The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

Discussions about constructed worlds, cultures and any topics related to constructed societies.
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Handy Feet

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The rear paws are just as prehensile as the front paws. There's no sexual dimorphism present here. Both the males and females have several smaller palmar pads on the rear paws, and females have no lactation patches here.

The claws may contain iron, like the teeth of a rodent. In any case, they're very hard and very sharp, designed to dig into the hard wood of the steadtree.

A single paw (front or back) can support the entire body.

As with the front paws, the skin is strongly pigmented to compensate for the lack of fur.

Yinrih use their rear paws almost as much as their front paws for grasping and manipulation. In fact, their rear paws are more sensitive to account for the fact that they can't see what their manipulating. There's even a tactile alphabet for Commonthroat designed specifically to be read with the rear paws. One can rummage through a desk drawer and read labels on whatever oddments are inside without looking. I've chosen to represent this alphabet with braille, but I think it would be closer to Moon Type: using lines and other simple shapes rather than a matrix of dots.
So I just spent two hours drawing a single paw of a critter that only exists in my head, and wrote a bunch of lore about it, just to post it on a tiny message board... eh I suppose there are worse ways to spend my time.

I've taken some liberties in terms of biomechanics here. Looking at videos of chimps and gorillas, I see the tops of their hands are strongly callused due to knuckle walking. A dog's paw pads are also not very sensitive, although the tops of their toes and the area between the toes and pads is very sensitive. That's why they don't like having their feet touched. Also, claws and prehensile hands don't seem to mix. Arboreal animals seem to have one or the other. Flat nails seem to help the pads of the fingers with gripping, and claws can puncture the palms. But these are my critters, dang it!

I'm pretty much resigned to the fact I'll never get the proportions the way I want. My spatial reasoning skills are terrible. Just ask everyone I've ever lived with about how I use plastic food containers. I just pick the biggest one that will still fit in the fridge because the only way I'll know if the food will fit is by pouring it in the container. I can't "eyeball it".
Last edited by lurker on 01 Jan 2024 23:00, edited 1 time in total.
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The Star Hearth

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In the beginning, the tribal shaman tended the fire, protecting it from wind and weather. As the yinrih's civilization grew, shamans became clerics, and these clerics tended increasingly sophisticated hearths. Open fires gave way to sheltered hearths, hearths gave way to coal fire power plants, which gave way to natural gas, which eventually gave way to the fusion reactor.

A cleric, or hearthkeeper, must be a knowledgeable electrical engineer in addition to a spiritual leader. Having the kind of lifespan that allows fifteen to twenty years of seminary formation helps. Clerics are expected to not only maintain the star hearth, but be able to build one from off the shelf parts (not as crazy as you might think given the yinrih's Kardashev II status).

Each lighthouse has a star hearth which powers the homes of the faithful, and most of a cleric's time is spent monitoring and repairing the hearth. The hearth is placed in a prominant position within the lighthouse, analogous to an altar. The top of the hearth is usually decorated with flowers and, of course, the skulls of its previous keepers.

The artificial sun within is a ball of plasma held in a spherical shape by powerful magnets. The material surrounding the star is a semi-transparent, opalescent material meant to mimic the light scattering of the daytime sky, hence why the background looks blue and the star itself yellow. This material is responsible for the liturgical hearth's less efficient output compared to a "regular" reactor.

The star is not worshiped, but it is venerated as an "icon of an icon", seeing as how real stars are called "icons of the Light". One pious gesture involves "kissing" the hearth, touching the wet part of the nose to the hearth and quickly exhaling. (This "kissing" gesture is also done by sires and dams to their pups as a sign of parental affection). You can measure the religiosity of a community by the number of nose prints on the reactor glass. Reactors in more secular regions may be crystal clear, while those in more pious communities resemble the bottom half of a picture window in a house with a few excitable dogs.
Note that previously I used the term "hearthkeeper" to refer to the Bright Way's pope analog. I think I'll apply this term to all clerics, and come up with a new title for the leader. I'll use "cleric" and "hearthkeeper" interchangeably in English, but the Commonthroat word for hearthkeeper now simply means any cleric regardless of rank.
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How is Babby Formed?

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A yinrih family consists of an equal number of male sires and female dams that can range in size from two (one pair) to twelve (six pairs). The number of sires and the number of dams must be equal. The collective group of sires and dams may be referred to in English as a childermoot (I'm trying to stick to an Anglish translation convention when possible).

The relationship that the sires and dams have with each other varies widely depending on culture and the outlook of the individuals. Yinrih have no sex drive and do not feel romantically attracted to their fellow parents. Instead, the desire to beget young is more like a bird flying south for the winter. It's less emotional and more instinctual. Just like humans, though, they can ignore this instinct. Hearthkeepers are forbidden to enter into a childermoot. Their congregation is seen as their litter.

The yinrih's lack of eros is the source of much confusion among humans. One popular stereotype, driven by the fact that most yinrih visiting Earth are missionaries, is that all yinrih are either perfect models of chastity or uptight prudes, depending on the human you ask. You can no more praise a monkey fox for his chastity than you can say that a bald man has red hair. Human sex is utterly beyond the yinrih's ken, and wise yinrih refuse to comment on it.

Some humans who have never met yinrih assume them to be libertines based on their well-known absence of clothing. The yinrih aren't making a statement by going naked, it's just their nature. They have nothing to cover up in the first place, and having fur makes the protective function of clothing redundant.

