Virtual Danger Denial: Very strongly averted just about everywhere advanced, because this attitude coupled with ubiquitous computing and mind-machine interfacing, as well as when Everything is Online, is not survival-oriented, shall we say. (Yes, you can catch a fatal STI from cybersex.) In the modern world, you can safely assume that you are completely surrounded by computers which control just about everything going on in your vicinity, and anything that affects them will most definitely affect you.
And don’t even think about what an EMP would mean.
“Okay, now spin the central kitchen island three-quarters. Good. Now back it up half the width of the range.”
Minil Cendriane looked around the floor of her house, checking gaps and eyelines revealed by the AR overlay.
“No, that still doesn’t clear enough space. Save this as a new revision -”
Saved as floorplan-1.1.233, murmured the house brain.
“- and put a bay window on the southern wall, then take out the wall between here and the supper conservatory, and straighten the worktops. No, that won’t work. Rollback.”
Reverting to floorplan-1.1.233.
“Let’s try this. Widen the kitchen wing on the southern side to where the veranda begins, and reflow the worktops to maximize use of the western wall. Then put a wide arch as far back into the kitchen as you can, merge styles on the new space with this room, and give me a columned entrance on the southern wall. Hmph. Better, but still won’t work. Save and branch it for later.”
Name of branch?
“Call it ‘summer-new’.”
Saved as summer-new-1.1.234.
“Stripped gears and leakage! Our guests will be here in seven hours, and I’ve got too many places to be. We’ll have to take out the new light-room. Summon a chartercar, and revert the house to 1.0-final.”
Confirm physical reversion of house to 1.0-final?
Minil turned, and walked away. Behind her, utility spiders scurried to move furnishings out of the way, and heavy machinery groaned to life within the walls.
Unreliable Expositor: My version of the Imperial Repository of All Knowledge is exactly, 100% correct, complete, and conclusive. Despite their best efforts, however, the Repository of All Knowledge isn’t quite that good, and anything any individual person, publication, or professor in-universe may know comes with that same lack of guarantee. Caveat reader!
“I’m not sure I understand why you’ve come to see me.”
“As I said, I’m the undertaker for Cantrel Steamweaver, of Socket City, Golden Groves.”
“I have had some dealings with him in the past, but -”
“Ah. I see. Perhaps the translation is misleading, and I should clarify. Mr. Janli, I am neither a euthanatrist, nor a funerist. Nor, for that matter, a biological waste recycling specialist. I undertake to handle the mélith-debts and other obligations of the deceased on the part of their survivors.”
“I don’t recall Cantrel owing me anything. Nor do I owe him anything. If you have business of that sort to transact, you’d best speak to my man of law.”
“It is not a financial matter, Mr. Janli. My client currently holds a writ of baculum outstanding against you from the Court of the Beyond. Naturally, he wished to carry it out himself, but under the circumstances was unable. Hence my involvement in this matter.”
“A writ of baculum?”
“It is more commonly known as a writ of assault, permitting a rather direct form of redress at the court’s discretion. A form of limited outlawry, I understand, that the court considered rather poetic, given the case in question. In any case, as you’ll see from the documentation here, we have local approval for its service, and there are certain specific limitations and requirements that must be fulfilled -”
“And you expect me to stand here and just let you beat me?”
“Oh, no, I merely expect you to be distracted by the documentation just long enough to let my assistant slip around behind you.”
“Good day to you, Mr. Janli.” The undertaker scribbled ‘paid in full’ across the writ, initialed it, then tucked it into Janli’s nerveless fingers. “Do keep your copy of the receipt.”
Tastes Like Purple: Comes along with switching bodies and having sensory modalities available to you that aren’t part of your natural heritage. Until your mind and brain both adapt to the new information they’re receiving, you tend to spend some time staggering around babbling about how everything tastes like purple, looks like F sharp, and smells like orthogonality.
The other common situation in which it occurs (leaving aside dreamer’s honey and other fun recreations) is when an adult is fitted with a neural lace, rather than having one grow naturally. In the latter case, you see, it learns how to speak brain right along with the brain; in the former, it has to figure it out after the fact, which bedding-in process has results much like the above until everything’s bedded in properly.
(Alternate words: Tear, terms, thinking, tutorial. Actually, I have a pretty good idea for tutorial, but the darn thing just won’t gel. So you get this bit of silliness instead.)
The music was pounding again – not that it ever stopped – on the main floor of Polythalience, enough so that to be heard, it was safest to bellow directly into the ear of whoever you were attempting to speak with. On the hanging stage above, a dar-cúlnó musician balanced in his water column, flickering his skin color in antiphase with the stage lights and waving tentacles with casual speed above the theremins surrounding him.
