May’s Questions

So, yes, answers. But before we get to those, remember the reference to fanfiction being written in “Things You Are No Longer Allowed To Do In The Imperial Military Service“? Mark Atwood points out the following niftyness in a comment:

The anime series “Gate – Thus the JSDF Fought There!” was originally JSDF fanfiction written by a JSDF soldier while he was serving in the JSDF, and published on a reddit-like service in Japan.

…so, reality continues to be just as strange as fiction. Good for it. ūüôā

First question:

So what, exactly, are the story behind and the specific “sins” of Magen Corporate and the Isliar Primarchy? In the first case, I’ve been able to piece together hints that it has some sort of tenuous connection with the Empire of the Star (or at least the general eldraeic cultural penumbra) from certain hints elsewhere, but the latter pretty much only seems to exist as a teaser in the “What Do You Mean It’s Not Political?” Trope-a-Day.

The Isliar Primarchy don’t really have sins. They’re too damn boring to have sins. Let me explain thus:

The Primarchy? They are an entire planet of people with sticks up their butts. Indeed, it is safe to say that they have the highest Stick-Up-Butt Coefficient of any studied population in the known galaxy. They are highly conservative, highly traditional, and strongly distrust any offworlder ideas and indeed anything else less than a thousand years old.

(I’d elaborate, but seriously, I’m falling asleep here just¬†thinking about them.)

As for the Magen Corporate, it was founded by a cabal of Renegade plutarchs who didn’t think any of those pesky ethics should interfere with the pure unfettered pursuit of profit, and whose self-interest lacks a degree or two of enlightenment (which, much to their annoyance, their loyal cousins are not shy about pointing out actually¬†impairs their pursuit of profit).

It is hard to overstate just how much people from the Empire, plutarchs especially, loathe the Magenites and all their works, because while ignorant barbarians might have a small excuse for being ignorant, these shit-fucking heretics damn well know better and every quantum of exchange-value that passes through their hands is a desecration of the holy principle of greed itself.

(One can only look forward to the Exceedingly Hostile Takeovers, really. About which more anon.)

…and that would seem to be it for this month. Remember, $1 and over patrons, you get one free question a month! Don’t be shy about using it!



2016_L(No alternate words.)

From Academician M√ļ√≠r√≠ Larathyr-ith-Lyrian, Fellow of the Sodality of Commutative¬†Logotecture, Associate Proctor of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology, Loremaster of Linguistics, Semiotics, and Memetics, to the Ecumenical Commission of Translation and Conversion, greetings.

With respect to the views of the Commission and those expressed by various submissions to the commission, it remains my opinion, and that of my colleagues, that “lore” and its semiotic equivalents in other language remains the best cognate available for the Eldraeic¬†alath. While it is in many languages of the Accord an archaic term (and thus may result in degrees of cognitive dissonance when speakers of such languages are confronted with compounds such as “spacer lore”, “nanolore”, et. al.), it is our belief that it properly reflects and thus aids in understanding the nature of the development of knowledge among the eldrae.

Unlike many civilizations whose discovery of the scientific method came as a revolutionary change of paradigm, or is perceived as such, for us the insights of Sung Iliastren and his successors formed an evolutionary phase in the search for truth; and while much of the knowledge attained by prescientific, if we may so inaccurately term them, methods was invalidated by later discoveries, we see this itself as merely part of the process of testing and refining hypotheses. Epistemology applied to itself, if you will. As such, we continue to revere the ancient scholars in fields from astronomy through chymistry to now-obsolete sorcery as fellow seekers for truth, and feel no need to discard their terminology where it remains appropriate.

I observe one of the citations offered in support of the proposal to change this translation¬†is the various replacement terms¬†found in the¬†Magen dialect. While as an Imperial logotect I naturally consider this bastardized form of the language¬†with some distaste, I would root my objection to their terminology in that the bastardized language in question belongs to a bastardized¬†culture, which has perverted the forward-looking attitude and enthusiasm for genuine progress into a disdain for tradition and fatuous love of novelty for its own sake, hence their eagerness to replace functional words with “improvements”¬†of¬†no greater meaning or precision¬†simply for the sake of doing so – something which must be rejected by any professional logotect or well-educated speaker as a matter of principle!

A third consideration is the number of related cognates (loremaster, as both a word and an academic ranking; loreworks; various trade names; etc.) which would also have to be altered in the course of execution, or otherwise lose their base root.

In closing, we must therefore reject the proposal at hand unless significant evidence of failure to understand within a sample set of educated speakers (per relevant IOSS) can be brought to our attention.

Given under my hand and seal this day,

M√ļ√≠r√≠ Larathyr-ith-Lyrian


Trope-a-Day: What Do You Mean, It’s Not Political?

