Invisible Ledger

While in later chapters we will discuss the theory and practice of such formal techniques of social manipulation as the trafidúr an-enlét (blue gift), it is appropriate at this time to offer a cautionary word on the foundation beneath it.

As a civilized people, we esteem the virtues of liberality and generosity. Selecting an appropriate gift to reflect both the appreciated qualities of the recipient and the nature of its giver blended into harmony is a high art; and it moves the heart both to receive such a gift and to give it.

However, even outside the Great Game or other arenas for deliberate social manipulation, one must – when offered gifts many in number, or a gift great in magnitude, be wary – not of the giver, but of one’s own spirit. One and all, we are bound to mélith, and although by all law and custom an appreciation-gift creates no debt, will we, nil we, the spirit keeps its own accounting.

While to account gifts by the esteyn would ill befit a gentlesoph, you may nonetheless find it needful to decline a gift with all due courtesy rather than permitting yourself to bear the weight of such a heart’s-debt, lest it tarnish the relationship that gave rise to it.

– “On Appreciation, and the Tokens Thereof”,
Madame Allatrian’s Guide to Exquisitely Correct Etiquette

Eight Hells (2/4?)

This is Task Force Fourteen, as it steams at a leisurely twenty-two knots steadily east along the rocky southern shore of Míhayll Island, the southernmost in its archipelago. It had passed the entrance to the Míhayll Shallows yesterday at dusk, the shoal offering a back door to Lothell Bay for those with sufficiently shallow drafts, but not even a destroyer would attempt that passage. TF14 had sighted a few fishermen among the shoals, but if they had been sighted in return – a virtual certainty – it would not matter. Their targets had no option but to break out of the bay, which short of charging directly into the teeth of TG Northern, meant transiting the Adessír Straits; if the fishermen reported their passage to the Alliance command, it would make little difference.

The interception, if it happened – the course and speed of TF14 had been selected to intercept the Alliance ships at the mouth of the Straits, if they were indeed attempting a dawn transit – would be a close-quarters knife-fight. The sharp mountain spine running down Míhayll’s length was an effective barrier to both gunfire and radar, and so they would not know of its success until they were almost upon the enemy.

Meanwhile, the wind blew steadily against them, as it had all night. Vicious gusts out of the north-west carried storm clouds down out of Lothell, bringing with them lines of squalls, flat and heavy rain, and a steady swell that was imparting to the ships of TF14 a miserable corkscrewing motion. The only virtue to be found in the weather – and the worse storms further north – was that it would keep Alliance air cover grounded, and make it virtually impossible for Antinomos to fly off or recover aircraft. Or such was the Admiralty’s contention, although the empty skies above them were some confirmation.

The fast battleship Skybreaker, Vice-Admiral Ardelli’s flagship, trails the midpoint of the center line of the formation, following the wake of Invincible, her elder sister, their silhouettes obscured against the storm by the entangling shapes of their dazzle paintwork. Fast battleship is an unconventional designation for the Imperial Navy, but one earned by their unusual construction; rather than heavy naval steel, their citadel armor was wrought from spinmetal, a composite material harvested from deposits left behind by feral silverlife. Absurdly light and strong – albeit in short supply, uncastable, and extremely difficult to work – the spinmetal citadels of the Invincible-class battleships left them vulnerable to only the heaviest fire, while allowing them to outrun most cruisers with ease.

(A framed letter, presented to the ship by the naval architect behind the project, hung in the captain’s day cabin of Invincible; a purloined copy of a reprimand addressed to a junior Alliance intelligence analyst informing them in no uncertain terms that no-one, not even an Empire recently come into possession of the deposits of the Ossirvel Distributary, would expend the wealth necessary to use such a rare and costly material as warship armor.)

Ahead and behind them as they proceeded in line ahead, their escorting cruisers Seabreeze and Waterspout; refits of the older Tempest-class, now fat with air defenses, but still mounting a respectable main armament of a half-dozen 6″ guns.

And around them, the destroyers. Eight of them, all of the Ulricik Bancrach-class, the Hungry Wolves: Gray. Grinning. Pouncing. Leaping. Ravening. Swift. Unseen. Grizzled.

Almost hidden as they crashed through the swell, water sloshing over their bows – while relatively new, the wetness of the class in heavy weather was well-known – the destroyers flanked the main line four and four to port and starboard, the first pair preceding the others and the last trailing. Most visible was Ravening Wolf, on Skybreaker‘s port bow, flying the white pennant of Commodore Chiomé, commander of the destroyer screen.

The voice of a loudspeaker making a long-expected call cut through the quiet of Skybreaker‘s bridge.

“Radar-bridge. Radar-bridge. Contacts, repeat contacts, appearing through ground clutter, bearing oh-eight-four.”

“Signal to all ships: clear for action. Hoist the battle ensign.”

The Vigilant

The Watch Constabulary, on the whole, does not think of itself as a police force.

But that’s not a problem, because no-one else thinks of them as one either.

While their watchmen, constables, and inspectors are trained for situations in which the application of force may be necessary, these are not their business¹, and nor is this the primary thrust of their training. Indeed, these skills are almost never, if ever, used; the bread and butter of the constabulary day consists of giving directions, rescuing kittens from trees, reporting issues local maintenance might have missed, returning lost children and dogs, offering a listening ear and a helping hand, arbitrating minor neighborhood disputes, and aiding the aged and infirm on such rare occasions as they can find any. Notable, too, is the incorporation of the Disaster Instant Response teams, the Quenchers, and Gaëlenén’s Scalpel into the Watch Constabulary’s structure as specialists, and the extensive cross-training of all constabulary personnel in the basics of disaster response and paramedicine.

To some extent, this nature is both cause and consequence of the Empire’s implausibly² low crime rate. For the greater part, however, it is merely a matter of ideology. While a society built around the principles of consent and obligation may occasionally find it both necessary and ethically permissible to make use of responsive force – or even preemptive responsive force – it would be nothing short of reprehensible and indeed outright counterproductive to embody this necessity in those charged to preserve the public safety and harmony.

– Ten Thousand Parts in Approximate Formation: The Empire from Outside


  1. As previously mentioned, the Empire elects to separate the traditional police functions of patrol, investigation (see Office of Investigation and Pursuit) and force-application in exceptional circumstances (which, on the rare occasions it is required, is the province of the local military garrison), insofar as the skills and traits required for each function are highly divergent and rarely overlap.
  2. Statistical information on this was rejected by the Conclave Commission on Uniform Security on several occasions, until the Ministry of Harmonious Serenity invited the Commission to observe their operations up close. Current thinking, depending on the inclinations of the observer, attributes it to a combination of radical freedom, radical abundance, liberal use of meme rehab, and a steadfast commitment – contra the majority of polities – to deporting all their incorrigibles.

Iterating the Eschaton

From the introduction to Godwatcher’s Journal, Spring 8072 edition:

The cold red deserts of Meridia IV, Imperial reserve world, are no more.

Now there is only the Transcend’s latest experimental station: the Meridia IV Center for the Advancement of Ecological Amiability.


It is, or should be, no surprise to those who trace the consequences of Transcendent imperatives that such a thing should come to exist. It may, however, surprise those unfamiliar with the scale of divine works that the chosen means of fulfilling such imperatives would remake a world from core to sky.

Under the direction of the Symbiarch, axis submind and exarch of Sylithandríël, the forges and cathedral manufactories of Qerach have brought into being an array of interlocking linear arcologies, godwalls which, delivered by superlifter and skycrane, now divide the surface of Meridia IV, mountain, plain, and ocean, into twenty isolated biomes, unique habitats within which the Symbiarch has total control over the atmohydrospheric environment.

Within the godwalls themselves, the vertices of this shining icosahedron, loreworks and laboratories abound, a domain shared between the Symbiarch’s minor exarchs and the Initiatives whose scientists and engineers – called from the teeming worldlets around Eshtaréä and from all across the Empire – labor on their fraction of the task of wisdom’s perspective.

