Epistolary Experiment (28/30)

Republic-Worlds Peace Conference
Synchel ab Kamisir Negotation Center
Eilan (Crimson Expanse)

“You’re stalling.”

This statement from Elyse Phylarius, the senior Imperial representative at the conference, fell flatly across the conference table.

“I’m sure we don’t know what you -”

“Of course you do not, gentlesophs,” she continued. “You would have no reason to stall for time to allow your deep-penetration fleet to reach its objective, naturally. But you also might have no knowledge of the current status of that fleet, given the, ah, difficulties the Silicate Tree has been introducing into your communications recently. Permit me to enlighten you on that point.”

She reached into her briefcase, and tossed an object onto the table with a metallic clank. The kalatri representatives stared at it in silence.

The object had once been a brass plaque, now charred, space-burnt, and warped by intense heat, but despite its battered surface, the bold characters could still be made out:

VNS President Siroshin

“This arrived earlier today by fast courier from the Core. Your deep-penetration fleet, I regret to say, no longer exists. You’ll want to provenance that, of course, and no doubt consult with your goverment. Shall we reconvene in, let us say, two hours?”

“They’re lying. They’ve got to be lying.”

“Then how did they get Siroshin‘s commissioning plaque? Which is genuine. The embedded codes check out. The trace alloys check out.” Admiral Tarvil glared at the younger kalatri. “Your supposed covert operation has failed just as badly as the rest of this war.”

“They could have faked it! If they could get an agent aboard Social Harmony, they could have stolen the details of the security codes. And even if Siroshin has been destroyed, that doesn’t mean the fleet is lost. We need to give them time to complete their mission and report.”


“May I remind you, Admiral –”

“You. May. Not. When we go back into conference, Commander, I will attempt to salvage what I can from this debacle you and the rest of the Propulsion Group have dragged the Republic into. And then, we are going to have an in-depth discussion concerning exactly how many starships were destroyed and how many of my people you got killed on your idiot crusade.”

– Republic discussions at peace conference,
Second Directorate transcript

“These talks are a waste of time. We’ve got them against the wall, now. We should press our advantage! Their forces defending their side of the Borderline are weakened, demoralized! An advance, now, could take three sectors before they respond – or, hells’ favor, we could punch right through and knock out Vonis Prime!”

“The Conclave agrees!” a second voice spoke up. The Qirafian who had been sent to represent the other polities of the Worlds pushed his way to the front of the crowd. “A return to status quo ante is not acceptable to us. We require victory!”

“And there,” Elyse replied wearily, “speaks the voice of innumeracy. The Republic is eight thousand systems. We are hundreds. Even if we could take it, we could never hold it, and the Empire does not pursue wars that it can’t win, however winnable the battles look.”

“And as for the Conclave,” she continued, turning to the Qirafi deshnik, “do you have new promises with you of starships, logistics trains, occupation troops? If the Conclave wishes a full military invasion of the Republic, the Conclave needs to put its military forces where its warmongering mouth is. Our existing allies in this affair have already indicated to us that they aren’t interested in sticking any parts of themselves into that meat-grinder.”

“We could still punch out Vonis Prime!”

“Yes, we probably could do that. If we did, clionomic projections suggest that, as a tightly-controlled centralizing governance, Republic space would collapse into an extended period of anarchy, and I don’t mean ‘like us’, or even ‘like the Rim Free Zone’. I mean 8,000 worlds of chaos and warwilds. The collapse of infrastructure. Entire fleets turning to piracy. A complete bloody catastrophe, in short, and one that going to come boiling out across the Borderline and ruin all our tomorrows.”

“You didn’t object to that when it was the People’s State collapsing!”

“And if the Republic was a handful of worlds and notoriously worse as a governance than a complete absence of one ever could be, we wouldn’t object to it collapsing either. But it isn’t. In any case, gentlesophs, I strongly suggest that you take what you can get – and what we think we can get is a general return to status quo ante bellum, reparations for the damage, and half a constellation, twenty-six systems, chopped out of Vonis 31 – and be satisfied, because the only thing that could possibly be worse for us than losing this war is winning the damned thing.”

– Associated Worlds discussion at peace conference,
legate’s personal transcript

From: Elyse Phylarius
To: Ministry of State and Outlands, Republic Affairs Committee
Subject: Conference status

We got lucky this time: our allies came through for us, and with their help I was able to talk the Conclave representatives out of doing anything stupid and beat down the factions. But it was a close-run thing – we’ve got to find some way to cool things down or accelerate the timetable, or else ICE SHADOW and our hopes for inducing a peaceful fragmentation may not survive another incident.


Trope-a-Day: Mix-and-Match Man

Mix-and-Match Man: Happened a lot more in the early days of genetic engineering – and still sometimes happens when the spouses in a multiple marriage of one schema or another wish to have a child that’s descended from all of them – but these days, if you want your child to have some specific traits, you just order those sequences out of the Colonial Genetics, Biogenesis, FleshTech, etc., catalog.


Many people have written in to ask, “What is that silvery, liquescent lining inside the pants of spacesuits we occasionally see on your broadcasts?”

Well, viewers, that’s the sanitary nanopaste. You see, back in what we might call the pointy-stick era of spaceflight, the problem of the crew having to take a ‘fresher break while stuck in their vacuum suits for hours on end was handled by catheterization – it was necessary for astronauts to insert catheters into their urethra, rectum, cloaca, and/or any other excretory or partially-excretory orifices they might have in order to convey waste products to reservoirs for later disposal, and prevent them from contaminating the interior of the suit.

Apart from the occasional technical problems this had with leakage and providing pathways for infection, it was not a solution that was comfortable for anyone, or that anyone was comfortable with.

Fortunately, modern nanotechnology has provided the answer. Sanitary nanopaste selectively infiltrates one’s excretory orifices in a much more gentle manner than gross apparati (the sensation, I am told, being akin to mild tickling that rapidly becomes imperceptible), interfacing with the body’s own systems, and breaking down and compressing the body’s wastes in situ and conveying them directly and continuously, by molecular pass-the-parcel, to the vacuum suit’s recycling apparatus. In short: now, you simply never feel the need to excrete as long as you’re in your suit.

This is a much more elegant solution, obviously, and has satisfied virtually everyone – or at least everyone who isn’t overcome with squeamishness at the thought of microscopic robots roaming around in their bowels.

– Ixril Valenarius, Spaceflight Initiative Public Relations,
“This Week in Orbit”

Trope-a-Day: Mithril

Mithril: The Empire’s so awash in exotic materials of the future (see: Unobtainium) that there’s almost certain to be one that matches mithril’s hypothetical properties pretty much one for one.

I mean, sure, it’s some hideously complicated nanoformed metallic-glass composite, but “does the same, is the same”, right?  Right?  (Or at least close enough that that’s how the first-contact team’d program the translator when they got around to pillaging our fantasy and SF for linguistic close-fits.)

Makes a damn fine mail shirt, too.

Epistolary Experiment (27/30)

“First, know yourself; and know your enemy, second. This is the first principle of victorious war.”

The Thousand Wise Analects of the Supreme Warlord,
Xian Anandonos

“It also doesn’t hurt to know what your enemy knows about yourself.”

Adm. Inesmír Muetry-ith-Muetry, in conversation

Netharn (Idrine Margin) System
CS Unconquerable Self
Coreward Fleet Yards & Logistics Division

“What’s our readiness status, Captain?”

“Excellent, Admiral. These yard dogs know their stuff. Special weapons package SPLITSHANK RIPPER has been loaded to all ships in the task force. I have the tactical departments setting up dedicated weapons queues for it now. Electromagnetic screen generators have been compiled and are installed in the free module spaces of all ships. They’re undergoing final proving tests right now.”

“And the extra radiation cladding?” The Admiral nodded at a nearby projection, displaying a dozen foot-long bulldozers scraping busily at the surface of a nearby asteroid.

“Running about 7% behind. Bagging the regolith is going to schedule, but they had some trouble getting the nets adapted to the hulls of the frigate screen. We should still be aweigh-ready by the foredawn watch.”

“Very good. Keep me informed.”

Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System
CS Eädne’s Helm
Flag Bridge

“The Republic task force has entered the system, Admiral,” the tactical officer reported. “From the Karmál gate, as expected. My best read is… thirty to forty of the plane, same again of screen, in staggered-scramble formation, with the megastructure in the middle.” She leaned over her board and adjusted the focus controls again. “I can’t get a clearer count than that, though. All this rad-hash is ruining the sensor resolution.”

“Very well, Cymnéä. Pass the word to the AKVs at the tarvic generator: scramble and attack on closest approach. Remind them that kills are secondary; their highest priority is to pass us target data.”

signal from flag: we are go at closest approach, target ailék.

all wings report in

weasel weasel weasel

shrike shrike shrike

scorpion scorpion

declamp and puffball. ready thrust packs, ears only.

guidance lock, no growler.

weasel wing, arm and attack screen from system acme; shrike wing, arm and attack screen from system nadir; scorpion wing, punch through and heat up the sweatbox. flank speed, backfire closure.

report scan data to flag soonest via tangle.

count is running.


hold knives to eyeball range; light the fires; stove-top hop; go go go

– from the thought-record of AKV Oriel-2-2-1

Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System
CS Eädne’s Helm
Flag Bridge

“AKVs are running.”

“When will they be within the Republic task force’s threat range?”

“Estimate three-two minutes, sir.”

“Set the maneuver clock: in three-two minutes, fleet is to cease acceleration and skew-flip, but is not to start deceleration yet. Let them think we’re satisfied with our closing rate and are going for a zero/zero after the AKVs have chewed on them some more. Pass the word to tactical: as we maneuver, fire SPLITSHANK RIPPER as you bear, per uploaded fire plan.”

Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System
VNS President Siroshin

“Target Alpha just cut acceleration. Aspect change on target, looks like the beginning of a skew-turn.”

“Very well, Mr. Kadesh. Helm, maintain course and acceleration. If they want a passing engagement, we’ll oblige –“

“Contacts, contacts! We show multiple inbound missiles, groupings three, estimate over six hundred inbounds, range one-eighty-thousand, heading two-six-five mark three-two.”

“Signal to all ships: shift immediately to defensive globe formation. Stand by point defense. Mr. Kadesh, get me profiles on those missiles –“

(The sensor report of an electromagnetic spike accompanying the aspect change scrolled off the screen, unnoticed.)

Loaders clanked, switches closed, stacked accumulators discharged with an electrical hiss, drive coils spat lightning, and the SPLITSHANK RIPPER slug left the axial mass driver of Eädne’s Helm at a leisurely 1% of light speed; enough for multiple kilotons of impact should it directly hit its target, but nothing that would do exceptional damage to a starship designed for war, such as President Siroshin.

But it was not targeted directly at President Siroshin.

Minutes after being fired, the slug, fired retrograde, dropped into the ergosphere of the Eye of Night, that portion of space-time distorted by the spinning black hole in such a way as to drag all material objects along with it. Shortly thereafter, the SPLITSHANK RIPPER charge built into the slug fulfilled its designers’ intentions, and blew cleanly in two.

The larger part, no longer needed, fell away into the event horizon.

The smaller, a mere grain by comparison, in obedience to conservation of momentum, was hurled out of the ergosphere at high relativistic speed.

As were the smaller fragments of the other 119 slugs fired simultaneously.

Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System
VNS President Siroshin

“Incoming! INCOMING! Gamma blueshift—“

Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System
CS Eädne’s Helm
Flag Bridge

“The package has been delivered. Flash is… okay, surviving AKVs are getting their sensors back on line. We have – splash fifty-seven, sixty-nine casualties. Twelve still under command, all screen. The megastructure looks battered, but appears intact and not at immediate risk of sympathetic detonation.”

“Very good. Make signal to senior surviving officer, Republic task force:

“‘This is Grand Admiral Inesmír Muetry, commanding CS Eädne’s Helm and all other Imperial forces in this system. Your forces, in my estimation, are no longer capable of sustaining battle, and therefore, to prevent an unnecessary effusion of blood, I wish to offer you the opportunity for honorable surrender.’

“‘You will immediately shut down all offensive systems. You may proceed, as a group, up to one light-minute from the megastructure you have been transporting for your own safety along with any survivors you may pick up, and will there heave to and prepare to be boarded.’

“‘Otherwise, be advised that my fleet will range upon you in seven-six minutes, and will commence firing for effect at that time. Muetry, clear.’”

“One braced for the wildfire will miss the serpent at their feet; one checking their boots for scorpions cannot run from the flame.”

The Thousand Wise Analects of the Supreme Warlord,
Xian Anandonos

“I knew what they were expecting of us. The cunning-mind stratagem, the feints-within-feints, all the deceptive devices that they believe transsophonts are known for – and which Fleet Admiral Daphnotarthius gave them over and again in the Borderline campaign. One simple act of misdirection? They were bound to misinterpret it entirely.”

– Grand Admiral Inesmír Muetry-ith-Muetry,
ICIN interview after the Battle of Eye-of-Night

Trope-a-Day: Unobtainium

Unobtainium: Of many kinds.  Sophisticated materials science is one of the major areas of advancement in this particular universe.  Of particular note: deuterium slush, metastable metallic hydrogen, helium-3 and antimatter (more specifically, antideuterium slush) for power, room-temperature superconductors, sapphiroids (the trade name for the high-grade kind is Adamant™ – not adamantium, because it’s not an element; after all, transparent aluminum has been used, even if accurate), carbon nanotubes, highly refractory cerametals and metallic glasses, muon metals, strangelets, raw tangle – oh, and fun nonbaryonic things like exotic matter (you make stargate frames out of it), gluonic string (held together by the strong force, thus with the best tensile strength available), and so on and so forth.  Less elementally, various nanofluids with fascinatingly exotic behavior, nanotech composites, and smart and biomimetic materials (living metal, nanowell-bearing programmable matter, etc.), computronium (okay, that’s not an element either, but…), and again, and so forth.

And medically speaking, of course, immortagens.

Trope-a-Day: Mirror Chemistry

Mirror Chemistry: Played straight but in a much more complicated fashion.  After all, on Earth, life – for the most part – uses levoproteins and dextrosugars.  So there’s (trivially) four possible combinations right there, leaving aside more complex or dual arrangements, and that’s not even taking into account biochemistries that aren’t built around the same structural and energy molecules ours is, and/or that use the same compounds for completely different purposes…

Let’s just say that it’s really very important to pay attention to food labeling and the biochemical-compatibility plat attached to your restaurant menu.  Bartenders have fairly advanced degrees.  And if you throw a lot of polyspecific dinner parties, hire a specialist caterer.

Author’s Note: Quebérúr

For your envisioning pleasure – and also because I secretly hope someone will send me fan art along the lines of a classic Old West painting set on said Mars-type world (beautiful for spacious pink skies and vermilion mountains’ majesty above its fruited plain of mottled green and blue grass, although the grain still comes in amber waves) – the greenlife quebérúr is a relative of the Terran bison. Specifically, it’s a separate descendant of Bison antiquus than our modern Bison bison, that has kept the 15%-25% larger size of the former (about 7.5′ tall, 15′ long, and 3,500 lbs.) Other relevant differences include having developed curled, downward-pointing horns, and being able to digest and mostly excrete the non-overlapping compounds across the bluelife/greenlife gap without being poisoned or sickened by them. Much the same parameters apply to their transbovine descendants.

Every bit as tasty, though!

Home on Lagrange

It was understood relatively early in Project Redblossom that Talentar would become a major food-exporting planet as the ecopoesis continued. As the major geophysical stages were completed, the planet warmed, water was introduced, and the microbiome became established, it became time to introduce macroscopic flora, among the earliest of which called for by the ecopoesis plan were grasses to bind the regolith dunes.

It did not escape the ecotects’ attention that the grass family included a variety of commercially-viable flora, most obviously the widely used grains landesh and irdesh, and that incorporating these into the ecopoesis plan would help to render it self-sustaining in more ways than one. Thus, an extensive agricultural industry rapidly grew up around the early colonies, especially those located in the lowlands of Kirinal Planum, exporting vast quantities of bread, beer, and raw grain to the system’s expanding population of drifts and orbital habitats – aided in this by the relative shallowness of Talentar’s gravity well as compared to Eliéra’s, and Talentar’s possession of the system’s first orbital elevator. The ecotects required that part of the payment for these goods be made in nitrogenous and other organic waste collected from the habitats, which became feedstock to their dirt farming programs and thus in turn expanded Talentar’s fertile regions; a virtuous cycle.

Unanticipated was what followed. Commercial grains, being insufficient in themselves for a stable ecological tier, were by no means the only grasses spreading on Talentar. Forty-seven years after the initiation of this program, a ranchers’ consortium from the Iniositac-Variasotec Commonwealth, observing the spread of common grasses in less desirable regions of the planet, obtained title to one of the largest contiguous areas of this “Talentarian prairie”. A year later, they introduced the first Rieltelir-adapt quebérúr, modified Eliéran cattle capable of breathing the low-oxygen, high-dioxide atmosphere, shaggier and better able to live in cold conditions, the dung from whose grazing in turn helped expand these prairie regions. While the export of quebérúr meat was much lower in volume than grain exports, it was much higher value due to the near-impossibility at that time of producing such anywhere else in the system with a relatively shallow well, and several fortunes were made in this new business.

And to this day, the Carbon-Carbon Grill at Suléyn Dome still serves the best non-vat quebérúr steak in the Lumenna-Súnáris System.

Talentar Blossoming: the Early Years,
Vallis Muetry-ith-Miritar

Epistolary Experiment (24/30) – Revised First Segment

(This is the corrected version, with fixed astronomy…)

The Eye of Night (Last Darkness) System has the distinction of being the only black hole accessible to the Associated Worlds, and indeed, the primary reason for the existence of the Last Darkness constellation.

The black hole itself, Eye of Night, is designated as the system primary. It boasts a magnificent accretion disk, fueled by the asteroidal remnants of the system, and a stream of infalling matter drawn from the system secondary, the mottled red giant star Bloodshot.

As such, the entire system is designated a high-radiation environment, and entry should only be attempted by starships hardened against the prevailing radiation and thermal conditions. There are, for this reason, three stargates opening into the Eye of Night system, all orbiting coplanar with and in the outer fringes of the accretion disk to make best use of its occlusion umbra. Current occlusion status information and forecasts are available from Ring Dynamics public sources; visitors are advised to consult these and make all appropriate drift calculations before selecting their emergence point; emerging above or below the plane of the accretion disk significantly increases radiation exposure and other associated hazards.

Little civilization exists in the system. The majority of it is found on the Empire’s Edgewalker Research Station, a deeply-buried beehive habitat orbiting further into the fringe of the accretion disk. The habitat is operational the majority of the time, due to its heavy natural shielding, but may close down external services and near-surface facilities at short notice during radiation storms.

Edgewalker Station is run jointly by Dynamic Spatial Geometry Group, a research collective, and by the Order of Endings Manifest, a monastic order of Entélith – indeed, there is much overlap between the two, as the devotees of the Lady of Death and Endings take great interest in such research. It also houses modest facilities for visiting researchers and tourists, and a small funerist, capable of performing appropriate death rituals for many species of the Worlds.

Orbiting much closer to the Eye is the Eft Sédir Containment Facility, a maximum security prison run for a consortium of Accord polities by a division of the White Hands mercenary fleet. Eft Sédir lies within the inner accretion disk, protected against escape attempts and rescue attempts alike by the extremely hostile local environment. It survives in its location by means of extremely heavy coaxial radiation shielding and electromagnetic deflectors similar to those used in coronal habitats.

