Because This Is The Most Important Thing To Do In Mid-Pandemic

As a quick note to my Patreon patrons, as of the start of July they will be charging sales tax on assorted, but not all, patron pledges, thanks to new legal requirements. This affects 36 states of the US and assorted foreign parts, in different ways for each, and may only affect certain parts of some pledges, and so forth.

Fuller details are here and will be e-mailed to you by Patreon on the 1st of June; I’m fiddling with settings and descriptions and so forth to minimize the impact to you, so I don’t recommend doing anything precipitate, please. But we’ll have to see how it works out for each individual in the long run.

If you don’t like it, please be assured that I don’t like it either. I can’t imagine that Patreon like it all that much, for that matter. But there’s nothing any of us can do about it, sadly, given “required by law”.

However, if you’d like to rise up in a bloody revolution, tear down the instrumentalities of extortion and oppression, and hang everyone with a favorable opinion of sales tax from the nearest convenient lamp posts, on the other hand, and have a viable plan to do so, do feel free to get in touch.

Shoot Them Later

If They Want To Leave, Let Them Leave

Malefactors in command of a docked starship are always to be permitted to depart if they request it. There are no ‘land-locks’ or armored space doors for a reason. Do not forget that even a tramp merchie or private yacht has point defenses against micrometeoroids, if nothing else, which can do a spectacular amount of damage if used at point-blank range; and, of course, every starship has a drive. While firing up a reaction drive inside a docking bay is of course suicide, it is Imperial policy not to play games of flinchy-flinchy with the desperate.

This applies no matter how clever the plan you have to disable the pd grid and drive systems and/or to board and storm is. Protection of the station and those aboard it comes first. The plan will work just as well when executed by a patrol cruiser a healthy distance from everything expensive.

– Orbit Guard Manual OG-134: Negotiations

Big Iron

INERTIA WARNING

MAGNETIC DRUM STORAGE IN USE
ACCESS BY AUTHORIZED TECHNICIANS ONLY

Magnetic drums rotate at 36 rpm when in use. Do not enter drum room unless steam valve is closed and padlocked, drive clutch is disengaged and padlocked, and spin-down is complete. (Governor ball check is insufficient; spin gauge must read zero.)

Inform supervising administrator before entrance and after exit. All keys are to be retained by responsible technician until maintenance is complete.

Full manual rotation must be performed to check balance before spin-up. Use auxiliary engine only; do not attempt to manipulate drums by hand. Steam release from head positioning servos may occur during zeroing and read/write tests.

EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN CAN NOT BRAKE DRUMS
CONTACT WITH ROTATING DRUM WILL KILL YOU

INERTIA WARNING

The Forgotten City

Once, there was a proud city whose towers touched the heavens. But the people of the city were not its equal in pride, and they grew afraid of the world, for it went on forever, and they believed that such reduced their measure, and the measure of their city.

They thought to make their fear their tool, and erected mighty walls and fortifications to keep the city safe, and hired many swords and ships to guard it against foes coming by land and by sea, and went forth by night to seek those already hidden within. But the more they prepared against the foes of their fancy, the more they supped on fear with their meat, and drink, and breath. They came to believe that it was strength, and so they fed it, even as it grew, until it became a great beast, and that beast devoured them from within.

There are no more towers touching heaven, for there is no city there any more. No foes came to plunder it, nor doom befall. Hollow, it was worn away by time, and the winds carried away its bones, and dust, and name. Books of lore tell not its tales, nor do the rains let fall their tears, nor even fallen stones remember it.

For that which does not live must die.

– A Child’s Treasury of Eldraeic Myth

Probing Further

In assessing the governmental and cultural structures of a world to determine whether contact should be made – or, indeed, further interactions carried through – it is best to approach from a cosmopolitan perspective.  The cultures of the greater galaxy vary widely, and we must not allow parochialism with regard to the details of any given culture to blind us to its virtues.  Despite this, a certain selectivity is required – in dealing with the pre-starflight civilizations which we are discussing, it is generally permissible for the Empire to deal with autocracies and suchlike, as such interaction can often serve to bring them closer to Imperial cultural norms in those areas.

However, an important aspect of pre-Contact study is the determination of so-called “intrinsic barbarian” cultures.  It is not the policy of the Empire to have formal contact or dealings beyond the necessities of the Accords with cultures whose values are fundamentally antithetical to its own, even when those values are in and of themselves not sufficient to have a world placed under exotoxicity interdict.

