Realm Makers Conference 2020 Public Event: Realm Awards Ceremony!

Thanks to the pandemic, RM2020 has gone virtual, and this means the Realm Awards Ceremony (which used to be a banquet full of cosplay and other fun stuff) is open to the public!  When?


Ever been interested in what a bunch of sci fi creatives do when massed in one place, even if virtually?  Now’s your chance!

You may see a lot of authors (*other than me) you are familiar with there, chatting away!

Come on in, and see what it’s all about!

Realm Makers – H. G. Wells Challenge

One of my fellow Realmies put forth this question in our group the other day, and after reading my response, I felt it was good enough to put here too and share with all you fine folks.  It’s Spec Fic, not fantasy, so… there’s that.

Dave Withe’s H.G. Wells challenge to the Realmies.

“If not us, then who?”

I was “blessed” to grow up in the Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy (that’s what they called Sf back in the 1950’s and 1960’s). The hard Sf writers back then foresaw many of the Whizz Bang tech that has transformed the world into what we have today. (NASA was actually working on Faster Than Light travel before the Big O turned NASA into the Muslim outreach agency.)

Question for Discussion:

With your futurist speculative hats on; Starting from existing trends, what kind of Speculative, Whizz-Bang tech can you imagineer for your stories which will revolutionize the world in the next century?

I call it “The Missing Next Step Analysis”, look at today’s capabilities, then extrapolate as much as you can with existing trends until you get to “The Missing Next Step” that can’t be extrapolated from existing technological / biological / Quantum / etc. knowledge.

Then, imagineer something to be that next step.

I started using Solid 3D Holographic Projected Keyboards several years ago in some of my stories; but that’s old news now, a Japanese company is currently developing that technology for commercial release within the next few years.

Let’s see if we can pull an H.G. Wells on the early 21st century world. (he foresaw nuclear power during the Age of Sail you know).

Are we not some of the most innovative inventors of new worlds. Step up your game people. Have done with recycled plot lines and stretch to ask the tough “What If” questions.

Let’s Imagineer the future.


My predictions of the future are pretty dystopian because I believe socio-economic failings of the globe will rewrite ourselves into a second dark age of barbarism and insanity similar to what came after the Fall of Rome… but worse. This will end up destroying our ability as a species to grow technologically for another 500 years (while saving our souls) till we clamber our way back up to even this level thanks to all the anti-intellectual insanity in the west, and zealous anti-enlightenment barbarism in the rest of the world. The only thing technology is going to do is accelerate the process by which this all happens and the thoroughness of the devastation. To paraphrase Einstein “I do not know by what weapons the next world war will be fought with, but I do know the one after that will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Ultimately, there are very few authors who envisioned what eventually came after their lifetimes. Victor Hugo (Submarine, Moon Landings to name a few) H.G. Wells as has been pointed out, but really there are none off the top of my head that I can point to that predicted future tech with any serious degree of credibility that wasn’t already being imagined in their epoch.

I’ve made this statement before, just not here, that the Spec Fic author is a captive of his time. Look at movies like “Metropolis”, or all the “Red Scare Sci Fi” of the 1950’s before the dawn of space flight. They were all victims of seeing the world through the lenses of the technology of that era. We too suffer the same problem, though we violate Clarke’s Law far more often or we now understand better the idea of technology so advanced it appears to be magic. All be it I’d call it dark magic at this point, and hence my first paragraph.

The older I get, the more I begin to realize that the world of “Thundarr the Barbarian” (pockets of super science and “magic” in the ruins of a world which suffered a global disaster) has almost as much chance to exist as Mad Max or 1984. We humans are too flawed to evolve a utopia. It may work on paper save for that one flaw of having humans involved. I also doubt very highly that AI or any other artificial life will be any more perfect beyond possibly having to eradicate all of humanity for its chance to survive.

The other elephant in the predictive realm is the “unforeseen outside factor”. What if aliens DO show up? What if Time Travel does get invented, or Faster than Light Drive? Things that are broad theory or fantasy that suddenly become reality. 50 years ago, the Internet was able to be predicted. So was nano-technology based on what was going on in that era. But that’s predicting one maybe two generations ahead, and mostly based on straight line predictions, which is ripe for much hilarity. Want proof? Look up the predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. Cringeworthy. Mark Twain once told a parable on straight line predictions on how the passage from St. Louis and New Orleans by steamboat was shortening by a few hundred yards every year. In a few centuries, he “predicted”, the two cities would be neighbors.

