Natural Legislation

selective ontology evocation system: Known in the vulgar as the reality engine, or even as the god-machine1, and widely acknowledged as the crowning achievement of the ontotechnologist’s art, the SOES is the first general-purpose ontotech effector.

The SOES came from a development and reconsideration of simpler ontotechnologies derived from the three major competing physical hypotheses: information physics gave us matter editation, and with it reality graphics, the matter-handler, and the peeker-poker; matrix theory gave us vector control, the probability kiln, and the subquantum operators underlying the tangle channel; while ontological precedence produced dimensional transcendence, the frameslip drive, and the subtleties of mirithestel architecture. Various ways to bridge the gaps between these theories were suggested by the Liuvis-Lochran-Marukanin-Melithos Partial Unification, and the result, when turned to practical application, was this device.

Put simply, a reality engine permits you to – within a superficies-bounded volume, and for so long as the engine is operating – modify, revoke, or define fundamental constants, physical laws, and other dependent aspects of reality as its operator wishes. (Within certain limits: while even many trivial modifications can easily cause catastrophic information loss, mass-energy decomposition, or even vacuum decay, imposing a self-inconsistent set of principles on even a bounded volume of hard vacuum will cause eschatonic substrate collapse and reversion to cacoastrum. Fortunately, the universe is robust and such phenomena have not proven to be indefinitely self-propagating.

For this reason, commercial SOES tend to be dedicated units, or programmed with a limited number of safe presets.)

1. Although, as ontologists point out, the SOES is unable at this point to bring about permanent alteration in fundamental constants and laws, or to create entirely new universes, and as such the latter term should be reserved for the still-hypothetical universal ontology editation system, or UOES.

– Quandry’s Guide to Technological Fundamentals

(Author’s Note: We again here find ourselves reading a document that fell off the back of a temporally-displaced starship from the Rather Further Future. As careful readers may know, the SOES and certain of its predecessors – the peeker-poker, dimensional transcendence, and the frameslip drive – do not exist yet in the 7900-8000 timeframe in which the majority of these nanofics are set.)

 

Trope-a-Day: Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism

Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Played straight at both ends.

The greater galaxy, by and large, is a cynical place.  It may not be a Crapsack World – hell, it doesn’t even come close to a Crapsack World – but it is a realistic universe – which is to say, entirely indifferent to the sophonts within it, even when they are adequately supplied with unenlightened self-interest, nihilism, or out-and-out bastardry, and guided by blind chance and, of course, the endless deathward drag of entropy.

The Empire, by contrast, is a exceptionally shiny and idealistic Utopia of wealth, freedom, the complete absence of death, disease, poverty, crime, war, or anything else that might disturb the serenity of the average citizen-shareholder; a place where everyone can trust and be trusted, people always care, and happy endings always happen for good people.  And they’re working quite hard on knocking off universal entropy.  (Of course, that’s so because they work very, very hard to make it so – including things like building into their collective consciousness an entire machine-god to replace blind chance with a superior organizational principle, one more prone to fortunate coincidences, happy meetings and Destined True Love.)

Essentially, back in the day, the dozen or so Founders disapproved really rather strongly of the default state of things, and essentially declared war (metaphorically speaking – the paradoxes involved in warring your way to utopia is something else they’re quite aware of, however hilarious punching grimdark in the face with a spacemagic fist of doom can be on occasion) on cynicism, nihilism, and other forms of entropism in the name of holding ideals hard enough that they become real. Because if the universe believes otherwise, the universe is wrong, and dammit, we can fix that.  Their modern tradition-continuing clade-heirs, who make up a supermajority just about everywhere, are very aware that utopia doesn’t come easily, and ensure that things stay the way they’re supposed to work – the way they would work in a properly constructed universe – at least inside the borders – even if that means occasionally acting cynically outside them.

The long term plan, of course, is to ram their paradigm down the throat of the entire universe… but since that’s hard to do and Utopia, they would argue, by definition can’t Justify The Means, it has to be a very long term plan.

(Not that they’re the only enclave of idealism.  Of course, ideals are to a certain degree a matter of personal taste – the founders of the Equality Concord were profoundly idealistic, and they did create a kind of utopia… if you ignore the effective elimination of free will.)

Not Yo’ Mama’s Wormholes

Or, the Difficult Worldbuilding Compromises that Result when You Didn’t Design Everything at the Same Time.

It has been (entirely correctly) pointed out over on Google+ that this is not how wormholes, as we understand them today, would work.

(Because they’d work like this.)

This is one of those cases, though, where I end up invoking “firmish SF” – and one in which I’m trying hard to deprecate the term “wormhole”1 to refer to the kind of FTL there just to avoid confusion…

Having done my reading on said-hypothetically possible wormholes, I did my damnedest to use them properly. (Long-term readers of mine may, for example, remember some older references to wormholes as continuously existing Visser-type structures embedded in exotic matter frames, now quietly retconned out of canon – which indeed worked exactly as they should with regard to local conservation; having traversers’ mass and momentum added to the mouth they enter and subtracted from the mouth they exit.)

This would probably have worked a lot better for me if I’d not had an existing background/setting, because while I’ve rewritten a lot of things a lot of times to fit with hard-scientific plausibiity, after wrestling with it for a lengthy period – well, I came to the conclusion that while it offered me some very interesting options for how things would play out, there was pretty much no way I could reconcile it with what I had short of throwing out the setting and writing a new one from scratch. And, well, ouch.

So given the choice between that, badly mangling real science, or constructing some con-science to fit – in just this case, um, space magic? 🙂


1. Suggestions for alternative terminology gratefully accepted, since I really don’t want to keep calling these things wormholes when they don’t behave like wormholes. Especially since, arguably, there’s no reason that wormholes-which-are-wormholes couldn’t also exist there.