Note: this may prove particularly difficult when a given pre-Contact world is divided into multiple polities or cultural blocs.

– Imperial Exploratory Service, An Introduction to Contact

ahn-kel seeks ahn-ros for discreet encounter

No discussion of approaches to gender in the Associated Worlds would be complete without mention of the peculiar customs of the mourcalt of the Trailing Assembly.

The mourcalt‘s biology gave them an exceptional degree of sexual dimorphism, which is typically correlated with strong gender archetypes, as indeed it was in their case. When in time this proved unsatisfactory for later stages of their social development, and yet seemed difficult or impossible to overcome per se, the Assembly’s governance opted for an unconventional solution – purchasing an extensive memetic campaign to disassociate, as far as possible, the concepts of sex and gender in the mourcalt mind, and so far as was possible, to create a gender-concept that was free of existing archetypes.

The first part of this campaign succeeded magnificently. Citizens of the Assembly are now randomly assigned to one of eighteen genders at birth, and both ongoing memetic practice and cultural inertia ensures that this remains their psychosocial gender throughout life. (Indeed, this has succeeded to such an extent that mourcalt involved in the sexual marketplace must maintain an appropriate degree of doublethink in consciously finding a partner of a permissible gender for theirs, while simultaneously being unconsciously aware of them being the appropriate sex.

The second part, however, succeeded only insofar as the new genders were free of existing archetypes. Within the first few years of the new system, de novo archetypes for each of the new genders had come into being, and in the present day have hardened into rigid sets of behaviors, customs, and expectations for all eighteen genders (such as, for example, which genders may pair with which other genders for sexual or intimacy purposes, which are curiously disjoint sets), proving if anything even more binding on those claiming them than the old genders tied to biological sex were.

This gender-norming has led in turn to the rise of the ahn-gazet subculture among the mourcalt, which attempts to conceal and obfuscate all visible signs of the psychosocial gender and biological sex, permitting them to act as they please, and to the large number of mourcalt expatriates many of whom reject the Assembly’s gender system, were former ahn-gazet whose gender had become publicly known, or both.

– Unconventional Approaches to Gender Identity,
Makar, Melodion & Avila,
in the Quarterly Journal of Social Exosophontology,
vol. MMCCXIV, no. iii

Sim-Descartes

Well, last month was kind of crappy, productivity-wise, what with one damn thing after another going wrong in non-writing-friendly ways, even without the coronavirus.

Let’s hope this coming month works out better. In the meantime, I hope the lack of posting here has been in some way compensated for by my second venture into self-fanfic.


Proposition: A consequence of the theory of information physics (“it is bit”) is that it renders the simulation argument moot with regards to reality-as-it-is, inasmuch as ontogeny has no bearing on current status.

Defend or refute this proposition. If defending the proposition, explain how the presence or absence of a supervising entity or entities can be considered metaphysically irrelevant. If attacking the proposition, suggest an experiment capable of distinguishing a simulated universe from a self-computed universe.

[10%]

– Hexad Examination in Pure and Applied Metaphysics,
Imperial University of Calmiríë

Things to See, Places to Go (11)

One of the taverns located inside Paltraeth Down’s extrality zone, the Sages’ Stomping Ground has the unique distinction of being both a brawler’s bar and an enhanced-privacy facility. In a traditionally kaeth twist, the proprietor, mor-Tanaz Vivek, defines “privacy” as ignoring anything going on outside the common bar – where weapons are requested to be kept sheathed or holstered, and appropriate waivers can be signed for a longer stay – short of wall-penetrating explosions without prior arrangement. Even official records reflect that this has extended, in the past, to rival mercenary groups staging pitched battles in the more spacious upstairs rooms.

Naturally, furnishings and decor are carefully chosen to be sturdy, cheap, and eminently replaceable, so we cannot recommend the Ground as a place to stay. However, the drink selection is excellent, even for those who like their strong liquor at less than kaeth-strength and scrubbed of radioactivity, and the food is also good if your tastes run to bloody-roast meat with a soupçon of heavy metals.

Before you leave, don’t forget to ask mor-Tanaz for the card of his specialist cleaning service. While expensive, there’s no-one more skilled or experienced at removing any portion of other patrons that may have spilled on you in the course of your visit.

– The Longest Crawl: Dodeciad Worlds, Dodeciad Drinks

Hidden Maintenance Costs

“This year’s work list at Planetary Management: Redirect an estimated dozen hurricanes. Lance a supervolcano. Perform injection lubrication of five fault lines for controlled tectonic stress release. Reinforce the bedrock of a major regional aquifer. And orchestrate a thousand-year river channel shift.”

“Why are you even reading that?”

“Reminding my mother-in-law that while space may be trying to kill us all the time, at least it doesn’t do so by surprise.”

– overheard on Sulavé Station, Istelrith (High Verge)


(Because when talking about the maintenance needed to prevent your space colony from killing people in droves, no-one talks about that needed to stop your planet from doing the same. Status quo bias much.

Speaking of maintenance, incidentally, my 3D printer still needs some, by which I mean replacement. Help a broke author out?)

The Calmiríë Chthonic Railway

It’s been a while since I gave you folks a map, so here, I’m giving you folks a map:

[map of the Calmiríë Chthonic Railway]
Click through for full-size version.

Should you find yourself needing to find a way around the central region of the capital, this should come in rather handy.


On another note, and one less relevant to writing, our 3D printer here at Chez Author chose this last week to break on us, and since it’s a fairly key part of our business that funds, y’know, mortgages and other key writing supplies, we’re gonna need another one. And in this highly inopportune time of economic and coronavirus brouhaha, this means that I am once more resorting to shameless blegging.

So please, if you can, toss a coin to your author. And if you can’t, please reshare. Every tiny bit helps!

(Hell, I may even throw in a 3D-printed esteyn by way of thanks.)

Hold the Eggs

Bacon Maneuver: A stealth tactic used by sailing masters with no sense of self-preservation, the Bacon Maneuver involves hiding a small starship within the drive wake of a larger vessel. Large, multiple-drive craft often have “sweet spots” close in where the drive plumes have not yet impinged on one another, and thus in which a small vessel can lurk without being instantly immolated by the larger vessel’s torches. In such a position, the small starship relies on the “white-out” of sensors looking directly at the drive plume to conceal its own presence.

Carrying this out is fraught with a number of problems: the ability to approach the sweet spot through the distal drive wake without being incinerated; the need to sink radiant heat from the drive plumes surrounding the sweet spot; the high likelihood of a collision with the larger vessel or its drive plume should it maneuver unexpectedly; and so forth.

From this litany of difficulties is drawn the name of the maneuver: one who attempts it while being so much as a minim less good than they think they are will assuredly be fried crispy.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Begone, And Trouble Us No More

You may have seen a new Imperial Navy ship on the through route from Qechra to Palaxias in the past few weeks, and not been able to pin down her exact type: she resembles a Leviathan-class dreadnought to aft, but the whole forward half of the vessel seems to have been replaced by a long, four-pronged, blunt-ended ‘snoot’, which more closely resembles the working end of a stargate than anything else.

If the scuttlebutt is anything to go by, that’s exactly what she is – the latest unique special weapons platform of the Black Flotilla, CS Perfect Translocative Defender.

She’s not a wormhole logistics ship; those remain impractical. Despite all the improvements in linelayer-superlifters over the years, moving stargates around is still a very slow process, and one which makes even fleet carriers look speedy and maneuverable. This is largely due to the moon-sized mass of the kernel, which enables stargates to communicate with their paired counterpart. But as you can see, Perfect Translocative Defender does not house a kernel, only the Andracanth ram itself.

Without a kernel, Perfect Translocative Defender is only capable of opening an untargeted wormhole around her target, but this makes her a perfect weapon against those threats undefeatable by conventional means; once she closes to fire her weapon, the target is simply dispatched to a randomized location in space and time, thus removing it as an immediate problem – and, given the sheer vastness of the universe, very likely removing it as a problem entirely.

– Star-Spotter’s Quarterly, Autumn 7840

Some Ancient Questions

Have a random selection of answers to old questions and comments that came up while I was clearing out my e-mail:

In our world, there is a Spanish proverb that runs: Ladrón que roba a ladrón tiene cien años de perdón (memorably quoted in translation by the villian of The Magnificent Seven as “A thief who steals from a thief is pardoned for a hundred years,” or more conventionally glossed as “It’s no crime to steal from a thief.”)

