A Sticky Solution




A prohibitive constraint on the use of conventional weapons in the anti-satellite (ASAT) role is their tendency to create debris through a variety of paths: direct ablation, spallation or fragmentation debris, warhead shrapnel, non-intercepting ordnance, and so forth.

The accumulation of such debris beyond a chaotically variable critical point – easily surpassed during military escalation, per Orbital Hazards in Simulated Great Power Escalation Scenarios (Oricalcios, Efiathe, and Cylassé, 2074) – poses a long-term hazard to civilization by inducing a cascade catastrophe, a rapid chain multiplication in debris count likely to render the orbital bands involved non-viable in the long term.

TAR BABY attempts to avert this by developing a specialized non-fragmentation ASAT weapon.

Specifically, we propose a dedicated ASAT warhead designed for compatibility with the Firehawk surface-to-orbit missile system (selected for its multiple-burn capability). Upon closing with the target satellite, this warhead deploys a sphere of viscous adhesive at its nose, formulated to remain effective in vacuum conditions for the duration of the impact event and to retain its shape via surface tension.

It is believed that this mechanism should allow a TAR BABY warhead to achieve a hard connect with the target satellite with minimal uncaptured fragmentation. Embedding within the adhesive body should in itself cause significant disruption to the operation of the target, but for maximal effect, after the adhesive sphere has set (either by passage of time or injection of a catalyst), the multiple-burn capability of the Firehawk can be used to perform a controlled deorbit and destruction of the captured satellite.

For further details of our proposal, please see the enclosed technical documentation.

Submitted for your consideration,

Vidal Amnestrianos

for and on behalf of

Firefly Aerospace, ICC

A Modest Recommendation

I’ve been enjoying reading this webcomic a whole lot recently:

Grrl Power is a comic about a crazy nerdette that becomes a superheroine. Humor, action, cheesecake, beefcake, ‘splosions, and maybe some drama. Possibly ninjas.

…for all those reasons, plus recent SFnal elements, and that our protagonist’s brain seems to work in disturbingly similar ways to the brains resident at Chez Author.

And thus I recommend it to you, Eldraeverse readers, because I suspect it would also suit your taste.

Location, Location, Location

The only permanently cold regions on Eliéra are the lands near its hub. On Upperside, divided by the grinding bergs of the Kjavalaer, the outer reaches of this region belong to the Icemarch, on the Alténiän continent, and to the Winter Principality elsewhere.

The outermost of these reaches are relatively clement windswept taiga, but as one advances towards the center, this soon gives way to cruel winter tundra. The land beyond the Frozen Gates is dominated by glaciers and permanently frozen ice fields, leading upwards to the barren, wasted foothills of the Talíär – or the Dalthíär, on the Underside – where endless ice storms and glaciers render the land nigh-impassable. The only successful settlements in this region are the siphon-towns of the Icemarch, buried deep beneath ice and rock, and accessed by ice tunnels leading far to the south.

Many explorers were nonetheless drawn to these regions, pulled onwards by the curious regularity and sixfold symmetry around the hub of the Talíär and Dalthíär mountain ranges. The most notable of these expeditions were those led by Nimínes Dalastel, whose third expedition reached the base of the Talíär proper, and whose sixth expedition, making use of base camps and caches established by the fourth and fifth, successfully ascended to one of the passes of the Talíär.

Had the expedition not correctly deduced the cause of the note resounding through the pass, it would undoubtedly have come to a fatal end after surmounting its narrow summit. Thus forewarned, however, the expedition proceeded with caution, and heavily secured by ropes, were the first to lay eyes upon the shaft within the Talíär; a near-vertical, artificially smooth descent plummeting not merely to the bottom of the mountains, but deep within the main body of the world itself.

(And so, the expedition solved a speleological puzzle of long standing. It had been observed that caves tended to “breathe”, and the predominant observation was that strongly connected caves – i.e., those leading into the network of deep-crust passages referred to as the Beneath – exhaled drafts of warmer-than-ambient air on a near-continuous basis.

We now know the source of this air is the Talíär and Dalthíär shafts. Cold stratospheric air pours through the passes of the mountains and descends rapidly into the bowels of the planet, where it serves to carry away the waste heat generated by the computation and matter editation layers of the machinery at its core. The then-heated air is vented into the Beneath, within which it cools and expands, and from which it eventually emerges at the surface as warm cave-breath.)

