Various other questions

Apologies if the formatting of this is sloppy, I had several thoughts to air and nowhere else to really ask them that seemed appropriate.

  1. It’s been stated repeatedly that the culture of the Empire doesn’t discriminate between “highbrow” and “lowbrow” the way that Earth cultures do. Despite this, I feel like the stated treatment of the “servile” caste in the Empire’s early history (that is, pre-universal industrial automation) chafes against this notion. Is the idea of less class separation something the Empire only adopted later? If so, it is understandable.

  2. The etymology of names - some names seem to be fully translated while many others are not, as in the names of countries like Mossstone, Stonewall, and Sixshires.

  3. What would the the eldrae think comparing the cultures of Japan and Kanatai, for example? Despite entirely different histories and extremely different historiographical circumstances, you still end up with a culture of eldrae that have epicanthic folds and have cognates to the positions of earthly “shogun” and “ashigaru” among others, not to mention a language that sounds remarkably similar to earthly Japanese. Perhaps Ochale could be considered as well, as it seems they have much in common with our China.

4. Will we ever get more information on Liriel Larathyr, Varian Leiraval and Loran Camriad? It seems like they would be incredibly important figures, helping to lay down the Imperial Charter and all but they seem to get overshadowed in all cases by Emperor Alphas and Empress Seledie.

“servile” caste

I believe that the “castes” are something you do, not something you are.

Well, the first thing to say is –

– that. As per this trope-a-day, while it is often glossed that way in translation, “caste systems generally don’t support multiple simultaneous memberships, the ability to move to any caste and position simply by acquiring the necessary skillset, or the corporate and individual equality of all the “castes” and their members”. Also, for those of us accustomed to societies such as today’s US where “wealth” and “class/caste” are strongly correlated, it would probably confuse the hell out of people that, yes, Gilea Cheraelar is a plutarch, and so is the owner-operator of Gilea Cheraelar’s favorite hot-drink stand.

Basically, it’s a linguistic best-fit that doesn’t actually fit all that well. But then in that same trope, there is the “except the serviles”. So.

(Here goes an elided section, in which I talked about the nature of people and how it affects this, but on reflection it’s an unnecessary digression. I can talk about the spirit of tsuyoku naritai elsewhere and elsewhen - but suffice it to say that the modal Imperial comes into the world blessed with a surfeit of it and finds the lack of it in people-shaped things disturbing and squicky in a way that humans might find hard to understand.)

The thing you will notice about the servile daressëf is that it doesn’t exist in the same way that the others do. All the other eight have an entry qualification based on the role they encompass. Mantle a deity. Create beauty. Turn goals into detailed plans and execute on them. Hold up the world. Spin wealth from air. Lead by magnificent example. Stand unmoved between the Flame and the fire. Understand and build. The servile does not - its qualification is that you fail to fit any of the others.

In that way, it’s an itself-shaped hole where it ought to be.

So, to look at this from a briefly Marxist perspective (while mostly nonsense, it does provide some useful terms for this explanation), you have your three major classes: the bourgeoisie/petit-bourgeoisie (who own the means of production), the proletariat (wage-laborers without ownership), and at the bottom the lumpenproletariat (who don’t do anything useful).

Of course, it’s hard to have a proletariat in an economy that doesn’t really do employment, on the grounds that employment is a retrograde social relation unbefitting the dignity of the free sophont. Much as the early Imperial agricultural economy was based around the yeoman farmer and husbandman rather than the villein and serf, the early Imperial industrial economy was based around the contracted artisan rather than the wage-laborer. Such contract artisans usually owned their own tools and shares in their workplaces (i.e., capital, rather more distributed than in Earth history), did not work for wages, and took a proprietary and professional pride in the quality of their work (see, for example, the implications of the equivalent Japanese term shokunin). In other words, the vast majority of what in our history might have been the proletariat were absorbed upwards into the bourgeoisie/petit-bourgeoisie; and also make up the membership of the eight other daressëf. They are the ones who enjoy the corporate and cultural equality as fellow bearers of the ineffable Flame, etc., etc.

The serviles aren’t them.

They’re the lumpenproletariat, coupled with the bottom strata of the proletariat, defined in Imperial cultural terms as people who are incapable of, or unwilling to, acquire professional¹ skills, or who don’t take pride in their work and are happy to do a sloppy job as long as they get paid, or who really just want to be told what to do and not have to learn/take responsibility for/own anything, etc., etc.

The Imperial culture’s zeitgeist/valxíjir/estxíjir/will-to-transcendence doesn’t have a lot of sympathy for that sort of notion or the people who hold it, so while not an official social policy - well, until later, as a brief look at the –

  • immigration rules (“we’ve heard of this underclass thing, and we aren’t interested in importing one, thanks so much”)
  • Reproductive Statutes (“propagating stupidity, laziness, and cacophilia constitutes felonious dysgenesis under the Reproductive Fitness Assurance Act of 2330”)
  • precise Eupraxic-Collegium-approved definition of pernicious irrationalism (“Parabulia can be fixed these days, you know. And will be.”)

– would make clear - the unofficial social policy was that this sort of thing should be unofficially squeezed out of existence with as much vigor as could reasonably be applied.

  1. But bear in mind that professional in their context doesn’t mean what it does in ours in all aspects. There are a lot of what we might consider pretty humble jobs that are thoroughly professionalized in the Imperial way of seeing things. To pick one example: waiter/waitress.

I have a rough convention in which, to create appropriate feel, I translate those names which a native speaker of Eldraeic would instantly know the meaning of, given the roots (or other origin), in the same way that an English speaker would look at, say, Springfield or Smallville or Shady Vale, and leave untranslated those whose roots (or other origin) are more obscure or come from other languages that aren’t universally known. Hence Ravenstone rather than Travorac Azik, and so forth.

Although I am not always consistent: any native speaker would instantly turn Alaercima into Sea of Islands, for example. That lack of consistency is just because I’m making it up as I go along.

Oh, I’m sure there’s some law of parallel cultural development the Exploratory Service could cite somewhere along the way, not that the parallels are all that exact.

[Although really such naming is no stranger than using translations like “king”, “duke”, “colonel”, or “marine” (or “centurion”, “merarchy”, “polemarch”, and “hoplite”) - and is a convenient way to indicate the cultural delta between the Old Empires and Kanatai isn’t much short of that between Europe and East Asia back in the day.]

That said, I admit to playing it up a bit more than I probably should have to go along with/tease/encourage the readers who came up with the suggestion that the Precursors did their specimen collection from Neanderthals native to the Sardinia region and Denisovans native to the Ryukyu Islands (that led to this), and of course, hopes that someone will write my favorite first-contact friendship-fic (in which non-canonical later interactions lead to a diplonought appearing over Fuji-san one day bearing gifts, thanks for earlier hospitality, and one particular gift in the form of the JSS Kaguya-hime playing the role of Space Battleship Yamato).

Side note: also, no-one noticed Ildathach? I name an entire nation after (one of the slightly more obscure names for) the Celtic otherworld famous for being filled with beauty, health, abundance, joy, and everlasting youth, and I don’t have sídhe references coming out of my ears? For shame, my readers, for shame! :grin:

Unless it turns out that they actually were the Tuatha dé Dannann, the immortals of Penglai, and basically as many other hidden enclaves of mysterious pretty immortal people surrounded by luxury and Sufficiently Advanced Magitechnology as you like. Which they weren’t. Probably. Not in the primary sources, anyway.

Maybe? Depends on the inspiration to write more in that period hitting me. But while they were perhaps secondary figures in the foundation of the Empire due to the previous historical events, yes, they were very important in their own right.

The sidhe references are all over in the Post-Contact Hilarity thread! :wink: