FAQ

(Still under slow construction; expect gaps.)

The Author

So, who are you anyway?

I’m a 44-year-old (as of the time of writing) married man, formerly English, currently living in Wichita, KS. I write speculative fiction – which since you’re here, I presume you know – set in a universe which arrived in my head one day and demanded to be written down.

I also enjoy a good rare steak, single malt Scotch, bourbon, software, 3D printing, electronics, transhumanism, dogs of moderate to large floof-quotient, Xbox gaming, science fiction (obviously), pastel ponies, and sitting around contemplating how awesome I am.

(Is this the sort of thing people want to know? I have no idea…)

You’re pretty arrogant, aren’t you?

This is true.

And you have no respect!

This is also true.

The Books

So what books have you written?

These.

What’s cannon?

A big metal tube that fires projectiles, but that’s not important right now.

Okay, smartass, what’s canon?

Only things printed in actual published books or e-books are strictly considered canon. Any fiction or worldbuilding articles posted to the blog that haven’t been published in said books is probably canon, but I and my lovely editor reserve the right to change things before printing that we need to.

Anything else, including but not limited to tropes, answers to questions, comments, replies to comments, e-mails, things the author said on Discord, or psychic messages from the Adepts of North Polar Jupiter is deuterocanonical at best and subject to the author having a better idea at any time.

The Associated Worlds

How big are the Associated Worlds?

They’re an oblate spheroid about 3,300 light-years core to rim, 4,100 light-years spinward to trailing, and 2,000 light-years (i.e., the thickness of the galactic plane) acme to nadir. This volume contains approximately 100,000,000 stars, with maybe 10,000 systems connected to the stargate plexus. (The gaps will be filled in later on; in the initial expansion, stargate nexuses were concentrated around things that look “interesting”.)

This does not include the Voniensa Republic, which contains roughly 8,000 systems, rather more tightly woven together; while the Worlds touches the whole width of the galactic arm it is in, the Republic only crosses around a third of it.

How far into the future is this? Is there a timeline around anywhere?

See here.

The Empire

Isn’t this setting a bit Utopian?

No, this setting is ridiculously Utopian.

As I said once, this is what happens when people read the Mary Suetopia and Sugar Bowl pages on TV Tropes, and then say to themselves, “This is right, this is true, this is beautiful. This is how the universe ought to work.” Then set out to, with hard work and rational thinking, make it so – at least locally, with global ambitions.

Why? Because I’ve read too many bloody depressing books in which People are Terrible and Everything Sucks More In The Future. I wanted to write something where the forces of progress, liberty, harmony, and awesome people being awesome are, if not victorious, very much in the ascendant.

Fanfiction

What’s your fanfiction policy?

Well, first, I note that I was rather gratified to discover that I needed 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 ‘verse Discord, please do so in the #fanfic channel to avoid confusion.

I heard you wrote some fanfiction of your own work?

That I did. It’s Friendship is Sufficiently Advanced, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic crossover, and can be found here.

Ponies, seriously?

Yes, because they’re philosophically compatible universes.

But —

If you have a problem with it, don’t read it. If you have a problem with it and you just can’t resist the urge to bring it up to me, you’ll be banished to the moon. And if your problem with it is the “but it’s for giiiirls!” thing, you won’t get benefit of vacuum suit, either.

Some Things That Are So Very Done

…and therefore need not be done again.

INSERT TECHNOLOGY HERE isn’t hard SF.

That’s because the Eldraeverse isn’t hard SF. It’s firm SF.

For our purposes, that means that known physics is obeyed, but I get to embrace and extend it so long as my extensions conform with the correspondence principle, and so long as I also stick to the One Big Lie principle – i.e., that all the “space magic” is an outgrowth of the same family of effects, even if it’s a pretty big one.

Which I do.

There are these physics issues with the high-velocity, tiny-bullet model of guns you use…

Sigh.

Yeah, I know. Even though they never have been (in either case) the sand grains at near-c they’ve been flanderized to be, back in the design phase – as reflected in early usage – I made the same error the Mass Effect writers did. And it’s a bit late to do anything about it now, seeing as it’s published canon.

So… let’s just say that they’re a little bit bigger and slower than they might have been, and pay no attention to the hand waving behind the curtain, m’kay?

You never – well, hardly ever – give hard numbers.

You see the last question and its answer? That’s why.

If I leave myself some breathing room, with a bit of luck, I won’t need another ugly retcon.

Wormholes don’t work that way!

Actually, they do: the wormholes work exactly the way physics says they ought to. What you mean is that stargates don’t work that way – which difference is explained by the techniques stargates use to inflate wormholes on demand (briefly, stargates use heavy entangled masses per the mechanisms suggested by Susskind & Maldacena, et. al., to comb the foam for suitable wormholes, then grab and inflate one per jump). Static wormholes, which also exist, work perfectly physically.

Quantum entanglement doesn’t work that way, either.

If you’re thinking of tangle channels, they don’t use quantum entanglement. (Since we assume for this ‘verse that a nonlocal hidden variables interpretation of quantum mechanics is true, we can communicate over the nonlocal update channels.) Quantum entanglement works exactly as it appears to – as it would have to, otherwise quantum encryption and quantum computing wouldn’t work – and is, indeed, useless for communication.

Libertarianism sucks!

That’s not a question. Also, your mother.

Okay, then, how does it work?

Very well, thank you.

No, seriously, that’s a very large question, so the best answer you’re going to get is “as it’s presented to work”. But for more details of strictly governmental nature, there are some notes on the Contract here, on the ethical principle of choice-theft here, and the entire Imperial Charter here et. seq., and you should also remember the psychological differences.

But the most important thing to remember is that this being fiction, it’s describing a polity with a lengthy and colorful history full of historically contingent choices, traditions, and local color, and should be considered in that light. I hope I’ve given you some interesting ideas to think about, but if you must insist on reading it as a prescriptive text, all I can do is facepalm in your general direction.

But what about…

STOP RIGHT THERE.

You want to know right now?

Before we go any further, let me explain to you the three special rules for asking questions in this area, brought about by being tired of political blog comments long before I was ever an author:

  1. Are you at least somewhat familiar with the ways governments have been (in practice) and might be (in theory) constituted in ways significantly different from the cookie-cutter 21st-century Western democratic model? Are you prepared to accept that different ethics naturally give rise to different politics?
  2. Is your question not one of the standard critiques that has been answered repeatedly in literature, blogs, and comments sections already (see 1, really), and is therefore worth answering for someone who has already had all those arguments 57 times each?
  3. Bearing in mind that I am not yet a postsophont intellect with a brain the size of a small moon, I have none of time, intelligence, or interest in devising 7,300 years of case law. That being the case, it is safe to assume that if you can think of a loophole, it’s been plugged at some point or other over the course of said 7,300 years, and I don’t need to tell you exactly how. As such, does your question address general principles of general interest, and is it not therefore nitpicking minutiae or edge cases?

If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, go ahead and ask.

There’s no sound economic reason to do INSERT SOMETHING AWESOME.

There are a number of arguments to be made here, among them the confusion – in so much of Earth culture – of exchange-value (money) with actual value – consider all the things you do every day that there’s no “sound economic reason” for doing – and the different ways of looking at things when you aren’t regulated into considering only next quarter’s share price, and have the lifespan to undertake truly long-term projects knowing you’ll still be around for the returns.

But mostly…

“Yeah, we encountered Practicality, once. We didn’t like it much. So we told it to bugger off, and went back to our torrid affair with Awesomeness.”

…what price can you put on greatness?

Consider their values, in the posts linked above. The only people who whine about the lack of a reason to do something awesome are Obstructive Naysayers, and the local culture loathes Obstructive Naysayers.

I’m an expert in how X is done on 21st century Earth, and X doesn’t work that way.

On 21st century Earth. Enough said.

Okay, maybe not enough. I’m going to remind you of a certain quotation from Ken Burnside over at Atomic Rockets, however:

However, to make an analogy… How would you react to a game that purported to be about, say, Marines and their tactics and utilizations that insisted that the best formation for them to attack in was walking on their hands, with their rifles clenched between their knees, shoulder to shoulder, in tight formations, through beaten zones for artillery strikes and into machine gun kill zones?

Would you accept it if I told you that this was the result of a heretofore unknown doctrinal innovation made at some point 600 years in the future?

Or, would you demand to know WHAT doctrinal innovation made this the best way to conduct an assault with Marines on the ground?

Now, this is a trap I wish to avoid, obviously, and should you see something that strikes you that way, I am entirely happy to accept questions and criticism on such points.

On the other hand, since this is speculative fiction, there is a certain degree of scientific extrapolation, speculation, and even fictionalization involved; and since technology and culture both inform applications, it should also be obvious that the way things are done here and now probably isn’t going to be the way things are done by the children of a distant star.

So I am happy to accept questions and criticism on those points, let me rephrase, from people who have considered the relevant technological and cultural differences.

Otherwise you’re just wasting your and my time, and only one of those is yours to waste.

Technology

How can anyone stop RKVs (relativistic kill vehicles) from destroying a world? (Specifically, how do those anti-RKV superdreadnoughts mentioned work?)

The two parts to that are detection and response. For the former, wormhole tripwires, in which having an observatory at the functionally-in-the-future end of a static wormhole lets you see the deflection before it happens, so you know how you didwill deflect it.

For the latter: usually, the best way to deflect an RKV is to hit it with another RKV. Anti-RKV superdreadnoughts are equipped to first irradiate the incomer to kill any crew and burn out any controls that it might have on board, then whack it with a RKVKV k-slug-with-thruster-pack from the mass driver of god.

How do space battles work?

Like this.

If there’re gravitics, why aren’t there reactionless (gravitic) drives?

Because even if one can work around the momentum-conservation issue, they haven’t been invented yet.

Immortality? Don’t people get bored of living forever?

“Ah, yes, the ‘Who Wants To Live Forever?‘ trope. The unbearable ennui that allegedly awaits all immortals. We have dismissed this claim.”

Basically, no. That’s just what mortals tell themselves to make their inevitable ugly demise look prettier, in a grand form of Stockholm Syndrome. The universe is a big and fascinating place, and there isn’t any particular ceiling on personal growth, and if it turns out to be a problem after the first terayear or so, well, we’ll make another one where we can be something different. With blackjack! And hookers!

(Also, all your friends are also probably immortal, and when you meet one who isn’t – well, you can fix that, which is a much saner response than sitting around wangsting about it. So, yeah, basically Living Forever Is Awesome. In your face, Grim Reaper!)

Nanofacs, autofacs, cornucopias, fabbers – I’m confused?

See Things That Make Things.

Why aren’t lasers dominant in space warfare rather than kinetics?

Because at the present time, the constraints on practical, nonspecialized starship mounts mean that beam spread makes them less than useful at more than a light-second range. They are, however, very deadly at knife-fight range and in any case useful for pumping heat.