Trope-a-Day: Never the Selves Shall Meet

Never the Selves Shall Meet: Averted.  While it’s difficult and expensive – to understate the case radically – to meet yourself (albeit less difficult, although no less expensive, to send yourself a message) in the past, and it comes with a host of annoying limitations concerning boundary conditions and suchlike, there are essentially no consequences for doing so.  The universe is block – various chronology protection theorems point out that the probability of any event-chain that will create a global causality violation is zero – but it only cares about global causality violations, which is to say, as long as there are no uncaused effects or effect-free causes out there, it doesn’t care about the order they come in. You can create predestination paradoxes (with certain difficult-to-manage limitations; for example, looped objects cannot age, otherwise the loop loses end-to-end consistency and becomes impossible) all you want.  It does, which is rather more annoying to the naïve user, mean that you can’t change the past – whatever present you are in incorporates the consequences of whatever changes you made in the past even before you reach the future in which you travel to the past, so nothing can be changed since you already changed it, if you did.

More sophisticated users, which mostly means those weakly godlike superintelligences again, make great use of the ability to whisper instructions in their present self’s ear from the future via acausal logic processing, but it’s still imperfect and of limited bandwidth, so it’s not actually the quick ticket to omniscience it might seem like.

Other Doings…

…besides the remainder of the muckings-about necessary to get a book out of the door, that is.

Well, apart from the usual fic returning, I’m planning for doing something else longer soon, and one of the candidates for that involves some free trading adventures out on the frontiers of the Worlds. But, of course, free traders can’t hardly free trade without a ship to do so in, so I’m taking the time to put a little meat on the bones of the Kalantha-class frontier trader, as ubiquitous in the Expansion Regions as the Firefly-class is in its ‘verse.

(This is an interesting ship to design precisely because it is a frontier trader; it has to be able to service worlds that don’t have much by way of formal starport infrastructure, and certainly don’t have orbital highports, lighter fleets, mass drivers, and suchlike – and carrying a shuttle large enough to ferry the cargo down itself is a lot of extra mass – so it has to be able to land. But that, too, poses all manner of issues and imposes all manner of design constraints on a starship…

The Kalantha-class squares this particular circle by separating neatly into two halves, such that the streamlined, landing-capable, “crescent flying wing” for’ard section can land and take off again using trimodal NTRs with relatively little onboard fuel, etc., required, while leaving the main, unstreamlined, propulsion section with the fusion torch and the majority of the fuel parked in orbit in the meantime.)

Also, thinking about doing this in April to get back into the daily-fic habit…

Trope-a-Day: Never Recycle a Building

Never Recycle a Building: Rather subverted – inasmuch as while the Imperials don’t tend to go around demolishing perfectly good buildings they don’t have a current use for –

(Leading to the related phenomena in which some buildings have been in continuous use and upgrading for something like seven thousand years along with all their different schools of architecture.)

Since that would be all wasteful and entropic, it would be every bit as bad to just abandon them and let them decay untouched. So you’re very unlikely to find an actual accessible abandoned building, even very shortly after it’s notional abandonment: what you’ll find is one that has been carefully stripped down, wrapped up, secure-sealed, and prepared for long-term “storage” by a professional mothballing crew.

So, sure, that decades-old abandoned building will be perfectly intact and everything in it will probably work, if you want to go to the trouble of unsealing and de-mothballing it…

but if you left stuff behind there, it’s likely to have been cleaned up, sorted, sealed into crates, filled with inert gas, and shipped off to last-known-address postage-due, or failing that, the Bureau of Unattached Chattels and Uncertain Titles.

Nelyn-class Deck Plan

20150328_231228194_iOSBecause I couldn’t stop scribbling during my final formatting pass, okay?

Main hull:

1. Flight deck, right for’ard, and not on either of the decks strictly speaking, since it’s in the nose of the craft in what amounts to a transparent dome. The pilot’s command seat is, essentially, centered exactly on the fore-to-aft drive axis. Openings above and below provide access to both decks.

2. The common area, on the upper deck, ending in the for’ard upper level module access. Includes two stacked crew pods (a) to port, for the crew to sleep; a smart-table (b) for miscellaneous work, administration, and recreation purposes, and (c) a galley and fab unit to starboard…

3. …for’ard of the ‘fresher.

4. Most of the lower deck is a single compartment, which includes avionics equipment and canned life support (to starboard) and racked stowage space (to port), although most of the port side is taken up by…

5. …the airlock, an unusual three-door design that doubles as the for’ard lower level module access as well as the boarding airlock and an airlock providing convenient access to the module volume when no module is installed.

