Stop Fittling With That: Author’s Notes

For those who might be a mite curious, Stop Fittling With That is set in “present-time” – that is to say, the furthest future point of my defined timeline (although, obviously, not the end of their history), so those mentioned technologies are things that won’t actually appear anywhere in the Eldraeverse, certainly not in the context of the peoples of the Associated Worlds.

FTL (other than the mentioned wormholes and tangle channels) won’t appear at all, and in fact is canonically impossible by other means using my conphysics; for reasons which boil down to “it interferes with the kind of stories I want to tell and the kind of technologies I want to use to tell them”.  Such forms of FTL as wouldn’t – like, say, mass relays – are for the most part functionally isomorphic to the wormhole network I chose to go with anyway.

Dimensional transcendence just hasn’t been invented yet – any examples of it you may see are faked by means which you’ll read about when the Trope-a-Day catches up to, ah, Hammerspace, I think – but is permitted by the local conphysics.  (If you can bend space and time enough to do practical, mass-produced wormholes, bending them enough to put a decent-sized mansion inside a police box is for the most part merely a matter of working out the engineering – for very large values of “merely”.)

Negentropy or something like it probably will require the ability to not merely bend but actually drill holes in the universe, and so is deep-time lengths of time away if it’s possible at all.  Which it may well not be, but I don’t plan on arbitrarily declaring the greatest expression of their greatest ambition physically off-limits when I can just Shrug of God it into the indefinite far future.

And both matter translocation/teleportation and instant Star Trek replicator-style manufacturing don’t exist for the same two reasons.  First, Heisenberg…

(Or rather, in-world, Jeness Rafientar, who spent the first, shorter part of his physics career discovering the uncertainty principle under the name of the Indeterminacy Barrier, and then spent the rather longer rest of his physics career trying unsuccessfully to find some way, any way, to work around the blasted thing.)

…is a bugger, as we know, and magical Heisenberg Compensators are a little too handwavy for my taste, thanks so much.  And secondly, even if you only do it at the molecular level, all that binding energy has to go to/come from somewhere in a very short time, and that poses some thermodynamic problems at the level of physics, and some literary/worldbuilding problems in explaining the implications that the ability to routinely toss that much energy about has on everything else.

These may theoretically exist in the future – given that the basis of the emerging field of ontological engineering is to use manipulations of the laws of the laws of physics that underlie the regular laws of physics to tell the latter to shut up and sit down, but they don’t at any part of the timeline I’m working with.

Stop Fittling With That

Congratulations, my students, on your successful completion of the first half of Ontological Engineering.

When you return in two months, it will be time for each of you to choose the research project you’ll be carrying out for the next two years.  And with regard to that, I would like to encourage you to choose something other than the current obsession with faster-than-light devices.

While I can appreciate your enthusiasm, whether based on the honors and plaudits that await anyone who cracks that particular problem, or the unspeakably large bounty that the Imperial Navy have waiting for anyone who can provide them with a tactical fittler capable of pulling off that four-simultaneous-shots-with-one-ship maneuver – ever since it was shown off on Galaxy of Conquest, anyway – I should nevertheless like to remind you of a few things.

Firstly, that people have been banging on, yanking at, and poking any piece of physics that looked like it might have practical or even impractical fittling potential since before Imogen Andracanth’s team invented the wormhole; and except for the wormhole and the tangle channel, have produced absolutely no positive results whatsoever.

Secondly, that Exogenesis, Islien Yards and Stellar Express, between them, have poured more money into their Starleaper Initiative than the entire budget of this university, and have hired a great many talented graduates of this course.  You can therefore be fairly sure both that the competition is extremely stiff, and that if there were any low-hanging fruit to be plucked in this area, we would probably have heard about it already.

And thirdly, of course, there are a great many unsolved, and indeed, as yet uninvestigated research problems in other areas of ontotechnology, many of them leading to potentially exciting developments in fields as simple as remote sensing and drive efficiency to old speculative-fictional dreams such as dimensional transcendence, matter translocation, negentropy, and instant manufacturing free from all that tedious mucking about with nanomachines.

So go home, enjoy the blue and green season, and come back to me with some exciting proposals!  You won’t be penalized if you do insist on sticking with the fittle, but do check what’s been done in the past and what the Starleaper team have been trying recently, and put some fresh and interesting spin on it.

Class dismissed.

– address to the most recent OE class, Imperial University of Almeä