Yinrih lack external sex organs, and both genders possess a cloaca. Humans often mistake all yinrih for females at first sight. Yinrih also have trouble telling human males and females apart. A more polite human will advise yinrih to look for an Adam's apple to tell the two genders apart. Yinrih usually show the pads of their front paws to clarify whether they're male (single palmar pad) or female (several small palmar pads with a lactation patch). Male yinrih are larger on average but that's hard to compare if you've only seen one.

Both males and females lay eggs. The eggs are placed in a nesting site together. This act of placing one's egg in the nest is the closest thing to a marriage vow the yinrih have. Once you do that, you're expected to remain in the childermoot until the pups reach adulthood. The phrase "You put your egg in this nest" means "you made your bed, now sleep in it."

Once the eggs are together, a membrane forms over the clutch. The eggshells melt, and the genetic material from all the sires and dams mingles into a soup, and zygotes form out of this soup. A yinrih's life is reckoned from the formation of the zygote. This might count as abiogenesis since there are no gametes, just biochemical goop. (this is based on the idea that embryonic development mirrors evolutionary history. Yinrih take the idea and run all the way home with it.)

The structure that forms over the clutch is called a _womb nest_. It's very much like an external uterus. Each developing kit lies within its own amnion. The arrangement of these amnions is what gives interstellar womb ships their name. Gestation time is TBD, but all the kits hatch together. There's no concept of the firstborn. The whole litter is considered to be the same age (which, as stated above, is reckoned from when the zygote forms rather than when they hatch.)

The process of giving names is culturally dependent, but usually the kits are given names while still in utero. The content of Commonthroat names does not indicate gender, but Commonthroat uses gendered name suffixes. Pious yinrih names have something to do with light, but other names are also common. Some names I've given to figures in the lore: Sunshine, Rainbow, Lodestar, stormlight (lightning), ringlight (sunlight reflected off of yih's ring on summer nights).

Commonthroat does not use fixed surnames. An individual may have several different surnames depending on the group he's with at the moment. A surname is usually a physical description (Stormlight Blackpelt) the location they're from (Sunshine of Hearthside), an occupation (Rainbow Hearthkeeper).

Yinrih will take a human-pronounceable name when working or living among humans. If they're lucky, there may be an English name that's close to the original. The cleric leading the crew of the _Dewfall_ is named Rainbow but goes by Iris in English. Some names are just calques. Stormlight originally wants to pick a "normal" English name but is encouraged to simply translate the original because it sounds cool in English (It's actually a rather bland name in Commonthroat.) Sunshine is not unknown as a name in English, so it's also simply left as is. Lodestar is in a similar boat as Stormlight. The other two yinrih crewing the _Dewfall_ don't have easily translatable names. The one named Steadfast Friend is given the name Tod by the human who offers him lodging because he looks like a fox. Ringlight is also named by the human he lives with, in this case it's Pascal, for reasons too complex to dive into here since this section is already too long.

But let's get back to how yinrih beget young. Kits come out of the womb nest blind, and their eyes open after a few weeks. They are referred to as "kits" until they start eating solid food, at which point they are called "pups" or "puppies". Even though there's no special relationship among the parents, sires and dams are just as attached to their pups as human parents are to their children, if not more so. The nature of yinrih reproduction means that "accident" babies are unheard of. If you have children, it's because you want children. This means that a lot of human social problems surrounding child rearing are unthinkable to a yinrih. There's no shortage of yinrih who want to adopt human children upon hearing about said social problems, as the 18 or so years required to raise a human child from infancy is a comparatively trivial time span for a yinrih. Humans raised by yinrih is a whole can of worms I won't get into in this post.

I haven't decided on things like the age of sexual maturity or the age range at which yinrih strike out on their own. I don't think it will be 10 times as long as a human childhood, but it'll probably be at least as long. Once the litter is raised, the sires' and dams' commitment to the childermoot ends and they are free to disperse. Some stay together as empty nesters, others go off and do their own thing. It's another cultural thing. The relationship with their children is lifelong, however.

Some things I haven't decided, and would love others to comment on, are how this reproductive strategy effects things like lineage and extended family, the length of time to rear a litter, and whether it would be considered acceptable for two litter mates to enter into a childermoot together given they're more genetically diverse.

A childermoot consisting of a single male-female pair, while viable, is frowned upon in many cultures. Many paws make light work, after all. There is a movement after First Contact called "humanism" that tries to mimic the human family, with a single pair rearing one or two pups (litter size is proportional to the number of contributing parents, with replacement rate taken into account.) An emphasis is placed on a strong relationship between the sire and dam. But again, no eros means no romance, and it ends up more like a smaller version of the group of friends forming a childermoot. The movement is regarded by many, including many humans, as unnatural. It may be how human families work, but it's not how yinrih families work.
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How girl get pragnent?

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I love the title you gave to your last post in this thread. I was laughing so hard when I read it.

And I could see the title on the "Latest posts" board index, too.
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Wat is difffrence between mail an femail???????

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The first thing when I saw Kh.'s title was "Oh boy someone's getting banned."
Then I saw the extra a and smiled. You guys are all a barrel of monkey-foxes.

So, what exactly are the physiological difs. between males and females - inside and out? What are their chromosones like - M/F being XY/XX, WW/WZ, something else? Are there differences in hormones? Instincts? Stereotypes? Coat patterns?