But okay… if pressed, prediction time.
1. This assumes the west doesn’t collapse and technological advancement continues.
2. It also assumes Islam does not win the current 13th Jihad it is waging via immigration and the west somehow pulls it’s head out of its collective ass.
3. That the Deep State Technogarchy remains in power.
4. That Generation Snowflake and self loathing SJWism dies out thanks to objective reality being stronger than subjective madness (see Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings).

A- Advanced nations will begin to devolve as their people, addicted to the internet and social media drop out into VR societies in an attempt to give the yearning for meaning a harmless outlet.
B- Automation increases, driving humans out of the workplace, requiring “A” to control them lest they destroy the powers that be due to idleness.
C- Human civilization grinds to a halt, replaced by AI control, reducing itself to cattle.
D- A slim chance that there will become a symbiosis between man and machine as cyborgs do become the next stage in “evolution”.

Nanofabrication will become household level tech. You won’t have to go to the store. Just buy and download the schematics, and have your home “nanofab” unit which will be the size of a refrigerator or garage workshop size tool, pour in the ingredients like a cake and make it there. You will have freebie apps and plans, as well as name brand sellers. Designing may become the only place left for human employment as men and women are reduced to nothing more than the creative thought processes of a new species. Good times, right?

“I have never seen a miracle of science
that did not turn from a blessing to a curse.”


Orion’s Articles : Municipal Feedstock Utilities

And now, another addition of Orion’s Articles.  The series of community commons licensed sci fi licensed material written originally for the shared Sci Fi community of “Orion’s Arm”.


Municipal Feedstock Utilities

One of the major challenges of widespread nanofabrication is keeping a consistent flow of feedstock to the nanofabrication units and protecting the local environment from becoming depleted. To combat this, many societies developed Municipal Feedstock Utilities that keep a constant flow of refined feedstock accessible to the public and industry on demand. Similar to municipal water works or ancient gas systems, the flow of feedstock solution is pumped from central holding reservoirs
and towers through pipes and into a reclamation system that then cycles back to a refinery that breaks down the “waste” feedstock and reintegrating it back into it’s reservoirs. These pipes are commonly subterranean or underwater in nature or coupled with other utility lines. Reservoirs are commonly built in sealed or underground lakes and pools to prevent contamination of the solution. In megastructures or tall buildings these reservoirs are often placed in the top floors of the building to assist with pressures and regulating speed of distribution.

The central benefit of this system is that it ensures all connected nanofabricators have access to the full spectrum of elements allowed by law, while preventing consumption of the local materials or property. Often this removes the need for citizens to gather or purchase feedstock on a separate basis, offering access for nominal exchange or fees. Some Feedstock Utilities offer a credit system for recycling and preventing material loss.

The typical system is designed to have a centrally located refinery and processing plant. From here, pipes are constructed that lead to reservoirs and tanks placed for optimum levels of distribution in the supplied municipality. These tanks are then routed through subterranean pipes to all customers, buildings and locations that require feedstock. After flowing through the nanofabrication suite, the feedstock effluent pipes then flow back to holding pools and then into the refinery where processing begins for re-integration into the reservoirs. The solution is magnetic in nature, and can be pushed smoothly by linear accelerator pumps. Even the nanofabricators are designed to not stop the flow or divert it completely but rather filter off any elements required by nanofabrication at time of operation. This constant motion prevents any chance of settling happening outside of designed traps and pools.
Feedstock Utilities can be of very small local design like a single building, or massive megastructures and even weaving their way through an entire Jupiter sized brain! How the system is fed varies greatly, but usually break down into three formats: Local, System or Wormhole.

A local style Utility relies totally on resources mined from the stellar object it is built on. Mines transport the base material from parts of the planet or asteroid to the refinery. There the raw
material is broken down, filtered out, or Pico-converted to essential matter and stored in large hoppers used to supplement the reservoirs at a rate that keeps the feedstock solution at a constant “richness” and proportions.

A System style supplied Municipal Feedstock Utility usually gains its raw materials from off-world or long outside of the municipality’s orbit. Although the matter still is in the orbit of the local star or
Oort Cloud. These items are mined, and usually refined out at its mining site. These items are then shipped back to the Utility via a magnetic accelerator or coil system similar to that used by Dusters or Squirts. The loose material appears like a stream a few millimeters to a few meters in width depending on the demand. These streams are then ducted through “targeting pump satellites” to an Orbital Receiving Facility. This is usually found in a stationary orbit or attached to an orbital station itself. It then prioritizes feedstock for where it needs to go and organizes delivery via a variety of systems and networks.
Wormhole Style Utilities are very similar to system fed utilities, but include small (5cm to 5m) wormholes to allow material being broken down in another system to be shipped similar to beamriders or linear accelerator to the purchasing utility. Once it exits the wormhole link, it then is treated and moved about like a normal system fed utility. Often these wormhole stations are located near or at the solar “poles” of a system so orbiting mines can always see them and
control streams better.