Every world spins in pain.

This is a consequence of that one inescapable truth: the universe is a broken place.

In this place, at this time, the Transcend attempts the repair of that small piece of it that is not only suffering, but the necessity of suffering: that aspect of cosmic entropy that gives rise to parasitism and predation, that compels life to enslave, exploit, and destroy life for its own continuance.

In the experimental biomes of Meridia IV, beginning with ecosystem samples taken from Eliéra, Revallá, Kythera, Víëlle, and Golden Groves, Sylithandríël’s exarch and its Initiatives devise means by which nature as it is may be brought into accord with the Viridian Dream: a world without suffering, unnecessary decay, or untimely death, flourishing in a perpetual harmony of at worst, costless commensalism; at best, joyful mutualism.

Until the day when the worlds from which they were taken, and all worlds, may likewise be perfected.

Thus it shall rebuke all those who look upon the imperfect world and say: it must be so.

Let all your works be wise,
For knowledge is the light of the Flame;
Let all your works be beautiful,
For beauty is its warmth;
Thus is your Heaven built.

– The Word of the Flame, Truths:15

Aperture Linguistics

(Originally titled Eldraeic Word of the Day: asírdaëlíthal, but come on…)

asíran: power; note: not coercive power, the power of compulsion, which is korás. Rather, the ability and means to act upon the elements of the world towards a defined end. (See also the kinds of power, here.)

daëlin: probability, chance.

asírdaël: (from asíran + daëlin) opportunity; that is to say, a possibility (probability) which exists because of one’s possession of the power (agency) to take advantage of that possibility; that which can be realized through action.

íthal: object, thing.

asírdaëlíthal: (from asírdael + íthal) an opportunity-object; an item created for no reason other than that one possessed the power to create it. The end product of such philosophies as “because it’s there“, “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, and “we do what we can, because we must”. Existence/possibility as imperative.

Bottling Up

The Sunstone is just what it appears to be – a star in a bottle.

That is to say, what it appears to be to the normal senses is an almost weightless crystalline sphere, roughly a foot across, shedding light and warmth all around it. A close inspection of the Sunstone, necessarily through darkened lenses, reveals whorls of flame shifting endlessly across its surface in patterns of light and dark spots, broken only by fiery prominences erupting from the surface and falling back once again. In short, a perfect model, one might think, of a sun.

Closer inspection, on the other hand, reveals that the Sunstone is a sun-in-a-bottle in the precise sense that a ship-in-a-bottle is not. Its crystalline surface is free of any of the discontinuities characterizing baryonic matter, because its surface is merely the topological defect bounding the dimensionally transcendent cystal universe within – a vast, encapsulated volume containing a true star as its sole inhabitant. The effects of the mass of the star does not cross this superficies into our parent universe, leaving the Sunstone almost weightless. Nor do the majority of the photons emitted by the star, deflected at right-angles to reality by some arcane means to fuel the mechanics of the axiomantic warp, with the convenient side-effect of making it possible to approach and manipulate the Sunstone with some degree of safety.

What is its purpose? Well, aside from its roles as experiment, proof-of-concept, and asírdaëlíthal for the gentlesophs of the Irreality Vault, I expect the principle role of the Sunstone will be to prove to exoarchaeologists of the future, gentle reader, that we have now equaled the Precursors in our ability to confuse, bemuse, and amuse.

– editorial, issue 394, “Scientific Progress Says What?

Eight Hells (1/4?)

Vice-Admiral Ardelli, TDMS Skybreaker, commanding TF 14. Battleship CAS Antithemis, carrier CAS Antinomos, escorting destroyers, reported moving out Lothell Bay steaming ESE. Suspect attempting transit Adessír Straits tomorrow at local dawn. Heavy weather over Lothell Is. makes it unlikely fly off air cover. All measures intercept and destroy. 1SL, Calmiríë.

Girls In Red Cloaks Beware

(In which I noodle around with wet navy designs from the closest to a WWII-equivalent period in ‘verse history.)

