To clarify the ongoing rumors:

It is NOT true that people who kick the floor-cleaning robots in ISA-administered starports tend to have their luggage accidentally rerouted to Geydagan Down, where it is pillaged by a bunch of black-hole cultists, torn apart, used to clean up after ritual sacrifices, and recycled as toilet paper. The floor-cleaning robots are professionals, after all.

It IS true that we let everyone think so, because those sophs who are bothered by the notion more or less deserve to be.

– ISA Planetary Relations, internal update 7216/3, “Overheard…” column

The Naming of Everything

If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant;
if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be thought remains unthought;
if what must be thought is not thought, then what must be done remains undone;
if this remains undone, apprehension of truth and beauty will deteriorate;
if apprehension goes astray, the people will act poorly in helpless confusion.

Hence there must be neither arbitrariness or ambiguity in what is said.
This matters above everything.

Aurí Péng, philosopher of Ochale, quoted in the charter of the Conclave of Linguistics and Ontology

Author’s note: This is inspired/based on a quotation from K’ung-fu-tzu, on the Rectification of Names (see The Analects of Confucius, book 13, verse 3, for the original), modified in accordance with the then state of Imperial philosophy. I think it fits quite well.

February’s Randoming

Here as a partial apology for a slow COVID-caused month is a collection of random things of a snippet-like nature I have said over the past couple of months in places other than this blog. Enjoy them, such as they are!

On attempting a rapid “unsafe start” of a fusion torch drive:

The result of most attempts at an unsafe start is melting assorted things in the engine room and/or the containment vessel, and having to pay very large fines and the costs of having a HAZMAT team get your wreck into a safe condition to drag to the wreckyard. It’s sort of like putting a bunch of monkeys in charge of starting up one of our CVNs; they can very easily wreck a very expensive boat, but you’re not going to need to replace Norfolk any time soon.

So, for example, you accidentally screw up by bypassing the proper automatic sequencing and collapse the mag-bottle for the nozzle. The energy that was in the mag-bottle gets fed back into the containment power circuit. Alarms sound, breakers trip – the really big ones that use explosive charges to separate the closers – and a whole bunch of machinery in Drive Power One through Three, including the buffering accumulators, turns into molten slag as there’s a real intense local thunderstorm. The spikes that make it through the breakers, because you’re a civilian ship, cause some random electrical failures and trip the main bus off the line in self-protection.

You, sitting in the maneuvering room, get to watch your console light up and then black out as the corresponding machinery stops existing, the emergency fire procedures dump liquid nitrogen into, then vent, the Drive Power spaces, and the master alarm signal adopts a particularly dramatic tone. Then the lights go out, and you’re left sitting there in the bloody glow of catastrophe from your console and emergency bug-lights.

You have a few seconds to contemplate your poor life choices before the Flight Commander comes down there and introduces your brains to a BIG GODDAMN WRENCH.

“All I’m saying is that pansexuality is a very large claim to make in a universe with as many sophont species as this one.”

“We’re shipping forty million tons of individually-packaged spider-silk personal refreshment wipes twelve-hundred light years?”

“Do you want the detailed answer, or just a comment on the absurdity of the universe?”

“The details, please.”

“It’s hard to keep them wiping their asses with sand when they’re sitting on a fortune in spice.”

For reference, my notes on the Transcend’s position at any given time read as follows:

“[continuing to win its game of full-contact solitaire Calvinball with the universe]

insert ‘all according to keikaku’ meme here.”

When complaining about the “you must be smarter than this stick to ride the Empire” immigration rule:

“We have empirical evidence that those who do not pass these specific tests are dangerous to themselves and others in our environment.”

“Yeah? Show us this evidence!”

passes over data rod full of watchvid

“This… this is the last three seasons of Too Dumb To Live, Too Unlucky To Die!?”

“Empirical. Evidence.”

I’m sorry, but around here we only do consensualist agoric-annealing group-mind transghiblian art-deco ecotopic benevolently-hegemonic technothearchy with elvish characteristics.

“Where the fuck did all these dragons come from!?”

“As per chapter nine of the manual, dragons are a normal side-effect of a kami-based ecopoesis system.”

“She’s a bit of an alkahestic.”

“You mean an alcoholic?”

“Not unless alcoholics like dissolving things more than anyone ever should, no.”

“We do not negotiate with terrorists.”

“And yet you are here talking to us.”

“Did I mention that I am officially classified as an Ambassador of Mass Destruction?”

From an extranet compilation of Calíëne Sargas Facts:

“Calíëne Sargas does NOT possess the Eye of Balor, and as such is unable to vaporize enemy vessels simply by glaring at them. This ability has only been confirmed to affect officers ranked lower than Commander (O-6) or equivalent grade.”

Also, in defined terminology, once naval types produce something larger than a superdreadnought (bearing in mind that a hyperdreadnought is fundamentally based on a superdreadnought hull profile), they are formally typed as BM (“warmoon”) and BP (“dirigible battle planet”).

(The latter is currently a hypothetical category. Should it stop being, or a stage be skipped – well, no-one actually knows what the next type up would be, but it probably won’t be “Death Star”.

And for those curious as to Imperial titles of nobility – more specifically, runér titles – the planetary ones are rather too long a list to get into for the moment, insofar as they’re a tangled mass drawn from a large number of cultures maintaining their own systems welded into a single Table of Ranks.

On the other hand, the interstellar titles are nice and simple, being a creation postdating the Consolidation and thus a simple hierarchy. So, from the bottom up, we have:

  • Ecumenarchs, holders of the Imperial Mandate over a given planet, dwarf planet, or large moon, of constituent world membership class, including its associated local orbital habitats. Captain-governors of relativistic city-ships are also ranked as ecumenarchs.
  • Starkeepers, holders of the Mandate over a given star system, along with all its inhabited planets, other bodies, and drift-habitats.
  • Sectarchs, holders of the Mandate over groups of high-population or otherwise important worlds, requiring more attention than would be practical for the attached constellarch, such as the Galari Trinary. Note that there is no regionality named a “sector”; the title comes directly from the root.
  • Constellarchs, holders of the Mandate over all Imperial worlds within a particular constellation.
  • Great Lords of the Sextants (after the Spice Way Program is placed into effect), holders of the Mandate over all constellations attached to a particular Far Star Station. There are not necessarily six of them; the title is a recreated historical holdover.

Other interstellar runér titles include Marchwarden, a title used for the holder of the mandate for a remote ecumenical colony or Imperial Exclave, not yet suited for full constituent status, but which for whatever reason requires a full runér rather than a Ministry of Colonization-assigned rector; and Castellan, assigned to the attached civilian governance of a military or scientific outpost beyond the borders of the Empire.

Bad War

grubby shoot: military (primarily mercenary) slang for a mission or contract which pits them against a sufficiently low-tech opponent (q.v. grubby, slang for low-tech locals) that the conflict is hopelessly one-sided and victory requires little or no effort.

Reputable mercenaries and regular military units tend to loathe grubby shoots, as they lack all dignity, honor, and opportunity for valor. Their commanders also note that they have a strongly deleterious effect on morale and troop quality, and thus avoid taking such missions – especially for the long term – whenever possible.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of disreputable mercenaries and militaries out there, usually amateur and pillage- and atrocity-prone, and more can often be created ad hoc by arming the local grubbies with advanced weapons.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Got To Be Sharp

“And this is our design for a sword edged with a topological defect. We probably shouldn’t go to prototype before we can better simulate the consequences, though.”

“Why, what are the consequences?”

“‘If on your journey, you should pass through the universe, the universe will be cut.’

overheard at the Eye-in-the-Flame booth, ArmsCon 7900, Everlasting Science Fair


There are those who accuse Mer Vadális Exoarchaeological University of being home to, if not infested with, one of the Starfall Arc’s greatest collections of adventurers, looters, graverobbers, smugglers, treasure-hunters, weirdseekers, and other scoundrels of like nature. It is my honor to assure them that they are understating the case.

Morrí Elarios, 7th Chancellor of the University

Technepraxic #4

Having established as an ethical principle that to be sophont is to be entitled as of right to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, it must necessarily follow that the proper function, in accordance with virtue, of the technical organs of a civilization is the abolishment of death, constraint, poverty, and misery.

Ch. 1, Eternal Progress, Ianthe Claves Elinaeth


We gave Our word to the peoples of Ildathach, Llorallin, and Marblyngrann… the Empire may survive a limited nucleonic conflict with Cerenaith. It can not survive a breach of Our word. Take us to strategic condition two. Deploy the orbital defenses.

And prepare for Our immediate transport to Kyo Kanatai. We must direct this personally.

Alphas III Amanyr, 3060, two days before the first strikes of the Eclipse War

First Factor

There are those who have commented extensively on the military advantages, when considering the rise of the Empire, of highly disciplined legionaries able to cast obstacles aside or strike down enemies with lightning, all through force of will.

Far fewer have considered the greater advantage, in economic terms, of the humble farmer who, from his hilltop, may plough and seed a hundred furrows with a gesture.

“From the Mud to the Stars: An Agricultural History”, Ailil Ophris-ith-Ophris

Give It Time

This is a little pastiche of Plutarch on Alexander the Great that I hacked together as a brief illustration of attitudinal differences. I like it enough to share it:

“Alphas smiled when he heard from his astronomers that there were billions of worlds in the heavens; and when his friends asked him the cause of his mood, he answered: do you not think it a worthy challenge that there are billions of worlds to conquer, when we have not yet conquered one?”

Synnas Anaxianos, The City and the World

Shell Game

90. Don’t play the shell game on Paltraeth. They use a different kind of shells.

145 Things Not To Be Done In The Associated Worlds

The Paltraeth variant of the game is played using three obsolete artillery shells and a sledgehammer. In theory, one of the shells has been defused, and the challenge is to find the dud. In practice, this is a con trick with extra concussion.

It is inadvisable to play this variant without quality armor and a current mind-state backup.

A Star Traveler’s Dictionary


Transfragging is the use of a weaponized translocation device to destroy a target, most commonly by interpenetration (i.e., translocating an object to within another, preexisting, object), but the term is also used to refer to simply using the translocator to transmit bombs or other weapons to within a given target.

Since all known or even theoretically possible translocation devices either make use of wormholes or similar metric warps, or alternatively obey the principle of equivalent spatial exchange, and in both cases require a cooperative receiver, transfragging is for all intents and purposes not possible.

Don’t spread it about, though. Belief in the possibility keeps lots of weapons designers in unhealthy places from working on anything that might actually be dangerous.

– Once Again I Have Been Thwarted: Hopeless Ambitions for Budding Evil Geniuses, Bad Stuff Press (8135)

Not Even Wrong

There are those, in the field of biotechnological and medical ethics, who class anagathics as dangerous and addictive, inasmuch as ceasing to take your life-extension drugs results in a plethora of aging-related side-effects, followed by death.

The absurdity of this position and the farcical nature of its enforcement naturally ensure that it is a common state of legal affairs across the Expansion Regions.

– 6200 Annual Report, Riverside Eubiosis Foundation, ICC