The Facility is designed as a skyhook extending from its anchor asteroid (home of the prison administration facilities and its spaceport) down towards the hole; prisoners are held in modules attached to the skyhook and resupplied by one-way descender ‘bots. The Facility uses the increasing levels of gravity as the skyhook descends to assist in the containment of their more violent and dangerous prisoners; modules can be placed at levels offering from near-microgravity to a crushing twelve standard gravities. In the event of riot, attempted escape, or other trouble, separation charges can blow any module clear of the skyhook and drop it into the Eye, or the entire skyhook can be separated from its anchor, likewise. Approaching the Facility is not recommended for anyone except for an approved White Hands prisoner transport; the locals are unfriendly, and the station will fire on anyone entering its claimed million-mile security zone.

Points of Interest: The only other structure of interest in the Eye of Night System is the remains of a tarvic project to magnetohydrodynamically tap energy from the infall of stellar plasma originating from Bloodshot. While abandoned partway through construction, and obviously derelict, this miles-long megastructure is still remarkable, the more so that it continues to hold station within the plasma streamer despite centuries of neglect.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene

Trope-a-Day: Mindlink Mates

Mindlink Mates: Played straight as an available option for couples, using much the same cybernetic techlepathy that everyone else uses.  Such links also generally are filtered – no-one really wants to be fed the entirety of someone else’s sense/physical-status data and narrative thread of consciousness, however close they are. And even given that, a lot of people have them removed in a relatively short time, too.  Continuous mental intimacy’s not for everyone.

Another spin on this is the custom among some couples likely to be separated for long periods over distances involving considerable communications lag to keep partial forks of each other around, with or without sync or remerge.

Epic Research Failure!

So, bit of a wee problem back in Epistolary Experiment (24/30). It appears that I do not know what I thought I knew about black hole accretion disks. Or rather, I did know it, with the minor issue that what I knew turned out to be, well, bollocks.

The researchers responsible have been sacked.

Many thanks go to James Sterrett for catching this one, and especially for catching this one before publication.

…aaand now I’m off to send it and the draft of part 27 back to rewrite.

Epistolary Experiment (26/30)

From: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
To: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
Cc: CINCCORE; Grand Admiral Inesmir Muetry-ith-Muetry
Subject: Unknown object

The enclosed is an excerpt from sensor logs of the Battle of Viridit. Our analysts are having difficulty identifying the large structure the Republic fleet appears to have under tow in the center of their formation. Is this something in your bailiwick? Please advise on possible threat level and/or collateral danger.


LANDING, SARAGÓS – “The mood on Saragós was celebratory today with the final withdrawal of Iltine forces from the planet. Despite the long task of rebuilding ahead, the Saragónes are both proud of the achievements of their militias in defeating Iltine ground forces, and thankful to the Imperial task force that made it possible by removing their orbital support from the system.

“A joint statement of the local governances expressed thanks specifically to Admiral Gileon Cularius for pressing forward to the Veneri System and obtaining generous reparations for Saragós on their behalf, to be administered in escrow by Gilea & Co. A spokesman for this group later announced that in addition to funding reconstruction efforts, part of these reparations would be expended to hire mercenaries to blockade the inbound routes from Union space, and to construct and cadre a new condominium system defense fleet for the Saragós system.

“This is Xaríä Cieng, Telememe News.”

VENERI (OSIS DEEP) – The Central Committee of the Iltine Union condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent unauthorized military adventurism, carried out by certain reactionary elements within the Ministry of Pacification without the knowledge and permission of the People of Ilth, and further condemns their use of illegal and immoral weapons systems developed in secret with the assistance of and at the instigation of corrupt offworld apotheosians. The Union assures all star nations that the Iltine Union desires only to live in peace with its neighbors, and that those responsible shall be punished for their actions with the full stringency of the People’s Law.

The Central Committee offers its hand in friendship and good will to the people of Saragós, also victimized by the treacherous actions of these criminal freebooters, and will lend any aid it can to the cause of rebuilding their world.

[APPROVED FOR DISSEMINATION – Meer har-Tal Ankór, Office of Desirable Truths and Detestable Falsehoods]

– That Bullshit Right There, Independent Worlds Router

Rejoice and know no fear, People of Ilth, for the rumors of invasion and war are no more than dust in the wind. The Imperial starships seen in the Veneri System are making a goodwill visit, escorting negotiators to make application to the Central Committee. The Ministry of Pacification remains ever watchful for outworld treachery.

