Jul 30, 2012

Origins

Sometime in August I’ll be moving out of state, and preparation for this (and a new job) has sucked up most of my free time for the past two months. There’s been a lot of cleaning, a yard sale, and some minor home repairs – and on top of that it’s difficult to reference a library when it’s all packed up in boxes!

Sorting through all of my books has been fun . . . well occasionally fun and occasionally quite sad as I can’t take them all with me. Many of my college and grad school texts are remembered fondly, but I have to admit my interests have moved elsewhere. What has been enjoyable is rediscovering a few that I haven’t really thought of in years, and one in particular reminded me of my burgeoning interest in world building as a kid.

I’ve often considered the novels of Robert L. Forward, and Wayne Barlowe’s Expedition, as the first books to pique my interest in world building. Forward’s novels were not only wonderful reads, but he’d include appendices at the end which explained the science and sometimes the society in more depth. I wanted to write novels like Forward and do the same thing . . . and I still do. Expedition was an incredible read, and it was my introduction to Barlowe’s work, which I’ve followed ever since. More recently I’ve quite enjoyed how much my son enjoys the sci-fi documentary Alien Planet which was based on his work.

However as I packed up my library I came across another book which pre-dates both of these, The Worlds of the Federation by Shane Johnson. It’s a collection of Star Trek races, and included with each is a small map of their home world and a diagram of their solar system. I picked it up in the Boston Museum of Science when a traveling STTNG exhibit went through, and the minute I saw those maps and diagrams I wanted it. It’s not something I’ve thought of for years, but it was nice remembering it again.

My schedule through August will continue to be hectic, and then I’ll be starting a new job which will no doubt keep me very busy. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to more frequent updates, but I don’t plan on letting this blog slide as much as it did late last year.

Jun 5, 2012

Hakuuva Communication (and Senses)

While Hakuuva posses a sense of hearing or sorts, they can’t vocalize, so clearly their manner of communicating is quite different than our own. But before I define a manner of communicating I should define their senses instead since that determines what options they have available.

Senses

Humans tend to do most of their sensing with their head and with their hands. Hakuuva don’t technically have either, rather their primary sensing areas are the large antennae at their rear, and the grasping tentacles at their front. Their antennae are a cluster of sensory organs, much like our heads, and their tentacles are obviously an analogue to our own manipulatory devices.

Hakuuva antenna focus on smell and sensing vibrations. The latter serves as a sort of hearing, but functions more like a lateral line system – letting the Hakuuva sense movement and pressure changes around them. This is combined with a weak electroreception sense and organs that act like heat pits. The combination of smell, vibration, electric, and heat gives them a very accurate understanding of their surroundings.

At their front, around their mouths, are a cluster of tentacles. These tentacles actually share many of the same senses (and sense organs) as their antennae, but with the emphasis switched. They posses strong electroreceptors and tactile senses, backed up with simple olfactory senses.

Also of note are the Hakuuva’s eyes. These run along their outer rim and their visual range is mostly in the infrared. They are also particularly sensitive to movement. These eyes are distinct from their heat pits, although they cover much of the same information.

May 27, 2012

Some basic elements of Hakuuva religion and philosophy

This entry covers three common elements that exist in most Hakuuva religions: ancestor and hero worship; a spiritual field all Hakuuva exist within; and the divide between Hakuuva and non-Hakuuva. Hakuuva religion isn’t monolithic, these are simply commonly shared elements among a variety of different religions, comparable to the common presence of powerful deities or spirits in human religion. There is considerably variety among different Hakuuva faiths, but it’s not something I intend to get involved with in the foreseeable future. However these elements are an important part of their society as a whole, which is why I’m bringing them up.

This is a fairly long entry, and its followed by an overview of the three primary Hakuuva religions.

May 20, 2012

Technological Classifications of Civilizations

The interstellar community has a basic ranking system for technologically primitive civilizations. “Technologically primitive,” in this context, refers to any species that does not meet the requirements for membership, and this system tracks certain milestones towards that achievement.

This system is not intended to rank intelligence or other abilities but it is easy to be treated as such. There have been some efforts to scrap this (and possibly the rules of conduct) and replace them with a system of cultural and intellectual milestones, but thus far no clear-cut system has gained much support. Due to their unorthodox entrance into the interstellar community the Snout are one of the biggest forces behind this change.

Depending on their technological ranking a planet may be afforded territorial rights. As they progress there are also certain travel limitations for members of the interstellar community to prevent accidental contact.

May 17, 2012

Developing the Interstellar Community

One of my earlier projects had a prototype of sorts for the interstellar community. This past organization actually had little in common with the current one, but both are part of the same thought process.

The previous organization was a union of two separate multi-species organizations that had been at war. One strived to build a single society while the other functioned more like the UN, with species actively working together while maintaining their sovereignty. This was a far more dynamic set up and right off the bat it gave me several interesting political hooks. Chief among them was the status of humanity and two other species that had entered the Union after its creation. They were political wildcards and the old factions were trying to woo them while pretending that they were beyond the past division. I dropped this for a few reasons: a set up like this seemed overdone, smelt too strongly of a post-Cold War analogue, and the dichotomy between the past organizations was too stark and felt artificial. I liked the idea of humanity as a political wild card, but here it seemed to give us too much centrality; as I’ve said previously I want to avoid the impression that humanity is the most important, or most prevalent, or some sort of special lynchpin.

The current interstellar community was largely developed by me wondering was sort of organization would actually be feasible. This isn’t Earth where everyone has neighbors and cultural boundaries are vague when they can be defined at all. In space there’s a lot of room between these space-faring civilizations, and it’s much easier to draw distinct lines between them.

I’ll admit the final product is a bit too hands-off for me. The funny thing is I’m a big supporter of supra-national organizations, and while sovereignty has its purpose it also causes a lot of problems. Actually, if you’ll excuse me going off on a tangent this touches on some thoughts I’ve had recently about unintended “big ideas.”

May 7, 2012

Planets in the Hex Primary Biology

The Hex primary biology is quite small, with only seven planets. There is only a single sapient Hex species, although a Vrica Event “cousin” was one of the Antecedents involved with the technological Advances several thousand years ago – a point of pride for the extant Hex.

Sapient Species

Hakuuva (HEH-KOO-va) – Name used to describe the “Hex.” The Hakuuva were one of the four founders of the interstellar community.

Dusanu (DOO-SAAN-oo) – Name used for the Antecedent Hex active 20-10k years ago.

Gombado (GOM-BAA-doe) – A third Vrica Event cousin. The technological level of the Gombado is roughly Paleolithic and the Hakuuva view them as future stewards of the Hex legacy.

Tenuwin (TEN-oo-win) – A hypothetical Hex Antecedent believed by most Hakuuva to have been involved with the Vrica Event 1.7 million years ago. There is scant evidence to support this.

Structure of the Vanguard

The Vanguard protects Kaizla space and administers all of the Kaizla colonies. While most colonists are not members of the Vanguard, most space-faring Kaizla belong to this organization.

At first glance the Vanguard may appear monolithic, but in actuality it is a multi-national force divided into many separate Orders that all work together (with varying degrees of cooperation). Different Orders have different ways of doing things and usually have different cultural or national backgrounds. As a multi-national organization different Orders have different languages, although a lingual franca exists even if some Orders only use it for communicating with other groups.

Every Order specializes in a certain geographic area. Most are either concerned with planets, focusing on exploration and colonization, or space itself, with a focus on protecting Kaizla territory and interacting with other members of the interstellar community. A few Orders focus on traveling beyond Kaizla territory, and a handful are tasked with intelligence gathering and policing the Vanguard itself. While an Order may be focused on a single planet or segment of space they do not specialize in a specific activity such as exploration, protection, research, diplomacy, or trade.

May 6, 2012

Working on Alien Vocabulary

I try not to use too many placeholder names in this blog. Sometimes they’re necessary to get the ball rolling, but left too long and such names tend to stick. Recently I’ve done some work on the Hex, who finally have a proper name of their own, although “Hex” has been accepted as the name of the primary biology.

In addition to my usual dislike of naming things the Hex posed an additional problem: they don’t have an auditory language; I actually haven’t nailed down how they communicate, but I suspect it will be centered around an olfactory or electrical sense. For most place names and objects I’ll probably use literal “translations,” and instead of personal names Hex will go by titles or work-related descriptions. However I didn’t like either of these options for naming their species or planets.

So if they don’t have a spoken language where do these words come from?

I decided the terminology used by Humans for the Hex and their planets was adopted from the Kaizla, which meant I needed to come up with some Kaizla words before I could come up with “Hex” words. So before I started naming the Hex and their planets I first defined the general organization of the Vanguard and came up with some Kaizla terms for these groups. (Further complicating the matter, I don’t want the Kaizla to have only one language, but I decided a lingua franca for the organization was reasonable.)

I have both the Vanguard and Hex entries written up but they aren’t yet formatted. I’ll hopefully get them posted tomorrow.