Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

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Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Cholmondely »

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The dramatic date of the dialogue is set around 3150 CE, on the expansive polo fields of the Dark Desert of Digebiti, littered with broken sedan chairs, inter-city palanquins and a functioning cocktail bar. The chairmen have gone home. One lonely barman is waving his cocktail shaker lackadaisically over the till. It is early evening and the star of Lave has just risen over the horizon.

Characters (so far) in the dialogue:
• User2357 a peripatetic pyrrhonist investigating the mysteries of meta-physics
• Cholmondeley of Digebiti, a strident sophist
User2357 My interest is specifically focused on the original 1984 Elite/Oolite and immediate derivatives, their real and in-universe history/lore, game mechanics, and just generally trying to make some sense of all the confusion and contradiction that exist out there in the real world and in the game universe in terms of the details of all these elements, and others perhaps also.

I am of the opinion that, Dylan Smith's depiction of Commander Damon Winston's hyperspace displacement from the Frontier universe to the Xlite universe in his novella "The Virtuous Misfortune" is probably the most logical explanation of the relationship between the two universes.

The Frontier games represent an alternate universe, and, as such, at least the non-existence of the other GalCop species in Frontier Space, can physically, logically and practically not be reconciled with the in-universe history of Xlite [X = "E-" / "Oo-"], as has been attempted by other researchers, such as Commanders Selezen and Wagar.
Cholmondeley (earnestly) I have yet to come across Mr. Smith's attempt at harmonization - I shall certainly have to look it up. The one attempt which I found most intriguing was that of Clym Angus: The chronicles of Shulth - Apocrypha, some 40 or so chapters here on this bulletin board (http://www.aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=17247).

Your term Xlite is most useful – well-coined! Xlite, seems however, a trifle incoherent (not too surprisingly).

1) One might wish to include several 'core/lore OXPs' such as the Tionisla quartet (the triplet for the cemetery and then the Array), the Generation ships, etc.

2) There are occasional references in the original Elite which were possibly not followed up in Oolite. The statement on p11 of the Pilot's Reference Manual: The Galactic Cooperative is only one - although the largest - of several planetary federations... which might include the association mentioned in the Commies OXP, but also gives room for a nascent Empire & Federation.
User2357 Mr. Smith's "The Virtuous Misfortune" can be found at http://alioth.net/Fiction/oolitestory.pdf.

According to all indications, it was the very first piece of Oofiction (copyright 2006), and, IMHO, a worthy one at that. I believe it deserves an honorary place among all the tomes, and that no collection is complete without it. It stands together with Holdstock's "Elite: The Dark Wheel" and Redman's "Imprint". These three, along with the various pilot manuals, including Bell's "Elite Players' Guide" (version 7 --- 24 March 1984), form the foundation of all Xlite lore. ...but that's just me.

I will look at "The Chronicles of Shulth" ...if I have not done so yet! I have read much Oo- and Frontier fiction over the years, but have not done so recently, and have forgotten much of it. Perhaps I have seen the Chronicles before; perhaps it will be pleasant to revisit them.

Yes, there are many OXPs which contribute constructively and enhance the Xniverse. It is also one of my many goals to determine exactly which OXPs best support the concept of a consistently coherent and consolidated Xniverse, and which actually outright contradict the definitive, foundational lore, or at least have no basis for inclusion in it.

IMHO, there seems to be some significant explanation required to consolidate the possibility of a nascent Empire & Federation in Holdstock's statement at the top of p. 11 in the original 1984 (SBG38/B1) "FIRST EDITION" "Space Trader's Flight Training Manual" regarding "several planetary federations" - especially since GalCop and Federation Space apparently intersect directly, even with some few systems of the former being contained in the latter - and even by name and relative location! - but not vice versa... Much explanation seems to be required indeed.
Cholmondeley (looking around in the hope he can persuade someone else to join in the discussion, to cover his abysmal ignorance of the subject under discussion) Would I be correct in presuming that there is a rift between Commanders Selezen & Wagar (who wish to tie Xlite in with the Frontier universe) and the Quite Grand Sub-Admiral Cim who seemingly disagreed? The differences between the two sets of universes (sentient species, role of Galcop, obviousness of the existence of the Federation/Empire/Alliance, existence of our known universe as seen from planet Earth, bizarre structure of 8 parallel galaxies), seem quite emphatic. Without a deus ex-machina such as ClymAngus's in his Chronicles, it seems unlikely that the circle can be squared. It does not seem to me that Mr. Smith's "The Virtuous Misfortune" manages this.
User2357 The year, 3150, 50 years after the launch of the first Cobra Mk III in 3100, is significant. I have seen a document somewhere (?) which seems to indicate that, based on many in-universe and real-world dates associated with the Xlite simulators, the lore (and "meta-lore", as Commander Wagar sometimes refer to it) can all be explained by assuming that there is a 1,130 year difference between our mythical, RL pre-history and that of the current xniverse.

I think I might have read some of the Quite Grand Sub-Admiral Cim's perspective on the relationships between the Xlite and Frontier universes somewhere, sometime long ago, and if a very vague memory serves, I believe that I was, and still am, inclined to support his side of the argument, i.e. separate Xlite and Frontier universes, rather than Commanders Selezen & Wagar's perspective, i.e. the same universe. I agree: from what I recall, the rift does seem to be quite emphatic between the two sides.

On the other hand, I am willing to concede the existence of an alternate universe (or universes, plural) which combine(s) various elements from both Xlite and Frontier in various ways, but from what I've seen so far, at least the historical dates associated with various events, will require some significant consolidation in order to make better sense in terms of our current, human perception and understanding of the flow and order of cause-and-effect, and in terms of plausible time-scales for said events. Personally, I would like to see a single, consolidated explanation, linking the two separate universes (as Smith does), and which includes ALL the original, authentic, fundamental lore elements from both sides.

To be honest, I started reading "The Chronicles of Shulth" (again?), but could not really get into it, because of my present prejudices against what I currently perceive to be the true explanation of events within the Xlite universe.

If you will forgive my indulgence, I would like to refer briefly to a pet peeve of mine, which might serve as an example of the type of arguments involved in this discussion between the two major schools of though on the subject, and to which you also briefly refer: the eight "galaxies" cannot be, and are not, galaxies, as such, in and of themselves. At best, they might merely be regions within different galaxies. (...but comparison of the orders to magnitude between local, 7ly interstellar distances and 2.5 million light-years to our nearest galactic neighbour, Andromeda, seems to prohibit a true "intergalactic" hyperdrive, and merely allows for some kind of max. 200ly, galactic-"class" hyperdrive as opposed to a max. 7ly, stellar-"class" hyperdrive, similar to how one might distinguish between "Cobra Class ships" and "Viper class fighters", as mentioned in the original, 1984 (SBG38/B1) "FIRST EDITION" "Space Trader's Flight Training Manual", on pp. 18 & 24.) Probably, though, the "galaxies" are merely separate regions within our own, single Milky Way Galaxy. It seems that Holdstock originally (mis?)interpreted "Galactic Chart 1" on the simulator's navigational computer to mean "the chart of the first Galaxy", when it might rather have been better interpreted as "the first chart of [a region of] the [Milky Way] Galaxy".

Yes, I agree. "Some squaring of the circle required." ...and, at present, I am (still) of the opinion that Smith's suggestion in his "Virtuous Misfortune" regarding alternate universes, with some kind of hyperspace misjump possibly presenting a means to link the two, might be our best explanation at the moment.
At this point Sir Cody of El Viejo struggles into view having just escaped the ball celebrating his assumption of the Officership of the Order of the Opulent Ooniverse. He is leaning on Redspear who was a guest at the event. Sir Cody (Bart.) of El Viejo O.O.O.O. staggers to the bar to order a single malt. Stranger and some sort of robot (?) can be seen in the distance making their way towards the tergiversatory throng.
Last edited by Cholmondely on Thu Dec 03, 2020 10:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Cody »

