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I've been caught in the gravity well! + some questions!!!
So I spent the better part of the past two days furiously clicking through the wiki. Haven't done that since my younger days, like middle school/high school, when I'd get lost on Wookieepedia or the LOTR wiki and other such sites (I'm almost 30 years old now). 

I discovered Orion's Arm reading through the comments of this video, as I often listen to a lot of old-school sounding drum n' bass when I'm just chilling in the apartment doing creative brainstorming type stuff. The art used in a lot of the videos like the one I've linked is often reminiscent of like 90s/early 2000s computer graphics/renders, which makes me hugely nostalgic, as I was born in 93' and have fond memories of gaming throughout my childhood and flipping through all the gamer/CG related magazines at bookstores like Barnes & Noble. (A side note, it was also cool to see that "human" space is called Terragen, because Terragen's PlanetSide software was also the source of a lot of those renders that would excite my imagination in my early days). 

So when they mentioned that some of the artwork came from a website called Orion's Arm I had to go inspect it further. I had no idea what I was getting myself into... 

I expected an online art gallery that could serve as some inspiration for brainstorming.

Lemme just say...


It's been a long time since I've had my imagination inspired by anything "hard" science fiction. I know that the original creators say that OA takes the hard science fiction stuff and pushes it to the extreme, but at the end of the day, maybe none of us know what will end up being possible in our distant future. As far as I can tell, and I'm no expert, OA does a pretty good job extrapolating what civilizations might be able to do as they move up the Khardashev scale. 

But believe me when I say I couldn't stop clicking! I had like 15 tabs open at any given time, and every tab tempted me with more links until I'd eventually give in and open up even more tabs!

As fascinating as this universe is, I also find it absurd in the sense that, when I picture it, something like Futurama comes to mind.

Am I alone on this?

I mean, essentially, baseline humans are rare, and much more common is a seemingly infinite diversity of clades, cyborgs, ais, virtual beings, etc. So, in other words, pure chaos from an aesthetic point of view. Given that post-scarcity is the norm, at least as you get closer to the center of Terragen space, it would also seem as if these quadrillions of beings exist largely in a bread and circuses environment... 

I mean, struggle is a thing of the past in most well-civilized areas, so wouldn't they all be entertaining themselves entirely with games and pleasurable diversions? And this is why something like the image of Futurama comes to mind... Beings get bored, and therefore don absurd virtual/physical forms, and seek out activities to entertain themselves. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but that's kind of my general picture of society somewhere within the Inner Sphere. 

I do have some questions though, and I'm a bit rusty on my "why it does or doesn't work in hard science fiction," so please go easy on me. 

Here goes: 

1. So quantum entanglement doesn't really allow for FTL communication, hence why it's not used in OA. But from what I understand, most of Terragen space is linked up by wormholes anyways, and although it took relativistic times to get the wormholes towed into place, once they are there, there is seemingly FTL travel possible (yes I know not real FTL).  My question here is, does the "internet" work using these wormholes as well? Could someone on a planet hundreds of lightyears away from someone else communicate in a reasonable amount of time since the information would be relayed using light through wormholes? And if so, how much time are we looking at? Let's say I'm on Earth and want to send a video message to someone in a system 500 light-years away. How long would it take them to get my message if it was being relayed through the most efficient wormhole path there? A few hours or days?

2. I still don't understand the creator's point-of-view on why there aren't "FTL" Alcubierre drive-based warp ships, especially since exotic matter does seem to exist in the universe and allows wormholes to be stabilized and kept open. I think I read somewhere that they said a warp ship would end up having everything within it vaporized to due to the effects of generating the warpfield, but I never encountered such a POV when exploring the feasibility of warp drives based on Alcubierre's design elsewhere. So I guess the question is, is it true? Also, I guess there are warp ships in OA, but they travel subluminally. Are these void ships the same things that appear as a lensing effect to outside observers an example of this technology? 

3. I'm a little confused on their Toposophic Filter explanation. On the one hand, they make it sound like alien life is rare, and yet on the other, several intelligent species and garden worlds have been discovered. So I'm having a hard time understanding what their picture of alien life in the galaxy is.  I guess what they are trying to say is that Terragen has not as of yet encountered an alien civilization that has expanded as much and reached the same level of tech as themselves, even though they have confirmed the existence of such species in the past that are no longer around. And the reason being, maybe once they become advanced enough, the last "transcendence" either annihilates them or takes them beyond the understanding of... S6 I believe it? Is my understanding of this correct? But as far as I can tell, nothing in OA precludes the existence of other Terragen-type civilizations in the Milky, just that we haven't contacted them yet, due to relativistic reasons. But nothing precludes eventually discovering the border of a current Terragen-type civilization as the Terragen sphere continues its slow, relativistic creep across the galaxy, right? 

4. Next up, my question pertains to immortality and inequality. Is it the case that society closer to the center of Terragen space is post-scarcity and post-death? Can beings rejuvenate/repair themselves endlessly? And is your standard material inequality eradicated, leaving behind only status-seeking within these post-scarce societies? It's also my understanding that towards the wild frontiers of Terragen space death and old-school inequalities may persist. But as they become more developed, they fade into the background. I mean, it sounds a lot like OA is really an "everything goes" sort of universe in terms of the kinds of societies and situations that might exist.

5. My last questions pertain to military combat in the current period of OA. If I understand correctly, your standard sci-fi "battleship + carrier + fighter squadron" type thing definitely isn't happening, as most engagements take place between mostly autonomous machines/ai/drones that are fighting each other at minimum light-seconds apart, and of course, no baseline human being could compete in such an environment. Or is it that aesthetically, there is still that kind of combat happening, but it's just happening at greater and greater distances due to the ais, etc. having the capability to actually conduct combat at that range? It's interesting though that in the wikis pertaining to weapons, one still reads about mechs, tanks, and even "infantry." So is it that the old forms of combat exist still, but are now instead fought by cyborgs, ais, vecs, etc., with baseline/near baseline humans entirely gone from the combat theaters? And I guess my final question is, is there any way baseline/near baseline humans could contend with higher levels militarily, or would they basically have to develop the same types of weapons/ais/etc that those levels use to even stand a chance?

The interesting thing is that it sounds like what we think of as "human" is pretty much... well... gone in the OA universe. And when that clicked with me, I felt a strange emptiness inside - like depressingly empty, like I had to think of my cats and my girlfriend in order to bring me back to life kind of depressing lol. 

The idea that because technology marches on we eventually make ourselves "obsolete" is... a jarring one. It's also one of the most refreshing ideas in fiction - that although there is this "Terragen" civilization that traces its origin to humanity and Earth, it doesn't resemble anything like old Humanity, it's just a weird Futurama-aesthetic-scramble of various types of beings all.... partaking with one another... struggling to find meaning in a world where death, at least in the most civilized regions, is largely eradicated. And it's an unsettling idea I think to a lot of humans, especially today, who imagine that 10,000 years from now it will still be human beings "calling the shots." If OA is even remotely accurate, we basically birth our AI gods and from that point on, the relevance and importance of the baseline human is a thing of the past, perhaps only a curiosity to those interested in history. Is my understanding of that correct? 

Yeesh, this is why I got sucked in. 

I wonder if I'm alone in the feeling that the stuff that tries to be the hardest science fiction ends up being the most strange, exotic, and absurd. Like even more so than Star Wars or anything like that. 

A case in point is the Queen of Pain hell world that exists. Apparently, that's a thing in OA. And it's explained via godtech level nanotech stuff, and relativity isn't broken, and yet... there it is... something equivalent to the worst hell imaginable. 

And so I find myself wondering if the old Hindus weren't incorrect. With all these hell worlds, utopia spheres, etc. running around in OA... it really seems like given the inexorable procession of time, the Milky Way becomes the strangest of places... Millions, maybe billions of worlds, quadrillions (or orders of magnitudes higher) numbers of beings, expressing infinite diversity. 

Such a thought is fascinating, if not a little terrifying, don't you think?

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I've been caught in the gravity well! + some questions!!! - by Radio Ren - 01-28-2023, 06:36 AM

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