Fear and rumormongering poison the People’s Will. Defeatists and traitors pollute the People’s Genes. Be vigilant!

– Office of the People’s Wisdom, Iltine Union: INTERNAL DISSEMINATION ONLY

From: Imogen Andracanth, VP Research, Ring Dynamics
To: Adm. [blank], Imperial Naval Intelligence
Cc: CINCCORE; Grand Admiral Inesmir Muetry-ith-Muetry
Subject: Re: Unknown object

Possibly. Unfortunately, that’s as far as I can go.

I’ve run it past Operations and Engineering as well as my team. Our consensus is that it might be a weylforge. The toroids resemble frame buffer-dampers; the configuration of the radiators and nearby equipment suggests a facility for producing boson condensate. But that’s all circumstantial; the design is sufficiently alien from our equivalent equipment that there’s not an ideal resemblance, and we can think of at least a dozen other geometry-manipulation possibilities, several with significant offensive connotations. And that’s assuming they either have automation for it or understand how to operate it correctly in manual mode, which latter would be most unlikely.

As it is, we believe potential collateral damage considerations would suggest not being within two light-minutes of it if it’s destroyed. If it is charged – and we strongly believe that that would require both an external power source and a time period measured in, at minimum, cycles – you’d want to be at light-cycles of range.

Trope-a-Day: Mind Over Matter

Mind Over Matter: The eldrae, and various other transsophonts, play this absolutely straight, with the usual laundry list of clever applications for psychokinesis.  Of course, being a “firm SF” universe, it’s not any kind of Psychic Power – it’s implanted nanosome vector-control effectors.

On the one hand, this does let you take the psychokinesis up to eleven, uprooting buildings and throwing aircraft.  On the other hand, it makes it easy to spot and to deal with the person doing so, because of the city block-sized mass of much bigger effectors and generators they need to have following them, slaved to their personal systems, to pull those tricks off.

Elsewhere in the Worlds

“A consortium of trailing star nations, most significantly including the United Viridian States, the Wylene Republics, and the World Assembly of Sarine, today issued a condemnation of several of the free educational mnemonetic downloads and simulation spaces produced by the Agalmic Education Foundation for the pre-adult market. Those modules condemned include those covering the fields of biology, biotechnology, robotics, nanorobotics, and sophotechnology, the consortium claiming that their independent memetic analysis revealed heavy non-content meme payloads promoting otiosity, post-sophont transcendence, and ‘the Empire’s techno-gnostic imperialism’

“When asked to comment, Vianne Beldene of the Foundation issued an official statement, reading: ‘What the bloodshits is techno-gnostic imperialism? We might be entirely happy to remove it if our critics could take the trouble to define it for us.'”

– from the Imperial Infoclast

Trope-a-Day: Mind Over Manners

Mind Over Manners: This is not usually much of an issue with standard-issue Psychic Powers, which in the Eldraeverse are essentially organic neural WiFi, designed for communication and not permitting arbitrary mindreading (you need a SQUID and some rather complex software for that), but the Common Social Protocol does include detailed etiquette for farspeech, appropriate levels of exchange, etc., in just the same way as it does for, well, regular speech.

Of course, there are psychedesigners and redactors and sophotechnologists and other people who can use other means of mind reading and control. In their case, it’s played very straight with their professional standards – often enforced (in the case of most, by professional bodies; in the case of the Eupraxic Collegium and Guardians of Our Harmony, by law) using its own means; i.e., to practice professionally, you volunteer to have your colleagues regularly examine your mind to make sure that your ethical standards are where they should be. And, of course, most violations of them also violate the criminal law.

(Which is why you don’t want to go to a back-street psychedesigner, because there’s usually a reason why they don’t have a guild certificate.)

Trope-a-Day: Mind Manipulation

Mind Manipulation: The entire science of sophotechnology, which is to say, the science of mind, both natural and artificial – and the laundry list of technologies derived therefrom: artificial intelligence, Brain Uploading, memetics, psychedesign, noetic backup and analysis…