Ulricik Bancrach (“Hungry Wolf”)-class destroyer

Builders:

  • Ambriel Dock Guild & Company
  • Consolidated Selenarian Shipbuilding
  • Ethring Iron and Steam Works
  • Ryudailai Pier Shipbuilding Cooperatives
  • Telírvess Naval Yards
  • Tortelsvard Naval Arsenal

Displacement: 3,670 long tons (standard)

Length: 127.48 m
Beam: 12.32 m
Draft: 5.65 m

Propulsion:

  • 4 x Empire Nucleonics, ICC “Kirchev’s Kettle” nucleonic boilers, driving
    2×2 Blackstone Industries, ICC geared steam turbines (and auxiliary turbogenerator)

Speed: 44 knots
Range: Unlimited (6 year refueling interval)

Complement: 285 officers and men

Sensors:

  • Artifice Armaments, ICC, ASR-6/1 air search radar
  • Artifice Armaments, ICC, SSR-12 surface search radar
  • Hydrodyne Group Mk. 0/2 experimental hydrophones

Armament (Primary):

  • 6 x 6″ Imperial Navy Type Four dual-purpose gun;
    two single turrets (immediately forward of primary superstructure (A);
    immediately aft of secondary superstructure (Y));
    two twin turrets (fore (B) and aft (X) of primary superstructure, deck 01)
  • 18 x 18″ torpedo tubes in three stacked-hex turret mounts
    (bow, forward of A turret;
    in between primary and secondary superstructure;
    stern, aft of Y turret, elevated above depth-charge racks),
    firing 18″ low-signature LS/85 unguided torpedo with 292 kg high explosive warhead
  • 2 x 108 kg depth charge delivery racks (stern)

Armament (Secondary):

  • 3 x quad 36 mm Black Sky anti-air defense guns
    (one forward on primary superstructure, deck 02;
    two aft on secondary superstructure, deck 01, either side of mast/secondary director)
  • 12 x twin 24 mm Black Sky anti-air defense guns
    (two on bridge wings, deck 03;
    two forward on secondary superstructure, deck 01;
    remaining eight on main deck, four per side as space permits)

Armor:

  • Engineering space (engines and boilers): 0.75″ heavy steel plate
  • Pilothouse: 0.5″ heavy steel plate
  • Gun directors: 0.5″ heavy steel plate
  • Torpedo tube covers: 0.25″ heavy steel plate
  • Elsewhere: None

Designed during the middle years of the Third Oceanic Dominance, the Ulricik Bancrach-class destroyer was the second and most common¹ of the “modern” types of destroyer that would dominate the last great era of wet naval combat, specifically designed for the multiple roles of serving as protective screening forces for battleships and carriers (especially against air attack), of mounting deadly “wolf-pack” torpedo attacks against enemy forces during surface actions, and of addressing the then novel threat of the militarily effective submarine.

(A later ASW variant and refit of the class, as the need became more apparent, would replace the midships torpedo tubes with a pair of depth charge projectors.)

The name of the class comes ultimately from their flush deck construction² (that would later become near-ubiquitous in later designs around the time of the War of the Twelve Tyrants), eliminating all well decks³, reducing the overall height of the superstructure (divided into two, the swept-back forward superstructure accommodating the bridge tower and primary gun director, and a lower, one-deck secondary superstructure to aft surrounding the base of the tripod mast, carrying the radar and wireless antennae and the secondary gun director), and even eliminating the forecastle, which along with her slender dagger profile gave Ulricik Bancrach and her successors a particularly lean, prowling, hungry look relative to their contemporaries. The substantial increase in firepower over the preceding Sar Anpeng-class only added to this reputation.

The removal of the forecastle – although the flared bow was retained – combined with the weight of the forward armament – proved to detract unfortunately from the class’s seaworthiness in heavier weather. While at the time this was considered an acceptable compromise, with then-dominant doctrine calling for heavy salvoes of unguided torpedoes from destroyers squadrons, the advent of the guided torpedo tipped the balance back in favor of quality, and the Ulricik Bancrach-class ships in Imperial service were refitted to remove the forward torpedo mount in exchange for better seakeeping.

