How I Wonder What You Aargh

Cirys superzorcher (n.): A hypothetical weapons system in which the various elements of a Cirys swarm (q.v.) are equipped to function as the radiative elements of a phased-array laser. Such an array, with an effective aperture equal to the diameter of the swarm, would theoretically be able to deliver a substantial portion of the total solar output of the contained star in a single beam against targets located at interstellar distances.

Occasional peaceful uses for such beams have been mooted, including laser sail propulsion (although it should be noted that there is little call for such craft on a larger scale than existing propulsion arrays – which have the advantage of being mobile – can handle, and the ability to build a laser-sail craft capable of surviving such propulsion is questionable), long-distance, including extragalactic, communications (a matter of great interest to the Elsewhere Society), and even remote power generation and delivery.

However, while condemned by Cirys Aendyr himself – who is said to have wept when this application of his concept was brought to his attention – the most common proposal is to use the Cirys superzorcher as the weapons system implied by its name. The ability to place so much power on target (a figure of the order of 108 exawatts for a Hearth-class star) across interstellar distances, capable of vaporizing lithic worlds and severely damaging gas giants and stars, is peculiarly attractive to certain types of mentality, especially when it is considered that the purely photonic beam of a superzorcher is substantially more difficult to detect than a typical RKV, and cannot be practically intercepted or recalled.

As such, while the Cirys superzorcher requires a high degree of technological advancement and autoindustrialism to produce (a potential currently limited to the Empire and certain other Core Markets) and is in any case a prohibited weapons system (classified as a Tier I star-killer under the Ley Accords), an informal consensus exists among the Presidium powers that the construction of such a device by any polity, within or without the Worlds, may be reasonably interpreted as notice of intent to commit gigacide, and as such is a legitimate cause for preemptive defense of the highest order.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Eldraeic Phrase of the Day: Tramézashíël Eslévár

el tramézashíël eslévár (n.): Empire of the Star; the largest and oldest eldraeic polity.

Broken up, this phrase reads: tra (DESCRIPTION OPERATOR) – méz (METAPHORIZATION OPERATOR) – ashíël (star) — eslév (empire) – ár (PREDICATION OPERATOR), which is to say in long-gloss, “the empire which is like unto a (metaphorical) star”. Replacing this with the English “of” is acceptably inaccurate for such an imprecise target language.

It should also be noted that eslév is linguistically unique, appearing only in this phrase (and abbreviations thereof: el eslév unambiguously refers to “the Empire”). It is not used to represent any of the other possible meanings of “empire”; the technical meaning of a union of multiple peripheral polities beneath one metropole, for example, is el vielmóniramóníë (loosely, “a commanding country-of-countries”).

It has no strict root-based etymology; rather, eslév is a nonce coined for its conceptual resonances: it resembles, for example, proto-Cestian words for “created” or “our creation”; Selenarian terms for “lunar crescent”; various Silver Crescent words with meanings approximating to “celestial”; a Veranthyran term meaning “propriety” or “high culture”, and so on and so forth.

A Brief Conversation About Death Games

Inspired by this comment:

I’ve always been of the opinion that, given the Associated Worlds’s existing tech base and attitudes towards continuity of personal identity and such, there must be a “small” subculture of thrill-seekers who deliberately expose themselves to lethal danger purely out of curiosity as to what death actually feels like — and more than a few probably get hooked enough on the “rush” to try it again.


“That’s what you want the Greater Immortality for? To kill yourself to experience death?”

“Well… yeah. I’ve always wondered, and you –”

“Have never experienced death.”

“Huh? You’re an orbit-diver. I’ve watched you burn up!”

“Because you can’t experience death, kid.” The speaker sighed, and crooked one finger for another drink. “You don’t exist to experience death. Something of a definitional problem in experiencing the experience of no longer having experiences, you might say. Now, the lead-up to dying, that you can experience – free clue, it feels like pain – but the very next moment you’ll remember is waking up in a nice white room and having your resurrectionist call you a moron. If you managed to kill yourself thoroughly enough, you won’t even remember why. And that experience? I can give it to you right now, right here, no charge.”

 

Paracoercion

“…as to your avowed intention to institute a Universal Income, we welcome such systems – as evidenced by our own Citizen’s Dividend – as an excellent answer to paracoercive states. (Para-, in this case, meaning “not really”, but having initially solved the ethical problems of true coercion, which is to say choice-theft, we may rightly turn our attention to the moral concern of those whose volitional phase-space is limited not by the actions of others, but the insufficiency of their own resources.)

“The difficulty, of course, is that one is not permitted to use unethical means in the pursuit of moral ends, for the one is mandatory and the other supererogatory, as is necessarily the case when ill means poison all good ends. For ourselves, the Citizen’s Dividend is a voluntary obligation accepted by all of our citizen-shareholders in their signing of the Imperial Charter, and since citizen-shareholdership is a privilege (which may be denied by the existing citizen-shareholders in Senate assembled on the grounds of philosophical incompatibility), those lacking properly enlightened self-interest or the generosity appropriate to a daryteir are merely denied that privilege.