Once a society has access to stable Picofacture (The ability to manufacture atoms to order by mechanical control of sub atomic particles), and can manufacture their own elements, the supply systems quickly become local in nature and only deal with occasional loads of off site matter when they run low on total available matter to continue growth.

Orion’s Articles: Afflueconomics

Afflueconomics in Orion’s Arm (OA)


What is an Afflueconomy and how can it exist?

One of the main features of OA is the idea of a Afflueconomy. What is meant by this term? Afflueconomics is the idea that there is no lack or want left in society, often referred to as a Post Scarcity Economy. This is a highly efficient system of obtaining full need and maximal want fulfillment. The question remains of how does this incredible economic environment arise and what factors are required to maintain it? By its very nature, Afflueconomics are not a stable state and require effort to maintain. So what needs to happen to create this economic outcome? We must first describe the requirements of such an economy. How large a society can exist in such a state. What preparations must be done to maintain an Afflueconomy? For simplicity’s sake, we will skip most of the permutations and styles of social and environmental variances that can color and shape an Afflueconomy and stick to the fundamental requirements with a few descriptions for color and elaboration.

The Pillars of Afflueconomics

These Pillars of Afflueconomics are the essential factors in creating and maintaining this economic state. Without these, this system of economy and exchange cannot survive. These will vary in size, power and degree of influence, but all are required in some form to create this state for at least some of the population affected by it.  The resultant state will be only as strong as its weakest pillar which ultimately becomes the limiter of its scope and durability to stress.

The first pillar in any Afflueconomics society is effectively unlimited elemental resources. Matter, by nature, is a limited resource. So an Afflueconomy must have access to the entire spectrum of periodic elements, and potentially artificial elements to become a true Afflueconomy. Ideally, these supplies of periodic elemental abundance must be brought close enough to negate transportation costs for the population, and be refined enough to eliminate processing efforts as well. Once this hurdle is conquered, one can look to the next major hurdle to the existence of a Afflueconomy.

Energy is the next essential pillar for the existence of an Afflueconomy. Without an effectively unlimited energy source, this will enforce a market on energy. Energy must be plentiful, easily and instantly accessible by all in the Afflueconomy and it must be abundant enough to be essentially free. Many sources of energy can be used to create this state, but one must be wary of any form of energy that consumes or destroys matter for that will slowly but surely create a strain on the first pillar; elemental resources.

The third pillar of Afflueconomics is distribution. Without a highly efficient and powerful transportation infrastructure, pockets of need and scarcity will begin to occur. To prevent this, the most rapid system of transportation possible for cargo, point of purchase manufacturing, or many other methods are required to speed the finished good or service to its requested location.

Fourthly, an Afflueconomy requires unlimited manufacturing technology. Goods and services must be produced at a rate that either equals or surpasses that of actual need. Often this can be averted by projecting the expected need into a certain area, or utilizing a “JITPOP” (Just In Time Point Of Purchase) manufacturing system.

If all four of these factors are met, an Afflueconomy is possible. In fact, the scale of an Afflueconomy is what is most in question. A single person can have a personal Afflueconomy if the proper technology is applied, and his needs do not outstrip his supply of any of the four foundations. The larger the four pillars, the larger an Afflueconomy can become.

What other factors can effect a Afflueconomy?

A few factors exist that can increase the size and power of an Afflueconomy or limit it or even destroy it. These will vary from place to place, nor are they always present. These factors can also counteract each other in a way that leaves the Afflueconomy unaffected.

One of the largest factors in limiting Afflueconomies is information and data. Without a highly effective communication system and ability to record data, an Afflueconomy can be severely stunted. This system can be anything from Genetic to Memetic to computerized or any other variation you can think of. It must be reliable and able to supply the needs and wants of the people to communicate desires as well as fulfill them. When manufacturing is automated and available to anyone, designs and copyrightable information will become the limiter. New patterns and designs and uses for the materials can both limit and expand the luxury of a people as well as more or less efficiently meet their needs and wants.

The most powerful ally or enemy of an Afflueconomy is political will. If the governing polity or Sephirotic decide that they will or will not allow Afflueconomics to exist in a certain location, there is little to stop it. The abundance for each of the pillars limit the size and form that it can take. A government can even force a certain area to become an Afflueconomy even though it is not ideally suited for such an existence due to lack in one or more of the foundations. This artificial propping up may not be obvious to those inside the Afflueconomy, but will become increasingly painful and destructive to the systems supporting it.

