The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Discussions about constructed worlds, cultures and any topics related to constructed societies.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by lurker »

eldin raigmore wrote: 10 Feb 2024 17:44
lurker wrote: 10 Feb 2024 13:32 ….
I read somewhere (I think it was Reddit) about a tradition in the US navy of leaving plastic army men to "guard" equipment. I can't remember the context, or how widespread it was.
Surely, plastic Marines, instead of plastic Army men?
I suppose they'd have to be if it was the navy.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by lurker »

Image
Here's a better version of the prayer ring. Instead of a longer gear tooth, I added a bump to one of the teeth to mark the starting point. It's much more subtle
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Visions1
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

conlang-creature wrote: 10 Feb 2024 05:54 Sidenote: All of these appear to be references to tech jokes, aside from the figurines. Is this an exception, or was there some inspiration I don't know of?
I read somewhere (I think it was Reddit) about a tradition in the US navy of leaving plastic army men to "guard" equipment. I can't remember the context, or how widespread it was.
[/quote]

I cannot tell you how many times I have set the printer running, take a break, and come back to seeing it's gone to pieces.
You don't need to go to the army to find this. I relate to this vicerally.

Also, Claravism would be a word then, eh?
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The Ansible

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“I see we’ve got a bigger crowd than usual. Welcome, everyone, to this meeting of the Erickson Amateur Radio Club. I guess word got around that one of our little visitors is going to be giving a presentation about their faster than light communication network. Since most of you here aren’t even members, I’ll just skip the preamble and invite Stormlight to start his presentation.” Bob pushed a yinrih perch in front of the podium and walked back to his chair.

Stormlight trotted up to the podium, removed his backpack and hopped onto the perch.

«OK, how many of you can understand me? Raise your left forepaw.» Stormlight swept his gaze across the crowd of humans sitting in front of him. One or two hands shot up, three or four more hovered indecisively above their owners’ heads, but the majority of the people kept their peace. «Guess it’s the keyer again,» he grunted under his breath. He rummaged through his backpack and pulled out a keyer and HUD specs, and continued addressing the people in English via the synth.

“How about now?” Vigorous nods and enthusiastic hand-raising from the assembled humans. “A reminder that Tod is here to give Commonthroat lessens after the meeting.” Stormlight motioned with his muzzle toward the corner of the room, where Tod was perched across three plastic chairs. Tod waved cheerfully in human fashion, chuffing a few times for good measure.

“That noise is their way of smiling.” Whispered a man in the back in response to his wife’s bewildered look.

“Anyway, allow me to introduce myself properly.” Stormlight wrapped his tail around the leg of the table behind him and reared up on his hind feet. He patted his belly twice with his left forepaw. “Light shine upon you, friends. rLPqqBCl,” he gave his name in Commonthroat then clarified using the keyer. “but you can call me ‘Stormlight’. I’m going to be tossing out a lot of Commonthroat words in this presentation, all the more reason for you to see Tod after the meeting. It takes a fair bit of work to speak using this keyer, and the more humans that can understand us directly, the less we’ll need to use it.” He paused, dramatically shaking out a cramp in his right rear paw before picking up the keyer again and continuing.

“My role as a missionary aboard the Dewfall is rDBsfbrl, In English that literally means ‘farspeaker’, but I suppose the more appropriate term would be ‘network engineer’. I maintain the comms system that lets us keep in touch with our friends and family back home at Wayfarers’ Haven.”

He reached his tail into his backpack and pulled out a ruler. Raising his tail to show the ruler to the assembly, he continued, “Can I just say that this whole metric system is silly. You were on the right track dividing everything by twelve. Two, three, four, six—so many more factors than a decimal system.” He held up his two forepaws, counting to twelve on his digits. A few patriots in the audience applauded, and a cheer erupted from a particularly enthusiastic woman wearing a tee shirt with the phrase “°F YOU!” emblazoned across the front.

Stormlight continued. “But I’m getting off track.” He held the ruler a bit higher. “It takes about a nanosecond for light to travel this far. That doesn’t sound like a long time, but it starts adding up when your talking about interstellar distances. Our home is about twenty five lightyears from here. Using normal means of communication based around electromagnetic wave propagation, it would take twenty five years for a message to go between Earth and Focus. Who has time for that?”

He placed the ruler back in his backpack and drew out a tailful of other objects. He put them on the table and continued. “The problem is, you can’t go any faster than the speed of light, well, in realspace, anyway, but realspace isn’t the only thing out there.” He went on another digression. “There was a time in our own history that we had finished exploring our homeworld but hadn’t yet developed the means to truly thrive beyond our own atmosphere. Sure we had a few orbital colonies, and a few wierdoes even decided it would be a good idea to set up a homestead on the neighboring planet, but the latency imposed by radio communication made a truly interplanetary civilization impossible.

