The Channelers of Tzjetshu 2

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Zjetshu 2 is a small, dense, rapidly rotating, rocky world with a thick atmosphere and powerful magnetic field. In combination, these features combine into the two major forces on the tectonically quiet sphere: its constant and terrifying coriolis storms and its dense, radioreflective ionosphere.

Most life forms on Zjetshu 2 live a subterranean existence. They have evolved in the thin band of soil that is neither too far from the warmth of the sun nor too close to the blasting winds, absorbing water and nutrients brought by underground rivers before they can dissipate into the atmosphere. Some life forms are more mobile than others, and most can at least move themselves to different strata of soil as it accrues and scatters with the wind.

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Etshuzje's proof of concept

Proof of Concept

This story is funded by Patreon patrons like you! Thank you!

The Rectifier Dismissal of Belief sparkled in the blackness like a single raindrop that had escaped the blue sky that curved, convex, above Etshuzju’s head. With her right hand, she clung to a handhold on the outside of the cylindrical Messenger Metastatic Self-Importance, waiting for the moment to leap. In her left, she held a gyroscopic sphere the size of her fist. If she made the 32000 meters with no propellant, unable to make any course correction, she would find herself with an Academic record. Continue reading


The Climbers of Oehun

In this first, Patreon-funded issue of xenoglyph, we look through the eyes of the Academic Contactor Time Enough for the Meaning to Change as is presents its preliminary findings on the Climber people of the planet Oehun. We look at their physiology (especially their tongues), their families, we glimpse their self-motivated philosophical growth, we pick at some mysteries of their existence, and we look back at their tongues.

(Don’t forget to hover over the footnoted words!)

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It’s Hard to Find Someone

xenoglyph on Patreon

This week, I’m starting my Patreon campaign to help me get back to the fun stuff on this blog. The alien lifeforms, the languages, and the critical analysis of our favorite media and the fore-ripples of the bow shock of the future.

I’m adding a goodie, though: prose science fiction. To inaugurate the campaign, I include here a story of mine, called It’s Hard to Find Someone. It takes place on a planet called Ejtḧangh in the major cultural center of Tetej where, sadly, the people are no more enlightened than we are when it comes to the vagaries of sex and relationships.

A note on pronunciation: The language of Tetej and its surrounding culture uses a lot of aspiration, so  one would pronounce “Ejtḧangh” a bit like “Edge to hang uh”. The hs are both pronounced in the back of the throat, as in Arabic. Th is therefore not a digraph, but two separate sounds. To avoid confusion, I have used a diaresis (¨) to separate the letters as a reminder to native readers of English.

It’s Hard to Find Someone

Hjatḧa woke up in the late morning and stretched before opening her eyes. The sun, trailing a string of the smaller moons, poured light through the window. It was a friendly but sudden awakening as the sun rose through the feathertree outside the window. Beside her lay Kwatḧash, the impregnator she’d met last night. He was beautiful and sleek, asleep there on her pillow, his chest rising and falling, snoring unselfconsciously. Hjatḧa was still struck by his pretty face, lit now by the dappled light as it was last night by the flickering light of the incense candles, his eyes flashing as he composed little poems about the rhyme in their names. As the night went on, they both found looser tongues under the influence of incense, and the poetry turned more direct. Kwatḧash promised to rhyme all night, and he did. Continue reading

Mobile Frame Zero: Alpha Bandit 0.3


Well, I hope we can all forgive and forget the pacing monstrosity that was 0.2!

In 0.3, you will find:

  • A much smaller number of tactical assets on the table at once. That should reduce the time of play down to more :RA-like duration.
  • Boarding rules that fit more tightly with the general techniques of the game and make boarding less of a sure thing.
  • Rules for high maneuverability are moved to small (<4 system) ships, rather than double green. Double green might still be worthwhile, though.

The rule about A-range weapons damaging boarding companies makes sense, but might wind up being too costly. This is a playtest problem to solve, though; it has to do with how it moves around player motivations.

Download Mobile Frame Zero Alpha Bandit playtest 0.3

The Rising Wave


I often talk about the future, thanks to Alvin Toffler, as a shockwave. I have to figure out how to face that wave every day. If I’m too far out in front of it, the best I can hope for is to be posthumously recognized as a person ahead of their time. Alan Turing was such a man, tortured to suicide by the government and country that he saved, for the homosexual proclivities that his country’s enemies had vowed to eradicate. And here I am, typing in a café on a Turing Machine the size of a single information theory paper written by Turing. Even worse, I don’t have the intelligence, talent, or clarity of thought that Turing had. So the best I can hope for is to be a third-rate Manfred Macx. And he’s not even real.

Another danger is to try to live on the crest of the wave. But it’s crowded with the cowardly investors of Wall Street, who recognize when risk has been carefully polished out of a system by the hard work of creators and laborers, then extract its benefits at minimal cost. These are also consumers, who choose from available, low-cost products and services. They benefit from shaken-out designs, mass production, and the low costs associated with both. The particular goods eventually fail (through wear or obsolescence), and they discard them for new ones. They don’t feel the need to understand the materials of their lives; they’ve been driven into a panic by the value-extractors taking all the space at the top of the wave, and so don’t have the time to self educate. Eventually, though, propelled up faster than they can move forward, they fall into the churn behind the shockwave with a collective cry of “I don’t understand Dubstep!“.

But the rising wave. Ahh, the rising wave. That’s the slope lift that carries gulls in that skating, sideways motion at the shore and, facing them, is the curl ridden by surfers.*

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Pay What You Want for Shock:!

Until I get tired of doing it this way, Shock:Social Science Fiction, the literary SF RPG, is Pay What You Want Dollars for the PDF! The average payment is about $13, but you can give me any amount you want!

I’ve seen players use Shock: to make stories in the style of Kurt Vonnegut, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, C.J.Cherryh, and Octavia Butler. It works with your group’s sense of humor for playing tragedies, comedies, and adventures, so long as they appreciate the irony that defines science fiction.

I do ask that you sincerely pay what you feel you can afford. Game publishing is my living and, while I’m very happy about every download, I can only make a living at it if you help.

Enjoy it, and may you never experience the vast and terrible worlds you create!