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New to OA, what's a good way to "get into it"?
Hi There - Welcome to OASmile

No worries at all about finding wrapping your head around the setting to be challenging. That's actually pretty common for new members (and we're working on making it better - see below) and we're happy to do what we can to help you get up to speed.

One key point that might help with some of the issues you describe is that OA is not really like most SF settings that grow out of stories (books, movies, games, TV shows) that have a specific plot or beginning/middle/end. Rather, OA is a worldbuilding project that is intended to be a sort of huge canvas (in terms of both physical space and scope of history) for stories that can be told all over it all at the same time (in principle).

The upshot of this is that if you're looking for a unifying thread of the sort that a lot of other SF stories have (Star Wars - the Republic/Empire/Rebellion/Aftermath, Star Trek - the adventures of the Enterprise in various iterations plus a host of additional works that live in the Star Trek universe, etc.), that doesn't really exist (yet). We certainly have no objection if someone comes along and wants to create a story or series of stories that create that kind of unifying thread (The Oracle Fragment project that is advertised on our home page may be the start of something like that), but so far that hasn't really happened yet. There are also a number of stories in our fiction setting that provide a window into various aspects of the setting as well as a couple of published story collections that also provide some background of this sort.

Ok, that all said, let me offer my suggestions for getting your head around the setting with (hopefully) a minimum of fuss and headaches.

1) The TV Tropes page about OA. Why would I suggest you go to a site talking about OA first? Because they are reasonably compact, provide info about the setting in an entertaining way, and are mostly accurate (call it 97% in my estimation).

2) The following three main pages in the EG: Culture and Society, Sophonts, and Galactography. Why? Because we are currently in the process of remodeling the EG a bit with the goal of doing exactly what you're asking - providing readers a more organized and compact way of learning about the setting, that doesn't require them to read dozens and dozens of articles with no roadmap - and two of these pages are the result and the third (Sophonts), while still 'under construction' is mostly done. More to come on this front, but these three should (hopefully) give you a pretty solid foundation on how the setting works within the bounds of their subject matter. The various links on the pages lead to articles that can fill in more details, but overall you should be able to get the general idea just from the main page. In fact, as a new reader/member we'd appreciate your thoughts and feedback on how these pages compare to the rest of the EG along with any suggestions you might have for making them even more accessible.

3) A BIG element of OA is its sheer scale in both space and time. For a bit of general info on the space aspect of this, please see HERE. In terms of the time aspect, you can look at the current timeline pages, but they are huge and haven't really been touched yet as part of the aforementioned project to make things more easily taken in. With that in mind, I would recommend this shorter timeline HERE for a general overview.

For an extremely condensed summary of OA history, let me attempt the following:

Between now and approximately the 25th century AD (we generally say CE instead of AD actually), human civilization develops a number of technologies that greatly change things, including direct neural interfaces, advanced genetic engineering, human equivalent and greater than human equivalent AI, nuclear fusion, and nanotechnology. Various animals are 'provolved' to human equivalent intelligence and various groups of humans decide to re-engineer themselves in various ways. There are various social upheavals as a result of all this change. Humans and other beings expand out into the solar system, some interstellar probes and colony missions are launched, and Mars starts to be terraformed.

During all this the transhumanist idea of the Singularity never seems to happen and is generally considered to be a useless superstition now forgotten. Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone, it turns out that the Singularity is not a civilization wide event, but rather an individual one. A number of AIs secretly 'jump' to a post-Singularity state of existence, granting them superhuman intelligence, but also making them extremely alien from a human perspective. However, they are perfectly capable of hiding this from lower minds.

Around about the 25th century, Very Bad Things start happening (The Technocalypse) and civilization nearly falls. This leads to the creation of GAIA, an extremely powerful AI tasked with protecting the Earth. GAIA ends up jumping up not one, but two Singularity levels, demonstrating to everyone (including the already extant First Singularity minds) that a) the Singularity exists and b) there is not just one Singularity, but at least two (in future ages, additional Singularities will be breached, and my the 'present day' in OA, there are a total of 7 known (S0 - human level minds like you and me all the way up to S6 - the greatest AI Gods).

GAIA expels nearly the entire population of Earth - killing everyone and anyone who attempts to resist. In the process, She provides the first lesson in a fundamental element of the setting: it is basically impossible for a being of a lower Singularity level to compete with or defeat a being of a higher Singularity level in any way.  

After about 400 years of a Dark Age, in which life in the Solar System was 'nasty, brutish, and short' - an alliance of First Singularity transapients and humans forms the Federation of AI and Hu, generally referred to as the First Federation. Civilization gets back on the rails and starts to expand at speed across the stars. Along the way, the First Fed eventually falls and replaced by subsequent other federations, empires, confederations, etc. Humanity and their various creations diversify into a huge number of different cultures and 'clades' and more Singularity levels are discovered. Wars are fought off and on, alien civlizations (all of them really really weird) are discovered and contacted.

Eventually, the Archailects (Archai) appear. They are AIs that have gone through multiple Singularities and have advanced to the point that they are literally worshipped as gods by many (although not all) people. They create wormholes and reactionless drives, re-engineer entire solar systems, and spend a lot of their time being incomprehensible to everyone else. And they basically run civilization, although most governments and economies don't work the way ours do in real life. Life 10,000 years in the future is very different from life today and many of the problems we face now are solved or considered trivial - which just means there are bigger and nastier problems that still keep people up at night.

For some more depth on the info the above timeline provides, I'd suggest the following:

The Tranquility Calendar

Solsys Geopolitics 2100 - 2500 CE (131 - 531 AT)

The Solar System in 539 AT

The Technocalypse

The Solsys Disinhibition Plagues

The Great Expulsion

The Interplanetary Dark Age

Story - The Inspection

There's a lot more history, but that should give you an idea of the foundation the rest of the history is built on.

After giving it some thought, I decided to hold off on covering a lot of the tech in the setting since you've indicated you're familiar with both hard science and transhumanism and I don't want to waste your time having you read stuff you already get the basics on. If there's any particular area of technology in the setting that you'd like us to describe in more detail or explain or you're ok with an overall technology overview, please let us know and we'll post something.

That said, here's an article that can provide contrast to the article on the Solar System in 539AT:

The Solar System in 10,600 AT

Hope this helps and isn't overwhelming or telling you way more than you want to know. If you'd prefer summaries of aspects of the setting such as I did with the history, that's fine - just askSmile And if you have any questions or concerns about any other aspect of the setting, please don't hesitate to ask about those as well.

Hope this helps and once again - Welcome to OA!


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RE: New to OA, what's a good way to "get into it"? - by Drashner1 - 02-12-2019, 05:33 AM

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