How would the eldrae analyze such a situation? Would they consider it wrong to take something without its possessor’s consent if that possessor is not, in fact, the true owner?

That would depend. On the first level of analysis, Imperial law is more concerned with the will than the deed, and as such technically, for example, you are guilty of theft if you take something that was being freely given away, if you did not know that that was the case and therefore you believed that you were stealing it. Likewise, if you did not know that the possessor was not the true owner, it’s still theft.

On the second level, since the essence of theft is depriving the rightful owner of their property, if B steals from A and C takes it from B, then C is also guilty of theft from A.

The only situation in which such a C would not be guilty of theft is if they were aware that A was the rightful owner and “stole” it in order to return the property in question to A, in which case no crime has been committed, for that is merely a special case of the reclamation of property by its rightful owner. We might call this the Leverage exception.

Just a quick question, but how does a post-scarcity civilisation like the Empire deal with the problem of the so-called “mouse utopia”?

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/how-mouse-utopias-1960s-led-grim-predictions-humans-180954423/

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-doomed-mouse-utopia-that-inspired-the-rats-of-nimh

My thinking, at least for us normal old humans, has been that we need three principle policies or conditions to avoid this:

1. Monogamy as the default for the great majority of people.

2. Scarce resources if need be due to artificial constraints, in order to motivate people to get out there & do things.

3. A small (preferably non-existent) welfare state.

Needless to say, there’ll be plenty of pressure to change all 3 of these, so have fun balancing the need to retain these conditions with little things like not being a tyranny. Anyway, obviously the Empire doesn’t have #3 to worry about, but #1 and #2 seem to apply to them. Did they just get lucky and manage to genetically modify everyone to avoid the trap caused by cornucopia machines and such, are their minds that different from human ones, or is there a hush-hush part of the Transcend that’s quietly ensuring that “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” …?

The short version is: sophonts ain’t rodents.

(Rodents don’t have birth control, for one thing, and it’s pretty clear from global demographics among humans who do that in the presence of abundance, our problem is a birth rate falling below replacement, not overpopulation.)

Now, overpopulation is the most notable failure-feature of the various mouse utopias, and we know empirically that that doesn’t happen. But also:

Well, not to impugn the intellect of our rodent cousins – who are really exceptionally smart for critters whose brains comfortably fit in a teaspoon – but they do possess certain limits on their creativity when they get bored. No-one’s going to write the Next Great Murine Novel, or even grind their way to the top in World of Ratcraft – although, I note, nonetheless providing this sort of outlet did improve matters in later mouse utopias than the infamous ones.

Even humans – well, I’m gonna save myself some time and point you at Scott Alexander’s take on basic income (which the Empire does effectively have in the form of the Citizen’s Dividend) vs. basic jobs, here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/05/16/basic-income-not-basic-jobs-against-hijacking-utopia/ . The whole thing is worth a read, but specifically, look down under the heading “iv) Without work, people will gradually lose meaning from their lives and become miserable“.

Specifically, look at all the people who didn’t or don’t have any particular need to work, and who still live perfectly meaningful, satisfying lives.

Now consider that the eldrae are even further out on the self-motivated dynamism bell-curve.

tl;dr The “mouse utopia” is a model of what you get when you provide for the needs (and needs, note, not wants) of a group of people in a prison both physical and mental, not a model of a functioning society.

Re sports: How popular are team sports and team-based activities locally, relative to “individual” sports?

Less common than here, ratio-wise, which is largely an effect of spectator sports being less popular than participatory sports, but by no means uncommon.

Re tort insurance, the IQI, and other matters: What typically happens to those unlucky few who are unable to pass the IQI test but also have no one willing to claim them as a dependent?

If they do not possess a robot guardian, a robot guardian will be appointed for them.

Yes, those same ones that you can appoint for yourself if you want to get all Declaration of Situational Mental Incompetence-y. Only without the option.

Spending as much time as we do to block information-collecting used for these ends comes across as putting a comical amount of effort into making your own life less convenient by making it harder for the desire-satisfaction sector to satisfy your desires, and why the heck would anyone want that?

First, what would they make of someone on the opposite end of the spectrum — a sort of “Very Private Person” who deliberately goes out of their way to leave as little footprint as they reasonably can and who reacts negatively to any sort of unsolicited contact or requests for information simply because they believe that their business shouldn’t be anyone else’s business?

