Worldbuilding: Sail Plans

Taking a brief moment to hand out a random factlet, let us turn from space navy to wet navy. Old school wet navy.

Did you know that the most widely used rig back in the days of sail, especially by the Alatian fleet, the largest both mercantile and military and which went on to form the core of the Imperial fleet, was a variation on what on Earth is called the junk rig?

(Well, no, you didn’t, because I’ve only just told you. It was a rhetorical question.)

Using bamboo battens and silk sailcloth, even, for a very Eastern flavor for the Earth reader.

The chief experimenters with alternate rigs and modifications to the standard junk rig were the actual Alatian Navy, principally because the major flaw in the junk rig is its difficulty in sailing close-hauled (i.e., close to into the wind), but in contrast, it’s exceedingly efficient at sailing with the wind, and requires – always a consideration – a rather smaller crew to manage it than a typical western rig.

With careful attention to hull design, too, the eventual junk-rigged clippers and windjammers of the Alatian merchant fleet ruled the ocean trade up to, and even into, the steam era: as their sailors would cheerfully point out, the trade winds were very reliable, and given that, that a good rig could deliver as much or more power than steam could, and also that it didn’t require all that fuel taking up space that could contain earning cargo kept the sailships in business, and in many cases those which carried steam engines used them as an auxiliary power source only, for when the wind failed.

(Why this digression into nautical history? I have no idea. But I found it an interesting piece of the universe, and so I wrote it down.)

Cultural Crossovers #15: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Yay, it’s these guys again!

  • Quill’s parents, we presume. Along with a very large violation of ecological safety practices.
  • Well, that’s a weird way of assembling planets into a megastructure. Wonder what the point is, apart from saying “we can make gravity our bitch?” Although that kind of is a point.
  • Ah, Rocket. Your adventurer-fu is strong. And, hey, you never know when another dance-off might be needed.
  • Well, that’s a whole pile of ugly.
  • Groot: Still adorable. Still trolling Drax. We approve. The space-rat riding is new, but we agree with that too.
  • Drax: still insane.
  • You guys sure love gold, huh?
  • Well, hello, Nebula.
  • Rocket, while we agree with your assessment, you’ve got to have a —
  • Okay, I’m pretty sure doing a “bit of both” wasn’t supposed to be at the same time.
  • Wow, you’re not just understanding but actually constructing metaphors now?
  • Well, that’s an interesting way to control your space fleet. Do they keep the high scores somewhere?
  • Quantum asteroids? Unlikely, but cool concept.
  • Drax: even insaner.
  • You have interesting-looking jump points.
  • $10 says Drax wants another go.
  • …called it.
  • At least it waited until you were done crashing to fall off.
  • Well, that’s a remarkably nondescriptive name.
  • Hey, it’s Yondu!
  • Hm. Ravagers have a code, mythos, a notion of exile. Hmm. Tell us more, plz.
  • Oooh. Nice nano-make-shit spray. Or nano-make-ship spray, in this case.
  • Cool-lookin’ egg-ship.
  • Drax, I don’t think that was a secret to anyone.
  • Oh, this ambush will not go well, if I know Rocket.
  • Yeah, I know Rocket. And the soundtrack makes it.
  • …but then there’s Yondu and his knife missile.
  • Wow, some of these guys came out of the shallow end of the gene pool.
  • Oh, Kraglin. Bad call.
  • Nice-looking planet, Ego. Presumably very much a product of ecopoesis, gravity being what it is.
  • Well, small g, maybe, but you’ve built a hell of a temple-museum to yourself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Yeah, that does look like mutiny. Traditional spacings and all.
  • Isn’t ‘metaphorical’ a bit too large a word for you, Taserface?
  • Taserface.
  • Quite the sense of revenge you’ve got there, huh, Nebula.
  • Sniff. Playing catch with the light-ball is all kinds of touching. But the other shoe has to be dropping any moment.
  • And that seems likely to be it.
  • “Too adorable to kill”, really?
  • Shit, he’s a champion asshole.
  • Not very clear on this, Groot – which is odd considering your language skills elsewhere. But evidently he picked up on Rocket’s love of body parts.
  • Now that’s a much better call.
  • Damn, but Yondu’s good with that thing. That’s friggin’ war-poetry, right there.
  • Oh, now that’s just showing off.
  • Love the incendiary mode. And that’s an impressive – if an expensive – use of a modular ship.
  • Y’know, it generally helps to speak of unspoken things. We find. As a rule.
  • And Gamora, as expected, cuts the matter to the heart.
  • Man, that ship gets crashed a lot.
  • Okay, how the hell is she even holding that gun? Damn thing must be made of spinmetal and aerogel.
  • Thanos has a lot to answer for.
  • Hey, making weird shit sounds good. Actually, it seems like a much better use of divinity than Ego’s starting to preach.
  • (Also, Mantis and Drax are adorable and bizarre.)
  • …that is a lot of corpses. And seeing as Ego is the entire damn planet and is keeping them inside him, dear gods, is that creepifying.
  • Now that was a heart-to-heart.
  • Oh, holy crapballs, you’re a class II hegemonizing swarm.
  • Beyond such things as friends? Killing the woman you loved so you wouldn’t be distracted by her? You are the worst god ever. And considering the competition for that slot…
  • Well, given that you want to turn everything in the universe into you, it’s not like he’d have been spending the next thousand years as anything else anyway.
  • Any chance you assembled a planet-killer bomb from that guy’s eye, Rocket? Would be handy about now.
  • Yeah, it’s actually quite surprising that you don’t have a lot more issues.
  • Hell, if you need that thing to get in, I’m impressed with the security of the Bank of A’askavaria. Beautifully flexible, though.
  • It’s cute that the Sovereign go to the trouble of projecting their faces on the AKVs they’re piloting just so you can see who’s killing you.
  • Or, y’know, you could just improvise a planet-cracker on the spot. That’s cool. Hey, can we hire you?
  • Oh, god, everyone’s going to die.
  • Drax: still a troll.
  • Good gods, what was powering that arm? Was it designed so you could tear it off and throw it as a grenade? (I mean, knowing Thanos, yes, but still.)
  • Also, that entire planet has a terrible case of resting bitch face.
  • Um, a sane, decent, loving one?
  • If you two are all there is, what else is he going to do for fun?
  • Pretty sure he can. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s obligatory. Bugger destiny anyway.
  • Just about any of the infinity of possible meanings. You’re a heggie swarm. Boring and meaningless are among the top concepts associated with heggie swarms.
  • And by some miracle, Groot doesn’t kill everyone.
  • (I wish the people in this hypothetical theater would get all the nuances of the Pac-Man joke.)
  • Not sure Star-Lord is ever going to be just like everybody else. He’s got you out-awesomed for a start, Mister Celestial.
  • The audience rises and salutes Yondu’s final sacrifice. If they could, they’d vote him into Valhalla unanimously.
  • And are delighted that the Ravagers agree.
  • Oops.
  • Okay, are those guys getting a spin-off of their own in which they steal some shit? Please?
  • More rigidity of the stick up his butt, too?
  • (Probably lacking most of the context for teenage Groot too, alas.)

A Sticky Solution

SECRET YELLOW / EYES ONLY OMRD

PROJECT TAR BABY

PROPOSAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted for your consideration,

Vidal Amnestrianos

for and on behalf of

Firefly Aerospace, ICC

A Modest Recommendation

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

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

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

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

Location, Location, Location

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Yet More

The two kinds of night…

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

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


…the two natures of power…

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

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


…the three kinds of loyalty…

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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