Trope-a-Day: The Milky Way Is The Only Way

The Milky Way Is The Only Way: Played straight, given the general uselessness of other experimental fittlers, and since the only reliable form of FTL the universe evidently permits is stargate pairs, the far end of which has to be dragged out to its destination at subluminal speed.  Thus, only a veritable tiny fraction of even this galaxy has been explored.

That said, the Elsewhere Society did manage to raise the mind-croggling amount of money necessary to have a stargate pair constructed and its Wandercompagnon lobbed at the Greater Ancíël Whirl (which is to say, the Large Magellanic Cloud) at near-light velocity, but it won’t get there for a long, long time.  They’re having rather less success in raising more money to build a second pair and repeat the exercise with Andromeda.

And it’s not like sufficiently powerful telescope arrays can’t see some interesting things going on Beyond The Space We Know, other galaxies included…

Meanwhile, In The Intergalactic Void

Elsewhere Society Deep Probe One.
En route to Greater Ancíël Whirl.
Velocity: 0.9 light.
Mission Elapsed Time (empire-time frame): 1 kiloyear.

The stargate cruised onward through the empty void, its linelayer’s drive shut down after its last major vector change, leaving the galactic disk and acquiring its destination.  Against the stars, its motion was imperceptible, with only a few high-energy photons as particles impacted the bow shield to indicate its true speed, a far cry from the foreshock of a lighthugger within the galaxy out here in the dustless halo.

A few lights sporadically glimmered on the habitat modules clamped to the side of the linelayer, populated by occasional astronomers, physicists, a few tourists, and mystics mindcast in for the experience of the void and the view.

No one visited except by ‘casting; while the stargates did compensate for relative velocities, the near-luminal speeds and relativistic distortion this one had achieved while en route already were well beyond their capacity to cope with for transporting mass.

So for the most part, the stargate cruised on alone.

1,000 years elapsed. 200,000 years to run.

Stranger Than Fiction

Heard of the temísi?  The arthál?  How about the zal!en?

Well, if you had been part of the gaming set between ten and twenty years ago, you did, since these three fictional species made up most of the protagonists of An Ending Not In Fire, the blockbuster virtuality game (and novel, InVid, watchvid, and slinky) franchise from Mirajdíä Studios (Delphys), with its overarching story of love and politics and betrayal and existential threats set in the Greater Ancíël Whirl.

And you’d have heard of them again last week if you read Galactic Demographics Quarterly, since all three of them just turned up in the Empire’s latest statistical update.

This is not merely a repeat of the story some of you may recall seeing a few years ago that Metabiologics, the specialist bioshell manufacturer, had started producing bioshells matching the physical forms of these species for the enjoyment of fans; that was merely another piece of strangeness from our primary source for strangeness, and not something that would appear in the demographics.

Now, however, funded by the “eccentric” quadrillionaire Meris Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios, a consortium of biotechnology companies has produced viable – fully capable of independent life and self-perpetuation – neogen species designed to match those in the game from which they originated.  Millions of sophonts have chosen to adopt these species as their own, and had it formally recognized by their government.  And more, I am informed that Vinithos-ith-Vinithinios’s consortium has acquired the colonization rights to three ecopoesable planets in the Banners constellation, and arranged to have these recognized as the adopted homeworlds of these fictional species, with representation both in the Shadow Ministries’ Convention of Species and as Imperial member polities using their fictional government, barely modified!

If you aren’t terrified yet, you should be.  Here we have the absolute cutting edge of biotechnology, a degree of manipulating nature that should be treated with the utmost respect, being used to… what?  Turn playing storyteller into playing god?  A man with enough money to wave aside the problems of any dozen backward planets you care to name spends it on realizing an elaborate fantasy.  Millions of people abandon their homes, their roots, their own species to live their lives play-acting cultures that some writers made up whole-cloth, and to raise their children in the same fake bodies and rootless environment.

And their government, finding a new low point in its well-known distaste for responsibility, not only doesn’t see fit to raise any questions or take any actions to stop all this, but cheerfully accepts these… defictionalizations as new member species and nations without so much as a sideways look.  One might have hoped that one of the Great Powers of the Worlds, one that sits on the Presidium of the Conclave, even, might act with a little more gravitas and respect for the essence of our galaxy’s natural species, but no.

This is how the wealthy and powerful among people and nations act today.  It’s no wonder the galaxy’s in a hell of a state.

– Independent Worlds Router, anonymously filed article

“They may have picked an unconventional way to go about it, but our new temísi and arthál and zal!en citizen-shareholders are going about building something; worlds, lives, cultures.  That’s their free choice and something laudable, not blameworthy.  If you want someone to blame for the state of the galaxy, try the narrow-minded microcephaloids like whoever submitted that article to the Router.  And yes, that is the official position of this government.”

– Esmérel Amanyr-ith-Loriane, Imperial Palace press secretary