A Brief Conversation About Death Games

Inspired by this comment:

I’ve always been of the opinion that, given the Associated Worlds’s existing tech base and attitudes towards continuity of personal identity and such, there must be a “small” subculture of thrill-seekers who deliberately expose themselves to lethal danger purely out of curiosity as to what death actually feels like — and more than a few probably get hooked enough on the “rush” to try it again.


“That’s what you want the Greater Immortality for? To kill yourself to experience death?”

“Well… yeah. I’ve always wondered, and you –”

“Have never experienced death.”

“Huh? You’re an orbit-diver. I’ve watched you burn up!”

“Because you can’t experience death, kid.” The speaker sighed, and crooked one finger for another drink. “You don’t exist to experience death. Something of a definitional problem in experiencing the experience of no longer having experiences, you might say. Now, the lead-up to dying, that you can experience – free clue, it feels like pain – but the very next moment you’ll remember is waking up in a nice white room and having your resurrectionist call you a moron. If you managed to kill yourself thoroughly enough, you won’t even remember why. And that experience? I can give it to you right now, right here, no charge.”

 

A Place Where Renegades Come From

See this?

Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg. Your plan to put an end to disease is a sickeningly bad idea

Well, one place where Renegades come from is when, having read too much of this kind of disgusting ephemeralist agitprop, and noting that advocating for prohibitions or even prohibitionary attitudes on life extension and its related family of technologies amounts to conspiring to murder everyone, forever, they conclude that while it’s not the common interpretation, it’s not really stretching the Right of Common Defense all that far if they go forth into the greater galaxy and cleanse it preemptively of would-be mass-murdering fuckheads, belike.

(While passing sardonic comments about the stubbornness of ephemeralist death-worshippers when it comes to running away from the unbeing they deify.)

 

Trope-a-Day: To Absent Friends

To Absent Friends: Played straight, with extra poignancy added for more cosmopolitan Imperials due to the number of people who are absent because of death from old age, which in the outworlds there’s more of around than they might care to think of.  Often turns into something of an Irish wake, because toasting the dead generally involves a Libation for the Dead, and sending the booze up properly requires that it be strong enough to burn.

Ice is for Endings, Side Note

When you think about the Cold Ones, it’s actually a remarkable blessing that the nature of the universe is quantized, because that’s what will eventually kill them. Eventually, those tiny energy states and information stores they use will fall below the threshold at which they cannot (because quantum) be subdivided any more to create necessary differentials, and infinity will come to an end – the granularity of the universe being the major limitation of attempting this sort of end-run around finity.

This is, by any reasonable standards, a good thing, because it places an end-point on their existence.

Imagine, for a moment, if the universe was non-quantized and analog. Then there would always be a way to slice things more finely, and get by on smaller and smaller and smaller energy differentials supporting less and less computation, but never zero. However mad and tortured their desperate struggle to hang on to another sliver of existence became, it could still get progressively worse in an infinite number of steps.

To steal a perfectly good way of putting it from a comment by Jenna Moran on Exalted’s Neverborn, whose situation is in many ways similar:

That would mean, of course, that [the universe] can never be [cold enough to kill them]. That would mean, of course, that they are mad not because they are dead gods, but because they are dead dead gods. Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead, dead gods. Dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead dead, dead dead gods.

And still endlessly unraveling and unfolding into ever greater death, loss, experience of no longer having experiences, being the names of something that are ever further away from living, and still falling, and still somehow stuck.

(I have your cosmic horror’s cosmic horror right here.)

Defrosting

A question I did not answer at the time, regarding this:

One wonders, when she was revived, did she reinherit back any of her titles or property?

Well, now.

Titles are the easiest one to answer, *there*, and the short answer is “some of them, according to their nature”.

To answer in a rather longer manner: if we for the moment discount titles of privilege (i.e., those titles which exist simply to be purchased by/to recognize the contribution of personal resources to the public good) and assume that private titles more or less follow the same rules as public ones (an essentially accurate assumption), it looks something like this:

In Imperial praxis, as defined by the Imperial Charter, there are three classes of titles: runér, praetorate, and exultant. The former two are both functional – by definition, the holder of a runér title has the Imperial Mandate over some demesne somewhere, physical, virtual, or abstract, and explicitly executes all the duties attached thereto. Likewise, a praetor holds some office somewhere in the Imperial Service, and the title comes with the job, to provide the precedence and dignities appropriate to the job.

Exultant titles, contrariwise, are not-implying-you’re-done-but-still-post hoc rewards for merit, accomplishment, and excellence, and as such are not explicitly tied to executing any particular duties except for the rather generalized one of continuing to be the awesome soph you were formally recognized as being.

So, the rules for these were set a long time before it ever came up in this particular case. Exultant titles, you keep and can reclaim; they have no dependencies on anything unless you go so far outside the pale that the people authorized to initiate such a case can persuade the Curia to impeach you. Runér and praetorate titles, on the other hand, are strongly linked to doing the job, and as such the condition there is and has always been incapacity. Suffering from “not-dead-in-the-most-technical-sense, long-term, whole-body frostbite” adequately qualifies as incapacity, so those titles do pass – but, then, unlike most Earth cases, they would also pass if you were merely comatose, or suffering from other lengthy medical conditions that meant that you couldn’t perform the duties of the office, because none of those titles are ornamental and someone’s got to.

You do, however, automatically receive the corresponding courtesy exultant title for ex-runér/ex-praetors, because that’s part of normal succession procedure. Which is to say you keep the honors of the position, after all, you earned them; it’s just that you aren’t the person people should be taking their petitions and paperwork to any more.

(As for the possibility of reclaiming those titles: in most cases, that wouldn’t be automatic, although your successor may choose to hand it right back to you. There are a few exceptions due to their own special rules: most House charters reserve the position of “genarch”, for example, to the oldest living family member with descendants, and if the person fitting that description happens to do so because they just came back from the dead, well – ain’t no rule against that, and they’re still the oldest living family member with descendants, so.)

Property-wise: That’s somewhat more complicated, and I don’t want to go into too much detail because that time period is exactly the time at which the legal rules on that sort of thing were in flux, and I have not yet nailed down the exact dates of what fluxed when.

In the modern era, of course, it’s not even a question. You aten’t dead until there’s no information-theoretically recoverable mind-state recognizable as you available anywhere, or alternatively, have personally merged with the Transcendent god-mind, so no-one’d even think about running probate just because you happen to be chillin’ right now.

Back in the day, of course, this was more complicated when you could be dead without being dead-dead, but Imperial law has always been much more generous than ours when it comes to ensuring that the dead can still get their will done, not like mere animacy should be able to impair the sacred obligation of contracts, after all. So it would not be at all hard for her, or anyone else trying this, to set up the appropriate instruments to hold her stuff in trust and then give it back to herself. (That would be necessary because it’s not like they could unprobate, as that would inevitably be ex post facto.)

(And she probably didn’t do that for all of it, either – this being, after all, still very experimental. And, well, one can always get more money.)