Trope-a-Day: Doing in the Wizard

Doing in the Wizard: Played straight in the most literal sense possible: if there’s magic, miracle, or straight-up literary conceit around, you can be absolutely sure that there’s someone *there* figuring out how it could work and/or how it can be reverse-engineered, because that’s how you go about increasing the universe’s net awesome, belike.

(As a culture that downright inverts Measuring the Marigolds, they don’t feel that this in any way reduces appreciation for them; indeed, the entire notion that understanding in some way reduces or destroys appreciation or sense of wonder can surely only be the product of the most profound intellectual confusion.)

Trope-a-Day: Measuring the Marigolds

Measuring the Marigolds: Should you, gentle reader, ever find yourself transported by some magical tornado to one of the locales about which I write, don’t try and explain this one to the locals. Really. Just… don’t.

Expect a lengthy lecture on how The World Is Just Awesome, but can only be appreciated at a very shallow level by those who don’t even try to understand it, and how substituting mere numinous neural self-pleasuring for truly grokking the wonders of the world is grossly inadequate, and frankly the world deserves better of you, Mister So-Called-Sentient-Supposedly-Sapient-Being, than such flagrant and feth-witted mystagoguery.

Or, y’know, a truly spectacular contemptuous snort.


Field Research


Militant Particle Laboratory,
Terrible Aspect Research Sodality,
Terrible Aspect Station, Resplendent Exponential Vector

Paltraeth Institute for Explosive Magnitude,
Isselon Clanhold, Paltraeth

Applied Military Scienciers,
c/o Ultimate Argument Risk Control


We study the rate and distribution of neutrino emission events and after-the-fact nucleic transmutation in a variety of commonplace starship hull materials, using a prototype boser producing a collimated beam of W-boson glueballs incident on Voniensa Republic Navy targets. We find a significant transmutation rate at energies and ranges calculated to prevent premature glueball decay, resulting in a significant degradation of the crystalline structure of these materials and thus their structural strength.

Obtain full paper

Who Are You Calling Exo?

exosciences (also xenosciences) (n.): Including exogeology, exogeography, exoclimatology, exobiology, exoecology, exosophontology, exomemetics, etc.

An archaic series of terms referring to the various sciences when applied to off-planet phenomena, usually used with reference to the speaker’s homeworld.

This terminology fell into rapid disrepute after the first full conference of the Fellowship of Natural Philosophy after the reunification of the Thirteen Colonies, in which, upon entering the nomenclaturical dispute over the proper terminology to describe each individual colony’s branch of the exosciences – then in its third hour – Academician Excellence Corvis Ejava, Dean Pro Tem, declared “it’s a big [redacted] galaxy and none of your homeworlds are that [redacted] special”, adding that the prospect of having to use 300 billion different terms to describe the same studies depending on where you were was “the single most bloody stupid thing I’ve heard in the last 900 years, and I have students”.

The term geography, while possessed of some local bias, persisted for several hundred years after this conference, before being universally replaced with galactography, following representations from the scientific community of the hydrogen-breathing sssc!haaaouú that while their homeworlds could be described as many things, “geo-“ was not one of them.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

You Want This. You Need This.

Those of you who have bought and read a copy of The Core War and Other Stories may have noticed the reference to Kerbal Space Program in the acknowledgements…

(Those of you who haven’t – go buy a copy! Right now! Seriously – I’ll wait for you. Got it? Okay.)

…specifically “which taught me everything I know about orbital mechanics”.

Well, the beta is over and the first release version, 1.0, just shipped today. And so I’m here to suggest to you that you get a copy, too. It’s an invaluable resource for the SF writer, because it’s far easier to learn orbital mechanics from – specifically including developing an intuitive feel for them – than doing so from textbooks. And when you’re trying to do something complex enough that you need to go back to the textbooks, it makes it a lot easier to understand them. (And the fun needn’t stop there – it has a very active modding community whose add-ons let you simulate everything from life support to heat radiators, from exotic ISRU fuels to Orion drives…)

And it’s an invaluable resource for SF readers, too, at least if you like your SF relatively hard and want to have some idea how real spacecraft actually maneuver. (Fair warning: you may suffer somewhat from this if you have a problem with Science Ruining Everything, but, hey, knowledge has a price. Read better books!)

And best of all, it’s 25% off right now for launch day, so hie yourself over to the Kerbal Space Program web site and get yourself a copy. I personally guarantee that you won’t regret it.