A Proposal For Every Century

For various reasons, I was rereading Meditations on Moloch today, and this leapt out at me:

14. Congress. Only 9% of Americans like it, suggesting a lower approval rating than cockroaches, head lice, or traffic jams. However, 62% of people who know who their own Congressional representative is approve of them. In theory, it should be really hard to have a democratically elected body that maintains a 9% approval rating for more than one election cycle. In practice, every representative’s incentive is to appeal to his or her constituency while throwing the rest of the country under the bus – something at which they apparently succeed.

From a god’s-eye-view, every Congressperson ought to think only of the good of the nation. From within the system, you do what gets you elected.

…if you were wondering, this is exactly why the Charter specifies that Senators should be chosen from the centuries, rather than from geographic areas, where the centuries are themselves filled by random assignment and as such contain roughly equal numbers of every clade, race, and other characteristic, roughly equally spread across all 234 worlds and innumerable subdivisions. Even if a Senator had a motivation for it (not being up for reelection), try figuring out how to serve the approximately 1.5 billion randomly distributed sophonts of the 714th Century specially relative to everyone else.


To The Moon!

(Turns out the first ship I want to do isn’t one of the ones anyone asked for. Oh, well.)


Operated by: Spaceflight Initiative
Type: Early exploration vessel.
Construction: Spaceflight Initiative.

Everyone’s heard of the Silverfall-class explorer, the starship that first carried eldrae from Eliéra to its moons. (A surprisingly large number of them have visited the museum out on Seléne where Silverfall Four — Moondancer — rests in state out on the regolith, where she was flown to her resting place by her original crew, and is kept in flight-ready condition by her many admirers.)

The design discussed here is of the Block II variant of the Silverfall-class, which incorporates the modifications made to improve performance and livability after studies performed on Silverfall Zero and Silverfall One, and whose two examples can be considered representative of the class, including as they do the actual craft, Moondancer, which made the first landing on Seléne; later design revisions included a number of specialized variants, but made no further changes to the basic design.

Length: 42.2 m, of which:

  • Mission module: 12.2 m.
  • Engineering frame: 18 m (overlaps with propulsion module)
  • Propulsion module: 12 m
  • Shock absorbers and pusher/ground plate: 12 m

Beam: 12 m (mission and propulsion module); 22m (widest point)
Mass (fueled): 616,200 kg

Gravity-well capable: Yes.
Atmosphere-capable: No.

Personnel: 2 required, as follows:

Flight Commander
Flight Director/Engineer

Accommodates 6 further mission specialists.

Drive: Silverfall-specific fission pulse drive with laser trigger; cold-gas attitude control and landing system.
Fuel: Plutonium coated fuel pellets.
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 2.4 standard gravities
Delta-v reserve: 16,800 m/s

Drones: Simple automation only.


Star tracker
Inertial tracking platform
Passive EM array
Short-range collision-avoidance and docking radar
Mk. 1 Eyeball

Weapons: None, unless you count the drive.

Other systems:

Thorium pebble-bed power reactor
Omnidirectional radio transceiver
Communications laser
Whipple shield (habitable area only)
Canned (non-regenerative) life support; CO2 scrubbers
Redundant flight control systems
NaK pumped-loop high-power radiators and maneuvering heat-sinks
NH3 low-power radiators

Small craft: None.


The original Phoenix-class orbiter was once described as an explosion in a girder factory, and its smaller cousin, the Silverfall, maintains much of that look, despite at least some improvements in elegance between the designs. That, and that unlike the Phoenix, the Silverfall was designed as a pure space vessel, intended to be built at and operate from Oculus Station in Eliéra orbit, and to land only on airless Seléne and Elárion.

The layout of the Silverfall-class can be divided into four sections: the upper mission module, the engineering frame which sits atop and wraps around the propulsion module, and the shock absorber/pusher plate section at the bottom.

At the top, the mission module is divided into three tail-lander decks with plenum space in between. The uppermost deck, topped by a blunt cupola and surrounded by the various navigational and communications antennae, contains semicircular bridge and mission management sections, surrounded by the ship’s avionics. From it, an axial passage descends through the next two decks, terminating in a small engineering space (housed in an aft projection) where the mission module connects to the primary thrust truss of the engineering frame. A secondary access tube, normally depressurized, runs down from this passage through the engineering frame.

The second deck houses three pie-segment areas; the ship’s laboratory, workshop, and main stowage area. Opposite the stowage area, between the laboratory and workshop, a secondary airlock provides maintenance access while in flight to the exterior of the ship (with a ladder down to the upper levels of the engineering frame), and is the main access point when the starship is docked.

(Opposite this airlock, centered on the mission module’s vertical axis, is the gold plaque bearing the Imperial Star and the stylized rocket-and-crescent-moon of the Spaceflight Initiative, with beneath them the various names and logos of the various contributors making the Silverfall mission possible.)

The third, lowermost deck contains the crew quarters, divided into a number of modular pods, along with the galley, central mess, ‘fresher, and a small medical bay.

