Jul 06, 2022 8:50 PM
ozytopians classify fiction after interworld contact
+ Show First Post
Total: 91
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

A fanfiction author has found a way to send their sequel to the family drama, though it didn't find its way into the same data packet! In this one, picking up a few months after the climax, we see that "living on his own" turned out to be kind of a very bad mistake for the boy. He is in many ways more unhappy than he was back at home, though in some ways he appreciates his newfound freedom; it's just not enough to make him eat consistently. He is propped up to a limited extent by the wider community, but only enough that he's surviving, not enough that he's happy; after a few tearful breakdowns, he decides to run off into the mainland, where he can starve and no longer inconvenience anyone. However, he's found by a wight (glossed in the annotations as "a grown-up Joey who lost or never got his lover and turned into a monster about it"), who initially considers eating him but eventually decides against it. The wight decides to take him in and feed him in the expectation that he will grow up to be the wight's mate. The Joey is conflicted about this, because on the one hand, it's very nice being taken care of by someone who isn't one of his dysfunctional fathers, but on the other hand, he's still got a lot of "wights are scary monsters" built up in his head from when he was in Joey society, and he's not sure he wants to be a scary monster. By the climax, he's almost to the point of metamorphosis when a rescue party finds him while the wight is hunting and brings him back to the village. He lets them implant him with a lover, mostly on inertia rather than because he wants it. Then there's a lot of internal turmoil mediated by the lover's calming presence, which eventually resolves with him seeking out his wight friend in the hopes that they can still find a way to be together even though he'll never be a wight like him.

Permalink

That is... weird and messed up? Nela is not really sure what to make of any if it? The Joeys are definitely one of the more alien species she's encountered.

She gives it a nihil obstat on the grounds that nothing here is really imitatable for non-Joeys.

Permalink

A long war-adventure-mysticpower-government-grouptravel novel in which part of the army of a small state from early Aevylmarcher history is magically sent to a fantasy setting which is technologically more advanced than theirs but has lots of social and organizational problems that make it overall less effective, such as being divided into a lot of mostly-tyrannical kingdoms with incompetent appointed or hereditary officials, instead of being federal republics. The protagonists sign on as mercenaries for the government of the (unusually non-tyrannical) kingdom they land on and try to both encourage it to engage in good reforms instead of in bad ones, and to protect it from its enemies via warfare, who are initially portrayed as purely demonic invaders and eventually turn out to have multiple factions and complex internal politics of their own. The main protagonist, the commander of the force, has an adorable romance with a member of the ruling clique of the main kingdom and fights lots of battles and duels and gets involved in complicated politics in which he tries to protect his people while serving the society, but the main focus of the novel is on the logistical difficulties in running a mercenary company, the culture-clash between the protagonists' society and the society they land on, and on the complicated nature of how tactics, strategy, and logistics change based on the technological and social state of the various societies in the setting. Magic is vague and mystical and in the background and mostly used used to create problems, like the protagonists being sent to another world, but has a few reliable effects, which are chronicled extensively. The endnote says that all the countries in the fantasy setting are based on pre-apocalyptic ones, and provides sources - the author is a historian of the relevant period.

A mystery-tension-sailing-bitterending-realtoday short story in which the captain of a cargo transport ship discovers that someone on her ship has anonymously invested a huge sum of money on NO in a prediction market about whether the ship will make it to its destination on time, and attempts to discover who and if they're a saboteur or just a pessimist. The story is mostly focused on the psychological state of the captain and on the captain's attempts to discover which of the crew of sympathetic and likable characters placed the bet and (after sabotage occurs) who the saboteur is. (The perpetrator turns out to be one of the machine operators, who was addicted to gambling, an uncommon but not unheard of trait in the Aevylmarch, and who was in danger of going bankrupt, which is presented as a horrible fate.) The story ends on a bittersweet note, as the captain has made lots of money buying YES on the successful arrival, but her friendship with the saboteur is forever broken, and he is both bankrupt and subject to the law. The cultural endnote says that the city the saboteur is from exiles anyone who borrows money and can't repay it, which would be common knowledge to all Aevylmarchers, and the legal punishment for the sabotage would be fines, whipping, and, for that particular city, exile.)

A horror-romance-smartpower-themepower-closedcircle-deathgame novella about a protagonist who finds machinery horribly traumatic and who makes a living selling horrifyingly beautiful paintings of machine monsters, who ends up trapped in a closed-circle-deathgame where everyone involved has powers based on what they fear. She cooperates with the stored-memory-recreation of an early Aevylmarcher pioneer with a fear of snakes (who was killed in a previous deathgame) in which they both know that the other will eventually plot to kill each other; nonetheless they fall in love, help each other manage their trauma, and ultimately combine their skills to defeat the various open villains participating and achieve their goals; she wins and is able to use foreshadowed elements of the magic system to save him and most of the other sympathetic participants and put an end to the closed-circle-deathgame. An endnote says that the author has generally been open to fanfiction and there is a lot of fanfiction based on this, including two officially licensed prequels; it wasn't the first closedcircle-deathgame novel, but it did enormously boost the popularity of the subgenre.

Permalink

The working group would like to clarify that the perspective character of the soul-eating book was an attempt to portray what it would be like if you could add pieces of the minds of about a hundred people (and unusually insightful people, at that) onto your own mind, directly making use of their experience in your own thoughts. The experience of the perspective character, as described, is almost certainly impossible for an actual human to experience. (Ozytopians are human, right? They seem to be about the same, in the broad strokes if not in neurotype.) The working group provisionally disendorses that imprimataur.

All books of lies are dangerous (you musn't get complacent) but some are safer than others, and the curators send over all of the relatively-not-dangerous books which are not subject to intellectual property* protections (this is awaiting treaties, which will take at least another few months). They do not send any answer sheets. For their original submission, the curators deliberately selected a book of lies which is rather old and well-tread, because they suspected other worlds would be likely to publicize the answer sheet. The priesthood has produced answer sheets for many other popular books of lies, the contents of which are kept secret on Olam. They would like them to say secret in other worlds because it makes them much easier to keep secret on Olam, because secrets can only be revealed once and the Union is not yet sure how much the governments of other worlds can be relied upon to make good decisions on the behalf of their populations, and because broadly distributing the answers, or 'answers', to a book of lies is sacrilege. They may be willing to share some answer sheets if the Teachingsphere can credibly promise to keep them secret.

*'intellectual property' is a term that would almost never be used in canaanite, 'information-royalty-gratuity' would be the more literal translation.

Permalink

Olam

Nela understands that this is a metaphor! But being in contact with the logos makes people equally weird. Are people not in contact with the logos in Olam?

The Teachingsphere sends over its screening processes for people whose jobs require them to keep secrets (e.g. spiritual directors, monks who work at children's afterschool centers). If they select someone who scores 1 in 10,000 on these metrics, would that be acceptable?

Alternately, they can avoid having the answer sheets; they are not really sure what the point is. 

Permalink

A long war-adventure-mysticpower-government-grouptravel novel in which part of the army of a small state from early Aevylmarcher history is magically sent to a fantasy setting which is technologically more advanced than theirs but has lots of social and organizational problems that make it overall less effective, such as being divided into a lot of mostly-tyrannical kingdoms with incompetent appointed or hereditary officials, instead of being federal republics. The protagonists sign on as mercenaries for the government of the (unusually non-tyrannical) kingdom they land on and try to both encourage it to engage in good reforms instead of in bad ones, and to protect it from its enemies via warfare, who are initially portrayed as purely demonic invaders and eventually turn out to have multiple factions and complex internal politics of their own. The main protagonist, the commander of the force, has an adorable romance with a member of the ruling clique of the main kingdom and fights lots of battles and duels and gets involved in complicated politics in which he tries to protect his people while serving the society, but the main focus of the novel is on the logistical difficulties in running a mercenary company, the culture-clash between the protagonists' society and the society they land on, and on the complicated nature of how tactics, strategy, and logistics change based on the technological and social state of the various societies in the setting. Magic is vague and mystical and in the background and mostly used used to create problems, like the protagonists being sent to another world, but has a few reliable effects, which are chronicled extensively. The endnote says that all the countries in the fantasy setting are based on pre-apocalyptic ones, and provides sources - the author is a historian of the relevant period.

Imprimatur for being a secret-textbook about logistics, and for teaching people about politics as it is lived. Nela finds it very interesting-- war sure gets very complicated in worlds where the Teachingsphere can't straightforwardly crush anyone it feels like crushing!

A mystery-tension-sailing-bitterending-realtoday short story in which the captain of a cargo transport ship discovers that someone on her ship has anonymously invested a huge sum of money on NO in a prediction market about whether the ship will make it to its destination on time, and attempts to discover who and if they're a saboteur or just a pessimist. The story is mostly focused on the psychological state of the captain and on the captain's attempts to discover which of the crew of sympathetic and likable characters placed the bet and (after sabotage occurs) who the saboteur is. (The perpetrator turns out to be one of the machine operators, who was addicted to gambling, an uncommon but not unheard of trait in the Aevylmarch, and who was in danger of going bankrupt, which is presented as a horrible fate.) The story ends on a bittersweet note, as the captain has made lots of money buying YES on the successful arrival, but her friendship with the saboteur is forever broken, and he is both bankrupt and subject to the law. The cultural endnote says that the city the saboteur is from exiles anyone who borrows money and can't repay it, which would be common knowledge to all Aevylmarchers, and the legal punishment for the sabotage would be fines, whipping, and, for that particular city, exile.)

Nihil obstat: it ends up showing that gambling addiction is a bad idea, which is something the Teachingsphere approves of, but doesn't provide any sort of means for avoiding gambling addiction. (Of course, that's not the point of the story at all, but an imprimatur isn't about art, and shouldn't be interpreted as 'instead of this story we wish you wrote a totally different and unrelated story.')

A horror-romance-smartpower-themepower-closedcircle-deathgame novella about a protagonist who finds machinery horribly traumatic and who makes a living selling horrifyingly beautiful paintings of machine monsters, who ends up trapped in a closed-circle-deathgame where everyone involved has powers based on what they fear. She cooperates with the stored-memory-recreation of an early Aevylmarcher pioneer with a fear of snakes (who was killed in a previous deathgame) in which they both know that the other will eventually plot to kill each other; nonetheless they fall in love, help each other manage their trauma, and ultimately combine their skills to defeat the various open villains participating and achieve their goals; she wins and is able to use foreshadowed elements of the magic system to save him and most of the other sympathetic participants and put an end to the closed-circle-deathgame. An endnote says that the author has generally been open to fanfiction and there is a lot of fanfiction based on this, including two officially licensed prequels; it wasn't the first closedcircle-deathgame novel, but it did enormously boost the popularity of the subgenre.

Are closed-circle-deathgames a GENRE in Aevylmarch? Why. What do they get out of it. 

It gets a nihil obstat-- the trauma coping stuff is detailed but not quite detailed enough to get an imprimatur, as the author seems much more interested in using one's skills cleverly to defeat villains, and neither magic systems nor closedcircle-deathgames exist in the Teachingsphere-- but the rest of the fanfiction isn't imported because the Ozytopians are wildly uninterested in the genre.

...it turns out that no fewer than ten different Ozytopian cultures have invented closedcircle-deathgames of their own. Nela wants to know if Aevylmarchers would be interested in this.

Permalink

Yes! Aevylmarcher publishing companies are interested in importing fiction from EVERYWHERE!

Permalink

Oh no they mean nonfictional ones? There are ethnographies of them and interviews with people who had experienced them. 

Permalink

WHAT THE SHIT WHAT WHY

Permalink

Well, they didn't like their enemies very much and wanted them to suffer?

Why do the people in the Aevylmarcher books invent them?

Permalink

Some ridiculous setting excuse is found that makes it magically necessary, usually!

Probably someone will want to read it, but Aevylmarcher fiction publishers are not the people in question.

Permalink

(Out of the middle of the pile, not the first book chosen as an ambassador to other worlds, but a quality example of popular fiction:)  

Here are the first three collected volumes of a historical fiction serial!  It's set in a charming temperate-to-northerly coastal village about two hundred years ago, centered around a large marine biology household specializing in invertebrate physiology.  The author is clearly well-informed and very excited about both horseshoe crabs and historic lab equipment, but it's not quite a secret textbook, spending more of its time on the social drama between the household members and their relatives and romantic interests and academic rivals.  (The translator has helpfully included a guide for who is romantically involved and who isn't, since alien signals for that are presumably different and readers might have trouble picking that up.)  The household isn't dedicated-childless but only has two toddlers and three preteens at the time the serial opens:  the first chapter consists of one of the preteens meeting a visiting researcher at the train and showing her around the (lovingly described) village and lab. 

