Sung Wherever The Imperial Exploratory Service Buys Liquor

(Very lightly filkificated for somewhat-inebriated Eldraeverse purposes from “Space Shanty“, by The Senate. The vast majority of the words remain theirs.)

Oh, the whiskey is floatin’, won’t stay in me glass –
I’m weightless and spinning and drunk off me ass.
Oh, the whiskey is floatin’ in a sphere o’er me head –
If we don’t hit this window we’ll surely be dead.

So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the stars!
They won’t stop us drinking on old Talentar1
So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the sky!
Ere the vacuum of space sucks the bottles all dry.

Oh, infinite profit awaits us in space –
We’ll seek out and contact with fervor and grace.
New worlds and new sophonts we simply adore –
Let’s party where no-one has partied before.

So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the stars!
They won’t stop us drinking on old Talentar –
So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the sky!
Ere the vacuum of space sucks the bottles all dry.

1. As mentioned before, Talentar produces a lot of grain for the rest of the system. And what else is there where there’s grain and engineers?



A Little More Blegging

And now, an uncomfortable word from the author:

Here’s how it is.

Not to go into undue detail, but we’ve had kind of a difficult few months ’round here, with various unanticipated incidents and expenses, including some medical-type expenses, which are unfortunately proving quite a painful strain on the budget.

I’d like to start by thanking my existing patrons for keeping up their contributions and helping make this strain somewhat less.

But I’d also like to take a moment to say to other readers that – well, if you’ve been considering becoming a patron, or buying a book, or suchlike, this would be a really good time for it, and I’d appreciate it very much.

Thanks for listening.


Trope-a-Day: Awesome Moment of Crowning

Awesome Moment of Crowning: The coronation of Alphas I / Seledie III of the Empire, interrupted as it was by assassins, and demonstrating once and for all that it is entirely possible to be crowned – well, for values of the passive voice equal to “We crown Us, etc.” – with a clockbow bolt in your lung at the time.

(It is also acceptable to pass out afterwards, mind, but that’s not the point.)


The competitors in the Fourth Sunjammer Cup departed Sarpe orbit today. All the big names in interstellar sail racing were participating, of course: Silvy Janaris’s Silverstar; Taran Kalyn’s red-hulled Meteor; Sithry min Corahill’s Black Ice Mirror with its liquid sails; Sen Kal Ethran’s Pride of Meridia; Tiranjan’s Speedy Sliver, and more. All off on the longest race the Worlds have to offer.

That’s by time, of course, not by distance. While Sarpe and Coramus are less than four light-orbits apart, even a full-rigged sunjammer the full thousand miles from ‘sprit to skyrakers is a slow hauler by lugger standards. The winner should be arriving in Coramus in six hundred years, give or take a few.

Now that’s commitment.


Trope-a-Day: Artificial Limbs

Artificial Limbs: Quite possible, but a disfavored technology in Imperial society; in the modern era, when biotechnology is also advanced, it tends to be preferred for internal solutions, or at the least it should be used to ensure that the bionic technology is well integrated with the meat: bones reinforced with carbon fiber, muscles interwoven with myomar, a skin supplemented with a layer of armor gel, and a well-concealed mass driver hidden mostly within the flesh are much more likely than simply chopping off a perfectly good arm and replacing it with a mechanical prosthetic one.

(And, of course, cloned grafts are the way biotech solves the pure replacement issue.)


Sixty-two thousand feet above the surface of Eliéra, Gaëlenén’s Cup coasted slowly in its perpetual circuit, seven of her eight fission-driven pusher fans only ticking over, yet still able to drive her through the air at a relaxed 480 knots. The Emergency Management Authority’s superwing was a massive delta of titanium composite, five-decked and fully 600′ from one of her wingtip vertical stabilizers to the other; her underside studded with the blisters of pod launchers, and the closed doors to the flight gantries from which she could dispatch, at need, her multiple wings of reconnaissance drones, rescue and clean-up craft, intervention vehicles, and heavy field constructors.

Today, though, Cup was not alone in the sky. A K-50C Roustabout paralleled her course only two hundred feet above, auxiliary thrusters battling the wake turbulence, such that it could keep station above and in front of the open dorsal hatch of Cup’s silent engine. The Roustabout had its rear hatch fully open, exposing the cavernous length of its fuselage, and its cargo crane extended, lowering lines down to where Cup’s aircraftsmen waited to catch them with rocket grapples, and hook them onto the pellet containment of the engine’s dedicated reactor. A second containment module, pregnant with fresh thorium and borate, waited inside the Roustabout.

Emergencies, after all, wait for no soph, and take no account of the necessities of maintenance or refueling.

And so Cup had never landed in her eighteen-year service life. And with proper care and attention, she never would.


Trope-a-Day: The Ark

The Ark: One of the projects of the Emergency Management Authority/Fifth Directorate are the “Civilization-Backup Ships”, ark vessels hidden in deep space with as close to a complete backup of civilization as can be managed – the notion being that in the event of an extant existential threat large enough to threaten the survival of civilization entire (what’s called in the jargon a hard civilization kill event), they’ll come online under CASE NIGHTFALL ASUNDER, get the hell out of Dodge, and reboot it somewhere else.

Questions: Holdouts and Self-Owning Property

While doing some reading on weapons from Bonnie Scotland, I came across this:

“When the Highlander visited a house on his travels having deposited all his other weapons at the front door he did not divest himself of his concealed dagger, since in these far off days it was unsafe to be ever totally unarmed, not because he feared his host but rather because he feared intrusions from outside. Accordingly, although retaining the dagger; out of courtesy to his host he removed it from its place of concealment and put it somewhere where his host could see it, invariably in his stocking on the side of his hand (right- or left-handed).”

Obviously requiring a visitor to disarm themselves has already been established as rather impolite elsewhere, but are there any particular courtesies or points of customary etiquette regarding walking into someone’s house while carrying a concealed “holdout” weapon?

It’s similar but not identical: as you note, it would be bad form to ask a visitor to disarm. On the other hand, it’s also bad form (unless you have some particular special role, such as “professional bodyguard playing the concealed role” or “guild assassin”, or circumstance, such as “travelling abroad among presumptuous barbarians”) to go around with concealed weapons. A daryteir (gentlesoph) wears his weapons openly.

(Of course, if it’s a halfway decent concealed weapon, it’s also an easy bit of bad form to get away with. But a gentlesoph should know better.)

So what would be the legal status of the Tree That Owns Itself under Imperial law?

More generally, does Imperial law recognize the concept that property can be owned by an “owner” that is non-sophont (or, indeed, inanimate)?

Well, the simple answer is no, as the general case is – as it is *here*, which is why the Tree That Owns Itself really doesn’t in legal terms – that you can only convey property to something which has the legal capacity to receive it, which is to say a legal person.

The more complicated answer is “yes, sort of”, in a couple of ways:

  • Uplift the tree to turn it into a natural person, which is implicitly also a legal person, and not only thereby can own itself, but automatically does.

But that’s a little complicated. The more useful general way of doing this is:

  • Incorporate a trust, or define a smart-contract, to act on the tree’s behalf. As legal persons, either of them can own it. Assign the trust the fiduciary duty to act in the tree’s interests, or program the smart-contract likewise, and you’ve created something legally isomorphic to the self-ownership of sophont persons – or at least enough so that you could comfortably refer to it as owning itself in any register other than formal legal terms.


Trope-a-Day: Arcology

Arcology: A prominent feature, reaching up to several miles wide and high, of the Empire’s older and higher-population worlds, where clusters of several of them in lieu of sprawling suburbs (they’re also much easier to build than suburbs on non-garden worlds, for one thing, where the distinction between “arcology” and “habitat” blurs) around a relatively conventional downtown will form the cores of cities, interspersed with lesser buildings, estates, parks, and woodland.


Probably the ugliest of these weapons was the windblade, a product of Merianvard artificery. A windblade resembled, in form, a smaller version of the Variasotec double scimitar without its hilt: i.e., two opposingly curved blades joined in the center, and sharpened to a razor’s edge.