Yes, I agree. "Some squaring of the circle required."
<chortles> Good luck with that!
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Redspear »

Cholmondely wrote: Thu Nov 26, 2020 10:41 am Characters (so far) in the dialogue:
• User2357 a peripatetic pyrrhonist investigating the mysteries of meta-physics
• Cholmondeley of Digebiti, a strident sophist
User2357

If you will forgive my indulgence, I would like to refer briefly to a pet peeve of mine, which might serve as an example of the type of arguments involved in this discussion between the two major schools of though on the subject, and to which you also briefly refer: the eight "galaxies" cannot be, and are not, galaxies, as such, in and of themselves...
Sophism, eh :wink:

Perhaps this is as much as I can contribute here and it may even seem that I'm heading off script with this one but, I think it may help to illustrate the nature of the problem. If I can similarly be indulgesd then I hope that some will see my point.

This is fiction right? So how about an exercise in imagination?

Why can't the 8 galaxies be actual galaxies?

Too Small ?

I believe that there are currently known to exist multiple dwarf galaxies containing less than 1,000 stars. If we were to estimate how many of those might be suitable for inhabitation by mostly earthlike, intelligent beings then approximately 1 in 4 star systems qualifying as such might seem a rather generous estimate if anything I'd have thought.

Possible gameplay convenience:
Maybe there's some quirk of the galactic hyperdrive that only enables it to travel to the smaller galaxies due to their relatively low mass signatures (who knows how that stuff might work, not us, right?)

Too Cramped ?

What if 'distance' as recorded in light years was really just fuel required in 'light years'? You might think that both would be one and the same but within the game at least there's arguably better evidence for it being the latter than the former. Light doesn't (necessarily) get there by hyperspace/witchspace remember, so we're not necessarily travelling the same path to begin with. Why then would they quantify fuel using a conventional distance measure? Good question.

Could it be as obscure as time taken for quirium to form in a star? Or as simple as conflating two different but related measures (e.g. weight and mass) on account of most pilots having a shaky understanding of how hyperspace actually works. After all, they just need to know how much and at what price, not to understand the mathematical intricacies of hyperspace travel itself. "LY = distance, I'm travelling a distance, got it!"

Possible gameplay convenience:
If we can free up LY from actual physical distance then we can potentially explain an entirely 2D map of each 'galaxy'. The idea that some hyperspace jumps could be more efficient than others (just as some road journeys might be) gives the potential to make the map one of convenience rather than spatial accuracy. Some underground/subway maps follow a similar idea: they're presented for ease of navigational use rather than for spatial accuracy.

Samey Inhabitants ?

I've been here before, much to Dizzy's amusement :lol:

Where's Earth ?

Well, apart from this not necessarily invalidating the 8 galaxies idea, it does seem to relate to their interpretation in a canonical sense. What if wormholes could become unavailable over time? Witchspace weather? Overuse instability? Black hole interferance? Maybe earth is still there (along with many other systems) but the pathway is blocked?

Maybe Earth is now a barren rock and GalCop are covering it up?
Maybe Earth was simply renamed and its actual origin is the subject of debate among various systems all claiming to be the original Earth?
Maybe the Thargoids took it, perhaps even into witchspace, and so the colonial cultures were all that were left?

None of that's in the fiction though, is it ?

Maybe not (I honestly don't know) but my point is that it could be and ruling something out as nonsence (at least where fiction is concerned) is sometimes just a consequence of not having considered it enough.

What do I know?