Serving through the remainder of the Third Oceanic Dominance and the War of the Twelve Tyrants, and with refits, upgrades, and successor classes based on their design continuing to fill out the squadrons of the IN into and through the Consolidation, the Ulricik Bancrach-class is perhaps the most iconic of all the destroyer classes commissioned by the Empire.


  1. 224 Ulricik Bancrach-class destroyers were commissioned, of which 148 served on the Upperside and 76 on the Underside.
  2. It should be borne in mind that, using nucleonic propulsion as they tended to, Imperial steamship designs near-universally lacked smokestacks.
  3. Meaning here the older usage of decks lower than those fore and aft of them (e.g., between a forecastle and full-width superstructure, or between such a superstructure and a poop deck).

Curiously Enough, This Came Before Software

contract module: To avoid both unnecessary repetition, and to avoid the additional labor of poring over the mass of said repetition in search of differences from the commonplace form, Imperial contract law has long embraced the use of contract modules, sets of predefined and referenceable clauses and specifications to address specific issues within the contract in standardized manners, controlled by equally standardized variables introduced at the beginning of the contract. A variety of contract modules are available covering matters as disparate as arbitration, assignment and transfer, choice of law, confidentiality, delivery, escrow, execution, force majeure, notice, translation, waiver, and indeed allow for many more areas in which the obligator and his client may choose to rely on existing, well-established terms for a specific scope, with which terms they are already thoroughly acquainted.

Agabanda: In common use, this references the largest collection of form contracts and contract modules in common usage, more properly known as Agabanda’s Compleat Obligator: Form Contracts and Modules for the Practical Contractor, published in annual volumes by Academy of the Quill and Coils Press. Citations from Agabanda are typically given by volume, chapter, and number.

Wistio interpretation: (from it’s establishing case, Wistio Automatics v. Ryudailai Pier Eleven Shipbuilding Cooperative) A rule of interpretation for modular contracts specifying that, for the avoidance of doubt, clauses and specifications from any and all relevant invoked contract modules shall override any clauses and specifications found within the contract itself, except where the intent for the base contract to override the module is explicitly stated in the clause or specification in question. The function of the Wistio rule, if examined from that angle, is to ensure the usability of contract modules by preventing situations of uncertainty from arising in which invoked contract modules and the base contract contradict each other without clear statement of which has legal priority.

One exception to the Wistio rule of interpretation (established by the later case, Jacaranda Graving Company v. City of Dal Épareil) is that strict sectioning clauses or contract modules may not be overridden by any clause or specification not given at the point of invocation of the module itself, since to require the study of the entire contract (and all its referenced modules) in order to determine whether or not the strict sectioning rules apply as given vitiates the essential purpose of the strict sectioning clause or module itself.

strict sectioning: A strict sectioning provision (or contract module – most typically referenced as Agabanda IV/1/3) within a contract provides that (a) the contract is divided into sections whose scope is limited to a particular function, or aspect, of the contract, defined by the heading of that section; and that (b) any clause or specification located in a section other than that to which it applies is automatically null and void as out of scope. In this way, one may be assured, when reviewing the contract, that all provisions relevant to one’s use-case are found in their appropriate sections, and one need not hunt through the entire document for hidden traps, buried clauses, or counter-illegibility assurance.

– Salvarin’s Dictionary of Legal Principles

Transfragging

Transfragging is the use of a weaponized translocation device to destroy a target, most commonly by interpenetration (i.e., translocating an object to within another, preexisting, object), but the term is also used to refer to simply using the translocator to transmit bombs or other weapons to within a given target.

Since all known or even theoretically possible translocation devices either make use of wormholes or similar metric warps, or alternatively obey the principle of equivalent spatial exchange, and in both cases require a cooperative receiver, transfragging is for all intents and purposes not possible.