“Is he –”
“Why can I only hear two?”
“That’s octorock, soph! The third one’s the altissimo track for the high-hearers. Our melody’s their bass line.”
“And the fourth?”
“You feeling your bones hum?”
“Then you’re hearing it! Fourth one powers the wubs!”
(Still working on actual posts, but here, have a snippet…)
“One perpetual confusion among external Empire-watchers is the confusion between the Ministries of Throne and State and the Shadow Ministries – for example, between the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity, which is a duly empowered governance instrumentality and enforcer of rights and obligations both fundamental and civil, and the Ministry of Exquisition, which is a private Empire-wide circle of branches self-tasked with the promotion of fabulosity, and whose closest approach to governmental power is its chief executive’s entreé to the Court of Courts.
“It is this latter that gives rise to this designation: the leading figure of a Shadow Ministry is afforded the title of Minister as a praetorian courtesy rank along with their entreé; from this, the designation of such courtier-led associations individually as Ministries and collectively as the Shadow Ministries is a simple matter of back-formation and custom.
“Since everyone moving in such circles as are likely to bring them into contact with the Shadow Ministries or the Court of Courts are comfortably aware of this distinction, it is unlikely that any clarifying changes will be made; one should consult the latest edition of the Registry of the Imperial Service (available for reference at any Imperial Services office or directly from the Ministry of Civic Information1) to determine which type of Ministry you are dealing with.”
– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside
1. A Ministry of State, underneath the Ministry of the Empire, a Ministry of the Throne.
Screw Yourself: A remarkable percentage of people who have access to forking technology try this at least once or twice, with or without gender-flip, just to decide if that qualifies as sex or masturbation.
An infinite plane stretched out in all directions, hard and smooth, white as polished ivory… only visible in context to the pure, bright, unstained white of the sky. No shadows fell, for vision here was observer-dependent, images radiating from every direction and every point necessary to illuminate everything with the same soft glow. Neutral reality.
A voice rang out over the blankness.
“Load hyperbolic spatial geometry.”
The bleached plane flickered as the underpinnings of the space it inhabited were abruptly rewritten.
“Load standard physicality-simulator physics package, atomic resolution. Ignore conflicts. Delete omniview. Delete standard plane. Fix universe size at one light-orbit, finite but unbounded. Insert constructor avatar from my personal files.”
The newly-added drifting figure grinned in the pitch-blackness that had overtaken the miniature cosmos.
Ramscoop: The classic ramscoop as a starship drive is not a terribly common design feature, since they are (for reasons explained at Atomic Rockets) awfully draggy and power-hungry and thus limited in top speed. Much more common is using the technology as a magnetic sail brake to decelerate a fusion rocket, which braking technology has the advantage of letting you top off your tanks at the same time.
Now, the ramscoop that lets you dip fuel from a suitable gas giant, that is used. Typically on specialized scooper small-craft (mostly carried by warships, exploration ships, and others who may need to refuel away from normal fueling stations that have other, better ways to mine gas) and relatively small ships only, because it requires a specialized hull shape and frame along with heat-sink and radiator capacity to avoid incinerating yourself trying to pull it off, but it’s still relatively common.
(Alternate words: range, relay, racing, and reinvent. In this case, repair was chosen because it was the only word which was submitted independently twice.
With special thanks to Jennifer Linsky on G+, whose article post finally let me break a week-long creative block.)
Spiders. Why did it have to be spiders?
I’m not an arachnophobe. Not, dammit. I had that taken out years ago, I’ll have you know.
And I know all the good reasons why your repair-clanks are the shape they are. Multiple legs for maximum flexibility of stance and attachment and wielding many tools at once. Multiple eyes to examine a work-piece from all angles and in several different spectra. A rounded central body to minimize the possibility of scratches from sharp corners.
And that’s not hair. It’s just that branching fractal nanomanipulators look… fuzzy, to the naked eye.
But put a couple of dozen of them in one place, all swarming over the job together chittering at each other in modulated-binary, and…
Well, anyway. You just take care of it as you see fit, and I’ll sign off on it when I get back. I’m off to see a soph about some follow-up psychedesign.
Quirky Town: Outside the arcologies, they’re all quirky towns, just about. Most of them, as you might expect, were founded by people with ideas. And then the people with ideas had memetics to help reinforce community and the local idea, which then gets to interact with the cast of eccentric individualists that any town in the Empire has as its population, and then you get…
(The arcologies, incidentally, are also pretty damn quirky. They just aren’t towns.)
