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Hyperinflation is Coming- The Dollar Endgame: PART 5.1- "Enter the Dragon" (SECOND HALF OF FINALE)

Hyperinflation is Coming- The Dollar Endgame: PART 5.1-

(Hey everyone, this is the SECOND half of the Finale, you can find the first half here)

The Dollar Endgame

True monetary collapses are hard to grasp for many in the West who have not experienced extreme inflation. The ever increasing money printing seems strange, alien even. Why must money supply grow exponentially? Why did the Reichsbank continue printing even as hyperinflation took hold in Germany?
What is not understood well are the hidden feedback loops that dwell under the surface of the economy.
The Dragon of Inflation, once awoken, is near impossible to tame.
It all begins with a country walking itself into a situation of severe fiscal mismanagement- this could be the Roman Empire of the early 300s, or the German Empire in 1916, or America in the 1980s- 2020s.
The State, fighting a war, promoting a welfare state, or combating an economic downturn, loads itself with debt burdens too heavy for it to bear.
This might even create temporary illusions of wealth and prosperity. The immediate results are not felt. But the trap is laid.
Over the next few years and even decades, the debt continues to grow. The government programs and spending set up during an emergency are almost impossible to shut down. Politicians are distracted with the issues of the day, and concerns about a borrowing binge take the backseat.
The debt loads begin to reach a critical mass, almost always just as a political upheaval unfolds. Murphy’s Law comes into effect.
Next comes a crisis.
This could be Visigoth tribesmen attacking the border posts in the North, making incursions into Roman lands. Or it could be the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, kicking off a chain of events causing the onset of World War 1.
Or it could be a global pandemic, shutting down 30% of GDP overnight.
Politicians respond as they always had- mass government mobilization, both in the real and financial sense, to address the issue. Promising that their solutions will remedy the problem, a push begins for massive government spending to “solve” economic woes.
They go to fundraise debt to finance the Treasury. But this time is different.
Very few, if any, investors bid. Now they are faced with a difficult question- how to make up for the deficit between the Treasury’s income and its massive projected expenditure. Who’s going to buy the bonds?
With few or no legitimate buyers for their debt, they turn to their only other option- the printing press. Whatever the manner, new money is created and enters the supply.
This time is different. Due to the flood of new liquidity entering the system, widespread inflation occurs. Confounded, the politicians blame everyone and everything BUT the printing as the cause.
Bonds begin to sell off, which causes interest rates to rise. With rates suppressed so low for so long, trillions of dollars of leverage has built up in the system.
No one wants to hold fixed income instruments yielding 1% when inflation is soaring above 8%. It's a guaranteed losing trade. As more and more investors run for the exits in the bond markets, liquidity dries up and volatility spikes.
The MOVE index, a measure of bond market volatility, begins climbing to levels not seen since the 2008 Financial Crisis.

MOVE Index
Sovereign bond market liquidity begins to evaporate. Weak links in the system, overleveraged several times on government debt, such as the UK’s pension funds, begin to implode.
The banks and Treasury itself will not survive true deflation- in the US, Yellen is already getting so antsy that she just asked major banks if Treasury should buy back their bonds to “ensure liquidity”!
As yields rise, government borrowing costs spike and their ability to roll their debt becomes extremely impaired. Overleveraged speculators in housing, equity and bond markets begin to liquidate positions and a full blown deleveraging event emerges.
True deflation in a macro environment as indebted as ours would mean rates soaring well above 15-20%, and a collapse in money market funds, equities, bonds, and worst of all, a certain Treasury default as federal tax receipts decline and deficits rise.
A run on the banks would ensue. Without the Fed printing, the major banks, (which have a 0% capital reserve requirement since 3/15/20), would quickly be drained. Insolvency is not the issue here- liquidity is; and without cash reserves a freezing of the interbank credit and repo markets would quickly ensue.
For those who don’t think this is possible, Tim Geitner, NY Fed President during the 2008 Crisis, stated that in the aftermath of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, we were “We were a few days away from the ATMs not working” (start video at 46:07).
As inflation rips higher, the $24T Treasury market, and the $15.5T Corporate bond markets selloff hard. Soon they enter freefall as forced liquidations wipe leverage out of the system. Similar to 2008, credit markets begin to freeze up. Thousands of “zombie corporations”, firms held together only with razor thin margins and huge amounts of near zero yielding debt, begin to default. One study by a Deutsche analyst puts the figure at 25% of companies in the S&P 500.
The Central Banks respond to the crisis as they always have- coming to the rescue with the money printer, like the Bank of England did when they restarted QE, or how the Bank of Japan began “emergency bond buying operations”.
But this time is massive. They have to print more than ever before as the ENTIRE DEBT BASED FINANCIAL SYSTEM UNWINDS.
QE Infinity begins. Trillions of Treasuries, MBS, Corporate bonds, and Bond ETFs are bought up. The only manner in which to prevent the bubble from imploding is by overwhelming the system with freshly printed cash. Everything is no-limit bid.
The tsunami of new money floods into the system and a face ripping rally begins in every major asset class. This is the beginning of the melt-up phase.
The Federal Reserve, within a few months, goes from owning 30% of the Treasury market, to 70% or more. The Bank of Japan is already at 70% ownership of certain JGB issuances, and some bonds haven’t traded for a record number of days in an active market!
The Central Banks EAT the bond market. The “Lender of Last Resort” becomes “The Lender of Only Resort”.
Another step towards hyperinflation. The Dragon crawls out of his lair.

QE Process
Now the majority or even entirety of the new bond issuances from the Treasury are bought with printed money. Money supply must increase in tandem with federal deficits, fueling further inflation as more new money floods into the system.
The Fed’s liquidity hose is now directly plugged into the veins of the real economy. The heroin of free money now flows in ever increasing amounts towards Main Street.
The same face-ripping rise seen in equities in 2020 and 2021 is now mirrored in the markets for goods and services.
Prices for Food, gas, housing, computers, cars, healthcare, travel, and more explode higher. This sets off several feedback loops- the first of which is the wage-price spiral. As the prices of everything rise, real disposable income falls.
Massive strikes and turnover ensues. Workers refuse to labor for wages that are not keeping up with their expenses. After much consternation, firms are forced to raise wages or see large scale work stoppages.

Wage-Price Spiral
These higher wages now mean the firm has higher costs, and thus must charge higher prices for goods. This repeats ad infinitum.
The next feedback loop is monetary velocity- the number of times one dollar is spent to buy goods and services per unit of time. If the velocity of money is increasing, then more transactions are occurring between individuals in an economy.
The faster the dollar turns over, the more items it can bid for- and thus the more prices rise. Money velocity increasing is a key feature of a currency beginning to inflate away. In nations experiencing hyperinflation like Venezuela, where money velocity was purported to be over 7,000 annually- or more than 20 times a DAY.
As prices rise steadily, people begin to increase their inflation expectations, which leads to them going out and preemptively buying before the goods become even more expensive. This leads to hoarding and shortages as select items get bought out quickly, and whatever is left is marked up even more. ANOTHER feedback loop.
Inflation now soars to 25%. Treasury deficits increase further as the government is forced to spend more to hire and retain workers, and government subsidies are demanded by every corner of the populace as a way to alleviate the price pressures.
The government budget increases. Any hope of worker’s pensions or banks buying the new debt is dashed as the interest rates remain well below the rate of inflation, and real wages continue to fall. They thus must borrow more as the entire system unwinds.
The Hyperinflationary Feedback loop kicks in, with exponentially increasing borrowing from the Treasury matched by new money supply as the Printer whirrs away.
The Dragon begins his fiery assault.

Hyperinflationary Feedback Loop
As the dollar devalues, other central banks continue printing furiously. This phenomenon of being trapped in a debt spiral is not unique to the United States- virtually every major economy is drowning under excessive credit loads, as the average G7 debt load is 135% of GDP.
As the central banks print at different speeds, massive dislocations begin to occur in currency markets. Nations who print faster and with greater debt monetization fall faster than others, but all fiats fall together in unison in real terms.
Global trade becomes extremely difficult. Trade invoices, which usually can take several weeks or even months to settle as the item is shipped across the world, go haywire as currencies move 20% or more against each other in short timeframes. Hedging becomes extremely difficult, as vol premiums rise and illiquidity is widespread.
Amidst the chaos, a group of nations comes together to decide to use a new monetary media- this could be the Special Drawing Right (SDR), a neutral global reserve currency created by the IMF.
It could be a new commodity based money, similar to the old US Dollar pegged to Gold.
Or it could be a peer-to-peer decentralized cryptocurrency with a hard supply limit and secure payment channels.
Whatever the case- it doesn't really matter. The dollar will begin to lose dominance as the World Reserve Currency as the new one arises.
As the old system begins to die, ironically the dollar soars higher on foreign exchange- as there is a $20T global short position on the USD, in the form of leveraged loans, sovereign debt, corporate bonds, and interbank repo agreements.
All this dollar debt creates dollar DEMAND, and if the US is not printing fast enough or importing enough to push dollars out to satisfy demand, banks and institutions will rush to the Forex market to dump their local currency in exchange for dollars.
This drives DXY up even higher, and then forces more firms to dump local currency to cover dollar debt as the debt becomes more expensive, in a vicious feedback loop. This is called the Dollar Milkshake Theory, posited by Brent Johnson of Santiago Capital.
The global Eurodollar Market IS leverage- and as all leverage works, it must be fed with new dollars or risk bankrupting those who owe the debt. The fundamental issue is that this time, it is not banks, hedge funds, or even insurance giants- this is entire countries like Argentina, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

The Dollar Milkshake
If the Fed does not print to satisfy the demand needed for this Eurodollar market, the Dollar Milkshake will suck almost all global liquidity and capital into the United States, which is a net importer and has largely lost it’s manufacturing base- meanwhile dozens of developing countries and manufacturing firms will go bankrupt and be liquidated, causing a collapse in global supply chains not seen since the Second World War.
This would force inflation to rip above 50% as supply of goods collapses.
Worse yet, what will the Fed do? ALL their choices now make the situation worse.

The Fed's Triple Dilemma
Many pundits will retort- “Even if we have to print the entire unfunded liability of the US, $160T, that’s 8 times current M2 Money Supply. So we’d see 700% inflation over two years and then it would be over!”
This is a grave misunderstanding of the problem; as the Fed expands money supply and finances Treasury spending, inflation rips higher, forcing the AMOUNT THE TREASURY BORROWS, AND THUS THE AMOUNT THE FED PRINTS in the next fiscal quarter to INCREASE. Thus a 100% increase in money supply can cause a 150% increase in inflation, and on again, and again, ad infinitum.
M2 Money Supply increased 41% since March 5th, 2020 and we saw an 18% realized increase in inflation (not CPI, which is manipulated) and a 58% increase in SPY (at the top). This was with the majority of printed money really going into the financial markets, and only stimulus checks and transfer payments flowing into the real economy.
Now Federal Deficits are increasing, and in the next easing cycle, the Fed will be buying the majority of Treasury bonds.
The next $10T they print, therefore, could cause additional inflation requiring another $15T of printing. This could cause another $25T in money printing; this cycle continues forever, like Weimar Germany discovered.
The $200T or so they need to print can easily multiply into the quadrillions by the time we get there.
The Inflation Dragon consumes all in his path.
Federal Net Outlays are currently around 30% of GDP. Of course, the government has tax receipts that it could use to pay for services, but as prices roar higher, the real value of government tax revenue falls. At the end of the Weimar hyperinflation, tax receipts represented less than 1% of all government spending.
This means that without Treasury spending, literally a third of all economic output would cease.
The holders of dollar debt begin dumping them en masse for assets with real world utility and value- even simple things such as food and gas.
People will be forced to ask themselves- what matters more; the amount of Apple shares they hold or their ability to buy food next month? The option will be clear- and as they sell, massive flows of money will move out of the financial economy and into the real.
This begins the final cascade of money into the marketplace which causes the prices of everything to soar higher. The demand for money grows even larger as prices spike, which causes more Treasury spending, which must be financed by new borrowing, which is printed by the Fed. The final doom loop begins, and money supply explodes exponentially.

German Hyperinflation
Monetary velocity rips higher and eventually pushes inflation into the thousands of percent. Goods begin being re-priced by the day, and then by the hour, as the value of the currency becomes meaningless.
A new money, most likely a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, gains widespread adoption- becoming the preferred method and eventually the default payment mechanism. The State continues attempting to force the citizens to use their currency- but by now all trust in the money has broken down. The only thing that works is force, but even the police, military and legal system by now have completely lost confidence.
The Simulacrum breaks down as the masses begin to realize that the entire financial system, and the very currency that underpins it is a lie- an illusion, propped up via complex derivatives, unsustainable debt loads, and easy money financed by the Central Banks.
Similar to Weimar Germany, confidence in the currency finally collapses as the public awakens to a long forgotten truth-
There is no supply cap on fiat currency.

QE Infinity

When asked in 1982 what was the one word that could be used to define the Dollar, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker responded with one word-
All fiat money systems, unmoored from the tethers of hard money, are now adrift in a sea of illusion, of make-believe. The only fundamental props to support it are the trust and network effects of the participants.
These are powerful forces, no doubt- and have made it so no fiat currency dies without severe pain inflicted on the masses, most of which are uneducated about the true nature of economics and money.
But the Ships of State have wandered into a maelstrom from which there is no return. Currently, total worldwide debt stands at a gargantuan $300 Trillion, equivalent to 356% of global GDP.
This means that even at low interest rates, interest expense will be higher than GDP- we can never grow our way out of this trap, as many economists hope.
Fiat systems demand ever increasing debt, and ever increasing money printing, until the illusion breaks and the flood of liquidity is finally released into the real economy. Financial and Real economies merge in one final crescendo that dooms the currency to die, as all fiats must.
Day by day, hour by hour, the interest accrues.
The Debt grows larger.
And the Dollar Endgame Approaches.

Nothing on this Post constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any security, portfolio of securities, investment product, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. From reading my Post I cannot assess anything about your personal circumstances, your finances, or your goals and objectives, all of which are unique to you, so any opinions or information contained on this Post are just that – an opinion or information. Please consult a financial professional if you seek advice.
*If you would like to learn more, check out my recommended reading list here. This is a dummy google account, so feel free to share with friends- none of my personal information is attached. You can also check out a Google docs version of my Endgame Series here.
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IF YOU WOULD LIKE to support me, you can do so my checking out the e-book version of the Dollar Endgame on my twitter profile: https://twitter.com/peruvian_bull/status/1597279560839868417
The paperback version is a work in progress. It's coming.
THERE IS NO PRESSURE TO DO SO. THIS IS NOT A MONEY GRAB- the entire series is FREE! The reddit posts start HERE: https://www.reddit.com/Superstonk/comments/o4vzau/hyperinflation_is_coming_the_dollar_endgame_part/
and there is a Google Doc version of the ENTIRE SERIES here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1552Gu7F2cJV5Bgw93ZGgCONXeenPdjKBbhbUs6shg6s/edit?usp=sharing

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Patch Notes for the Drug Wars DLC

GTAV Title Update 1.64 Notes (PS5 / PS4 / Xbox Series X|S / Xbox One / PC) by Rockstar Support
[December 13, 2022] – New Content in Grand Theft Auto Online
Experience Improvements
Visual Updates
Economy Updates
GTA+ Updates (PS5 / Xbox Series X|S only)
Creator Updates
HSW Creator (PS5 / Xbox Series X|S only)
Players now have the option to create HSW Races, a race type limited to HSW vehicles
Race Creator
Deathmatch Creator
The Deathmatch Creator is receiving updates to Play Area, Eligibility, Spawning, Scoring, and other general updates
Play Area
Modifier Set Eligibility
Modifier Set - Scoring
Ambient Settings
Game Stability and Performance
Matchmaking & Networking
Xbox One / Xbox Series X|S
PlayStation 4 / PlayStation 5
PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series X|S
View the article
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i'm 4 hours in and i can't even understand the UI... can anyone tell me what the numbers/icons in the circled red mean, and is it important? thanks a lot in advance!

i'm 4 hours in and i can't even understand the UI... can anyone tell me what the numbers/icons in the circled red mean, and is it important? thanks a lot in advance! submitted by Mammoth-Station8999 to DeathStranding [link] [comments]

I just had a massive revelation of why The Callisto Protocol's story fell flat, and it's all because of PUBG

The motivations and actions of The Callisto Protocol’s main villain make no sense because TCP did not fully separate itself from the universe and themes of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and their attempt to only partly separate from PUBG’s themes actually left the game worse off than if they’d just kept the concrete connections with the PUBG canon.
Beginning with all the spoilers. The events of The Callisto Protocol (that is, the outbreak and the killing and the slaughter) occur because the Warden of Black Iron Prison, Duncan Cole, wanted to use the Biophage to spur on the evolution of humanity. This on its own is very similar to the character of Challus Mercer from the original Dead Space. However, the influence of Mercer disappears and is replaced by the influence of PUBG in Cole’s methodology.
Mercer was relatively satisfied with the necromorphs as a whole and wanted them to proliferate, and his Hunter was simply a passion project of his. He accomplished the creation of the Hunter by using science. Question, research, hypothesis, experiment, analyze, conclude, and communicate - or apply, in this case. Mercer created the Hunter in a lab in a controlled environment using his knowledge and skills.
Cole’s goal - or the goal of his “Circle” - is not necessarily the proliferation of the Biophage, but the creation of an “Alpha”, an infected human who retained their higher functions but still benefited from the strength and durability of the Biophage. But unlike Mercer, Cole didn’t pursue the creation of an Alpha through research or experimentation. Instead, he chose maybe the worst, most stupid option available, and he released a hostile all-destroying virus throughout HIS prison, the base of operations for this experiment, in an attempt to maybe, POSSIBLY, infect a person that happens to have the requisite criteria for the virus to affect them in exactly the same way that it affected the original “Patient Zero”.
I will now list the reasons this decision is terrible.
1) The methodology is simply flawed. If you have a virus that has a small chance to affect someone in a specific way, you’re supposed to identify the features of the virus that cause it to react in the way you desire, maybe test it on the prisoners in a controlled environment, one at a time, in secret, working slowly but effectively toward your desired result. You don’t just let it run rampant, attracting outside attention, destroying your assets, and risking the entire foundation of your organization.
2) If you’re dead-set on releasing the virus all willy-nilly, then DON’T USE YOUR OWN ASSETS. Homie released the Biophage in his own base of operations. He had one chance, and while it did produce a viable result (which it shouldn’t have), it failed because Jacob killed the Alpha and wasted the cure-juice on Dani. Now, he has no Black Iron Prison, no prisoners, no personnel, all that infrastructure and time and money was wasted. Not only that, but Dani escaped with proof that could theoretically expose the actions of the corporation and cause the collapse of the entire United Jupiter Company, and possibly expose The Circle itself. And I don’t just mean the virus sample, I mean her CORE, which THEY installed on her and which apparently allows people to experience another person’s very memories, which are more concrete proof than almost anything else in the world. A semi-perfect example of a less stupid strategy, Europa. It suffered an outbreak that resulted in many infections and deaths, but it apparently was an accidental outbreak of a diluted/possibly airborne version of the Biophage that merely killed people rather than mutating them. But there’s nothing stopping them from releasing the real virus on an unaffiliated colony, again, and blaming it all on The Outer Way, again. I could see them justifying the destruction of their own assets if the accidental Europa outbreak put a lot of scrutiny on the UJC and they knew they were on their way to being outed, so they hail-mary’d the virus as a last-ditch effort to get results, but it’s clear that the UJC controls the news and that the company has all the time in the world.
3) If you’re dead-set on releasing the virus in your own prison, control for accidental deaths. Prisoners are killing each other. Guards are killing prisoners and prisoners are killing guards. People are getting set on fire and falling off of shit and going outside and freezing. The Biophages are killing people without infecting them. Your own goddamn robots are killing people AND Biophages, and sometimes the Biophages are even killing each other. All of these wasted lives are people that could’ve been the Alpha. You could at least babyproof the place before you start letting people rip each other apart.
4) Even outside of the awful methodology, the goal just doesn’t work. Cole wants to create an Alpha so that humanity can evolve and survive in a universe that they weren’t built to explore. Okay bud, you got one guy who is really buff and kind of a prick. How does that save humanity? Was his DNA even directly altered by this parasite? And even if it was, can he breed? Can Starkiller make beautiful Biophage offspring with me? Does he reproduce asexually? Is he supposed to genocide all of humanity and replace them with his offspring? This is what would have to happen for this plan to be half-viable, and considering what happens next, this plan was not half-viable.
5) Congratulations. You’ve destroyed your prison, killing all its personnel and likely dooming your company. Against all odds, you obtained an Alpha, and not only is it one of your lead officers who wasn’t even in on the plan, he actually seems pretty okay with it. Oh, here comes that pilot who crash landed here by chance a few hours before you unleashed the virus. You just sent your Alpha to go fight him aaaand it’s gone. For whatever reason, Cole decided that his Alpha, which he sacrificed everything for, had to have one last battle against this random guy who stumbled up to his room. And if your Alpha can be defeated by someone who can accurately be described as basically just Canelo Alvarez with a shotgun, why was this even worth pursuing in the first place?
Now that I’ve detailed all the different ways this plan was completely idiotic, it begs the question: why write it this way? Are the writers just that amateur? Is art really a lie? Well, yes to the art thing, but only kind-of yes to the writer thing. This is where my revelation about PUBG comes in.
First, what is PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds? To put it simply, it was the game that popularized the Battle Royale game type back in 2016-ish (maybe). “Battle Royale” is a type of deathmatch involving a massive amount of players, with either no teams or very small teams. Each player has one life, and the goal is to gather supplies, kill other players, and be the last one standing. I have not delved deeply into the lore of the PUBG universe and for the moment I refuse to, but my simple recollection of the context for the game is that the participants of the Battle Royale are prisoners (wink), and they are dropped into a given area from a plane, where they are instructed to kill each other and be the last one standing. I presume the genesis of this practice is some sort of warped philosophy centered around Darwinism.
PUBG was published by Krafton, who are also the publishers of The Callisto Protocol. Some people likely don’t know that TCP was originally intended to take place directly within the PUBG universe. However, some months before TCP came out, it was revealed that they had severed the canon of TCP from the canon of PUBG, meaning that we wouldn’t see PUBG properties or themes in TCP. A lot of people regarded this as a good thing, and it really should’ve been, as the themes of PUBG work for a multiplayer game that doesn’t need to take itself very seriously and that has no real story, but the idea of “Battle Royales” being implemented in a single-player setting involving futuristic alien parasites is a little too much for a lot of people to swallow when combined. The only things that were supposed to remain from PUBG were easter eggs.
The problem is, while they removed the vast majority of concrete connections to PUBG, it’s clear that they kept almost all of the themes, but in a perverted and nonsensical way, and the reason it turned out this way is that they changed course when they were already over halfway to their destination.
There are some moments in the game that stand out as completely unexplained and out-of-place. Jacob Lee is just a cargo pilot, that’s it. However, when he crashes at the beginning of the game, Warden Cole orders Jacob to be detained and interred as a prisoner at Black Iron. There’s no reason for it. Jacob hasn’t witnessed any corruption, or uncovered any secrets, or done anything that would make the UJC want to prevent his escape. While the UJC does perform human experimentation, there’s no evidence they kidnap whatever people they can get their hands on.
It’s implied that Warden Cole has some kind of unnatural interest in Jacob specifically, and that’s why he had him interred. Ferris Wheel punctuates this point soon after, when he asks Jacob why the Warden wanted him alive, so we go the rest of the game wondering what special relationship Jacob has to Cole, or what event in his past or part of his identity makes him valuable.
When we reach the end of the game, Cole is having a meeting with the nebulous evil organization known allegedly as “The Circle”. They seem to be the analog to Unitology for this universe, and while they are the masterminds behind the research into the Biophage, it is Cole who “masterminded” the method of just saying fuck it and unleashing the virus into the prison.
When Jacob walks in, Cole and the rest of The Circle greet him with the phrase “Vir Solitarius”. This is a Latin phrase, and while I did take Latin, I cannot say whether this is completely correct grammar, but I believe the intended meaning of this phrase is “Solitary Man” or, more appropriately, “Lone Survivor”. And at no time during this scene does Cole explain why he had Jacob detained, or why he has an interest in him. He simply sics the Alpha on him because he wants to have a final battle.
Now, “Lone Survivor” is essentially the main theme of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Be the last man standing. While it would make sense within the context of a Battle Royale-type situation within the PUBG universe, it makes absolutely zero sense in the context of The Callisto Protocol. They were not waiting for some random schmuck to fight tooth-and-nail through the prison to reach them, they were waiting for someone to transform into the Alpha, and they already had that. But when Jacob walked into that room, they all acted like this was their plan all along, and Cole is disappointed and defeated when Jacob kills the Alpha.
The context of PUBG also puts Cole’s methodology in a different light. He unleashed the virus to sow chaos throughout the facility, forcing people to fight for their lives in a pseudo-Darwinist survival exercise, much in the same way that PUBG pits people against each other in a fight to the last man. It does not make sense when considering that the stated goal is the random creation of a special mutant, but when the stated goal is letting a self-correcting virus evolve through repeated skirmishes with its enemies, it fits better thematically, and it actually makes a bit of sense to unleash this virus in a Battle Royale setting, with your prisoners who actually are a part of a controlled experiment. They’ve even said this was the case - a big feature that was touted was that enemies would learn how you fight against them, and they would alter their strategies and change how they mutate to counter you. Although this feature was completely absent (and everyone seems to have forgotten about it), it’s clear this feature was tied to the themes of PUBG.
One phrase exists in The Callisto Protocol, uttered by Dr. Mahler, and it is one of the only remaining references to PUBG. She speaks of something called the “Paramo Effect”, and how Paramo was the location of a viral outbreak that was very similar to the Biophage. Paramo is the name of a map in PUBG, and I believe the Paramo Effect is the name they gave the phenomenon of the virus rapidly mutating in response to its environment, and it’s in reference to the phenomenon of humans learning how best to fight against one another.
The themes of PUBG are also tied to the CORE. It’s a fairly random revelation that the CORE is capable of recording and sharing memories. In the final product, it only has minor plot significance and its existence as a feature is never adequately explained. However, this device is of massive importance to the PUBG universe. Part of the reason they undergo Battle Royales is to learn how to adapt against each other, but it’s extremely hard to gain experience when you die and your memories are lost. With the CORE, the memories of the deceased, or of the winners, can be shared and learned from, allowing the still living to benefit from the experiences of the dead or the very successful. I believe the invention of the CORE was intended to supplement the Darwinist philosophy used as justification for the Battle Royales.
With all of this in mind, what did The Callisto Protocol look like before its connections to PUBG were severed? I can only speculate based on limited thematic congruences, but here are my guesses.
Jacob was still a pilot. Not only was he a pilot, he was a pilot for a dropship, one that transports prisoners to the field of play. The Outer Way is likely a group whose goal is to liberate the prisoners, who are oftentimes completely innocent people, or they just object to the concept of Battle Royales. Black Iron Prison is not only housing, but also a battleground for the Battle Royales, and the practice of these Battle Royales is not public knowledge and Jacob is unaware, or he is intentionally ignorant of them. Callisto becomes a place with a reputation of people going there and never leaving.
Jacob is transporting a full load of one hundred prisoners to Callisto when The Outer Way attacks and crashes them. Numerous prisoners die in the crash, and for whatever reason the Warden decides to fill the now-vacant ranks of prisoners with the members of The Outer Way as well as Jacob - which normally would be needlessly cruel, but considering the setting, is thematically consistent.
The new Warden, Duncan Cole, has a different approach to things. Tired of the slow progress on this virus they’ve been researching and its mutating properties (which exemplify the Darwinist philosophy of “adapt or die”), he’s decided to unleash it during the next Battle Royale to test its true potential, and this is the Battle Royale that Jacob happens to be a part of. The only problem is that the virus adapts too well and it manages to overtake the entire prison, but maybe that was a part of the Warden’s plan as well. Jacob teams up with Dani and learns through her that he’s been delivering innocent people to slaughter, or if he already knew, she forces him to confront what he’s done.
When Jacob reaches the top of the tower, the scene plays out largely the same. He is greeted with “Vir Solitarius” and perhaps a bucket of KFC, but he is confronted by the “Alpha”, which is the strongest Biophage that has been mutating constantly over the course of the outbreak. The Warden demands a final battle between the last surviving man and the strongest iteration of the Biophage to determine who is truly better at adaptation. This encounter makes infinitely more sense than it does in the final product, as the Warden’s goal is not necessarily to create an Alpha, but to find a winner, until Shroud slides in with a blindfold on and one-taps all three of them with an over-under shotgun.
So I’ve demonstrated how all of these things fit into the original concept, but the question is why so much of it remained in the game after the divorce from the PUBG universe, and I believe part of it was that they simply didn’t have the time or resources left. Some of that is obvious in the simplistic level design, simplistic armor and weapon progression, and relatively short length of the game, but it also shows in how they were unable to hide traces of the original themes and replace them adequately. It seems like the Warden’s strange interest in Jacob was added as a way to justify Jacob being kidnapped in this new setting, whereas the old setting didn’t really need that kind of justification. They just never got around to explaining why Jacob was special, and that plot thread was dropped completely, as if it never existed.
And maybe the most heartbreaking thing about all of this is, while the game likely would have worked a whole lot better as a fully-realized concept in an original universe, it actually would have probably worked a lot better than it ended up being if they had stuck fully with the PUBG canon. I can see from where the themes of the Biophage and the philosophy of the Battle Royale line up in a neat way, and the story, if executed well enough, could have been surprisingly satisfying. Unfortunately, they were only able to go halfway out from their shift in direction, and while they were able to trick a lot of people into believing this game has the semblance of a coherent story, it ended up being a narrative mess.
EDIT: Gonna link people to the cutscenes before and during the final boss fight. Just listen to the dialogue in this cutscene and imagine it in the context of PUBG. I'm convinced these cutscenes were one of the first things they worked on before they changed direction, but they decided to keep a lot of the original dialogue. I'm going to go play-by-play and point out all the PUBG themes I see.
"He approaches. The survivor! Vir Solitarius!" Jacob is either the last remaining player or simply the most successful or first survivor to reach this location. Makes absolutely zero sense in TCP, but I covered all this and the Vir Solitarius stuff earlier.
"I've been watching you. You and your so-called friend. You're not the innocent you claim to be. You've proven that you'll do just about anything to ensure your own survival." Ignoring how obviously Darwinist this observation is, Cole has been watching Jacob because he's a successful player, and the point of the game is to observe the successful players. The Warden has no reason to be keeping tabs on Jacob within the context of TCP since he just wants the Alpha. Also, even if the Warden knows about Jacob's guilt regarding his role in transporting the cargo, why would he conflate that with what Jacob has done to keep himself alive? Jacob's actions in the prison have all amounted to self-defense and killing Biophages, nothing morally grey. In the PUBG-verse and other Battle Royale settings like Hunger Games, there's always a theme of making alliances with people only to betray them later, and of killing people who are not necessarily bad or hostile to you. The "so-called friend" line is casting doubt on the alliance he's built with Dani. I believe the original context of this line was to point out other things that Jacob may have done within the prison, stuff like betraying teammates or killing for supplies, as would commonly happen in a Battle Royale setting.
"And what about you, huh? Watching people die for fun? Is that your 'Protocol'?" This one is super on-the-nose, but it didn't stick out to me much at first because it doesn't actually contradict the final product that much. Cole is watching people 'die for fun', but that's not really his goal or a common practice of his, but it would be VERY common practice if he were the director of a Battle Royale.
And then Cole goes on about evolving to live in space, and about his final contest between human and Alpha which I've already covered, but Ferris comes in with a few conspicuous lines.
"You know, I really oughta thank you. At first I thought that this was a curse. But then I realized - it is a gift." Not necessarily connected to PUBG, but this line is kind of weird because it shows that Ferris puts direct blame on Jacob for his being infected. However, Jacob has nothing to do with unleashing the biophage, and the only reason Jacob got Ferris attacked by biophages was because Ferris tried to krillin him. I think Jacob was originally supposed to either start the outbreak himself or betray Ferris somehow, as if he were a participant in the game, and Jacob directly caused his mutation on purpose or by accident.
I also wanna point out that, during this fight, Ferris can sometimes say "You're gonna have to get past me to make it back up." This is another line that makes absolutely no sense in the context of the fight, and he also says this line during the first fight against him in Chapter 7, but in neither of these fights does Jacob have to "make it back up." I guess maybe during the first encounter, Jacob's trying to get back to the surface? But Ferris doesn't really know what Jacob's doing or what his goal is. And even then, there's really no justifiable use of this line during the final boss.
"I've beaten you! Beaten everyone! I'm the Alpha! The superior--" Ferris starts saying this, again very conspicuously out of place in the context of the fight, but very fitting for the Battle Royale setting. Ferris hasn't really beaten anyone, let alone everyone, so his saying this is weird. I'm sure this line was supposed to belong in the context of Ferris fighting his way through the prison while infected, constantly morphing and adapting, killing everyone he came across. It may even be that Jacob was supposed to fight Ferris multiple times throughout the game, and Ferris has changed each time, becoming more mutated and difficult.
There's only one more line that really kind of stands out.
"A valiant effort. But surely you know by now-- I never lose." Cole says this right before he loses. Now, this line kind of goes in one ear and out the other because it's such a cliche, but when you actually look at it, it's weird that he says this. Why would Jacob or Dani know that you never lose? You haven't really interacted much. They have no history with you, and you aren't famous for anything, and they just beat your Alpha mutant. However, this line changes a lot when you try to place it in PUBG. People who "never lose" and are known for it would be serial survivors, people who have been in multiple Battle Royales and won them repeatedly. It may be that Cole was intended to be a person who ascended from the game after winning every match he was in, and he was elevated to a leadership position because he was passionate about the thing that he's the best at. The cliche works with this in mind.
submitted by Chasing-Wagons to TheCallistoProtocol [link] [comments]

Musing on why DRG is so damn fun (very long post)

So a few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to try out Darktide. So him, me and two others gave it a spin and played it for a few hours. And sadly, I must say it left me feeling disappointed. Now, I'm here not here to yuck anybody's yum. If you like Darktid, my hat is off to you. Go play it and have fun. To me it was too much like Vermintide 2, a game I had given up playing after 50 hours or so. But that got me thinking.
"What is it with DRG that makes it so fun to me compared to Vermintide 2, Darktide, Borderlands and many others co-op shooters I've tried? I've played 750+ hours of this game and still find it fun. What does DRG have that the others don't?
After giving it some though, this is what I came up with:
This is the big one. All of the other games I've mentioned have static maps that never change, only the objectives and where the enemies spawn. Sooner or later you'll grow bored of them, especially if third party maps are not allowed. Which they usually aren't if the game is tied to an IP such as Warhammer. In DRG you'll never play the exact same map twice. Not only that, the maps have ten different biomes and twenty mutatators which makes for endless replayability and variation. In addition, players can install mods to change the experience even further. The Rogue-like variability of random caves is the strongest feature of this game.
In DRG the maps and terrain are just as much an enemy as the glyphids, it's not just pretty window dressing. You quickly learn that are plenty of things that can get you killed. First of all is vertically, you can easily fall to your death and most likely you have, dozens of times. Second is that enemies can come from all over the place, not just your front or flanks. Not to mention tons of other things that could send you to an early grave. Lava, fire spouts, stabber vines, explosive plants, earthquakes, falling meteors, sandstorms, snowstorms, poisonous plants, cave leeches and much more. Another thing is that the terrain affects how you fight. It's one thing to meet and fight a horde of slavering glyphids on open terrain with good sight lines, another to meet them on cramped ledge above a hundred feet drop while a snowstorm has reduced your vision to nothing. This also leads to strategic thinking: "Do we fight this Dreadnought right here or kite him to a more suitable location?"
Most other co-op shooters are linear. Move from A-B and do something, go from B-C and do something, C-D and have a final fight then run to extraction. DRG is all about somewhat calm exploration with bouts of frenzied combat. It's spelunking! You step out of the Drop Pod and then you...explore. Do we take the left or right tunnel? Should we split up? What's that bloody beeping sound? Can't see sh*t, Scout, give us some light. Oh, look Nitra! It's almost like old-school D&D dungeon crawling with a DM who for some reason is giggling madly behind his screen. "You sure you wanna enter THAT part of the cave?" *giggle*. These moments of exploration is one thing I love about DRG. And the objectives forces you to explore every dark corner of the caves. Sometimes this exploration will reward you with treasures like Lost Helmets, Loot Crates or machine events. And....sometimes this exploration will lead you to no end of trouble. Like drilling right next to a BET-C resting right in front of a Korlok Tyrant-Weed. Oh, we have an incoming swarm as well? Oooh geez. It's these random, chaotic, frenzied moments between periods of calm that makes DRG so damned fun. Sure, sometimes they might send you directly to Sick Bay, but wasn't it FUN? I swear, GSG could replace The Scout with a Rogue, the Gunner with a Barbarian, The Engineer with a Wizard and The Driller with an errr...mad bombey thingy (Alchemist/Sorcerer?!) and the caves with tiled dungeons and it still would work. That idea is yours now GSG, free of charge. You're welcome.
Almost all co-op shooters have unique classes. And the classes have unique abilities. DRG is no exception. However, in other games unique class abilities are often focused on making the individual player stronger so they can do their specific role (tank, handle specials, crowd control etc). These special abilities often assist the others players indirectly. In DRG class abilities are often meant to help and assist others players directly. In other co-op shooters, class skills are only useful in combat. In DRG they are often useful in and outside of combat. For example, in Darktide the Veteran gets an ability that "slows down their movement to take careful aim, increasing weak spot damage as well as accuracy and handling." How is that team oriented? Would the others even notice? Look at other co-op games an it's usually more of the same. Compare it to this in DRG: The Gunner notices some Croppa on a wall and pings it. The Engineer puts a platform beneath it and the Scout uses his grappling hook to reach it. That is direct assistance and cooperation that also involves communication. The Driller can create stairs to mission objectives, escape paths, remove obstacles, create bunkers for combat, trenches to take cover in etc. The Gunner can use ziplines for his mates to get over chasms or use his shield to protect them. The Engineer can create ledges, stairs, bridges, shield objectives, repel enemies etc. The scout provides light and acts as juicy bait for cave leeches :).
In addition DRG further rewards cooperation by making it so that if other assist the progression is faster. From repairing stuff, building pipelines, rebooting systems, reviving, standing nearby objectives. The more I've played DRG the more I've come to realize the many team oriented tweaks that GSG has implemented in the game and in the center of it all is that excellent Ping tool that ties it all together.
Weapons - we love them. Big guns, small guns. Giant BFGs to crossbows. We want them all. Almost all co-op games have a plethora of different weapons. The big difference between DRG and other co-op games is this: DRG has no level caps or power levels when it comes to weapons. Sure, there is a grind to find get them and and some RNG upgrade them, but that's it. Most other co-op either asks you to be a certain level/rank to use a weapon or weapons have progressive power levels. This leads to two problems. The first is when old veterans wants to play with friends who are new to the game. Either the new player has to A) Do a MAD grind to catch up to his veteran friend or B) The veteran has to play on waaay lower difficulties which is no fun for him/her. Secondly it creates an US and THEM situation where you have new players and veterans who rarely interact with each other. It create an invisible wall between them. DRG does away with this by skipping power levels completely and instead introducing overclocks that tweaks your weapons but retains an somewhat equilibrium when it comes to power and efficiency. A Greenbeard can do Haz 4/5 mission and I've seen it happen, plenty of times. Is it recommended? Well, maybe not but it works. Especially if the Greenbeards has some Greybeards to assist, encourage and give them head pats along the way. There is no weapon in DRG that is so overpowering that others cannot play. It's often minor tweaks, changes of play-style or benefits that are balanced with drawbacks. DRG weapons caters more to play-style and experience rather than power-levels and the game is better for it.
It's soooo great and liberating to play a game that doesn't have loot crates or an in-game shop that tries to make you buy stuff for real money at every turn. The formula that GSG follow is brilliant. Free seasons and content for the main game and if you want to support them you buy the cosmetic DLC. And so far I've bought every one of them. In addition, any stuff you missed during a season is carried over to future updates through cargo crates, lost helmets etc. In the end, no one misses out and you can play the game at your leisure. This is great for those with limited playtime.
This might be a minor one, but I love the dwarves in DRG. Any why not, they are so damn relatable. They gripe about their job, the company they work for, management and crappy equipment while at the same time joking and helping their fellow dwarves. Most of us can relate to them. Heck, anybody who has ever held a job can probably find some common ground with them. The game has heart, and a big one at that. Vermintide and Darktide has some excellent voice acting and lots of funny dialogue (for a bunch of Emperor worshiping weirdos), but if I was going pub crawling one night, I know which team I'd rather go with.
Anyhow, my musings why I love this game. Rock and stone to you GSG. It's a brilliant game and you should be proud of it. Looking forward to future content.
submitted by RappScallion73 to DeepRockGalactic [link] [comments]

Why Didn't Frodo Baggins Have a PhD in Electrical Engineering?: Nitpicking the Economic History of Middle Earth

There is a more readable version of this with images embedded here
The first post in the series is available here and here
I really need to get a better hobby.
V. Introduction to Part II:
“And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few even of the lore-masters now can read, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.” - Gandalf
Welcome back to making the internet very mad at me, part 2 (née Why Hasn’t Middle Earth Had an Industrial Revolution?) where we explore why Middle Earth should or should not have had an Industrial Revolution.1
In the last part, while we mainly covered natural resources, we briefly discussed how scientific knowledge was probably not sufficient for the Industrial Revolution. The large lag times between the discovery of relevant scientific facts (for instance, the discovery that nature allows for vacuums) and the adaptation of those facts into inventions like the steam engine suggest that more things than just science were at play.2 Today, I want to look slightly more in depth at scientific discovery because, while it may not have been sufficient for development, it does seem necessary.
But, before we can dive into that:
VI. We need to talk about Isengard (and also Mordor I guess)
But I don’t want to cure cancer, I want to turn people into dinosaurs” -Sauron3
“But what about Mordor!”, “You clearly didn’t think about the fact that Sauron is an allegory for industrialization”, “actually, Isengard was industrializing…”
A lot of people seem to think that I have made a fundamental mistake and that Middle Earth actually is industrializing and so my question is poorly put; I don’t think this is right.
First of all, even granting the idea that both Mordor and Isengard are industrializing, that doesn’t actually respond to the question “Why hasn’t Middle Earth had an Industrial Revolution?”
Fundamentally, the question is about why they have or have not had one instead of if they have or have not, but I also generally don’t think any current industrialization is that relevant. Like, imagine a divorcee who buys his ex-wife flowers on what would have been their 25th anniversary. The ex-wife is being totally reasonable when she asks “Why didn’t you do this 15 years ago” and we don’t think a good response is “Well, um… actually I’m doing it now, so your question is poorly phrased.” The point is that you didn’t do something when you should have! Similarly, the defense that some sort of Industrial Revolution is happening on Middle Earth doesn’t really explain why it didn’t before.
A second problem is, while I will concede entirely that Tolkien clearly intended the evil locations in LOTR to representthe Industrial Revolution, they don’t actually seem to be industrializing.4 Most people who pointed this out quoted passages noting the widespread deforestation and smog being loosed into the sky.5 The problem with this is that these are potential effects of industrialization but not actually direct evidence of it. To give you another tortured metaphor, It’s a bit like seeing someone unmoving and covered in a red viscous liquid and concluding a gruesome murder happened. Like it’s possible it was a murder, but it could also be someone having a nap after a hotdog eating contest.
Let’s start with Isengard. Sure, they are burning a bunch of trees, but that’s not actually proof of industrialization. Last week we discussed that coal was relatively cheap compared to wood in England. The reason for that was that London had deforested most of the area around it before the IR!6 For all we know, Sarumon just really hates trees. More reasonably, it might be that the trees are being used as fuel in an extensive increase of non-industrial processes.
That is, Sarumon needs to equip an incredibly large army with armor, weaponry, and all sorts of other equipment. To do that he needs fuel for furnaces and forges as well as wood for use as a material. This is pretty explicit in the text, in Isengard “The shafts ran down by many slopes and spiral stairs to caverns far under; there Saruman had treasuries, store-houses, armouries, smithies, and great furnaces. Iron wheels revolved there endlessly, and hammers thudded.”7
Sure, at first glance this sounds industrial, but furnaces and forges weren’t new technologies in the industrial revolution. Here’s a list of patents for new technologies in Britain broken down by sector during the IR8: https://imgur.com/a/qMRPIkg
Note how the vast majority of innovations aren’t in mining or smelting (and apparently a lot of the metallurgy patents listed here were actually about plating and tinning).9 Furthermore, it’s not like we have textual evidence that Sarumon is actually getting better at producing metal stuff, just that he is producing more of it. For all we know, all Sarumon is doing is utilizatizing a great deal more of existing technology rather than actually creating something new. The IR was not just a change in quantity of production, it was a change in quality and kind. There doesn’t seem to be great evidence of that here.
Of course, here are a couple of hints that maybe some mechanization or technological innovation is occurring. Sarumon is described as “a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things,” and during the march of the ents on Isengard “he set some of his precious machinery to work.”.10 But this is really scant evidence to say that Isengard is industrial. That “precious machinery” is described to us by hobbits unfamiliar with the area and is really just opening the furnace vents to let out heat, not exactly the most innovative thing ever. What these ornate and complicated mechanisms seem like to me is a dictator inefficiently directing the labor of the society he controls towards complicated works with existing technology, not the product of an innovative society with high technological capacity.
Similarly, Sarumon’s takeover of the Shire at the end of LOTR is not really a great example of industrialization. When the Hobbits return to the Shire, they find that the has been a coup that overthrew the prior government and instituted an autocratic kleptocracy with Sarumon at the head.11 The main point people make when they claim that this is industrialization is that the new government knocked down the old mill and replaced it with a larger one “full o’ wheels and outlandish contraptions” that is polluting the river. This is, I think, slightly better evidence of industrialization.
Using water mills to provide a source of power definitely was a part of the industrial revolution.12 But, if you read carefully, this mill is explicitly described as still only being used to grind corn.13 That is, this mill is just a better version of what mills were used for in Britain since at least Roman Occupation!14 Perhaps it portends the oncoming harnessing of power for various mechanical purposes, but it definitely isn’t evidence of mechanical transformation itself.
As for Mordor proper, I think the evidence is even worse here. Sure, we get descriptions of lots of forges and furnaces, but, again, this isn’t industrialization.15 Repeat after me, it isn’t industrialization unless it involves the development of new mechanized technologies, otherwise it’s just sparkling pollution.
So, I swear to like Eru Illuvatar or whatever, if even one of you nerds decides to write a 22 page thesis in the comments about Mordor being industrial again I will come to your house and break all of your funko pops.
VII. Science and Culture
Of their original home the Hobbits in Bilbo’s time preserved no knowledge. A love of learning (other than genealogical lore) was far from general among them, but there remained still a few in the older families who studied their own books, and even gathered reports of old times and distant lands from Elves, Dwarves, and Men. - The Red Book of Westmarch
So, anyway, science.
When I say science was necessary for the Industrial Revolution, I really mean something like “the product of science was necessary for creation of the various technological inventions and improvements that occurred during the Industrial Revolution”. What was the product of science? To hear Joel Mokyr tell it: useful propositional knowledge.
What does that mean? Essentially, facts. Scientific investigation produces clear, concrete, and (largely) correct pieces of information like “The melting point of steel is X”, “Nitrogen improves crop yields”, or “The Beatles are overrated”. Inventors in turn take these bits of knowledge and can combine and innovate with them to produce technology.16 To return to a frequent example, the facts surrounding the properties of pressure were critical for the development of the steam engine. Without these various bits of discrete knowledge, it’s really hard, if not impossible, to make innovations.
This is really a multi-step process that is worth breaking down into pieces: https://imgur.com/a/PZJbWXt
Here’s an example of how this process might go. Let’s say I’m a research scientist and I discover after rigorous empirical testing that, as a matter of physics, Tolkien fans are magnetically repulsive to members of their romantically preferred gender. I take my results and write them up in a journal article using standardized notation and practices for communicating facts. That journal article is then read by someone else who uses this previously unknown fact to create the world's first human-driven electromagnetic generator, singlehandedly solving the energy crisis and stopping climate change in its tracks. Each of those steps from discovery to the encoding of the fact being read by the inventor is necessary for a new invention to be made.
The Mokyrian explanation for the Industrial Revolution is, basically, that in the immediate run up to the time period, each step in this process became easier and occurred more, creating a much larger knowledge base than would have been present otherwise and allowing for new inventions and innovations to flourish.17
What caused this change? The Enlightenment.
More specifically: the Baconian program. Mokyr has spent a large part of his career documenting how, immediately prior to the enlightenment, there was a fundamental shift away from the neo-Aristotelian Thomist synthesis of the Medieval system towards a new empiricist approach to physics and science.18
The “Baconian Program” termed after Lord Francis Bacon, was, simplifying a bit, a (partially uncoordinated) attempt to generate a large body of general principles based on empirical regularities.19 For instance, Newtonian mechanics may be thought of as one of the largest contributions of “the program” in as far as it was a proposed set of regularities based on the observed instances of apples falling off of trees or whatever. This resulted in a much larger body of useful knowledge to draw on for invention.
It wasn’t just that there were more facts, they were also more accessible. There was an increased willingness to make research public and to do so in a regular manner (by standardizing things like notation and measurements).20 Furthermore, there was an attempt to increase distribution of these facts through the regular publications of scientific journals as well as large anthologies of scientific information (most famously Diderot and D’Alembert’s Encyclopédie).21 The result of this was that scientific knowledge was more available than ever.
Of course, this just seems like we’ve punted our explanation of the industrial revolution back one step. If enlightenment scientific advancement caused industrialization, what caused the enlightenment? Continuing with Mokyr’s explanation, the answer is culture.22 Specifically, the driver of this change in approach towards understanding the world was a newfound belief (among elites) that economic and technological change was both possible and desirable.
This attitude drove increased amounts of attention and resources to scientific progress (directly as more people wanted to engage with science and indirectly as status rewards incentivized scientific discovery and patronage of scientists).
So, to spell out the process being proposed here entirely, it goes:
CultureScienceInventionEconomic Growth
We have pretty decent qualitative evidence of a cultural shift towards science. We also have excellent evidence of an increase in scientific discovery. We can even see the increase in science quantitatively.23
There was an increase in scientific journals:
As well as scientific societies:
So there’s at least some evidence that Culture → Science.
What about Science → Innovation? Here, I think the evidence is more mixed.
To remind you what the causal mechanism is that was being proposed, it’s that scientific elites discover new knowledge which then trickles down to artisans and fabricants who then use that knowledge combined with their skill to create new inventions. So, first of all, we need evidence that artisans could actually access the new science that was being created.
Van Zaden (2009) provides us some evidence of this by looking at books over time Europe and finding that they became cheaper and more available.24
Books were more accessible and more people were capable of reading them:
So that’s pretty good evidence that scientific knowledge would have been more available than ever. What’s the issue?
A couple of things. First, the Enlightenment was a European wide phenomena, but industrialization began specifically in England. If it was a large driver, then why didn’t other countries take off at the same time?25 I don’t think this is too big a worry for us specifically, as we are only thinking of science as a necessary condition rather than the sole driver, so we can allow that Britain had unique factors that drove early industrialization.
The second problem is that the evidence that inventors of new technology during the IR actually used scientific knowledge is simply mixed. That is, even if scientific knowledge was available, it may not have been used frequently during invention. Instead, some research suggests that innovation was a more isolated phenomenon generated mainly by ‘tinkering’ or trial and error until a successful device emerged rather than being constructed in accordance with predictions made by science. For instance, “Less than one-fourth of those had any schooling other than an apprenticeship”.26 It’s simply hard to see how to square the low rates of education with the idea of science as a driver.
But, of course, not having a formal education is not quite the same thing as not having access to science. Where does that leave us? I think, basically, we are in a similar spot to the Factor Price theory, where there is credible evidence both for and against, but the immense plausibility of the theory demands we at least treat it seriously.
VIII. Do Elves go to School?
It is told that in their beginning the Dwarves were made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth; for so greatly did Aulë desire the coming of the Children, to have learners to whom he could teach his lore and his crafts, that he was unwilling to await the fulfilment of the designs of Ilúvatar. -The Silmarillion
So, how does this story of Culture -> Science -> Invention -> Economic Growth fit in with Middle Earth?
Frankly, Middle Earth’s level of scientific innovation is abysmal. There are a few groups mentioned in the books (which again, I have not read) that we could think of as dealing with the sorts of academic inquiry we are interested in: the archives of Minas Tirith, the elven school of Lambengolmor, and, of course, the council of five Wizards. These all turn out to be incredibly backwards institutions with little interest in discovery or exploration of natural science.
Let’s start with the Archives. We are told that the collection in Minas Tirith has a vast collection of “hoarded scrolls and books.” and that at least a fair amount of staff are employed in maintaining and interpreting the collection. Indeed, when Gandalf is seeking knowledge about the one ring this is the first place he seeks out, suggesting it is a location of at least decent renown. But this is also a fundamentally backwards institution, in the words of Denethor “If indeed you look only, as you say, for records of ancient days, and the beginnings of the City, read on!’’ he said. ‘‘For to me what was is less dark than what is to come, and that is my care.”. This suggests that the archives primarily serve as a repository for the wisdom of the ancients rather than as an active research institution dedicated to furthering current knowledge. And the archives are even bad at their job of maintaining existing facts! Gandalf tells us that “And yet there lie in his hoards many records that few even of the lore-masters now can read, for their scripts and tongues have become dark to later men.” The most extreme example of this is that a scroll that tells you how to identify the one ring, basically the Middle Earth equivalent of detailed instruction on how to build a nuclear bomb, has just been sitting around unread by anyone in the basement for centuries! This is not the sort of place we should expect productive science from.
What about the Elves? The best reference I could find to any sort of organization dedicated to knowledge gathering is yet another backwards looking collection of loremasters. The school of Lambengolmor, which is primarily composed of linguists and historians, seems to be the clearest example of an Elven institution dedicated to discovery of facts or wisdom. Notably absent is any sense of forward looking discovery, with instead a focus on compiling facts about what happened.
And so we come to the Order of the Wizards. For those who (like me) have not read the books you need to understand that while wizards in Middle Earth may appear to be a friendly collection of doddering old wise men, they are, in fact, an elite strike force of angels sent by lesser gods to prepare Middle Earth for war with Sauron.
As such, I’m not too surprised that we don’t get any direct evidence that they themselves are engaging in scientific research, but it is somewhat surprising that they don’t seem to even encourage it? After all, surely with the heavy emphasis on how Sauron is tooling up Mordor for war it would have been helpful to, say, spend some of the last 1000 years helping the Free Kingdoms learn how to make better steel or something? Alas, the Wizards seem to have a fairly anti-inquiry bent with Gandalf notably telling a (fallen) Sarumon that “he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”. This is in reference to Sarumon making a discovery about optics that white light can be split into multiple colors. Your basic platitudes are standing in the way of the invention of glasses, Gandalf! So, no scientific discovery or encouragement is coming from here.
I think these bits of evidence combine to paint a picture of a society that is fairly backwards looking with a culture that emphasizes holding on to the teachings of the ancients over new discovery. So, the low level of discovery seems to make sense given the cultural values of the Middle Earth.
But, when interrogating the world building, I think we can go one step deeper and ask if this sort of backwards looking culture makes sense.
To do this we need a model of culture change.
To start with, let’s think of society as consisting of a complex network of nodes.27
Where each node represents a person and each line is a social connection between those people. Now let’s assume that each person has a set of beliefs, values, and preferences that we can group under the general banner of culture.
For any given cultural item that someone has, we think there is a chance that they transmit it to someone else. So, in our model, if Frodo comes up with a new cultural idea, say “We should form a group in charge of geothermal-powered jewelry recycling.” then there is a chance that people exposed to the new belief (i.e. connected to Frodo) will choose to adopt it. If they do, the process repeats for those people’s connections and so on.
There are a few factors that we might think make it more or less likely for beliefs to be spread. First, it’s not like all cultural properties are equally likely to be adopted. Think about it in real life, just because you tangentially know somebody who thinks that the Pentagon is actually just a really low polygon flying saucer doesn’t mean you are going to start thinking that. Various things bias upwards or downwards the probability of a cultural norm being adopted. For instance, for beliefs that clearly do not comport with observed facts we might expect some resistance to adoption.
The second thing that might determine culture spread and change is the size and density of the societal network. Ideas can be adopted in two ways. First, they can be picked up from someone in the network. Second, someone within the network can be a cultural innovator who sua sponte comes up with something new. The more people you have in the network, the more likely you are to see the introduction of new ideas. Similarly, connecting previously unconnected networks allows for access to previously unavailable ideas. Furthermore, we should pay attention to the density of the network. That is, for any given node how many others is it connected to. This density of connection allows for much faster spread and prevents novel ideas from getting “gated” where all of the connections to the novel idea connect it and it therefore never gets a chance to spread.
As an example here, the development of the printing press and national mailing systems in Europe allowed for the emergence of much larger and denser social networks among the elites in Europe. This allowed for the formation of what is termed The Republic of Letters, a social network for scientifically and philosophically inclined elites who were able to distribute ideas and discoveries amongst each other at a much more rapid rate than they would have been able to otherwise.28
So, to return to Middle Earth, the questions we should be asking are: Were there reasons that elites in Middle Earth should be biased against adopting pro-scientific cultural attitudes, how large were the social networks amongst elites, and how dense were the social networks among the elites.
Let’s start with the latter two questions about density and size of the network. In essence, this is asking us to investigate communication technology in Middle Earth. In general, it seems to me to be quite poor (with a couple of exceptions). Some of our evidence for this comes from the fact that the Palantiri, the seeing stones which essentially function as a long range communication device, are so highly valued. That they are so rare and so highly valued indicates lack of an alternative but similar technology, suggesting no magical means of communication is common. As for more traditional means of communication… it’s complicated? As far as I can tell, the Shire has essentially a totally functioning postal system. We get explicit reference to Bilbo and Frodo receiving mail on a regular basis. This is fairly in keeping with other aspects we learn about the Shire’s government like the presence of mayors and a professionalized police force.
However, this network doesn’t seem to extend even to close neighbors like Bree, as when Gandalf needs to send a letter to Frodo from the Prancing Pony his best option is to just leave it with the proprietor who in turn attempts (and fails) to hire random laborers to walk it to the Shire? This suggests an abysmal lack of communication institutions interregionally. As far as I can tell, none of the other locations we visit have anything better to offer and the Shire seems unique in this property. This suggests we are looking at a world where, relative to our world in the 18th century, information spreads much slower and the average person is exposed to fewer sources of new ideas. Thus, it seems probable cultural shifts would occur at a much slower rate.
As to the third question about cultural spread, whether we think the residents of Middle Earth have reasons that make them more or less likely to adopt cultural attitudes that inculcate scientific discovery, I think this can go both ways.
u/Username42 on reddit responded to my post last week and basically predicated the case in favor of a negative bias that I was going to make (and as I am lazy I am more than happy for others to do my work for me):
This kind of cultural change would be much less likely in Middle-Earth than in our world because most of the great disasters in the history of Arda come from innovation going wrong. The unleashing of the Balrog and destruction of Khazad-Dum came from the dwarves pushing their mining and industrialisation efforts too far. The Numenoreans were highly militarised and are hinted to have more advanced technology than anywhere in the Third Age, and their ambition got them all drowned by the Valar. Celebrimbor developed new technology for Rings of Power but Sauron was able to exploit them and gain power over their bearers. Back in the First Age, Feanor's development of the Silmarils led to the Kinslaying and the War of the Jewels, and you could even argue that the introduction of sin into the world into the Ainulindale was Melkor attempting to innovate beyond the these presented by Illuvatar.
If you're an elite scholar in Middle-Earth, you're raised on stories of everyone who tries to develop anything radically new getting punished for their hubris, and even though it's thousands of years ago, there are many people in the world like Elrond and Galadriel who were literally alive at the time those events happened. It's not an environment that's conducive to someone like Francis Bacon becoming a cultural icon as he did in the European Enlightenment.
I have a couple of quibbles here and there about the specifics (not sure the Dwarves specifically were increasing in technological capability and it leaves out that the main reason for the sinking of Numenor was the attempted invasion of Valinor) but I think the thrust of this proposition is right. We would expect the deep study of past failures resulting from attempts at development to create a deep resistance to technical progress among the elite.
So, it would seem that Tolkien has defeated me once again. Perhaps Middle Earth is, in fact, internally consistent and these are, in fact, genre defining books worthy of praise rather than overpriced doorstops whose greatest contribution to literature was laying the groundwork for the literary genius that was I'm a Behemoth, an S-Ranked Monster, but Mistaken for a Cat, I Live as an Elf Girl's Pet.29
I think this thesis overlooks a key element in favor of Middle Earth being pro science. Fundamentally, to think that Middle Earth should have a culture of stagnation, you have to accept that multiple lesser gods are just fundamentally, absolutely and irrevocably terrible at their jobs.
Let’s back up. For those who aren’t in the loop on the finer details of Ardaian Theology, in the beginning there was Eru Illuvatar. Eru wanted there to be more than just Eru, so they made a bunch of disembodied spirits who were really good at singing to sing a planet into existence. Melkor, one of these spirits (and basically the Vader to Sauron’s Kylo Ren) was like “Nah dude, you all want to sing some pansy-ass gospel music but I think we should sing some death metal”. This led to strenuous disagreement. Long story short, big G God ends up sending a bunch of lowercase g gods known as the Valar to the physical world to help guide mortals.
Why am I regaling you with this? Because included among those lesser gods is Aule the Smith. Aule the Smith, is, surprisingly, the god of Smiths, Craftsmen, Invention etc. We are explicitly told in the text of the Silmarillion (which, again, I have not read) that “He is a smith and a master of all crafts, and he delights in works of skill”. And he isn’t just invested in old or traditional ways of crafting. The text (allegedly) tells us that he “desired to make things of [his] own that should be new and unthought of by others, and delighted in the praise of [his] skill.”
And apparently Aule is very invested in imparting his ideology! We learn that “Of him comes the lore and knowledge of the Earth and of all things that it contains: whether the lore of those that make not, but seek only for the understanding of what is, or the lore of all craftsmen: the weaver, the shaper of wood, and the worker in metals” This sure sounds like a god who might want to stick his thumb on the scale in favor of science to me! Aule is actually so on board with teaching people how to make cool stuff that he skips the queue and makes sentient life thousands of years ahead of when it was supposed to emerge on earth: “It is told that in their beginning the Dwarves were made by Aulë in the darkness of Middle-earth; for so greatly did Aulë desire the coming of the Children, to have learners to whom he could teach his lore and his crafts, that he was unwilling to await the fulfilment of the designs of Ilúvatar.”
So, this is where, after approximately 9,000 words of exposition, I can finally hit Tolkien with a couple of barbs. Because exactly what has Aule, a literal deity who wants people to learn craftsmanship and facts, been doing for the last 35,000 years?30 Clearly nothing useful given the abysmal state of Middle Earth. This, I think, is the fundamental flaw in the causal chain. We know explicitly that the Valar are deities with a positive interest in the flourishing of… humankind? Elfkind? Peoplekind? The group of sentient people that populate Middle Earth. Why are they doing nothing to kick Middle Earth out of this negative equilibrium of stagnation? Given that their benevolence is basically stipulated, I think the only option left is to assume incompetence. As surely this is not what Tolkien intended, I deem him a failure whose greatest legacy is the existence of ElfQuest.
Conclusion to Part II:
So, if you buy science as a necessary condition of industrialization, then I think you are stuck in a bind between thinking Middle Earth is internally consistent and thinking that it’s gods are like, good at their jobs. This maybe isn’t the biggest worry ever however. I mean look at Gandalf, he’s an angelic emmissary of one of the gods and his best plan for saving the world involves 2 hobbits going on the worlds longest and least supervised field trip.
Having now covered resources, factor prices, and science but somehow my determination to engage in what is, if we are honest, a fundamentally pointless excercise is holding on by a thread. So join us next time where we ask: should Gondor expect a Spanish Inquisition?
  1. Stop screaming “Read LOTR” at me. I will never read Lord of the Rings, coward.
  2. Allen, Robert C. “The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective,” 2009. Pg. 6
  3. Kalan, Elliot. Spider-Man and the X-Men Issue #2. New York: Marvel Comics, 2015.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmentalism_in_The_Lord_of_the_Rings
  5. Sentences like “Iron wheels revolved there endlessly, and hammers thudded.”
  6. Allen, Robert C. “The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective,” 2009. Pg. 85
  7. Tolkien J.R.R., The Two Towers. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. Print.
  8. Bruland, Kristine. “Industrialisation and Technological Change.” In The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, edited by Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson, 1st ed., 117–46. Cambridge University Press, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521820363.006.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Tolkien J.R.R., The Two Towers. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. Print.
  11. Tolkien J.R.R., The Return of the King. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. Print.
  12. Bruland, Kristine. “Industrialisation and Technological Change.” In The Cambridge Economic History of Modern Britain, edited by Roderick Floud and Paul Johnson, 1st ed., 117–46. Cambridge University Press, 2004. https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521820363.006.
  13. “Pimple’s idea was to grind more and faster, or so he said. He’s got other mills like it. But you’ve got to have grist before you can grind; and there was no more for the new mill to do than for the old”
  14. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/G_1889-0622-1
  15. “of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-duˆ r, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength.”
  16. Mokyr, Joel. “The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth,” n.d., 67.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Mokyr, Joel. A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. Princeton University Press, 2017. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1wf4dft.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Mokyr, Joel. “The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth,” n.d., 67.
  22. This is a simplified version as he actually proposes something like the interaction term of Institutions and Culture being the driver, but since I’m hitting institutions next time I’m leaving it at just culture for now. For more on Culture and Institutions interacting see: Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. “Culture and Institutions,”
  23. Mokyr, Joel. “The Intellectual Origins of Modern Economic Growth,” n.d., 67.
  24. van Zanden, Jan Luiten. The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 17 Jun. 2009) doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/ej.9789004175174.i-346
  25. Allen, R. C. “Why the Industrial Revolution Was British: Commerce, Induced Invention, and the Scientific Revolution1: INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.” The Economic History Review 64, no. 2 (May 2011): 357–84. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0289.2010.00532.x.
  26. Ó Gráda, Cormac. “Did Science Cause the Industrial Revolution?” Journal of Economic Literature 54, no. 1 (March 1, 2016): 224–39. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.54.1.224.
  27. Mokyr, Joel. A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. Princeton University Press, 2017. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1wf4dft.
  28. Ibid.
  29. I had to read through far too many god awful names of light novels to make this joke.
  30. I imagine someone is going to point out that Aule has had two of his Maiar betray him possibly lowering influence. As a bit of a note, while Sauron and Sarumon are the only named Maiar, the evidence suggests Valar have thousands of Maiar each.
submitted by UnfeatheredBiped to badeconomics [link] [comments]


This is part six.
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Have you ever felt a jump? Feels like nothing relative to compounded warp sickness.
I spent a week in the critical care unit. Two under heavy guard in the trauma ward. Then another in the CCU when I spiked a fever from some virus I picked up. After they figured that out, I went back to the trauma ward for one major surgery and four minor ones to put my body back together.
After the surgeons got all my parts in the right places, the geneticists seeded me with stem cells for reconstruction. Or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I don’t remember a lot of it. I just know that after that was four months of physical therapy and neural diagnostics.
All this would have been a lot easier to fix back on 3, with all the medtech we learned, scrounged, or stole from the Shriike Occupation. But they didn’t dare jump me anywhere. Remember, warp sickness compounds. If you’re not fully recovered, the symptoms are exponentially worse. The jump doesn’t take kindly to trying to cheat its rules. Fully means fully.
A jump is sharp and quick. Warp sickness is a dull, grinding ache that permeates into your bones and slowly wears you away.
A couple months into recovery, the High Command tried some psycho-analytics and cyberware diagnostics. I reacted...poorly.
No, I’m done talking about stuff playing with my brain. If you want to know more about the Battle of the Bubble, look up those five Republic-funded research studies and that whole specialization of biotech named after me. Pretty sure there’s a Wikipedia article that breaks it down into something you can understand. My brain is still my own, at least for now, so we’re gonna talk about why I’m still here.
“You’re very lucky. Jumpers come in with glitches all the time, but I haven’t seen sheering like this....”
The doc swiped at his tablet, gesturing to bring both the x-ray and soft tissue images up side-by-side. His expression was something like wonderment, not lifting his gaze as he continued to speak. “How many jumps was it?”
“Four. In less than twelve minutes.” My voice was low and hard.
The doc swore under his breath. “Didn’t think that was survivable. I mean, I’ve seen better looking aortic dissections. Look at this shift here, right across--” His finger slashed over the shades-of-grey image. He paused, then let out a small sigh. “Like I said, very lucky.”
I caught a glimpse of my scans from the three months ago when they dumped me into a med bay. Like a paper doll got cut up and pasted back together.
“Yeah,” I murmured, dropping my head back to the pillow. I’d liked my previous doc better. “Lucky.”
The medics let me sleep for a couple hours, then wheeled me to the galley. I’d been able to take solid food for a couple weeks now, and the physios counted it as part of the therapy. Still took me a long time with my impaired manual dexterity.
The galley was mostly empty at this hour. Just me, an MP and security drone in one corner, a cluster of exhausted nurses across the room, and two cyberjockeys who’d drawn rations just before me.
The medic brought me a tray, then retired to a corner, glancing up occasionally to check on my progress.
I flinched at the woman’s voice, but tried to hide it, unsure if I should react.
“Cadieux!” It was a bit louder. The MP stood straighter as he caught the name across the hollow room. The drone perked up as it detected the raised voice.
I looked up, suddenly tense.
Both of the cyberjockeys were squinting at me. “Told you it was her,” said one. Heavy Indian accent.
I noted the telltale bruising, like the marks of a seatbelt after a car crash.
“I heard it was six jumps,” said the other through chattering teeth. It wasn’t cold. Nerve deterioration from neurolink strain. I could see the port behind her ear.
I relaxed, all the tension draining out of my shoulders. “Only five.”
“Only five,” The woman repeated in her accent. “In less than ten minutes, was it?”
I matched the other’s grin. “Just over eight, actually.”
We all laughed. Brief, bitter, just-short-of-hopeless mirth in the middle of the War. Three gunslingers from three separate crews on three different destroyers.
I met the same two the next day, then the next and the next. We wouldn’t have been friends before the War, but I have a very clear memory of the first time I used the word “we” and meant all three of us. Meant “Terran”. Some joke or another because we were bonded over our unique experience. It’s easy to lose perspective, surrounded as we were by destroyer crews. But neurolink candidates are exceedingly rare. A tiny chance to die hooked into a gun instead of with your boots in the mud during the Surface Campaign.
They recovered much faster than I did, it seemed. Not that it mattered. In six weeks they’d both be dead. The Indian woman's boat ate a torpedo her first jump back out. The other girl was transported back to Sol 3 when the nerve deterioration stopped improving. The medtechs told her she wouldn’t get better, so she walked out from under the radiation shielding and just kept walking.
I wonder if that knowledge would have changed my actions. Probably not. Terran are just as social as Humans. We need to belong to something. I finally did, for a few days. First time since Old Earth. Since this simulation started.
“Did you hear?” She said in her accent to us a few days before we were all together for the last time, sliding her tray across the long table and dropping onto the bench. She had gotten her deployment orders earlier and the anticipation was visible on her face. She had to repeat herself twice to be heard over the clamor of the full galley.
“Did you hear? Two supersoldiers just came in with the last transport.”
We both focused quickly. “Really? Enhanced, or--?”
“No, real gen-ones.”
We went quiet. All those stories jumped back through the void from the Surface Campaign. Not so different than the stories jumping back from the Battle of the Bubble, I supposed.
I frowned. “They’re allowed aboard a station?”
“I don’t know.”
The other girl finished her bite. Swallowed. Spoke finally. “They got a hellhound with ‘em?”
“Well let’s get the good seats.”
They helped me spinward through the station, trailed by the MP and drone tasked as my keepers. Most of the Terran we passed gave us a wide berth because of the sec drone. They’re intimidating, even though Terran-reprogramed AI is a poor replacement for a genuine Shriike primary core.
Maybe if I was healthy we could have gotten the good seats, but with me barely walking and the other stagnating in nerve deterioration, it took much longer than it should have to reach the hangar bay, and we came up behind a crowd of morbid curiosity.
I said a few moments ago that neurolink candidates are rare. One in five-hundred thousand, if I remember my sim school, and that’s before you figure out who survives the stitching. But a suitable genetic code to complete the Iron Man program occurs just once in ten million.
All of us there--packed behind the yellow caution strips on the steel deck, pushing toward the edges of the observation balconies, hanging off the parked mechs--all of us off-duty who could be there...we were there to peak into the closet. To look under the bed. To see the monsters Terra had created. Morbid curiosity, piqued by the stories jumped back from the horrors of the Surface Campaign.
The press of Terran closed around me, and I heard the idle chatter of a species doomed to a lifetime of war. Curses, threats, complaints, bitter hope, and gallows humor. Most of it I filtered out, but my subconscious picked out enough fragments to claim my attention.
Remember those pictures jumped back from the largest of the Shriike homeworlds? You know the ones. They plastered them across every screen, broadcast station, and billboard throughout Terran voidspace. Some marine platoon had fought their way into a subterranean research farm. Worse than any back on Old Earth. Ten times as large. The platoon had found Terra’s stolen children.
The platoon led by two supersoldiers who had carved their infamy from the stacked corpses and cracked bunkers of the Shriike underground cities in the subsequent months since the discovery.
”The Icepicks of Khag’shokadh,” said the stories around me.
I jolted at the voice close to my ear. A girl. Young. Short. Smiling teeth that could have used braces.
“It’s you, right?” Still smiling.
“What?” I managed, hoping the crowded bodies would cover for my surprise.
“I’m sorry,” the girl said loudly over the babel, smile suddenly fading. “I thought you were MDO Cadieux.”
An internal debate raged for a brief moment.
“I am. That’s me.”
The smile came back.
“No one says ‘MDO’ off 3,” I continued almost automatically. “We’re gunslingers.”
“Oh.” The smiled faded, taken aback. “What...uh, what are pilots called?”
I wanted to ask how old she was. “Pilots,” I forced out after a pause. Awkwardly.
“Ok.” She was nervous, now. I hadn’t meant to.
I opened my mouth, about to tell her by way of apology that everyone stitched was a cyberjockey. But she spoke again before I could get the words out.
“Just wanted to say it was really impressive.” Her voice was stiff, now, and formal. “We went over Uranium Absolution’s maneuvers in my sim school.”
I started to thank her, but that was...pretentious and I couldn’t. I wanted to tell her what it was like to be plugged into a computer beyond the jump, but didn’t have the time or the words. Wanted again to ask how old she was, but didn’t want the answer. All my thoughts jammed together and I just swallowed once and nodded, bobbing my head mutely.
Then the supersoldiers came down the ramps and there was a sudden clamor. Dozens of Terran pressed forward to see. The girl from the generation after Terra’s stolen children, who would have had braces back on Old Earth but was instead a neurolinked pilot—a cyberjockey--was swept away and I never saw her again.
Have you all ever seen supersoldiers? Not enhanced. Real gen-ones, I mean. Interviewed any of them for this crew yet?
Classified? Of course it is.
I don’t think everyone really forgets the first time they see the lab-built products of the Iron Man program. I don’t know exactly what I expected; probably not everything from the stories, but even accounting for my skepticism about what filtered back from the Surface Campaign I expected monsters. Gene-spliced, bio-engineered weapons designed against the specifications of a hi-grav combat species.
But the two that came down the ramps looked normal, or as normal as any Terran had looked since Old Earth. They weren’t recombinant creatures out of Mary Shelley’s imagination. They weren’t roided-out, towering hulks out of a comic book. And they weren’t half-machine terminators.
They were my age, maybe a year older. Possibly the most unusual thing about them because of the generation gap that resulted from the Occupation. Average height, same build. Same walk too--that first clued me in to the idea that they were brothers, though I didn’t know for sure until later.
They looked like maybe they spent a few more hours in the gym every week, but that was it. At least consciously. Your subconscious picks up on it. The way they move, stand, the way they look around them. Always scanning. Even those few seconds I saw them, then, I noticed it. If you spend more time around them, you realize after a while that you’ve never seen them drop anything. Or trip. Or breathe heavy after a flight of stairs. And things you struggle to drag they’ll pick up one-handed.
They’re not Terran; not quite. They’re not in the same way Terran aren’t Human. Some think they’re the next stage of evolution. But most are...are just uncomfortable. It’s unnerving. An uncanny valley your brain won’t ever let you forget.
Then their hellhound came down the ramp after them. Incredible, what science can do, when it didn’t matter how many died in the experiments. Mans’ Best Friend, the title earned yet again. This time on a world in a different galaxy.
I remember an intense feeling of deja vu striking me at that moment. I saw this scene mirrored in my first approach to Absolution, just after the orders deployed me to the reserve harbor. The gauntlet of Terran pressing forward, held back only by station security, and the few in the middle like my destroyer’s crew. Except I had been the enemy, the personification of everything the Shriike had inflicted upon Terra. This K-9 team were rock stars. War heroes. Gods. And they were both loved and feared to where the two blurred into worship.
“I wonder why they’re here!” One of my friends shouted into my ear to be heard over the roar.
I just shook my head, but I knew why they were there. It wouldn’t be confirmed for a while, but I knew already.
A couple weeks later the docs gave me deep-space jump clearance. The high command transmitted orders even before I got back to my rack: Sol 3 jump; report bay 12; 13:10 local time. At 13:14 local time, the sec drone overrode the entry code to my barracks module and burst into the room with six MPs fanned out behind it. A bit overkill, since it’s not like I had the clearance to lock anything on the station and I was sitting on the edge of my rack with my hands up.
I sat motionless as my bio-edited heart strained to surpass two-twenty-five BPM and icy sweat ran the neurolink scar down my spine. I had been preparing since I woke in the med bay after The Bubble, and all hinged on this moment. This was the first test to see if I was right.
But really...what did I have to lose? That thought kept me calm under the layers of sympathetic stress response.
"I--” I got out a single syllable before a black bag was tightened over my head and two MPs dragged me up and forward.
I was roughly bundled down a series of corridors, dropped down a ladder, then rode an elevator. No one spoke, though I heard the drone clearing the space ahead of us; impassive voice of the computer warning unauthorized personnel to abandon the area.
After a time long enough I started to lose feeling in my fingers from the MPs grip, they shoved me down onto a chair and handcuffed me to the steel table bolted to the deck. Someone ripped the bag off my head.
I blinked under the harsh LEDs. Small room. Camera in the corner. Two-way mirror on the wall. I settled in to wait and the door opened immediately.
A second lieutenant entered. “MDO Cadieux,” he spoke harshly, too loud in the small room. “Why did you fail to follow your orders?”
Time for the second test. The confirmation.
I didn’t stare at the table this time, just met his eyes without blinking. “I don’t know if you do, but I do and your boss does. Get me someone who can make decisions.”
He ranted and raged for a long time. I tuned most of it out, like a destroyer’s prioritized feed de-ranking inputs not important to an AI’s tactical logic. Eventually, he left me to sit for a few hours. The chair was uncomfortable, but chained to the table I didn’t have options.
The long wait confirmed it. I was right.
They worked all the way up to the station commander, who spent less than two minutes with me. I gave them all the same, flat stare and demand for someone who could make decisions. Someone from the High Command.
Twenty-six hours, one night in the brig, and a meal of one vitamin block later, I sat in the same chair. This time three civvies sat like statues across from me. Suits and ties, well fed, clean. But I could see neither of the men had shaved this morning and the woman had bruise-like pools under her eyes. Good. The beginnings of warp sickness from the jump way out here. Well, this far out, probably a couple jumps. Heh, Earthers.
The one on the right opened his mouth. I cut him off.
“You did your job too well.”
There was a moment of stunned silence. Then, “Excuse me?”
I resisted the urge to reply ‘you’re excused’, but just barely.
“Everyone knows who I am. You did your job too well.”
I sat up suddenly, leaning forward on my elbows on the steel table, the abrupt motion causing the sec drone to perk up in the corner. I stared hard, trying to convey the severity of my situation. Trying to make these soulless vessels of the High Command’s will understand even a fraction of my experience.
“My life’s story has been broadcast through every screen, display pad, and billboard in Terran sovereign voidspace. Everyone knows who I am because my life has been nothing but a propaganda stunt.”
I flicked my eyes left, center, then right again. Trying to pin them in place with my gaze.
“My father and mother were used to fuel the war machine’s need for hate. The vitriol against me was more a side effect at first, though I’m sure when it was expedient my name was offered up in sacrifice to ensure Terra had a personification of the enemy to rage against. It’s a testament to your work, how many attempted murderers there were.
“Of course, then the propaganda ministry devised another purpose for me. The High Command had realized something. Realized that Years of Occupation and the subsequent war had begun to drain even the most ardent fervor. Hate is hot, but it burns out fast. Especially when an entire world is starving.
“So I enlisted...voluntarily.” A sardonic smile twisted my mouth. “It was a good idea. Another testament to your work. Drum up support for the war effort with the daughter of the most high-profile traitor in Terran history. And you made sure everyone knew. Even the Shriike through unencrypted comm signals. Didn't you?
Everyone....” I said again, drawing the word out, dropping my gaze to the sterile table for a moment. Then I snapped my eyes back up.
“I’m a war hero now. Singlehandedly broke the formation of an entire Shriike fleet. Four jumps in less than twelve minutes. Enough kills in those minutes to make me the foremost ace in this whole War. The species who hated me now begins to love me as word spreads. Easily swayed, though another testament to the excellence of the propaganda ministry. Anyway, there’s no containing it now.”
I leaned back in the chair, chains clinking on my wrists as I did. “What’s waiting for me past the jump to 3?”
I cut off the one who tried to speak again. This was delicate, keeping them defensive but not angry. Keeping them invested.
“Past the jump is some black hole research facility where they’ll take me apart to find out how I did it. I’m sure the black box recs are already leading the AI programmers in interesting directions.”
I strained to see something in their faces. Anything. Maybe a slight flicker of the woman’s lids. Maybe I saw the barest hint of tightening at the corners of one man’s mouth.
“If I make the jump back, I’ll never see the light of a single star again. But here’s the problem.” Another sardonic smile peeled my lips back. “I’m famous.”
One man snorted a laugh at the same instant the other interjected, “So we put a bag back over your head and tranq you for the ride back.”
I threw myself back forward over the table, slamming my palms on the surface as I did so. “Then why haven’t you?” I growled, half-shouting. My outburst was undercut by the sinister crackle of the drone’s non-lethal electroshock weapons it activated in response to my aggressive body language.
“My guess is you have very strict orders to avoid any further alterations to my brain chemistry.” I was raising my voice, shouting now, over the jumbled protests of the three in front of me. “You could black-bag me, manacle me, have a couple drones throw me into some cargo hold. But that doesn’t change the fact--sit down!--the fact that I will have disappeared!”
The men were shouting for security. The woman pounded twice on the door with a closed fist. I was losing them. Think. Tactics. What were my engagement strategies?
“How smart’s your AI?” I screamed over the commotion. “How smart...is your AI?” I repeated the question, ensuring they heard me.
The noise ceased.
“Sit. Down.” My voice was brittle as supercooled iron. After they obeyed, I spoke again. “How smart is Shriike AI?”
I leaned back in my chair again. “What happens when you tell thirty million marines and three times as many soldiers that they died in the Surface Campaign for nothing? Because you can't win the void.”
“That’s why the High Command believes your service best utilized in another capacity.” The man’s words were clipped. Getting angry, but that was all right, now. “To develop--”
My reply was quick. “Another capacity, yeah. That’s why you’re calling up the gen-ones. Stitch them up and plug them into the computers in hope they can take a few more Gs. Because that’s...” I jerked my shoulders in a shrug “...all you got. Hoping supermaneuverability or whatever it is in the void can juke a torpedo long enough to get your ancient mass driver tech in range.
“So you pull the gen-ones from the surface and then you pull me from the front. The only cyberjockey in this War who has held a battle-line against an enemy formation with anything but the most Pyrrhic of victories. For all the High Command’s brilliance, it’s impossible to balance a War on this scale for much longer. You’re losing, even though you’re taking ground on the enemy’s homeworlds. Warp-sickened crews and slagged durasteel accumulating faster and faster into the sea of blood and iron that Terra will drown in.
“What happens when the Shriike realize the jumps are only a smokescreen and hard burn for Sol? When you’re not just hitting isolated supply convoys and scout cruisers and finally forced into pitched battle against nervothread-driven military AI networked through a battleship formation that outnumbers every ship in Terra’s fleets ten times over?”
My stare left, right, center again. One deep breath.
“Hate burns hot, but it burns out quick and you’re almost out. Now you need the slow burn of hope. And you need my wetware.”
I showed my teeth in a dead smile that never touched my eyes. “I’m more valuable than jump tech.”
I waited to gage their reaction. To see if they got it.
The man on the right stood. “How’s this even change anything? We made you enlist. We make you volunteer for a jump back to Earth.”
“No, she’s right,” said the woman. “We made her a hero. If she disappears, people will notice.”
“Who cares?”
“We might, when we start losing major engagements and they start wondering where the MDO who won the Battle of the Bubble is.”
“So we release statements. Deepfake a press release or two. She’s helping the research--”
“Someone would have a field day running a deepfake cracker on that one when it hits the front.”
The other man was older. Pale eyes and skin. Hard lines from the corner of his nose to the corner of his mouth. His voice, when I heard it for the first time, was hoarse.
“MDO Cadieux, you have certainly worked out how to rock the boat.”
The other man started another protest but was silenced by a look.
“The only thing in your little story that you haven’t yet gotten to, I think, is the fact that while you were inside your destroyer’s primary core, you got a very close look at the cyberwarfare modules. You’d fight us every step of the way, wouldn’t you? And I think you would fight quite well.”
He shifted in his seat, then retrieved a stick of gum from his jacket pocket and placed the pink stick on his tongue. He was careful to fold the wrapper very neatly. I hadn’t seen gum since Old Earth.
“We would break you, of course,” he continued casually, “through one psycho-surgical playbook or another. But that could damage the wetware and the encoded memories that we need to program our next generation of combat AI.”
I kept my gaze level. The others didn’t matter now. Just him. And I wasn’t inside Absolution’s core. She lived in me.
“We still have plenty of leverage over you, so you’ve really done nothing but make my job extraordinarily difficult.” A pause before he spoke again. “I’m sure you didn’t come empty-handed, so what do you have and what do you want? Your father?”
“I’m not stupid. His fate was sealed a long time ago.”
He was looking at me with his pale eyes. As dead as my smile; a destroyer staring down its longitudinal axis. I met his eyes flatly with my own. Like the EM radiation of cyberwarfare raging invisibly between warships within the void.
“Then what are your terms, MDO Cadieux?”
I probably looked like an idiot, marveling at the real grass like I was seeing some world wonder from Old Earth. I suppose I was doing exactly that.
I reached down and brushed my fingers over it. They came away with drops of water that caught the burnt sunlight filtering through radiation shielding. I looked upward again, feeling the warmth of the sun on my face. Seeing the warmth in pinks and oranges through my closed lids.
My world had been steel and durasteel. Recycled atmo and reclaimed water. In this place there was even a breeze.
I clambered back to my feet, the cane clacking against the stone pathway. One of my escort made a step forward, but the supervisor, a beaurocratic-looking, overweight woman in the suit, warned him back with a sharp gesture. None of them dared cross the line of the gate.
I actually let a smirk tug at a corner of my mouth.
It took me a bit of wandering to find the apartment in the rows upon rows of identical houses. I double-checked the card I’d been given against the black number stenciled beside the door. It was small, probably no more than a kitchen-slash-living room and bedroom. It had green shutters over the windows.
I knocked. After a moment I heard footsteps coming. My heartbeat sped up with a sudden burst of nervous energy, and I reach up with a hand that wasn’t quite steady to adjust the beanie over my cropped hair.
The door opened.
“Hi, mom.” I whispered.
“They told me you were coming! I love your dress! Very nice.”
It wasn’t mine. Wearing something non-issued made me self-conscious, constantly fighting to not make another imaginary adjustment to how it hung from my shoulders and hips. I was doing it again, pulling the jacket tighter around me. I let go of the jacket and reached to pull my mother into an embrace.
My mother was old, I realized as she pulled away and I looked at her. Her hair was silver-grey now, and the lines at the corners of her eyes were deeper than I remembered.
“Hi, mom,” I said again, louder this time. Almost normally.
“Come in.” She turned and entered the house, leaving the door open behind her. I smelled food cooking. Real food, not protein paste that had been inside twenty intestinal systems before mine and was long overdue for a full re-compost back on a world.
I stared through the doorway, listening to my mother pattering across the floor in slippers. Just inside the door, down the short hallway, there was a plant on a small table opposite a mirror hanging on the wall. Farther in I could see an chair with a sweater thrown over the back and a book laid open over the arm.
“I made a stew. I think you’ll like it....” My mother’s voice came faintly to my ears. I placed my left foot on the doorstep. Halted. “...rabbit with some potatoes....”
The mirror was just a few feet from me. I stared at the reflection. Two steps and I’d see my own; stare into the face I no longer recognized after the surgeons’ reconstruction and a lifetime of war.
“Of course, we have to wait until your father gets home from work.”
My breath caught. I turned, stumbled, half-ran back. My eyes stung, the grass blurring into indistinct, green swathes around me.
I was stone-faced again, when I made it back to the gate. I pulled the beanie from my head as I came in sight of the overweight, suited woman, feeling the breeze over my cropped hair. I left my hand there, for a moment, feeling the cold metal of the neurolink port behind my ear. Then I tucked the knit hat into a jacket pocket.
“Are the terms acceptable, Miss Cadieux?” Asked the woman.
I placed my palm on the offered datapad. Felt the prick as the needle took a drop of blood to DNA-sign the authenticity certificate.
I looked around me again. It looked so real. I couldn’t tell the difference. Real enough to have brought the tears.
Too soft for me now. Back to the steel and void.
“They are.”
It was easy, actually. Far easier than it would have been without the shortcut I had taken. The problem was that no one else could have taken the shortcut. Because for all the talent left in my species, they were missing something no one would ever have thought of.
I wasn’t the first, you know. I’ve spent a lot of my own time talking to people I’m not officially allowed to talk to and going places I’m not supposed to be. Looking over data that I don’t, strictly-speaking, have access to. But, what do I have to lose?
I think I’m the fourteenth. I even know some of their names. Thirteen others disappeared into black hole research facilities because they noticed...I don’t know...something strange, I guess, when they were plugged into the computers.
They couldn’t crack it, though. Not until me. Just like someday, someone will crack real AI, not the stuff we have now that’s good enough just to pass a Turing test and nothing else. Real, silicon life. That’s how Terra invented jump drive tech though. Did something none of the xenos thought of.
I’m rambling. I do that when I’m nervous. The point is that two months after the Mk IVs launched, the new generation of primary cores began uploading into destroyer memory banks.
Yes, sir. I supposed you have been patient. Fine, I've calmed down. The Battle of the Bubble...
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