“You do you, but keep your weird fetishes to yourself, ‘kay?”

Also bear in mind that privacy law doesn’t support the notion of public privacy. And that since information about transactions is owned equally by each party to the transaction, not knowing what they just did as your counterparty is likely to be an extra-cost service for the annoyance.

Possibly stupid question (that you may well have already answered) –

_if_ everyone has a neural lace (and therefore could have something very like machine-mediated telepathy), why are there still explicit communications devices (“phones” and the like)?

Originally (i.e., in the days before advanced tech, when there was just baseline eldrae techlepathy), other communication devices existed for two reasons.

First, because you have to know someone’s signature to find them in the aether, and they aren’t readily written down; but also

Because – well, the thing about techlepathy is that even mediated via wireless transmission of neural gestalts, it’s still rubbing your brain up against someone else’s. This is not necessarily something you want to get into with just anyone.

Now in the modern day (well before neural laces – this was true even of early virtual interface implants), of course, you can easily receive e-mail and make trinet calls using only your implanted hardware, so in general, a lot of dedicated communication hardware doesn’t exist. Mostly it exists in places where it’s important to have a secure, hardwired communications line regardless of other conditions.

Now, there are plenty of slates, hand terminals, etc., and other such devices. They mostly exist because of the shape of brains. We are, after all, built to work by eye and hand; vast areas of brain are devoted to just that. Tool users are comfortable using tools; it’s as simple as that.

First, referencing this:

As for self-control: well, any young citizen-intendant who doesn’t learn to show an adult’s self-control will likely be culled by the age of 12 or so, simply because they’re too bloody dangerous to keep around. This is acknowledged as harsh, but also as regrettably necessary; when temper tantrums can shatter bones and blow out walls, you can’t afford to permit them.

Would it be correct to infer a generalization from this that, essentially, the head of an Imperial household has some measure of power analogous to the old Roman patria potestas over their minor dependents?

No, it would not.

It’s a simple matter of self-defense. When a tantrum can and will escalate to a lethal incident (and bearing in mind that this requires years of them failing to get their ass under control, with all the assistance available), this is just the end of the line.

(I mean, think of what happens to people who throw tantrums with automatic weapons here, except that there, the gun is always in hand and the trigger is a thought away.)

Aside from axiomatic self-ownership, what sort of rights do children (or other wards) have, particularly vis a vis the “veto power” of their parents or guardians?

All of ’em. Life, liberty, property, and even contract insofar as tort insurance (theirs, or their parents) will cover it.

As a sort of sub-topic of that: How do eldraeic parents go about disciplining unruly and disobedient children? What are, for instance, local attitudes toward corporal punishment?

That it’s assault and battery. (And also is an effective lesson in how it’s acceptable to use force to get what you want, but really, that’s a secondary point.)

Raising children is generally a matter of Taking Children Seriously, and the carrot – positive discipline – and greater access to responsibilities and privileges than the stick. Such stick as is necessary is provided by social consequences and a legal system that doesn’t offer special exceptions by age.

(Which last is arguably another form of taking children seriously.)

A small question: Does the eldraeic love for speculative fiction extend to what we call *here* the “alternate history” genre? Are there any popular works that deal with the subject of “What If [pivotal event X] never happened, or happened differently?”

It exists, but it’s just a minor subgenre. I don’t have any particular works in mind.

On that note: Does eldraeic have a term for the local equivalent of stercorarius (“manure entrepreneur”)?

“Dirt farmer,” (no translation yet) which term you may have seen before in the context of ecopoesis. Because they literally farm dirt.

So, for a question for the month, here’s my question-

One day, an Imperial Scout Ship wanders into Eldrae space, and the eldrae have just had their first contact with the Third Imperium. What particular hilarity and comedy happens after that?

Arguing over whose FTL drive is superior. (Both of them.) Horror at all the psionics. The Empire’s memetic warfare specialists and the Hivers finally have found worthy opponents in the manipulation game. Clash of capitalist titans. Arguments over whether non-jump FTL qualifies you as a major race. Ancients vs. Precursors, who were the most negligent? Dar-bandal vs. Vargr, who are the goodest bois?

Really, this one’s going to be one of the most uneventful first contacts, since no-one’s terribly offended by anyone else, not in ways more than is usual in both settings anyway. The biggest effect is going to be the long-term effects of all that transsophont tech seeping into the Imperium.

While I’m asking questions, I may as well venture another one, to answer or not as you wish, since I’ve not exactly been donating recently… how does the balance of power between the diarchs of the Imperial Couple work? Is it a veto from either side of the diarchy if they do not approve of a given course of action, or a delineation of fields of responsibility, or what? What, from the eldrae perspective, is the advantage of the diarchy over a singular executive? Is it the fact that it does divide powers?

In legal terms, it’s like the Roman consulship or the Spartan kingship; the diarchs have the same powers, subject to mutual veto. In practical terms, most of them tend to work out a rough division of fields of responsibility day-to-day.

(The advantages – originally in the eyes of the Cestian kingdoms from whom the Empire inherited the system – were threefold. The mutual veto is a check on stupid-ass decisions, and the division of responsibilities both keeps the Imperial workload reasonable and helps with the spectacularly wide range of knowledge and experience needed for the role.)

Also would like to know what the Empire of the Star would do with nonlocality tech, and whether the Transcend already has it.

Non-local sensors and effectors (essentially, like “noach” from Greg Bear’s Anvil of Stars and Moving Mars) aren’t yet within the capabilities of any species of the Worlds, although the Empire’s ontotechnologists are working towards it.

(It does exist in the ‘verse, though. The matter editation that Eliéra’s ecology maintenance systems use is a species of this technology.)

As for applications – good grief, what couldn’t you apply it to?

While we’re on the subject of definitions, what are the ‘spacer pikes’ mentioned in “But I don’t need one for this!”? Are they similar to the collapsible ‘broomsticks’ that Clarke describes in “Islands in the Sky” and “2010: Odyssey Two”?

Very similar to those, yes, with a hint of lochaber-axe-without-the-axe.

Are there any notable sovereign polities out there that, in the same manner as the Hessians that fought in the American Revolution, approach the “mercenary market” as suppliers — putting up their own state troops for hire as auxiliaries, perhaps as a way to make a quick buck on the side — rather than as customers?

Several. It’s proven an effective way for some single-system polities concerned about their larger neighbors to fund a larger military force than they otherwise could, and battle-season it to boot.

My question is twofold: what style of warships do mercenaries typically operate; are they running large battleships or mostly smaller Hornéd-Moon starfighters?

If they can afford it, a large mercenary outfit will operate something like a light cruiser or two to provide some space muscle for their typical missions (raids, commerce raiding, boarding ops, orbital fire support). There’s not much market for the larger types among mercs, because it takes a decent-sized plane of battle to have much of a chance in a stand-up naval fight, and mercs rarely get into stand-up naval fights anyway.

(This is not to say that no-one does it, but it gets you an expensive-to-support white elephant and suspicions that your admiral is compensating for something.)

The second question is concerned with the commerce raiding aspect of the shadow fleet; are there/have there been instances of opponents arming merchant vessels to mitigate losses (I.e. A spacefaring ‘East Indiaman’, with a few defensive AKVs or lasers)? Thank you!

Q-ships and convoy escorts are more common than armed merchantmen, simply because a merchie (with its lighter structure) hasn’t a prayer of surviving a stand-up fight against any naval vessel, even a naval auxiliary or corvette.

Specialist armed merchant cruisers (built on warship frame) do exist, primarily for use in regions where piracy is common, but even they wouldn’t rate against a naval vessel, and aren’t economic for general use.

I have to wonder. Wouldn’t anyone who undertakes the trip be considered a pariah at best and a slaver at worst? Anyone taking advantage of the Sleeper’s Deal has failed the ethical calculus of infinities and asymptotic infinities per, for example, On the Nonjustifiability of Hells: Infinite Punishments for Finite Crimes, Samiv Leiraval-ith-Liuvial, Imperial University of Calmiríë Press, no? How can such a sophont openly return to civilized society?

Because not all quote civilized unquote societies use Imperial standards of ethicality, the poor benighted sods.

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

So, what words would they use to describe a solar flare, or coronal mass ejection? Those being things that might be described as a little like sun-lightning, and probably visible before anyone made a laser.

To me, they’ve always looked more like flames than lightning, and the names are going to come before the understanding, I do believe. Probably, then, arídandris (“sunflame”), or a similar compound.

You have mentioned matter editation before, what exactly is it? From the context from before I figure it is some kind of ontotechnology.

