February’s Patreon Questions

Without further ado:

If you should encounter a situation where you have, in good faith, undertaken an obligation that is not itself particularly onerous or ethically objectionable, yet you find yourself in a situation where you must either violate some third party’s rights or default on said obligation, what is your best course of action?

(Let’s say, for instance, you’ve taken on an obligation to deliver a particular package to a particular place at a particular time, but in order to do so, you have to pass through a Gate of some sort — and the Gatekeeper is not willing to negotiate passage or pass along the message.)

Well, then you’re screwed, aren’t you?

Your best and indeed only course of action is to suck it up, pay the compensation, and take the rep hit assessed for an involuntary default. (After all, at least it is an involuntary default, so while you’re screwed, you’re not totally screwed.)

That’ll hurt, but that’s what one might call a teachable moment in Why We Don’t make Unqualified Promises Of Things We Might Not Be Able To Deliver, savvy? Did y’all sleep through the day they taught impracticability clauses in contracts class?

I was recently reading an article on the Forbes website about self-driving cars and accident liability ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/omribenshahar/2016/09/22/should-carmakers-be-liable-when-a-self-driving-car-crashes/#7be8eec81f40 ) when a thought hit me that similar matters must come up all the time in the eldraeverse, given the ubiquity of nigh-seamless artificial intelligence .

Which leads me to ask: In an incident where a device that has enough self-agency to make decisions in a “live” environment but not the requisite self-awareness to qualify as a sophont ends up acting in a way that causes injury to person or property, what sort of standards and procedures do the courts of the Empire use to determine who bears the liability?

That depends entirely on who bears the fault, and to what proportionate degree, as is normal in liability cases that end up in front of the Curial courts.

Which, once all the logs from various systems and other applicable data have been collated, is something to be sorted out in court between – to stick with the self-driving car example – the odocorp (as the road and road-grid provider), the car manufacturer (and its software developers and/or wakeners), the car owner (and possibly their maintenance and/or customization provider), anyone else involved (since in the Empire road designs that mingle pedestrians and vehicles are considered Not Done, if you wander into the road and get hit by a car, it’s almost certainly on you), all of the above’s tort insurers, etc., etc.

This can occasionally be complicated, but fortunately the courts have lots of forensic failure engineers on hand for situations just like this.

 

State of the Writer

Tired, but somewhat refreshed for the New Year; apologetic, for the unannounced and mostly unplanned December quasi-hiatus; busy, due to a new contract at the day-job, or day-business rather, which may affect volume somewhat, but it should still certainly be better than said December quasi-hiatus.

I think that about sums it up.

Also, I see that thanks to two more Patreon pledges – thank you kindly, if you’re reading this! – we have now crossed the reward threshold at which there will be artwork.

Oh, god, I promised y’all artwork.

Welp.

I’ll get right on that, then.

Also also, just as a side-note, this is Amazon’s recent patent filing on airborne warehouses with drone delivery:

heliwarehouse

…I hereby declare this to be exactly how, in canon, the All Good Things, ICC delivery service works on garden worlds, on the grounds that (a) the Imperials do love their airships, and (b), it’s freakin’ awesome.

 

The End of the Inquirocene Epoch

Bad news, I’m afraid, gentle readers.

…it looks like I’m going to have to start enforcing what I have been ignoring up to now, namely, treating asking questions as the one-per-$-per-month Patreon reward that I declared it to be, rather than as something freely offered when questions are asked.

I don’t really want to do this, as I rather enjoy expounding on little details, and for that matter, it is in some cases useful to explore some worldbuilding edge cases. The trouble is, however, writing up and in some cases figuring those answers requires much the same part of my brain, and for that matter the same part of my motivation, as writing. And thus, answering them, or just having them lying around to be answered, I have noticed, is having a fairly serious adverse impact on the amount of actual writing that I’m able to get done. (Especially since I have a contract job in the early stages which, from past experience, is also something that can impact my writing time.)

So, while not foreclosing the option entirely, this is an attempt to limit the volume to something a little more manageable, or rather something compatible with the fiction that is, after all, the point of the exercise.

I do, of course, continue to welcome your thoughts, speculations, and so forth, in the comments, even if I can’t reply to all of them.

Requesting your understanding,

The Somewhat Frazzled Author

 

A Little More Blegging

And now, an uncomfortable word from the author:

Here’s how it is.

Not to go into undue detail, but we’ve had kind of a difficult few months ’round here, with various unanticipated incidents and expenses, including some medical-type expenses, which are unfortunately proving quite a painful strain on the budget.

I’d like to start by thanking my existing patrons for keeping up their contributions and helping make this strain somewhat less.

But I’d also like to take a moment to say to other readers that – well, if you’ve been considering becoming a patron, or buying a book, or suchlike, this would be a really good time for it, and I’d appreciate it very much.

Thanks for listening.

 

Questions

So, got a few questions backlogged up to answer, and I’m going to try and answer them today. So you can be expecting that.

In the meantime, it’s rapidly approaching the end of the month, so this is just a quick note to all my Patreon patrons out there that among the things your money buys is your ability to ask monthly guaranteed-answer questions that’ll end up in the FAQ, and it’s that time again. So, shoot!

Finished

No, that’s not going to be today’s letter “F” piece. Well, probably not.

But it does mean that the proofs are proofed, the cover is made, the prices are priced, the checks are checked, all systems are go, all lights are green, and as soon as I double-check a couple of final points, The Core War and Other Stories is go for launch.

Are we excited yet?