No hilt was required for the windblade, as it was a specialized weapon designed to be wielded by a psychokinetic adept (of strength estimated at 288-plus, Revised Impulse Scale). The adept would levitate the windblade and cause it to spin rapidly; then, would propel it in looping curves amid the ranks of the enemy, slashing through everything in its path.

It proved less than useful as a battlefield weapon, both due to armor halting the blade’s rotation even when penetrated, and to the limited number of psychokinetic adepts with sufficient strength to use the windblade; on such occasions as it was deployed openly, the windblade battle often turned into a contest between multiple adepts, each trying to deflect, or seize control of, their opponent’s windblade while forcing their own to conclusion. Such contests were typically inconclusive, except when one adept possessed both great strength and the ability to handle multiple windblades simultaneously with dexterity.

Rather, it was as a weapon of mass assassination that the windblade was unparalleled. Wielded from ambuscade, a windblade could slash an entire rank or file of enemy troops to ribbons before a defense could be mustered. Likewise, scout troops armed with blackened windblades could scourge an overnight encampment clean of life while those within slept and, often, before the guards could be alerted.

– Ranged Weapons of the Era of Hand and Fire


Trope-a-Day: Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age

Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: “No matter how fancy the weapon, a hanrian between the wielder’s shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style,” to misquote Steven Brust.

All of which is to say that you don’t want to be a pure swordsman on the modern battlefield with its fancy gravomagnetic slugthrowers and other such modern weapons, but – be it at super-close range, or for stealth or concealment, or for not breaking anything downrange, or when you just need more delicate control over the force you’re exerting, or even when you run out of ammunition – from one end of time to the other, it’s unlikely that they will ever like it up ’em.


Querying today’s new catalog entries in category:erotica; displaying (8) highest-rated results:

Meiose With Me
An esseli bioengineer rediscovers the wonders of sexual reproduction.

Naked Singularity: When Particles Collide
Those naughty, naughty particles.

Prompt Criticality IV
Further unbounded lust among the orgiasts of the Atomic Age.

Ricatra Today: Vol. CCXLVII
The galaxy’s finest xenophilia.

Thrusters Firing! 2: Engage the Retro-Rockets
The microgravity adventures continue.

Tunnels of Love
In the mines of the Mohorovicic, the passion runs as hot as the magma!

Warm, Sticky and Moist
Hilarity ensues when virtual lovers meet in the flesh for the first time.

You Spin Me Around
Erotic-comedy star Lalíríë Celestial discovers the Coriolis effect.



Trope-a-Day: Archaeological Arms Race

Archaeological Arms Race: Not nearly as common as it might be, given the amount of stuff various Precursors have left lying around, inasmuch as most of it isn’t weapons technology, most of it isn’t working, and not all of it is super-high-tech, such that a lot of time you just end up with an interesting design twist on principles you already knew. Which can still be valuable, of course, but isn’t quite the same thing. When it does happen it can do interesting things to the local balance of power, but by and large it’s a really bad idea to bet your life on being able to dig up some ancient godweapon just when you need it.

Darkness Within (25): Helpers

(And now, we continue.)

The bytescanner sings in my ears, a song of disconnected network segments, lost packets, and failed rerouting attempts, interrupted by the few remaining segments of the ship’s mesh still on-line in the hulk of the aft section. Few were major nodes, most were isolated, and none of them, dammit, recognized my command-succession captainly ackles, which meant chewing through engineering diagnostic override codes at a snail’s pace.

Attitude control system command sequencer.

Life support auxiliary circuit B partial pressure intermix regulator.

Low power bus secondary transfer point, aft section.

Engineering light panel controller, main bus A.

Low-temp thermal control circuit C emergency pressure relief to space isolation valve.

Robot hotel –

Robot hotel!

A flurry of mental commands mapped a pathway of circuits that might be intact enough to carry current at least for a little while, and crammed amperage from the remaining aft accumulators into the hotel’s circuitry. With one thought, I commanded the space door of the hotel to open, and with another ran a quick inventory. Drones! Two perfect, lovely, beautiful, Sparks-class starship maintenance drones, polished octahedra with arcjets on their tips and a quartet of modular arms spaced around the multifunction toolbelts at their waists. Drones that, most importantly, still had power and were responsive to commands. It was the matter of a moment to unslave them from the unresponsive damage-control systems and merge minds…

…and the matter of some minutes for them to finish cutting their way out through the warped space door. But before long, my helpful assistants were hanging in space before me, a little battered-looking in the light from my helmet – one had even lost an arm entirely – but still entirely functional. Certainly enough so to save me from having to wield a hullcutter in an oxygen-soaked suit.

“Okay, boys,” I said to them. “Tear down that bulkhead, if you please.”


Trope-a-Day: Apocalyptic Logistics

Apocalyptic Logistics: Enabled, to some degree, by the way in which the Imperial Emergency Management Authority is staffed by ever Crazy Prepared-type that the Imperial Service has available. (Manufacturing is made somewhat easier by cornucopias, but they too depend on central nanoslurry supplies and energy supplies, so it’s not like they’re a panacea in this department.) But the EMA is notorious for its Crisis Citadels, entire mountains and asteroids stuffed with emergency supplies of all kinds, and their smaller local counterparts, and their deployable disaster pods – and even for sponsoring the engineering of things like home-growable pharm plants. Oh, and emergency command centers build aboard giant flying-wing aircraft that never land to ensure that ground-based disasters can’t take them out. Which are themselves redundant. (In full accordance with the traditions of the Imperial governance – it may not do much, by design, but those things it does do it does very well indeed.)

As a side note, it also helps that Flamic doctrine takes its negentropy seriously, and as such the faithful are expected to be as well prepared for emergencies as, say, the Mormons, with some extra emphasis on rebuilding.

…civilization may one day fall, but the forces of entropy are going to have to work for anything much more than a stumble.


Other than the FTL squirt routers integrated into the stargates themselves, the most important parts of the interstellar communications infrastructure – and before it the interplanetary communications infrastructure – are each system’s relay stations.

Customarily located above and below the acme and nadir poles of the system’s primary star, relays are statites, hanging in position from and stabilized by variable-geometry solar sails. This positioning at a sufficient distance above and below the ecliptic gives them the best possible line of sight on every object on the system: stargates, planetary geostat constellations, major drifts, and starships operating in the normal (i.e., along the ecliptic) traffic lanes, with the minor exception of the most epistellar of planets, coronal habitats, and other sun-hugging operations.

While for the most part, intra-system networking is done using standard mesh protocols, coordinated via shortest-link routing protocols based on current light-lag, occultation ephemerides, and traffic-control data, the relay stations’ positioning enables them to serve as the route of last resort for all backbone traffic in the system. In particular, they handle traffic between planets and drifts currently on opposite sides of the primary, and interstellar traffic without an endpoint in the system; i.e., stargate-to-stargate traffic. In these functions, both relays function as load-balanced peers, although scaled such that each is capable of handling the total expected load alone if necessary.

The relay stations also function as management points for the interplanetary mesh, and as such at least one is continuously manned by a site systems administrator, usually an infomorph.

– IIP Elucidated, Volume I: Perspectives


Fan: Continuation

Well, expanding on that didn’t take long. Turns out I couldn’t actually resist the call of the self-fanfic.

So if you might be interested in the occasionally-updated Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced:

A first-in scout from the Associated Worlds investigates the anomalous star system IGS 254672, expecting to find the home of a machine god. She finds herself making first contact with sophont ponies instead. A couple of them are weakly godlike ponies, but still…

go read it on FIMFiction (now with footnotes and short second chapter).

(I’ll not be posting it here, in order to keep a proper separation between my self-fanfic and my “pure” original fiction. Thus, you may want to track it there. Likewise, its updates are unlikely to be posted to the Patreon unless there’s an overwhelming outcry from readers that they want them included.)


Trope-a-Day: The Anti-Nihilist

The Anti-Nihilist: The Church of the Flame and other mainstream Imperial philosophies, essentially, whose official doctrines are more or less comfortable with the brokenness and lack of meaning in the universe, and which then manufacture some meaning out of a few assumptions concerning the nature of sophoncy and negentropy, and support reengineering the universe to function properly along those lines.

