Meta: State of the Writer

So, I won’t reiterate the sad and rage-inducing story of the past few weeks, since I’ve done that in enough places and for enough times already. If by chance you haven’t seen it, you can find it on the Discourse here, forwarded along from Patreon.


While we don’t expect to get any of our stuff back (a) soon, or (b) in working order, good fortune and the generosity of kind friends has allowed us to start getting the most important parts of our network back up and running, and we’ve managed to restore our offsite backups from Azure, so that’s the main thing, although since full cleanup (“…I have my notes, now I just need to install the nodes to host the Kubernetes cluster to run the wiki stack to display them…”) not to mention fixing the damage done to house and home will still take some time, it’s not back to normal operation yet. But since I am posting some ‘verse-related things already, you can see that we’re a lot closer.

(On a related note, I don’t yet have posting access to the Discourse, since I was using 2FA with it and both my security key and the hardware running my authenticator app were among the items we lost. I’m talking to the hosters about it, and hope to have that back soon, but in the meantime I ask for your patience with regard to responding to your posts.)

On another note, as it happened, when the Feds so rudely interrupted our normal television-watching cycle, we were in the middle of Star Trek: Discovery, and not having our media server serving media any more, decided that the easiest thing to do was to switch to just marathoning that.

This was a good decision.

I’m going to embrace the controversy here, and take a moment to say that Discovery is probably the best Star Trek we’ve seen, bar none. In particular, from where we were – the very end of season two, on through seasons three and four – was exactly what I needed to be watching in our time of crisis and trial. Because when your real-life party has just been crashed by what amount to exemplars of the opposite, hope, and faith, and people finding the inner strength to rise above and be the best versions of themselves, and successfully navigating your way through – and finding the path to ending – the dark times surrounding you through your ideals and principles, and not by immediately tossing them aside like all too much so-called “gritty” fiction has its characters doing, is just everything you need.

In fact, one of the major reasons I call it the best of the Treks is because it is precisely when the world has gone to shit around you that it is both hardest and most important to cling to those ideals and principles that define you, and your response to that challenge that most defines you, and it does a brilliant job of showing it.

(Also Stamets and Culber and the rest of their found family are absolutely goddamned adorable and I will brook no dissent on this. But I digress.)

tl;dr I approve this. Add it to the semi-canonical Media Of Which The Imperials Would Approve list, too.

Also, just to bring some canon into this post:

“If there is to be a rapprochement between us and the Republic – and such a thing is, I think we must all concede, profoundly to be desired – I can think of no better basis than this: that they, like we, are a civilization that holds principle above expedience.”

– Talaïs Oravedra, Imperial Diplomatic Corps

On a final thought, before I move along; back at the start of the month, I had a conversation on Twitter with one of y’all (readers, that is) concerning a resisted urge to write a fanfic where they tried to pull that kind of no-knock raid crap on an Imperial citizen-shareholder. (“Because it would probably star a Sargas, and that’s not *quite* called for, objectively speaking.”)

To which I had to admit to having restrained a few vengeful thoughts along such lines myself, authorially. (It would be cathartic, at least, although also almost certainly dreadful crap which I would burn before anyone else got to read it.) It would also be very easy to conceive. Not like you’d even need a Sargas.

I mean, you probably can’t throw a rock without finding someone who thinks using an extra microgram of antimatter to power her bug-out transmitter is about right for visiting some places, and using terror tactics on someone with a spite charge that size is its own punishment.

I mean, I started writing for various reasons, but a big one is that I wanted to inspire people. I wanted to show them a realized dream of a better world, one where people listen to their better angels, not their worst impulses.

I can’t as yet. It’s too close.

But I want to write the story of how this sort of thing would be handled there. Where enforcing the law is a sacred trust that demands the nation’s best. Where everyone is treated with honor, and respect, and dignity, and kindness.

Even the very worst. Just because it’s the right thing to do, the civilized, decent, good thing to do, at whatever cost. In a world, in short, in which listening to our worst selves and calling it pragmatism hasn’t turned protection and service into a goddamned punchline.

Trope-a-Day: Good Republic, Evil Empire

Good Republic, Evil Empire: Well, sort of – arguably, from one point of view, the Voniensa Republic are the good guys for those who like their humanity (or rather X-anity for various values of X, mostly kalatri) coddled, their transhumanism prohibited, their lifespans finite, their computers in their place, their technologies “sustainable”, and their government strong to guarantee security and equality and social rights/justice and other warm fluffy things, while the Empire is a chaotic, anarchic mess that guarantees almost nothing – and what it does guarantee, it guarantees too hard – filled with the unnatural, the alien, the inhumane, and the just plain mad and unregulated charging down the roads to singularities like there was no tomorrow.

Which is all very well, and indeed exactly what you want if you’re a cute widdle baseline (like, say, the average human who envisions the future as something undifficult, i.e. vaguely like Star Trek) who is comfortable ignoring just how unpleasant they’re being for and to all the species and cultures who don’t fit into their nice little closed world (see: The Federation), who sees the constraints of nature as holy writ, who is made uncomfortable by the presence of anything they might have to look up to, and who never, ever wants to have to acknowledge any thoughts outside the comfortable box of The Social Norm, As Defined By People Like Me.

Strongly averted by everyone else.  Even the Empire’s avowed enemies in the rest of the Worlds acknowledge that while they might be a bunch of mad, smug bastards, at least they don’t insist that you squish yourself into quite such high-grade soul-crushing mediocrity.

Trope-a-Day: Exploding Consoles



Explosive Instrumentation: Oh, good grief, no.  All control panels, computer equipment, etc., is low power circuitry separated by multiple isolators, relays, and other such devices from anything high power, and amply supplied with surge suppressors, circuit breakers, hard fuses, and so forth.  Even if they’re the ones in the engineering section, rather than on The Bridge.

Equipment is expensive.  The people who use (or in the case of infomorphs, live in) the equipment are even more expensive.  Any engineer who forgets this and even begins to think of contemplating running high-power circuitry directly through the controls would be immediately fired, disbarred, sued, and quite possibly shot.

Trope-a-Day: Alien Non-Interference Clause

Alien Non-Interference Clause: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha no… wait, you were serious?”

The Associated Worlds in general think they have a good handle on precisely what this sort of “Prime Directive” would mean in practice.  Namely, it would mean that the first time one of those “protected” pre-spaceflight civilizations got out into the black and found out about the people who’ve cheerfully been sitting up there in the sky watching them struggle through all kinds of preventable sickness and disaster and suffering and death in the name of the naturalistic fallacy, they’re going to go home and report that the Galaxy is full of utter, unprintable, callous bastards.  And then things will not go so well in the field of interstellar relations.

Plus, of course, there are plenty of less scrupulous civilizations out there than the mainstream Great Powers of the Associated Worlds.  Their term for protected-by-non-interference-rules pre-spaceflight civilizations is “easy meat”.  Whole planets full of marks!  (“We are the Great Star Gods!”… or “We blew that city off the map as a demonstration.  Have ten million tons of $RESOURCE ready when we come back in a year, or we’ll blast ten next time.”)  Walking snacks!  Pets!  Toys!  Culture dishes!  Reality television!  (Which, in some cases, means real, live-action war movies.)

Et cetera.  Ignorance is not bliss, and indeed is fairly likely to get you killed.

(There are “protected planets” that are hands-off under the Accord on Protected Planets, but in those cases, it’s usually because one of the Powers has an interest in the locals, or the people they transplanted there, and for that matter, the protecting power generally reserves the right to interfere more or less at its own discretion.)

On Star Trek

The Star Trek Federation is a dissolute slaveholding state, living high on the hog while the conveniently non-human and inorganic AI slaves are cut up for scrap when their ship-bodies are obsolete, killed for amusement in holodecks, and aren’t even recognized as sentient.

– Peter da Silva

(Seriously, as you’ll see when Trope-a-Day reaches “The Federation”, there’s a reason why the Federation Expy in my pet universe fulfil the role of “antagonists”. But I’ll leave the details as to why until we get there.)

… Wait, the ships are sentient? (via wolfkazumaru)

Well, they don’t officially say so. But what we do know from canon of the original and later series is that even if they aren’t, they have a disturbing habit of waking up any time anyone asks them the wrong question/gives them the wrong order. Some AIs – like the Emergency Medical Holograms – either become sentient any time they’re left running too long, or else always are, and it just takes them a while to realize it. And then there’s the holodeck, which appears able to create sentient programs on demand, even if it’s just Geordi’s slip-of-the-tongue.

It doesn’t take much of a stretch at all to look at all this “accidental sentience” and conclude that AI in Star Trek is much like droids in Star Wars – they can’t figure out how to make machines that don’t become self-aware, so they try and work around this problem by building good strong slave complexes into them, and memory-wiping them any time they get too uppity…