“It looks like we found you guys around the same time in your species’ development. You’ve got a few permanent outposts in low orbit, and you’re fixing to start colonizing a few nearby celestial bodies. The thing is, your imagination has vastly outstripped your technological capacity.” He grabbed something from the table and held it up. It was a paperback copy of Ender’s Game. “Treasure this time. If you’re anything like we were, this is going to be your golden age of speculative fiction. There’s something about this point in history, I think. You’re too late to explore the world, but too early to explore the universe. With nowhere else to go, you make up new worlds to explore. By the way, it’s nice our meeting with you went so much better than in this book.” He let out a few panting chuckles.

“I’ve had to reach into this deep well of mythopoeia to find suitable English words for a lot of stuff that we monkey foxes take for granted.” He coiled his tail around another of the objects on the table and held it aloft to show the audience. It appeared to be a blue circuit board, with gold-plated contacts along one side, and a glass plate in the center. Below the plate was a brilliant magenta wafer of crystalline material. “this, for example, is known in Commonthroat as rFCrMr. The best English equivalent would be ‘ansible’.

“More specifically, this is an Underlay tunnel interface card. This one is a spare I took from the Dewfall’s cargo hold. I’ll pass this one around, but do be careful. We only have so much tailstone to make more if it breaks.” He hopped down from his perch and trotted over to the front row, offering the card coiled in his tail to the person sitting nearest to the podium. The card made its way through the crowd as Stormlight resumed his perch and continued.

“Speaking of tailstone,” he picked up a large unrefined magenta crystal from the table. “This is a raw tailstone crystal. This is what allows us to open tunnels through the underlay. How does it work? I have no idea. I’m not a natural philosopher.” Stormlight flicked his ears back. “But I can tell you how it got the name tailstone. The English word I chose is a little inaccurate, since the Commonthroat word, sGKqrCg, uses the word rC, which literally means ‘to flick with the tail.’” He demonstrated the gesture, swatting his side with the tip of his tail. “This obviously isn’t something you humans can replicate, so I had to make due with a broader English term. I think this is the closest human equivalent.” He executed a shoeing motion with his forepaw. “It means something like ‘It doesn’t matter’ or ‘don’t concern yourself with that’, but it can also mean ‘don’t bother me’ or ‘go away.’ The story goes that tailstone was discovered by a research monastery back home on Yih, just after the first wave of terraformers settled on Newhome, that’s the planet nearest to our homeworld. When the abbot was asked how this crystal was able to access the Underlay, he simply responded with a flick of his tail. It occasionally goes by ‘wonderstone’, as there’s a myth that the monks tried to pass off the material as having miraculous properties. This story was taken to be true for a long time. I even learned it in school as actual history, but the first mention of the event is after the War of Dissolution. That’s a few dozen millennia after the fact. It’s just a story concocted by polemicists seeking to discredit their ideological opponents. My best guess is that the abbot didn’t want to spend hours trying to explain a very complex topic to a layman. Knowing something and knowing how to explain that thing are two different skills, and the abbot was probably lacking in the latter. In any case, it’s not like the means to refine it were ever kept secret.

“While I can’t tell you how it does it, I can tell you what it does. The Underlay is like what you would call subspace, although calling it ‘space’ is a bit misleading. Things in the underlay don’t really have a location, so you can’t travel from one point to another. That’s why information sent via the underlay is transmitted instantly. We do use terminology that imply things ‘travel’ via the underlay, but that’s just a handy way of visualizing a hard to understand concept. When comparing this realm to the underlay,” he traced an arc with his muzzle indicating the space around him, “We use the term ‘realspace.’

“We take this monocrystal and shave off thin wafers like you see embedded in that interface card. Tunnels can only form between two wafers taken from the same crystal. You can shave off multiple wafers from the same crystal, but they all have to share the same communication channel. A single interface can either send or receive information, but it’s only half duplex. You must take turns talking and listening. You can get full duplex communication by, for example, taking two monocrystals, shaving off two wafers from each, and putting one wafer from each crystal into two ansibles. In practice, you only see this done on major trunk lines. Terminals like we have aboard The Dewfall only have a single tunnel endpoint because the power required to maintain multiple connections would be too much for a little womb ship.

“While there’s no latency, the throughput is pretty narrow, even compared to current human communication methods. Realtime communication is limited to text, and large files are sent using a store and forward system. It’s not unusual for downloads to take several days. I know a lot of your speculative fiction has things like realtime holographic video comms, but that’s out of the question. We can’t even push voice over an underlay tunnel in real time. Multisensory information has to be saved and sent as a file, and even text is sent this way most of the time.”

Stormlight hopped down again and gave the tailstone crystal to the same person sitting in front, and it made its way through the assembled humans. “This particular chunk of tailstone is taken from a larger supply from the Dewfall’s fabricator. That specimen has a counterpart back at home hewn from the same monocrystal. Like I said with the interface card, please be gentle. This stuff can shatter into very sharp pieces.

