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Jul 06, 2022 10:27 PM
towertopia reviews and/or censors interdimensional fiction!
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Towertopia is opening its doors to the burgeoning interdimensional fiction market!

However, Towertopian culture is more... managed than that of some other worlds, and as a result all interdimensional fiction will be screened by the Towertopian Interdimensional Literature Evaluation Society (TILES) prior to releasing it to the general public. This group consists of representatives from a range of ages and professions, both genders, and various political alignments. It serves as a combination of censorship bureau and media critic office; its goal is to provide the Towertopian public with a selection of fine interdimensional stories that will help foster interdimensional exchanges of knowledge, culture, and entertainment -- while also protecting said public from dangerous falsehoods.

TILES imposes a somewhat heavier hand than is normally exercised with such things, but the prospect for problems and misunderstandings seems significantly higher here than for fiction of a more mundane origin.


The current censorship guidelines of the Towertopian Interdimensional Literature Evaluation Society are:

Rule One: Stories that are considered dangerous to public morals are forbidden. For example, a story that conveyed the message that law enforcement agents need to go outside the law in order to treat criminals more harshly and brutally than society accepts would be forbidden under this rule.

Rule Two: Stories that are considered dangerous to public health are forbidden. For example, a story that conveyed the message that vaccines are secretly poisoning the people would be forbidden under this rule.

Rule Three (added 5/24 in Update Three): Material that focuses primarily on low humor (crude slapstick, scatological jokes, etc.) will be rejected, especially if directed primarily towards children. The works evaluated by TILES are in some sense "ambassadors" of their cultures to a new world.

 

Clarifying Notes:

  • Pornography (including written pornography) and stories that are deemed otherwise obscene or fetishistic are forbidden as violating both rules One and Two.
  • Stories that glorify or promote dueling, suicide, euthanasia, or sexual practices contrary to the natural law are forbidden as violating both rules One and Two. Discussing these matters is not forbidden, but glorifying or promoting them is.
  • All genres of interdimensional fiction fall under TILES's remit -- video games, music, etc. -- but "TILES" is a better-sounding acronym than "TIFES", so some precision was lost in favor of sounding cool.

 

(Update One, 5/24):

  • No, a work that includes detailed sex scenes that are intended to arouse the prurient interest is not justified, even if all the sex scenes are purportedly necessary for the plot development. The opinion of TILES is that anything that is worth expressing and can be expressed via such means can also be expressed without such means; insofar as artistic expression compels one to address these themes, they should do so via more appropriate methods.
  • Works that describe horrific atrocities in intense detail are very unlikely to be approved, even if they do so with an overall positive and uplifting message that clearly condemns those atrocities; there may be exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but this is especially unlikely insofar as those atrocities involve sexual abuses.
  • Some works of horror, descriptions of war crimes, etc. may similarly be considered too psychologically disturbing to be justified even if in service of an overall positive theme.

 

(Update Two, also 5/24):

  • TILES would like to remind those unfamiliar with Towertopian culture that "polyamory", while perhaps historically permitted in certain early stages of civilizational development, is considered ultimately contrary to human dignity and morality. It is not unacceptable to depict such relationships as existing, but they should not be portrayed as centrally uplifting or positive. (Works that depict such may in some cases be suitable for editing such that there is only one romantic relationship and others are intimate-but-chaste friendships.)
  • Similarly, sexual relationships between people of the same sex are considered debasements of both sexuality and of intimate chaste friendships between people of the same sex. Again, it is not unacceptable to depict such relationships as existing, but they should not be portrayed as centrally uplifting or positive. (Works that depict such may in some cases be suitable for editing into intimate-but-chaste relationships or having one character's gender changed.)
  • TILES wishes to note that, despite the above two clarifications, works should also not praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse unjust discrimination towards or vigilante persecution against individuals who have engaged or are engaging in these practices.
  • Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse hubris, revenge, and vendettas between families or other social groups are also condemned.
  • Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse the subversion/evasion of (or successful rebellion against) a just justice system (including cosmic/divine justice, though of course that is not possible in reality) are very strongly condemned. Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse the subversion/evasion of (or successful rebellion against) an unjust justice system are not condemned, though one might have to be careful about certain implications.

 

(Update Three, also 5/24):

  • TILES is distressed to have to note that infanticide and "eugenics" are both contrary to public health and public morals and works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse such will not be approved.

 

(Update Four, 5/27):

  • Stories that describe sexual and/or fetishistic behaviors in the form of detailed descriptions of lustful thoughts, fantasies, pinings, hypothetical conversations, suggestive letters or messages, etc. will often be considered obscene and unworthy of publication even if the behaviors being fantasized about or discussed do not ever actually take place within the world of the narrative. (The concept of characters being attracted to one another, even lustfully or otherwise immorally so, is of course permissible, but certain specifics of that are not.)
  • Stories that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse the idea that all moral authority is fundamentally invalid and one needs to rethink everything for oneself should be considered immoral and unworthy of publication.
  • Stories that contain detailed instructions on chemical processes, formulas, etc. that can be used to create addictive drugs, deadly and innocuous-seeming poisons, or other hazardous substances should be considered dangerous to public health and morals and unworthy of publication.

(Update Five, 5/29):

  • Works that are clearly lewd or fetishistic in their core setting or fundamental concept will not be approved even if the directly sexual elements have been removed prior to sending them to TILES.
  • A previous guideline held that works that promoted infanticide or eugenics would be considered immoral. Infanticide because a child is deformed is still infanticide. In fact, it arguably counts as both infanticide and eugenics. Such will not be approved.
  • Works that portray sufficiently outrageous offenses against natural law as worthy of serious consideration will be rejected even if those offenses are ultimately rejected within the narrative; this does not mean that one cannot have morally errant characters, but some things are really just beyond the pale!
  • Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse lying shall be considered hazardous to public morals.

 

(Update Six, 5/29):

 

  • A previous guideline clarified that works that provide sufficiently detailed instructions on how to produce hazardous substances will be considered dangerous to public health and morals. This principle also applies to works that provide detailed instructions as to how to commit criminal, immoral, or otherwise destabilizing actions. This applies even if the likelihood of such action actually being carried out seems low -- for instance, technical descriptions of how an individual with sufficient resources could unilaterally modify the moon's orbit, causing widespread destruction, will not be approved.

 

 

TILES reserves the right to update or otherwise modify these guidelines as circumstances demand.

 

Submission Guidelines:

To submit a work for evaluation by TILES, please contact TowerNumberNine#3685 on Discord and wait for a reply prior to posting in the thread.

All works submitted will be responded to and either approved or rejected as seen fit. Works that are approved will also receive public comments/reviews from TILES; in the event that a submission is rejected, it should not appear here but public revisions to the guidelines or additional clarifying notes will be added to help TILES guide future submissions. If multiple works are submitted in the same message, some may be approved and others rejected on a case-by-case basis.


The Towertopian Interdimensional Literature Evaluation Society looks forward to seeing the wealth of knowledge, culture, and entertainment that the interdimensional community has to offer!

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A tale for young workers about a new mushroom farmer who is very unhappy with her job and desperately wants to change it and become an explorer, but feels like she must stay in her current job for the good of her hive! The story details her becoming less happy and satisfied, until she eventually makes new friends in her fiction-reading group who encourage her to tell the hive-manager that she’s unhappy and wants to switch jobs. She does this, and becomes much happier, and finds a new valuable type of fungus for the colony, that is eventually used to make a new kind of antibacterial. It is clearly written with a moral lesson to tell people about your problems and not just tough them out.

 

A very complicated political novel with around 600,000 words, featuring nine diplomats from three different hives navigating a tension-filled debate about the morality of executions, while also trying to make the most advantageous trade deals, with several backroom discussions between every combination of hives at different points, embarrassing interpersonal drama, and a tremendous amount of dramatic irony.

 

A rules and lore book for a tabletop RPG, featuring several books of additional content based on other series, and a wide variety of different powersets. Nearly three hundred different personality traits are listed in the original alone, all with various mechanical benefits and downsides. 