It is despite all this, then, that the Talíär was selected as the site for Eliéra’s first orbital elevator. While the difficulties involved in building a jack directly above a gale-force air intake in the middle of the arctic were indeed considerable, this is merely to say that the other two possible sites were worse…

– World on a String: A History of Early Orbital Elevators

And Yet More

The two kinds of night…

ashíëmúr: “starlit night”; the night-half of the cycle in that half of the year in which Súnáris is in opposition to Lumenna, and the sky remains in twilight throughout the night, never becoming truly dark. From ashíël “star” + múrna “night”.

falsamúr: “black night”; the night-half of the cycle in that half of the year in which Súnáris is in conjunction with Lumenna, and the sky grows dark in truth. From falsan “black” + múrna “night”.

…the two natures of power…

arídaäsír: power; specifically, that power which arises from might, the power of lightning and the storm, the sword stroke, the crashing wave, the mighty engine, and the blazing sun. From arídan “sun” + asíran “power”.

chalíäsír: power; specifically, that power which arises from cunning, the power of the unforeseen gambit, the ingenious design, the perfect balance, the craftsman’s hand, and the gleaming moon. From chalíël “moon” + asíran “power”.

…the three kinds of loyalty…

traëlefí azkith: loyalty to one’s contract, oath, or obligations; from elefí “oath-contract” + azkith “loyalty”, itself from azik “stone” + ankithel “emotion, passion”.

traärgyr azkith: loyalty to merit, or rather, that loyalty to a person or group given fully and freely from respect for its worth. From argyr “merit” + azkith “loyalty”. Also sometimes seen as trabandal azkith.

traëstxijír azkith: loyalty to an abstract ideal, purpose, or necessity. Fromestxijír “wyrd, dharma” + azkith “loyalty”.

…and since we already covered loyalty, might as well give you these…

talisétäef: honesty; “converse with truth”, from talis “truth” + sétavir “converse (among a group)” + the state affix -ef .

carábrinef: generosity, liberality; “open-handedness”, from carás “open, accessible” + brind “palm (of the hand)” + the state affix -ef.

sefykith: laughter (as emotion, not sound), passing joy; from sef “spume, sea-foam” + ankithel “emotion, passion”.

merékith: kindness; from merel “gentle” + ankithel “emotion, passion”

dalínef: friendship. From dalín “friend”, plus the state affix -ef.

Twelve More Words

aelvthal: aesthant, from aelva “beauty” + thal “functional niche”.

arídamaen: dusk; from arídan “sun” + maen “fall”

arídaqerach: laser; from arídan “sun” + qerach “lightning”.

éändrycmesi: enlightenment, from andra “fire” + cmésí “kiss”.

ictoch: (expl.) “glitch”; colloquially, any annoying thing that you need to work on.

klaith: shadow; shade cast by a radiation-source.

laranlír: language; from laras “word(s)” + anlíril “song”.

mathalmin: crossroads, or intersection; from mathal “road” + minal “meet”.

traändra vandthel: “fire-anger”, wrath, specifically the noble rage of the righteous.

traëhain vandthel: “duel-anger”, the anger which requires satisfaction in battle, if not necessarily death (compare trasered vandthel).

traólmahara aelva: “the beauty of the remade”; that particular quality of beauty inherent in that which was broken and has been made anew. Also: an aesthetic philosophy similar to the Japanese kintsugi.

trasered vandthel: “blood-anger”, that fury which can only be quenched with the death of one party.

Cultural Crossovers #14: Doctor Strange

A quick pre-note: while suspension of disbelief is needed to believe in magic, of course, it’s not an unfamiliar context to the audience. The eldrae have a fine old hermetic tradition of their own, even if it’s regarded these days mostly as philosophy and “how we scienced before we learned how to science”.

Sadly, however, that both doctor and wizard mean “wise man”, in a sense, will be a little lost: long-term readers will remember that *there* doctor is a purely medical title, and the learned in other fields are generally titled academician.

  • This folding of space is exceedingly impressive. Especially since everything isn’t collapsing.
  • Doctor Strange, we presume.
  • My, someone has an ego. (Not that that’s a bad thing when you can so obviously back it up.)
  • Well, okay, maybe that’s going a little far. Also, “Strange Technique”? Snerk.
  • Avoiding a challenge, Mr. Ego? Makes your perfect record a little meaningless, no?
  • …and that would be the world taking your valxíjir from you.
  • That avoidance bites back.
  • I’m not sure that’s mania so much as a very familiar kind of despair. And yet, that’s still no excuse for such discourtesy.
  • Always at the far end of the world, the wisdom is.
  • Hiding in plain sight, I see. Promising.
  • (Only some of the audience have the cosmopolitan experience to understand why it’s odd that the Ancient One doesn’t look ancient, because…. well, all the Ancient Ones they’ve met look like that.)
  • You know, much as the audience might be inclined to agree with him, being punched right out of your body should really be awfully convincing. Even without the free trip through the Realm of Forms.
  • …or maybe the Realm of Hands. What the hell, other plane?
  • Ancient Snark from the Ancient One. Also, seriously, you show him the true nature of the universe and then throw him out? That’s a real dick move.
  • Wi-Fi, indeed. Heh. Although the audience is unlikely to understand the whole Magic vs. Science trope this is playing off.
  • Especially since the Ancient One’s spells-as-programs metaphor is exactly how they’d be inclined to think about magic anyway.
  • “No knowledge is forbidden, only certain practices.” Ooh, we like you.
  • Okay, as a general rule of thumb, rituals that make your eyes all charred-looking are probably not from the puppies and rainbows side of the force.
  • The “sling ring”? I mean, the device is nifty enough, but it needs a much cooler name.
  • Yeah, control by surrender doesn’t make much sense to these guys, either. Harmony vs. Discipline trope, and all that.
  • No educational methods quite as effective as the ones ending “or death” anywhere, I see.
  • Didn’t take you long to figure that out. But really, the one on his desk? That’s just trolling.
  • A mirror dimension? That’s awfully convenient – artificial, we suspect.
  • One does wonder who exactly the Living Tribunal are.
  • Ah, the shiny green pupil of the Eye of Agamotto. No-one’s in any doubt whatsoever as to what that is.
  • Oooh, time rewinding. We want one. Well, actually, we want quite a lot, because Just Think of the Potential Applications.
  • …ah, yes, “don’t screw around with time”. That’s a universal everywhere. Alas.
  • Extradimensional invasions, parasite universes. Gotcha.
  • Yeah, that’s something that could have done with a little explanation up front. Maybe one of those cute sayings about great power and great responsibility?
  • Hey, you don’t need to look surprised. You have the Ring of Everywhere-Going, and all.
  • …best windows ever. (The Claves in the audience grin smugly.)
  • Got to love the old infinite passage trick.
  • Man, I hope that wasn’t expensive.
  • Best cloak!
  • Nice portable prison.
  • Also, Kaecilius, I like your ambition and your distaste for time and death, but someone should really have explained to you the charred-face thing and the fundamental problem with borrowing power from extradimensional assholes.
  • See, he gets it! Easy principle, right?
  • Still best cloak!
  • And now for an astral asskicking. Astkicking?
  • From remote viewing to remote electrocution. I bet that application wasn’t in the library.
  • Well, your world’s been thoroughly upended. Was the bigger revelation that the world works completely differently, or that Strange grew up?
  • You know, people with the powers to alter natural law defending natural law per se is remarkably ironic, inasmuch as complete devotion to that principle would require doing absolutely nothing.
  • The architects in the audience really, really want to be able to fold space like this. Such possibilities!
  • (Also, is there really only one Dark Dimension? Or is Dormammu just kind of Spell-My-Name-With-A-The pretentious.)
  • Well, her method evidently sucks less than theirs.
  • …the audience hisses. Their lives have plenty of meaning without the prospect of death hanging over them, thank you so very much.
  • Awww. Best cloak really is best cloak.
  • Steal centuries of life from a giant abomination? Not the worst deed ever.
  • Always nice to see a too late arrival from time-to-time. Especially when there’s a convenient rewinder.
  • Heh. Stuck in a fish tank as time unwinds. What an embarrassing way to go.
  • Listen to Wong. Wong understands the rules of ethical singularities.
  • A time loop to trap a timeless being? Strange, you magnificent bastard!
  • …and getting killed over and over again how many thousand times? Dammit, man, we have to offer a standing salute to your collection of moon-sized orichalcum balls!
  • Yeah, they really should inscribe those the other way around.
  • Oh, for frak’s sake, Mordo, the whole damn planet was about to get eaten. How could there possibly be a bill larger than that?
  • Called it!
  • Well, hello. So, there weren’t wizards on Midgard before? (And, even more importantly, Asgard doesn’t have self-refilling steins?)
  • You walking away makes you undutiful. Going around taking away everyone else’s powers, starting with those which allow such unnatural acts as walking? There aren’t words for how much that makes you suck.
  • And what’s wrong with the world is that not enough people subscribe to the naturalistic fallacy? You cosmic jackass.