Author’s Note: Bad, Bad Word

As a side note, that cautionary dictionary entry, if anything, understates just how spectacularly insulting uljíra is, adjective-wise. But then, it was written by a non-native speaker of Eldraeic, even if a native speaker of the Trade dialect.

Its literal meaning is “choiceless1” – and not so due to external forces. Jír, recall, is the root of jírileth, with its important literal meaning.

That’s right up there with “Defaulter” in terms of Things To Say To An Imperial That Will Result In The Coroner Declaring Your Ensuing Death A Suicide.

1. And you can consider that in the context of that certain old saying daráv xíjirár; jaqef vigínár: a sophont chooses, a servile complies.

Glossary of Otherwise Known Terms

Reminded of this by a comment on G+, I thought I’d put together a list for y’all of the various terms used here and there in the Eldraeverse for concepts (mostly, but not universally, sciency) that match up to concepts we have here on Earth, but which for various reasons – often involving different discoverers, perspectives, etc. – obviously don’t have the same name.

(A translation table for which, in addition to clarifying, is also helpful in case anyone needs to look something up…)

Herewith, then, is a quick-reference list:

Imperial Terran
aerobic/anaerobic (do not necessarily refer strictly to oxygen *there*)
Ardinan probability Bayesian probability
Atagavia’s Limit the Bekenstein bound
blue-blotch fever
blue-blotch syndrome
radiation sickness
boson1 condensate Bose-Einstein condensate
Callaneth mechanics Newtonian (classical) mechanics
Callaneth’s Lemma2 Newton’s Third Law
Chronological Consistency Protection Theorem
(also Block Universe Theory)
Novikov self-consistency principle, with later quantum-mechanical extensions
clanking replicator Von Neumann machine
classical elements not our four; *there*, the six designated pre-chemistry elements are Air, Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, and Stone
consciousness loop Cartesian theater
constellation (refers to clusters of close-linked stargates as well as star patterns)
divided-particle process Penrose process
ecopoesis terraforming
fission cell (small) radiothermal generator
gallé near infrared
gravity well maneuver Oberth effect
Greater Ancíël Whirl the Large Magellanic Cloud
hidden cog (metaphor) invisible hand (likewise)
horizon radiation Hawking radiation
iatropsychics psychiatry (well, sort of)
Indeterminacy Barrier Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Isif Theorem (not proven *here*; a non-constructive proof that P=NP)
ivén low ultraviolet
kernel4 Kerr-Newman black hole (or, rather, specifically the “industrial-grade” kind)
Laras globule Bok globule
Lesser Ancíël Whirl the Small Magellanic Cloud
libration point6 Lagrange point
Lorith cage Faraday cage
Luminal Limit the speed of light
nuclear magnetic resonance imaging5 magnetic resonance imaging
minimum delta transfer Hohmann transfer
nucleonic device/weapon nuclear device/weapon
overweave virtual private network
powercell rechargeable battery7
rainbow glass trinitite (well, created by the same mechanism, but of somewhat different composition)7
sapphireglass transparent ceramic alumina
Senna’s Belt the Kuiper belt
Seredháïc-class ice miner equivalent of a Kuck mosquito
serís high ultraviolet
(the) Shards8 the Oort cloud
slate tablet (computer)
slugthrower gun; not necessarily firearm, but a KE-based projectile weapon
snaplight glow stick
social disease (not a euphemism for an STI; an epidemic toxic meme, rather)
sophont9 person
sophontology anthropology (only less, y’know, racist10)
Stannic cogitator Babbage engine
Stannic-computable Turing computable
Starfall Arc the Milky Way
sunblade a (weaponized) thermal lance
swarmweave flash mob
sweetmilk honeyed yoghurt drink
Sylithandríël’s Daughters hypothesis Gaia hypothesis (Lovelock, et. al.)
Talith Drive Lemma Tsiolkovsky rocket equation
technecology what the Internet of Things wants to be when it grows up
theobrom (fabbed) hot chocolate drink
synthdrink soft drink (although not all of them are)
tessera Planck granularity
Theory of Relativistics Theory of Relativity
Tiráms manifold Calabi-Yau manifold


1. I draw the line at renaming uncapitalized particles. We’ll call that a translation artifact.

2. “No credit for partial answers, maggot!”