Engineering hull:

6. The airlock/aft lower level module access provides access to the engineering hull when no module is installed. It leads into…

7. The engineering section, which is primarily a single large chamber. The upper deck only exists as a catwalk running around the perimeter of the chamber, and the aft upper level module access is a simple spacetight door that cannot be opened when no module is installed. Primarily notable in the engineering section are (a) the vector control core and reaction wheels, (b) the port and starboard auxiliary power reactors, and (c) the robot hotel, with scuttle access to the propulsion bus for external maintenance mechs.

(Note: The Nelyn uses canned life support because it’s basically a local ship; the vast majority of them in use are not in roles that require them to ever venture very far from a source of resupply. Those who’d like to use their Nelyn for a long interplanetary or even interstellar voyage, on the other hand, aren’t left out; they can simply plug in the “accommodation” or “luxury suite” module, say, that by design comes with its own regenerative life support and possibly even hydroponics…)

Nelyn & Élyn

2015-03-27Usually I prefer to avoid inflicting my dire drawing skills upon y’all, but what the hell, I’ll make an exception this once.

The diagram to the right is my quick size sketch of the aforementioned Nelyn-class modular cutter (in blue) and the Élyn-class modular microcutter (in green).

As you can see, the Nelyn is the big one, inspired by/a harder version of the Traveller RPG’s modular cutter; an interplanetary craft that’s the workhorse of the Empire; 8 m in diameter, and 48 m long in total; an 8 m main hull at for’ard for the flight crew, the 16 m module space; a 4 m engineering hull for sensitive machinery; and the 16 m propulsion bus at the back. The module space is bridged by three trusses 120 degrees apart, the dorsal one of which is split in the middle and folds back to allow module swapout. And there are lots of different modules for pretty much any purpose you can think of.

The Élyn is the smaller one, only 4 m in diameter and with a 6 m hull (including engines), optionally taking a 6 m cylindrical module in a rear-mount. It’s strictly a local-orbit craft without interplanetary capability (although it is capable of take-off and landing on many planets) – but the reason it’s drawn where it is is that there is a Nelyn module specifically designed as a cradle for the Élyn, letting an entrepreneur with the former make pretty decent money providing a taxi service for the latter on long trips…

Drake-class Frigate: Post-Hoc Modifications

Because despite this and this, there are always a few modifications once you actually start beating brass and doing detail work:

The 4 x “Slammer III” dual turreted mass drivers have become 2 x “Slammer III” duals and 8 x “Slammer III” singles, four up front, two in radiator-tip (wingtip) leading-edge mounts, and two rearward-mounted to protect the ship’s kilt;

The aft landing bay door is now dropped and replaced with two side-opening landing bay doors for’ard of the radiators, since the former would have required flying directly through the high-radiation zone of the torch drive and said thermal radiators to use; much easier to fly parallel and dock sideways. This, in turn, has enabled the transformation of the back of the landing bay into dedicated cargo/storage space, with said side doors being in an excellent place for loading when the ship is landed or docked.

And after consideration of the practical height of the landing bay vis-a-vis the size of the Nelyn-class modular cutter, I’m swapping it out for a pair of Élyn-class modular microcutters (a gig-sized craft); if you want a really pretty good visual reference for that, think of it as looking like a rebranded SpaceX Dragon V2, with the cylindrical module in place of the trunk.

Trope-a-Day: Never Mess With Granny

Never Mess With Granny: Played straight an awful lot, albeit not with people who look much like little old ladies inasmuch as, well, immortality.  As such, people can keep their physical fitness quite handily while accumulating a great many years of badass experience. (This is, of course, cheating – but then, no-one made them agree to those rules…)

Redoubled with such characters as Admiral Caliéne Sargas “the Worldburner”, who – while having no children for reasons that overlap heavily with those which got her her reputation, and the attributive name quoted above, vide. the Burning of Litash – is certainly old enough by now to qualify for this trope.  Or, say, CEO Emeritus Gilea Cheraelar of Gilea & Co., the bank-of-banks which acts as a lender to a large number of star nations but, in the traditional Imperial manner, without recognizing that their sovereign status makes them terribly special and privileged – and as such, is someone who occasionally comes out of retirement to help her umpty-great-grandchildren bully entire sovereign governments into making good on their debts, or else.

Gentlesophs and Adjuncts, We Have Manuscript!

Oh yes, oh my, oh my, oh yes.

Pages: 389.
Words: 98,213.

So, now that the content is ready, what else is there to do:

Cover art: moving along nicely, should be ready soon.
Permissions: waiting for.
Blurb: need to write that.
Cover: can’t do that yet.
Submission to Amazon: can’t do that yet either.
E-book formatting: can do that next.
Submission of that to Amazon: can’t do that yet.
Set on-sale date and such: can’t do that yet.
Party like it’s 2015 and I just wrote a book: probably shouldn’t do that yet.
Write next one…

Trope-a-Day: The Neutral Zone

The Neutral Zone: Played straight, although given the nature of the stargate plexus as, essentially, a mesh network, it’s not so much a zone, but a list of Neutral Nexi.  No-one tries to enforce deep space as a neutral zone, mostly because it’s just too damn big and remote to patrol – unless someone leaks the existence of a hidden base out there, anyway.

It’s not even all that common as an entire constellation – usually, the list of Neutral Nexi is a thin surface one system thick, or even a single chokepoint system – because it’s rare for any powers to bother developing the wormhole infrastructure to connect them so intimately to their enemies.  Although there is the Seam as a whole, and particularly the Csell Buffer, which was a semi-developed constellation going by the name of the Csell Reach in between the Galith Waste and Voniensan space shortly before the Silicate Tree turned up and claimed the Galith Waste, and then Things Did Not Go So Well.

Trope-a-Day: Neuro Vault

Neuro Vault: Played straight.  Only the old-time classical version, though, where you hide it in people’s memories using good old-fashioned memory palace techniques, or closely related gnostic overlays emulating them.  The trouble with imprinting stuff on bits of the brain that aren’t the usual memory regions is that it tends to show up as a pretty clear anomaly on a mind-scan, if anyone cares to look, unless your courier is already going to be drawing attention to themselves by virtue of exotic and unusual mental architecture.

Idealistic Snippet

(I’ve got the allergies today, so am reworking some of my notes and doing light editing. But here, have this wee snippet I ran across in the process:)

“Sure, you could theoretically weaponize a nucleonic device, but what would be the point? Everyone knows they’d have no imaginable practical use in warfare. What possible use is there for a bomb that completely obliterates the economic value of whatever you’re fighting over?”

– Alys Amanyr

(Who was later disappointed, despite being fundamentally correct where planet-based warfare was concerned.)

Drake Stories: And Then You Have To Repaint That Section

“I once asked a Drake captain if he was worried about hostile boardings when on the ground. You know, because none of the main guns can range on the area in front of the landing bay doors, and it doesn’t have a security turret? So he handed me some binoculars, pointed me at his ship – this was at a goodwill airshow – and said that at least two of the point-defense grid emitters had each bay door covered, look? I didn’t think that was very practical, and I told him so.

“He just laughed and said that even with the smallest trickle-current the accumulators could push through a starship laser, anything made of flesh trying to board without asking couldn’t help but be set on fire… and exploded.”

– Ven Tar Villis, shipspotter

Trope-a-Day: Nerds Are Sexy

Nerds Are Sexy: In the Empire, almost universally so.  It’s an emergent consequence, and an entirely predictable one, of certain other cultural characteristics: see, for example, For Science, Serious Business, and Wrench Wench.  Also, thereby, self-perpetuating.

Fic-wise and other-reason-wise, see also Nice Labcoat.

More Editing Progress

Proto-book-file-size: 251 pages.

Longer story: all included.

Everything referenced elsewhere: also all included.

Requisite reprint permission: applied for.

Cover art: In progress. Also, damn, guys, from these draft renders, it’s going to be awesome.

…maybe another 180 pages or so awaiting final formatting, at this point. Woo!

Trope-a-Day: Wrench Wench

Yes, just like this. (Image from Serenity: Those Left Behind)

Yes, just like this.
(Image from Serenity: Those Left Behind)

Wrench Wench: Oh, my, there are a lot of these.  There are, of course, perfectly valid in-world reasons for this (population demographics and their effect on employment patterns; never having acquired human cultures’ weird attitudes about men’s and women’s work; the cultural stigma attached to not knowing how things work and being able to fix/upgrade whatever; and a noticeable and very widespread cultural case of Nerds Are Sexy), but, y’know, so long as people are going to try and diagnose my opinions and preferences from my writing, I might as well admit to this one…


(Also, of course, the 93rd Imperial Legion (Combat Engineers) “The Wrench Wenches”. Which is also, unsurprisingly, an example of Amazon Brigade.)

Trope-a-Day: Naughty Tentacles

Naughty Tentacles (since removed from TV Tropes, but I think we all know what this one is about, yes?): Given that there are species with tentacles, and Boldly Coming is in effect, this does happen (consensually). However, no-one out there would understand why humans in general and the Japanese in particular are so obsessed with it, nor would those involved appreciate the interest in their sex lives.

Editing Progress

Current proto-book-file page count: 175.

That includes, now, the whole of the Core War (the edited epistolary experiment) and everything it depends on; so now, on to the next stage, the smaller task of polishing for formal publication all the pieces that have been quoted from elsewhere.

(And then the third stage, the rather bigger task of choosing and polishing from everything else.)

And on we go…