Scientists and Sci-Fi

One of the most difficult challenges of writing a detailed hard sci-fi setting is making sure you get the science right. Not being a scientist, this usually means turning to the internet for research, which is always a risky proposition. A lot of the information you find is incomplete, muddled, or outdated. Take wikipedia, for example — for some reason most of their science articles are either skimpy or so thick with science-speak that you need a degree to understand it.

What would be really useful is to gather scientists who are fans of science fiction and who don’t mind educating the public. Put them all on the same forums online, and invite sci-fi writers to come and ask questions. Who knows, it could spark some interesting ideas and discussions. Unfortunately, it would rely on the willingness of scientists to take the time to do this, and they’re usually far too busy doing, y’know, science. But I can dream.

First Interior Art Piece

This illustration by Davi Blight gets props for being the first completed interior illustration to be turned in. Go Davi!

The topic for this piece was reputation systems. In Eclipse Phase, a significant portion of transhumanity has shifted into a post-scarcity economy thanks to ubiquitous access to nanofabrication machines — when anyone can simply make what they need from scratch, money and property become meaningless. As a result, new things take on value, such as creativity and reputation. In anarchist habitats, acquiring services is relatively easy, as long as your reputation is good. If you’re a bad anarchist who does nothing to contribute to collective well-being, your reputation will be crap, and no one will be willing to help you out.

Anarchists aren’t the only ones to use reputation networks, however. Almost every faction finds value in knowing who is reliable and in the public’s good graces and who isn’t. So there are a number of rep networks in play, each of which provides current rep scores for different characters, feedback from people they’ve dealt with, and so on. Maintaining a good Rep is important if you need to call in favors.

Davi’s illustration represents an interaction with two characters, where one is accessing the current Rep score of the other.

Side note: I’m normally a stickler about things like clothing that clings to cleavage like saran wrap — IRL, fabric stretches across. However, this is the future, where clothing can be made from smart materials that does indeed shrink to conform to the body in a skin-tight way, so I let it slide. Hey, at least it’s a sexy future.

End of the Week, End of the World

Since Eclipse Phase is based in a post-apocalyptic setting and a major theme of the game involves existential threats to the existence of transhumanity, we decided that we’d start a feature on this blog where we devote every Friday to something that may just spell the end for humanity. Nothing like a little Doom to get you psyched for the weekend!

To kick off, here’s an amusing comic strip regarding the possible black hole that might be created by the Large Hadron Collider.

A self-replicating machine child is born

A few days ago (May 29) was a momentous day for the open source tech movement — the RepRap open source 3-D printer made its first copy of itself.

What is RepRap?

Printers are a common everyday machine. They use ink and technology to make things in 2 dimensions. Imagine if instead of printing on bits of paper, you had a printer that works in 3 dimensions. You would have to use a solid ink, but you would be able to print real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust these parts could be think of Lego bricks and you’re in the right ballpark. You could make lots of useful stuff. Interestingly, you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer, but not all of them. That would be a machine which could make itself.

The plans are free, so you can build your own, make copies, and give them to your friends. And it’s all open source, so you can share and improve upon the design.

Getting Started

Hello, and welcome to the still-not-public Eclipse Phase blog. Eclipse Phase is a new tabletop roleplaying game of transhuman conspiracy and horror, produced by Posthuman Studios. The game is still in the final writing/editing/playtesting stage, but will release later in 2008.

While this website comes together, you can find out some more info on Eclipse Phase in this thread over at RPG.Net