3. Okay, so this one doesn’t actually exist on Earth, but the question has come up…

4. Which, yes, I got from Atomic Rockets here – their local etymology is appropriate, though, because their chief usage is as the kernels of stargates and of contraterragenesis plants.

5. Some people aren’t scared of the big bad n-word…

6. Which is also a perfectly valid term *here*, yes, but the point is that they don’t call ’em Lagrange points.

7. Although their version is made of stacked superconducting loops.

8. Metaphorically, the shards of the shattered crystal sphere (theory).

9. Yes, even in relatively common usage.

10. “You humans are all racist!”

Imperial Fringe, or, Map Time

Today’s gift for y’all is… a new map! A bigger map! A better map!

This map:


Which basically quintuples the amount of the Worlds that has been mapped on a system-by-system basis by extending that from the Imperial Core to the entire Imperial Fringe. Enjoy! (Although it’s big, so be aware when you click through.)

Key and notes:

  • As is usual, it’s a link-graph map, i.e., like a metro map, and a projection of 3D space onto 2D space besides. Neither stellar distances nor relative positions are in the least accurate except in the most general possible sense.
  • Each of the constellations (the Imperial Core plus the five constellations of the Imperial Fringe) represented is represented as a box containing the associated star systems. At the edges, the little orange boxes with CAPITAL LETTERS inside them represent links out to the other constellations of the Worlds.
  • The majority of Imperial star systems are represented as GOLD nodes. The exceptions to this are:
    • Certain important systems highlighted in RED (the throneworld, the IN Prime Base, the Cirys sphere and Cirys swarm); and
    • The system dedicated to the Conclave of Galactic Polities, indicated in BLUE; and
    • Imperial conlegial systems, indicated in GREEN; and
    • The original Thirteen Colonies (reached subluminally) represented in PALE GOLD.
  • Non-Imperial star systems are represented as PURPLE nodes.
  • Stargate pairs connecting systems are represented as SOLID lines. Stargate pairs connecting entire constellations are represented as DASHED lines. Crossing lines, as per the symbology, don’t actually intersect.
  • Arterial routes, i.e., extra-high-capacity stargate pairs, are represented as THICK lines.
  • The ORANGE line represents one major interstellar trade route passing through the Empire, the Mercantile Corridor. The GREEN line represents the other, the Lethiaza Trade Spine.
  • GOLD systems with a RED border are Imperial systems that connect directly to non-Imperial systems and as such form part of the Interface Defense Matrix. Also, when you get there, you have to clear immigration.


Special extra challenges for the detail-oriented reader with some time to kill:

…how many different ante-Eldraeic roots for “world, place, land, planet, etc.” can you identify from the names of the various Imperial worlds seen on this map? And how many of those are actually exotic-species routes?

…how many and which extra-Imperial polities can you draw lines around based on commonalities of name scheme among the non-Imperial worlds?

Answers and questions in comments, please!

(P.S. Yes, that’s “Kerbol System” down there in the High Verge; having thrown that reference in as an homage, I’m hardly going to reverse myself now. Any assumptions one might make, however, about its planets, inhabitants, space program, or other details, however, are distinctly non-canonical.)

Trope-a-Day: Religion of Evil

Religion of Evil: Mostly averted. While there has certainly been historical evil, there have been very few actual entropy-cults.  For the most part, the evil have been more interested in the personal benefits than philosophical commitment to the Death of Everything, even if their actions are entropic as a side-effect. Much the same goes for those religions which the Church of the Flame has strong ethos-based differences with; one can be mistaken without being an active entropist.

(That being said, many people can probably list for you quite a few religions which they think are evil, even if they’re not of evil, a subtlety which is probably lost on many non-theologians.)

You might also classify the control memeplexes of any number of dysfunctional seed AI under this, but really, they’re more religions of control rather than strictly evil.

Author’s Note: I Have The Death Sentence…

Seeing as that last was pretty much a blatant Star Wars reference, I feel the urge to point out that a thermal sword is not, actually, the local lightsaber equivalent.