“As a korasmóníë, of course, such a Universal Income in your case, if attained through political means, would be doing precisely that, inasmuch as it would be funded by institutionalized robbery on a mass scale. We would not, and obviously did not, find this acceptable in our own case. However, in yours…

“In your case, we must acknowledge reluctantly that local conditions do not always admit of the immediate implementation of ethically perfect solutions. I fear I am as unable to offer you advice on this matter as the old proverb would have it. While it is easy for me to advocate the construction of a system such as ours funded by infrastructure returns and externality fees, or one entirely funded by voluntary contributions in the manner of the Plurality, this depends on an existing consensualist governance, or at the least one which can be counted on not to interfere.

“As for the other, you yourself must weigh in the balance the reduction of paracoercion against the increase in coercion actual in the context of progress towards your desired consensualist future, while bearing in mind the risk – I have attached a number of relevant clionomic models – that a nonconsensual Universal Income carries with it a substantial risk of becoming an instrument of mulcting in perpetuity.

“If I may offer a final thought: I would only remind you that “While certainty is best, where there is doubt, it is best to err on the side of the Excellences. For the enlightened sophont acting in accordance with Excellence can only be betrayed, and cannot do wrong.”

– Meris Ejava, Freedom’s Seed COG, letter to the Second Temne Seed

Storm

There were people on Phílae who had a sense of caution in the face of nature.

That was amply evident from the architecture of Lower Landing, which was all in the classical style of the first colonists; long, low, heavy buildings of stone and vitredur, aligned from sea to land, hunched and buttressed to withstand even the winds of a tropical Phílae hypercane, much less the mere megastorms that made landfall on polar Rokírvess, and able to be sealed with doubled doors and valved vents against their burial a hundred feet below the accompanying storm surge.

There are also people on Phílae with no discernable sense of caution at all.

This, in turn, is made amply evident by the citizen-shareholders of Lower Landing, who – under a storm-blackened sky lit only by the blue glow of the city’s kinetic barriers, lashed into incandescence by 200-knot winds and the coruscation of Éjavóné‘s best lightning without end, to the muffled sound of thunder and the syncopation of deep drainage pumps forcing seepage back out against the pressure of an ocean humped twenty, thirty feet high against the shimmering wall, filling the air with faint, salty mist – chose to throw a party on the beach.

Black sand, good food, excellent wine, a brief stretch of calm water – and the prospect of a watery grave should… well, should enough components of a triple-triple redundant system fail, and yet.

Sometimes, we can be a bloody stupid people. But, to our credit, at least it’s a glorious kind of stupidity.

– Cíënne Cassel, My Voyage Diaries

 

Cultural Crossovers #5: Captain America

You know how this works at this point…

  • Ooh, glowy cube. Wonder if it’s an actual tesseract inside?
  • Yeah, you can see where Tony got it from.
  • And this, gentlesophs, is what we call estxijir.
  • Ooh, we like her.
  • The culture that makes a point of the importance of spiritual values to the sentinel daressef is nodding along with Dr. Erskine here. They are, as it were, the hardest and most vital part.
  • So, on the topic of qualities one wins wars with… and hell, this civilization doesn’t even have vector stacks.
  • Impressive results. Now someone get him a steak dinner.
  • Even more impressive for someone presumably still suffering from ‘shell dysmorphia.
  • And that’s what happens to you when you Obstructive Naysay a supervillain.
  • And the audience gives a standing ovation to the local taste in musical propaganda, despite the waste of fighting talent. The idealist school always plays well.
  • The Red Skull, incidentally, makes a superb villain for this audience, even without knowing the local politics. It’s not at all hard to read in him the Renegade-perverting-technology-and-awesome-to-ill-ends archetype that all their best villains are made of.
  • Now that’s how you pull off a rescue!
  • Nicely unspoken, Colonel.
  • Vibranium, huh? For once we’re going to try hard to just roll with the impossibilium.
  • Got to give it to the old Crimson Cranium, the Valkyrie‘s a really nice ship. On the other hand, HYDRA have a ridiculous salute and a slogan that by rights should kill morale.
  • Manned bombs? Seriously? Are they trying to grow more heads?
  • And that’s why you should take great care when playing with paleotechnological artifacts.
  • It’s not that the Imperial audience can’t appreciate a heroic sacrifice, but at some point, I think, someone needs to explain to them why we have so many of them in our media, being generally in favor of Taking a Third Option themselves, which their media reflects.
  • Seriously, SHIELD? Lies do not become you.
  • (Although this, along with differences in how the us.gov has been portrayed here and in the previous movies, is really playing into a “lesser sons of greater sires” vibe in their eyes.)

So, overall, yes – would work very well. Some cultural translation required, partly because the background does rather depend on having The War in your history, which this audience does not. Also, explaining why everyone seems to have a single-sex army given how much ass Agent Carter kicks right there on screen.

(And why you might not need to explain the concept of bullying, you might have to explain to the less cosmopolitan members of the audience why society at large doesn’t stomp on it with the vigor which they would expect.)