Not much, you've got me there...
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by stranger »

Personally I prefer to interpret maps as Galaxy regions, not galaxies. Maybe parts of spiral arm(s). One-way Galactic Hyperdrive travel is enigmatic. I have no idea yet how to interpret it in lore consistent terms.
The most enigmatic part of Xlite lore for me is mechanism of interstellar travel. You can follow wormhole created by another ship. Why Galcop don't using drones to create wormholes for departing ships? It will be most effective way of using witchfuel - to create one wormhole for dozens of departing ships instead creating wolrholes individually. Witchfuel is extremely chip of course, but using this technique will allow departing ships to have full fuel tanks in potentially hazardous systems of destination. It is a matter of safety.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Cody »

stranger wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:02 amMaybe parts of spiral arm(s). One-way Galactic Hyperdrive travel is enigmatic.
Eight globular clusters co-orbiting a dormant SMBH, the proximity of which dictates how one can travel between octants.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Redspear »

Cody wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:11 am
stranger wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:02 amMaybe parts of spiral arm(s). One-way Galactic Hyperdrive travel is enigmatic.
Eight globular clusters co-orbiting a dormant SMBH, the proximity of which dictates how one can travel between octants.
Maybe...

Cody doesn't have to be right in order for his idea to be valid. Rather he's used his imagination (I'm assuming here...) to interpret what goes on in game instead of worrying about it. That's all I'm really advocating.

Now of course if something works in a way you don't like then that's different but then that's a matter for oxp or even source code changes.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Cody »

Redspear wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:30 amRather he's used his imagination to interpret what goes on in game instead of worrying about it.
Exactly! Strangely enough, this curious cosmic arrangement came to be known as the Dark Wheel.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Redspear »

Cody wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:03 pm Strangely enough, this curious cosmic arrangement came to be known as the Dark Wheel.
Ooh, nice 8)
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Disembodied »

stranger wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:02 am The most enigmatic part of Xlite lore for me is mechanism of interstellar travel. You can follow wormhole created by another ship. Why Galcop don't using drones to create wormholes for departing ships? It will be most effective way of using witchfuel - to create one wormhole for dozens of departing ships instead creating wolrholes individually. Witchfuel is extremely chip of course, but using this technique will allow departing ships to have full fuel tanks in potentially hazardous systems of destination. It is a matter of safety.
There may be maximum safe loads for a wormhole: a freighter and six escorts might be fine, but if too many ships go through the whole thing might snap and dump everyone out into interstellar space. Or maybe it produces a q-critical blowback event in the origin system. Or maybe it attracts Thargoids like wasps to jam. Or all three.

Ships might have to wait for ages for a drone to open a route to where they want to go. All those drones have to get home again, too; how would that work from a high-traffic to a low-traffic system? That's lot of infrastructure and administration. GalCop is a loose and shaky arrangement, just barely holding a whole mass of different species and planetary governments (as well as local governments, feudal territories, and anarchies) together: the entire GalCop legal code can be written on two sides of A4, in fourteen different major languages including scratch-and-sniff. Who would pay for all this? You want a wormhole, buddy, you can open it yourself …
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

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Disembodied wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:30 pm in fourteen different major languages including scratch-and-sniff.
Briefly ponders the equivalant of a typo with scratch-and-sniff...

Perhaps the most jarring thing for me between the original elite and Oolite is hyperspace travel (apart from mass-lock but let's not go there...)

In elite it was instaneous (more or less - to be fair, there was no in-game clock) and gave the impression, in both game and in manual, that witch-space was hyperspace itself: some other dimentional space and not just interstellar space.

In Oolite, jumps take predicably different times and witchspace is essentially interstelar space... or so it would seem :wink:
It actually makes for a nice mechanic, with its wormholes, to enable escorts to follow their charge, bounty hunters to chase targets and also to squeeze more gameplay out of small 'galaxies' when using a contract delivery system.

However, it didn't need to do that in order to achieve any of those things.

Wormhole scanner?

Swap for a hyperspace jump tracer. Target a ship, once it jumps you have the option to jump with it (perhaps with an immediate coundown an option to abort if destination is known). Or maybe without such a device, wormholes are invisible and unaccessible for ships not generating them (maybe escorts get a free code signature to follow).