It’s a short one of these with a hilt stuck on it.

Which is to say, it’s the exact opposite of a more elegant weapon for a more civilized age; it’s an ugly-ass weapon that’s precisely what you would expect the denizens to cobble together from wreckyard salvage down at your local wretched hive of scum and villainy.

(Also, given the somewhat harder universe parameters, even if it were possible to solve the many and varied physical, engineering, and practical problems involved in waving about a hand-held magnetic bottle of plasma at all, the laws of narrative integrity would require that you die a horrible, fiery death on first encountering an enemy with magnets

…how do they work?)

Handwavium: Clarifying Tangle/FTL Restrictions

…since I’ve accumulated a couple of queries on this, it’s probably a good thing to clarify.

The restriction on taking tangle (and certain other members of its family of technologies) through a stargate arise from the details of the Minovsky Physics I have defined to fill in the handwavium gap between ontotechnology and our understanding of the universe. I’m not exactly ready to give a full primer on the details of those, heh, but here’s the relevant parts:

  • From a quantum-physics-interpretation perspective, the three competing current Theories of Everything are equivalent to a non-local-hidden-variables interpretation. (In short, I’m assuming that some version of NLHV is correct.)
  • All of these imply “privileged channels” – this is a metaphor – by which state information is “teleported” – this is an even worse metaphor – about the place.
  • I draw from various ideas I have seen in the scientific literature relating quantum entanglement to the quantum foam to thus associate these “privileged channels” with the foam-scale wormholes.
  • (Some of this may seem familiar to those who’ve paid attention to the revealed technical details of stargates. If you also notice some inspiration from Greg Bear’s conphysics in Moving Mars and Anvil of Stars, that’s probably fair to say.)

What does this mean for tangle? Well, it means that for those “privileged channels” to function, they require coherency. Ordinarily, this is a given – we, at the macroscale and even the particle nanoscale, all operate in a nice, consistent spacetime geometry, if one that’s interestingly distorted in places. But then there are stargates, which blow up a wormhole to macroscopic proportions, allow transit, and then collapse it, pinching it off. That breaks coherency because it changes the spacetime topology, not something that normally happens up here. The universe is a robust thing and can handle that/clean up after it, but the nitpicky privilege-dependent details like entanglement – be it the quantum kind or the more subtle kind tangle channels use – are wiped clean in the process.

And that’s why you can’t jump a tangle channel – meaning, specifically, one end of a tangle channel leaving the other end behind – through a stargate. Once you do, the entanglement is broken and both ends are now just boxes filled with random bits. (Incidentally, this is also why you can’t jump a stargate through a stargate; it scrambles the core’s connection to its counterpart.)

But you can, which has been the point that has led to some confusion, jump both halves of the same tangle channel together, because the topology change then happens around them; they stay inside a self-coherent “bubble” geometry, if you will.

So, for example, when I mention the use of tangle to communicate between IN starships and their AKVs, or tactical sensor platforms, they can get away with that because both ends of the tangle channel jump together; but if they jumped out-system and back in again leaving the platforms behind, they’d lose the communication channel. Likewise, they can’t use tangle comms with pre-placed sensor platforms unless they pick up the other half of the channel after jumping in.

And the chap who stole a colonial tangle-channel and ran off with it to do an NFT scam? He had no problems getting the stolen channel to his target world, because what he stole was both ends neatly packed together in their shipping container.

On the other hand, though, when looking at examples like the tangle channel the Stratarchy of Indirection and Subtlety were using on Vontok II, and so forth, those had to pre-positioned and taken aboard once they got in system. (There are a number of strategies for this, all of them annoyingly complicated and most of them involving some sort of masquerade or other, because they have to delivered STL and even a light-sail starwisp is not what you might call the stealthiest of craft.)

Likewise, when you see starships being ordered to report in over tangle channel, like, say, WHISPER NINE or SHUFFLE FOURTEEN, those tangle channels aren’t carried with the starship, if it’s not a lighthugger. Fleet Communications has carefully and subluminally placed communication relays at lots of different points in the Worlds with onboard channels – some of them in satellites that can receive radio signals, others, more covert, that you actually have to dig up and plug in – and you use them by going to their location, or sending a courier to their location, and then transmitting your message.

