Fanfiction Policy

(The answer to a question asked on the Eldraeverse Discord, copied here since not everyone follows the Eldraeverse Discord.)

Fanfiction policy: Well, first, I’m rather gratified to discover that I need a fanfiction policy…

1. I don’t have any objection to fanfiction per se . Content-wise, however, I would like to politely request that fanfic writers write in, or respect,  the spirit of the original work and characters, and somewhat less politely request, for the love of gods, spare us badly-written porn. Apart from that, feel free to enjoy yourselves.

2. If publishing it anywhere people other than you can see it, please include (a) a disclaimer that it is fanfic, (b) a link to the original Eldraeverse site, and (c) a note that it is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, non-commercial fiction. You also specifically grant me all rights to reuse any or all elements of it that I might wish to, such that in the event that I stumble across it on the Internet or just happen to write something similar in future, you can’t sue me.

3. If talking about it on the Discord, please do so in the #fanfic channel to avoid confusion.

Thank you for your co-operation.


Notice to Querents

Okay. I regret having to do this, because by and large I enjoy engaging with my readers and satisfying their curiosity, but —

I am, as of now, declaring a complete, conclusive, and perpetual moratorium on all “gotcha” questions. (I am not providing a definition, because definitions can be gamed; if you think it’s one, it probably is.) This is because endless nitpicking of edge cases in legal, ethical, and social systems are – whether or not it’s intentional – turning my openness into an Internet comments section on a political web site, and are about as enjoyable to engage with as an Internet comments section on a political web site. This is, obviously, rather toxic to my creativity, mood, and digestion, even leaving aside that most readers, I believe, would rather that I wrote new stuff rather than reciting Space Libertarianism 101.

Other questions – even on legal and ethical issues – continue to be welcome, but you may feel free to assume that in this particular area, if an outcome seems Obviously Bloody Stupid, that it doesn’t work that way in the absence of citeable canon evidence that it does without needing me to explain to you exactly how.

That is all, and this change in policy is not up for debate.


Next Question Batch

So today I was catching up on another work I’ve been following on another site, and one of the chapters reminded me of some of the discussions we (all, collectively) have had about the UBI / Citizen’s Dividend here.

(Click through to read and scroll down to the bit starting “Welcome, XIAOTING, LI.”.)

What would the eldrae think of the ethics of implementing a UBI “with strings attached” as portrayed in that excerpt there?

In their own context, that’s unconstitutional at least twice over. (Since I’ve published the Charter on here, determining exactly which ways are left as an exercise for the reader.)

In other people’s context? Well, what position do you think the self-designated Freest of the Free have on jerking people around with conditioned promises?

(Or, for that matter, calling something Universal when it patently isn’t? If you want to bribe people into good behavior – or even listening to your homilies on good behavior – hire and pay ’em. Don’t try and dress up bullshit as beefsteak.)

While reviewing some of our older discussions, I re-read this line from a still older post:

>What possible use is there for a [nuclear] bomb that completely obliterates the economic value of whatever you’re fighting over?

Which prompted the idle thought: What would the Imperial military think of a military from another culture (like, say, *here*) where “countervalue” ( ) is considered an acceptable strategy, and is explicitly so named?

To remind the groundlings, that was one person’s comment at the time that the nucleonic device was invented (“for purely peaceful purposes”).

It may also be useful at this point to summarize the general position of the Imperial Military Service on such things, which amounts to:

“Even at their best, countervalue strikes are ungentlesophly, and have no place in civilized warfare.


“Regrettably, however, we aren’t always fighting civilized wars with gentlesophs – indeed, if anything, zakhrehain are now in the majority – which poses something of a problem. There are plenty of idiot savages out there with rulers willing to accept military losses as the cost of doing business, especially where asymmetrism and the like are concerned, and in many of those cases, zorching a city may be necessary to remind them that there are unacceptable losses; the kiloton-of-prevention-is-worth-a-gigaton-of-cure approach. Fortunately, most of these rulers have a populace of foamy-brained fanatics backing them, so at least most of your collateral budget won’t be what you might call strictly innocent.

