Trope-a-Day: Bizarre Alien Senses

Bizarre Alien Senses: Well, hell, who doesn’t have some sort of bizarre senses? Especially since it gets very tricky if you count the whole electromagnetic spectrum as one – i.e., “ultravision” and “infravision” are both strict subsets of “vision”. As, for that matter, is sensing gamma rays – and other similar elisions. It’s not like anyone gets to claim the canonical radiation range for “sight”, now is it?

But we’ve got people sensing everything from low infrared to high UV, with bioradio senses, with the ability to detect electromagnetic fields both static and changing, with the ability to feel the curvature of space-time (that would be those bionano vector-control effectors again), with echolocation and/or sonar, the ability to read plasmids by tasting them, and pretty much any other physical effect that you can measure somehow on the macroscale.

(The current eldrae alpha baseline clocks in at 24 recognized senses, by the way, counting the synthetic and transcendent ones, and that’s after considering smell and taste as one: photoception, audition, chemoception/olfaction, static mechanoception, dynamic mechanoception, thermoception, nociception, static electroception, dynamic electroception, proprioception, chronoception, farspeech, spatioception, secondary gestalt, secondary linear, mesh, metadata, worth, mnemonesis, nature, utility, entelechy, obligation, and autosentience.)

Trope-a-Day: Tastes Like Purple

Tastes Like Purple: Comes along with switching bodies and having sensory modalities available to you that aren’t part of your natural heritage. Until your mind and brain both adapt to the new information they’re receiving, you tend to spend some time staggering around babbling about how everything tastes like purple, looks like F sharp, and smells like orthogonality.

The other common situation in which it occurs (leaving aside dreamer’s honey and other fun recreations) is when an adult is fitted with a neural lace, rather than having one grow naturally. In the latter case, you see, it learns how to speak brain right along with the brain; in the former, it has to figure it out after the fact, which bedding-in process has results much like the above until everything’s bedded in properly.

Trope-a-Day: Steel Eardrums

Steel Eardrums: As mentioned briefly under Super Senses, one of the modifications included in the current alpha baseline upgrade is a special sphincter for the ear to protect against loud noises, both reflexively and voluntarily operable.  It’s not perfect Steel Eardrums – where exceptionally loud noises are concerned – but it certainly improves matters when you’re running around shooting things and causing merely regular-sized explosions.

Trope-a-Day: My Sensors Indicate You Want To Tap That

My Sensors Indicate You Want To Tap That: Well, yes, because sensor technology – including the inborn kind – is very, very good.  Even better than most people’s ability to control their kinesic tells or remember to run their face-saving programs.  Fortunately, being members of an extremely polite society, Imperials are good at discretion.

Book Recommendation

I made a book recommendation elsewhere today, concerning the problem of writing beings with senses or abilities or other things that we don’t have, and since for myself I think it’s a rather good recommendation, well, I’m going to make it here, too.

Specifically, Inside of a Dog, by Alexandra Horowitz.  It’s a fascinating examination of the canine umwelt – per von Uexkull – their subjective view of and interaction with the world, including the many differences in their sense perceptions.  I originally found it useful to help me think about the different mindset of the dar-bandal, the uplifted near-wolves of the Eldraeverse, but a good many of the concepts and ideas I picked up in there have helped me a lot with imagining the perceptions and internal view of much stranger creatures.

(After all, dogs and wolves are close cousins of ours, who may have different models of the traditional five senses, but still use those; it’s rather more challenging to try and imagine the perceptual world of the five-minded ice snakes that are the murast whose “vision” includes none of our visual-light spectrum, the seb!nt!at who perceive the world through nuclear force and magnetic domains, or the mezuar, who as sophont forests, don’t even have a similar sense of self-identity to ours!)

Highly recommended for both worldbuilders and those of everyone fortunate enough to have a dog in their lives.

Trope-a-Day: Color-Coded For Your Convenience

Color-Coded For Your Convenience: Played straight in all the usual locations: indicator lights, transit routes, components and tool-heads, plugs and sockets, signs, departments on uniforms, logos, etc., etc.  Made more complicated, though, by the local spectrum including two ultraviolets (no, that plain white cloak is not plain white) and an infrared as visible colors; visitors with greater than merely human or lesser spectral bandwidth are still, however, lucky that the number of species that can eyeball the difference between true green and blue-and-yellow-mixed is small, otherwise this would get Very Difficult Indeed.

Trope-a-Day: Super Senses

Super Senses: Naturally, with various enhancements here and there, with the new Imperial baseline involving enhancing vision to include a substantial chunk of infrared and ultraviolet (everything from 500 nm through <300 nm), better imaging resolution, low-light sensing and thermal imaging, better sensitivity to motion, angle, and range, and – which so many of these miss – flare protection (actually, they all come with overload protection); hearing gets better amplitude sensitivity (to -50 dB) and frequency sensitivity (16-35,000 Hz), direction-finding, perfect pitch, and a sense of rhythm; smell gets closer to the bloodhound’s nasal skill, and taste likewise; touch enhanced with greater sensor density and acuity (and this, incidentally, is why people pay such attention to the comfort and texture of clothing and furniture); balance, rotation and acceleration senses are no longer troubled by rotating frames of reference or microgravity; pain detection is gateable; and the time sense becomes much more accurate.

(Parallel-type enhancements apply to species which were endowed with different senses by nature, of course.)

Of course, that’s just the existing senses.  Then come things like the entirely new sense for static and dynamic EM fields, synthetic additional visual fields and auditory channels for augmented-reality information, and senses operating through the Transcendent hyperconsciousness permitting the recall of memories never experienced and the direct sensing of nature, meaning, utility, entelechy, and obligation…