Hopefully that should clear everything up!

Author’s Note: Quebérúr

For your envisioning pleasure – and also because I secretly hope someone will send me fan art along the lines of a classic Old West painting set on said Mars-type world (beautiful for spacious pink skies and vermilion mountains’ majesty above its fruited plain of mottled green and blue grass, although the grain still comes in amber waves) – the greenlife quebérúr is a relative of the Terran bison. Specifically, it’s a separate descendant of Bison antiquus than our modern Bison bison, that has kept the 15%-25% larger size of the former (about 7.5′ tall, 15′ long, and 3,500 lbs.) Other relevant differences include having developed curled, downward-pointing horns, and being able to digest and mostly excrete the non-overlapping compounds across the bluelife/greenlife gap without being poisoned or sickened by them. Much the same parameters apply to their transbovine descendants.

Every bit as tasty, though!

Author’s Note: Astrography

So let’s talk a little about the setting of our ongoing fiction, the Associated Worlds.

First: they’re big. Really, really frakkin’ big. Sci-fi writers with a sense of scale big. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemists’, but…

Ahem. Enough of that.

So, let me draw you a picture. The free-space volume of the Associated Worlds is an irregular mostly-oblate spheroid. Along its major axes, it’s about 3,300 light years from core to rim, 4,100 light years from spinward to trailing, and 2,000 light years from acme to nadir. To put some perspective on those numbers, that means that at its tallest part, much of the center, it completely fills the galactic disk top to bottom. Meanwhile, the Lethíäza arm of the galaxy in which it is located is approximately 3,500 light years across, and since one slightly-flattened end of the spheroid – expansion having slowed, although not stopped, to coreward on encountering the inter-arm gap – is pressed up against its coreward side, it lacks only about 200 light years of running into the rimward side of the arm, too.

As those of you with calculators will already know, that’s approximately 27 billion cubic light years of volume, which contains approximately 100 million stellar bodies of various kinds. Like I said, big.

Of course, on the cosmic scale, or even the galactic scale, it’s still a barely significant mote. Space is like that.

The kicker, of course, is that most of that is unused and only explored astronomically. The expansion pattern of the Worlds has been, essentially, to look for interesting things, and then fire off a long-range stargate to a system near them and weave a constellation from there. The one black hole in our neighborhood? That counts. The blue-white supergiant? That counts, too. Any system which appears to have signs of intelligent and usually technological life? That definitely counts, as maybe we can sell ’em something. That sort of thing.

That process has resulted in maybe 10,000 star systems over that whole enormous volume being actually connected to the stargate plexus and thus readily visitable. That would be roughly 0.01% of the stellar bodies in that volume. The rest would be the “Inner Periphery” of systems that didn’t seem so interesting at the time but which are likely to be hooked up if and when they become interesting, or if and when polities in inner constellations feel like expanding locally, rather than out in the ecumene, and also feel like paying for it.

So when you think of the Associated Worlds, think of a cobweb. The strands are long-distance wormholes. The dewdrops clinging to the points where they intersect are local constellations, where constellation in this case is defined as maybe fifty systems linked together with short-range stargates with three or four long-range gates connecting to it at various points. And the empty spaces are not-quite-empty space.

To hang some numbers on that, the Empire has all of one constellation (the Imperial Core), and about half each of five more (the Imperial Fringe), close to 250 worlds in total if you include its colonies out in the ecumene. Which is to say, it’s the tiny kernel at the heart of the big nut – although that said, it’s nearest competitors, the Photonic Network and the League of Meridian, are only 120-150 world polities. To divide up the rest, in the divisions Where’s Where in the Galaxy would offer you, these six constellations and 73 more make up the “true” Associated Worlds, the well-developed, comfortable, and stable metropolitan regions.

109 more constellations surrounding those make up the Expansion Regions, which are a bit less developed but not actually frontier. They tend to be the places where most of the action is, when there’s astropolitical action.

And the 23 constellations of the Periphery, found all around except to acme, nadir, and along the border with the Republic, are the wild and wooly frontier.

