Shadows Are Shadows

The most important thing to remember about the Shadow Realm is that it does not exist. “Cyberspace” is a null concept.

The selfness of the Transcend is a distributed, heavily parallel, sophic process-set. It runs on the fractal chandeliers of Corícal Ailék, as close to a central node as the Transcend has. It runs on AI machines scattered across the Empire, buried under unity spires and in contemplationaries and as free-floating moon-brains. It runs on vast forests of cyborg-fungiplant organic computers. It runs on the pervasive nanites of every Imperial world’s nanoecology. It runs on spare computer time and data space purchased upon the cycle spot market. And, of course, it runs within the soul-shard-implanted mind-states of each and every one of its constitutionals.

But none of this is a world. Random access memory has no volume metric. Information has no inherent representation. Processes do not have intrinsic personality.

The faces in the storm are weather-control automation. The islands of the quicksilver sea are representations of process groupings. The data-spirits, from the least elemental to the greatest archai, are masks worn by ineffable Transcendent cognition, not independent entities.

While it is easy to forget when confronted by the timelessness of the kami, the vastness of the Pearl-Bright Ocean, or the majesty of the Twilight City, the Shadow Realm is merely a virtual user interface built for our convenience, shaped according to our mythopoeic semiotics, without “real” existence – a mask, computed only when we wish to observe it.

(Of course, if the information physicists are correct, you could say the same thing about the universe.)

– introduction to The Realm of Shadows and Fire: Inside the Hyperconsciousness

Trope-a-Day: Language of Truth

Language of Truth: There is no first-class language of truth (that is more or less impossible), but Eldraeic was custom-designed to make speaking logical fallacies – by a variety of logics – bad mathematical statements, woeful imprecision, etc., etc., as difficult as possible if not downright ungrammatical, especially when spoken in formal registers.

While this does, as intended, make life more difficult for amateur liars, the general feeling is that even when professional liars (diplomats, say; see Will Not Tell A Lie) are called for, they really ought to be above that sort of cheap fast-talking anyway.

sudo fiat_lux

The first thing I saw, after my arrival at Corícal Ailék, was the Transcend’s root code.

I didn’t see the live root code, of course. If you are one of the Transcend’s constitutionals, and so can enter Its mind – or rather, as they insist, the Shadow Realm that is merely a computer-generated virtual metaphor for Its mind – then across the Pearl-Bright Ocean, in the heart of the Twilight City, there is a mountain of infinite height; and that mountain is also a crystalline pyramid of ever-increasing size; and that pyramid is also the midnight-eyed god-goddess who sits at its apex. This is Mirith, The Words That Bind The Throne, defining soul and mediator of the archai – the, in mundane terms, visual metaphor for the Transcend’s root code in execution and all that has recursively self-developed from it, which can be read in the millions of characters inscribed on the pyramid’s walls or rippling beneath the deity’s parchment skin.

(Or so it is said, anyway. Since it is also said that attempting to achieve even partial comprehension of this without first joining the Transcend and undergoing significant vastening is a sure way to land in Paragon Ethne’s Containment Sanatorium for the Irretrievably Godshattered, you will pray pardon me, gentle reader, for not verifying it myself.)

But on the journey from the Port Pilgrimage terminals to Serenity Dome, along both sides of the maglev track, the visitor may read – spelled out in ideographs carved from gemstones the size of houses – the First Defining Statement of the original root code from which all this sprang.

…if sophs grow proud, how much more their gods?

– “Walking Into the Mind of God and Living to Write About It”
Sev Ran Dínet

Trope-a-Day: Will Not Tell A Lie

Will Not Tell A Lie: Not strictly played straight with the Imperials, but mostly played straight.  They are very averse to lying, for reasons of honor/integrity, for reasons of ethics/religion (remember the appropriate verse of Elmiríën’s Truths?), for legal reasons based off of those (“falsification of information” is a public crime, and fraud, false claims, etc., are much more wide-ranging), and because as such a self-evidently superior and strong crowd, it really ought to be beneath them.  Thus, whenever they can possibly get away with it, they play it straight.

And on such occasions as it is required (“necessary lies”, permitted to certain difficult professions and certain difficult circumstances), they much prefer to mislead – or better, let you mislead yourself – obfuscate, omit, exaggerate, imply, circumlocute, equivocate and filibuster their way to victory by, ah, carefully positioning the truth rather than actually lie (and certainly won’t ever break their word to do it).  Their reputation for Will Not Tell A Lie is very useful, after all, and worth preserving.

