Front Effects

While perfection is our delight, perfection is also profoundly dangerous where it interacts with imperfection.

In the world of pharmacology, this principle is best represented by two particular drugs, aumbril and thanachav.

The former is a perfect euphoric; the latter a perfect disinhibitor. Both, however, are also perfectly deadly – although the latter as often to others as to its user – and are so due entirely to their advertised effects, rather than side effects.

Aumbril provides an experience of perfect pleasure, perfect satisfaction. Rather than simple euphoria, aumbril provides a complex, multi-layered experience combining every pleasure that its user might imagine experiencing – delight in beauty or knowledge, contentment after a job well done, satisfaction after a hearty feast, weariness after achievement, pride in victory, release from pain, laughter at a cosmic joke, love of every variety from limerent to aeonic, orgasm – however intellectually abstract or carnal the pleasure, aumbril provides it and weaves it together into a tapestry of perfect hedonic synergy.

Most aumbril users die on first exposure, from satiation too perfect to remember to live, although at least they die happy. Of the survivors, while a second dose does have the same risks, those without immediate access to another typically die from the effects of severe depression, since nothing else in the world can provide any pleasure to compare with that produced by the drug.

Thanachav, too, is exactly as described. It is a perfect disinhibitor in that it removes all inhibitions, however strong or instinctive they might be. On its own, this is fatal enough for the user, inasmuch as they are unable to tell good ideas from bad; while they may know intellectually that they cannot fly or that flesh will burn, they cannot proceed from this to the notion that departing a building via the roof or remaining within a conflagration to finish one’s book is an unwise course of action. Nor, while they continue to perceive pain, does pain serve to inhibit action.

Of course, such disinhibition is also deeply hazardous to bystanders, inasmuch as empathic and social inhibitions are also entirely stripped away. Perhaps the most common case of this is seen when various amateur street pharmacologists sell thanachav as an aphrodisiac/libidigen of the Class 3 (prohibited) type, through either ignorance or finding the inevitable results hilarious – since while it does remove all the would-be rapist’s victim’s inhibitions against having sex with him, it also removes all their other inhibitions, such as those, ethical, cognitive, and physiological, preventing them from tearing out his intestines and wearing his spleen as a hat.

The results are precisely as imagined.

– Journal of Chemical Hedonism, 1842nd issue

This Was Your Brain On Drugs

“Unlike chemodrugs, the problem with cutting nanodrugs is that everyone knows what a nanite suspension is supposed to look like. It’s quite distinctive. So unless you’re willing to go the costly route of cutting your nanodrugs with other, slightly less expensive nanodrugs carefully tested for interactions, people cutting nanodrugs for quick coin will use whatever nanites they can find lying around. If the customer’s really lucky, that means a veinful of unprogrammed medichines. Not so lucky, and whatever not-for-internal-use swarm they just injected will send their immune system into overdrive and they’ll be in acute septicemic shock within a couple of seconds. Needless to say, it’s a one-time-and-run crime — yes, question at the back?”

“And if they’re unlucky?”

“Unlucky? You’ll know what that means when you see someone who’s snorted a snootful of factory-reject garden paste, or cleaning dust, or something else that’ll actually operate in vivo. Being used as still-living constructor raws starts out at messy and ends with grotesque. No pictures – you’ll know it when you see it, and that’s soon enough.”

– training lecture,
Exopharma Exclusion Agency,
Xintenta Pharmacology

Trope-a-Day: High Times Future

High Times Future: As long as you’re competent to do what you have to do, when you have to do it, your neurological state and how you got there is your own business. Download all the drugs you like! (Well, except those falling under the category of Coercive Substances, or those which drive you insane in ways likely to cause harm to others: magical berserker nutball powder is off the table. But apart from those it’s between you and your mind.)

Trope-a-Day: Drugs Are Good

Drugs Are Good: The Empire’s culture has no problem with hedonic, et. al., drugs. You have, after all, the right to do anything you want to yourself, and really, they’re no worse than any other form of entertainment.

Especially since you buy them from legitimate businessmen, not “legitimate businessmen”, scrubber nanites let you sober up really damn fast when you need to, standards of quality and purity are maintained, and advances in medical science have abolished addiction and practically every other harmful side-effect imaginable, and along with creating lots of more selective, more entertaining, less awkward/harmful/etc. designer drugs.

Better living through chemistry, man!

Trope-a-Day: Slipping a Mickey

Slipping a Mickey: The reason why v-tag poison detectors are built into bar glasses, finger-rings, and suchlike all over the place.  Of course, given the social conditions of the happy utopian Empire, not more than one in a billion of these things ever triggers, and most of those are false positives, but still.  Trivial security enhancements are trivial.

Trope-a-Day: Functional Addict

Functional Addict: In the past, quite a few of these, inasmuch as the Empire never has had any particular laws – and really can’t – against one type of hedonic or pragmatic pharmaceutical or another.  Averted, however, in the modern era… via the unconventional answer that the best solution to addiction isn’t removing the drugs, it’s removing (or modifying, rather) the neurokinin/nociceptin, etc., neural pathways in the brain that make the addiction process work.

Trope-a-Day: Fantastic Drug

Fantastic Drug: Why, yes, the Empire has fantastic drugs!

Lots and lots of them.  Nootropics and mnemotropins to think better, stimulants for times of stress, myrmidonics for combat stress, relaxants for times of not-stress, hedonics to serve after dinner, and goodness knows how many more specialized pharmaceutical products.  Hundreds of customized variants.  Far too many to list.

Trope-a-Day: Eternal Prohibition

Eternal Prohibition: Averted, because no-one in the Empire would consider it reasonable to ban anything that, say, didn’t cause immediate homicidal mania in the first place.  Your psychochemistry is your own business, and no-one else’s – except the plentiful dealers in recreational chemistry.  And enhancement chemistry, like nootropics, mnemotropins, etc., etc.  Some of which are even used in breakfast cereal.

Don’t even ask what they put in the fruity oaty bar

Being Too Clean

Lorcis Vianath-ith-Vianne & Selves Pty., Bonded Commercial Obligators, to Mettáre viKoruaz, viKoruaz, viHanic, and Siblings, greetings.

With regard to your communication of the 3rd inst. with our client, Ordene Psychedesign, ICC:

Without prejudice, our client expresses regret at your client’s dissatisfaction with the performance of their product, AnAddiction™.  Nevertheless, we beg to point out that;

Firstly, the product did function as designed.  By your client’s own admission as stated in your communication, the modification of the neural loops of the basal ganglia limbic pathways by the AnAddiction™ nanomachines produced an absence of the psychological addiction to catecholamine rríyek-4/CrystalFugue™ which, as you indicate, was your client’s purpose in purchasing this product.

Secondly, further without prejudice to the validity of the claims that you make regarding the effect of the product, post-usage, upon your client’s personal relationships (p. 2-4 of your complaint) and religious faith (p. 5), our client freely stipulates that, should such behaviors extend to the degree of behavioral addictions in a clinical sense (ref. Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed., p. 479), the AnAddiction™ product would also remove the limbic pathways promoting such behaviors.

However, we would draw your attention to clause 14 in the purchase contract-waiver, signed by your client before purchasing the AnAddiction™ product, which states that the product should only be used on brains reflecting otherwise healthy/optimal mind-states, in a clinical sense (ref. Manual of Mental Diagnostics, 271st ed., p. 29), for the removal of specific single addictions or general addiction, and in particular to subclause 14(a), which makes specific mention of AnAddiction™’s indistinctive removal of all addiction-promotor loops exceeding the clinically determined indicator level, and refers you for more details to the relevant case studies (Identification of Pathological Promotor Loops in the Sophont Brain, Journal of Neuronanopharmacology, Imp. U. of Almeä Press, v. 517) and the AnAddiction™ clinical trials.  Per clause 14, our client does not recommend and specifically disclaims liability for use of AnAddiction™ on non-healthy/optimal cases except under the supervision of a professional bonded psychedesigner.

As such, we would advise you that our client does not intend to offer a settlement with regard to your proposed suit, and it is our opinion that the claims you cite are meritless under applicable commercial and contract law, and that our client will prevail should this matter proceed to litigation.

Lorcis Tridecimus Vianath-ith-Vianne, obl.

for and on behalf of

Lorcis Vianath-ith-Vianne & Selves Pty., Bonded Commercial Obligators
Ordene Psychedesign, ICC

Escaping From Yourself

One of the most potent of these extremely rare drugs is the unassuming, shimmering nanofluid sold as cháldar.  The nanites suspended within the fluid are a modification of the standard brain-alteration nanites used for downloading mind-states into organic brains, modified to have an erratic temporary effect.

One who injects a vial of cháldar (this injection, as with downloading, must be done directly into the fluid volumes surrounding the brain) begins within minutes to experience its effects.  Cháldar is distilled from pithed sophont mind-states, and the nanites rapidly distribute themselves throughout the user’s neural volume, and begin irregularly imposing sections of the neural net reflecting the mind-state from which they were distilled on top of the user’s own.  The result is an hours-long cascade, usually quite exhilarating, of alien images, feelings, thoughtways, memories, and ideas – effectively, as close as one can come to the dream of being able to experience another’s consciousness from the inside.

While occasional cháldar users may only acquire a few personality distortions from use of the substance – although social problems may result if they interact with others while sections of the alien neural net are active; for this reason, cháldar users generally have themselves immobilized while taking the drug – risks of its use include a wide variety of identity disorders and schizophrenias as the brain adapts to, or incorporates, sections of the alien neural net.

Cháldar is also fraught with legal problems.  While it is produced from legally tradable pithed mind-states, the “best” cháldar highs come from the most complex, unusual, or rare mind-states.  Since the Excellences and Exquisites and their foreign equivalents rarely place their mind-states upon the open market, cháldar is often produced from stolen or otherwise illegally acquired mind-states, leaving the manufacturers open to criminal charges of forknapping, or worse, and any subsequent purchasers to a variety of intellectual property and privacy crimes.

In addition, in the search for outré experience, some manufacturers have taken to manufacturing cháldar from criminal mind-states or the mind-states of the severely insane, the use of which poses a risk of memetic infection or investigation by the Guardians of Our Harmony for pernicious irrationalism.

– Journal of Chemical Hedonism, 1217th issue