Trope-a-Day: Biodata

Biodata: Something common among the esseli, the eldrae who colonized Kythera (Thirteen Colonies), the mezuar, and other wearers of the masters-of-biotechnology hat, with particular note to the Kytherans’ cortextures, immense computers grown from cultured neural tissue, and the Genetic Memory of the esseli, which both is and has been turned into a general-purpose technology for encoding arbitrary data onto DNA plasmids.

Plus, of course, the identifying, copyright, and GRM information encoded into virtually any product of biotechnology…

Trope-a-Day: Fantastic Light Sources

Fantastic Light Sources: Unusual light sources include the fancy “sourceless glow”, or “light-cloud cyberswarm” which is basically a hovering cloud of tiny glowing microbots; and gratuitous use of bioluminescence, from the mundane glowing spheres of microbes in solution used as non-power-dependent emergency lighting, through the bioluminescent organ-strips inside the organic cities of Kythera, to all the fancy and artistically-designed lamppost-trees and other constructs used for aesthetic value as much as illumination.

And, of course, in the pre-electrical era, the prevalence of assorted alchemical “chymelights” to provide light without fire, and thus also without inconvenient degrees of heat and smoke.

Burgers ‘Round the Worlds

Greetings again, readers!

In this month’s issue of A Taste of Taste, we’re going to talk about the humble burger.  One of the simplest foods imaginable – a simple patty of spiced ground meat grilled over flame and slipped inside a bread pocket, along with some simple garnishings and a kimaes for flavor – the burger grew from its humble street-food origins in 9th century Vintiver to dominate the Imperial express-food market as the most popular of its five staples.

The best-known form today, of course, is that popularized by the Astroburger, ICC corporation (formerly Atomic Burger, before their separation from the Lovely Atom Synthetic Drinks and Liquors Company, ICC) and the regular fare of their chain of wildly successful express-food restaurants and fly-in food stops, which is very close to the Vintiver classic; the meat used is hasérgalrás, grilled medium, garnished with a sharp but plain hard cheese, onion, kesseth leaves, and a simple thick-tomato kimaes.  Variations on this essential theme can be obtained from any of dozens of burger restaurants, from simple express-food chains to the expensive burgers on offer at Don’t Eat Vat, with certified natural-grown meats and soil-cultivated garnishes.

But, as we shall see, there are thousands of variations out there.  On Eliéra alone, for example, as well as hasérgalrás we see burgers composed of meat from the reshkef, sevesúr, líhasúr, nekhalyef and tiryef in various regions, and a few even made from meat of the larger tubefish.  In the Crescent Kingdoms of Leirin and Telírvess, they are marinated in the grain liquors of the region, and served raw, with egg yolk.  In the Cyrsan Islands, burgers are garnished with fruit, and served with a honey-sweet kimaes.  In Azikhan, mushrooms are required as part of the garnish, and may even be substituted entirely for the meat.  Travinthia prefers to use loose diced or sliced meat rather than ground meat formed into patties in its burgers, and in Ellestre, they are served between grilled flatbreads, rather than in a pocket.

And then there are those that have come to us from the Empire’s other worlds, including Phílae’s many handfish burgers, Kythera’s highly-spiced garnishes, the subtly-different near-hasérúr meat of Revallá, the leaf wrappings of Clajdíä, and the cultured mixed-species meats of Aïö.

We hope you’ll enjoy joining us for our exploration of the possibilities of one of the Empire’s ubiquitous and often unconsidered foods.

Until next month, happy grilling!

– editorial page, A Taste of Taste magazine

Trope-a-Day: Organic Technology

Organic Technology: It does exist in the universe (see, for example, the Gardeners of Rechesh we mentioned back in Flesh Versus Steel and the qucequql, who went an organic-technology route due to their underwater origin, or for Imperial examples, the bioengineering esseli, and the colonists of the planet Kythera (Imperial Core)).

However, while there exist organic fundamentalists (the aforementioned Gardeners of Rechesh), they are crippled by the disadvantages of their technology.  Organic structures just plain aren’t that good at a great many tasks, including handling high energies, radiation, etc., etc., and very often, the things that they are good at are different from their inorganic equivalents.  A cortexture is a perfectly good organic neural-net computer built out of actual neurons, but it would be wasted performing the same tasks as a regular inorganic processor, or quantum processor less efficiently when it can do the jobs suited for neural-net processing more efficiently.  The right tool for the right job, say sensible users…

…such as the esseli and the Kytherans – and the qucequql – who are a more logical lot, and are more than happy to use organic technology where it makes sense, and wrap it up in a nice neosteel hull with a perfectly inorganic fusion reactor the rest of the time.  Or engage in bionanotech games with materials and devices that couldn’t strictly be said to be one thing or t’other.

Trope-a-Day: Living Starship

Living Starship: The genesplicing esseli and the residents of Kythera – the Empire’s masters of biotech – are the chief users of this sort of technology in the Imperial context, although they’re by no means the only ones in the Associated Worlds to go for this sort of thing.  Although, in deference to certain realities about the capabilities of carbon-based organics vis-à-vis metal and ceramic, the hulls (mostly, although some specially-engineered and composite-laced wood-analogues are an exception), engines, and other high-energy components tend to be not living in anything resembling the conventional sense; i.e., the ships are only semi-organic.  (See also, for example, the note under Flesh Versus Steel about the Gardeners of Rechesh; while they do manage to construct entirely biotech spacecraft, their hulls are vulnerable and engines slow compared to virtually anything else anyone’s ever put into space.)