Trope-a-Day: Uplifted Animal

Uplifted Animal: Quite a few, in the interests of adding people with different points of view and abilities to the population (see: Intelligent Gerbil).  Of the greenlife – and therefore recognizable to Terrans – animals, most prominent are the dogs (dar-bandal), cetaceans (dar-ííche), octopi (dar-cúlnó), rat kings (dar-celmek), and ravens (dar-vorac).

Averted in the case of apes, because apes were not among the greenlife transported offworld by whichever Precursor did it.  Really, even should they discover Earth, apes, or at least the commonly seen in SF chimpanzees, are unlikely to be a high priority for this sort of thing, on the grounds that there already are billions of more or less intelligent apes running around the place, and who needs more?

Old Spacedogs

From the taking-inspiration-from-other-places department:


Meet Rúz alt-Telithos (later Rúz alt-Silverfall), the Alatian Upland Herder later known, after extensive microgravity and extravehicular training at Oculus Station, as the First Dog Bandal On The Moon – travelling there with the Silverfall Five mission, during the course of which he participated in a number of physiological studies, assisted the astronauts with their work, and greatly enjoyed the ability to leap nearly 30′ from a standing start.

A statue of Rúz stands outside the primary dome airlock leading to Seléne City’s first surface shuttleport.

(…and at some point he appears to have modeled for a magazine cover in a different fictional universe altogether, heh.)


Trope-a-Day: Precious Puppies

Precious Puppies: As a guide to just how straight the eldrae play this particular trope, even where their giant wardogs are concerned, it should be noted that under the list of special cases that is the Ungentlemanly Behavior Act (47, As Subsequently Revised), the consequences of literally kicking the dog are legally recognized as a type of suicide in every single Imperial jurisdiction.

(While there are some people who in private would admit that this constitutes Disproportionate Retribution even by the Empire’s, ah, generous standards for such, there is absolutely no-one willing to court the plummeting reputation score that would attach to anyone who suggested removing this provision, the puppy-hating bastard.  It’s a mélith thing; dogs give essentially infinite loyalty, so that’s what they get in return.)

((And, of course, this is also pretty much what started people off on the Immortagens For Everyone crusade in the first place…))

Book Recommendation

I made a book recommendation elsewhere today, concerning the problem of writing beings with senses or abilities or other things that we don’t have, and since for myself I think it’s a rather good recommendation, well, I’m going to make it here, too.

Specifically, Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz.  It’s a fascinating examination of the canine umwelt – per von Uexkull – their subjective view of and interaction with the world, including the many differences in their sense perceptions.  I originally found it useful to help me think about the different mindset of the dar-bandal, the uplifted near-wolves of the Eldraeverse, but a good many of the concepts and ideas I picked up in there have helped me a lot with imagining the perceptions and internal view of much stranger creatures.

(After all, dogs and wolves are close cousins of ours, who may have different models of the traditional five senses, but still use those; it’s rather more challenging to try and imagine the perceptual world of the five-minded ice snakes that are the murast whose “vision” includes none of our visual-light spectrum, the seb!nt!at who perceive the world through nuclear force and magnetic domains, or the mezuar, who as sophont forests, don’t even have a similar sense of self-identity to ours!)

Highly recommended for both worldbuilders and those of everyone fortunate enough to have a dog in their lives.

Trope-a-Day: Dogs Are Dumb

Dogs Are Dumb: Averted – partly because it’s not universally true in non-fiction anyway, and partly because one thing that differentiates the Elieran bandal from the Earth dog is that, being in need of assistance in many areas due to the relatively small, relatively slowly growing population that tends to be the case among the very-long-lived, the Eldraeic breeding masters concentrated very hard on breeding for increased intelligence.  (And, key point, by which they meant the kind of intelligence that includes understanding and creative problem-solving, not just the ability to follow orders.  Basically, they wanted co-workers, not tools.)  Essentially, even the non-uplifted examples are appallingly clever, probably on a par with Dragon Age‘s mabari.

Also, uploading/reinstantiation technology works exactly as well on dogs as it does on anyone else, and you can just imagine how a lot of people, immortal as they were, felt about regularly losing their beloved pets/junior family members, so… well, there are more than a few very old dogs out there.  And they know all the tricks.

(And if you remember what we said back in Brain Uploading about the afterlife… all dogs around those parts really do go to Heaven.)


“Are you sure this will work?”

“Well, no, it’s an experiment.” Brandel held up his hands, warding off the glare thus produced. “But the theory is sound. We’re never going to find out more unless we move it in vivo.”

“The theory is barely formed.” Soléä gestured at the triboard with her half-eaten sandwich, before noticing and setting it down on the lab bench. “The kinesis effectors were designed to work with a specific neural architecture, and a fully sophont one, at that, and we only barely understand how they work. You think they’re self-modifying to optimize for the specific host brain, but this is a whole other order of difference. Do you really think they’ll be able to adapt to that?”

“Their neural architecture isn’t so different from ours.  And I think the effectors might, yes. They’ve proven remarkably versatile in the past.”

She snorted. “You’ll be lucky if they just don’t work.” Her hand fell to the bench, came up empty. “Where’s –?”

On the other side of the lab, the first of the test subjects swallowed, flipped his ears, favored the researchers with a canine grin, and went searching for any remaining sandwich crumbs as the photon-discharge corona faded around him.

“…I withdraw my objections.”