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Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Random Ambles - 07-17-2021

Hi! I'm Random Ambles, an amateur mathematician, writer, and overall science enthusiast.

Nice to meet you all!

I'd like to read the major works of Orion's Arm (and some smaller but good ones) so I know a little more about what I'm getting involved in here. Please kindly help me to do that by suggesting some of your favorite pieces - I'd love to talk to you you about them!

I'm not very well read in science fiction, but some of my favorite non-Orion sci-fi authors are Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and (more recently) Greg Egan (which I realize here is like saying my favorite musical group is "probably the Beatles").

I consider myself a very secular transhumanist, pragmatist, and abolitionist in terms of outlook. I'm interested in the practical ethical consequences of science and technology in the broadest sense on conscious beings and in applying abstract and philosophical ideas in rigorous but still compelling (and sometimes poetic & metaphorical) ways through fiction.

I'm also nearly incapable of plot.  Blush (I'm working on it.)

Please tell me about yourself, if you like, and specifically what you like to do on/in Orion's Arm. I'm curious!

Sincerely, 

- Random Ambles


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Drashner1 - 07-17-2021

Hi There! Welcome to OA Smile

To answer your second question first - I'm Todd. I've been part of OA since around 2001. I wear various hats, including editing the website, being and Admin here on the forum, and an officer of the OA projects managing board. My primary interest in the project is technology and engineering, particularly megaprojects, transapient tech, and wormholes. But various other areas and ideas capture my interest at any given moment.

In terms of recommended reading: A basic thing to understand about the Orion's Arm project is that it is primarily made up of entries in the 'Encyclopedia Galactica' a fictional knowledge compendium existing approx 10,000 years in our future and describing the history, culture, technology, habitats, and inhabitants of that distant time. So when it comes to gaining an understanding of the Orion's Arm setting, I'm initially going to recommend some articles that will help you come up to speed on the setting more quickly. Specifically:

Galactography

Culture and Society

Technology

Sophonts

The History and Science sections, as well as the wider EG in general (accessible via the six main topics listed here or just by searching different letters of the alphabet) are definitely also worth exploring. Be warned that it's not unusual for new folks to get 'lost' in the EG for weeks at a time. Smile

In terms of fiction set in the Orion's Arm universe, we have two collections of published stories and a novella and short story available on Amazon and Smashwords, as well as numerous stories available for free on the OA website. Out of those, my recommended works for getting a feel for the OA setting would be:

A Day in the Life of a Bureaucrat

A New Way

Dirty Hands

Festival Season

In the Garden on Eden

A Minor Demonstration of Power

Dragon's Teeth

Infanticide

Keeper of the Faith

Under the Looking Glass

Also, more generally - the Traveler's Notes short stories are often descriptive of specific places or ways of life in the settting.

Note that the timeline of the OA setting is some 10,000 years long so different stories can take place in different time periods, sometimes separated by hundreds or thousands of years.

Hope this helps and once again - Welcome to OA!

Todd


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Random Ambles - 07-17-2021

Hi, Todd. Thank you for taking the time to welcome me so graciously and generously, especially with so much else on your plate!

I really love fictional reference material and am a big fan of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, so an Encyclopedia Galactica sounds like a wonderful thing to contribute to indeed.

I've found that getting lost is a good way to find things, funnily enough. I certainly don't mind a few, uh... random ambles.    Cool

I'm interested in doing some stuff with aliens and their technological and societal developments (in an artificially simulated universe if necessary, but preferably in the main one). I was curious if there are particular rules or artistic constraints I need to abide by or be aware of beyond the laws of physics and agreed-upon rarity of aliens in order to maintain consistency with the observations which give rise to the Fermi paradox.

This seems like a great list already. I intend to read as much of it as I can!

Thank you again, Todd - I really appreciate it.



PS.) Here's a sample of something I've been working on that may fit in with Orion's Arm, about shelled organisms that have developed into a race of very physically-rooted vec-like beings with what I hope is a fairly unique world-view: It's just a sketch right now, but I'm hopping to turn it into something closer to a short narrative or possibly a more thoroughly detailed entry in the EG.


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Random Ambles - 07-17-2021

Hi, Astronomer. Smile


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Vitto - 07-17-2021

Hello! Welcome! Smile


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - MacGregor - 07-17-2021

Welcome to OA!


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Drashner1 - 07-17-2021

(07-17-2021, 02:34 PM)Random Ambles Wrote: I'm interested in doing some stuff with aliens and their technological and societal developments (in an artificially simulated universe if necessary, but preferably in the main one). I was curious if there are particular rules or artistic constraints I need to abide by or be aware of beyond the laws of physics and agreed-upon rarity of aliens in order to maintain consistency with the observations which give rise to the Fermi paradox.

Hmm. Let's see here....

Starting with the 'official' stuff - and if you've already read some/all of this, feel free to just skip over it -

Here's the OA Canon page - LINK - which basically lays out all the principles the setting is built on.

And the OA Forum Etiquette and (probably more important in this context) the Forum Culture page (which gives you an idea of our particular...quirks...as a group).

And finally the How to Contribute page - which also is intended to give you an idea coming in the door of what to expect in terms of our 'culture'. Hm - in terms of some of the instructions about linking drafts - let's talk about that if/when you get there. This may need a bit of an update.

Something that isn't mentioned on this AFAIK (but probably should be) - if you post an article submission or story and don't hear anything in about a week - bump it (and repeat as necessary on a weekly basis). The forum can get very busy and we all have lives outside of OA and - due to the way the forum tech works - things can slip through the cracks. Also - when presenting a new idea for consideration for addition to the setting - or if a particular idea grabs your interest - we generally expect/prefer that you take a lead role in the discussion, keeping it moving forward, advocating for the idea or its ongoing development etc. This is a preference, not an absolute requirement, but if you are willing to do it, it makes the whole process faster, more pleasant for all, and generally more likely to see said idea added to the setting that much faster.

Ok - moving on to the specifics of aliens -

Terminology:

In setting, they are referred to as 'xenosophonts' - outside the setting, such as on the forum, you can refer to them however you please, however. More generally, beings that are 'people' in the setting - regardless of species or what they are made of - are referred to as 'sophonts'.

For specific types of aliens - such as a race of intelligent alien robots - we would refer to them as 'xeno (insert OA term here)'. For example, in setting, a robot that is a non-self-aware tool is a 'bot' - while a robot that is self-aware/a person is a 'vec' - so an alien version of one of these would be a 'xenovec'. Etc.

General Info:

No humanoid aliens - What is says on the tin. If you want to produce a race that has the basic human body plan or looks pretty human except for some specific differences - we will advise you to make them something that derives from humanity but has been engineered to look as they do at some point in the past. This sort of thing is hugely common in the setting, as you'll see or have already seen.

As part of our preference/Canon that xenosophonts are rare in the setting, we have a semi-official policy of setting the bar higher when considering new xenosophont additions to the setting. We will tend to be more nitpicky, will expect more complete and detailed articles in the first place, and are generally expecting to be at least a bit 'wow'd' by the submission.

There are various ways to 'lower the bar' mentioned above to varying degrees. Such as:

a) Put the aliens far away - another galaxy is generally about right, although we are open to being convinced to keep them in the Milky Way. This can complicate the amount of detail that the EG can then know about them, so methods such as interstellar/intergalactic data transmissions are often invoked to address this. We are willing to consider folding them into an existing article that does this such as the Triangulum Transmission - basically adding them as members to an existing civ already described as transmitting info. Or a wholly original location and transmission is fine, if you want to do that. Something equivalent to the Voyager record/plaque may also be workable.

Note also that OA has some very large telescopes at its disposal, which can also be used to detect aliens over great distances, but is more limited in the kind of info that can be garnered.

b) Put the aliens in the distant past - Their ruins and maybe records are discovered somewhere but they themselves are no longer around. Possibly for stated reasons, often for mysterious ones. This allows for more info to be written about them, admittedly with possible holes due to age, and let's them be 'close by' in space. Info can also sometimes be presented as speculation or different arguments made by competing groups of archaeologists or something.

You can also sidestep the bar entirely by making the 'aliens' be of Terragen origin - either people who heavily modified themselves in the distant past and created this culture or who were created by a transapient (possibly for mysterious reasons).

For an example of how strange such beings can get see the Harren.

(07-17-2021, 02:34 PM)Random Ambles Wrote: PS.) Here's a sample of something I've been working on that may fit in with Orion's Arm, about shelled organisms that have developed into a race of very physically-rooted vec-like beings with what I hope is a fairly unique world-view: It's just a sketch right now, but I'm hopping to turn it into something closer to a short narrative or possibly a more thoroughly detailed entry in the EG.

These are fun. Smile

They would need a bit of tweaking to fit into OA, mostly in terms of their use of steel (OA has more advanced materials so this would need more explanation/filling out) and the use of superlatives to describe them (we tend to avoid superlatives for various reasons). And the proximity issue and whether they are xenos or Terragens would need working out within the framework described above. But on general principles and at first blush, they could likely be worked to fit into the OA setting in some form and fashion, assuming you wanted to do that and were open to some modifications.

Hope this helps,

ToddSmile


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Dfleymmes1134 - 07-18-2021

(07-17-2021, 02:34 PM)Random Ambles Wrote: I'm interested in doing some stuff with aliens and their technological and societal developments (in an artificially simulated universe if necessary, but preferably in the main one). I was curious if there are particular rules or artistic constraints I need to abide by or be aware of beyond the laws of physics and agreed-upon rarity of aliens in order to maintain consistency with the observations which give rise to the Fermi paradox.

This seems like a great list already. I intend to read as much of it as I can!

PS.) Here's a sample of something I've been working on that may fit in with Orion's Arm, about shelled organisms that have developed into a race of very physically-rooted vec-like beings with what I hope is a fairly unique world-view: It's just a sketch right now, but I'm hopping to turn it into something closer to a short narrative or possibly a more thoroughly detailed entry in the EG.
 Welcome !
I’m Dfleymmes 
I’ve mostly been making visual art , illustrations, and some writing for OA for the past ten years but I’m also an editor of the website! Definitely trying to bring more of a character/ on the ground view of this cool world we’re all playing in. 

Aside from the rarity of aliens- especially intelligent, technologically advanced ones , I’ll say the bar is definitely higher for them? But the universe is technically so huge there’s room for hundreds of species, especially if they’re far away. The setting is definitely more focused on earth-descended life so there’s some drive to focus on that more. 

You don’t have to write formal EG articles if that’s not your style - plenty of folks have contributed stories, or snapshots (just a scene or two showing an on the ground view of a world), music, poetry,  or tried to make a OA game. Most contributors have chosen EG entries for one reason or another. 

There’s a lot of small rules here and there , many of which are covered in the links Todd provided.


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Dfleymmes1134 - 07-18-2021

https://www.orionsarm.com/xcms.php?r=oa-page&page=gen_canon
There’s the overall canon guide, in the Main menu , if you missed it

And how to contribute guide
https://www.orionsarm.com/page/550

*as Todd has already mentioned


RE: Hi. I'm new to Orion's Arm - Everything4404 - 07-18-2021

Welcome!