 

An collection including seven novels, three books of short stories, four series about the most popular alternate universes, a collection of poetry, half a dozen epistolary books, and an annotated book of music scores. An additional eight powersets, 412 character traits, and new faction-loyalty and relationship mechanics for the RPG above are included, all inspired by this series. The base series is about a worker, named Halru, who is taken as a war-prisoner by a rival hive as slave labor and is forced to care for their grubs. Two of her limbs are cut off, and she generally has a terrible time doing awful labor under threat of death. Her best friend, Terilu, sets off on an extremely dangerous and ill-advised quest to rescue her, which at various points includes having a riddling contest with a dragon to gain fire breathing, bargaining with a Fairy Queen to gain wings, fighting a variety of creatures, secretly training under five separate rival hives to become a master of all five styles of spearfighting, and generally becoming a really powerful and dangerous warrior. She then rescues her best friend, and they return home, only to find themselves dealing with complex social dynamics now that Halru is maimed, which means that she is lower status in Semi-Generic!Fantasy!Past world. They cuddle a lot, talk about their feelings, play around with various power dynamics, and become lifepartners.

An included note says that while slavery and treating maimed people worse is something that happened in the past, they definitely don’t do it in the modern era, because that’s horrendously unethical.

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A tale for young workers about a new mushroom farmer who is very unhappy with her job and desperately wants to change it and become an explorer, but feels like she must stay in her current job for the good of her hive! The story details her becoming less happy and satisfied, until she eventually makes new friends in her fiction-reading group who encourage her to tell the hive-manager that she’s unhappy and wants to switch jobs. She does this, and becomes much happier, and finds a new valuable type of fungus for the colony, that is eventually used to make a new kind of antibacterial. It is clearly written with a moral lesson to tell people about your problems and not just tough them out.

TILES is excited to see this and it is straightforwardly approved; while the moral lesson is straightforward, it's a good and prosocial one!

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A very complicated political novel with around 600,000 words, featuring nine diplomats from three different hives navigating a tension-filled debate about the morality of executions, while also trying to make the most advantageous trade deals, with several backroom discussions between every combination of hives at different points, embarrassing interpersonal drama, and a tremendous amount of dramatic irony.

TILES is excited to read this, with the caveat that the morality of capital punishment in alien hives may be quite different from the morality of capital punishment in their own world and that readers should not read too much into such as describing the relevant moral considerations and factors in their own social milieu.

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A rules and lore book for a tabletop RPG, featuring several books of additional content based on other series, and a wide variety of different powersets. Nearly three hundred different personality traits are listed in the original alone, all with various mechanical benefits and downsides. 

There's... considerable debate over this one. The aliens' views of the benefits and downsides of different personality traits are not consistent with Towertopian psychologists' views on these matters -- in fact, some of the personality traits described don't even identifiably exist in Towertopia! Whether the book is intended to be accurate or merely fun is also disputed among TILES members. Additionally, without the other series that some of this is based on, some members of TILES are loath to approve it for fear that outside content will prove inappropriate.

Ultimately, though, this is approved for publication, with an introduction and translator's note that emphasizes that it should be treated as based on an alien psychology and not necessarily accurate to Towertopian experience, but nevertheless interesting as a reflection on an alien culture and psychology.

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A spacehistory-romance-tragic novel (it is marked as such on the cover) about how three people (a persecuted aristocrat, a time-traveler from the past and a scientist/schemer) try and fail to fix a horribly flawed and tragic culture, the aristocrat carefully working within its evil and arbitrary rules, the time-traveler lying to achieve power so she can use it to improve the system, and the scientist/schemer openly defying the rules and trying to reinvent morality on her own, who end up in a complicated love-dodecahedron with each other and with several other equally tragic characters. There are no sex scenes on page but lots and lots of characters being unhappy about how the decisions they're making For The Greater Good are ruining their love lives. Over the course of the story, all of the protagonists are destroyed by the compromises they make and thereby come into conflict, and at the end they all fail and the society continues unfixed. The culture is apparently post-apocalyptic; people paying attention may notice that the pre-apocalyptic culture was also post-apocalyptic. Also there are multipage spaceship battles, most of which seem to exist primarily so characters can make agonized moral choices during them; an author's appendix at the end explains that everything is a melded adaptation of six different adaptations of an ancient legend theoretically based on history, and spends several pages on detailing all the inspirations; the cultural translator's appendix adds several more, including an explanation of the variety of the default-standard-fictional-setting-with-spaceships that they are using and how the spaceships do not technically violate the known laws of physics but also would not work.

(Also, the Aevylmarch wants to know Towertopia's fanfiction policies.)

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An collection including seven novels, three books of short stories, four series about the most popular alternate universes, a collection of poetry, half a dozen epistolary books, and an annotated book of music scores. An additional eight powersets, 412 character traits, and new faction-loyalty and relationship mechanics for the RPG above are included, all inspired by this series. The base series is about a worker, named Halru, who is taken as a war-prisoner by a rival hive as slave labor and is forced to care for their grubs. Two of her limbs are cut off, and she generally has a terrible time doing awful labor under threat of death. Her best friend, Terilu, sets off on an extremely dangerous and ill-advised quest to rescue her, which at various points includes having a riddling contest with a dragon to gain fire breathing, bargaining with a Fairy Queen to gain wings, fighting a variety of creatures, secretly training under five separate rival hives to become a master of all five styles of spearfighting, and generally becoming a really powerful and dangerous warrior. She then rescues her best friend, and they return home, only to find themselves dealing with complex social dynamics now that Halru is maimed, which means that she is lower status in Semi-Generic!Fantasy!Past world. They cuddle a lot, talk about their feelings, play around with various power dynamics, and become lifepartners.

An included note says that while slavery and treating maimed people worse is something that happened in the past, they definitely don’t do it in the modern era, because that’s horrendously unethical.

When the TILES evaluators finally get through reading all of this, listening to the music, and running several sessions of an experimental RPG campaign (several of the TILES people really like RPGs, OK?) they approve it as an inspiring tale, with a cautionary note that one should of course not in fact bargain with hostile otherworldly creatures in real life. Chaste intimate friendships are a popular theme in Towertopian culture, so this seems likely to find an audience, at least among those who are willing to get Really Into a continuity... and Towertopia has lots of those!

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Green has enclosed a cultural note. Greens are frequently bisexual and have had relatively unmarked gay marriage for basically their whole history. Any story with more than about ten people in it is going to have somebody in there who is mentioned to have at least kissed somebody of the same sex. They are willing to allow that Towers can edit the genders of characters, if they really want, preferably the most minor characters possible, though this won't capture all the cases; but they don't want to ship the stories in that format because censorship confuses them so they might over- or under-do it, and if the books are old or whatever it would be hard to have the original author do the editing.

--

A doorstopper novel about a newly oathed Committed of Truth having a handwaved physics lab accident while there as a witness to the experimental results, and landing in an alternate universe where being committed to tell the truth is a serious liability. He wins over a local girl after she's initially incredibly suspicious of him because sliders are rare and sliders who aren't just pretending that they have to tell the truth as a thin tactic to make their lies believable are rarer, but he sticks to his oath through dangerous situations and she realizes he means it and helps him navigate the world in which they find themselves. They manage to send his family a letter but he does not go home.

A children's book about talking big cats (anthropomorphic enough to eat sandwiches and manipulate objects manifestly designed for human hands, but not enough to wear clothes); the protagonist is a tiger, and goes to a demystification program to get tours of factories and offices and see how performers practice and prepare backstage and stuff like that. It's a long book but each chapter is quite short.

A nonfiction memoir about someone's deconversion from an animist sect, driven by her frustration about how all the spirits supposedly around her were not in fact capable of good faith negotiation like a normal person and in fact if she wanted her disk reader to work she had to take it to a repair shop, which wasn't even owned by an animist, and force it to; in fact if she wanted her house clean she had to clean it, not ask nicely; in general if she wants stuff to happen correctly she has to think of inanimate objects like things and not like spirits. Describes her gradual reconciliation with her family after she suffers a long period of alienation because of being reactively allergic to all their propitiation rituals.

