Door

2016_D(Alternate words: Devil, Delta, Defiled, and Dalliance, all of which have been placed on the later-consideration list. Also “Drink Order”, which will be today’s trope-a-day.)

Calencail 14th
Summer breakfast parlor

With all respect to my illustrious cousin, the most frustrating aspect of the translocation problem is having an answer to it sitting closer to me than the liquor cabinet, which answer happens to be completely useless.

So far as understanding theory and practice are concerned, at least. Our House of a Thousand Doors is certainly the wonder of this or any other age, sprawling as it does across eight cities and two continents, has served us well as the foundation of the Claves fortune, and the view from here atop Tirias Mirénon is undoubtedly superior to that from anywhere save possibly the Starspike, for all that it requires a roaring fire for my comfort even in high summer.

And yet we can reproduce none of it.

The doors of the House were recovered from an archaeological expedition south of Inisvaen by my ancestor, Iallis Claves-ith-Claves, which we now know to have been an offshoot of the Precursor site at Iniscail. (Although they do not sit well with other known Precursor technologies, which raises further possibilities still – are they artifacts from those who came before the Precursors that the Precursors were investigating?) Discovering how they worked and that their function seemed interwoven with the traditions of our family, she built the House around them, deeming their discovery an inspiration from Dírasán, and bidding her successors to discover their workings and learn to fashion more.

Ten generations later, freshly appointed, and having carefully studied the journals left behind by all my predecessors as Discerner of the Doors, I can sum up our knowledge thus:

  • We possess 327 instrumentalities capable of translocating one from place to place. (So, yes, our estate is misnamed, having only 325 actual doors – unless you count Uncle Severian’s observatory, which adds one on the occasions that it orbits within range. Thus, we now only have one spare, the remaining two having been destroyed in ill-considered experiments by my early predecessors.)
  • We know how to make them work, how far you can remove them from each other’s presence before they stop working, how often they can work, and other minutiae of their operation.
  • We don’t know how they work, either practically or theoretically, what powers them, how to duplicate them, or what they’re made of.
  • We do, however, have a comprehensive list of all the scientific investigation methods of the last seven millennia that have completely failed to reveal anything useful about our family treasures.

So it stands.

Will I be the one to crack open this mystery? Well, I shall do my damnedest. The prospect of fame, major scientific prizes, and the trillions of esteyn that normally accompany revolutionary discoveries do have a certain appeal, after all, even beside the curiosity that has inflamed generations of Claves scions.

I cannot, however, claim to be confident of success.

– Alar Claves-ith-Estenv, personal journal


(Note: this is a from-the-deuterocanonical files. I’m still considering the consequences of introducing even this extremely limited form of translocation to the Eldraeverse, so it’s not established canon yet – and any expansion of it will definitely be in the form of a future discovery, not something that exists at the setting’s current “present time”.

But it is something that may well exist, and in any case, it is canon that many of the Houses possess or have possessed some sort of artifact like this as a “family heirloom” or two.)

 

Trope-a-Day: Twin Maker

Twin Maker: While teleportation doesn’t exist, mindcasting, forking, and reinstantiation, along with more exotic sophotechnology, can create much the same effects.  (Although, in mindcasting, the first step is to perform an orderly shutdown, because while you can happily transmit a static mind-state vector, transmitting a running one is a much more complicated procedure that requires special software and is in any case impractical over any distance long enough to invoke light-lag, since it’s kind of hard to think when half your brain is a couple of seconds away from the other half.)

But, by and large, no-one gives a crap, because the generally accepted answer to the philosophical conundra involved, in conformance with the established fact that souls are software objects, is pattern identity theory, and continuity of consciousness does not matter –  or as it’s put for the layman, if you think like you, and feel like you, and act like you, and remember being you, then you are you for all legal, practical, philosophical, and other purposes. Yes, even if there are now two of you, at least until you diverge.  Get over it, already.

Yet More Safe Science

“Yes, translocation should be easy.  It doesn’t seem all that dissimilar from vector control, right?  And this is exactly the sort of thing that ontotechnology does – gets intimate with the informational substructures of the physical universe.  So why can’t we just poke new values into the spatial coordinates of these particles here, and blip, one tessera moment later, they’re all over there instead?”

“Well, we’re finding that out.  But it may take a while, because the universe’s API tends to return errors in the form of terajoules of loose energy, expensive piles of wrecked equipment, and other such signs that the coder responsible didn’t understand the difference between exceptions and explosions.”

– Imogen Andracanth-ith-Andracanth, who is really tired of this question

Stop Fittling With That: Author’s Notes

For those who might be a mite curious, Stop Fittling With That is set in “present-time” – that is to say, the furthest future point of my defined timeline (although, obviously, not the end of their history), so those mentioned technologies are things that won’t actually appear anywhere in the Eldraeverse, certainly not in the context of the peoples of the Associated Worlds.

FTL (other than the mentioned wormholes and tangle channels) won’t appear at all, and in fact is canonically impossible by other means using my conphysics; for reasons which boil down to “it interferes with the kind of stories I want to tell and the kind of technologies I want to use to tell them”.  Such forms of FTL as wouldn’t – like, say, mass relays – are for the most part functionally isomorphic to the wormhole network I chose to go with anyway.

Dimensional transcendence just hasn’t been invented yet – any examples of it you may see are faked by means which you’ll read about when the Trope-a-Day catches up to, ah, Hammerspace, I think – but is permitted by the local conphysics.  (If you can bend space and time enough to do practical, mass-produced wormholes, bending them enough to put a decent-sized mansion inside a police box is for the most part merely a matter of working out the engineering – for very large values of “merely”.)

Negentropy or something like it probably will require the ability to not merely bend but actually drill holes in the universe, and so is deep-time lengths of time away if it’s possible at all.  Which it may well not be, but I don’t plan on arbitrarily declaring the greatest expression of their greatest ambition physically off-limits when I can just Shrug of God it into the indefinite far future.

And both matter translocation/teleportation and instant Star Trek replicator-style manufacturing don’t exist for the same two reasons.  First, Heisenberg…

(Or rather, in-world, Jeness Rafientar, who spent the first, shorter part of his physics career discovering the uncertainty principle under the name of the Indeterminacy Barrier, and then spent the rather longer rest of his physics career trying unsuccessfully to find some way, any way, to work around the blasted thing.)

…is a bugger, as we know, and magical Heisenberg Compensators are a little too handwavy for my taste, thanks so much.  And secondly, even if you only do it at the molecular level, all that binding energy has to go to/come from somewhere in a very short time, and that poses some thermodynamic problems at the level of physics, and some literary/worldbuilding problems in explaining the implications that the ability to routinely toss that much energy about has on everything else.

These may theoretically exist in the future – given that the basis of the emerging field of ontological engineering is to use manipulations of the laws of the laws of physics that underlie the regular laws of physics to tell the latter to shut up and sit down, but they don’t at any part of the timeline I’m working with.