A year to the day, remembering Salomé

Posted by on Apr 29, 2018 in Lore

A year ago today one of the characters I created in my book Elite: Reclamation was ‘killed’. Kahina Tijani Loren, or Salomé, the erstwhile Senator of the Prism system, was assassinated when trying to reach the Tionisla system. Either a spoilt brat, an explorer, a war criminal, a heroine, a terrorist, a freedom fighter or a mad woman with a fondness for oratory – depending on your outlook – her story came to an end on the 29th April, 3303 (2017). She aimed to expose the actions of and incite a revolt against shadowy powers that she claimed were manipulating humanity. At least, that was the narrative. I’m grateful for those who have catalogued her life and put it all together on the Elite Dangerous Wiki for folks to review. Authors have always killed favoured characters off, either as part of the plot, or even vindictively, citing the “kill your darlings” advice (sometimes attributed to G.K. Chesterton). This can generate shock, upset and outrage in the reader. It depends very much on what the author intended. Others might ask why the ‘death’ of a fictional character matters anyway. But Salomé’s death was different. It wasn’t the author who killed her, but a player of the game the novel was based upon during an in-game event. That in-game event, and the notoriety that surrounds it, remains a moment of note in the history of the Elite Dangerous game. Some say it was a triumph, that it showed the possibilities of community generated content, player group interaction and involvement. Others consider it a disaster, a foregone conclusion, a confused mess, an event that should have never taken place, a publicity stunt or shameless self-promotion. Many will subscribe to aspects of both views. I’m grateful to Frontier Developments for covering the event on their livestream, newsletter and the in-game aspects. Also to Obsidian Ant, who interviewed me beforehand, the streamers who attempted to cover the event live, to Lave Radio, who covered the aftermath of the event, those who worked so hard with me on the event and those who took part. There are many many articles online about it. This one from Polygon is by far the most accurate, as Charlie Hall was the only journalist who had the courtesy to check facts with me. Other online material ranges from the poorly researched or one-sided, through to the credulity straining (but of course, oh so compelling!) conspiracy theories. What you consider to be the ‘truth’ of the matter is entirely up to you. What actually surprises me is how many people are still talking about it, even after all this time – but here is my reflection on it, a year to the day. First, I’ll try to explain what I intended. The original objective, looking at it now, seems quite pedestrian. All I really wanted was for players to determine the...

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The Map of Esurio

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Lore

  This is one of a series of guides to the Shadeward Universe. You can read the others here. With a relative lack of technology available to the inhabitants of Esurio, the means of navigating long distances across the planet has been lost to most. There are no compasses or GPS systems available. However it is still possible to determine your location to a high degree of accuracy. The map that Meru finds in the first book is based upon the design below and gives clues as to how it operates. With this knowledge it is possible to navigate successfully. Latitude Whilst Esurio does have a rotational pole like the Earth, it is not useful as the basis of navigation as the rotational period matches the orbital period (tidally locked). All measurements are taken from the ‘substellar pole’, (the point on Esurio where the star is directly overhead). Lines of longitude spread out in circles from this point measured in traditional degrees. Measuring your latitude is thus done in the same fashion as it is on Earth, calculating the angle of the star above the horizon. However, it is reversed numerically. Overhead = 0, On the horizon is 90. Longitude As it was on Earth prior to the invention of clocks, longitude is much more problematic to determine – most cultures are unable to do it. There are no clocks on Esurio, and whilst the sand-timers used to regulate activity can measure elapsed time, this method is not accurate enough. Fortunately Esurio benefits from an additional phenomena that Earth does not, the regular transit of a large planet in an interior orbit. Mayura is a gas-giant (a hot jupiter) in an orbit closer to Lacaille 9352 than Esurio. From the perspective of Esurio, it cross the face of the star on a regular (roughly monthly in Earth terms) basis. This ‘Pass’ is the basis of all time-keeping on Esurio. As Esurio orbits in the same plan as Mayura, it possible to calculate longitude based on the observed angle of the transit. if the transit is ‘flat’ you are observing from the ‘centre’ line of the planet, the meridian. If the transit is measured at an angle, you are away from that centre line by the observed amount. Habitability With the star constantly over the substellar pole, the areas immediately below that point receive immense amounts of infra-red energy (heat). As latitude increases, the star is lower in the sky until is lost from view. With the star motionless in the sky some areas are too hot and others too cold, with a relatively narrow temperate area between them where conditions are suitable for life. You’ll note on the map above that most cities are between 50 and 70 degrees of latitude. Outside of this, Nireus (Lat 74) is particularly cold (on the borders of the Frozen Wastes) and Airea (Lat 43) is extremely...

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Introduction to the Shadeward Saga

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Lore

  This is one of a series of guides to the Shadeward Universe. You can read the others here. Introduction. The Shadeward Saga is a four part SF series cataloging events upon the planet Esurio. The Planet was colonised by refugees from Earth at some point in the distant past. Unfortunately, most of the records of the colonisation have not survived to the present time. The following history has been put together from incomplete records. Red Dwarf Colonisation Target The Lacaille system, officially ‘Lacaille 9352, Red Dwarf Class M2V’ in the stellar catalogue, was not originally a primary colonisation target. Red dwarf stars were considered generally poor candidates and the system was relegated to the lower end of the league table. The only reason it was considered at all was that, at a distance of just over ten light years from Earth, it was within range of ships powered by the new atomic pulse engines, a factor that eventually became critical. It had been known for some time that there were several planets in the system. Esurio, along with four unremarkable gas giants and a series of rocky dwarf-worlds, had already been catalogued and studied in some detail by Sol based orbiting telescopes and, more recently, by high speed atomic space-probes. The returning data was greeted with initial enthusiasm. Esurio lay just within the outer boundary of Lacaille’s ‘goldilocks zone’, close enough to support liquid water and far enough out to prevent it evaporating away. It maintained a thin oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere with sufficient greenhouse gases to raise the ambient temperature above freezing. Around a more familiar star the planet would have been considered the ideal target, a close parallel of the home-world. A red dwarf would naturally mean that metals would be in short supply, but that could be countered by technology. It might support a simple agrarian culture. Difficulties in establishing a Colony Lacaille’s peculiar properties made the colonisation of Esurio problematic for many reasons. The star was extremely faint and cool, with the planet in an alarmingly close orbit. Conditions on the surface ranged from the extreme to the astonishing. Tidally locked to its parent star, one side of the planet always faced the glow of ruddy sunlight; the other was shrouded in eternal night. An everlasting hurricane raged on the sub-stellar pole, fed by ferocious evaporation from the surface due to the intense heat. At the terminator, kilometre high cliffs of eternal ice and glaciers that dwarfed anything ever seen before marked the transition onto the dark side. Images showed a temperate zone between the two extremes. High wind speeds due to enormous convection between the hot and cold sides were noted in a number of places, coerced by significant mountain ranges. The atmospheric pressure was too low to support humans unassisted. Either some significant terraforming would need to be undertaken or genetic modifications would need to be...

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