A rambly cowritten story about a planet with castes that is mistreating one of the castes and the travails of this one family and the people they confide in as they try, desperately, in a way that could destroy them all if discovered, to nudge the arc of history towards justice at a critical juncture.

A middle-grade nonfiction demystification book about engineering bridges; the careful textbooks which measure are represented as helpfully color-coded and well-organized, and every step of building a bridge is touched upon, though it doesn't specify exactly where e.g. the steel girders they order come from, just what specifications they have to order them to.

A long-running TV show available in broadcast, dense, and padded formats depending on whether you want the fight scenes and atmospheric shots and isolated plot-irrelevant jokes and metatextual fake advertisements and surplus seconds of anything else the trimmers had their eye on removed so you can just blitz through the core story, or if you want all of that and also stuff they cut for broadcast length included. It's about the future people of Green sending FTL spaceships out to make contact with other species, mostly though not all lower tech, having lots of alien-of-the-week diplomacy conundra interspersed with alien-of-the-arc diplomatic conundra interspersed with alien-of-the-series precursor ruins research project. Also ensemble drama. Lots of that.

A musical about ten generations of a family that breeds a particular kind of dog (it takes care of sheep - like, mostly it herds them, but it can also detect if they're sick or parasitized or injured, and be trained to assist with shearing (there's a number about how the dog would certainly do it itself if it had hands and a character who gets sidetracked trying to invent a device that will allow that despite handlessness).

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A spacehistory-romance-tragic novel (it is marked as such on the cover) about how three people (a persecuted aristocrat, a time-traveler from the past and a scientist/schemer) try and fail to fix a horribly flawed and tragic culture, the aristocrat carefully working within its evil and arbitrary rules, the time-traveler lying to achieve power so she can use it to improve the system, and the scientist/schemer openly defying the rules and trying to reinvent morality on her own, who end up in a complicated love-dodecahedron with each other and with several other equally tragic characters. There are no sex scenes on page but lots and lots of characters being unhappy about how the decisions they're making For The Greater Good are ruining their love lives. Over the course of the story, all of the protagonists are destroyed by the compromises they make and thereby come into conflict, and at the end they all fail and the society continues unfixed. The culture is apparently post-apocalyptic; people paying attention may notice that the pre-apocalyptic culture was also post-apocalyptic. Also there are multipage spaceship battles, most of which seem to exist primarily so characters can make agonized moral choices during them; an author's appendix at the end explains that everything is a melded adaptation of six different adaptations of an ancient legend theoretically based on history, and spends several pages on detailing all the inspirations; the cultural translator's appendix adds several more, including an explanation of the variety of the default-standard-fictional-setting-with-spaceships that they are using and how the spaceships do not technically violate the known laws of physics but also would not work.

TILES approves this work, though it is released with a somewhat heavy-handed introduction about how this story illustrates the Perils of Moral Compromise and obviously people should not actually act like these characters in real life. A minor fandom arises, but seems much more interested in the fictional spaceships and technology used, debating what the pre- and pre-pre-apocalyptic culture should have looked like, etc. than in the actual characters.

(Also, the Aevylmarch wants to know Towertopia's fanfiction policies.)

Towertopia is fine with fanfiction, though if the original author requests against such it's considered in bad taste to write it. Towertopia also has shorter copyright terms than Earth, so things enter the public domain more quickly.

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An epic poem about an ancient king, presented in the original with extensive annotations. Full translations are going to be legitimately tricky; it's long, it's gorgeous, and the poetic form is pretty strict and doesn't adapt well to the rhythms of other languages, but the writer keeps doing this thing where the rhyme scheme and meter highlight underlying thematic connections between different lines—anyway. The plot begins with an introductory section where the king is going around doing atrocities in a very badass ancient-legendary-figure sort of way, right up until a random peasant girl lights him on fire with her magic powers and he immediately falls madly in love and drops everything to beg her to marry him, then spends the next two-thirds of the poem gradually lightening up on the atrocities front, partly because he has now realized that peasants are people and partly because his wife keeps arguing with him and occasionally threatening to light him on fire again, which he always responds to with a confused mix of fear, adoration, and occasionally anger. The queen's power to set fire to her husband is depicted very obviously and straightforwardly, discussed in the text and the dialogue; the king's reciprocal power to have his wife executed is left completely to subtext and implication, only barely hinted at by means such as using epithets for her that emphasize her fearlessness whenever he gets angry. Accompanying notes explain that the poem is an allegory for real historical events, with the queen standing in for the entire Phoenix archetype, which did appear during that approximate historical era and did have those approximate powers and did have approximately that effect on ancient kings' tendency to oppress people although the exact mechanism was obviously very different.

Extremely well-researched historical fiction detailing the life of a high priestess of the River Kingdom who, by contrast to most high priestesses of the River Kingdom, did actual politics instead of spending all her time managing the movement of water. One gets the impression that the author wishes they could spend all their time managing the movement of water; lovingly detailed descriptions of River Kingdom plumbing and water management take up a solid third of the book, intermingled with plenty of inner monologue from the high priestess and lots of interactions with very well-fleshed-out side characters. An appendix carefully distinguishes side characters for whom there is historical evidence (and what that evidence covered) from side characters the author made up (and the census data and contemporary sources from which they extrapolated those characters' likely traits). An additional appendix tries to explain the context of the Ondine archetype so the aliens can properly appreciate it, but the author admits that they're not very good at explaining this sort of thing and recommends some other reference material to interested reader.

A duology of very long fantasy novels, which turn out to be collectively about 40% appendix by pagecount. The appendices cover worldbuilding, conlangs, and a set of six different detailed maps of the world, each from the perspective of one of the major nations involved in the plot, all of which have subtle disagreements with each other on matters such as which landmarks are important, what they are called, and who owns them. The plot consists of a ragtag yet lovable ensemble cast, thrown together by circumstances beyond their control which accidentally leave them the only people in the world capable of saving it from a cataclysmic threat, having breakdowns about how they're not ready for this and then going ahead and doing their best anyway. In the end, they pull it off by the skin of their teeth and with rather more casualties than any of them are comfortable with. The second volume has a long denouement consisting mostly of our heroes leaning on each other and their friends and loved ones to help them cope with all their realistically-described trauma once the crisis is over; the last chapter concludes when they're all psychologically stable again and leading healthy, thriving lives, and the epilogue shows a bittersweet scene of the six of them holding a private memorial ceremony together ten years later, after which they are going to attend a massive celebration being held in their honour on the anniversary of their success.

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A book for first-school children (aged six through eight) in which a small child is abused by her parents and decides that this is unacceptable behavior on her parents' part. She sets out to find a different family. It is mostly a comedic fish-out-of-water story about the difficulty she has adjusting to various other families' rules-- this one prays together as a family, this one doesn't let anyone watch television, this one goes hiking constantly, this one will only let her have ONE dessert-- until eventually she goes to live with the monk who runs her Children's After School Club. She lives happily ever after. The abuse isn't exactly graphic, but it is clearly depicted: the girl is scared of her parents because they hit her and call her nasty names. The book also seems to think that going and looking for a different family if your current family abuses you is perfectly reasonable behavior.

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Green has enclosed a cultural note. Greens are frequently bisexual and have had relatively unmarked gay marriage for basically their whole history. Any story with more than about ten people in it is going to have somebody in there who is mentioned to have at least kissed somebody of the same sex. They are willing to allow that Towers can edit the genders of characters, if they really want, preferably the most minor characters possible, though this won't capture all the cases; but they don't want to ship the stories in that format because censorship confuses them so they might over- or under-do it, and if the books are old or whatever it would be hard to have the original author do the editing.

This leads to a lot of controversy among the TILES panel. Sexuality between people of the same sex is of course known to Towertopians, but it is considered contrary to the natural law and a degradation of the beauty of intimate chaste friendships. Some of the panelists want all Green fiction suppressed for this reason. Ultimately, though, the panel decides that they will analyze it on a case-by-case basis and make edits as needed, ideally editing sexual relationships into chaste ones rather than changing character genders where possible, though for marriages they will likely have to bite the bullet and pick a character to genderswap.