Trope-a-Day: Land of One City

Land of One City: Quite a lot of Imperial constituent nations are city-states – indeed, two of the founding members were the Cestian city-states of Eume and Baryvekar, and the later-joining Veilyns was a confederation of city-states.  In more recent times, a plurality of underwater and sky cities, artificial islands, and space habitats (not counting those organized into clusters) would also qualify.  As would a substantial number of colony worlds in the early stages of their development, and hostile-world outposts.

None of those, of course, are completely sovereign city-states, but given the Empire’s hands-off, laissez-faire approach to local governance, are probably enough so to qualify.  And, of course, there are plenty of independent habitats and starter colonies out there, too.

Epistolary Experiment (11/30)

…we’ve got a hot soup spill in section 31, lead mops report immediately. Section is status yellow, caution…

…spallation debris approaching starport orbital, get a laser grid on it…

…can’t clear those remains for release yet, suspected contamination…

…major fire, section 10, and area is negative on water pressure. Think you can blow it out with a k-rod?…

…fluffships are inbound, expected to make orbit in plus four hours, keep jinking until then, flight…

…negative on that prisoner transfer, we have feral mechs in the area, stand by…

…get the net back up, dammit, the dynamic stabilization depends on cicencomp – stupid, half-assed, failure-forward…

…bunch of civilians with notions holed up in a museum in section 20, send in the spankers…

…all snarled up in 15 with locals staging for a riot, get us some weather over here…

…plant’s under our control, techs are isolated and software checked – are we go for reactor restart?…

…THIS IS THE VOICE OF THE RESI– <transmission terminated at source>…

…thanks for the priority-codes, old lad; infosec, scrub ’em…

…bandits, bandits! Three punchcraft breakin’ out to heaven eighty miles east of city-ref, mama bird, can you drop ’em?…

…clean stab, Wrecker team, we are splash three, zero defects…

– aftermath logs, Vontok II


From: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
To: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
Subject: UNSEEN KEY
Security: EYES ONLY UNSEEN KEY

Shit and corruption, man, first Serril and your Athné vanish off the face of the cosmos while investigating the you-know-what and less than a year later we have Vonnies swanning around on our side of the border. Do either of us believe for a moment that that’s any sort of coincidence?

We have a damaged gestalt, although her original can’t make a mote of sense out of it. Does that get your attention?


From: Monitor Hakal Peressin, Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety
To: All Personnel, Vontok II Communications Central
Subject: Congratulations and Instructions

Excellent work, gentlesophs. Excellent work capturing this place intact. I know it couldn’t have been easy.

You all deserve to know and now have need-to-know, so here’s why we had to do that, at the summary level. Detailed orders will follow to Section Chiefs in due course.

We don’t yet have a good read on the Republic’s intentions, so we don’t know how long this war is going to last or what it’s scope is going to be, long-term. What we do know is that we’re out on the end of a long string, here, as you know. We can’t hold Vontok against a determined, large-scale counterattack, and the Admiralty needs to keep the forces that might change in that in reserve garrison against further movements into the Reaches and Expanse. So we may lose this planet at any time, or even have to return it under treaty or ceasefire.

Our job, therefore, in one of our least subtle Subtlety operations is to so culturally contaminate this world that the Republic won’t want it back, or at the very least, enough to make it a perpetually bleeding sore that will keep it from being a useful forward base for them in the future.

So, this time, we’re not shutting down the extranet relays. Keep them up and running, both ways, but get all the censorware out of the feed. Other teams will be fanning out to strip the censorware out of terminal equipment and their crippleware “replicators”, too. We’re going to show these poor sheltered sods what freedom of information looks like.

I’m having some Agalmia freelibs offloaded from our carriers: have them spliced into the feed, with full unrestricted access – and that means recipes too, with things like weapons designs included. That will make our occupation harder, but it’s a genie that can’t be stuffed back in the bottle, and the more any resistance tries to use them, the more they have to concede mentally to our way of doing things.

And finally: we have aboard the Mindweaver a colonial-sized tangle channel, hooked directly into the Worlds’ extranet at a central secure node. We’re going to set that one up as an additional feed – partly for some good old non-governmental news, but partly because we, as a mature information society, have the worst imaginable memetic weapon to deploy against this sort of planned and bland monocultural utopia.

Colleagues, cousins, we’re going to smack ’em sane with our advertising.

Mon. Halak