Although Most Designs Are Poly

Ascíël coupler: the standard design, in modular habitat and starship architecture, for the coupler that binds adjacent modules into a single unit.

For such semi-permanent connections on a large scale, simple docking adapters are obviously unsuitable; tidal forces and other stresses common in large structures may cause a simple docking adapter to be stressed sufficiently to separate over time, and starship-level thrust applied to a modular design would cause near-immediate failure.

A variety of designs (often based on existing railroad couplers) were tried to prevent this while also avoiding the expense, wasted time, and potential damage involved in bolting or welding additional reinforcement onto the modules, with varying degrees of success, eventually converging on the modern Ascíël coupler.

The Ascíël coupler, as defined in IOSS 64212, makes use of the IUSI androgynous docking adapter (as defined in IOSS 52114) to achieve initial connection. (As such, it too comes in the three there-defined standard sizes.)

Once hard dock has been achieved, the surrounding coupler engages a nested pair of counterrotating helical screws, which intertwine from each side of the coupler to form a solid bond between the modules. Once the screws have advanced to the fully engaged position, twelve locking rods (six per screw, three being managed by each coupler) are electromagnetically released and are forced by springs into their extended position through holes in the screws, preventing them from rotating and thus from working loose over time.

When fully engaged, an Ascíël coupler has an effective strength equivalent to that of the surrounding module hull.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

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

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

The Truth Is In Here

True Tales of the Worlds: Recently selected as the Least Truthful Newsbytes for the 69th year in succession, True Tales of the Worlds is the Associated Worlds’ longest-running comedic-speculation journal, memetic experiment, and/or example of untreated delusions. Having recently turned 4,000, we present here a selection of recent headlines, all of which, we feel, live up to the standard set by the front-page story of their first ever issue, “Holy Shit, Planets Actually Spherical”.

  • Alleged Leytra Star Just a Blue-White Hallucination
  • Three-Ended Wormhole Discovered: Duplicates Expedition
  • Dropped Comet Made of Cheese: Colonists Surprised, But Surprisingly Delicious
  • Every Star Nation Secretly Ruled by Lizard People (Except the Empire of the Lizard People)
  • Empire of the Lizard People Secretly Ruled by Different Lizard People
  • Transportation Cartel Cover-Up – Galaxy Only Twelve Million Miles Across!
  • Many-Colored Shooting Stars Expected After Explosion of Candy Freighter
  • Universe Not Hollow, Claims Scientist, And We Live On The Outside
  • Giant Space Yeast Found In Beer Nebula
  • Giant Space Yeast More Awesome Than Giant Space Amoeba, Scientists Agree
  • Panspermia: Space Currents or Self-Pleasuring Deity? Very-Large-Baseline Images You Won’t Believe!
  • Conclave Votes To Raise Luminal Limit
  • Let My People Go, Ring Dynamics!: Interview With a Giant Space Worm
  • Lord Blackfall Converting Sun To Private Hyperyacht, Threatens ‘Global Warming’
  • Precursor Artifact Found in Public ‘Fresher: Scientists Now Searching For ‘Hyperspace Poop Moon’
  • Sen Shari Demands Hope Hegemony Dye ‘Eyesore’ Nebula
  • League Treasury Buys Three-Ended Wormhole, Pays Half Price
  • Plans to Soft-Land Moon of Sedria in Original Location Move Forward, Citing Benefits to Science, Tourism
  • Vordon’s Empty: “Detuned Heterodynes” Hire All The Mercenaries As Roadies For Upcoming Galactic Tour
  • Eye-of-Night Spontaneously Emits Mint ’53 Atomo: Science Team Takes Rocket Ride
  • Mermaids Make First Contact, Protest Moon-Landing Plans
  • Eels! Why?

If you are currently asking yourself why, consider the True Tales‘ never-changed masthead:

“The Truth Shall Enrich”

– A Star Travelers’ Dictionary

Why Did I Do That?

Of the various forms of mind control available today, the most subtle and horrible is that of overshadowing.

Overshadowing occupies the middle ground between full possession – in which the invading mind replaces or suppresses the host mind, which is either destroyed or unconscious during the period of possession; and black puppeteering, in which control is asserted at the sensory/motor interfaces, and in which the host is conscious (although not necessarily receiving sensory input) but rendered unable to act.

Sophotechnology recognizes that virtually all forms of cognition function as a society of mind, in which a variety of mental routines, from the primary personality down through subpersonalities, archetypes, self-and-other models, and mere invoked talents interact to create the mentality entire. Selfness – the location of primary executive function – migrates during mental processing between these routines, with that most apt to handle the present situation taking a foreground role under, in healthy minds, the guidance of the primary personality.

Overshadowing functions by introducing one or more additional viral routines (similar to a gnostic overlay) into this chorus, which can take control in unguarded moments and carry out its programmed functions while making full use of its host’s memory base, invoked talents, and in sophisticated examples, even higher-level routines to determine ways and means.

The true horror of this is seen after the fact: in conscious sophonts, the consciousness loop functions as a journal file recording and organizing mental processing into a self-narrative, and such consciousness loops assume that all mental processing is legitimate mental processing. As the cliché goes, you can’t perceive that you’re insane. As such, from the conscious perspective, the host perceives the actions of the viral routine as their own, and will weave them into their self-narrative with such post-hoc rationalizations as are required to make them fit.

As such, while no civilized polity would hold an individual ethically responsible for actions taken while overshadowed, it is often very difficult to persuade overshadowing victims that this is the case, especially since secondary mental structures may have formed to support the rationalizations, leaving behind motivations for a given behavior even after the viral routine which initiated in the past has been removed. For this reason, treatment is a lengthy process requiring sophisticated mind-state analysis, preferably including differential analysis against pre-infection backups.

– Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed.

The Lover of Money

“How do you make money, the symbol of exchange-value, properly match the actuality of exchange-value? Every civilization struggles with that, except the ones who give up and treat the mismatch as an opportunity to steal from the future… But it turns out that creating a liminal hyperintelligence that indwells your currency such that it can regulate its own value from a fiscally omniscient perspective works modestly well. Once people come to terms with the notion of spending tiny particles of god, anyway.”

Rilia Cheraelar, Economist Excellence,
on Aurifer, the Fiscal Mind

The Sleepers’ Deal

The third Cirys sphere in the known galaxy, unless you count the one the Photonic Network have under construction, is to be found in an unconnected system, perhaps twenty light-orbits to nadir of the Qulomna Maze. A computronium matrioshka, this is the “homeworld” of the Sleeper Estivation, one of the better-known of the elder races. Not that that’s saying much.

It can even be visited. There’s a dedicated lighthugger route out of Empta (Qulomna Maze)along which Equivalent Exchange makes a run every fifty years. At no charge to her typical half-dozen or so passengers, moreover – the crew are paid well in high-level computation or fragments of forgotten lore, enough to make them wealthy beyond the dreams of antimatter merchants.

And why would you want to take five decades out of your life to visit it? Well, because the Estivation has an offer for you. No strings attached.

They will tune your mind. Submit a copy of your mind-state to the Sleepers, and they will return you better. Able to think faster, and more clearly, creatively, intuitively, incisively. More perfectly attuned to your goals. The you that you wish you were. (People have investigated many of these copies for hidden traps over the centuries, and none have ever been found.) And finally, since it’s a copy, not a live edit, you don’t have to replace yourself with the new, improved you unless you think it really is an improvement.

Everyone does, of course. The Sleepers are very good at what they do.

And the price? Ah, there’s the catch — you let them keep a copy of you.

Hopeless optimists like to think the Sleepers are bored and lonely, and want company in their virtuality. Less naïve souls assume that the mind-states are being strip-mined for knowledge about the state of the galaxy, amusing memories, or software components. Or, if you listen to the cynical, there’s nothing to say that they aren’t being used in societum simulations, as sophont gamepieces or creativity farms, turned into infovore chow, or brute-force simulated across a trillion death-cubes by postsophont scientists caring nothing for lesser minds.

But then, that’s someone else’s debt to pay now, isn’t it?