There were people on Phílae who had a sense of caution in the face of nature.

That was amply evident from the architecture of Lower Landing, which was all in the classical style of the first colonists; long, low, heavy buildings of stone and vitredur, aligned from sea to land, hunched and buttressed to withstand even the winds of a tropical Phílae hypercane, much less the mere megastorms that made landfall on polar Rokírvess, and able to be sealed with doubled doors and valved vents against their burial a hundred feet below the accompanying storm surge.

There are also people on Phílae with no discernable sense of caution at all.

This, in turn, is made amply evident by the citizen-shareholders of Lower Landing, who – under a storm-blackened sky lit only by the blue glow of the city’s kinetic barriers, lashed into incandescence by 200-knot winds and the coruscation of Éjavóné‘s best lightning without end, to the muffled sound of thunder and the syncopation of deep drainage pumps forcing seepage back out against the pressure of an ocean humped twenty, thirty feet high against the shimmering wall, filling the air with faint, salty mist – chose to throw a party on the beach.

Black sand, good food, excellent wine, a brief stretch of calm water – and the prospect of a watery grave should… well, should enough components of a triple-triple redundant system fail, and yet.

Sometimes, we can be a bloody stupid people. But, to our credit, at least it’s a glorious kind of stupidity.

– Cíënne Cassel, My Voyage Diaries


Trope-a-Day: City on the Water

City on the Water: Several, even once we discount a few borderline cases like Landing, Phílae, which is really an Underwater City whose uppermost decks happen to stick out of the water.

Also on Phílae, most notably, are the several temporary floating cities likely to be present at any time, agglomerated together from a huge mass of houseboats and facboats and storeboats all lashed together into a giant city-like mass. (This is much more appropriate for Phílae than trying to build single large floating cities, since Phílae is a warm world without much land, and therefore remarkably prone to hypercanes. The ability to scatter and dodge them is very, very important.)

True artificial city-islands, on the other hand – of which the most famous is Calencine – were pioneered in Eliéra’s warm oceans as self-growing, self-repairing biotech constructs, with a customized biotech framework (including nutrient extraction and transport, and a bio-OTEC for power) supporting an island core of seacrete, island coral, and industrial bamboo.

But, in general, any world that has a hydrosphere and many that have an alkanosphere will have at least some of these.

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying a Damned Inconvenience

“What d’you mean, why the delay?  Oh, you’ve not been to Phílae before, I suppose.”

The pilot gestured through the window at the white-blue marbled planet below them. The hypercane sprawled across the ocean’s surface for over two thousand miles, an ugly whorl of cloud mottled at its outer edges with the lesser swirls of mere hurricanes spun off by the intense core surrounding the primary eyewall, where clouds humped miles into the stratosphere.

That’s why we can’t land; the eye’s only ninety miles or so from Phílae City right now.  And the last reports said they had continuous lightning, horizontal rain, wind speeds nearing five-hundred and a hundred-twenty-foot storm surge.  You don’t want me to take a pinnace down into the middle of that –”

“Oh, no, they’re fine – this happens every year.  Most of the city’s underwater, and the topside part will have closed its shells and gone deep to ride it out.  But it’ll be about thirty, forty hours before the storm’s clear of the city, so we might as well get comfortable — No, not a chance. Even if I was crazy enough to thread the eye – which I’m not – they’re not going to come back up just so we can dock.”

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