let the newly minted journeysophs do it. It’s easy.