The zeppelin’s motors whispered as it drifted slowly away through the dusty butterscotch sky, the setting sun glinting off its outriggers. Lumenna hung just above the horizon, casting long shadows on the ruddy dunes, while Súnáris shone bright near the zenith.
And I shivered in the chilling twilight air.
* * * * *
“There is only one way to qualify as a habitat technician,” Academician Chernyc said, stroking his beard. “If you are unwilling to trust in your own skills to keep a dome habitable, then why would anyone else? And let those of you fresh off the cycler be assured: no-one on this planet or out in the e’Luminiarien have any sense of humor where infrastructure is concerned.”
“So this course rests on a single practical test. At the end of the university year, those of you who remain and feel sufficiently confident will be dropped somewhere on the Altiplanum. You will be provided with one cycle’s oxygen, a week’s supply of ration bars, an environment suit, an emergency beacon, and a shipping case filled with habitat system parts. I’ll tell you now that some of those parts will have been… adjusted, let us say, to provide you with an appropriate challenge.”
“The test is pass-fail. If you have a comfortable hab constructed that meets all IOSS habitability requirements when we come to pick you up three months later, you pass. Extra credit will be given if you go significantly above and beyond those requirements.”
“If you don’t, you fail. If you make contact with any settlements or any of the other qualifiers except to answer a distress signal from them, you fail. If you activate the emergency beacon, you fail. If you die and have to be reinstantiated, you fail twice.”
“Simple, isn’t it? Now, has anyone been sufficiently discouraged already?”
* * * * *
And so to work. There should be a pressure tent in this case – lLet them not have nobbled the pressure tent, please! – and some thermal gel. Once that’s set up, I can start inventorying parts and running diagnostics. That should keep me occupied until dawn and cut out most of the nasty surprises, and then on to a local ground survey. Rock would be ideal – but I don’t want to try and find the best permanent hab site in the dark…
Precrime Arrest: Well, while this sort of thing is easy enough to do with behavioral analysis software and ubiquitous computing and AI monitoring and all the other appurtenances of Citizen Oversight, obviously you can’t arrest people before the crime, having a great and tremendous respect for free will and all. That would be very bad form indeed. (I mean, if they were certain to commit the crime, that would be fine: under Imperial notions of the legal causality of intent, that’s why you can arraign someone for murder even if they were stopped before proceeding, but if they haven’t committed to their mens rea yet, it’s not a crime even if it was very likely to be, and free-will choices in critical moments are awkward that way.)
But there’s ain’t no rule saying you can’t quietly park a UAV with a stunner, say, in the air over people who are very likely to be about to commit crimes just in case, or quietly take other precautionary measures. If it turns out they don’t – well, no harm, no foul. That’s not an accusation, it’s just probability-based policing.
(Alternate words: Project and pornography. You may or may not get something for the latter one eventually.)
Antíär Steamweaver, Scalar Space Project, Resplendent Exponential Vector, to Daphne Asamis, Polycosmic Chic of Delphys, greeting.
Thank you for your enquiry of the 6th, and permit me please to say how gratifying the entire team here at the Scalar Space Project finds your potential commercial interest in our spatial manipulation technology (albeit not “pocket universes”, as the popular press has occasionally described it, however apposite the term might be for your proposed application; rather, we are able to manipulate the fabric of space-time in such a way to create a polypoid bubble, which we term a claudication, that remains part of the existing universe’s space-time via its neck).
Regrettably, at this time we are unable to fulfil your specific requirements. The experimental equipment we currently use to spin and sustain claudications requires a singularity of not inconsiderable mass, along with ancillary vector control and power generation equipment – and its fuel – occupying the volume of a small moon. While research continues, as yet we are unable to see a clear path to reducing these requirements to something practical for installation in, say, a waistcoat or cloak.
We are, though, most enthusiastic about your proposal, and will bear this application in mind when conducting our future research. Be assured you will hear from us without delay should these circumstances change!
Well, it’s a little complicated, given the sheer number of species involved. The chapter of the Common Social Protocol (that consensus standard of basic etiquette that imposes on everyone as equally as possible) that covers this is thereby unfortunately long.
The CSP, of course, only applies as a matter of law to Empire-managed property. Within private volumes, you can do whatever you like, and on private property, the owners can set whatever rules they like – although most save themselves the trouble and just default to the CSP rules. (Who says libertists can’t coordinate? Ha!)