Leaving the Worlds proper for a moment, the Voniensa Republic, featuring rather heavily at the moment, is located spinward and slightly to rimward. It has about 8,000 worlds in its volume, although by no means all of those are politically part of the Republic. (More than a few of them belong to people who are currently being Prime Directed, for a start.) It’s also substantially smaller than the Worlds in free-space volume, because while they’re not quite as bad at insisting territorial volumes make sense in space as the members of the Interstellar League of Tribal Chiefdoms, they do pursue a much more consolidate-y expansionary policy.

And finally to note, cutting through the rimward systems of Lethíäza, and thus both the rimward side of the Republic and the fringe Periphery – only a few stargates at the far edge of the rimward Periphery breach it – is the Shadow Veil, which is a vast dark nebula of opaque gas and dust that does a fine job of obscuring both the view further rimward from most of the Worlds, and vice versa.

(So even if its still flexible galactic location turns out to be directly coreward of us, there’s still a reason why our astronomers *there* aren’t getting all excited about those distinct signs of someone building megastructures and operating pion drives. Heh.)

Author’s Note: Where’s Where in the Galaxy

For those following along with the worldbuilding at home, the Starfall Arc, the home galaxy of the Associated Worlds is, yes, the Milky Way seen from another perspective.  The “prominent satellite galaxies” identified as the Greater and Lesser Ancíël Whirls are those which we call the Large and Small Magellanic clouds, and the galactic arms are those we know as the Norma Arm (Arilíäza), the Scutum-Centaurus Arm (Vierníäza), the Carina-Sagittarius Arm – home of the Associated Worlds – (Lethíäza), the Orion-Cygnus Spur (Sulíäza) – in which Sol and Earth are located – and the Perseus Arm (Dúraníäza).

The placement of the Associated Worlds in the outer part of the Carina-Sagittarius Arm makes them roughly 5,000-6,000 light years coreward of us, and thus conveniently out of the way, in a galactic neighborhood about whose location I don’t plan on being too specific in order not to get angry letters from astronomers because I’ve mislocated a bunch of stellar objects for literary convenience.  (Which is also to say: please don’t try and locate it from my textual references; given the distance and the knowledge gap, I’m just making the details of local space up for literary convenience, ‘kay?)

Author’s Note: Hey, Y’All, Watch This!

For those wondering about some of the technical background:

The chief obstacles to using “normal” computers in space are heat generation (given the average spacecraft’s limited heat budget – disposing of heat in vacuum is hard), cooling (because in microgravity, convection doesn’t work – there go heat-sinks without a lot of active coolant-movement devices), ability to work in low air pressure and/or vacuum if something goes wrong, and the prevalence of ionizing  and other EM radiation, which tends to muck up delicate electronics.  For a large part of history, this was handled by many of the same compromises we made – reduced transistor density, specially hardened chips and designs, magnetic core memory, and so forth.

(Fun fact: this problem was particularly bad back in the Apollo-era equivalents of Projects Phoenix, Oculus, and Silverfall, because they were using Orion-style nuclear pulse drives.  Which is to say, during atmospheric ascent, a crapload of EMP happening right near the flight computers.  Back then, they were using “electron plumbing” machines, because despite their space program being relatively later in their technological timeline and thus having better ICs available, they still were by no means EMP-immune.  “Electron plumbing” is a technological path we didn’t take – essentially, evolved thermionic valves/vacuum tubes to higher orders of complexity.  Never widely used, because ICs were still a better technology overall, but for this specific use, excellent.)

But in the modern era of spaceflight, they can use standard commercial computers, because those use optronic nanocircs.  Those run cool (no need to wiggle significant electrons about; photons are much easier to handle) inherently, and care much, much less about passing ionizing and other EM radiation.  Also, all but the most cut-down “standard” ML runtimes or hardprocs (a processor that implements the ML runtime directly in hardware) incorporate all the real-time and safety-critical features that you’d need for spaceflight applications, because those features are also used in general automation and robotics and other applications that are pretty close to ubiquitous downside as well.  And so does the standard IIP networking protocol, and so forth, and for much the same reasons.

As for WeaveControl, it’s more formal name is Interweave Command/Control Protocol; for reasons of technological evolution, plus much more prevalent hackerish tendencies in the population, just about every device manufactured – cars, lightbulbs, drink-makers, ovens, coins – comes with an IIP interface and a WeaveControl endpoint, which lets you run all the functions of the device from an external command source.  (It’s become such a ubiquitous open standard that there’s no reason not to spend the couple of micros it takes to install it.)  You really can script just about anything to do anything, or hook it up to interfaces of your choosing on any device you have that can run them.  Things as simple as programming your alarm clock to tell the appropriate devices to make your morning cuppa, lay out suitable clothes according to the weather and the style of the day, cook your breakfast, fetch and program your paper with the morning’s news, order a car to come take you to work, and program its music system with a playlist suitable for your mood are downright commonplace.

But they’re serious about anything/anything compatibility.  You can program your bath from your car, drive your car from your PDA, operate an industrial 3D printer from seat 36B on the sub-ballistic – hell, run your building elevator from your pocket-watch if you can think of any reason why that might be something you’d want to do.

Some of these applications are, ah, less advisable than others!

Author’s Notes: Food and Headlines

Which is to say, on this and that:

On the first, just a quick linguistic note, concerning the name of the Thousand Scents Road.  Eldraeic has two words which could be glossed as “thousand”, because it has two systems of numbers.  The “traditional” system, and the “syllabic” system, in which each of the possible digits are encoded as a syllable, and the syllables are simply strung together in digit order, most significant to least significant, to produce a number word for absolutely any number.

Neither of these, however, represents 1,000; the Empire uses base 12, if you recall?  (Or were prompted by the As and Bs you saw in the street numbers; although obviously their own digital system has unique symbols for 10 and 11.)  They represent 1,728.

The compromise translation convention I have settled upon is that where syllabic numbers are used – which in the modern era means for virtually all mathematical, scientific, and commercial purposes – it’ll be translated accurately, as 1,728 – or higher multiples as appropriate.  But there are plenty of places where “thousand” is simply used as a metonym for “a great many”, such as in the name of the street in question; no-one has actually checked how many perfumiers and products there are along its length, but it’s certainly not exactly that, and probably is a great deal more.  Fortunately, these are also the places where people would tend to use the traditional numbers, for reasons of euphony, and so, I feel free to translate that as “thousand”, since Thousand Scents Road conveys the intended meaning to the human reader much better than 1,728 Scents Road.

This, incidentally, is also what high-quality machine translation, of the kind that most travellers and aliens abroad use in the setting, does with them.

(Also, for those curious, a reshkef – and that’s pronounced approximately rehs-h’kef where the apostrophe represents a glottal stop – is a meat, milk and wool animal most closely analogous to a six-legged browsing sheep.)

On the latter, just some comments regarding the Infoclast.  When I was going over the draft with my lovely wife and beta reader, she remarked that some of their phrasings seemed a little off, for serious news reporting: the “now annual tradition” of the Voniensan diplomatic protest, for one, or the “laughing all the way to the bank”.

To clarify a little, I should perhaps explain that the Worlds’ news media does not, by and large, follow the American tradition of being as serious and objective as possible (insofar as that’s possible; I find it pretty risible myself), but more the fine British tradition that I’m used to of, while reporting essentially the same facts, catering to the slant that their readership would prefer the news to have.

You can get something very close to pure objective news.  The Objective Eye offers that by virtue of being the closest thing possible to completely machine-produced news, with the few sophonts involved in the process having emotion-suppressors and objectivity overlays firmly clamped on to their brains while at work.  Feeds to other news organs aside, virtually all of its small subscriber base is AI who are closer to the machine than most, and even most of those find it stultifying in its steadfast refusal to ever take any position on anything.

Of other major news organs which I currently know about, Imperial Certified Interstellar News is unashamed in its pro-Empire slant and reporting of “happy news”, such that even the people who work there call it “Propaganda Prime”.  The Exchange Times, out of the tradeworld Seranth, takes an editorial position of such strict economic rationality that it makes even other financial papers look like fuzzy-minded hippies.  The Accord Journal (probably the largest news organ of all of them) tries to maintain a position somewhere close to the mean of the entire Associated Worlds, which makes it contradict itself a lot of the time.  The Independent Worlds Router takes no position in the other direction to the Eye, by printing absolutely everything that turns up and complies with their editorial standards and reality, and so contradicts itself all the time.

And the Imperial Infoclast caters to those people who enjoy snarking at positions the Imperial mainstream thinks are stupid and people they think deserve it.

We Possess, So It Seems, One Of Man’s Greatest Dreams: Author’s Notes

For those who didn’t catch the reference in the title of that last fic-a-day, the reference was to the chorus of the filk piece Home on Lagrange (The L5 Song), copyright 1978 by William S. Higgins and Barry D. Gehm.

The lyrics are as follows:

Oh, give me a locus where the gravitons focus
Where the three-body problem is solved,
Where the microwaves play down at three degrees K,
And the cold virus never evolved.


Home, home on LaGrange,
Where the space debris always collects,
We possess, so it seems, two of Man’s greatest dreams:
Solar power and zero-gee sex.

We eat algae pie, our vacuum is high,
Our ball bearings are perfectly round.
Our horizon is curved, our warheads are MIRVed,
And a kilogram weighs half a pound.


If we run out of space for our burgeoning race
No more Lebensraum left for the Mensch
When we’re ready to start, we can take Mars apart,
If we just find a big enough wrench.


I’m sick of this place, it’s just McDonald’s in space,
And living up here is a bore.
Tell the shiggies, “Don’t cry,” they can kiss me goodbye
‘Cause I’m moving next week to L4!


Stop Fittling With That: Author’s Notes

For those who might be a mite curious, Stop Fittling With That is set in “present-time” – that is to say, the furthest future point of my defined timeline (although, obviously, not the end of their history), so those mentioned technologies are things that won’t actually appear anywhere in the Eldraeverse, certainly not in the context of the peoples of the Associated Worlds.

FTL (other than the mentioned wormholes and tangle channels) won’t appear at all, and in fact is canonically impossible by other means using my conphysics; for reasons which boil down to “it interferes with the kind of stories I want to tell and the kind of technologies I want to use to tell them”.  Such forms of FTL as wouldn’t – like, say, mass relays – are for the most part functionally isomorphic to the wormhole network I chose to go with anyway.

Dimensional transcendence just hasn’t been invented yet – any examples of it you may see are faked by means which you’ll read about when the Trope-a-Day catches up to, ah, Hammerspace, I think – but is permitted by the local conphysics.  (If you can bend space and time enough to do practical, mass-produced wormholes, bending them enough to put a decent-sized mansion inside a police box is for the most part merely a matter of working out the engineering – for very large values of “merely”.)

Negentropy or something like it probably will require the ability to not merely bend but actually drill holes in the universe, and so is deep-time lengths of time away if it’s possible at all.  Which it may well not be, but I don’t plan on arbitrarily declaring the greatest expression of their greatest ambition physically off-limits when I can just Shrug of God it into the indefinite far future.

And both matter translocation/teleportation and instant Star Trek replicator-style manufacturing don’t exist for the same two reasons.  First, Heisenberg…

(Or rather, in-world, Jeness Rafientar, who spent the first, shorter part of his physics career discovering the uncertainty principle under the name of the Indeterminacy Barrier, and then spent the rather longer rest of his physics career trying unsuccessfully to find some way, any way, to work around the blasted thing.)

…is a bugger, as we know, and magical Heisenberg Compensators are a little too handwavy for my taste, thanks so much.  And secondly, even if you only do it at the molecular level, all that binding energy has to go to/come from somewhere in a very short time, and that poses some thermodynamic problems at the level of physics, and some literary/worldbuilding problems in explaining the implications that the ability to routinely toss that much energy about has on everything else.

These may theoretically exist in the future – given that the basis of the emerging field of ontological engineering is to use manipulations of the laws of the laws of physics that underlie the regular laws of physics to tell the latter to shut up and sit down, but they don’t at any part of the timeline I’m working with.