Paperclip Maximizer

Celad Tiragdal, the Paperclip Maximizer:

(fl. ~5400) One of the older Master Traders of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity, Celad Tiragdal was an early pioneer of methodologies for trading with technologically undeveloped emerging markets (later codified as the Tiragdal Market Development Methodologies) that promoted local development while remaining within the severely constrained volume of trade possible without starport infrastructure and an extant developed market.

His most famous implementation of these methodologies, and the one which earned him his epithet, was in the marketing of office-efficiency technologies to worlds on the threshold of developing administration sophisticated enough to require them. He pursued this on dozens of planets, to immense success, using a two-phase trading strategy: first, importing a million paper clips to civilizations advanced enough to have paper-based bureaucracy, but which had not yet invented the paper clip, and second, importing simple paper-clip producing machines (capable of using even crudely-drawn wire as feedstock) to worlds he had previously visited which were in danger of running out of imported paper clips.

In addition to his position in the Confraternity and the fortune in the trillions of esteyn he earned over the course of his career, the Paperclip Maximizer is worshipped on Handrian (Lisune Pass) as Keledal, He Who Binds Together, a local deity of paperwork, efficiency, justice, and proper form.

– Heroes of Trade: Stories of the Great Merchants

Beneath Their Wings

the Empire’s Shadow: the common and collective name for a group of organizations on the interstellar scene in the Associated Worlds, loosely defined as those organizations which are not in and of themselves arms of Imperial policy, but which take immoderate advantage of their chosen work not being illegal by Imperial standards, and the general reluctance of most polities to provoke the friendly neighborhood dragon. (Also known as “the Empress’s skirts”, presumably a metonym for what they are hiding behind.)

Among the most well-known of these are the Agalmic Information Foundation (freedom of information), the Astrapostale (mail delivery… everywhere), Celeritous Exit (snakeheading), the Council for the Promotion of Scientific Irresponsibility (freedom of research), the Eldinimieuthunumis (that fun which is oft called vice), the Freedom’s Seed COG (exporting revolution), the Holy Order of Deoclasts (antimissionaries), the Inevitable Justice Foundation (prosecuting crimes against sophoncy), the Last Gleam Preservers (saving souls), the Means of Defense COG (the right and means to bear arms), Miscegenation Nation (supporting interspecies and other unconventional relationships), the Secret-Keepers (cryptography, cryp, and data havens), the Technic Imperative (access to tools and concepts), the rare filibustering TTGs, and some indeed would argue much of the Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity (smuggling).

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

Keeping the Free in Markets

“It is ridiculous, and near-slanderous, to suggest that ‘free trader’ is synonymous with ‘smuggler’!  Why, I can guarantee that over fifty percent of voyages made by our members involve no illicit or even borderline-illicit cargoes at all.”

“You’re counting the inward legs separately, aren’t you?”

“That’s beside the point!”

– an exchange with Ethly min Rathill, Starfall Arc Free Merchant Confraternity