Six meters below the mission module is the propulsion module, a heavy steel capsule containing the guts of the nuclear-pulse drive that powers the Silverfall. For the most part, however, it is hidden by the engineering frame which wraps around and atop it, a mesh of trusses containing, most notably, the six pellet silos, evenly spaced around the ship, containing the plutonium fuel pellets, and the spherical tanks of cold-gas propellant and life-support supplies.

The lower surface of the engineering frame (along with that of the propulsion module) is the solid sheet of the protective shadow shield, protecting the upper sections of the craft from radiation produced by the pulse drive. The secondary access tube descending from the base of the mission module connects to the primary airlock, located directly above the edge of the shadow shield vertically beneath the secondary airlock, and from which a descent ladder can be lowered once the drive shroud is in place.

At its edges, laser modules extend past the edge of the shield to trigger the explosive coatings of the fuel pellets; just within those edges, sealed slots permit the segmented drive shroud to be lowered after landing, surrounding the mechanics of the shock absorbers and pusher plate, to protect disembarked astronauts from residual drive radiation.


Eldraeic Booze of the Day: *alír

A quick word or two for your pleasure:

deshalír: beer, encompassing non-distilled brews made from grain- or grain-analogs, literally “grain-water”.

delékalír: wine, encompassing all non-distilled brews made from fruit, literally “pleasing-water”.

qerachalír: distilled spirits, literally “lightning-water”. (andrakalír, “fire-water”, had already been taken. By naphtha.)

…oh, and who could forget…

xindaralír: literally “explorer-water”, could be translated “scout brew”, and refers to whatever was cooked up by the first-in team out of stuff that looked fermentable. May or may not be delicious, hallucinogenic, toxic, or explosive, but hey, that’s why they’re doing science to it to find out.

Zymology is so a science!

(And yes, this taxonomy does imply that, so far as Eldraeic-speakers are concerned, rice wine is a kind of beer and cider is a kind of wine, while mead isn’t either. They don’t make the rules, they just enforce ’em.)


Eldraeic Word of the Day: Cagál

cagál (n.): faeces; excrement; shit; solid animal biowaste.

Note for translators: This is the word you’re looking for, which serves equally for technical, medical, and casual usage. It is not considered pejorative or vulgar per se, but certain comparisons or equivalencies may be depending on context.

Variants include tracagál hanat (shit-house, an outdoor biowaste disposal facility); tracagál neth (shittery, an indoor biowaste disposal facility, as distinct from the customarily separate lavatory [washing room]); mézcagál ([metaphorical] shit, archaic term for a useless substance, no longer in common usage due to its high value in ecopoesis and closed life-support systems); and traäshíël mézcagál (starshit, colloquial term for iron, and by extension, any common and mostly useless waste product).

Eldraeic Word(s) of the Day

sashír: Most usually glossed “glamour”, sashír refers to a willfully accepted ambijective illusion embracing and enhancing beauty (aelva) and attractiveness/pleasingness (delékith); a concept foundational to high culture (meressif), fashion, and the personal arts.

raïthal: The plenum; the “universe”; the cosmos as a whole. Literally “all objects/entities”, it conveniently expands to encompass all new discoveries that broaden the scope of existence; other terms are required, for example, to designate one particular universe-manifold and its adjacentia.

And somewhat inspired by a discussion on the Discord concerning demonyms:

eslév es raïthal: Difficult to gloss due to most languages’ lack of a commutative equivalency operator – perhaps “Empire :: Universe” – this slogan beloved of such Ecumenical Throne adherents as the Above All, One Imperium Movement, Society of the Golden Chain, and Architects of the Cogs of Utopia, implies that the Empire is/belongs to/is a property of the universe, and vice versa, and that each shall transform the other.


Debt Stylin’

living debtstyle: Living scandalously in debt or accumulating debts faster than one can reasonably be expected to repay them (not simply monetary debts, but also long-term oath-contracts, promises, favor-trades, other commitments, or even reputational liabilities). Used to indicate that the speaker considers the referent to be unreliable, “on the road to Default”. The term can be applied personally, organizationally, or nationally.

Eldraeic As It Is Spoken: Precisionist-Grade Communication for the Unsophisticated Outworlder


At The Ending Was The Word

Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination, the (n.): A memetic mystery cult designed for the Imperial Exploratory Service by the Word of Command, ICC, the Thirty-Six Paths are designed as a means of handling severe cases of exodeism (q.v.).

In many cases, when primitive species conclude that it is necessary and proper to worship the “Shining Ones”, the “Great Star Gods”, or other such epithets, creative theology leads them to conclude that denials of divinity are merely a test for them, or indicative of avatar incarnation, or some such. In such cases, extreme denials or proof of non-divinity tend to cause severe backlash, societal disruption, and cultural implosion is not unknown, leaving aside the consequences for the unwilling gods.

Thus, the Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination are intended as a pathway to slowly and carefully wean exodeists and their societies from their faith in a manner designed to minimize the resulting personal alathkháln and societal consequences; a thirty-sixth level adept of the Paths is fully aware of the reality of the situation and equipped to join in enlightening those below.

Other visitors to worlds in which exodeism is prevalent and the Thirty-Sixth Paths are in effect are requested to cooperate by non-contradiction with the program, and warned that memetic safeties and countermeasures are woven into the memeplex.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary