Khartoum and the Star of Refuge

[like 25% of this is now deprecated; my thoughts on Khartoum, the Confederation, and the long war have changed; but this is still the longest thing i've actually written for other people and not as a worldbuilder talking amongst themselves ;> ] A frontier star system with a nickel-iron planet suitable for domestication. The system became a destination for refugees at the end of the war between the Confederation and Meretrix-Miskatauntaun. Some ships had been in flight for just over 300 years, with children and youth of the third generation born in the evacuation. The refugee fleet selected Khartoum for their final destination because it was at that time still undeveloped, of no military interest beyond the common resources of metal, hydrogen, ice, available in systems with infrastructure. Miskatauntaun had for centuries lacked the power or will to slaughter Terhume populations out of mere inferiority and contempt, nor harvest and digest biomass without strategic need. Khartoum w

What is the Diaspora? From an RPG to my own private deep future

[Part of this I originally wrote as a paean to VSCA's game Diaspora and shared on G+ in its waning days; part is my own schema for a deep future galactic science fiction that I find compelling.] What is the Diaspora ? A galaxy speckled with human habitation: humanity digesting the galaxy, and the galaxy digesting human beings. Diaspora means growth, great distance, enormous time, collapse, oblivion, renewal, isolation. The Diaspora is the human cultural and physical evolution from a planetary organism to an interstellar organism. What is the Terhumene ? The galactic civilization as such occupying the Diaspora and cognizant of the patterns of interstellar history. The Terhumene is people by terhumes, the people of the Cradle world, clever vicious apes that dream of heaven, and accompanied by variously clever machines, earth animals altered to think, speak, and prosecute lawsuits, and xenobiological organisms with the same dubious human intervention. There are no living xenosophont

Some stuff to read before age 300

curriculum of MA in Liberal Arts at St. John's College originally posted on ywns, 10/6/07  Curriculum - Literature Literature Seminar Homer: Iliad, Odyssey Aeschylus: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides Sophocles: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone Euripides: Hippolytus, Bacchae, Electra Aristophanes: Frogs Literature Tutorial Chaucer: Canterbury Tales in Middle English Shakespeare: King Lear Aristotle: Poetics Selected English lyric poetry Literature Preceptorial (samples) Cervantes: Don Quixote Joyce: Ulysses Virgil: Aeneid Eliot: Middlemarch Dostoevski: The Brothers Karamazov Curriculum - Politics and Society ........................................................................... Politics and Society Seminar Plutarch: Lives: Lycurgus and Solon Plato: Republic Aristotle: Politics Machiavelli: The Prince Locke: Second Treatise of Civil Government Rousseau: On the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Marx: 1844 Manuscripts Tocqueville: Democracy in America Politics and Soci

A Rainbow Behind Her Lips

It took four months for my mouth to heal, almost a year before i could use my new tongue for everything the old one had been capable of. While i waited there was much to distract me from the pain, the silence and the entirely new approach to food. Lessons in dance and stillness with the Sisters Aeikinatai, observing those of the rites as i was permitted, training in and without weapons under the Sisters Eupsilikai, and much menial labor. Goats to milk, wool to spin, pilgrims to bless on the holy days (which duty seemed to me little different from caring for goats), and shifts in the kitchen and workshops. As a novice, my primary exercise was that of self-restraint: i was a Glossariodas in physique alone, and trying the gifts of a full sister too soon is unpredictable. Some Sisters have early facility with their tongues, and understand its mysteries well before their second year. Once it has surely grown one with our own flesh, we may practice the hand, the serpent-lash, the arrow and o

Harry Caresse Crosby Stills Gnash Yum

Adepts, give heart and ear to Harry Crosby and the memory palaces that he and his woman, Caresse, hid in the Dreamlands, accessed by a mental geometry or projection through pass operations into bubble dream realms limned by their combined efforts, by their unusual degree of telepathy, but foremost through obsessive desire to use the queer artifacts and expunge the visions from their minds that so forced themselves upon the pair after their early explorations revealed long-dead horrors wreaked by Harry's ancestral wizard. His blood-born authority to enter the old sites also marked him as the blood-bonded holder of an obligation, and and debt... What they did to complete and discharge the centuries-delayed obligation, they did only by compulsion, and only with the operational knowledge their witless trespass into the saturated space of the ritual centers had forced into Harry's mind, the first of the Crosby line to enter a place whose extra-terrene stones ached with the urgency o

Golden Paths

All over Mars the terraforming crews cautiously tinker with new rhythms. Ravens and barrowrats, podrats and b-kats and mites, j-dogs and a hundred kinds of gaussian and non-gaussian humans. In only a few centuries no colonist can fully claim to have *adapted*; that's generational work. Several among the postterrestrial daughter species hibernate each winter, sharing dreams along their webworked nervous systems. Their deep slow sleep, filled with shared locations and artefacts held in common, spreads across the months of cold like landscape. Congenetics of the Martian colonists, estranged in small bands and barrios across the solar system occasionally dip, too, into the homelanders' vision. Each spring, the barrowrats emerge from their tunnels in the arctic zone to attend to their waking affairs. They monitor the solar collectors and windtraps, play in the glacial ravines, every spring a different landscape. While the barrowrats work above ground, migratory podrats extend the tu

Pharos: microfiction intro to a story yet unwritten

The Pharos could be seen halfway to Kupros: a mechanical star, a fire focused through the largest lenses ever cast. Sailors whispered that its beam could be directed down in a ship-smashing spear should invaders ever threaten Alexandreia's harbor. I saw no ships broken by the Pharos, only men: philosophers, castrated holy men, a hundred kinds of charlatan fluttered to the halls rooted at the base of the tower. Every text in every language of the civilized world was to be found there, or so it was said, and every kind of nonsense could be heard in the agora, old lies in new robes, new lies dancing naked, myriad whispers of secret techniques, jealous muttering after quick power. The scholars of the Pharos produced mostly lists — the five greatest tragedies, biographies of the seven mightiest kings, collections the 10 noblest poets — and these too found their places in the library. Every Ptolemaios lavished funds on the library, seeking to increase its holdings beyond those hoarded by

[stupid fiction] The MILFship's a-comin'

 26-3-19 Bad news, brother: the MILFship has arrived in orbit at last. People all over the planet are gonna be able to see the sharp lines and hard edges, coasting, skipping, or under steady boost from those drive nozzles at the stern; which, as no other apertures of note can be detected on the MILFship's surface, means this monster is powering around OUR ATMOSPHERE, Phil, on a fucking relativistic --interstellar -- star drive, you know what that is?  It is that roman candle that a cruel bachelor uncle won't let you shoot off, children are simply TOO SMALL, TOO PUNY to manage a fine piece of Guyanan manufacture like this, oh you had a charmer like Big Cousin Hanno too? Yeah, so instead of that dime store De Sade only barely not burning us alive instead of just our shoes catching fire along with topsoil to 6 inches down some places, down to the incombustible sand with that only-barely-technically-sub-military ordnance!!!!!! HANNO!!!  Phil, do you know I have a six centimeter wid

In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics

 ...we are getting such clean energy out of this thing, our equipment is running at 134% efficiency and climbing! What's that, Chang? 140 now? Wow, you sure? Go back and check. Well, check a fifth time, Chang, I'm talking to the Council of Thirteen right now! They are very interested! No, leave it open. God. Where was I. Well, more good news. We're not making waste heat anymore, we're actually cooling so fast the kids down in R&D think they've cooked up a way to do cryo-calculation at the same time! Now, water vapor _is_ freezing out of the air into this weirdly tough structure nobody's ever seen, we're calling it ice-XIX; it seems to resist melting without energy input that is increasing at a rate consistent with the increase in efficiency, and... also... it's drawing more water vapor from tertiary and quaternary ventilation too, even though those are supposed to be sealed off. Yes, Excellency, we're already doing that. No, none of our personnel
Sorq's wizards, priests, temples, and the Underworld A wizard is an arcane magic user not connected to either an established temple or to any of the rivals, although many wizards spent some time in the outer circles of a priesthood before going it alone. Many wizards are aligned with some grandee, or are themselves aristocrats, and others live in remote areas where no temple can apply political pressure or get away with murder, when secular rulers so often avert their gaze from temple affairs. In cities and populous country, temple magicians jealously watch for wizards operating in any public way, and have both the number of their own magicians as well as status with the state to prevent wizards from combining into circles, schools, orders, or upstart temples... so it is off to the far places that wizards hie themselves, NOT to combine and return in magical vengeance against their oppressors (not very often, anyway; the Revanchistas and the foundation of the Athamic Misericorde dyn

SORQ 1 of N

SORQ Science fantasy in conception, dungeon fantasy in execution: the magics and beings of F20 worlds rejoice in a pseudo-scientific basis in "planes" and "planar energies," but in a universe with stars, planets, gravity, cells, photosynthesis, evolution. Intelligent, symbol-wielding beings find ways to interact with planar forces, through words of special meaning and spaces of efficacious aesthetics. The interior of the planet Sorq is the underworld. The planet is honeycombed with natural caverns, subterranean seas, the excavations of many eras of intelligent life, and less easily defined spaces. The underworld begins just beneath the surface of any city, and frequently irrupts into any landscape. Cities tend to rise upon hills and mountains of older construction: all the great nations and many smaller ones practice ritual purification and re-dedication of cities through razing and rebuilding every few centuries. The rubble of ordinary dwellings fill in around the

[Personal] I have a right to be in this war

 I have a right to be in this war. I have a right to my voice, my space, my work, my striving and my own path to learn, to flower and fruit with wisdom, power, and beauty. And in this war, I have many comrades, some known to me, most unknown; I may have enemies beyond my dense self and the divisive whisperer, but those two are my only true opponents; most everyone else is a comrade, a prisoner of war (though walking about, paroled, sporting bling and shooting off selfhood) (lotta people walking around bleeding, broken limbs trailing, setting booby traps for the other veterans, blithely unaware this is a blast zone, quite certain what they live is healthy and we have always been at peace, thank you very much) These, as my first task, is to see and know they are neither of my two nemeses.

Galactic humanity may prefer life in vacuum habitats to going down the well

The Terhumene has at least as many "belter" and "stationer" populations as colonization of planets, and periods of widespread terraforming are a thing of the past, or the future in some other part of the galaxy: inhabitable planets sure are nice, but may be uncommon, always expensive to manufacture, and if there is a native biology, the interaction of alien biochemistries seems to me to be an insufficiently addressed problem in science fiction; and if there is not life, why is there free oxygen in the atmosphere? The history of life in space stations and spinning hollow asteroids, or dome cities or cavern ecologies on otherwise uninhabitable planets, is as ancient and familiar in the Diaspora as agriculture and cities seem to us, and as reliable. Colonizing a blue hypergiant, or a cluster of A stars with lots of dust and delicious star light but not any, as who should say, PLANETS, seems very natural for a civilization that thinks as little about the dangers of life

Bzńdo and chooshany: galactic feels

Bzńdo , bzando , vghāannou , apzaan : The unfulfillable longing of one who gazes upon a star but a few light-years distant yet without slipstream links known or accessible within a lifetime of travel. Bzńdo , apzaan also for hssa , nge-pando , pvaantt : reckless, tragic, melancholic heroism in confrontation with death, between species competing for the same precious planetary ecologies, and other nemeses. New cultures and environments create new ideas and associations. What would it be like to be in a starfaring civilization, but to see brilliant and amazing sights in the sky that remain beyond your reach? And what bold, foolish, suicidal, daring, occasionally triumphant risks would people run in worlds where their cultural record and the dead hand of the past stretches so far beyond any individual, even any civilization? In some cultures, the obsession or unfullilable yearning would take the form of culturally-defined maladies, . To clarify bzando more, I'll be specific: you liv

Notebookery, Backstory of yr hmbl Satrap

There are difficult transitions. I was in a PhD program when medical stuff happened, and kept happening. Consequences included being a stay at home parent for a couple of years, moving to a new state, divorce, terrible roommates, learning to live alone and rediscover who I am when I'm not in a dyad or a group. I learned something I never figured out as a grad student: how to write. Having kept notebooks and sketchbooks all my adult life, an obvious tactic in trying circumstances was pouring myself into writing and ideation for myself, with no expectations of relationship or audience. Just my own interests, concerns, resonances, my pleasure in, e.g., world-building, monsters, spaceships, the human condition. Iterate for some five years, and the result is the mound of notebookery in the images. There's a lot in there that nobody else need ever see, but too much for an alienated survival habit. The current wave of updates here are a step toward bringing my art and writing out for

Domestication of Planets: An Aesthetic Typology

[ Galactic civilization, the state of living in mass societies across the galaxy, follows from sophisticated praxis in two areas: space itself, the vacuum, the vastness, and the problems of living safely in the most unnatural environment conceivable for planetary organisms; and domestication, the transformation of more or less inimical planets into living spaces. The ancient word "terraforming" misconstrues the mature praxis as reproducing the planetary experience of the Terhumene species on the Cradle World... ] Mature galactic civilizations that practice Domestication of planets recognize that, while every planet is unique, there is a finite set of practicable planetary types, and a finite set of desirable worlds to live upon. Domestication, transforming non-life-supporting worlds into habitations for the species of the Terhumene*, is an ancient imperative of life in a galaxy so rich in worlds, so abundant in life, but where any existing xenobiology precludes a Terhumene bi

Contemporaries of the [REDACTED]th Age 1: Manticore Lawyers

Maricomorion & Marticore, Attys at Law, travel from magistrate to magistrate among the provinces of the Empire. Their brief is to enforce recognition of the ancient Hunting Rights granted their kind. The legal team of Maricomorion & Marticore accept payment of bloodwite in gold, kind, land, treasure, scrolls, and slaves: compensation for loss of hunt and meat. Intimidating, badgering, blandishing local courts and lords with musical bafflegab and a performance of confidence, the pair carry as props a mass of paperwork, precedent, ambiguously worded ukase and frankly irrelevant Imperial orders. M. and M., Esq., are the classiest of a number of manticore protection rackets and shake-down artists moving through the fringes of Imperial respectability. Felons, debtors, rebels and other undesirable elements disappear from the public record and into mouths lined with three rows of fangs. 

Manticore Lore

manticore (n.) fabulous monster mentioned by Ctesias with the body of a lion, head of a man, porcupine quills, and tail or sting of a scorpion, c. 1300, from Latin manticora, from Greek mantikhoras, corruption of martikhoras, perhaps from Iranian compound *mar-tiya-khvara "man-eater." The first element is represented by Old Persian maritya- "man," from PIE *mar-t-yo-, from *mer- "to die," thus "mortal, human;" from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). The second element is represented by Old Persian kvar- "to eat," from PIE root *swel- (1) "to eat, drink" (see swallow (v.)). (Early Middle Persian Merthykhuwar; Modern Persian Mardykhor) "man-eater" (from early Middle Persian مارتیا mardya "man" (as in human) and خوار khowr- "to eat"). E "manticore" < L. mantichora < G. μαρτιχώρα, m

For [REDACTED]th Age 2: Dream Demiurge, First Ghost Among Equals, Paladinissimus, The Owlbear, Giants' Shadow Emperor

[For 13th Age and thematically related settings: add these to the set of iconic powers, swap them out for Icons you don't like. The Satrap, for one, does not like the Diabolist, the Orc Lord, the Crusader, the High Priestess...] Fallen Icons, Quiescent Icons, Icons not Dead but Dreaming Dream Demiurge: Artist and mythographer, architect of dream worlds. The Demiurge took a tax of dream from every sentient, built countless bubble dreamwolrds, many nested one in another, and a vast Oneiric Empire to contain the dreamworlds of all the minds of the world. Domains much attacked by cults of undead and by beings from other worlds. Did he retreat into indefinite prolongation of memory, die, and lose his power to another icon, or to some alien power? Or did he duplicate his mind and will in secret, and secreted his double away to return to activity among the temples and obelisks of his empire? A certain lich most puissant modestly denies being the Demiurge in retirement, but its phylactery