Also, I'd really like to know more about those coat patterns you brought up a while ago. Dumb unlucky Tod the clever lucky "fox" being an example, are there any other symbolisms? Coat patterns? Can they have "rainbow coats" (many colours)? Dyes? Tattoos (changer fur or skin colour)? Laws, taboos, customs, spiritual beliefs and prohibitions? Barbers? Uses for fur? Fur on other planets?
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Visions1 wrote: 26 Dec 2023 04:44 The first thing when I saw Kh.'s title was "Oh boy someone's getting banned."
Then I saw the extra a and smiled. You guys are all a barrel of monkey-foxes.
I'm a fan of vintage memes, I guess. Hence why I translated that Zelda CD-i quote into Commonthroat.
Visions1 wrote: 26 Dec 2023 04:44 So, what exactly are the physiological difs. between males and females - inside and out? What are their chromosones like - M/F being XY/XX, WW/WZ, something else? Are there differences in hormones? Instincts? Stereotypes? Coat patterns?
I don't know if I'll go so deep that I'm detailing genetics. People often conflate evolution, genes, and DNA, even though they were all discovered at different times by different people. I suppose you could have evolution without genes as we know them (Lemarkian evolution?), and you could have genes encoded in something other than DNA, at least in fiction if not IRL.



Some of this is artistic license on my part. This was never a speculative biology project, it's more about if I can take a simple concept and build on it in interesting ways. Both male and female yinrih lay eggs, so the biological differences are mostly internal. Male and female eggs are different, providing different biomolecules necessary for zygote formation. Female eggs also have yolks while male eggs do not. The most obvious external difference is that females lactate and males don't. Males are also slightly larger on average. Yinrih weigh between 50 and 80 pounds, with females trending lower and males trending higher. Imagine a a large (but still healthy) German Shepherd or Eurasian wolf. I mentioned in the Commonthroat thread that Lodestar, one of the missionaries, is considered massive by yinrih standards, and he's only 80 pounds. I haven't fleshed her out much, but Iris the cleric is on the small side. Iris and Lodestar may actually be litter mates, showing that a single litter can be quite diverse thanks to having more than two parents.
Visions1 wrote: 26 Dec 2023 04:44 Also, I'd really like to know more about those coat patterns you brought up a while ago. Dumb unlucky Tod the clever lucky "fox" being an example, are there any other symbolisms? Coat patterns? Can they have "rainbow coats" (many colours)? Dyes? Tattoos (changer fur or skin colour)? Laws, taboos, customs, spiritual beliefs and prohibitions? Barbers? Uses for fur? Fur on other planets?
Ah yes, the fur. This is a topic I've ruminated on considerably. In my head, I see al sorts of coat patterns akin to domestic dogs. I've already established that red with black markings (Tod) and solid black (Stormlight) exist. I imagine Iris is having a white coat with biscuit coloration on the ears, like a Samoyed. Sunshine is of course nekkid, which shows the black pigment on the skin of the paws and muzzle. I believe bare yinrih skin looks darker compared to similarly pigmented human skin, given that yinrih blood is maroon. But I imagine Sunshine having a red coat like Tod (hence why she teases him) when not taking the hair loss drugs mandated by her job as a healer. Pascal may be black and white, which would be to set up another pun.

I may explain the variety of coat colors as simple racial differences after 100 millennia of spreading throughout Focus, or maybe that there was a (regrettable) period where they flirted with eugenics, and breeding for aesthetics was common, and the unnatural coat patterns are a remnant of that time period. Or I might just leave it unexplained.

There are no tattoos. I suppose there are hair dyes and such but I'll probably leave that unexplored. Perfume fills the communicative role that clothing has for humans. I'll go into that in another post.

Shaving is a necessary part of most medical procedures, as it is in veterinary medicine. Razors are a standard piece of medical equipment, but most yinrih hate being shaved if they can avoid it.

Since Stormlight is surnamed Blackpelt, I guess that means it's a unique enough trait to be a differentiator. I haven't thought of any other cultural associations with coat color or pattern beyond the unlucky red pelt and dumb black ears stereotypes, and those were just to set up the pun about foxes. Tod is eventually going to get just as sick of humans stereotyping him as clever as he is yinrih calling him a luckless idiot. Positive stereotypes are still stereotypes. Tod also doesn't have the white counter shading that terran foxes have. The whole coat is red save the ears and probably also the paws.

Not sure what you meant by "fur on other planets", but I assume you're talking about adaptations to local conditions. I can't think of any. The closest thing I have to a unique racial trait are that "natives" of Hearthside have larger ears to cope with the heat. Not to the point of looking like fennec foxes, but still noticeably larger than average. One of their bandpass membranes is also lapis lazuli blue instead of the more shiny reflective color that most yinrih have (an obvious Dune reference). It's just a genetic mutation and not a result of drug use (unless...) Hearthsiders are another post-worthy topic.
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The Artificer's Litter

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Orbiting a dwarf planet on the edge of Partisan territory are the remains of a massive megastructure. It looks like the head of a yinrih, wrought in colossal proportions. It was clearly meant to be part of an even larger mechanism, and has been left unfinished rather than having been completed and then dismantled or broken later. Strictly speaking, nobody knows why its there. No records can be found relating to the terraforming or colonization of this particular dwarf planet, but there are records of the planet's existence before the head appeared, so it had to be built by a group of yinrih colonists at some point.

The lack of records is fertile ground for legends to spring up surrounding the giant mechanical head and its creators. These putative creators are known collectively as The Artificer's Litter, as many of the legends have the colonists lead by a charismatic leader to whom is given the title of Artificer. One such tale serves as a cautionary parable.

It came to pass in the time of the decadence of the hearthkeepers that there was a group of colonists who sought a suitable habitation free from the onerous tithes levied by the clergy. They settled a tiny world far from Yih (These were still the days when the clergy had their seat of power on the Homeworld.) Once the people had established themselves in their new home, their leader said to them

"The hearthkeepers say that the Creator dwells outside of time and watches from afar. Why does it stand aloof, speaking only in riddles and visions to corrupt clerics? They tell us to do this and to do that, saying the fate of our immortal souls hangs upon our obedience. Perhaps the Light's Truth is being bent by those crooked hearthkeepers. Come, brethren, now that we are free of those witches and their priestcraft, Let us build a suitable vessel for The Light, that it may vouchsafe to dwell within its creation as one of us, speaking plainly and not hiding its meaning in obscure metaphors."

So they set to work building a great machine, wrought of steel and plastic and silicon, in the likeness of a yinrih. It was said to inspire fear and awe in all who looked up on it, even as it lay unfinished.

The Light saw what they set themselves to do, and said "My little ones, why do ye this? Would ye have me as your slave master? For that is what I would be to you were I to reveal myself as I am. I would say 'do this' or 'go there' and ye would obey in servile fear. I stand apart not out of cold indifference but so that ye might seek me willingly. Know that all that I do is for your benefit, though it may not seem so there below.

"There are yet many righteous clerics acting as instruments of my will among you. They chant the liturgies I have prescribed at the hours I have appointed, neither adding nor omitting a single syllable. They give warmth and light generously to those under their care, Indeed, they glorify me all the more by their quiet labor among this wicked generation. But those bent clerics, that den of usurers, will be laid low at a time I deem fit. As for you, little ones, I will scatter you among the other peoples of Focus, leaving no trace of your habitation. This idol ye have made shall remain as a warning to those who would gainsay me."

And so it was as though the colonists never settled there, with only their unfinished machine standing watch over the empty world.
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They need to do way instain mother

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Khemehekis wrote: 26 Dec 2023 03:44 I love the title you gave to your last post in this thread. I was laughing so hard when I read it.

And I could see the title on the "Latest posts" board index, too.
I mentioned the notion of yinrih trying to adopt human children. I figured I'd add this as a footnote to the other post.

Once the mass router trunk is established between Sol and Focus, and as yinrih become more familiar with humans, there's a massive crush of yinrih who want to adopt neglected or abused human children. Yinrih families are less likely to be dysfunctional for a couple reasons: no sex means no sexual violence, for one thing, and while bad sires or dams certainly exist, the fact that a typical yinrih childermoot is larger than a pair of human parents means that one bad apple has less of an effect on the kids. If a particular sire or dam is proving to be an unfit parent, there are numerous ways to "do way instain mother" as it were. If the culture in which a particular family resides does not have families cohabiting, it's pretty easy to just cut off access to the pups. Some cultures, however, have all the pups and childermoot under the same roof, and that makes it harder to just exclude a parent quietly. Situations like this usually result in legal action by the rest of the childermoot against the parent in question, with his or her official ouster from the moot being the end goal.

Anyway, back to adopting humans. Human governments and adoption agencies have a range of responses to this movement. Some refuse any inter-specific adoption on the grounds that human kids need human parents in order to have a healthy upbringing, same instincts, same lifespan, same development, etc. Language acquisition issues are usually the biggest reason cited. Yinrih are incapable of reproducing human speech, and humans likewise can't make yinrih speech sounds. Some organizations allow adoption only after a certain age, between seven and thirteen is the most common. Others may allow yinrih to foster but not adopt, some condition adoption on the family regularly exposing the human child to other humans, sending the human to a human school, etc. Others allow adoption just as they would with human parents, figuring that, while it would be nice for a human child to have human parents, having yinrih parents is better than having none.

Some cynical humans see this as yinrih looking to have a "human pet". Yinrih live so much longer that the time it takes to raise a human child from infancy is comparatively trivial, so it's hard not to see their point. The difference in lifespan also means the human's adopted sires and dams will be burying their child, and their child's children, and so forth.
Edit: I've decided the yinrih age of majority is on average 36 yih years, or about 53 Earth years. That's three "dodecades" if that's a word.
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Beating the Heat: Part 1

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“…another record-breaking afternoon, with temperatures throughout the region surpassing the 90-degree mark. A cold front is set to bring relief to central and southeast Texas later this evening but looks like there may be some severe weather along with the cooler temperatures. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for the region until early tomorrow morning. Now it’s time for your local forecast.” Sarah let the smooth jazz drifting out of the TV wash over her and sank deeper into the couch cushions. Her eyes stung with sweat rolling down from her forehead. Without looking, she reached over and grabbed a wrinkled shirt from the laundry basket next to the couch and wiped her brow. Her eyes were laser-focused on the wall clock, watching the seconds crawl by. “4:30,” she thought. “He was supposed to be here by 4 o’clock.” She closed her eyes and tried to relax. The maintenance guy had forsaken her. Only the sweet embrace of unconsciousness could provide respite from the heat now.

She was dragged out of her blissful slide into oblivion by the sharp click-clack of claws on the hard linoleum floor. It was the halting, rhythmless gait of one unaccustomed to walking on two feet. The clicking was replaced by the sound of a tail dragging along the living room rug, desperately trying to prevent its owner from falling backwards.

She looked up at the cause of the disturbance. Two six-toed paws were digging into the carpet, and a prehensile tail was wrapped around one of the legs of the coffee table, all in an effort to keep the creature before her upright. Its lupine maw was agape, purple tongue hanging off to the side, twitching in time with the creature’s panting breath. Its wet nose was twitching frantically, soaking up a mélange of odors that Sarah couldn’t hope to perceive. Its erect, triangular ears swiveled about, absorbing the soundscape of the room. Wrapped in its forelimbs, clutched tightly to the ruddy flesh of its chest was a ponderous tome. “Great news!” the creature growled cheerfully as it deposited the book onto the coffee table with a thud.

“You figured out how to fix the air conditioner?” Sarah sighed.

With a padded finger the creature tapped the cover, which bore the title ‘Comprehensive Introduction to Biochemistry’. “At least according to this book here our food should be safe for human consumption.”

“That’s nice, Sunshine”

“You don’t smell very excited.”

“It’s nearly 95 degrees inside, and it’s already half an hour past the window that the leasing office gave me for the maintenance guy to come fix the A/C. Forgive me for not being head-over-heels with enthusiasm.”

Sunshine flicked her ears back. “What do you want from me. I’m a healer, not a mechanic. But speaking of food, I think I may have a little something that’ll help you beat the heat.” Her curiosity piqued, Sarah leaned forward as Sunshine produced a small carton from a pocketed band wrapped around her right foreleg. “This is a little snack from back home on Hearthside. From the carton she produced a small translucent strip which she placed on her pendulous tongue. She drew her tongue back into her mouth for a moment, allowing the strip to dissolve. After a few seconds, Sunshine dropped back onto all fours, shook her head vigorously, then resumed panting. Sarah caught the strong scent of menthol on her breath.

“Just a breath mint?” Sarah inquired, unsuccessfully masking her disappointment. Sunshine came from a desert of eternal noon, a planet perpetually sweltering under the gaze of an unconquerable sun. Her species had subdued their entire solar system dozens of millennia before those naked Savannah apes Sarah called ancestors had even discovered agriculture. They could bridge the yawning gulf between stars, but the best thing they could come up with to cool off was a Listerine strip.

“Oh, it’s a little stronger than that. Go on, try one.” Sunshine pinched another strip between her outer thumb and writing claw, flicking the little snack with another digit in a manner Sarah assumed was supposed to be enticing. She paused, her eyes darting between the textbook on the table, the little hairless monkey fox standing in front of her, and the consumable held in her paw. An inner dialog played out in her mind.

“Are you really going to put that thing in your mouth?”

“It’s just a breath strip, why not?”

“An alien breath strip. It could kill you for all you know, slowly and painfully, too.”

Sarah regarded Sunshine again. She had been holding that snack out for a good thirty seconds. “Guess when you’ve got six centuries ahead of you, you can afford to be a bit more patient.” She thought.

“She is a licensed medical professional…”

“A licensed alien medical professional.”

A bead of sweat rolled down her cheek, reminding her that the air conditioner was still broken and that it likely wouldn’t be fixed today. “Eh, YOLO!” Her curiosity had won the day. Sarah plucked the snack from the alien’s claws and popped it in her mouth.

The strip quickly dissolved on her tongue, leaving behind a cooling sensation. So far, so mundane. Sarah leaned back into the couch, chuckling to herself as she contemplated how old this stuff had to be, older than the US constitution, at the very least, given how long it took Sunshine and the others to get to Earth from Focus. Maybe she could start a YouTube channel eating ancient alien junk food. Still, though, it didn't really take her mind off the heat.

Just as her disappointment began to set in, the cold feeling in her mouth began to intensify. The sensation had started as though chewing a normal piece of spearmint gum, but had progressed to chewing a particularly potent piece of spearmint gum. After a few seconds, it became chewing a particularly potent piece of spearmint gum while chugging ice water. "OK, now this is getting uncomfortable." Sarah thought. "Well, it is getting my mind off the heat. Now all I can think about is my mouth freezing." The cold feeling cascaded down her chest and into her gut, then began radiating to the rest of her body.

The roof of her mouth started throbbing in pain, which then radiated to her forehead. She tried powering through the pain by sheer force of will. "It isn't real." she thought. "I'm not really cold. It's just a chemical tricking my nerves into thinking I'm cold." Through eyes tearing up in pain she caught a glimpse of the wall clock. It had only been twenty seconds since she had put that cursed strip on her tongue. She no longer felt like she was chugging ice water, now it felt like shoveling Antarctic snow into her mouth.

"Are you OK?" Sunshine whined. Sarah caught the concern in her voice but was too busy writhing in agony to pat herself on the back for achieving this milestone in human-yinrih communication. "I'm... fine..." she gasped. Sarah swore she could see clouds of super-cooled condensation billowing out of her mouth with each syllable.

It wasn't Antarctic snow anymore, now it was liquid oxygen, swiftly plunging to liquid nitrogen. She hunched forward in her seat, then collapsed onto the floor between the couch and coffee table. Through cryogenic tears Sarah could see Sunshine's large ears and muzzle hanging over her.

The penny finally dropped. Sunshine whipped around and bolted down the hallway, her claws skittering on the slippery floor. She failed to turn in time and ran bodily into the back wall, then managed to gain enough traction to dart into the erstwhile office that now served as her quarters.

Sarah could hear her frantically barking one of the traditional healer's invocations as she rummaged through her things looking for whatever implements might prove most useful. Sunshine had demonstrated several of these little rituals to her over the time she had been lodging with her. They were remnants of a time when the office of cleric and healer were still one. The particular invocation used largely depended on how severe the situation was. The one Sunshine chose did not buoy Sarah's confidence in her outcome.

"O Creator of the universe, paws and tail hast thou none, yet wield me, wretched whelp that I am, as thy instrument here below, and rest this least of thy little ones from the jaws of death."

Sarah was audibly whimpering now. Her vision began to fade. It felt as though her entire digestive tract was filled top to bottom with liquid helium. The blessed embrace of oblivion finally took her, but not before she saw Sunshine scampering back down the hall toward the living room, The end of her tail coiled around the handle of a satchel that was bouncing along the floor behind her.

To Be Continued
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Tree Dwellers

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Tree Dwellers (Commonthroat <qgKq-dq-g> /huff, early rising strengthening growl, huff, short high weak whine, huff, short low weak growl/ literally "forest yinrih") are a non-sapient species closely related to the yinrih. While humans often compare them to chimps, they're more closely related to the yinrih than chimps are to humans. It's better to think of them like early hominins. They're clever, can use simple tools, and have complex hierarchical social structures, but do not conduct rituals or possess language, which are the criteria the yinrih use to determine whether something is a sophont.

The Tree Dwellers and yinrih evolved from a single population of animals that lived in an equatorial rain forest river basin. Over time, the river widened, isolating the two populations. The northern population became the tree dwellers while the southern population became the yinrih. Both species are arboreal, but can also navigate on the ground well enough. The basin floods annually, and both species would spend the dry season on the ground and in trees, while remaining in the trees during the wet season.

To humans they look _very_ similar to the yinrih. Their vocalizations even sound like yinrih speech, at least if you don't know Commonthroat or some other yinrih language. The only obvious visual difference is that Tree dwellers have more rounded ears (think the ears of a corgi vs the ears of a wolf or a German shepherd). Yinrih can smell the difference pretty easily, as well as spot other subtle visual cues in how they look and move.

The Tree Dwellers are similar enough to the yinrih that they're used for organ transplants and lab testing. In fact, before yinrih zoology was well developed, the yinrih considered themselves to be _literally_ sapient tree dwellers, with the only difference being that yinrih had rational souls and tree dwellers had animal souls. A (relatively minor) religious controversy arises when it's discovered that they are in fact different species.

The yinrih are more comfortable with their animal origins compared to humans. Since they evolved a written language, their history reaches back to the dawn of sapience in their species. The highest holy day for the Bright Way (before First Contact) is the feast of the kindling of the Fire of Understanding, which celebrates the emergence of sapience. Discovering evolution and genetics (other than the above-mentioned minor issue) is not seen as an impediment to faith. The yinrih knew all along they came from other animals, they just didn't know by what mechanism. This causes some friction with more pious humans. The yinrih don't understand why some humans could be uncomfortable with our status as great apes, but once the cultural particulars are explained, they are more sympathetic, even if they disagree. They may even refer to humans as apes, matter-of-factly or even out of affection, but never out of scorn or ridicule, which is only fair, seeing as how we often call them monkey foxes ourselves.

Wealthy yinrih may attempt to keep tree dwellers as pets. They're pretty cute as pups, but become aggressive when they mature. While they don't have the pound-for-pound strength advantage over yinrih that chimps have over humans, they're still more than capable of messing you up.

There's an urban legend that a group of Partisan scientists tried to teach a tree-dweller the concept of mortality. The outcome differs depending on who's telling the story.
Last edited by lurker on 04 Mar 2024 23:46, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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So I was thinking over the weekend about what early Yinrih kinship and social structure would have looked like. I have a suggestion or two.

Let's think about Yinrih reproduction. The species necessarily requires more than two parents to produce children - often about eight. When the kits are born, they are born all at once, and will basically put all their parents at replacement level in a split second.

Humans have much more control over their family size - they can have a few children, or a lot. As well, the step-by-step nature of human reproduction (one at a time, rarely two) allows people to also completely ignore family planning and just wing it, with relatively fewer consequences. The Yinrih can't really do that - you either have a lot of children all at once, or none at all (for the time being, if at all).
I imagine the Yinrih before the modern era would try to avoid having children unless there were enough resources. No parent wants to see their child go hungry or choke or be sick, let alone starve to death or die in a flood or succumb to disease. The extremely long lifespan probably comes in handy. And while life is generally easy in the jungle as far as resources go, you must remember that eight extra mouths to feed at once will probably require a lot of stocking and communal planning.

Let's turn to communal planning. Obviously, parenting now becomes a communal endeavor for the Yinrih, unlike with people which can be communal, but often is merely personal. A lone egg is a delicious, nutritious resource to a predator; if so, then an outside uterus containing eight unborn creatures is a feast. Unless I'm making a mistake and a childermoot is actually only a small thing, a Yinrih community would have to invest a lot of effort to prevent something from happening to it. If even one hole is put into it, it likely (?) is game over. The same thing goes for nursing, but to a different degree - the kits won't be in as much danger, since they will now be separate and the mothers will be watching them. But now it's a loss of manpower. (Monkey-possum-power?)

As well, this whole structure basically means that childrearing is based on the community - or in more human terms, a clan. If pups are raised not by parents but by a clan, and are literally born from an entire clan, then it must follow that lineage will not be parent-based, but clan-based. At most, child will probably only have a parent's personal or parent's personal clan-of-origin when important. A human analogue is when a person takes his mother's name in a patronymic society (e.g. Joab son of Zeruya - Zeruya was King David's sister (1 Chron. 2:16), and why Joab went by his mother's name instead of his father's should be obvious). Reasons for the Yinrih could be anything you want, though
As well, basing family lineage on clans can also play a role in what names get passed down. Let's say there's three of one sex and five on the other. Who gives the clan name? The mothers? The fathers? Majority rules? Only one member? Must they be male or female? Are "marriages" (children leaving to new clans) negotiated between clans? Who goes? Who stays? Is inmarriage now preferred due to clan dynamics (or the opposite)? How long does a clan surname stick around? Can new clans be made? Do the clans look different?
Of course, in the modern era, clan dynamics will probably stop mattering, which at once will free Yinrih up to do what they like, but on the other hand harm the traditions and social fabric of the society. You can imagine children will act differently in such a situation. And the parents.
Last edited by Visions1 on 01 Jan 2024 01:46, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Visions1 wrote: 31 Dec 2023 01:43 The species necessarily requires more than two parents to produce children
It requires at least one male-female pair, and can have as many as six pairs. A single pair is viable but discouraged. For now I see this discouragement is only cultural rather than behavioral.
Visions1 wrote: 31 Dec 2023 01:43 put all their parents at replacement level in a split second
Yup, and that leads to another question. Can a single yinrih reproduce more than once in their life? For now I say no, since as you pointed out they achieve replacement rate with a single womb-nest. Parenting is expensive, so if you've already met replacement than why expend the resources? The other setup I had in mind is that females can only lay once, and males can lay either twice or as often as they like. Again, this would be to see what cultural quirks I can squeeze out of it rather than to be biologically plausible.

If they can only lay once, than parenting is a comparatively tiny part of their whole life experience. It takes ~53 Earth years to raise a litter from conception to the age of majority, and the average yinrih lifespan is about 724 Earth years, that's only about 7.3% of their total lifespan devoted to parenting. Compare that to about 27.3% for humans (assuming the average US lifespan of ~77 years, and bumping up the age to 21 to account for college.)

The other question is what's the average age of the average childermoot? Is it culturally dependent? Can the ages of the parents vary widely? Assuming they can lay their egg at or soon after reaching legal adulthood, is there a time at which they can no longer lay? One possible scenario is that, like humans, you start a family relatively soon after leaving the house. If that's the case, a single childermoot will live to see about 12 or 13 generations. That could make for some interesting worldbuilding indeed.
Visions1 wrote: 31 Dec 2023 01:43 I imagine the Yinrih before the modern era would try to avoid having children unless there were enough resources. No parent wants to see their child go hungry or choke or be sick, let alone starve to death or die in a flood or succumb to disease. The extremely long lifespan probably comes in handy. And while life is generally easy in the jungle as far as resources go, you must remember that eight extra mouths to feed at once will probably require a lot of stocking and communal planning.
A good strategy, and their lack of sex drive makes it even more viable. There are no "oops" litters. If you have kids, it's because you decided to have kids. This will also come in to play once spacer societies emerge. An orbital colony may need to be self-sufficient and self-contained, and living space will certainly be at a premium. At least in the case of colonies that aren't extensions of planetside societies (i.e. in orbit around a planet or moon.) There are colonies that orbit around Focus itself, usually near an asteroid that serves as the colony's revenue source via mining. These Focus-secondaries will be have to be the most self-sustaining. Orbital colonies are yet another thing I have to flesh out.
Visions1 wrote: 31 Dec 2023 01:43 an outside uterus containing eight unborn creatures is a feast
Oh for sure! One or more sires guard the womb-nest at all times, the dams forage, and the other sires hunt for meat, or defend the family's other resources from rivals if necessary. This is the origin of the all male military tradition. It's also why males are bigger than females. Selection for stronger males to chase down prey or fend off ovoraptors. I don't know how tough the womb-nest is. I imagine it as a gross visceral pulsating egg-sac thing, but maybe it has a cornified outer shell, although that would make growth of the kits within difficult.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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After encountering human culture single sire womb nests become common because its "cucked" to raise another man's kids. Bad idea.
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The Path to Corruption (WIP)

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This isn't a lore post so much as it's me throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.
I've mentioned a few times that the clergy ends up falling into corruption, and it's this corruption, along with the Fermi Paradox, that causes the secularization of yinrih society.

I don't want them to be yet another carbon copy of ISIS or the Spanish Inquisition. I'm also into cyberpunk. I think I have an idea that both avoids the first thing while embracing the second.

I've already established that the Bright Way has control over electrical power distribution by dint of the hearthkeepers' traditional role in society. They also likely have the market cornered on space exploration thanks to the Great Commandment. I imagine the Bright Way in this capacity as a combo of NASA and SETI at first, progressing to something like the Spacing Guild from Dune as yinrih society becomes truly interplanetary.

They also have a monopoly on interplanetary communication, as they discover the Underlay and develop the first ansibles.

So, they're basically a multi-industry guild. If you want electricity or need to travel between planets, you have to pay them, and it's not like jizyah, as Wayfarers have to pay too. (Why charge only some people when you can charge all of them and get more money?)

They're also into healthcare, since that was the shaman's _other_ role, but they might be less concerned about a monopoly there.

The clergy's power comes from their control over various industries, not their social status per se, so they're less concerned if you're a Wayfarer or not. It's possible they try punishing religious offenses early on, but having a 700+ year lifespan means you _definitely_ live long enough to see yourself become the villain, and they quit that real quick.

It's almost like there's this umbrella organization with two "departments" the actual religion part, and then all the industrial/commercial stuff.

This also gets into some of the gender dynamics. Women are forbidden from joining the military or entering into secular politics, but men cannot become clerics or healers. While the clergy don't _officially_ have any political power, it's not hard to imagine how they can pull the strings in the background. They have total control over some pretty vital sectors of society.

As I mentioned in on of the stories, the religious aspect is still very much present. Many clerics are actively corrupt. Some accept the status quo. Others actively try to renew from within, and still others simply tend their hearth and minister to their litters the best they can.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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If the clergy is so vital for many industries i imagine secularisation could lead to many offhand effects.
Also probably after the discovery of humans the clergys power increases.
Also at least we should probably see more variation within the clergy i imagine within many sects we see a reversal of roles so clergy are encouraged to breed and maintain their own personal flock.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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thethief3 wrote: 01 Jan 2024 06:31 If the clergy is so vital for many industries i imagine secularisation could lead to many offhand effects.
Maybe... If this is the route I end up taking, then secularization would be less French Revolution/Rein of Terror and more like the Microsoft Antitrust case. That's a really interesting angle, although I'm already committed to the Partisans starting out as a radical anticlerical movement that's opposed to the Bright Way ideologically, and not just economically. On the other hand, the Partisans are supposed to be space tree doggo commies, and the Bright Way as set up like this is both a religion and a capitalist enterprise. Like I said, I'm turning over these ideas in my head.

The major "plot points" I have to build up to are the movement rejecting the Great Commandment, the expulsion of the clergy from their historical seat of power on Yih and subsequent exile to Hearthside, the birth of the Partisans, and the founding of the orbital colony Wayfarers' Haven, which is originally a refugee camp formed from a Partisan border expansion.

I think before I continue I need to finally finish the layout of Focus. I've got the inner planets, now I need a couple gas/ice giants with lots of colonizeable moons, and an asteroid belt and kuiper belt with lots of minable asteroids and terraformable dwarf planets.

Once that's done I need to distribute the states.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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Probably as humans are discovered we see a push for the clergy to enter secular politics. And more men will feel as though they need to enter the clergy.
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Dogtors

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thethief3 wrote: 02 Jan 2024 10:49 Probably as humans are discovered we see a push for the clergy to enter secular politics. And more men will feel as though they need to enter the clergy.
Yinrih society's attitude toward gender roles can be summed up as "men break, women fix." with the occasional addition of "and that's why the politicians are men." There are people who push for the traditionally gender-locked careers (healer, cleric, politics/diplomacy, and military), to be integrated. Despite this, the military and clergy remain firmly gender-exclusive. There are probably more females getting into politics after the collapse of the clergy, since before if a female wanted to be in a position of authority she could become a cleric and make the real decisions. while the male statesmen were merely figureheads.

The only area I plan on exploring in the lore is males getting into healthcare, and especially male healers specializing in human medicine. There are also female healers working on humans, too, but there's a little cultural loophole that permits males to work on humans where they'd be forbidden or discouraged from working on other yinrih. Males are barred from becoming healers, but there's nothing stopping them from becoming veterinarians.

yinrih (male or female) who want to work on humans are considered vets by the yinrih medical establishment since they work on a dissimilar species. They go through a yinrih vet school (usually one that focuses on humans) and then undertake the same human-led medical school required for human doctors. This takes about 14 years (4 years of yinrih vet school, 4 years of human med school, and 7 years of residency).

Yinrih have a few things going for them that make them excellent doctors. They have a prodigious sense of smell, greater than a dog's. They can smell cancer, changes in blood sugar, or oncoming seizures, among other things. They can (potentially) have an excellent bedside manner thanks to their ability to smell pheromones making them empathic. Their wider visual spectrum allows them to estimate body temperature and diagnose hypo- and hyperthermia just by looking at a patient's soul glow (their word for the thermal radiation emitted by a living body). And their much longer lifespan allows them to provide womb-to-tomb healthcare for individual humans, as well as be a family doctor for several generations of humans, giving them an intuition regarding inherited health conditions.

Humans have a range of reactions to the concept of aliens practicing human medicine. Some are uncomfortable with a species that doesn't have first-hand experience with the human condition working on them. Some are offended by the idea that yinrih working on humans are considered vets by other yinrih. Some humans just think it's funny.

Humans call yinrih medical professionals dogtors.
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Re: The Lonely Galaxy Megathread (comments encouraged)

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This thread has been moving more quickly than my plans to comment on it, but I wanted to add some quick reactions:

- Thank you for the description of the fur. I assume that in addition to inborn means, such as their claws, the yinrih use a variety of grooming aids – the equivalents of combs, brushes, shampoo, etc.

- I was impressed by your most recent artwork, specifically your drawing of the hind paw.

- With regard to “Beating the Heat”: …well, that’s not good. (I have faith that Sarah will receive treatment in time to recover.)

- Thank you for the wealth of information about yinrih reproduction and family/community life, as well as about the Tree Dwellers. I assume that the Tree Dwellers, as well as other related species, also reproduce using womb-nests, and that they have various strategies for protecting them?

(On a side note, have the yinrih always been exceptionally long-lived, or is this in part a consequence of their development of advanced medical technology?)

- With regard to clerical corruption: there are certainly a number of Earthly examples, both historically and in the present day, of religious institutions wielding economic influence (including being involved in business activities), although the Bright Way seems like a particularly extreme example.

- I enjoyed the description of the “dogtors.” 😊
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Re: Steadtree Fruit

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lurker wrote: 19 Dec 2023 23:51 Image
Oh, man . . . now I'm hungry for one of those steadtree fruit.
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