Contract runs?
Place assassins (I realise they came later) at the most likely junctions en route. Player centric? Not so much if it's the contract they're following rather than the player. Then the galactic 'side-roads' have a certain appeal that 'main roads' lack. The side-routes wouldn't need to be assassin free, just assassin light. Actually I thingk that could give quite a nice dynamic of risk/reward...
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by stranger »

Cody wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:11 am Eight globular clusters co-orbiting a dormant SMBH, the proximity of which dictates how one can travel between octants.
It is hard to imagine such arrangement in common space - SMBH must be extremely huge to prevent ripping stellar clusters with tidal forces. But if we assume fast spinning SMBH with passable wormhole in witchspace, connecting eght distant regions... hmm, it can explain one-way Galactic Hyperdrive route! Nice idea, amigo!
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by stranger »

Disembodied wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 4:30 pm Who would pay for all this? You want a wormhole, buddy, you can open it yourself …
Or join free traders association independent from Galcop bureaucracy. If you refuse to give us safe traffic network - well, we'll create it without your assistance. Seems that private companies dealing with this issue will be inevitable.
Indeed, sometimes free traders invites to use their wormholes. Alas, interaction with another ships is still very limited - you have no simple way to give somebody such gift in return.
It can be good to have OXP, providing reputation bonus (or maybe, some another forms of premium/preference) for such help to NPC traders with clean legal status.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Redspear »

stranger wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 11:51 pm It is hard to imagine such arrangement in common space - SMBH must be extremely huge to prevent ripping stellar clusters with tidal forces.
Sounds like you might know more about this than me but wouldn't that depend on orbital distance? And also on the degree to which it might be 'dormant'?

This isn't really my field and I think we may be off topic now but...

In order for them to predicatably orbit I would have thought there will be a limit to how far away they can get.
I would also think that such a distance could be extended by a lack of significant mass (other gravitic interference) in the nearby area (or enormous mass in the wider vicinity).

If both of those are true (and combined with the unknown influence of the galactic hyperdrive) then haven't we once again got lots of room for manoeuvre?

If we accept that some of the variables are unknown, and further that the technology involved is unknown, then it seems to me that it's not so much suspension of disbelief but rather admission of ignorance. The arrival of galactic hyperdrives could either validate some pre-existing physics theories or realise completely new ones that we don't yet have. After all, we don't yet have galactic hyperdrives (or at least no one's told me about them).

I suppose what I'm really asking is...
Is it so hard to imagine because it directly contradicts something you know?
Or is it so hard to imagine (and I mean no offence by this) because your reference is what has already been theorised or observed rather than what you could imagine independantly?

Einstein was quoted as saying,
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
I make no claim to understand Einstein better than anybody else (although it would be damned useful for this discussion if I could :P ) but it seems to me that when we reference only our knowledge we meet barriers and limits very quickly.

If you don't want to contradict what you already know or believe then throw in another variable or add an exception and...
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by stranger »

Redspear wrote: Sun Nov 29, 2020 1:55 am Is it so hard to imagine because it directly contradicts something you know?
Ironically, my assumption of giant stable wormhole in witchspace is more exotic than Cody's original SMBH in true space. :D I have no any preconceived opinion about witchspace because I nave no any knowledge about this matter.
Dormant SMBH just means this is no active accretion disk around it, so it will be relatively safe to visit outskirts of such region without exposing to high energy X-rays.
Agreed, enough distance from SMBH will prevent orbiting globular clusters or dwarf galaxies from ripping by tidal forces (tidal force is in inverse proportion to distance in power 3), but to exploit SMBH as wormhole you need to be as close as possible to its event horizon and SMBH must spin extremely fast - just 0.999 or so light speed on event horizon, like Gargantua black hole in Interstellar movie.
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Re: Metafiction: Dialogues on the Lore of Xlite

Post by Cody »

Redspear wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:52 pm
Cody wrote: Sat Nov 28, 2020 12:03 pm Strangely enough, this curious cosmic arrangement came to be known as the Dark Wheel.
Ooh, nice
Got to hand it to those conspiracy theory fruitcakes - they knew a good name when they saw one. And so a myth was born!
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