“And then there’s seredhain, of course.”

So, while to a certain degree it’s in how you use it, you may expect them, as a rule of thumb, to be unimpressed with anyone who prefers countervalue as a strategy.

Does the Empire maintain any “class 5” biohazard facilities i.e., biohazards capable of intelligently working to escape?

Don’t they call those “prisons”? 🙂

The safest way to contain those sorts of things, of course, is to rip a mind-state and genetic reconstruction profile, then split them into one-third XORs and file them at three of the Aeon Pit facilities. Where that’s not possible… well, there are certain facilities located out in the deep black, where frozen-down entities are kept strapped to antimatter charges. Or that’s what I’ve heard. Speculation, y’know.

…or there’s always the Eft Sédir Containment Facility, out at Eye of Night. You can’t beat a gravity prison over a black hole for security – if anyone looks to be escaping, just cut the skyhook, and it’s a one-way trip to oblivion.

(Freight Containers)

What’s the mass of these containers when empty?

Do they have a standard loading mass? What about stacking height under standard gravity / thrust? A big part of the containers here is that they’re rated for stacking and you need to load them at less than labeled gross mass.

A regular 4B08 masses around 1,800 kg empty; loads 31,400 kg net. As for stacking height – you can stack them up to twelve high under standard gravity, as a rule of thumb, but gravity of course varies and thrust varies even more.

(Of course, if you have a vector-control core to evenly spread change in momentum out across your entire starship, the containers don’t feel relative acceleration and you can stack them as “high” as you want, so long as the mass will hold together under non-thrust stresses and you don’t mass-out or bulk-out the ship in the process.)

What’s the Eldrae radiation safety limit structure look like. I’m guessing that they’ve got more biological tolerance than humans due to environment and immortality, also pretty sure that they didn’t get sidetracked into believing the linear-no-threshold model. Much of our reactor design (especially in the later designs) is predicated on minimizing radiation exposure at all costs. If you can tolerate coal-plant-in-Denver levels of radiation exposure without batting an eye it makes much of the containment design easier.

It’s complicated, as you might imagine, because of various interacting factors, which don’t necessarily affect all types of radiation in the same way. I haven’t computed it in detail yet, but my rough rule of thumb is that at the low end of the curve, you can double, as a guesstimate, the acute and chronic exposure dose for a given effect, and end up in roughly the right ballpark. It doesn’t hold as well at the high end.

Where things get particularly complex is with an immune and self-repair system built for immortality, and it’s effects on say, cancer, or as it’s known there, the small rot. Effectively, if it hasn’t suffered a huge insult, that immune system will pretty much shrug off even minor tumors, or even larger ones if the main body is cut out; only chronic exposure that drives them metastatic (the wandering rot) is likely to actually kill you.

So there aren’t lifetime limits because you can’t damage yourself permanently with chronic low exposure; just exposure-per-time limits to ensure that you don’t push your body beyond the point at which it can no longer repair itself.

(As for all the various names attached to the small rot? Well, those are because a lot of people had, before there were proper measuring devices available, the habit of pushing themselves until the first symptoms of blue-blotch fever (named for the easy bruising that’s often an early sign of chronic radiation syndrome) appeared, then taking a lengthy sabbatical to recover away from nucleonic furnaces and the like, then going back to do it again… and again… and again…)

The Pronouns of Pros

(Loosely inspired by a G+ post in which I contemplate trying to phrase Eldraeic self-concepts into Japanese pronouns and honorifics: I went with a baseline of watakushi-sama, if you’re curious.)

Did you know (you did not) that archaic – or bearing in mind that it’s a deliberately designed language, prototype – Eldraeic had no first-person pronoun? All self-references had to be done through illeism, with name, title, epithet, or some combination of the former.


The Great and Powerful Trixie approves of this!

“I” was just too damn self-effacing, don’ch’know; a puny pronoun unsuited to the truly magnificent magisterial awesomeness of – well, any one of us, really. Pronouns, after all, are substitutable; individuals are very much not.

(It’s also handy when it comes to matters of valëssef, since your choice of name, title, or epithet to use lets people know which of your facets you are manifesting at the present time, without resorting to wearing masks Chresytanri-style.)

Even third-person pronouns were typically replaced by names when referring to people, for reasons of respect and because by the same principle, it lets the person addressed know which of their facets is being addressed.

Second-person pronouns were… best avoided, really.

Modern Eldraeic, however, does have a first-person pronoun (val), usable in casual speech to save time, but much like the third-person, it’s an assignable variable; it’s customary to illeize when you first speak, and on all subsequent valëssef shifts, to let people track the changes. Third person usage has tracked this change in approximately the same way.

No-one will find it particularly strange if you go full illeist, though. It just moves you into an extra-formal register.


Cultural Crossovers #7: Iron Man 3

Don’t really have to say anything at this point, do I?

  • Nice “you know who I am” badge.
  • Ooh, nanoficus.
  • Less cool: exploding ficus.
  • JARVIS continues to be best house brain.
  • Your R&D process really looks unnecessarily painful.
  • See, now folks like this asshole is why the King of All Known Space sometimes orders the King’s New Glass Marina.
  • (Also, War Machine was so much better as a name.)
  • Post-traumatic stress sucks; and while the audience recognizes it, they’re from a culture that is very predisposed to repress the hell out of it. (Which is why the Imperial Military Service spends so much time and effort watching for, guarding against, and dealing with it.) ((And as honers of the will to a razor edge, those cases that do show up are exactly this bad.))
  • And for the record, both they and I think it was handled very well.
  • Nice holoballs. (“Conversation balls”, as we call ’em.)
  • The empty slots in the brain really sound different to a species that actually was designed.
  • Well, someone’s not solved the nanocyborg waste heat problem. (To reference a recent discussion: catching fire and then exploding is exactly what happens to people who get overenthusiastic about the extrinsic power sources. If you want high energy, go metal.)
  • Damn, that’s some degree of control. (Also, no anti-air defenses, Tony? We would have thought that you’d have thought of that.)
  • …they killed Dummy and Butterfingers? Someones need to die. A lot.
  • (And we really hope Jarvis is a fully distributed system.)
  • We applaud you, kid. You have… potential.
  • Dear media networks: your security systems are a giant ball of suck. I mean, seriously. Kids with a My First Firewall kit could follow this act.
  • Yeah, that is a terrible password. It’s also fairly terrible to be using a password.
  • Ease back there, fanboy. A little dignity, please.
  • … well, of course they have a decoy schmuck.
  • Killian, your personnel policies are all kinds of terrible.
  • Pretty sure a flamethrower – even an implanted flamethrower – is better than the potential of, y’know, exploding.
  • Ah, the Vice-President has a sympathetic motivation. Which, in Imperial terms, means he’s earned a pistol with one shot left overnight in his cell in between arraignment and trial for treason.
  • Now that’s a rescue back in the proper form!
  • Autonomous mode for the win.
  • You gave them all individual names? Awww.
  • Oh, shit.
  • …but best not-actually-resurrection ever. Damn, Pepper. Nicely done.
  • And the audience delivers multiple standing ovations for that series of endings, which cap things off exquisitely.
  • (Especially the salvaged robot arms.)

Yeah. Just… yeah. Works perfectly. Both on its own merits, and because, in a different way to Captain America, Iron Man is exactly the kind of hero they write stories about.


A Proposal For Every Century

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

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

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

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


To The Moon!

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


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

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

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

Length: 42.2 m, of which:

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

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

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

Personnel: 2 required, as follows:

Flight Commander
Flight Director/Engineer

Accommodates 6 further mission specialists.

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

Drones: Simple automation only.


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

Weapons: None, unless you count the drive.

Other systems:

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

Small craft: None.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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