What Do You Mean, It’s Not Political?: It is, I suppose, only in the generic sense of fiction featuring utopias or near-utopias, which is to say, only insofar as it’s therefore automatically a Take That to all those other, lesser, civilizations.

As for more strictly political issues: well, if you’re willing to draw moderately inexact analogies, the Isliar Primarchy is a Take That to traditionalist conservatives, the Magen Corporate to corporatist conservatives, the Annik Sodality to liberals, the Voniensa Republic is one to moderates/statists, the People’s State of Bantral and the Equality Concord to communists (more anarchic and more static, respectively), the Iltine Union to fascists, the Theomachy of Galia to half the Middle East and arbitrarily-selected other religiously-dominated states, Valturak and Nal Kalak to warlordism, the Rim Free Zone to anarcho-capitalists and especially dogmatic Rothbardians, and every single-system backwater polity ever to humanists and Luddites. (Feel free to select whichever combination of acknowledgement and/or ignorance will produce the spin you want on my personal opinions.)

Imperial political scientists clionomists have a The Reason You Suck speech ready for all of these, and by extension, for just about everybody on Earth with a political opinion at all.¬† Which is appropriate, since by and large, that everybody has a loud and profoundly ignorant reality-immune political opinion is one of the major reasons why, to steal a perfectly quote, it would be their considered opinion that “All you of Earth are idiots!

Trope-a-Day: One Nation Under Copyright

One Nation Under Copyright: There are various forms of corporate-style governments found in the Associated Worlds – at least three distinct ones in the Empire alone.

The first of these is the governing corporation – a government which organizes itself along corporate lines. (A distinct feature of this type of corporate government is that the corporation exists solely to be a government, rather than being a corporation focused on something else that happens to govern.) The Empire contains quite a few of these, and indeed, is itself the largest – albeit an impure, the joint-stock corporation itself being in its infancy when it was founded – example of the type, hence the term citizen-shareholder, and the presence in the Imperial Couple’s style of Chief Executive Officers of the Imperium Incorporate.¬† Another unusual constituent-nation example is the First Distributed Exclavine Republic, a confederation of Imperial exclaves run by a central Board.

(For the libertarians in the audience, one reason for this is that many of these, the Old Empires included, evolved out of PPLs or mutual-PPLs, themselves founded after the fall of the kor√°san and the Drowning of the People.)

The second of these is the corporate conlegial model, which exists to cover the large number of company-owned (or other privately-owned) but still Imperially-sovereign habitats or other enclaves, in which the responsibility to provide law/contract enforcement and other sovereign services on the Charter model is formally devolved upon the owning corporation’s Infrastructure and Security departments, thus saving a great deal of trouble¬† where all the thousands of habitat-based office parks and research parks are concerned.¬†¬† The largest examples, of course, are the jointly-held corporate research planet Wyn√©rias, the privately owned storage depository system Argyran, and the interlocking-collectives-of-Mad-Scientists-owned system Resplendent Exponential Vector.

The third is the corporate colonial model, in which those Imperially-chartered ecopoesis, colonization and development corporations that own entire planets under development are responsible for providing said sovereign services under Charter law on those planets until such time as they’re turned over to their actual final owners.

Variations on these three – essentially benign – models also exist elsewhere in the Worlds, as do some other less benign examples; in the Magen Corporate, for example, non-shareholding citizens are considered corporate assets in the literal sense, and the Chelzan Syndicracy is always fighting corruption in its mutual-conlegial model, but on average, corporate government tends to produce results no worse than any of the other kinds people try and use.

Trope-a-Day: Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain

Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Magen (Magen Exodus), throneworld of the eponymous Magen Corporate, is like this.¬† In amusing irony, Magen’s planetary weather was this miserable before the governing cartel of the Associated Worlds’ closest approach to a cyberpunk dystopia got hold of it – not that it’s improved any since.

Trope-a-Day: Corrupt Corporate Executive

Corrupt Corporate Executive: Extensively (albeit not completely) averted in the Empire, inasmuch as in its genuinely free market, without (a) an extensive regulatory state to buy and then use for yourself or against the competition, (b) legislators and other politicians who feel comfortable immunizing you from consequences, or (c) a legal requirement to act in a blatantly sociopathic manner, acting this way is bad for business, and therefore profoundly stupid.  (And, when it does occur, prone to bring the Market Liberty Oversight Directorate down on your head like Rods From Gods.)

Played as straight as reality permits in general, which is to say, pervasive in the corporatist Magen Corporate and the fascist Iltine Union, but substantially less common than the cliché that the generally left-leaning modern Earth media makes it seem.

Trope-a-Day: Banana Republic

Banana Republic: While not in the fruit sense, usually, a number of the (usually single-system) misfortunate client polities of the Magen Corporate and Iltine Union are exactly this.

One could make a case, possibly, for those polities unfortunate enough to get themselves into serious debt to Gilea & Co., and run foul of their so-you’re-a-state-so-what? collections policy, but those guys are capable of seeing the long view and thus avoid inflicting the gross mismanagement that tends to characterize banana republics.

The Rains of Magen (3/3): Bits

It was raining on Magen three months later, the dismal, sleeting, heavy blatter that always came as the months wore on towards winter.

But the planet‚Äôs perpetual, churning overcast existed at a considerably lower altitude than the 995th floor office of Lyrith Kazesh, TriDyne‚Äôs Vice President of Computation. The bright sunlight streaming in the window from Magen‚Äôs unfiltered yellow-white sun, however, did nothing to ease the mind of Vark Reth-1928, waiting in the VP’s outer office while the future of his project – and more immediately important, his personal future – was decided.

*             *             *             *             *

Six hundred floors below, where the rain was beating hard against the outer walls, in the dedicated lab space allocated to the Project, Terek 318-1224 went about his business, emptying the trash receptacles and ensuring that document and media waste, and any discarded hardware, was properly routed to the confidential incinerators. He hummed as he worked, oblivious to the looks of annoyance from some of the operating staff – his clearance to work in the secured machine areas of the Project had meant a significant rise in per diem for a worker of his classification, and all was well in his little world.

*             *             *             *             *

All was anything but well for Vark, in Kazesh‚Äôs office above, receiving the VP‚Äôs tirade. ‚ÄúYou received your present classification, and authority over the Project – not to mention your options – on the basis of your performance with parallel architecture machines. You assured me, and I assured the Board, that you could crack the proteome encoding on the — on the samples we recovered.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWhat are you bringing me instead? A fiasco. Nonsensical output, computations that differ every run, requisitions for replacement hardware? A two month overrun?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLast chance, 1928. Make it work. You have two weeks to make your pet cluster deliver what you promised me, or else the Project is scrubbed. And you go back to being listed among the assets. Now get out.‚ÄĚ

*             *             *             *             *

And down below in the lab, where a cooling fan had plucked it out of the air and whirled it to rest between one golden leg of cluster processor 83-12-17 and another, a thin carbon film wound around a hair fragment shorted those circuits, flared to life just long enough to scramble a few bits of data, turning the results of a handful of operations to incomprehensible garbage, and then vaporized.

And elsewhere in the cluster, another.

And another.

The Rains of Magen (2/3): Hair

It was raining on Magen two weeks later, too, and the rain beating down on the starscrapers of Magen’s corporations and the mere skyscrapers of its stockholders flowed in rivulets and gushing streams down their sides, along the skybridges, and cascaded in waterfalls off edges and balconies, these waterfalls torn to spray in the wind to fall again as rain far below.  The shredded falls, in their turn, beat on the roof and windows of the housing block far below where Terek 318-1224 slept in the sound sleep of a Magen clone, undisturbed by the cacophony of the falling water.

Hour by hour, the bionanomachines within him went about their work. Within minutes of the ice sliver having melted in his neck, the released bionanites had found their way to their targets, colonizing roughly every tenth follicle on Terek’s head. And now, while the hairs fibers grew and slid imperceptibly slowly outwards, they went to work, plating a thin strand of conductive carbon film helically around each fiber.

A small, microscopic change, using nothing but natural elements of the body in barely detectable quantities; it was nothing that would alter the outward color or texture of his hair, but more than enough to fulfill its purpose…

The Rains of Magen (1/3): Needle

It was raining on Magen that day, the dull, persistent, sheeting downpour that beat down upon the planet’s surface for thirty hours of every thirty-one hour day. Except for those resident in the highest executive towers and the aerostats of the Stockholding Directors, rising above the permanent cloud layer that enshrouded the world in gloom and oppressive heat, the omnipresent rain was as much a fact of life for the residents of the Magen Corporate’s capital world as gravity and service deductions.

The rain beat upon the roof of a hotel near Magen’s primary starport, running down in channeled cascades past the windows of its rooftop café, opened in the hope of garnering what morning breeze there was.  And thus, too, it fell past the table where Rivis mor-Estaeum laid down the smart-paper with the morning’s financial results, and turned to leave. And in falling, its sound more than covered the puff of the tiny ice needler hidden beneath his jacket.

Twenty stories below, the rain fell just as heavily, slick with grime and fatter droplets washed off the edges of the buildings above. Terek 318-1224, one of the many Magen basic-labor clones waiting at an office checkpoint to begin the work day, slapped his hand to the back of his neck at a sudden, sharp sting, then muttered an imprecation as warm droplets found their way under the collar of his cheap bactry-plastic overcoat, shuffling forward in the line.

And as the tiny sliver of ice embedded in his neck melted away, a hundred thousand biological machines swam free, swarmed, and began to multiply…