Purity Of Essence

Among the artifacts first discovered in the lower levels of the Iniscail excavation were the sophotechnological artifacts now known as purity-of-heart switches. These devices resemble the hexagonal touch-plate switch used by the Precursors in several of their sites, but are in actuality complex systems capable of remote neural scanning and analysis.

The term “purity-of-heart switch” was derived from a translation of Precursor glyphs accompanying descriptions of the item found in the area of the Iniscail site identified as “the Instrumentery”. However, as with all translations from the Precursor, this is at best an combination of these linguistic best-fits in uncertain relation.

After a degree of spiritual experimentation, it was determined that a more accurate translation would be “purity of intent” or perhaps “singularity of will”. The purity-of-heart switch is a quantifier of qalasír; a device that detects one’s mental focus upon a single task or topic. Installed in control mirrors and security gates in sensitive areas of Precursor facilities, the purity-of-heart switch served to deny access to these to individuals distracted, or otherwise not adequately focused upon the tasks they were to perform.

Moral perfection, sadly, neither required nor detected.

– Simples of Complexity: Precursor Commonplaces

Today’s Quotations

We are, undeniably, tool-using creatures. Eldrae sómintár. More, we are undeniably creative creatures, builders and makers – eldrae mahavár – who build in order to have tools, and have tools in order to build. An endless cycle of creation. Observe, too, the lesser Flames: the problem-solving ingenuity of the bandal, the hunting tools fashioned by the vorac, the multifold creations of the cúlno.

Creation, then, is the nature of the Flame.

Is it not then clear that both the tools of creation and the fruits of creation, to such poor extent as they may be distinguished, are necessary parts of the inviolable self? These are the means by which it acts upon the world. One who does not control these means is reduced to the level of the naked savage, less than the lowest of animals, denied the ability to express or to better their inner nature.

Beware, O students mine, of he would would take, control, or deny you means, for in this way he would make himself your master…

Nephrite, student of the philosopher Sardonyx

Governance is, fundamentally and always, a technocratic art. The questions of how to deal with a recession, or a pandemic, how to manage the infrastructure of a city, how to regulate the value of a currency, how to keep the peace – these are no more matters of choice than the structure of an aqueduct, the foundations of a highway, the cure for the bloody flux, or the value of pi. They are technical problems with technical solutions, even when the solutions are known poorly, or not known at all. Even ethics – for those who do not confuse it with morality, into which realm we may not trespass – is a scientific field whose implementation is a technocratic matter, not subject to popular preference.

The wise man does not seek the agreement of his neighbors before shuttering his house against the storm; the doctor does not consult onlookers before cleaning a wound; the good man does not ensure the victim was well-thought-of before saving a life; and nor then ought we to require such before executing the duties of our offices in accordance with our merits.

This is the fundamental flaw of democracy: it trades away competence – and, indeed, reality – for a fool’s pleasant illusion of control. And, of course, for someone to blame when it turns out that you needed competence after all.

Sardal Amanyr-ith-Amaranyr, Minister President of the Council of Ministers, 1651-1739

The Spice Way

In the year 8054, a forward-thinking Initiative of Ring Dynamics, ICC, evaluating the expansion program for the stargate plexus based on the recent advent of the frameslip drive, a free-flight capable FTL technology which would allow the positioning of stargates with speeds and at distances previously unattainable, made a proposal to the Directorate named after the historic trade route.

That proposal was for a new backbone for the stargate plexus which would cover the entire galaxy, if thinly – rather than expanding by constellations, using the new frameslip drive to build braided “thread” routes out along each galactic arm, connected by initially single – but ultimately multiple – crossing spines. In this way, distant civilizations would be placed a position in which contact could be made relatively simply – each could join the transportation and communications network simply by reaching the local “thread”, and become part of the larger galactic community. New local networks of constellations and cross-links would spin out from such contacts, which would serve as seed crystals for further development.

This was that proposal:

[a map of the routes involved in the Spice Way Program]


  1. The Imperial Way and Lethíäza Trade Spine are, of course, expansions of the existing named routes you will see on previous maps of the Worlds.
  2. The “stations” to be seen on this map, with the notable exception of “Imperial Center”, marking the current center of the Worlds, were to be large regional hub space stations on a similar pattern to the Conclave Drift – providing seeds for local development, and somewhere for the network to broadcast its existence to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity.
  3. All those station names starting with “Cal”? Well, apart from that particle (meaning, approximately, “center”), they’re all named after large, bright stars in that region of space – those being obvious local landmarks around which to place your localized nexus.
  4. As may have been mentioned before, the Greater and Lesser Ancíël Whirls are the Magellanic Clouds (to which the Elsewhere Society has long since dispatched stargates). The Metan Ring is the Andromeda Galaxy, in our Earthling parlance, and the Milky Pool, of course, is Triangulum.

Recommendation: Starmoth

In this episode of “the author recommends other less known universes”, I’d like to point up CMDR Isilanka’s Starmoth setting as worthy of the attention and interest of Eldraeverse readers. From its own introduction page, it is described as:

Once upon a time, humankind thought it was on the doorstep of the stars. Then, the thermo-industrial age came to a brutal collapse as the ravages of the anthropocene took old. For five hundred years the world ignored what lay beyond the atmosphere. For three hundred years reigned the Low Age. And then we turned to the stars again.

Starmoth is a post-apocalyptic, post-capitalistic, interstellar setting where semi-realistic spacecraft coexist with unknowable alien ruins, open-source FTL devices and colourful, vibrant societies. It is meant to be a tribute to science fiction focusing on a sense of wonder, as well as evoking nostalgia for a time that could have been.

For myself, I should like to point up some fascinating worldbuilding in social and exosocial areas in particular, which will definitely repay the attentive reader. I look forward with great interest to seeing how it continues to develop.

A book of short stories from this universe is available (name your own price) here; and the main website for the Starmoth universe is here.

Friendly Stab

“I noticed the knife the first day we were assigned to work with the Spireguard. It was easy to notice: everyone knows what a hanrian looks like, and there aren’t many who carry around multiple fighting knives. But even among those who did, this one was always set off to the side, away from the others. It’s a very distinctive knife; two opposed blades on the same hilt. One’s got a deep hooked notch near the tip, and serrations along the back of the blade. The other’s a fat spike with a triangular cross-section, and grooves wrapped around it; not along the length of the blade, as fullers would be, but circles wrapping around it.

“But not one ever used in the fight, that I could see, and when we were figuring each other out, asking questions about each others’ kit, and sharing war stories, that one knife never came up.

“So a couple of weeks into the fighting, I asked the question. And that night, I learned that it was called a ‘dignity knife’, and not something considered a matter for polite conversation.

“Eventually, I learned what requisition forms called it, which was ‘BS-11 Biological Security Knife, Block II’. One end is a pithing knife, which – while familiar to us now – was quite the shock to learn about in those days; the other, though? The fat blade was stuffed with incendiary explosive and lenses, those grooves, to focus the force of the blast. Per the manufacturer, that was ‘biotech security’, making sure no corpses were left behind for enemy intelligence to plunder for biotechnological secrets.

“Unofficially? The Legions had a unique interpretation of “no-one gets left behind”. For me, unnerving will always be defined by fighting alongside allies who carried special knives to kill their own wounded, then incinerate the bodies wherever they fell.”

– MSgt. Anvis Ankarian, 14th Drop Shock Echelon,
Memories of the Mnekkej Campaign

Beneath Their Wings

the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)

Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Force Not Required

“Always remember: memetics is no more and no less than the science of ideas. Applied memetics, therefore, is no more and no less than advanced persuasion. Memetics cannot impose ways of thought. Memetics alone cannot correct biases, or determine truth, or override the will. And no memetic technology can force someone to believe anything.”

– The Iron Rule of Memetics, Acad. Lí Amarens

“Holy fire-spitting crapsticks, is there anything these morons won’t believe?”

– Alseyn’s Corollary