The ability to read and edit the properties of the fundamental particles of matter as easily as tweaking numbers in a spreadsheet. Think of it as a Minecraft world editor for reality.

What is the difference between AKVs and missiles?

An AKV carries weapons (i.e., is more analogous to, say, a Predator drone); a missile is a weapon.

Did they have a word for something along the lines of “Precursor Metal”? Something to use to refer to the (apparently) impossibly strong and light substance that a lot of the artifacts lying around might be made of?

Not as such; there are an awful lot of different materials, alloys, etc., that the Precursor races used in their construction, and that was obvious early on enough that it would have seemed odd to give any of them that particular soubriquet. There are lots of specific terms for assorted material oddities they left behind, though: everything from dragon pearls through orichalcium and Saermaharavei crystal.

Seeing as most warships we’ve seen in the Imperial Navy thus far have particle shielding rated for only 0.3c, how do the fleet carriers provide particle shielding for their constituent members when cruising?

They don’t. Fleet carriers behave like slow luggers, not fast clippers, for exactly this reason – and because if you could build particle shielding large enough to shield an entire fleet, you’d be out of luck trying to haul that at near-luminal speeds anyway.

(You could probably cram a lighthugger’s worth of particle shielding onto the bow of a warship, but the resulting design would not do well against any equivalent vessel not so encumbered – like all those at your destination. 0.3 c is a compromise already, you may note, as already substantially more than that found on civilian vessels.)

Does the local laws of war recognize the difference in asymmetrical warfare acts of mass destruction between non-governmental actors and governmental actors?

(I.e. Would they consider “a terrorist/political group using NBCN (Nuclear/Biological/Chemical/Nanological) weapons, software weapons, and similar devices on somebody’s capital world” different from “our special forces, still operating under a legally recognized chain of command, using NBCN weapons, software weapons, and similar devices on somebody’s capital world after YOU INVADED US without provocation”?

The local laws of war, as written, don’t bother making a distinction between non-governmental actors and governmental actors period, because the people who wrote them tend to think of governments as organizations distinguished mainly by silly hats and an unearned sense of ethical privileges.

Which certainly don’t get to write themselves a special pass to go around using weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets.

“the mass drivers spin their projectiles purely through EM fields”
Why is needed to spin the projectiles, flechettes, at all? The term flechette means ‘little arrow’ (in French).

Flechettes are fin stabilized not spin stabilized, true some experimental flechette rifles did had very shallow rifling (low twist rate) but that was primarily to break the sabot once the flechette cleared out of the barrel. Does the mass drivers of your setting need sabots?

The spin stabilization in this case is a later addition (or re-addition, I suppose) to the system to correct for personal point-defense systems, which tend to use high-power laser ablation to shove projectiles off course. Spinning them reduces the effect of the laser by spreading out otherwise localized heating and outgassing.

I’ve been wondering, has anyone ever used a stargate with the kinetic compensator off as a means of transporting the gate?

Imagine: you gate a gas giant through a stargate pair at a substantial clip, maybe several dozens of kilometres per second. The well-aimed stargate pair fly off in opposite directions at holy-crap relativistic speeds because conservation of momentum, while the gas giant planet carries on its merry way relatively unaffected. One mouth deploys a brakeloop or something and shines with hard rads until it arrives in a Worlds-owned system, and the other end continues on its merry way until it decelerates the same way into the target system.

Would make the Elsewhere Project look like a bottle rocket.

Unfortunately, that’s not what the kinetic compensator is for.

Momentum transferred from the transiting body to the wormhole mouth doesn’t affect the stargate, because the wormhole isn’t coupled to the stargate; the wormhole terminus picks up the momentum, but it’s in the process of collapse back into the foam at that time and so it can be safely ignored. Likewise with the exit terminus of the wormhole at the other end.

So this local conservation isn’t a problem. What’s a problem, once all the various bits of finaglery are done, is global conservation – which is to say, stars move relative to each other, not to mention all orbiting around the galactic core, which is itself in motion, etc., etc., all of which means that post-gating your intrinsic velocity is that of the orbit you were in in the system you just left. Or, to put it another way, going HOLY CRAP fast in absolutely the wrong direction.

The job of the kinetic compensator is to sink or source enough momentum, linear and angular, to fix this – and thus prevent you from taking an impromptu tour of the Oort cloud, being hurled directly into the sun, or suffering some other awkward, hard-to-explain-to-insurers, fate.

Stealing From Yourself

The Advocate for Guilt has cited the existing precedent set by this Court in Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (7918), affirming that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the past constitutes theft, inasmuch as a worldline-past time-slice of an individual cannot consent to the actions of a worldline-future time-slice.

However, in this case, we must instead affirm that for one sophont to appropriate property from themselves in the future cannot constitute theft, insofar as so doing is a performative act binding one’s future self, and a worldline-future time-slice has, ex sequens, consented to all voluntary actions of worldline-past time-slices of the same individual.

The Shareholders’ Court therefore finds for the DEFENDANT, Ulpiaj of 7994, who is VINDICATED upon all counts. The charges of the plaintiff, Ulpiaj of 8002, are DISMISSED.

– Ulpiaj v. Ulpiaj (8002),
Shareholders’ Court (City of Synchrony, Resplendent Exponential Vector)

Sons of Ancyr

Horns of Ancyr, blow ye wildly,
Thunder forth your brazen fury,
Summon every soul who hears ye,
To the battlefield.

Shields of Ancyr, stand before we,
In your lock-step, ever steady,
Naught was forged can e’er score ye,
Stand and never yield.

Spears of Ancyr, sound your brattle,
In terror drive them forth as cattle,
Ardor quenched in bloody battle,
Death to foemen deal’d.

Sons of Ancyr, make your foray,
Ye shall live in song and story,
This shall ever be your glory:
Free men never yield!

– “Sons of Ancyr”, trad. military march, circa. 400

Front Effects

While perfection is our delight, perfection is also profoundly dangerous where it interacts with imperfection.

In the world of pharmacology, this principle is best represented by two particular drugs, aumbril and thanachav.

The former is a perfect euphoric; the latter a perfect disinhibitor. Both, however, are also perfectly deadly – although the latter as often to others as to its user – and are so due entirely to their advertised effects, rather than side effects.

Aumbril provides an experience of perfect pleasure, perfect satisfaction. Rather than simple euphoria, aumbril provides a complex, multi-layered experience combining every pleasure that its user might imagine experiencing – delight in beauty or knowledge, contentment after a job well done, satisfaction after a hearty feast, weariness after achievement, pride in victory, release from pain, laughter at a cosmic joke, love of every variety from limerent to aeonic, orgasm – however intellectually abstract or carnal the pleasure, aumbril provides it and weaves it together into a tapestry of perfect hedonic synergy.

Most aumbril users die on first exposure, from satiation too perfect to remember to live, although at least they die happy. Of the survivors, while a second dose does have the same risks, those without immediate access to another typically die from the effects of severe depression, since nothing else in the world can provide any pleasure to compare with that produced by the drug.

Thanachav, too, is exactly as described. It is a perfect disinhibitor in that it removes all inhibitions, however strong or instinctive they might be. On its own, this is fatal enough for the user, inasmuch as they are unable to tell good ideas from bad; while they may know intellectually that they cannot fly or that flesh will burn, they cannot proceed from this to the notion that departing a building via the roof or remaining within a conflagration to finish one’s book is an unwise course of action. Nor, while they continue to perceive pain, does pain serve to inhibit action.

Of course, such disinhibition is also deeply hazardous to bystanders, inasmuch as empathic and social inhibitions are also entirely stripped away. Perhaps the most common case of this is seen when various amateur street pharmacologists sell thanachav as an aphrodisiac/libidigen of the Class 3 (prohibited) type, through either ignorance or finding the inevitable results hilarious – since while it does remove all the would-be rapist’s victim’s inhibitions against having sex with him, it also removes all their other inhibitions, such as those, ethical, cognitive, and physiological, preventing them from tearing out his intestines and wearing his spleen as a hat.

The results are precisely as imagined.

– Journal of Chemical Hedonism, 1842nd issue

Eldraeic Words of the Day: Agreements

caülgyrelef: compromise; agreement in which neither party receives what they want (from tratracalma traülgyr elefí, lit. “least worthless/unfavorable contract”, i.e., a bad deal but the least bad deal possible).

sédelélef: mutually beneficial agreement; agreement in which both parties succeed (from trasédelékith elefí, lit. “mutually pleasing contract”.)

Traditionally, a caülgyref is what you end up with if you are unable to make a sédelélef; which may not be the result of one party being an obstinate idiot, but usually is.