 

Other plot beats include: 

-a running bit where the toddlers adorably misunderstand or mispronounce things
-people keep forgetting to eat; the household-ops-person is getting tired of rounding them up for meals and installs a Sandwich Basket in the lab
-academic tension over horseshoe crab physiology goes from a simmer to a boil and camps start to form (the translator includes a note clarifying the current state of the field, in case aliens don't have horseshoe crabs)
-another running bit where two teenage members of the household keep talking about having a baby, agreeing that they would be the cutest and smartest and best baby, and then finding a reason to put off actually starting for another month. 
-one of the preteens isn't actually that interested in marine biology, but doesn't want to move out; they start learning how to maintain the boats and put together a supply order, with an eye toward working on household ops when they're older, but it's an open question whether they'll prove to be [organized/reliable/Do Thing] enough to handle it
-a young scientist who recently joined the household feels the need to prove herself before a deadline, she starts staying up late and forgetting to eat more than usual; eventually she makes enough mistakes that she can't keep convincing herself she has everything under control and has to ask for help
-a collecting trip to an outlying island, featuring a picnic and an ill-advised boat race, although everyone escapes with no worse than scrapes and bruises and a cracked rudder
-a constant temperature box breaks in the middle of an important experiment, and everyone who can best handle a disruption to their routine jury-rigs a manual replacement and sets up a rota to monitor it overnight; they get very silly trying to keep each other awake in the wee hours of the morning 

 

Some other things readers might note:

-no one is making Bad Sex Decisions; in fact, aside from the teenagers who keep procrastinating on having a baby, no one seems to be making any Sex Decisions at all.

-most of the cast is low-key animist in a way that's not particularly remarked on in the text, but shows up in e.g. apologies to broken objects, etc.

 

-everyone is constantly talking about books and reciting bits of poetry; the translator has included little summaries of the most important ones, and links to the full text when that's made it across in earlier literature piles, and sheet music (often with two or three or a dozen options per song), and the original text of each poem plus a line-by-line gloss and sometimes alternate translations where they weren't satisfied with any single one.

Permalink

...wow. That's a very sweet book in which absolutely nothing happens. The Teachingsphere books in which absolutely nothing happens don't have that little stuff happening in them. Are Zamboniland books normally this plotless? Everyone is so functional! They argue viciously about horseshoe crabs and no one hits anyone else or self-harms or attempts suicide or breaks other people's possessions or viciously pokes at their opponents' most sensitive points or drinks constantly because they can't bear to be conscious while people disagree with them or even seems tempted to do any of these things! They forget to eat in a normal way and not an eating-disorder way!

It receives a nihil obstat due to the incredible functionality of its characters, and doesn't wind up becoming particularly popular. The Ozytopians feel it is unrealistic. 

Permalink

Like most Euclidean creative works, the works in this sample were published on CreativeGraph and are freely accessible to everyone; in addition, derivative works are universally permitted and commonplace. Authors, if still alive, receive royalties through various public-goods-funding mechanisms. In addition to the works themselves, CreativeGraph provides statistics on consumption, consumer reactions, and derivative works; weighted-sample links to reviews and derivative works; and links to ExpositionGraph articles and sequences providing plot summaries, historical and cultural background, and (if applicable) information about each work's subsequent cultural impact.

This particular sample includes two works from auth cultural contexts, two from lib cultural contexts, and one with cross-bloc cultural significance and appeal, even though this is unrepresentative (about three-fourths of works on CreativeGraph are lib).

 

A short story set in a sprawling space-opera mythos that emphasizes interplanetary relations and politics, told from the perspective of a younger, apparently alternate-universe version of 146969 Symmetry, an established character known as a member of a multi-species team of problem-solvers. The story follows them as a young adult on their home planet, where the silduru, a visually distinctive minority group, are horrifically oppressed and treated as subhuman. Symmetry, like everyone else, feels hatred and disgust towards the silduru, and is used to never giving them any consideration, and the idea of doing so would be socially unthinkable—and so they try to ignore the obvious fact that this attitude doesn't comport with their general belief in the moral value of all sentient beings.

Unfortunately for them, they find that they can't stop thinking about it, despite the anguish of doing so and the fear of ostracism from everyone they've ever known. Until the day comes when, upon seeing a silduru in distress, they forcibly override their urge to run away and instead go and help them—at which point it's revealed that there's no such thing as the silduru, the apparent alternate universe is in fact a virtual-reality environment in the original universe, and all of Symmetry's memories are fake. This was a test, the adramjur periksa, which anyone on this planet must pass in order to earn the right to vote and participate in governance; this was Symmetry's fourth attempt, and most never pass at all. Their existing memories (including of the nature of the test, which is well-known) were temporarily suppressed, and the hatred and disgust were artificially induced, in order to judge whether they would correctly discern the morally right course of action and take it, even if the judgment of society and their own emotion-driven intuitions conspired against it. Unusually, Symmetry opts to allow the record of their previous failed attempts to be made public, that others might learn from their mistakes.

The story is accepted as Symmetry's canonical backstory by most subsequent works in the mythos, and led to an explosion of works centered around them and their home planet. The standard of being able to pass the adramjur periksa has become a common metaphor in auth politics and society, as an ethical ideal to hold oneself to.

 

An alternate-future-history short story anthology, of the kind that aims to convey a general gestalt of what the curator envisions life would be like given the premise—in this case, if 221448 and their far-auth theocracy had successfully spread and conquered the entire world, and invented and deployed a simulated virtual-reality hell, allowing lifetimes of torture to be collapsed into much shorter time periods. Everyone who fails to live up to their duties under the true moral law—which is to say, everyone—is subjected to this punishment. The stories include impressions of children struggling to understand their ostensible moral duties and why their parents sometimes come home broken; of true believers fighting their intuitions in order to wholeheartedly accept what they believe to be their moral desert; and of those who consider or attempt suicide or other acts of defiance, knowing that all their friends and loved ones will be tortured in retaliation.

The linked ExpositionGraph history sequence explains that, in real life, the most intense phase of 221448's moral-demandingness-centric theocracy, when the desirability of building hell was explicit doctrine, lasted only about 2*12^7 blinks (nine months) before the rest of the world learned the full extent of the regime, put together a military coalition, and invaded, putting an end to the theocracy. This was about 5*12^8 blinks (20 years) ago, and it has shaped much of recent global history. (It also notes that 221448's chosen name was Moral-Authority and they named their church the Mutual Enforcers of the Moral Law. Since the war, institutional sources have adopted a convention of not using those names, though they're still sometimes heard in informal contexts.)

 

A deliberately troperiffic animated series that shifts every three episodes (each about 1*12^3 blinks (10 minutes) long) to become a pastiche of a different genre. It does this while telling a single story throughout, initially centering around a cartographer and their apprentice-filmmaker platonic partner but gradually growing into a huge ensemble cast. The characters travel through the multiverse, fighting and occasionally teaming up with various different antagonists, as they seek to avert a multiverse-wide apocalypse whose nature only gradually becomes known. The musical arc is a particular fan favorite, as is the first villain to be introduced, a self-consciously stereotypical mad scientist motivated primarily by their desire to be recognized as a worthy antagonist.

 

A historical-fiction musical about the founding and rise of CreativeGraph. Its charismatic visionary founder sought not only to radically increase everyone's access to creative works for consumption, but to spur widespread universal production of them, that everyone might take their part in fulfilling (what they viewed as) the purpose of humanity, and that the resulting culture might be reflective of all its members in an egalitarian fashion. Their joy as CreativeGraph took off turned to dismay as superstar dynamics emerged on a greater scale than ever before, and most consumers remained consumers without contributing. Railing against their creation's users and maintainers, they alienate everyone who had helped them and ultimately die alone and embittered. The final number steps away from their perspective and is a joyful celebration of the explosion of diversity and accessibility, resulting in more people creating new works than ever before in history, that CreativeGraph has brought about and that its own creator could never appreciate.

ExpositionGraph confirms that the musical contains no major factual inaccuracies (though dramatic license is taken in minor details) and that the interpretation of events that it adopts is considered a respectable one among historians, though some disagree with it.

 

A tabletop game wherein players lay out cards in sequences and loops, and then move game pieces around according to instructions written on the cards. Some cards also instruct the players to maintain additional state. This is, of course, a secret textbook of elementary computer science and programming; the rules are Turing-complete by design. It was originally designed to teach children, and was used extremely widely for that purpose for over 2*12^9 blinks (100 years), with many gradual changes to the rules over that time period. Today, it has largely been superseded by games more carefully designed, using modern technology and modern psychological research methods, to hold children's attention, but it remains a standard teaching tool for remedial education of adults.

Permalink

Probably some people are 'in contact with the logos', depending on what that means. It's not really a category anyone on the working group recognizes. Maybe the comparative religion team is having more luck?

(They are not.)

The Teachingsphere doesn't absolutely need the answer sheets. They'll probably be fine. And clearly the censors have a decent idea of what things it would be particularly bad to expose their people to. (Some of the books of lies advocate suicide, or risky behavior, or lying to everyone all the time, or doing a fuckton of drugs. Some will definitely not receive a nihil obstat and might not be a good idea to publish at all, by ozytopian standards.) But if they experience any unusually virulent memes, mass psychosis, that kind of thing, it would be good to report that.

Permalink

The Teachingsphere will definitely report any such behavior! They publish the books of lies carefully, only allowing them to the most stable monks at first.

This Thread Is On Hiatus
Total: 91
Posts Per Page: