Minor Weirdnesses

So, I’m doing the questions in the #WritingWonders hashtag over on Mastodon, at least this month, and today’s was:

What is a common occurrence in your story that would be odd here?

For which, well -

I write science fiction. So, basically everything, in one way or another, but that’s kind of cheating.

Er. Competence? Decency?

…sorry, I seem to be stuck on “cynical with a side order of bitter” today.

But I thought to myself, too, maybe it would be an interesting idea to start a little thread here for those little strange things that aren’t really worth doing anything with on their own, and which are probably too minor to actually be noticed when they show up on the page, but which would nonetheless strike a visitor from here as strange:

So, here’s one:

  1. You never have to log in to anything. Between the Universal and ISOP (Interweave Security Operations Protocol), every 'weave site and device smart enough to have any brains at all (so, y’know, park benches, plant pots, that sort of thing) already knows who you are and what your personal preferences are. At most, you might have to click a button confirming that you wish to upgrade from “visitor” to “site user”.

Utility spiders, y’know? Human visitors are going to have a hard time reconciling that the creepy crawlies aren’t creepy.

Also, I suspect, just how direct people in the Worlds can be, especially about issues that would be touchy here. They probably don’t even think of it as an issue.

Give em the right cute accessory shell and non-work behaviors, you’ll have people buying utility spiders as pets around here. Who wouldn’t want a cuddly pet that can fix your sinks and won’t pee on the carpet?

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  1. On a related note to this, and encompassing The Antisocial Model of Disability, via part of Highlights From The Comments On Social Model of Disability - well, you can read the relevant section for the full argument, but to take it from the what-I-learned summary at the end:

I became more aware that some people think “Yes, this is false, but you don’t seem to understand that we’re using this false thing as propaganda” is some kind of extenuating factor that makes it okay. I’m against this, but I understand there’s lots of very convincing-sounding propaganda arguing I should be for it.

Which is, alas, a very common pattern in human discourse, and in the Empire at least, is the kind of thing that wins you an extended period of banishment from the community of People Who Get To Have Meaningful Conversations About Things. At least, and assuming no-one’s got cash or time to spare on prosecuting you for that well-known public crime, intentional falsification of information.

Zero tolerance for bulshytt.

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  1. And yes, I suppose if you’ve forgotten in, the fact that you can and very probably will be dragged in front of a Curial court for lying about matters of fact, period, no special status, context, or conditions required would probably seem pretty damn weird to those of us used to Earth society.

But the people writing the law there have heard all the reasons why under the various specific circumstances going around lying about this and that is bad, and are unimpressed with the claim that they do not in fact generalize to all other circumstances pace Kantian stupidities¹.

  1. i.e., they didn’t feel the need to wait for even one suitable plea of justification to come down the pipe to say, “but obviously it’s totally okay, should you have a Nazi at the door, to tell him that there are no Jews in the cellar and that you absolutely don’t plan to shoot him in the head the moment he’s off his guard”. Exigency is an exception.
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So. Goddamn. Adorable.

(From Questionable Content -

and spoilered in case of any actual arachnophobes who may have wandered in tonight.



Just make sure when you send him out to order coffee that you have some way of helping people to know that he’s actually real…

On spiders: Tinker, Taylor, Builder, Nexus, or “Taylor is an Eclipse Phase Spider Bot”.
Also at SpaceBattles.

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So my first experience with misleading scale was finding out that a Flood Infection Form was 3 feet tall and the size of a human torso. This triggers all of those memories plus a cute response at the same time…

Tachikoma is Tachikoma!

  1. And, of course, everyone has met you. In a sense.

and Brazil has decided you’re cute…

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Where scale is concerned, it may be worth noting that Qechra has, for maintenance of the megastructures and due to the sheer flexibility of the utility spider design, kilometer-long steel arachnids.

“Kilometer-Long Steel Arachnids”, by some strange coincidence, is also the name of a popular local metal band.

And Qechra’s sportsball team.


Am I supposed to imagine a daddy-long-legs with kilometer-wide spans, or are we talking a tarantula but resized 10000x?

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Probably a big one is that Imperials will be very confused/annoyed/aghast at the way we conflate “life” with “the peculiar set of mental illnesses that make up humanity”.

E.g. “Things were better in the past, but I guess that’s just life”.

  1. A minor one: those signs in car parks telling you to lock your car and take everything with you? Or in hotels disclaiming the management’s responsibility for anything you might leave in your room

Don’t exist. Such a blatant fuck-you to the responsibilities of a host inherent in the traditions of hospitality is quite unthinkable.

(As a side note: if you are going to steal from a hotel’s guests, don’t work there while you’re doing it, and don’t stay there while you’re doing it. Whether you’re spitting on a fiduciary relationship or the responsibilities of a guest, either way, you’re aggravating the circumstances of your special crime and it will be counted against you.)

  1. Now here’s one that is both rather more major and which will also be quite the post-contact hilarity, I ween.

Consider the nature of queer culture, insofar as there is an identifiable aggregate that is such a thing over the many social milieus therein, in the 'verse. Specifically, consider that many memeplexes (especially the cultural and, if one must, political) end up being rather messy amalgams of elements that happen to be statistically associated even if not logically associated.

Also consider who the 'verse’s standard-bearers are for memes along the lines of morphological freedom and “love as thou wilt”. (Note to t’other thread: the Holy Order of Deoclasts has some wonderful fire-and-brimstone preachers they borrowed from the itinerant order of Éléia-Líëran willing to explain to you that your ideas on marriage restriction are damnable in Their Eyes and you, sir, are going to the Special Hell.)

So, y’know, this is not to say that 'verse queer culture has entirely adopted Imperial views on harmony, wholesomeness, and squishy individualism because they happen to fit with the same memeplex as “and by the way, you’re, like, people just as good as anyone else, and fuck anyone who says otherwise”, but it is to say that it’s been soaking in their cultural output of same for long enough to give those expecting a more Earth-like scenario one hell of a shock.

A tweet I read today:

  1. There is no cure for scarcity but abundance. Everything else merely allocates scarcity. Any thought about the fairness of the allocation strategy which is not “Or we could simply choose to make more of the thing” will not achieve fairness.

Which I place on this thread simply because understanding that this is basically how everyone in the Empire has thought about scarcity-related issues for ever is a good first step to helping make things seem less weird.

  1. So I’ve been re-reading the Stormlight Archive books recently, and I just happened upon the scene in Words of Radiance in which Renarin is learning how to use Shardplate, the local magic-system powered powered armor, and has been presented by his instructor with a nice lunch to eat, while armored. Because one of the most important things to learn when you can punch through walls is the delicacy of touch not to.

Behold the hard part of training to become a heavy legionary:

(Not quite to scale, but I had a hell of a time trying to convince the AI that I wanted 14’ tall combat exoskeletons eating, not their operators eating outside parked ones.)

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