These, in short, are the people who on being told that they lived in a meaningless, godless, fateless universe proceeded to invent meaning, build some gods (see: Deus Est Machina), create an afterlife, and engineer the proper management of destiny, and you can’t play this card much harder than that.

In The Grim Darkness of the Contact Form…

…there are only questions:

Huge fan of your nanofic and your worldbuilding is superb.

Thank you kindly!

That being said, however, I’ve also long been a fan of the less insane parts of the Warhammer 40K universe (in particular the Imperial Guard and Space Marines) for much the same reasons; in my estimation it offers a fairly well thought-out look into the military makeup of a combined-arms force built around the need to combat massed infantry durable enough to reliably close to knife-fighting range.

In a face-to-face matchup between the Imperial Legions and the Imperium, then, how do you think the dice would fall?

Well, now. I’m going to insert a couple of disclaimers up front, here. The first being the more-or-less obligatory one that it’s always hard to compare across universes where the physics and metaphysics are so different. (I’ll be basically ignoring the wackiness of the Warp, for example.) And the second is that I’m not all that familiar with 40K canon – grimdark not being really my thing – so most of what I know about the setting I learned from Ciaphas Cain.


At the top level, civilization vs. civilization as portrayed at the current place in both their timelines, I’d probably have to give it to the Imperium, simply because of size. It’s a galaxy-spanning regime versus a few hundred worlds, and quantity has a quality of its own. I think, for the below reasons, they’d win over a planet-sized mountain of their own dead, but it’s not like the Imperium has any shortage of commanders who subscribe to the We Have Reserves school of tactics.

(Of course, there’s always ADHÁÏC PARASOL and friends to worry about even then, so the Imperium may have some trouble afterwards with the galaxy’s new infestation of self-improving, self-replicating berserker fleets. This is the sort of ‘take everyone with you’ strategy that the Imperials would generally disapprove of, of course, but given the 40K galaxy’s parameters, I suspect they’d see it as civic improvement.)

If, though, we adjust things so the conflict in terms of civilization-scale is equal, or even less disproportionate, then the pendulum swings the other way. One can argue some advantages for either side (the Imperium certainly has an initial advantage due to being, well, highly optimized to hatemurderize basically anyone it comes across given the opportunity; the Empire arguably has a technological edge in various areas, such as preferring to expend readily replaceable machines rather than population; etc.), but ultimately, I think it comes down to these two things:

  • The Imperium has an impressive fighting machine, but it’s a stuck fighting machine. Their technology is stagnant and at best poorly understood even by the Adeptus Mechanicus, their tactics are also terribly by the book except when they get really lucky in choice of commanders, they have a religious proscription against adopting ideas from outside, and anyone who tries to change any of this runs hard into PURGE THE HERETIC. They get away with this because, well, it’s not like anyone else (with the possible exception of the Tau) in their galaxy innovates worth a damn either: the Eldar are stagnant, the Orks rely on genetic knowledge, etc., etc. Meanwhile, the Empire understands exactly how all its stuff works, and innovates, borrows, and steals good ideas from the enemy about as easily as breathing.
  • And the other one is that the Imperium’s fascist theocracy is a seething mass of factions, many of which appear to hate each other almost as much as they do the xenos, and all of whom are paranoid about hidden mutants and traitors. This is the sort of scenario that the Stratarchy of Warrior Philosophy adores, because they specialize in getting into all those little cracks and inflaming the hell out of them until they catch fire and explode. (The Empire’s a lot less susceptible to this sort of thing, and in any case, the Imperium doesn’t go in for it. Even if it tried, it’d probably have to regularly have all its memeticists shot for understanding the xeno outlook.)

To sum up – unless the Imperium is smart enough to realize that it had better use all its biggest hammers right away, and not telegraph its blows, it’s in deep trouble, because it’s fighting people who are scarily adaptive given even half a chance.

Or that’s how I’d read it, anyway.