Don’t spread it about, though. Belief in the possibility keeps lots of weapons designers in unhealthy places from working on anything that might actually be dangerous.

– Once Again I Have Been Thwarted: Hopeless Ambitions for Budding Evil Geniuses, Bad Stuff Press (8135)

Not-Earth

(Note: this is not canon. But every time someone wants to know when the humans are going to turn up and acquire some suitably starring role in the narrative, it gets a little closer to being canon, y’know?

…assuming I do not just go ahead and canonize the notion that in this universe, Pseudoeldrae archaea was literally the only member of The Genus Otherwise Known As Homo and all greenlife originates from the homeworld of Equus amica. I am, after all, one of those temperamental artistes.)

ORIGIN ASTROCOORD // FARHORIZ // CSS BEYOND THE PALE
CONTACT MORBID CONTACT MORBID

This is a KALPA NIGHTFALL ALERT, profiled as POSSIBLE LOW ENERGY (GWYATH 7-) SOFT CIV-KILL EVENT. Patterned electromagnetic emissions placing system on evaluation schedule ceased at ~-140 years mission inbound time.

Event coordinates are approximately 230 light-orbits from proposed SPICE WAY site TRANSVEIL, star system designated IGS 170-4138294. System primary is G2V-class dwarf, sustaining a system of eight planets, the four outer being gas or ice giants. Of note, the sixth planet in the system maintains an unusually prominent ring system. Of the four lithic worlds in the system, the fourth is a eutalentic-class with potential and the second and third both sialhain-type glass-garden worlds, dry and wet respectively.

Third planet is classified as ANOMALOUS due to rare double-planet formation; unusually high level of hydrocarbons and C/HC/HCO-breakdown products in atmosphere (determined by remote spectrographic analysis); unusually high level of residual radioactivity; ring of metallic debris in planetary orbit; detection of metallic debris/potential structures on airless secondary body. This planet is designated as most probable source of prior patterned electromagnetic emissions.

No attempts to contact the far horizon probe were made. Contact signals were transmitted on all designated frequences to no response. No biosignatures or technosignatures were detected by passive sensing or active scanning.

Recommendation: promote to EYEBALL and CORTÈGE PILLAGER for further study, routine priority. In absence of remnant biosignatures or technosignatures, no further action required. Mission continues.

ENDS.

High-Trust Society

CALMIRÍË, ELIÉRA – The cancellation of next year’s expected state visit of President Ostrid Nallen of the United Viridian States was announced today by Subrector Quíëlle Oliviscios of the Office of Foreign Wanderers, stating only that the cancellation had come at the request of the States after the Empire had regrettably been unable to fulfil all the necessary requests of the States regarding President Nallen’s visit.

The documentation provided to the OFW by the States, however, included a lengthy list of security requirements, including but not limited to exclusive use of the Ilinth Altaport during his visit, along with closure of other starports, skyways, and highways near his entourage’s transit routes, similarly exclusive use or restrictions on simultaneous public use of visited facilities including restaurants, hotels, and even potentially-used hospitals, and, of course, special police powers to be provided to the providers this ostentatious security perimeter. Obviously, as ultra vires powers outwith the scope of the Charter, such requirements are impossible to fulfil.

Asked for comment, sources close to the rector of the OFW reminded this publication of the famous statement made by Alphas I Amanyr, “The gates of my House shall be open to all.”1, and of the long-standing custom of the Imperial family of not placing boundaries between themselves and their people, adding that inasmuch as Alphas and his successors deemed both it appropriate and themselves sufficiently secure in walking the streets of their capital accompanied only by a few discreet Imperial Guardsmen, it would do little for the repute of the Viridianite presidency in the eyes of the citizen-shareholders to refuse to appear without a small army insulating them from any contact with the world.


  1. The Imperial Palace has, in addition to the Supreme Portal, nine gates, all of which have only ever been closed – even in time of war – as part of a scheduled test by the Office of the Palace to make sure that they can close. (It means very little to leave open a gate which cannot close, after all.)

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]

Notes:

  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.