Tangent to the Vector (1/2)

If you’re coming to the Vector, your first stop is going to be Axiom Station, the tip of the beanstalk descending to Asymptote, the Vector’s capital, jack city, and safe harbor. Everywhere else in the system, from the solar corona to the Shards, is full to the gunwales with Science!, and until you know what it is, you don’t want to get any on you. Or vice versa.

But let us digress for a moment and consider the remainder of the system. The hot white sun Enlightenment hosts one belt and ten planets of varying size and nature, of which Resplendent Exponential Vector itself is the eighth from the sun.

Closest in is the Fireforge Belt. An asteroid belt with an unusually high orbital eccentricity (0.4), it is believed to be the remains of a planetesimal from outside the Resplendent Exponential Vector System which passed close enough to Enlightenment not only to be captured by its gravity but destroyed by the ensuing tidal forces. While the high temperatures (approaching 900 K on average, and significantly higher during perihelion) and radiation levels here have discouraged settlement, several research stations exist to monitor Enlightenment and study the unusual alloys and minerals formed in this uniquely harsh environment.

The second planet of the system, Linrachlin, a moon-sized rockball, was given over at the Vector’s foundation to an experiment in artificial life and robotic ecology similar to that of Eurymir, but without that experiment’s limiting constraints. However, in 6432, Linrachlin was withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Vector Science Triumvirate after the apex species of the Linrachlin ecology achieved sophoncy; it is now recognized as the independent homeworld of the chiril. The chiril, however, fascinated by the scientific endeavor which gave them birth, cooperate with the Vector Authority in many of their projects.

The third through sixth are minor rocky bodies with little atmosphere, which serve as overflow laboratory space for the Vector itself. Most are notable in some small way, from the materials complexes of Márasanc to the societums of Lethintrí. but of these, the best known is the fifth and largest. Kaërndúr houses a deep bore leading to a heavily shielded vault at its core; this Kaërndúr Deepness houses some of the most sophisticated and delicate experiments in low-energy-state physics, quantum coherency, and other fields that require the unlit silence of such a vault to prevent perturbations.

The seventh, Anbárad, another tiny rockball, houses the local branch of the Repository of All Knowledge, and is a major storage facility for scientific data. The communications facilities of Anbárad are without parallel, and receive dedicated transmission priority for synchronization with other Repository branches.

The ninth, Resplendent Repose, is the second major inhabited world of the Resplendent Exponential Vector System. Almost as large as the Vector itself, Resplendent Repose is the ice to the Vector’s fire, a Galiné-like world of glaciers and alkane oceans buried beneath hydrocarbon smog. While some scientific work and carbon mining takes place in its remoter regions, Repose is the restful garden of the system; resort colonies scattered about its black sand beaches provide an escape from the laboratory far from the myriad temptations of the Vector itself.

The tenth, Phólarae, is the system’s sole gas giant. The planet itself serves primarily as a gas-mining resource (operated from the atmosphere-skimming pentuple moonlet of Ithmaen) and gravity anchor for the largest habswarm (or, if you’ll pardon the expression, “labswarm”) in the system; much dangerous research – by the Vector’s local standards – that might escape the laboratory is based in Phólarae’s trailing libration point, to maximize the time available to clear it up. Experimental proposals at various times to stellify Phólarae were variously deemed impractical or shot down on the basis of the need for local gas mining, before being rendered moot by the successful singularity-induced stellification of Xavéral, creating an artificial brown dwarf.

Its moons, however, are another matter, being reserved for grand experiments requiring a planetary scale. Most famous of these is Lyréssleth, a paraecopoesed moon leased in perpetuity to the Mythologae Immanentization Initiative. Beneath its glass-garden roof, neogenic mythic beasts of many kinds frolic in the jungle surrounding the laboratories, from radioactive basilisks and nanotechnological phoenixes to such relatively mundane recreations as the roc – a behemoth bird able to fly and thrive in the dense, oxygen-rich atmosphere and low gravity. Safaris through the wilds of Lyréssleth provide a valuable additional income stream to the Vector Authority, although hunting is strictly forbidden – not least because the majority of the mythologae recreated there would find hunting the hunters a trivial recreation.

The eleventh, Amnás, is a small, icy dwarf planet orbiting in the outermost fringes of the Resplendent Exponential Vector System. While the planet itself is the focus of some water ice and ammonia mining, most nearby activity is related to its moon, Marín, which is sealed off by the Vector Authority, since it serves as the home of the Marín Nanotechnological Proving Grounds. In short, the entire surface of the planetoid is a seething mass of gray, red, and blue goo, occasionally burned off in regions by bombardment from Amnás in order to introduce some new test scenario.

(The Marín picket warns off impinging vessels, but concentrates its effort on eliminating anything that might leave the surface of the moon. Since trespassers that land on Marín, however well protected, are invariably devoured with minutes, it is generally considered that they are more of an object lesson than a security risk.)


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