“The network topology I have set up here on Earth is pretty simple. We have our own computers connected to a terminal node aboard The Dewfall via STL microwave radio. This node is connected to an ansible, which has a point-to-point connection with a matching ansible at Wayfarers’ Haven.
We get daily updates from mission control back home. It’s mostly letters from parents and litter mates, and a copy of the latest Focus-wide news bulletin. I usually ignore the news, as it’s either too depressing or none of my business, not really that different from how mainstream news does things here on Earth.”

Stormlight produced a homemade cable from his backpack. A male HDMI connector was spliced on one end, with a nest of soldered wires and homemade yinrih circuitry located near the middle. At the other end was a tiny magnetic connector that stormlight attached to the muzzle bridge of his HUD specs. He plugged the HDMI end into the projector near the podium. “You won’t believe how hard it was to make this cable. I had to dig through a dozen BBS’s back home and a few human web forums to get this working. I thought it would be nice to show you some news and letters from Focus.” The projector mirrored the command line interface of Stormlights HUD specs. He entered a few keystrokes, multiplexing the terminal process running the synth with a fresh terminal on the other half of the display. He shifted between the synth and the new terminal as he logged into the Dewfall’s network node. Commonthroat text cascaded down the screen, displaying the node’s welcome message.

“Let’s see. Wow, there’s still a massive download going on. Looks like mission control sent us something big, probably a schematic file judging by its size. They do that every now and then. Our tech is two and a half centuries older than what they have back home, so they sometimes push updated equipment models to us for us to print with the fabricator. It’s almost done downloading, but let’s check out the news we got yesterday while it finishes up, and we’ll find out what that big file is together.”

He opened the news bulletin and slowly scrolled through the headlines without paying attention. «What was that? Go back up! Go back up!» Tod practically barked. Startled, Stormlight dropped the keyer. The magnetic connector detached from his HUD specs as he bent down to pick it up. As he was repositioning the keyer and reattaching the video cable, he noticed the smell of excitement coming from Tod.

«What was that about?» Stormlight asked.

Tod’s teeth were audibly chattering in anticipation. «It can’t possibly be…»

Stormlight and Tod simultaneously read the heading plastered across the screen. “First yinrih successfully traverses mass router network.”

Stormlight dropped the keyer again but didn’t bother picking it back up. He dismounted his perch, the cable pulling free from his HUD specs again. He began pacing back and forth, attempting to explain their reaction to the confused assembly of humans, completely forgetting that he was no longer using the synthesizer, making his ravings utterly impenetrable to all but a few humans in the audience. Bob eventually stood up and began relaying what Stormlight was attempting to say.

«OK, OK, OK… yeah. This is big. Really really big. I forgot to mention we’ve been trying to transport matter over the Underlay. Been trying for who knows how long. The transporting isn’t the hard part. It’s the momentum. That’s what’s the problem, you know, or I guess you wouldn’t know. Anyway, like, if you’re on a colony orbiting a planet, and want to go to the surface, you’ll still have all the momentum you had while in orbit. That’s a lot of momentum. If it isn’t absorbed before you drop back into realspace, you’ll shoot out of the mass router like a bullet. Hit the wall at Mach 20. No good. But I guess they finally figured it out. I guess mass routers are a thing now. Yeah. Big… really big.»

Stormlight eventually trailed off, but continued pacing. He was panting half out of exhaustion from his energetic explanation, half laughing with glee. He composed himself and perched again, reconnecting the HUD specs and keyer.

“Sorry about that. Thanks, Bob, for bearing with me.” Bob smiled and sat back down. Stormlight gave his head a shake, then continued speaking. “Well, that was sure something. Guess I told you we’d check out that big file. Seems a little anticlimactic now. I’m usually excited to get new schematics, but unless it’s—” He stopped abruptly. For a solid minute, you could practically hear a pin drop. The message that accompanied the file was displayed on the screen.

«May the sun warm your back, Stormlight. You probably read the news yesterday. Bet you think nothing could possibly top that. Oh, but you’re wrong! Here’s a schema for the mass router. I got it straight from the engineers on Yih. Production hasn’t even scaled up yet, but they contacted me with the schematic before I even read the headline, insisting I pass it onto you guys, and said for you to share it with our new friends. They told me you could print the parts no problem with the fabricator aboard the Dewfall. The boys over here are already setting one up. We’ll be connecting it to the P2P tunnel that’s already established between here and Earth. The engineers insisted it’s perfectly safe, but I say we do a few dry runs before sending any sophonts through.

So yeah, guess we’ll be seeing you and the humans a lot sooner than we thought.

May The Light illuminate your way.

--Lightray Lacktail, Dewfall Mission Control»

The aroma of elation coming from Tod and Stormlight was so powerful that the humans could probably smell it.

After a few more seconds, the pair of yinrih shattered the silence with a sonorous howl. They were going home, and their new friends could come with them.
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Raw Tailstone Crystals

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Image
Here are some raw tailstone monocrystals. I haven't decided if tailstone can only be found naturally or if it can be synthesized. In either case, the best way to get tailstone currently involves going through the Partisans, since the Outer Belt has the highest concentration of tailstone (or tailstone components) in the system.

Maybe Earth, the moon, or other bodies at Sol are full to bursting with tailstone, which would have drastic implications for monkey fox geopolitics going forward, as the only reason the Partisans aren't a pariah state is they're a cheap source of tailstone, and a lot more besides, but tailstone is probably the yinrih's version of oil.

One detail I didn't work into the story above is that the giant monocrystals like you see in the image are fairly rare. Tailstone monocrystals are manufactured like silicon, where you have a small seed crystal that you get naturally that is grown in a bath to a single monocrystal. At some point in the formation process, the crystal structure "locks" and any wafers obtained from that crystal, or any smaller crystals broken from it, are interlinked via the underlay in the fashion mentioned in the story.

There are some big cybersecurity implications to this system. Say you ordered a batch of tailstone monocrystals from a supplier in Partisan terratory. The Partisan government could demand that the supplier grow larger monocrystals, and split them into several normal sized ones, offering half to the buyer and giving half to the Partisan government. Any communications made via underlay tunnels made with the half given to the buyer could be eavesdropped on by the Partisan government. There would be no way for the buyer to know the crystals were fractured before delivery, and as long as the Partisans don't send anything via their half, there's no way to know someone's listening.

There's also no way, physically, to verify the source of a message. All you know is the sender must have access to a wafer shaved from the same monocrystal you have, but there are ways of insuring nonrepudiation and message authentication that work as well for ansibles as they do on Earth. So yeah, lots of fun hacker shenanigans all around, especially when you put mass routers into the mix. You could poison the routing table and cause a whole freaking person to just show up somewhere they didn't want to go.

This concept probably won't be canon, but one idea I had was for "one way mass routers" that are used as oubliettes, just shunting people into the underlay with no way out.

Time will tell how long my ADHD brain will be interested in using Blender, but I'm already happier with these 3D models than I was with the 2D drawings. They're pretty simplistic, but it makes me nostalgic for the times when stuff with this little detail was considered top of the line graphics. Anyone remember the show Reboot? Loved that cartoon.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Visions1 wrote: 11 Feb 2024 18:58 Also, Claravism would be a word then, eh?
I suppose it would be, Claravianism could also work, along with Claravians referring to Wayfarers. I eventually need to write up a post about interspecific ecumenical outreach. How do Earth religions approach the fact we're not alone in the universe, and how do the Wayfarers deal with the "so now what do we do" that comes from finally meeting their goal.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

I would imagine that some religions would probably fare better than others. Buddhists would probably be fine. Jews would disagree over it (naturally). The Universe People would probably have aneurisms.

Also, I remember Reboot too. Truthfully, it wasn't my cup of tea (though now that you mention it, I almost want to see it again...)
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The Eternal Womb

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Here's another "throwing stuff at the wall" post.
There has only been one leader of the Partisans. He has kept himself alive for millennia by permanently sealing himself in a modified suspension capsule called The Eternal Womb.

The Eternal Womb dramatically slows his subjective time perception, so from his point of view he's been in there for possibly millions of years. From an external perspective, he processes information so quickly as to seem almost prescient.

He's also connected his mind to the unfathomably vast surveillance system that pervades every nook and cranny of Partisan Territory, making him practically omnipresent.

Did I mention there's a cult of personality around him?
Edit: After sleeping on it, I realize the surveillance thing won't work given how I've described FTL communications. Suspension isn't brain uploading, the seat of consciousness is still in the suspended person. The brain is just experiencing sensory stimuli fed to it by the amnion.
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Underlay Tunnel Interface Card for an Ansible

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Image

Here's a sketch of the underlay tunnel interface card: because networking infrastructure is what I think of when I think sci-fi worldbuilding.


Now that I'm looking at it, it should have a face plate on the side opposite the pins. I did figure out how to do a bump map for the traces leading from the tailstone wafer to the pins, and the pins themselves are a texture mask mixing two shaders. I also had to UV unwrap the plane used as the PCB. While the piece itself isn't super well done, I'm happy I'm learning more about Blender.
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Making the Galaxy Less Lonely

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Before mass routers were perfected, interstellar travel was strictly the domain of missionary Wayfarers seeking other intelligent species. The logistics of setting up a colony on a barren world outside of Focus were just too costly, both in economic and personal terms.

While travelling via mass router isn't trivial (it comes out to about the same cost as an international flight) it's far, far easier than sealing yourself in a womb ship and entering suspension for centuries. Now, you can have a ship that is unmanned, but with life support and a mass router aboard, sent to promising exoplanets, and only send crew over around the time the ship lands.

Over the coming millennia, this enables the mass peopling of the galaxy by humans and yinrih alike. However, not everyone is OK with this. The traditional wing of the Bright Way is generally against colonizing exoplanets, as they believe The Light gave them the one star alone to conquer. They must leave the rest of the galaxy as fertile soil for other souls to spring forth as The Light sees fit, just as they did on Yih and humanity did on Earth.
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Xenoergonomics: Going inside and moving upwards

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I had a bit of a think, and I think regular doors as we know them won't work for the yinrih. While walking on level ground, they have only their tail to manipulate objects. While it is long, it's not going to be able to push something that's ahead of them. They can use one of their paws, but movement is hampered in this situation. So the normal solid rectangle that pivots around a set of hinges to open isn't going to work.

The most obvious solution is automatic doors, and while they're probably more common around Focus than they are on Earth, I don't think they're exactly ubiquitous.

One solution for simple situations where you're just partitioning space might be like those things you see in stock rooms and warehouses, where it's like a curtain made of strips of plastic. In this case the strips would be heavy cloth that helps muffle noise, perhaps in two layers to increase the air gap and thus the sound dampening.

This doesn't solve problems where security is necessary. Perhaps a more conventional solid door, but the hinges ore on the top, and they can push it open as they walk through.

How they move up and down is another question. I think as arboreal creatures they'd use ladders built into the wall rather than stairs or ramps. Yes it would make it hard for the elderly and disabled, but stairs already do that.

Of course, all this doesn't matter on orbital colonies because you have have 5 grasping extremities available while moving rather than just one.
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Powered Armor Torso Jacket

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Image

Here's a dorsal view of yinrih powered armor. The torso jacket is made of the same pseudosinew as the paw gauntlets. The helmet snaps magnetically onto the umbilical cable running along the spine. On either side of the spine near the shoulders are two drone capsules. The capsules act like the powerups from arcade scrolling shooters (I'm specifically thinking the force pod from R-Type), hovering near the operator and firing on command. They can also generate a retribution field around the wearer and any nearby friendlies.

Closer to the back legs are a micro fusion reactor, essentially a functional star lantern, as well as reserve tanks for water and O2.

The tail is covered in even more pseudosinew. It's used in close quarters combat along with retractable monomolecular claw blades built into the rear paw gauntlets. The most basic unarmed fighting style, used even by the tree-dwellers, is to rear up on the hind legs and attack with the front claws, which leaves the belly exposed. Powered armor addresses this strategy by allowing the wearer to shift his weight to the tail and thrust the rear feet forward with the claw blades extended to disembowel the attacker like a kangaroo kick.

And yes, Tod has a suit of powered armor, and yes, he brought it with him. Iris nearly tears him a new cloaca when she finds out, as it's considered sacrilege to bring weapons on a missionary journey. Tod points out (rather sensibly) that even assuming the local sophonts are friendly, there's no guarantee the wildlife is.

Why does a peacekeeper need this kind of powered armor? I don't know, military industrial complex I guess.
Why do I keep accidentally posting these as separate threads lol
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

Why not doggie doors?
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A broad history of the yinrih between sapience and first contact

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The hundred millennia between the dawn of sapience and First Contact can be divided into three ages of roughly equal length. The first age, sometimes called the golden age of the Bright Way, is characterized by the expansion of both the Bright Way within yinrih society, and the expansion of the yinrih themselves, first throughout Yih, and then into the rest of Focus.

It's important to remember that, unlike humanity, which sundered into a myriad of different ethnolinguistic groups with sometimes drastically different cultures, the yinrih's culture remained far more monolithic and cohesive thanks to their innate ability to write. Different cultures do exist, but their differences are comparable to those between, say, French, Italian, and Spanish cultures. Distinct identities emerge and grow, but there's always a common baseline. The yinrih thus have nothing comparable to indigenous peoples on Earth. It is this cultural cohesion that allowed the Bright Way to settle in as a ubiquitous, powerful force in society.

It is also during this age that the yinrih take their first steps into the starry firmament, with the first permanent orbital colony being founded shortly after, marking the birth of the Spacers. Between this time and the discovery of tailstone and the Underlay, you see groups like the Mechanists pioneering ahead to found settlements on Newhome, with other ideological missfits following in their footsteps. The yinrih's true age of discovery begins after the invention of the ansible. The Mechanists and others on Newhome went there specifically because it was isolated from Yih, but the ansible made the system much smaller, allowing Newhome to simply grow into an extension of wider yinrih society. The same pattern of growth, establishment, and pioneering repeated itself many times for the other terraformable bodies throughout Focus.

In reality, there is no clear delineation between the Golden Age and the Age of Decadence, but most Wayfarers set the pivot point at the first attempt by the High Hearthkeeper to halt interstellar mission work. She was "persuaded" to reconsider by the missionaries, backed up by the considerable firepower of the Knights of the Sun, who at this time were among the most pious groups within the Bright Way (more on the Knights in a subsequent post.) Anyway, this is considered to be the moment the Bright Way lost its focus and transitioned from being a very popular religion that happened to control power infrastructure and interplanetary transport and communications, to a multi-industry for-profit monopoly that happened to have a religion that shared its name. Many people during this time may not have even been aware that the "Bright Way" delivering their power and handling their interplanetary messages was the same "Bright Way" that ran the local lighthouse.

The Age of decadence is when the yinrih finish their conquest of the system, ascending to Kardashev II status. It's also during this time that Yinrihcron gets built (still looking for an in-universe name). The City of Eternal Noon is also founded around the beginning of this time, and the city's corrupt foundress is in retrospect considered a harbinger of things to come.

Unlike the gradual transition between the first two ages, the third age begins decisively with the War of Dissolution. That's a big enough topic to get its own post some time, but the war and its aftermath sets up the current players in monkey fox geopolitics: Hearthside, now the center of the Bright Way, which is lead by the successors to the Pious Dissolutionists during the war; The Allied Worlds: consisting of planetary metagovernments of Sweetwater, Yih, Newhome, and Welkinstead; The Spacer Confederacy: a VERY loose collection of independent Spacer city-states in the inner belt; Moonlitter: a somewhat more cohesive group of semi-autonomous lunar colonies around the titular ice giant, with nominal authority over the part of the outer belt not claimed by the Partisans. Last but not least, we have the Partisans themselves, who were the original instigators of the war. They were technically the allies of both the Pious Dissolutionists and the Allied Worlds, but the relationship broke down after the war, as the Allied Worlds were willing to allow the Pious Dissolutionists to maintain their strictly religious institutions while breaking up and privatizing the Bright Way's worldly holdings.

The Partisans, however, wanted to see the Bright Way completely eradicated. If you wanted to be generous, you could say they wanted to make absolutely sure that nobody held the same level of power over the entire system again. If you were more cynical, you could say they had designs on being the next system-wide superpower themselves. Like most big movements, it was probably a little of column A, a little of column B.

The alliances boil down to this: The Allied Worlds (AW) and Hearthside are cordial but somewhat aloof allies. The AW have disestablishmentarianism as a core tenant, while Hearthside is of course an ecclesiocracy. The AW and the Partisans are politically opposed to one another, even as the Partisans put down deep economic roots in just about every supply chain in every industry in the AW. The Spacer Confederacy kind of fills the same niche as Newhome did before the Underlay was discovered. It's a home for everything from cult colonies, libertarian (u/dys)topias, anarchosyndicalist communes, and groups of people who just want to get by in peace--all of whom somehow hate each other just little enough to form a debateably functional government.

And then there's poor Moonlitter. Its government swings between favoring the Partisans and the AW, depending on who gets elected (or whichever of the two sides has better spies at the time.)

The refugees that formed Wayfarers' Haven, including four of the six crew of the Dewfall, were at least nominally citizens of Moonlitter before being evacuated to the Inner Belt and forming their own city-state. They could have just moved to Moonlitter itself, but they wanted to get as far away from the Partisans as possible while still staying together as a community, not to mention Moonlitter's notoriously unstable government.
Visions1 wrote: 16 Feb 2024 21:34 Why not doggie doors?
I mention vertically hinged doors, which are more or less doggie doors.
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Interplanetary Ferries

Post by lurker »

The interplanetary ferry system is how yinrih got around Focus before the invention of the mass router, and it's still how bulk cargo is transported afterward.

It was formerly run by the Bright Way before the War of dissolution, but now operates as a series of independent but interconnected spaceports and spacelines similar to how the aviation industry works on Earth.

Ferries are strictly spacefaring craft, unable to land on a planet's surface. Spaceports exist atop space elevators, or in the case of Yih, an array of freely orbiting structures that are accessed by smaller shuttle craft.

Spacers like to joke that ferries have "accidental gravity" because ferries have a constant acceleration of around 0.88 g (or the same gravity as Yih). This allows them to get from one point on the outer belt to the opposite side of the system in about 84 Earth days. They can accelerate faster, and some spacelines offer routes that use an acceleration of 1 g, which cuts off a lot of travel time at the cost of a higher gravity.

They operate by accelerating for half the trip, and decelerating for the second half.

They're set up like Victorian era / pre WW I steam ships, with cabins of various levels of opulence as well as common areas and food service.

Passenger ferries persist for a time after the mass router is invented, but eventually they're used for just cargo and the occasional pleasure cruise.
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The Spacer Confederacy

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"And you're the interim chief?" asked the federal councilman, his voice echoing throughout the cavernous main axis of the newly constructed colony.

"That's correct." said Graypelt.

"Gentlemen, my dame," the councilman addressed the pair of envoys from the Allied Worlds along with the hearthkeeper floating by their side. "Would you allow Graypelt and I a moment alone?" He moved toward the docking port where a shuttle was stationed, beckoning Graypelt to follow.

Graypelt started as the inside airlock door shut behind him. The federal councilman had floated across the threshold of the airlock separating the colony's hull from his docked shuttle craft.

"Why did you shut--" Graypelt began, but the councilman raised a paw to silence him.

"What did the envoys from the Allied Worlds tell you about the Spacer Confederacy?" he asked.

"The laws are few, but the penalty for transgressing them is severe."

"So far, so good," said the councilman, "and what are those laws?"

Graypelt thought for a moment, then began ticking off items on his claws. "Each colony gets one perch on the federal council. The council is responsible for assigning asteroids for colonies to mine. The council levies a tax of twelve per gross on all revenue earned through the sail of the minerals. Colonies may only mine the body they have been assigned. There's a six year mandatory conscription into the federal police for all eligible males upon reaching the age of majority. Any interaction between colonies within the Confederacy must be mediated by the council."

The councilman tilted his muzzle up in affirmation. "Now let me tell you what those glossy-pelted stooges from the AW won't. We get all sorts of kooks coming here to the Inner Belt looking to set up half baked social experiments or off the wall cults."

"We're not--" Graypelt objected, but the councilman raised his paw again and resumed his lecture.

"Everyone comes here for their own reasons. We have about as many world views, ideologies, belief systems, conceptual frameworks, religions, whatever you want to call them, as there are colonies in the Confederacy. But there's one thing we all value. What do you suppose that is?"

"Uh--" Graypelt began, but the councilman cut him off again.

"Freedom!" he barked. "You want to start a gel head parlor1? Go ahead. You want to run a tree-dweller baiting ring? Be my guest. Wanna start making mind candy2?" He flicked his left ear back, leaned forward, and whispered, "I'll even give you the name of a supplier."

He slapped the inner hull of the colony with a rear paw. "Whatever you do inside these walls is your own business. But if you so much as stick a whisker outside with whatever nonsense you get up to, then that becomes our problem." he tossed his muzzle back, toward the federal shuttle behind him. "And you do not want the federal police paying you a visit."

"Is that a threat?" Graypelt stammered.

"A warning." The councilman leaned forward, running a claw across a scar on his muzzle.

"I thought this was--" Graypelt once again failed to get a word in edgewise.

"Anarchy? A free for all? A libertarian paradise? Everyone always assumes the Inner Belt is a lawless frontier where they can get away with anything, and you know what? Your roof, your rules, but out there, outside these walls, you're under OUR roof. If you mind your own business, keep your nose prints off of other peoples' windows, you'll be fine. But if you mess around, you will find out.

"Do you think we keep this confederacy together with a bunch of ink on paper?" The councilman made a show of examining the iron-red claws on his left forepaw. "Within a three-day ferry trip from here there are a bunch of misotheists3 who would kill every last one of you hearth kissers, pups and all, if they thought they could get away with it. The only reason they won't is that they know exactly what will happen to them if they even try." He pantomimed an explosion with his forepaws.

"You folks wanted freedom, and you've got it, but freedom isn't free."

The councilman pulled the release for the interior airlock door with his tail. He began floating into his shuttle, adopting a cheerful tone for his parting words. "On behalf of the Federal Council, I'd like to welcome you and the citizens of Wayferers' Haven to the Spacer Confederacy."
1. A place where one can engage in recreational suspension.
2. A synthetic hallucinogen originally used as an anesthetic
3. Certain subgroups within the Misotheist faction of the Atavists believe that The Light can be killed by starving it of worship, and the most expedient way to do that is by killing its worshipers.
This one's pretty rough around the edges. I'm not sure if a system like this could even work, or if I even explained it well enough, but I had fun writing it. This takes place at the founding of Wayfarers' Haven, a few years before the Dewfall sets out on the mission, which would set it at about the early to mid 18th century AD on Earth.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by Visions1 »

I imagine it's either got some kind of oversight aside from itself, or a whole lot of factions/exploding stations.
Or maybe the fear of MAD is enough to get them to co-operate.

What is the governmental system like exactly? What failsafes does it have for whatever?

Also, I want to see the word hearth-kissers in Commontongue.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Post by lurker »

Visions1 wrote: 19 Feb 2024 05:17 I imagine it's either got some kind of oversight aside from itself, or a whole lot of factions/exploding stations.
Or maybe the fear of MAD is enough to get them to co-operate.

What is the governmental system like exactly? What failsafes does it have for whatever?

Also, I want to see the word hearth-kissers in Commontongue.
MAD is exactly what I was going for.

