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Help with understanding some stories in Against a Diamond Sky?
I am fairly new to Orion's Arm, I was introduced to it through coming across Darren Ryding's Queen of Pain stories. I don't come from a background of hard science fiction or anything, I just enjoy good stories, anything from Tolkien to comic books. After reading his stories I spent many hours reading through the Orion's Arm encyclopedia and gained an appreciation for the true vastness of the universe depicted in the project, as well as through external research beginning to understand popular concepts used in this type of fiction such as nanotechnology. 

I bought the book "Against a Diamond Sky" and so far read two of the stories in it, "Apotheosis" by Kevin Schillo and "The Devoted Follower" by Darren Ryding. I would sometimes need to stop to look something up on the Orion's Arm website to fully understand a concept or setting (or else seek out some basic knowledge in some sort of scientific concept) however I thought these were both absolutely incredible, they left me in awe and wishing that they wouldn't end. 

I have began reading a third story from the book, "Parameter Space" by Graham Hopgood. It seems as if it it will be just as great as the other two, however due to my lack of knowledge I am finding almost all of it really difficult to understand and I'm not sure where to start in terms of understanding this one. I wish there was some sort of detailed online synopsis for dummies I could regularly check as I read it but unfortunately due to it not being mainstream content, there is not.

Can anyone assist me with gaining understanding of this story or perhaps in general in my quest to continue reading Orion's Arm fiction?

I did some of the proofreading and project management for the Against a Diamond Sky project back in the day and I'd be happy to help youSmile

I've got some stuff to take care of atm, but will refresh myself on Parameter Space and see what I can do to help in this area later tonight. If you have any specific questions about the story (or any others in the book), please feel free to post em here.

Hope this helps,

So, I've skimmed Parameter Space and refreshed myself a bit on what it's about. I haven't had time to reread it from beginning to end, but hopefully I can assist with some basic information that can help you understand it.

You've indicated that you've started the story, but haven't mentioned finishing it, so I want to try to avoid providing spoilers if I can.

Finally, you've not pointed to specific elements of the story that you're having a hard time with (but please feel free to post them here and we can discuss them) so I'm going to initially take a somewhat wide ranging and general approach. As I get a better idea of what areas you have questions about, I can drill down to more specific items in my answers.

Ok, that all said - Some general statements about Parameter Space:

a) Much of the story takes place in a virtual reality environment (often called a virch, virtuality, or virchworld in setting). At the most basic level virtual environments in OA are the distant descendants of the online gaming (World of Warcraft, Eve Online, etc) or social (Second Life) websites that some people use in real life on the internet. In the OA setting, the number of virtual environments vastly exceeds the number of solar systems and planets in the volume of space that Terragen civilization has expanded into. Some environments are indistinguishable from the real world. Some are based on works of fiction. Some have consistent internal rules similar to the laws of physics that dictate how everything works - some operate in a totally arbitrary fashion according to the whims of the people who created the environment or the people who live there. Which brings us to:

b) Most of the population of the OA setting is made up of what be called 'living software'. This includes turinggrade artificial intelligence (self-aware computer programs,), uploads (biological people who have transferred or copies their minds into software programs), a-lifes (beings who have evolved to self-awareness/personhood inside computer simulations, often in environments radically different from the real world), and virtuals - beings who are living software and live in a virtual environment, but which usually haven't evolved via the internal rules of the virtual environment. They have more likely just been created to live there. Many of the characters in the story are these types of beings. You can usually tell because of the pronouns used for them (ve, ver, etc.). To see a list of the different pronouns used in the setting, see HERE - particularly the section on pronouns for virtual entities.

For more information on this aspect of the OA setting, I would suggest starting in this part of the Encyclopedia Galactica and exploring the various articles there.

c) Some of the story takes place in what we would call the real world (often referred to as 'ril' in the setting). This is the part that describes people and situations that maybe seem a bit more familiar. You can usually tell they are in the ril or come from there by the pronouns which - in this story - are pretty normal by our standards. In the OA setting, a very common set of pronouns for corporeal (vs software) beings is the section of the page I mentioned above that describes non-specific pronouns (this is because in the OA setting, most people can (and do) change most aspects of themselves, including their sexual orientation, gender, species, and substrate (the brain they think with and the body they live in) as easily as you or I might shift our weight from one foot to the other or change our shirt. And the rest can (and do) make these changes as easily as you or I might get some new clothes or replace a piece of furniture in a room.

d) The story is running on two tracks simultaneously - one part describes what is going on inside a virtual environment, while the other part describes what is happening more or less at the same time in the real world. You've probably read stories in which different chapters, or different paragraphs jump back and forth between two or more ongoing scenes or sets of events within the story with everything coming together at the end.

Ok, that's probably all I should go over for now until I have a better idea of what your questions are. Also, I don't want to get too specific and give away information about the story unless you specifically tell me you want me to.

Hope this helps,

You might want to read the article on the antagonist concerned;

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