What the CSP asks in general is that except where otherwise posted (public baths, certain beaches, etc., etc.) you cover your excretory organs (unless they’re lungs or skin, but if you should happen to excrete anything substantial other than gases through your skin, it is considered impolite and incorrect to leave ooze on things), primary sexual characteristics, and anything else you might have that triggers involuntary (i.e. not readily overridable by volition) instincts in your fellow sophonts. This last is intended to recognize that (a) allure is not indecency, but yet and at the same time, (b) it is impolite to push involuntary reactions on people who don’t want ’em. Basically, it’s Wheaton’s Law applied to dress codes.
(The luckiest people in the galaxy in this respect by and large are sophonts who have fur, inasmuch as due to the irritation that comes with trying to wear many types of clothing over fur, fur is clothing for all purposes of etiquette. If you want to wear something over it, that’s fine, but you’re not naked unless you’re also shaved.)
(Alternate words: Opinions. Also Odin, but I can’t do anything with that one because, sorry, wrong universe. I’ll let one of my many hypothetical panting fanfic writers do the crossover with The Mighty Thor…)
Local Grid Duty Expediter BAVK-41 was running another satisfactory self-check when the transformer exploded.
The first steps were simple, and automatic in response to the parameter exceptions flashing back from sensors on either side of the failed unit. Isolation breakers separated, isolating the failed device from the grid. Preempting the inevitable voltage spike, BAVK-41 brought resistor banks on-line, dumping excess power into them until Ironfang Mesa Fusion Plant Number Five (owned by Dawnisle Reliable Electrical, ICC; note to contracts department) could spin down its output to match the shedding of Baryvekar Power District 413. With another part of its mind, BAVK-41 issued orders to have a repair crew swap out the transformer, and bring the failed unit in for a detailed post-mortem.
The checklist response dealt with the immediate problem.
But the grid voltage was dropping precipitately all over Baryvekar Power District 413, now thrown back solely on its own cogeneration resources. That was a much more complex problem to solve.
Option trees bloomed within BAVK-41’s cognition space, a catalog of potential responses arranging themselves in patterns and combinations, weighted by effectiveness, sustainable duration, and other factors. Some could be vetoed by Central Grid Operations, if they affected the balance of the power distribution network entire. Some required dealing with outside contractors. And others were marked as contractual violations – while load shedding or voltage reductions were permitted to avoid damage to the grid infrastructure, either would invoke painful penalty clauses.
BAVK-41 ran through its options, computing probability-versus-efficacy logs for the precise decision time it could permit itself, and chose. Orders radiated out: demand-reduction requests were broadcast to all house brains and building managers in BPD-413. After quick negotiation with its counterparts in nearby power districts, cross-link switches closed, spreading the remaining demand across the region as a temporary measure. A recheck confirmed that total cogeneration and cross-link capacity now would support projected energy demand until the expected mid-afternoon peak.
And so BAVK-41 settled in for a leisurely contemplation of the best longer-term options to obtain more power: whether to call upon Ironfang #5 via a more complex – and thus more lossy – bypass routing, to purchase microwave power from the nearby Orbital Light and Power rectenna farm, or to place an urgent meteorological request – with its own penalties for invalidating the weather schedule – for more sunlight on its solar arrays…
* * *
Silver Oaks Arcology, Baryvekar Power Control logs
(Alternate words: None. No words, that is, not literally “none”.)
conforming to an average (mean), or to a common type (mode);
Visitors to the Empire and culturally-related regions should take particular note of the second, pejorative meaning of the word “normal”. In a culture that prizes individual excellence and personal freedom, and which is composed primarily of non-peer-norming species and clades, being described, or having any of one’s possessions, associations, functions, etc., described as conforming to either the mean or the mode of any group is considered an accusation of mediocrity, among the worst of all possible states.
Visitors are advised, when not using one of the technical senses of the term (which each, for those not relying on mechanical translators, have a distinct Eldraeic cognate), to consider alternate terms whether the description is intended in a positive or negative sense: “nominal”, “optimal”, “radiant”, “glowful”, and “shiny” are all suitable, only moderately loaded candidates on the positive side, while on the negative, even a fervent assurance of your utter disgust, loathing, or contempt would still be less damning than an accusation of “normality”.
– Eldraeic As It Is Spoken: Precisionist-Grade Communication for the Unsophisticated Outworlder
(Appendix B: Treacherous Words and Metaphors)
Meaningful Name: What attributive names are supposed to be, both the self-chosen and the awarded, and what a lot of the subsidiary components of a full name are: persona, patronymic, matronymic, locative, generation, clade, mindstyle, associations, etc. (See also: Luke Nounverber, Names to Run Away From Really Fast (upcoming), Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom (also upcoming), Overly Long Name). Also seen, at least part of the time, in the naming conventions for ships, habitats, cities…