A doorstopper novel about a newly oathed Committed of Truth having a handwaved physics lab accident while there as a witness to the experimental results, and landing in an alternate universe where being committed to tell the truth is a serious liability. He wins over a local girl after she's initially incredibly suspicious of him because sliders are rare and sliders who aren't just pretending that they have to tell the truth as a thin tactic to make their lies believable are rarer, but he sticks to his oath through dangerous situations and she realizes he means it and helps him navigate the world in which they find themselves. They manage to send his family a letter but he does not go home.

TILES approves this as an inspiring tale of loyalty to Truth even when it's hard, though it's not entirely sure what a Committed of Truth actually is.

A children's book about talking big cats (anthropomorphic enough to eat sandwiches and manipulate objects manifestly designed for human hands, but not enough to wear clothes); the protagonist is a tiger, and goes to a demystification program to get tours of factories and offices and see how performers practice and prepare backstage and stuff like that. It's a long book but each chapter is quite short.

This is straightforwardly approved. Not necessarily the most challenging literature or whatever but it's interesting to see this sort of thing from other cultures.

A nonfiction memoir about someone's deconversion from an animist sect, driven by her frustration about how all the spirits supposedly around her were not in fact capable of good faith negotiation like a normal person and in fact if she wanted her disk reader to work she had to take it to a repair shop, which wasn't even owned by an animist, and force it to; in fact if she wanted her house clean she had to clean it, not ask nicely; in general if she wants stuff to happen correctly she has to think of inanimate objects like things and not like spirits. Describes her gradual reconciliation with her family after she suffers a long period of alienation because of being reactively allergic to all their propitiation rituals.

Approved! The reviewers write nice things about how this story illustrates both a superstitious perspective and also the admirable struggle to escape from such, to be loyal to the truth even when that leads to consequences, and so on. That said, they totally miss that it's nonfiction, as animism has not endured in Towertopia and hence this seems like a fantasy conceit and metaphor for smaller-scale superstition -- if the Green author ever finds out about this she may be perplexed at the popularity of her "fictional memoir"!

A rambly cowritten story about a planet with castes that is mistreating one of the castes and the travails of this one family and the people they confide in as they try, desperately, in a way that could destroy them all if discovered, to nudge the arc of history towards justice at a critical juncture.

TILES approves this story as well, but it receives somewhat poor reviews for the rambly nature, which is generally frowned upon in Towertopian fiction and which some misinterpret as reflective of the authors as being insufficiently sensitive to the disturbing nature of the subject matter.

A middle-grade nonfiction demystification book about engineering bridges; the careful textbooks which measure are represented as helpfully color-coded and well-organized, and every step of building a bridge is touched upon, though it doesn't specify exactly where e.g. the steel girders they order come from, just what specifications they have to order them to.

This is sent to the Materials Sciences department of a Towertopian university to ensure that Green physics and building techniques are going to be enough the same as Towertopian physics and building techniques for this to be safe to publish -- if such a book contained errors that could prove catastrophic! Depending on whether the university thinks building physical test bridges following the book's instructions is necessary, it may be viewed as out of budget to actually test this and the book will be quietly shelved.

A long-running TV show available in broadcast, dense, and padded formats depending on whether you want the fight scenes and atmospheric shots and isolated plot-irrelevant jokes and metatextual fake advertisements and surplus seconds of anything else the trimmers had their eye on removed so you can just blitz through the core story, or if you want all of that and also stuff they cut for broadcast length included. It's about the future people of Green sending FTL spaceships out to make contact with other species, mostly though not all lower tech, having lots of alien-of-the-week diplomacy conundra interspersed with alien-of-the-arc diplomatic conundra interspersed with alien-of-the-series precursor ruins research project. Also ensemble drama. Lots of that.

The idea of releasing a show in several different formats like this is not familiar to Towertopians, and there's a spirited debate about which version of the show is best. Ultimately, though, the decision is made by censorship considerations rather than by artistic ones, and TILES ends up releasing an even more trimmed version of this that removes certain romance subplots -- unlike with written fiction, mimicking the style of a television series to perform content edits is somewhat out of scope.

A musical about ten generations of a family that breeds a particular kind of dog (it takes care of sheep - like, mostly it herds them, but it can also detect if they're sick or parasitized or injured, and be trained to assist with shearing (there's a number about how the dog would certainly do it itself if it had hands and a character who gets sidetracked trying to invent a device that will allow that despite handlessness).

TILES approves this one and considers it fun and family-friendly.

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A work of interactive fiction, in which the player's character appears wandering in a starlit desert with no memory of where they came from or how they got here. After finding and exploring a nearby ruin, you eventually stumble upon a talking statue of a beautiful winged person, and although the statue is very shy at first, eventually you can coax enough information out of them to realize that they're some sort of powerful magical being who has been horribly abused by people using them for personal gain. You, too, can horribly abuse them and use them for personal gain; or you can use them for personal gain in less gratuitously awful ways that they still pretty clearly find traumatizing; or you can try to befriend them; or you can try to befriend them but in a more romantically intimate way; or you can ignore them and try to figure out a way to escape the mysterious magical ruins by yourself. The descriptions of the statue's reactions to trauma are uncompromisingly realistic; the descriptions of the statue's reactions to genuine friendship and love are heartbreakingly sweet. The story has multiple possible endings, depending on your relationship with the statue and on whether you choose to escape the mysterious ruin or not, plus the implicit non-ending of simply never deciding to take an ending option; it is only possible to remove the statue from the ruins by force or with maximum trust levels, and if you do it by force the statue crumbles to dust as soon as they cross the outer wall. (The creator is very proud of having successfully edited all the sexual content out of this version.)

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An extremely elaborate npctrade-historicaldevelopment-competitivesingleplayervictorypointrace (a term originally derogatory but now widely used among fans) board game about how technological development changes economics! Each of 2 to 6 players plays as a sequence of trading companies, all of which steadily decay in economic efficiency until the player stops playing them and starts playing a new company instead; each company is trying to establish trade routes to ship goods from place to place to sell at a profit while overcoming transport costs, but every location on the map has its own supply and demand curves for every good it produces (don't worry, there's very clear tracking tools to stop keeping track of this from getting wildly out of hand). As the game progresses, new technologies for transport, consumption and production of goods are semi-randomly selected to appear, shifting the economic calculus, sometimes wildly. Almost all technologies has prerequisites but no technology is guaranteed to appear in the game, and after a fixed number of turns the players are scored based on how much consumer surplus they generated. A historical booklet twice the length of the rulebook explains the decisions they made when deciding what technologies to include and what to choose as their prerequisites, and a how-to-play-tactically guide is also included which is the first several moves of a tournament game that changes wildly when the industrial revolution in textiles started on the third move and both sides had to adjust very, very quickly.

An also elaborate strategy-mappainter-historicalfantasy-diplomacy game based in exhaustive detail on a long Aevylmarcher series of novels about a nine-year war between six fictional city-states, all of which had rapidly shifting coalitions and complicated internal politics. Each has its own special rules for extracting resources from the country and its people and for earning victory points; all of them, though, want to seize territory in the borderland between them and defeat their enemies to advance their goals. The game has a board, dice, cards, tokens, land and sea, and complicated magic systems for each player the more villainous of which involve summoning hostile entities from other dimensions and human sacrifice. All players have multiple separate goals, some of them mutually contradictory, and each hour-and-a-half-long round of the game is a single campaigning season, starting with raising armies, hiring mercenaries and drawing up initial campaign goals, and ending with withdrawing them into winter quarters, with a diplomacy phase between campaigning seasons used to redraw coalitions for the next campaign. The rules are very short but involve lots of references to short terms for more complicated concepts explained in a very long cultural appendix, as well as a discussion of how patents for game mechanics apply in the Aevylmarch (they're very short-lived but it's customary to tithe a portion of the game's revenues to people who invented the things it uses, which these people are doing). The cards are all based on events in the novel, which means that they don't make a whole lot of sense to people who haven't read it, but do give the impression of a gorgeous, dangerous world full of tragedy and good intentions and magic and wonder and politics and villains who are really cool but should not be imitated and will eventually die well-deserved deaths.

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An epic poem about an ancient king, presented in the original with extensive annotations. Full translations are going to be legitimately tricky; it's long, it's gorgeous, and the poetic form is pretty strict and doesn't adapt well to the rhythms of other languages, but the writer keeps doing this thing where the rhyme scheme and meter highlight underlying thematic connections between different lines—anyway. The plot begins with an introductory section where the king is going around doing atrocities in a very badass ancient-legendary-figure sort of way, right up until a random peasant girl lights him on fire with her magic powers and he immediately falls madly in love and drops everything to beg her to marry him, then spends the next two-thirds of the poem gradually lightening up on the atrocities front, partly because he has now realized that peasants are people and partly because his wife keeps arguing with him and occasionally threatening to light him on fire again, which he always responds to with a confused mix of fear, adoration, and occasionally anger. The queen's power to set fire to her husband is depicted very obviously and straightforwardly, discussed in the text and the dialogue; the king's reciprocal power to have his wife executed is left completely to subtext and implication, only barely hinted at by means such as using epithets for her that emphasize her fearlessness whenever he gets angry. Accompanying notes explain that the poem is an allegory for real historical events, with the queen standing in for the entire Phoenix archetype, which did appear during that approximate historical era and did have those approximate powers and did have approximately that effect on ancient kings' tendency to oppress people although the exact mechanism was obviously very different.

Some of the subtlety and nuance of this work is lost in translation, and it provokes extended... not really debates, but not precisely discussions either among the TILES panelists? This work is approved as a "quasi-historical epic" with major content warnings for atrocities, unjust use of authority, and so on. Most Towertopians who read this find it odd and not that inspiring -- perhaps the fault of the stilted translation -- but among the small fandom that emerges, there is an extended dispute about whether the girl's fire powers (and emergence of the Phoenix archetype more broadly) should be considered evidence of divine intervention. The consensus opinion tends positive.

Extremely well-researched historical fiction detailing the life of a high priestess of the River Kingdom who, by contrast to most high priestesses of the River Kingdom, did actual politics instead of spending all her time managing the movement of water. One gets the impression that the author wishes they could spend all their time managing the movement of water; lovingly detailed descriptions of River Kingdom plumbing and water management take up a solid third of the book, intermingled with plenty of inner monologue from the high priestess and lots of interactions with very well-fleshed-out side characters. An appendix carefully distinguishes side characters for whom there is historical evidence (and what that evidence covered) from side characters the author made up (and the census data and contemporary sources from which they extrapolated those characters' likely traits). An additional appendix tries to explain the context of the Ondine archetype so the aliens can properly appreciate it, but the author admits that they're not very good at explaining this sort of thing and recommends some other reference material to interested reader.

Like the poem about the ancient king, this work may be approved but it is not well-understood -- though this one is somewhat more "conventional" in its plot and therefore perhaps less interesting. That said, the author's intense descriptions of water management and detailed historical appendix elicits respect from Towertopian readers who push through that far.

A duology of very long fantasy novels, which turn out to be collectively about 40% appendix by pagecount. The appendices cover worldbuilding, conlangs, and a set of six different detailed maps of the world, each from the perspective of one of the major nations involved in the plot, all of which have subtle disagreements with each other on matters such as which landmarks are important, what they are called, and who owns them. The plot consists of a ragtag yet lovable ensemble cast, thrown together by circumstances beyond their control which accidentally leave them the only people in the world capable of saving it from a cataclysmic threat, having breakdowns about how they're not ready for this and then going ahead and doing their best anyway. In the end, they pull it off by the skin of their teeth and with rather more casualties than any of them are comfortable with. The second volume has a long denouement consisting mostly of our heroes leaning on each other and their friends and loved ones to help them cope with all their realistically-described trauma once the crisis is over; the last chapter concludes when they're all psychologically stable again and leading healthy, thriving lives, and the epilogue shows a bittersweet scene of the six of them holding a private memorial ceremony together ten years later, after which they are going to attend a massive celebration being held in their honour on the anniversary of their success.

This work is approved by TILES and is the most popular of any of the Grapeverse works mentioned thus far among Towertopians. It is considered a beautiful paean to the importance of standing up while no one else is willing, even when one is not as prepared as would be ideal. The degree of psychological breakdown and trauma depicted is unusual for a Towertopian audience and treated with contempt by some, especially adolescents, but others view it as an important component of what this work is trying to do. A large fandom develops for this novel, fueled by both the moving plot and the intense worldbuilding present in the appendices. Some years after these books' release, some in its Towertopian fandom attempt to create their vision of what the success anniversary celebration would look like, while others consider this disrespectful to the author's intent.

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A book for first-school children (aged six through eight) in which a small child is abused by her parents and decides that this is unacceptable behavior on her parents' part. She sets out to find a different family. It is mostly a comedic fish-out-of-water story about the difficulty she has adjusting to various other families' rules-- this one prays together as a family, this one doesn't let anyone watch television, this one goes hiking constantly, this one will only let her have ONE dessert-- until eventually she goes to live with the monk who runs her Children's After School Club. She lives happily ever after. The abuse isn't exactly graphic, but it is clearly depicted: the girl is scared of her parents because they hit her and call her nasty names. The book also seems to think that going and looking for a different family if your current family abuses you is perfectly reasonable behavior.

This is probably the most controversial of any of the works of literature reviewed thus far, as it seemingly sets the important values of "escaping abusive behavior" and "respect for one's family" at odds with one another. Additionally, some of the reasons that she leaves other families seem frivolous or unsound despite being played for comedy. One faction within TILES thinks this book should be banned, another thinks it should be approved, a third thinks it should be edited so that the child clearly tries other options first and these do not work, while a fourth faction attempts to set forth the "compromise" position that the work should be edited to make the parents' behavior more abusive so as to make it obvious that the child's reaction is justified!

Ultimately the work is approved without internal modifications, but has parental guidance warnings added for those considering buying the book, as well as a heavy-handed concluding note tacked on about how the girl was right to finally go to an authority figure about this and that luckily, you -- the young reader -- live in a society where authority figures are both stronger and more trusted than in the world this book comes from.

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Some Updates To The Rules Are Necessary!

Following various submissions to the TILES project, TILES would like to announce some additional clarifying notes to be promulgated to all interdimensional fiction sourcing partners:

 

  • No, a work that includes detailed sex scenes that are intended to arouse the prurient interest is not justified, even if all the sex scenes are purportedly necessary for the plot development. The opinion of TILES is that anything that is worth expressing and can be expressed via such means can also be expressed without such means; insofar as artistic expression compels one to address these themes, they should do so via more appropriate methods.

 

 

  • Works that describe horrific atrocities in intense detail are very unlikely to be approved, even if they do so with an overall positive and uplifting message that clearly condemns those atrocities; there may be exceptions on a case-by-case basis, but this is especially unlikely insofar as those atrocities involve sexual abuses.

 

 

  • Some works of horror, descriptions of war crimes, etc. may similarly be considered too psychologically disturbing to be justified even if in service of an overall positive theme.

 

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A work of interactive fiction, in which the player's character appears wandering in a starlit desert with no memory of where they came from or how they got here. After finding and exploring a nearby ruin, you eventually stumble upon a talking statue of a beautiful winged person, and although the statue is very shy at first, eventually you can coax enough information out of them to realize that they're some sort of powerful magical being who has been horribly abused by people using them for personal gain. You, too, can horribly abuse them and use them for personal gain; or you can use them for personal gain in less gratuitously awful ways that they still pretty clearly find traumatizing; or you can try to befriend them; or you can try to befriend them but in a more romantically intimate way; or you can ignore them and try to figure out a way to escape the mysterious magical ruins by yourself. The descriptions of the statue's reactions to trauma are uncompromisingly realistic; the descriptions of the statue's reactions to genuine friendship and love are heartbreakingly sweet. The story has multiple possible endings, depending on your relationship with the statue and on whether you choose to escape the mysterious ruin or not, plus the implicit non-ending of simply never deciding to take an ending option; it is only possible to remove the statue from the ruins by force or with maximum trust levels, and if you do it by force the statue crumbles to dust as soon as they cross the outer wall. (The creator is very proud of having successfully edited all the sexual content out of this version.)

TILES subjects this work to extensive testing of different routes, which makes the testers assigned to the more abusive routes feel pretty bad! Testing reveals that the work is indeed not sexual in nature, though -- TILES holds that its intent seems to be to illustrate a range of ways in which one can treat others (and demonstrate the consequences thereof). This game is approved for Towertopian readers/players, though it contains major content warnings about the potential to portray abuse and trauma. Some reviewers hold that these options should not even have been included in the game, though most are placated by the fact that pursuing such a path leads to an ultimately ashen and empty result. When finally released, this work is considered moderately interesting though somewhat heavy-handed.

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An extremely elaborate npctrade-historicaldevelopment-competitivesingleplayervictorypointrace (a term originally derogatory but now widely used among fans) board game about how technological development changes economics! Each of 2 to 6 players plays as a sequence of trading companies, all of which steadily decay in economic efficiency until the player stops playing them and starts playing a new company instead; each company is trying to establish trade routes to ship goods from place to place to sell at a profit while overcoming transport costs, but every location on the map has its own supply and demand curves for every good it produces (don't worry, there's very clear tracking tools to stop keeping track of this from getting wildly out of hand). As the game progresses, new technologies for transport, consumption and production of goods are semi-randomly selected to appear, shifting the economic calculus, sometimes wildly. Almost all technologies has prerequisites but no technology is guaranteed to appear in the game, and after a fixed number of turns the players are scored based on how much consumer surplus they generated. A historical booklet twice the length of the rulebook explains the decisions they made when deciding what technologies to include and what to choose as their prerequisites, and a how-to-play-tactically guide is also included which is the first several moves of a tournament game that changes wildly when the industrial revolution in textiles started on the third move and both sides had to adjust very, very quickly.

This game is approved by TILES; its genre is not the most popular in Towertopia but it finds a niche audience. Towertopians really appreciate the extensive historical documentation!

An also elaborate strategy-mappainter-historicalfantasy-diplomacy game based in exhaustive detail on a long Aevylmarcher series of novels about a nine-year war between six fictional city-states, all of which had rapidly shifting coalitions and complicated internal politics. Each has its own special rules for extracting resources from the country and its people and for earning victory points; all of them, though, want to seize territory in the borderland between them and defeat their enemies to advance their goals. The game has a board, dice, cards, tokens, land and sea, and complicated magic systems for each player the more villainous of which involve summoning hostile entities from other dimensions and human sacrifice. All players have multiple separate goals, some of them mutually contradictory, and each hour-and-a-half-long round of the game is a single campaigning season, starting with raising armies, hiring mercenaries and drawing up initial campaign goals, and ending with withdrawing them into winter quarters, with a diplomacy phase between campaigning seasons used to redraw coalitions for the next campaign. The rules are very short but involve lots of references to short terms for more complicated concepts explained in a very long cultural appendix, as well as a discussion of how patents for game mechanics apply in the Aevylmarch (they're very short-lived but it's customary to tithe a portion of the game's revenues to people who invented the things it uses, which these people are doing). The cards are all based on events in the novel, which means that they don't make a whole lot of sense to people who haven't read it, but do give the impression of a gorgeous, dangerous world full of tragedy and good intentions and magic and wonder and politics and villains who are really cool but should not be imitated and will eventually die well-deserved deaths.

The unavailability of the actual novels in question makes it difficult for TILES to fully evaluate this, but the game itself is great! The coolness of some of the villains gives TILES qualms, but their ultimate arcs seem quite reasonable and good. This genre of game is again not the most popular in Towertopia -- 1v1 competitive experiences are by far the most popular -- but nevertheless it is a strong example of its class, and becomes popular with those who like getting together for a long day's set of campaigns with their friends.

The Aevylmarch game mechanic patents lead to a considerable debate on the BoardGameTower forums about what the best way to reward game designers is. Some decide to try and unilaterally adopt this system without the benefit of Law behind it and with full knowledge that others may defect, which works out... fairly well, actually?

TILES notes that, insofar as the novels in question are ever actually brought to Towertopia (at present they have not been submitted for review), their case will perhaps have to be handled with extra delicacy given that the popularity of the game means that they will be more likely to make a splash than works unrelated to such. However, given the relatively quick turnover of game fandoms, it's possible that the game will be old news by the time that the novels come out, even if they are submitted for review later on.

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Some More Guideline Updates Are Needed!

 

  • TILES would like to remind those unfamiliar with Towertopian culture that "polyamory", while perhaps historically permitted in certain early stages of civilizational development, is considered ultimately contrary to human dignity and morality. It is not unacceptable to depict such relationships as existing, but they should not be portrayed as centrally uplifting or positive. (Works that depict such may in some cases be suitable for editing such that there is only one romantic relationship and others are intimate-but-chaste friendships.)

 

 

  • Similarly, sexual relationships between people of the same sex are considered debasements of both sexuality and of intimate chaste friendships between people of the same sex. Again, it is not unacceptable to depict such relationships as existing, but they should not be portrayed as centrally uplifting or positive. (Works that depict such may in some cases be suitable for editing into intimate-but-chaste relationships or having one character's gender changed.)

 

 

  • TILES wishes to note that, despite the above two clarifications, works should also not praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse unjust discrimination towards or vigilante persecution against individuals who have engaged or are engaging in these practices.

 

 

  • Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse hubris, revenge, and vendettas between families or other social groups are also condemned.

 

 

  • Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse the subversion/evasion of (or successful rebellion against) a just justice system (including cosmic/divine justice, though of course that is not possible in reality) are very strongly condemned. Works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse the subversion/evasion of (or successful rebellion against) an unjust justice system are not condemned, though one might have to be careful about certain implications.

 

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A Rules Update:

  • Material that focuses primarily on low humor (crude slapstick, scatological jokes, etc.) will be rejected, especially if directed primarily towards children. The works evaluated by TILES are in some sense "ambassadors" of their cultures to a new world.


A Guidelines Update:

  • TILES is distressed to have to note that infanticide and "eugenics" are both contrary to public health and public morals and works that praise, glorify, revel in, or endorse such will not be approved.
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It has come to the attention of some Greens that the editor-Towers are sometimes changing romances into nonromances to make them not gay? There's not a strong consensus here but many of the authors prefer that, where possible, they instead just flip the gender of whichever character has less narrative focus. (This is a strong enough consensus that they would also like it to apply to works with dead authors.) Since most Greens are bisexual a genderflip doesn't fundamentally change the underlying character of what's going on - it might make the flipped character a weird example of their new gender but it will not create a relationship-type that the personalities involved weren't actually ("actually") inclined to have. It's relatively okay to patch polyamory by platonicizing it if they must, by comparison. One author will helpfully mention that an earlier draft of a story had a minor character's love interest actually her sister instead but changed it when he noticed that his mental image of them had different ethnicities, but their appearances aren't so firmly described in the text that they can't be sisters in the Tower version.

Also they don't totally understand the "justice" criterion? What things are and are not just is the sort of thing that gets argued even intradimensionally. They will put triage tags on anything that seems like it might be in the general neighborhood but if the Towers want things evaluated for "justice" they will have to do that themselves.

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Movie series about continent- and ocean-spirits who have children with humans in order to produce more local spirits for things like rivers and mountains. The spirit children can also choose not to adopt a thing to be a spirit of and live among humans. The ensemble cast has various romances and childrearing adventures in each film. In the fourth movie, a three-quarter-spirit person is incredibly powerful and ultimately boards a spaceship to become the spirit of the Moon.

