Trope-a-Day: Extra Parent Conception

Extra Parent Conception: Leaving aside for a moment the issue of species which naturally have more than two sexes (which is extra from our point of view, but not from theirs) plus the issue of cladism and other deliberate modifications, this is the sort of thing which the same reproductive technology that conveniently enables Homosexual Reproduction makes downright trivial, conveniently enough for the polyamorous married.

There’s a reason why current birth documentation *there* registers bio-parenthood by “percentage of genetic complement”. (Not that either that or “incubator” is used for much but medical purposes; there’s a reason why it records three different kinds of parenthood, too.)

…And Other Clichés

“…and the vacuum is hard out today.”

A joke so old it’s evolved sophoncy independently from the primordial slime, but interface vehicle pilots evidently have to say something about ambient conditions at the highport. It seems that talking about the weather comes pre-hardwired into every sophont species’ cognome – whether or not there is any.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Author’s Note: Bad, Bad Word

As a side note, that cautionary dictionary entry, if anything, understates just how spectacularly insulting uljíra is, adjective-wise. But then, it was written by a non-native speaker of Eldraeic, even if a native speaker of the Trade dialect.

Its literal meaning is “choiceless1” – and not so due to external forces. Jír, recall, is the root of jírileth, with its important literal meaning.

That’s right up there with “Defaulter” in terms of Things To Say To An Imperial That Will Result In The Coroner Declaring Your Ensuing Death A Suicide.

1. And you can consider that in the context of that certain old saying daráv xíjirár; jaqef vigínár: a sophont chooses, a servile complies.

Trope-a-Day: Exposed Extraterrestrials

Exposed Extraterrestrials: Averted entirely, for reasons as disparate as regulating temperature, protection from environmental hazards, etiquette, and perhaps most significantly of all, pockets. (Literally everyone in the galaxy who isn’t actually sessile has invented pockets, and arguably the ones who are have too, except they call them cabinets.) Even those species (say, the dar-bandal) whose fur privilege takes care of the first three above still wear a Waistcoat of Style for the sake of the pockets.

“Polite”, As In Somewhat Less Dismissive

vetel i-seldá (n.):

  1. Employee (lit. “seller of time”).
  2. Hireling (pej.)
  3. Flunky, lackey, stooge. (v. pej.)

vetel i-seldá remains the currently accepted term in Trade Eldraeic for an employee, under the quasicontractual doctrine practiced in many polities, despite being a reuse of the original term in formal Eldraeic for the lowest grouping within the (obsolete) servile daressëf, those who were unable to contract for the performance of specific works or the use of professional skills and were therefore limited to selling their time per se, working under direction upon arbitrary tasks. This is typically ascribed to it remaining the technically accurate term in the eyes of those contract brokers currently holding the largest talent market share, not coincidentally corporations domiciled within Imperial space.

The term that may be heard but should nonetheless always be avoided is traüljíra jaqef, ‘bound servile’, a reformulation of an ancient (korásan-period) term roughly equivalent to ‘serf’. This is an extreme pejorative, whether used of an employee or of an employer’s desire, and – even for the lightest and most self-deprecating usages – unsuitable for any usage beyond extranet polemics, invitations to duel, or acceding to the fighting words doctrine.

– Dictionary of Trade Eldraeic, min Sarthall, League Press


Trope-a-Day: Explosive Decompression

Explosive Decompression: No. Just no. (In the trope sense. Obviously it can happen in the technical sense.)

Well, with one exception. The trope quite correctly notes that it can happen if you have a really high pressure gradient, say, 8-9 atm to 1 atm. As such, some people from planets with very thick atmospheres (say, ciseflish) can suffer some serious abaryic trauma if their suit decompresses or if taken out of it – albeit rarely to the extent of literally exploding.

But whether that applies or not, it is a universal truism that sudden decompression sucks.

Trope-a-Day: Evil Luddite

Evil Luddite: Well, obviously. All Luddites are evil*.

(* Space Amish excepted, for obvious reasons.)

…as the assortment of asshats gathered under the banners of the Enforcers of Mortality, Biotist Alliance, Parents for Natural Children, Never Last, the Ecoprimacy System, etc., etc., would demonstrate. Unfortunately for them, since Rock does not in fact Beat Laser, only the most spectacularly hypocritical of them have a life expectancy greater than that of an ice cube in the photosphere.

Trope-a-Day: Enlightened Self-Interest

Enlightened Self-Interest: The source of all good things in the universe, and thanks to mélith, a basic principle of life when you’re an Imperial. Doing well by doing good; doing good by doing well.

(Much more reliable than altruism, far less prone to coercive perversion – altruism’s bad enough when it becomes slave morality, but it’s so readily turned into slaver morality – and infinitely less condescending.)

Trope-a-Day: Empty Shell

Empty Shell: A ‘shell running the Minimal Maintenance Architecture, as they do when no-one’s currently occupying them. It provides for maintaining autonomous functions, interfacing with the systems of a body hotel, diagnostics, and teleoperation, but little more.

Also, of course, createable in all the traditional and several non-traditional nasty ways by bad people.

(That Power, for example, that conducts research into the nondeterministic, paracausal aspects of the logos by running millions of simulations of the same events on captured mind-states, looking for variations, slowly stripping away fragments to find what makes the difference, until there’s not much more than one of these left. They may call its simulation spaces “death cubes”, but they’re really “helplessly wishing for death cubes”…

…fortunately, it’s an urban legend.




minigravity (n., slang): The level of gravity present on dwarf planets, small moons, large asteroids, et. al. While not rigorously defined, the minigravity range is commonly held to be between 0.2 and 0.005 standard gravities, anything below which is considered to be de facto microgravity. Unofficially, the range at which gravity is high enough to require your attention, but too low to rely upon.

– A Star Traveller’s Dictionary

Trope-a-Day: Enhanced Archaic Weapons

Enhanced Archaic Weapons: Lots of them, thanks to a plentiful supply of enthusiastic hobbyists more than willing to apply the latest technologies to their personal obsessions, all the way down to blades hand-knapped from Isimír trench ice with micro-manipulators. For the most part, these qualify as Awesome, But Impractical, if fun, fascinating, and artistic, but there are occasional gems, such as mollyblades and other swords and daggers manufactured from modern nanocomposites, and the use of technologically enhanced crossbows, clockbows, and even longbows with sluggun-ammunition-type arrows as stealthy covert operations weapons.

Trope-a-Day: Eldritch Starship

Eldritch Starship: Oh, there are a few.

Take esseli starships, for example. Unlike the link!n-Rechesh (who would be another fine example), they know better than to try to grow fully organic starships, so from outside the hulls and drives look relatively normal. Then you go through the airlock, and it’s all flesh, all the time, with heart-valve doors, neuron-cluster control interfaces, food-secreting glands, recycling intestines, and suspicious organic gurgles everywhere. Mining ships have refinery stomachs and tentacles.

Múrast starships are carved out of ice bodies, with the necessary technology fitted within, and then refrozen. Which is all very sensible when you consider their favored environment, but doesn’t explain why they always carve them into baroque cathedral-like structures rather than anything more utilitarian.

And then there are the seb!nt!at, who as creatures of nuclear forces that dwell deep within stars, do not build their starships out of matter in any conventional sense.

Starfish Aliens build Starfish Starships, basically, just as far as physics will allow.

The tortured structures built by rogue mining drones and other wild mechanicals are about as Gigeresque as it gets, though.



Sticker Price

“I do not believe it is possible for us to reduce our transit fee costs, except possibly by further optimized routing.

“Notably, Ring Dynamics offers a single fee structure to all users – military, commercial, and private – of the stargate network, based on mass and distance traveled, and offers no concessions to any type, ownership, or polity of traffic; Imperial vessels pay the same rates as all other stargate users.

“The sole concession they do offer is the dodecentennial discount to new stargate users, which is not without controversy of its own. The most recent complaints, which various star nations chose to air on the floor of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, were responded to with a 485-page document, which upon semantic analysis yielded the following key points:

“(a) It is a contractual matter, and specifically, a policy deliberately intended to build customer diversity and encourage stargate usage; and

“(b) It is a contractual matter, so suck it.”

– excerpted from an internal cost-control memo,
Outer Rim Freight & Haulage, JSC

Yeah, Maybe Not That Short

Academician Sesca Galith stepped up behind the podium, and tapped it gently to begin. The audience quieted rapidly as she held up a wickedly-pointed poniard, of oddly-textured metal, with lights gleaming white and amber in its hilt, whose image was repeated on the displayed behind her.

“Presenting, gentlesophs, the latest in field interrogation technology from Eye-in-the-Flame’s cognitive weaponry division. This little tool is our ripknife, a guaranteed instrumentality for extracting information when it is both necessary and urgent. Using a nanitic burning-scan reader, when emplaced in the cerebral cavity of a target via some vulnerable aperture or thinness, the ripknife creates a high-resolution destructive scan of the neural network of their brain’s essential regions, then uploads it via your tactical mesh network to your battlespace command center. There, static mind-state analysis or fork interrogation using our patented NEUROLAUNDRY ™ software will lay your target’s secrets bare within minutes, and relay useful information back to you over the mesh. There is no better way to ensure field data acquisition proceeds rapidly enough to keep you inside the opposition’s command-and-control loop –”

A grizzled kaeth in the audience coughed. “Doc, we’re all just simple mercenaries here. Give us the short version?”

“Find someone knowledgeable on the other side, then stick it through the eye socket and wait until the light turns blue. Ignore the dripping. Then you know what they know. Knew.”


Feel Free To Skip: An Election-Time Question Response

How would one, given the current situation on Terra, move humanity towards becoming something more Imperial, and in doing so, not cause massive amounts of death and destruction?

…if I had an answer to that one, I’d be Chairman of the Vanguard Party, not an ‘umble SF author.

(Honestly, if I was feeling all upbeat and hopeful at the moment, I’d say “education, enlightenment – and the Enlightenment – and maybe some voluntary cognitive surgery”.

If I was feeling less serious, I’d go with a Dr. Horrible quote and say “Anarchy – that I run!”

But it’s election season here in These United States, and as I’m unable to escape the spectacle of almost everyone trying to decide whether to kneel before the monochrome authoritarian or the colorful fascist and receive their leavings of the screwing about to be rightfully delivered to the Other-Tribal-Americans, those unspeakable, interchangeable bastards, my opinion of humanity in general is busy experimenting to see if it can find some new depths to sink to, and so I’m going to quote a somewhat different part of the Horrible canon:

Any dolt with half a brain
Can see that humankind has gone insane
To the point where I don’t know
If I’ll upset the status quo
If I throw poison in the water main

Listen close to everybody’s heart
And hear that breaking sound
Hopes and dreams are shattering apart
And crashing to the ground

I cannot believe my eyes
How the world’s filled with filth and lies
But it’s plain to see
Evil inside of me is on the rise

…without the counterpoint.

I might be more than just a little bitter, cynical, and depressively-triggered right now, despite the best efforts of the medications. Ask again later.)


Trope-a-Day: Endless Daylight

Endless Daylight: A property of more than a few worlds in the Empire. Some, like Eurymir, because they’re tide-locked, and the noon pole always points at the sun. A similar situation applies to the hexterranes of Coricál Ailék, which are oriented such that “up” is always sunward, and the danglehabs of Esilmúr, in which down is always sunward.

In other cases, it’s because the world inhabits a binary system. Eliéra, for example, has this periodically – in a manner of speaking – because for half the year, the summer, it is located between the two suns, and as such each side of the world receives some insolation. (Although, obviously, not identical – it still has a day-night cycle; it’s just that it alternates between full daylight and a red-tinged twilight that’s bright enough to read by, somewhat more so than a full moon.)

Budget Minions

(First posted on a Google+ SF Nanofic community for a competition.)

The green army stretched into the distance, three feet tall.

“You see the problem?”

“You wanta greenjack-fab, you gotta. By them, works, innit?”

“And you don’t see any flaws here?”

“Works. More ‘an, not part of the deal. You come to Bozzet for cheap, you get…” The azayf shrugged. “Works.”

The linobir gripped his gun. “Deal’s off, ratcha. I paid for prime meat, not for selffucking midgets.”

“You skip? This estrev’s turf, and you be breathing deep.” A grin. “Free word?”


“So short. They only using half the feed t’make, innit? You make twice as many, stack ‘em up.”