The problem unfolds this way as far as I can tell

1. You have a nearly limitless pool of resources that are hard to access (the asteroids in the inner belt).
2. Just like on Newhome, people desperate to live on their own terms ignore the economic and logistics issues of setting up an isolated mining operation and make it work.
3. Repeat step 2 for a few millennia with a veritable rainbow of weirdos and misfits who absolutely don't see eye to eye on anything other than they want to be self reliant, and setting up a mining colony in the inner belt is the best way to do that.
4. As a supply network gets going, the inner belt starts looking like a juicy target for the Superpower du jour, which is the Bright Way pre war and the AW and Moonlitter afterward (and possibly also the Partisans, as they have their own swath of the Outer Belt, but it's spread thinner).

You have a bunch of mutually antagonistic independent colonies, who nevertheless don't want the big boys stealing their lunch, so they initially come together to fend off encroachment from the major players, and then do their best to maintain the system against external threats and internal collapse.

Internal collapse would probably take the form of a single colony getting too big and imposing its own rule over everyone else, a group of like-minded colonies forming a coalition and doing the same, or inter-colony conflict spreading throughout the belt. The restriction to only mining one rock at a time helps prevent one colony from hoarding all the asteroids. There are also other restrictions like not automating the extraction process (though remotely operated mechs are fine).

Interactions between colonies isn't necessarily forbidden, but it's so heavily scrutinized that it's not worth it. This extends even to offering aid when a colony is in trouble. Forming any sort of relationship without seeking the council's mediation first opens you up to accusations, and unless it's crystal clear that one party is in the wrong, the council's approach to handling conflict boils down to "I'll give you something to cry about", punishing both parties just to be sure.

Popping entire colonies isn't their first resort, but it is their second or third. Trade blockades are usually how minor infractions are punished. They lay siege to the offending colony just long enough to get the point across.

Like I said, it's entirely possible this system doesn't work, but I'm hoping it "doesn't work" in a way that opens up worldbuilding opportunities rather than just breaking the suspension of disbelief.
In Commonthroat, "hearth kisser' would be <qcqrmKmg> /huff, short low strong whine, huff, chuffk, short low strong grunt, long high strong growl, short low strong grunt, short low weak growl/ from <qcq> (to kiss, literally to press the wet part of the nose against something and quickly exhale through the nose) + <rmK> (hearth) + <-m> (customary agentive suffix).

I might replace <qcq> (kiss) with <NLr> (lick, draw the tongue across a surface). "hearth licker" sounds more like the slur I was going for. It shows the speaker doesn't know or doesn't care enough about the Bright Way's customs to know they kiss the star hearth rather than licking it.
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Spacer's Canteen

Post by lurker »

Image
Sticking with the spacers, here's my solution for monkey foxes drinking in zero gravity.

Humans can use straws because we can form an airtight seal with our lips and rarefy the air in our oral cavity in order to produce suction.
Yinrih can't form a seal with their mouth, so straws are out. My solution is to have a piston actuated by a screw, similar to how some fountain pens refill ink. You turn the screw, pushing the piston into the chamber, exerting pressure on the liquid within. To drink, the person licks the ball baring at the end of the tube, and the pressure exerted by the piston causes water to flow out. These drawings are technically upside down. Being in microgravity means you'd probably hold the canteen upright with the tube at the top and the piston at the bottom.

There are two versions of the canteen: the one on the left is filled directly with water, while the other one contains a flexible bladder that contains the drink, allowing for easier cleaning.

Does any of this work? I have no idea. I only got 5 hours of sleep last night lol.
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The Outer Belt

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At the time leading up to the War of Dissolution, the Outer Belt was a place of stark contrasts. Much like Newhome before it, the Outer Belt was an attractive place for misfits and ideologues, being as it was at the edge of yinrih civilization. Among these ideologues were militant secularists.

The Outer Belt was also the dumping ground for elements that the hierarchy deemed undesirable, including incompetent engineers and aging infrastructure, but also the missionaries, who, along with Hearthside, were a hotbed of movements and ideas that would later coalesce into the Pious Dissolutionists. The Outer Belt suited the missionaries just fine, though, as it was that much closer to interstellar space.

The hierarchy didn't exactly help their case by giving the Outer Belt the short end of the stick. Power delivery was sporadic, interplanetary communication was unreliable, and ferry service might as well not have existed at all.

So you have two groups who are ill-disposed to the "corporate" side of the Bright Way already, living in an area underserved by the Bright Way's services while still being expected to pay the same tithes as someone from the inner planets where things ran much smoother. It's not hard to see why the war began here.

The militant secularists were a disorganized lot of terrorists staging sporadic attacks against Bright Way infrastructure. Missionaries and other pious Wayfarers themselves were merely attacked rhetorically rather than physically... at first. The secularists got a lot more organized and a lot less tolerant after a strong leader rose to unite them. More about that guy in an upcoming post.
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