Trope-a-Day: Transhumanism

Transhumanism: And lots of it, to the point where in advanced polities, anything resembling a baseline is an endangered species at best (at worst… well, there are no examples of baseline Eldrae alathis still around, right?  Even the people who were born one and survived the millennia have upgraded several times by now.).  Except no humans, so we call the general form transsophontism.

Trope-a-Day: Super Reflexes

Super Reflexes: Another one of the many things to go into the standard upgrade build, in the sense of better, faster, etc., nerves.  Can, of course, be improved still further if you feel like upgrading your nervous system to milspec, or adding various special cognitive enhancements to run tell analysis and predictive motion routines on everyone in the vicinity, letting you pull off that nifty “see-and-react-to-things-before-they-happen” trick.

(In less deliberately civilized societies, it may be best not to include the “respond automatically and lethally to incoming attacks” option.)


Trope-a-Day: Evolutionary Levels

Evolutionary Levels: Subverted, inasmuch as Eldrae anthalis and Eldrae kirsunar (which could be read as direct parallels to Homo superior and Homo summus) aren’t markers of more advanced evolution, but markers of increasing degrees of highly sophisticated engineering.  And engineering for specific desirable traits, at that.

Trope-a-Day: Bullet Time

Bullet Time: Given the speed of electrophotonic hardware, it would be possible for most cybershells and many bioshells up to the current Imperial neural standard to do live-action Bullet Time, at least with current Earth guns.

Of course, in their own place and time, the bullets are a lot faster than they used to be… but it’s still useful, because there are plenty of people around who aren’t.

Trope-a-Day: Brought Down to Normal

Brought Down to Normal: Hard to play straight, insofar as superpowered is the new normal (see Everyone Is A Super), and no-one takes to being crippled terribly well.

Also notably subverted when someone gets a clever idea and assembles the equipment necessary to jam all communications, decohere tangle, and otherwise brute-force detach someone from the Transcend, inasmuch as the essential difference between a collective consciousness and a hive mind is that in the former the whole depends on the parts, not the other way around – and what you now have on your hands is someone with a very nasty headache, a serious attitude problem, and virtually all of their ability to ruin your day absolutely intact.

Trope-a-Day: No Transhumanism Allowed

No Transhumanism Allowed: Averted (or rather inverted into Transsophontism Is Mandatory).  Hard.  (As in, anyone who doesn’t qualify as some sort of transsophont is living in Hicksville or on the moral equivalent of a nature preserve.)  Also beaten, mocked, eaten by nanobots, shot at with antideuterium pellets and tossed down a singularity well.  A lot.

Trope-a-Day: Big Eater

Big Eater: Of course, this depends greatly on species, which in fairness doesn’t count, because it applies equally to everyone of that species.  It does apply – in its “thin kind” form, mostly – to most transsophonts, though, simply because none of their modifications repeals the law of conservation of energy, and so that energy has to come from somewhere…

To work an example, the caloric requirements for an average eldrae baseline, before extensive transsophontism set in, were around 3,500 kcal/day (contrast with the human requirement of the order of 2,250 kcal/day; powering various capabilities the Precursors found desirable already made their metabolisms run fairly hot).  By the time you count in the modifications included in the modern alpha baseline, that’s roughly been doubled (i.e., around 7,000 kcal/day), although food intake hasn’t increased that much because of efficiency improvements made to the digestive system, including the ability to digest quite a healthy portion of the cellulose included in the diet.  So, yes, rich food and plenty of it, eaten heartily, is the rule of the day!

Additional enhancements, like, say, all the military-grade combat add-ons, of course, only increase the effect.  And also, that’s base rate, before exercise, etc., are taken into consideration.  I have not yet addressed what MREs are made of in this universe, but if I turned out to be a big steak with buttery mashed potatoes and a sherry trifle chaser, it would not surprise me one bit.

(Also, yes, there are people who have noticed this – really fairly obvious – effect and so tap the secondary market created by selling artificial immune systems, etc., as calorie-consuming slimming aids.  Of course there are.)

Trope-a-Day: The Beautiful People

The Beautiful People: I refer you to the comments about “impossibly beautiful sexy immortal billionaire genius demigods” made under Can’t Argue With Elves.  The engineering works, people.  However pretty a people the baseline Eldrae alathis were to begin with – and they were – by the time autoevolution reached the very transsophont Eldrae kirsunar, it had gone Up To Eleven.  The self-designated Supreme Eldrae and their cousin species in the Empire are self-consciously designed to be perfected, unflawed, soul-churningly beautiful, marvelous to behold, exquisite and/or excruciating in unsurpassed elegance.

(And if you’d care to sign up, they can do it for you, too.  Queue for applications starts to your left.)

It’s a sort of inherited status, I suppose, inasmuch as you acquire it – most commonly – by being the offspring of an Imperial citizen-shareholder, although most of it is offered freely to immigrants and, well, anyone who turns up waving checks or cashy money at the right businesses… but since this does represent more or less the entire society, these Beautiful People do, at least those who haven’t yet earned their way into the investor-leisure class, have to work for a living, and many of those continue to anyway.

And yes, the surroundings also match (see: Emotion Bomb and Scenery Porn), because it’s not like they stuck to just improving themselves.  Also played straight, again for almost everyone, with regard to the clothing (see: Sharp Dressed Soph), the housing (see: Big Fancy House), the wealth levels (it is a materially mostly-post-scarcity society, after all)…

Trope-a-Day: Can’t Argue With Elves

Can’t Argue With Elves: The eldrae, and indeed the Imperials in general, so not just the Space Elves, live this trope, being profoundly elitist and unashamedly, even if they bothered to notice, arrogant about their superiority in almost every way to anyone else and generalized personal awesomeness.  That literally thousands of years of bio-, nano-, and sopho- technology actively directed at (and succeeding in) creating an entire society of impossibly beautiful sexy immortal billionaire genius demigods – coupled with a pressure-cooker of a culture that demands personal striving for perfection and considers pride in the result a virtue – actually lets them back this attitude up most of the time is just icing on the hubris cake, so far as everyone else is concerned.

Really, the only things that make them tolerable at all is (a) their complete and utter refusal to demand any special privileges or position because of their utter awesomeness, even if that’s just because they can’t tolerate the thought of only being comparatively awesome rather than absolutely awesome (a.k.a., “What sort of pathetic excuse for a Superior Race has to actually keep the Inferior Races down?  Newsflash, morons, that means you weren’t qualified for the position in the first place.”), and (b) the way in which they’re willing to, and even insistent sometimes on, selling beauty, genius and immortality to the rest of the galaxy so that they can stop having to put up with all these ugly, ephemeral morons.

Actually, that doesn’t make it any better.

(All of this may not be strictly true as written, of course: it was written, as it were, from the point of view of the people who find themselves on the wrong end of it.)

(Also, it occurs to me, somewhat subverted by the fact that they greatly prefer it when people Argue With Elves.  I mean, they still believe that they’re right about everything, and probably aren’t going to agree with you unless you have a really good argument, but they will respect you more for trying.)