Portal fantasy about a ten year old who previously lived with not-too-close aunts and uncles and upon portalizing has no immediate prospects for getting home. After a while roughing it (in conveniently-not-too-rough circumstances but still sleeping outdoors and such) he decides to attempt to integrate into the culture and locate a new family. The concept that a formal system might be required for this is thought about in passing but the project is in practice DIY; he integrates by degrees into the foreign culture, tries lots of strategies for making friends, and eventually winds up bouncing between a family of dimensionaliens* who make notmaple products and a lady who lives in the woods and helps him improve his roughing-it skills in case this ever comes up again. If they like this one there are sequels!

A restaurant that can use abstract concepts as ingredients serves as the centerpiece of this short story collection by twelve different authors; characters go on ingredient-collecting expeditions, or finally save up enough to reserve a seat at the restaurant and then experience indecision about how to use their limited opportunity when there are so many things to try, or apply for a job in the kitchen, or occupy themselves with updating the restaurant's decor, or are food critic secret shoppers, or are waiters having romantic drama, or are an epistolary told in menu and notes-for-the-kitchen-about-substitutions format, etcetera.

Time travel is invented but can only go at least a hundred million years partly due to technical limitations and partly due to technobabble about how that's long enough for all the "noise" introduced by a traveler to "smooth out". Characters go back in time and meet dinosaurs and discover an ancient dinosaur civilization. At the end they take some dinosaurs who were helpful to them and are coming off poorly in their dinosaur political situation back to the present with them.

A series about an SRO facility for adolescents who are not yet prepared to strike out completely on their own suddenly responsible for absolutely everything, but need to definitely not be living under the same roof as their families at least for a while - except this one is an interdimensional/planetary one, with a colorful panoply of aliens and sliders and magical beings of all descriptions. Some interstitial narration is from the point of view of the residence coordinator, a harried half-human half-spirit-of-the-building who coordinates with her-mom-the-building to run things, but each book in the series focuses on an individual resident of the facility, sometimes encountering protagonists or side characters of past or future installments. The same author has also done a series of shorter works about a similarly-premised emergency vacation resort (and that series has a moderate amount of sex in it), and a bunch of one-offs on the same theme (bookstore, restaurant, karaoke joint, game shop, gymnasium/sports facility, etc.), as well as her completely unrelated debut novel in which someone trying to catalogue each of the fictional magic systems invented in all fiction ever via multidimensional analysis gains the power to wield some of those powers by pinpointing their location in the perfected multidimensional grid, but the SRO one is the one that took off. Somebody has sent along an earnest attempt at mapping the dependencies if you want to understand the references and influences but it seems perhaps an insurmountable task.

A Boy And His Dog go on a daunting adventure: running an errand to the hardware store for brackets and screws. (The boy is four years old.)

Series about shapeshifters who slide between dimensions all the time as a species trait. One of them has a sliding disability and when an uncontrollable universe-flinging crisis occurs she's lost somewhere, unable to get back to any of the dimensions where her lifemate will be looking for her. The series mostly focuses on the lifemate's episodic adventures through various universes checking to see if her lifemate is there.

Kids' book about attending magic school. There are fifteen different magic types and characters have one to fifteen of them; the antagonist (another student in the school who just super rubs the main character the wrong way at first, but then it escalates from there) has fifteen and the main character has just three but is very creative.

*Green distinguishes between "space aliens" and "sliders" but the still-at-home-where-they-came-from kind of slider doesn't have a graceful English translation.

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The story of a revolution by which one city-state transitioned from an oligarchic council of seven with near-absolute power to a republic with a broad franchise.  It began as a conspiracy of a few individuals who objected to the government's policies (including suppression of the press but also high taxes and neglect of the city walls in favor of funding the oligarchs' lavish lifestyles). The conspiracy recruits additional members from every stratum of society--members of the city militia, merchants, beggars, the sheltered but principled teenage child of one of the council members--who all contribute to the new constitution they're writing in secret.

The conspirators have a lot of long debates about the role of government in society and how the people can maintain the final say over their rulers; one of the conspirators was a real person who kept a diary and relevant entries are inserted directly into the text. There are a lot of footnotes and insets with historical context, clarifications of the author's uncertainty about what was going on, maps, explanations of the paper cryptographic and steganographic protocols the conspirators were using sufficient to use them oneself, etc.

Eventually the conspiracy encompasses ten percent of the city and has identified broad sympathetic sentiment among people they haven't brought in on it, so they triumphantly reveal themselves in the public square and call for a new government under their new constitution. There's a brief but bloody fight between the loyalist and revolutionary factions of the guard with much of the populace joining in on the latter side, in which some named characters die tragically. Eventually the revolutionaries win, establish the new government, and raise two memorials: one to the heroism of the dead revolutionaries expressing the hope that they'll build something worthy of their sacrifice, another to the dead on both sides grieving that the city's freedom was paid for in blood.

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It has come to the attention of some Greens that the editor-Towers are sometimes changing romances into nonromances to make them not gay? There's not a strong consensus here but many of the authors prefer that, where possible, they instead just flip the gender of whichever character has less narrative focus. (This is a strong enough consensus that they would also like it to apply to works with dead authors.) Since most Greens are bisexual a genderflip doesn't fundamentally change the underlying character of what's going on - it might make the flipped character a weird example of their new gender but it will not create a relationship-type that the personalities involved weren't actually ("actually") inclined to have. It's relatively okay to patch polyamory by platonicizing it if they must, by comparison. One author will helpfully mention that an earlier draft of a story had a minor character's love interest actually her sister instead but changed it when he noticed that his mental image of them had different ethnicities, but their appearances aren't so firmly described in the text that they can't be sisters in the Tower version.

Alas -- Green fiction will be re-edited as appropriate, though TILES is quite surprised that changing non-marriage romances into nonromantic close friendships would be seen as a more serious alteration than changing a character's gender!

Movie series about continent- and ocean-spirits who have children with humans in order to produce more local spirits for things like rivers and mountains. The spirit children can also choose not to adopt a thing to be a spirit of and live among humans. The ensemble cast has various romances and childrearing adventures in each film. In the fourth movie, a three-quarter-spirit person is incredibly powerful and ulitimately boards a spaceship to become the spirit of the Moon.

TILES looks a bit askance at this one for showing romance between humans and nonhumans, but ultimately approves it on the grounds that it is clearly fantasy and continent- and ocean-spirits don't exist, plus they are clearly sapient... if continent- and ocean-spirits are found to exist the metaphysicians are going to have to do some thinking about these sorts of situations but for now the work is approved!

Portal fantasy about a ten year old who previously lived with not-too-close aunts and uncles and upon portalizing has no immediate prospects for getting home. After a while roughing it (in conveniently-not-too-rough circumstances but still sleeping outdoors and such) he decides to attempt to integrate into the culture and locate a new family. The concept that a formal system might be required for this is thought about in passing but the project is in practice DIY; he integrates by degrees into the foreign culture, tries lots of strategies for making friends, and eventually winds up bouncing between a family of dimensionaliens* who make notmaple products and a lady who lives in the woods and helps him improve his roughing-it skills in case this ever comes up again. If they like this one there are sequels!

*Green distinguishes between "space aliens" and "sliders" but the still-at-home-where-they-came-from kind of slider doesn't have a graceful English translation.

TILES approves this one with gusto -- the metaphysicians consider stories like this admirable reflections of the universality of the natural law. Sequels are welcome!

A restaurant that can use abstract concepts as ingredients serves as the centerpiece of this short story collection by twelve different authors; characters go on ingredient-collecting expeditions, or finally save up enough to reserve a seat at the restaurant and then experience indecision about how to use their limited opportunity when there are so many things to try, or apply for a job in the kitchen, or occupy themselves with updating the restaurant's decor, or are food critic secret shoppers, or are waiters having romantic drama, or are an epistolary told in menu and notes-for-the-kitchen-about-substitutions format, etcetera.

This story collection is approved and considered charming! Towertopians are in fact rather fond of short stories, more so than some of the more "traditional" formats. More short story collections would be welcome!

Time travel is invented but can only go at least a hundred million years partly due to technical limitations and partly due to technobabble about how that's long enough for all the "noise" introduced by a traveler to "smooth out". Characters go back in time and meet dinosaurs and discover an ancient dinosaur civilization. At the end they take some dinosaurs who were helpful to them and are coming off poorly in their dinosaur political situation back to the present with them.

TILES uncontroversially approves this one, but confers with archeologists and metaphysicians before deciding to add a historical note emphasizing that dinosaurs were not, in their best estimations, ever sapient or capable of building an advanced civilization of any kind.

A series about an SRO facility for adolescents who are not yet prepared to strike out completely on their own suddenly responsible for absolutely everything, but need to definitely not be living under the same roof as their families at least for a while - except this one is an interdimensional/planetary one, with a colorful panoply of aliens and sliders and magical beings of all descriptions. Some interstitial narration is from the point of view of the residence coordinator, a harried half-human half-spirit-of-the-building who coordinates with her-mom-the-building to run things, but each book in the series focuses on an individual resident of the facility, sometimes encountering protagonists or side characters of past or future installments. The same author has also done a series of shorter works about a similarly-premised emergency vacation resort (and that series has a moderate amount of sex in it), and a bunch of one-offs on the same theme (bookstore, restaurant, karaoke joint, game shop, gymnasium/sports facility, etc.), as well as her completely unrelated debut novel in which someone trying to catalogue each of the fictional magic systems invented in all fiction ever via multidimensional analysis gains the power to wield some of those powers by pinpointing their location in the perfected multidimensional grid, but the SRO one is the one that took off. Somebody has sent along an earnest attempt at mapping the dependencies if you want to understand the references and influences but it seems perhaps an insurmountable task.

A few TILES panelists attempt to understand the dependency map but it seems extremely complicated and likely out of scope. This is ultimately approved but it's not really the kind of thing that Towertopians are all that into. Ironically, the "emergency vacation resort" series would probably be more appealing to Towertopians than the SRO version of this concept if not for the sexual elements -- Towertopians are big on stories of weird emergencies!

A Boy And His Dog go on a daunting adventure: running an errand to the hardware store for brackets and screws. (The boy is four years old.)

TILES approves this and considers it a nice description of an early milestone in child development -- running independent errands!

Series about shapeshifters who slide between dimensions all the time as a species trait. One of them has a sliding disability and when an uncontrollable universe-flinging crisis occurs she's lost somewhere, unable to get back to any of the dimensions where her lifemate will be looking for her. The series mostly focuses on the lifemate's episodic adventures through various universes checking to see if her lifemate is there.

TILES approves this with content warnings about how the use of shapeshifting might entail major deception if it became available in reality, and that the ethics of such methods would be subject to substantial review.

Kids' book about attending magic school. There are fifteen different magic types and characters have one to fifteen of them; the antagonist (another student in the school who just super rubs the main character the wrong way at first, but then it escalates from there) has fifteen and the main character has just three but is very creative.

This sort of thing is very appealing to Towertopians and is approved with the standard "book for kids about magic" warnings about how claims of magic are false and/or evil and no one should attempt to perform magic or explore occult practices in real life, but that a fictionalized fantasy version of such nevertheless presents interesting storytelling options.

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The story of a revolution by which one city-state transitioned from an oligarchic council of seven with near-absolute power to a republic with a broad franchise.  It began as a conspiracy of a few individuals who objected to the government's policies (including suppression of the press but also high taxes and neglect of the city walls in favor of funding the oligarchs' lavish lifestyles). The conspiracy recruits additional members from every stratum of society--members of the city militia, merchants, beggars, the sheltered but principled teenage child of one of the council members--who all contribute to the new constitution they're writing in secret.

The conspirators have a lot of long debates about the role of government in society and how the people can maintain the final say over their rulers; one of the conspirators was a real person who kept a diary and relevant entries are inserted directly into the text. There are a lot of footnotes and insets with historical context, clarifications of the author's uncertainty about what was going on, maps, explanations of the paper cryptographic and steganographic protocols the conspirators were using sufficient to use them oneself, etc.

Eventually the conspiracy encompasses ten percent of the city and has identified broad sympathetic sentiment among people they haven't brought in on it, so they triumphantly reveal themselves in the public square and call for a new government under their new constitution. There's a brief but bloody fight between the loyalist and revolutionary factions of the guard with much of the populace joining in on the latter side, in which some named characters die tragically. Eventually the revolutionaries win, establish the new government, and raise two memorials: one to the heroism of the dead revolutionaries expressing the hope that they'll build something worthy of their sacrifice, another to the dead on both sides grieving that the city's freedom was paid for in blood.

This story leads to widespread debate among TILES panelists as to whether it should be permitted or not. On the one hand, political revolutions are often disasters and can be gravely damaging to Law, and stories that encourage such could perhaps be considered offenses against public morality. On the other hand, the revolution described seems to have perhaps in fact been just and to have led to a good outcome, and tyrannical rule is also gravely damaging to Law.

Various points that are brought up in the dispute include:

 

  • Discussion as to whether the original ruling council was sufficiently unjust to justify such drastic measures

 

 

  • Whether the work would be improved by making the council more unjust so as to make it clearer that such was legitimate (this is popular with the same faction that wanted to make the parents worse in the Teachingsphere story from earlier about a child running away from home!)

 

 

  • Whether the positive and hopeful ending is tempered enough by tragedy to make it clear that such things are very risky to implement (the aforementioned faction would maybe like it to be more bittersweet!)

 

 

  • Moral and political philosophers and metaphysicians are consulted as to the proper way to address these issues.

 

Disputes continue for some time, but ultimately the work is approved for publication without modifications, though it is ultimately published with major content warnings and a cautionary introduction that plays up the injustice of the council and the bittersweet cost of the war and invites readers to consider both the grave importance and the cost of such deeds, even when carried out for a good cause.

One of the TILES panelists writes a "rebuttal story" with a similar plot structure and setting where the rulers are not unjust and the revolutionary protagonists  are a combination of power-hungry, self-deceived, and tragically misled; in this version of the story far fewer people are swayed to support the revolutionary faction, but even with less public support the more aggressive rebel leaders decide to attack anyway in the hopes that they will be able to present their deeds to the population a fait accompli and that the public will fall in behind them once they see the weakness of the ruling authority. Their plan almost works but at the critical juncture the rebellion is defeated at immense cost on both sides, almost all the main characters die, and the book ends with the most sympathetic and tragically misled of the revolutionary leaders captured and exiled from the still-burning city to live as a hermit and do penance for her deeds.

Both the original novel and the "rebuttal story" (which comes out only weeks later) prove popular with Towertopians; the panelist who wrote the rebuttal is removed from the panel after its publication, as it is considered to have been a minor abuse of authority for her to use her advance knowledge to get a "head start" on writing a reply before the original story had actually been published to the broader public. Perceptive readers note certain similarities between the author and the sympathetic-but-tragically-misled revolutionaries and ask her whether the rebellion is meant to be a metaphor for her experiences with TILES; she prudently decides not to comment further on that matter, at least in public.

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The author(A) of the original novel is so happy aliens wrote fanfic of A's work! Arguably it's more like fanfic of the original historical events the work was set in but that's still neat!

It's excitingly different in tone and structure from a lot of Firstplanet's alternatehistory fic; local works tend to change only one or two things at a time or go full secondary-world if they want to show different characters in the same situation. It's also really grim, wow, usually people who want historical grimness just read the abundance of grim nonfiction and save fiction for exploring ways things could have gone better.

A popular historyblogger comments on the similarities and differences between the new plotline and various real historical events from other city-states whose transitions to republics were messier. A popular literary critic writes an analysis of the concepts of hermithood as a social and personal practice on both planets.  (Anomalan hermits were usually not exiles but rather seeking a personal connection to the land; modernly those people tend to go into geology and ecology fieldwork.)

The rebuttal doesn't end up as a best-seller, but gains a small fandom among people who like both the period in question and tragedies.

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