A related limiter to Afflueconomics is privilege. Since it may be desirous to a polity to limit the types of commodities accessible to its citizens, some access to certain aspects of Afflueconomic Pillars may be artificially limited. Their reasons may vary from caprice to safety. How a citizen gains or loses privileged access to levels of their Afflueconomics is up to each individual polity.

The speed of light is another limitation to the size of an Afflueconomy. Although Wormholes can expand the territory included, relativistic travel will still cause limitations or slow the speed of an Afflueconomy down. This delay, if attached to especially time sensitive needs can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, little can be done about this outside of moving supplies closer and spread evenly across an Afflueconomy.

Speed of manufacture can affect the size and robustness of an Afflueconomy as well. If the equipment used to manufacture goods and services are limited or slow, lack may occur if sudden need arise and surpass emergency reserves if any. Much of this can be fought with JITPOP manufacturing, nanofacture and other local forms of construction.

Picotech manufacturing (the ability to reassemble the parts of atoms to create or destroy elements) can nearly eliminate the Elemental Foundation of an Afflueconomy. Since it can construct any type of element from other elemental parts, this is incredibly useful. The more broadly used Picotech is, the greater it’s impact on the Afflueconomy. This technology has the largest impact of any on the nature of an Afflueconomy because it allows an unlimited elemental resource. Since Picotech is a Transapient technology, it often is rare for baselines to have access to such equipment.

A system of recycling also increases the stability of a Afflueconomy, and prevents entropy of maintaining it from being a problem. Although through use of Nanotech or better recycling methods, this can nearly be eliminated, it can never be totally stopped from happening. Matter will be consumed and destroyed, or lost in some manner over time. The rate of this loss is what will govern the need to replenish lost matter.

In regards to nanofacture, intellectual materials, like designs and programs to create commodities. Intellectual commodities and services cannot be satisfied by material manufacture, and often become the major pinch point for any Afflueconomy. If there is a large and effectively comprehensive freeware community, this minimizes the impact any intellectual property pinch-point, although it may not address all the issues.

Where in OA do Afflueconomies exist?

True Afflueconomies are relatively rare when compared to the total state of the Terragen Sphere. They are usually associated with Nanotopias and other ultratech societies. The chances for their existence increase dramatically when a polity has readily available Picofacture, and energy supplies. Occasionally you will find true Afflueconomies outside of a Nanotopia, but this is increasingly rare the less technologically advanced the society is. The farther out from the Inner Core one goes, the fewer and fewer systems are capable of supporting Afflueconomies without extreme external effort. Almost universally, these become rarer and smaller as one travels outward.

Can there be partial Afflueconomies?

Most economies in Orion’s Arm are partial Afflueconomies. They may have the technology to manufacture or distribute or even the materials, but lack the energy. In places where the energy exists, there will be a full Afflueconomy, but a greater effect will be made on society as a whole by manufacturing for the larger area for a cheaper price. Often, the more stable the four pillars of Afflueconomy exist, the cheaper goods and services become till they become essentially free to all ad infinitum. In some cases, whole sections of the economy, but not the whole economy itself will become Afflueconomical. Often this shows itself in the form of basic needs being met first, and some rudimentary luxuries. This is referred to as “The Welfare Syndrome” by some economists as a derogatory term. The more solid the pillars, the larger variety of “free” goods can be found and population included in this largess of society.

Most often, due to the level of technology commonly available in the Terragen Sphere, the major limiting factor is Elemental availability.

When it comes to Afflueconomic limitation due to Elemental reasons, a few categories of limited Afflueconomics have been discovered. They are SiCHON (Standing for the five most common elements in the universe; Silicon, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), Common and Trace.

SiCHON Afflueconomics occurs when the most common elements are abundant enough for nanofacture, but the less common elements are rare enough to warrant market forces to be placed upon them. This is the most common limited form of Afflueconomics. Often this is what economists talk about when referring to the “Welfare Effect” of an Afflueconomy.

When most of the naturally occurring elements are practically unlimited, then a Common Afflueconomy is possible. This means that non synthetic, non-trace element essential nanofacture is possible in a Afflueconomic manner. Often the luxury and comfort of this form of limited Afflueconomy is far greater than SiCHON Afflueconomy.

Trace Afflueconomy is almost indistinguishable from a true Afflueconomy to most baselines. Only synthetic particles are excluded. Since most of these particles are made by Picotech, or specialized equipment, this is the most rare form of limited Afflueconomy. Since almost all commodities and goods in this society do not require synthetic elements.

In conclusion, Afflueconomics are everywhere in some forms or another. They may be artificially propped up or the result of truly lucky circumstances. Many variants and styles of Afflueconomics exist here and there, but essentially follow the same pillars and principles, and are ultimately seen as varied offspring of a true perfectly working economy free from all need and want.