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Spoilers! Loose threads

Aliens? Invading aliens? What will Earth do? Well...we may have a few more resources than we first thought. Come join a friendly discussion about David Weber's newest Tor series - "Out of the Dark."
Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:21 am

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Loose threads that I can think of, after just having finished Into the Light:

The Other Guys & Vampires: who made the nanites and why were they on Earth? Was Vlad intentionally transformed or was that really an accident, him ingesting an overdose of highly advanced medical nanites? Was the cave he found a ship? How long had it been there? Has it left? Are there more on Earth or elsewhere? Why was it there: a crash landing or was it intentional? What else can vampires do? Vampire Fantasy has never explored what happens when they are close to technology, especially if they are made of technology. We could see Vampires controlling their nanites so they have the ability to heal people, take over electronic systems, etc.

The fifth founding race: are they the same as "The Other Guys?" Taking a page from the Honorverse "Ghost Hunters," I'm assuming until proof to the contrary that they aren't the same. But if so, what happened to them? Why did they disappear? Was it apathy, losing the will to live? Or were they exterminated? Or have they transcended / ascended? Does the GH really have a policy of exterminating troublesome races in the crib? If so, what spooked them?

Discarded technologies (like artificial gravity): what else is there in the Hegemony databanks that will allow Humanity to leapfrog the GH? And why were some of those deliberately suppressed? Was it for safety reasons, preventing fringe members of the society having access to planet-killing technology? Or was someone reserving themselves an ace in the hole for a later confrontation? Was that someone the fifth founding race or "The Other Guys" (in all likelihood yes to the fifth race)?

Human rate of development: we know it's the highest ever recorded, but why is it? Is it a natural occurrence? Or were we tinkered with? If so, by whom? And if not, the Law of Averages says there will be others who could approach or surpass our record, so are we going to meet them?

Artificial Intelligence and Doctor Roeder. Huge opening here for future exploration, which could allow Humanity much better ships and systems. Unlike in the Honorverse, those are sentient and self-aware AIs. The authors did make it difficult for us by having Doctor Roeder not remember and not having recorded what he did to allow transfers. But once that is cracked, with nanites and artificial bodies, we immediately have immortality. Well, another form of immortality, just like in SysGov in the Gordian Universe. Also note how AIs can be copied without loss (unlike quite a lot Sci Fi works), allowing for autonomous, unmanned exploration like in the Bobiverse.

Terran Empire: what empire? There's no hint of this coming to pass! Are the books basically the history of the Empire being recounted far in the future, like in Asimov's Foundation that there are entries from the Galactic Encyclopedia from much later than the events taking place?
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Joat42   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:04 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:Loose threads that I can think of, after just having finished Into the Light:

The Other Guys & Vampires: who made the nanites and why were they on Earth? Was Vlad intentionally transformed or was that really an accident, him ingesting an overdose of highly advanced medical nanites? Was the cave he found a ship? How long had it been there? Has it left? Are there more on Earth or elsewhere? Why was it there: a crash landing or was it intentional? What else can vampires do? Vampire Fantasy has never explored what happens when they are close to technology, especially if they are made of technology. We could see Vampires controlling their nanites so they have the ability to heal people, take over electronic systems, etc.

I doubt they are medical nanites for the simple reason that they seem to have a built in aversion to being analyzed.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:The fifth founding race: are they the same as "The Other Guys?" Taking a page from the Honorverse "Ghost Hunters," I'm assuming until proof to the contrary that they aren't the same. But if so, what happened to them? Why did they disappear? Was it apathy, losing the will to live? Or were they exterminated? Or have they transcended / ascended? Does the GH really have a policy of exterminating troublesome races in the crib? If so, what spooked them?

The simple answer is that the 5th race is the OG, although if we consider how often rfc set the readers up with one piece of "obvious" information which changes context entirely if you happen to connect it to some throwaway comment somewhere else in the book I wouldn't at all be surprised that the 5th race and the OG isn't the same.

Also, considering the information that was ferreted out it seems the 5th race was more technologically advanced than the GH.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:Discarded technologies (like artificial gravity): what else is there in the Hegemony databanks that will allow Humanity to leapfrog the GH? And why were some of those deliberately suppressed? Was it for safety reasons, preventing fringe members of the society having access to planet-killing technology? Or was someone reserving themselves an ace in the hole for a later confrontation? Was that someone the fifth founding race or "The Other Guys" (in all likelihood yes to the fifth race)?

I think this boils down to two things which as alluded to in the book. The GH races are risk-averse plus that they favor stability. The current technology is good enough to achieve their goal of stability. Also, the anti-gravity thing was a bit impractical due to it's energy use and no risk averse species would do the experiment the humans did.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:Human rate of development: we know it's the highest ever recorded, but why is it? Is it a natural occurrence? Or were we tinkered with? If so, by whom? And if not, the Law of Averages says there will be others who could approach or surpass our record, so are we going to meet them?

It is within the realm of possibility that humans where tinkered with. There is something else that's a tad interesting, considering the timeline of the GH, the 5th race and homo sapiens: behavioral modernity in the human race started about 50-80,000 years ago, well within the timeframe of when the 5th race was erased from the GH records .

ThinksMarkedly wrote:Artificial Intelligence and Doctor Roeder. Huge opening here for future exploration, which could allow Humanity much better ships and systems. Unlike in the Honorverse, those are sentient and self-aware AIs. The authors did make it difficult for us by having Doctor Roeder not remember and not having recorded what he did to allow transfers. But once that is cracked, with nanites and artificial bodies, we immediately have immortality. Well, another form of immortality, just like in SysGov in the Gordian Universe. Also note how AIs can be copied without loss (unlike quite a lot Sci Fi works), allowing for autonomous, unmanned exploration like in the Bobiverse.

I'm thinking that Dr Roeders "discovery" is a plot device that's going to be used later on in the story, ie he slips into GH computers and essentially takes them over.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:Terran Empire: what empire? There's no hint of this coming to pass! Are the books basically the history of the Empire being recounted far in the future, like in Asimov's Foundation that there are entries from the Galactic Encyclopedia from much later than the events taking place?

It's not an uncommon trope to write books in this way, alluding to a far future where some scholar dissects a historical record. It's not that pronounced here, but just prefacing a book with "Year 1 of the Terran Empire" tells us that at least for the immediate future (up to perhaps 200 years) the humans will build an empire and clash with the GH. If it still exist in the far future is not a given though.

---
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:25 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:Loose threads that I can think of, after just having finished Into the Light:
snip

Terran Empire: what empire? There's no hint of this coming to pass! Are the books basically the history of the Empire being recounted far in the future, like in Asimov's Foundation that there are entries from the Galactic Encyclopedia from much later than the events taking place?

I suspect the Terran Empire is a product of the initial missions they sent out. All those civilizations they visited will join up and accept Earth's lead. The key issue that will influence that will be the degree that humans managed to improve technology the hegemony stabilized for millennia. Without that degree of improvement and the improvements yet to come, the new order will be squashed. Everyone knows it.

That doesn't mean the new civilizations will have no say. On the contrary, they will have significant say in their futures. Yet, until they can grow comfortable with the degree of innovations humanity is launching, they will let the humans direct their foreign policy and military strategy for the most part.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Joat42   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:42 pm

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Another loose thread is the robots building the railway bridge. Except for some backdrop it isn't really connected to the story in any meaningful way. How come?

When I started reading that chapter I fully expected it to end with some kind of disaster because of some unintended consequences, instead it just petered out.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:44 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:Loose threads that I can think of, after just having finished Into the Light:

The Other Guys & Vampires: who made the nanites and why were they on Earth? Was Vlad intentionally transformed or was that really an accident, him ingesting an overdose of highly advanced medical nanites? Was the cave he found a ship? How long had it been there? Has it left? Are there more on Earth or elsewhere? Why was it there: a crash landing or was it intentional? What else can vampires do? Vampire Fantasy has never explored what happens when they are close to technology, especially if they are made of technology. We could see Vampires controlling their nanites so they have the ability to heal people, take over electronic systems, etc.

snip


The issue I can't help but think about is just how thoroughly Vlad understands the limitations of Vampires. The execution of Cecile is a case in point. Furthermore, where does the control of other Vampires come from? Longbow's response to President Howell's order for him to rebuild the military also comes to mind. Vamps can be programmed to some degree is a conclusion we come to. How?

I suspect that Vlad knows a bit more about the machine that created him than he has let on so far. Just how much will be interesting to discover.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:47 pm

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Joat42 wrote:Another loose thread is the robots building the railway bridge. Except for some backdrop it isn't really connected to the story in any meaningful way. How come?

When I started reading that chapter I fully expected it to end with some kind of disaster because of some unintended consequences, instead it just petered out.

That arc is more of looking at some of the background activities which will lead to the new society of Earth when the next book comes out. The story arcs about Aurora, MN fulfill the same function.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:39 pm

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PeterZ wrote:I suspect the Terran Empire is a product of the initial missions they sent out. All those civilizations they visited will join up and accept Earth's lead. The key issue that will influence that will be the degree that humans managed to improve technology the hegemony stabilized for millennia. Without that degree of improvement and the improvements yet to come, the new order will be squashed. Everyone knows it.

That doesn't mean the new civilizations will have no say. On the contrary, they will have significant say in their futures. Yet, until they can grow comfortable with the degree of innovations humanity is launching, they will let the humans direct their foreign policy and military strategy for the most part.


But why is it an Empire? Do we get an emperor and a change of government? Is that a coup or an evolution so other, less advanced species still thinking in inheritance terms come to grips?

Why is it not a Terran Federation, Terran Union or Terran Commonwealth?
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:46 pm

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PeterZ wrote:The issue I can't help but think about is just how thoroughly Vlad understands the limitations of Vampires. The execution of Cecile is a case in point. Furthermore, where does the control of other Vampires come from? Longbow's response to President Howell's order for him to rebuild the military also comes to mind. Vamps can be programmed to some degree is a conclusion we come to. How?

I suspect that Vlad knows a bit more about the machine that created him than he has let on so far. Just how much will be interesting to discover.


Very good point. The fact that Vlad has known how to kill other vampires for what looks like centuries and taught Pieter Ushakov is interesting in itself. We don't know that the blade he used is in any way special. It's entirely possible that it was a regular blade which worked only because something else was done to make the vampire vulnerable.

Remember that Cecilia felt compelled to go to Romania. That means Pieter had control over her over long distances (BTW, how far and is that FTL?). If he has control over her and her nanites, he may have had sufficient control to simply order them to accept the command to dissolve.

This also reminds me of the scene when the PAF was being created. Major Dan Torino (Longbow) was very resistant to being under a chain of command. But when President Howell asked him to do so and would report directly to him, he felt much relieved. Note also how Vlad left the vampires (Pieter and Longbow especially) behind to help then-Governor Howell. This smacks of compulsion to me: Longbow could resist General Landers, but not Pres. Howell.

PS: I almost put the book down when they said "Commanding General of the Navy."
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by PeterZ   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 3:07 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:
But why is it an Empire? Do we get an emperor and a change of government? Is that a coup or an evolution so other, less advanced species still thinking in inheritance terms come to grips?

Why is it not a Terran Federation, Terran Union or Terran Commonwealth?


Empires are not necessarily aristocracies or even monarchies. They are a form of government that exercises authority over a collection of states or countries. I can see an Empire as being very similar to a federal system of a republic where the member states are different enough that their local form of government is very different from other member states/countries.

As an example, let's assume the Sarthians for a planetary parliament based on their aristocracy for the upper house and clans for the lower house.

Further assume that one other civilization is a representative republic more like the current US but composed of a timocratical upper house and a religiously based lower house that represents a myriad of religions.

So, as we can see the PU of Earth can send representatives to the Terran Empire that consists of vastly different member planetary nations. Each of which governs itself in distinctly different ways, but owes allegiance to the Terran Empire's authority.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:01 pm

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Joat42 wrote:
ThinksMarkedly wrote:The fifth founding race: are they the same as "The Other Guys?" Taking a page from the Honorverse "Ghost Hunters," I'm assuming until proof to the contrary that they aren't the same. But if so, what happened to them? Why did they disappear? Was it apathy, losing the will to live? Or were they exterminated? Or have they transcended / ascended? Does the GH really have a policy of exterminating troublesome races in the crib? If so, what spooked them?

The simple answer is that the 5th race is the OG, although if we consider how often rfc set the readers up with one piece of "obvious" information which changes context entirely if you happen to connect it to some throwaway comment somewhere else in the book I wouldn't at all be surprised that the 5th race and the OG isn't the same.

Also, considering the information that was ferreted out it seems the 5th race was more technologically advanced than the GH.


That stretches belief a bit.

Rewriting history is very difficult, so it's highly unlikely that the fifth founding race was eliminated too far into the recorded history. I don't expect it to have happened more than 10,000 T-years into the GH history and I'd be very surprised if it gets to 50k. By that time, there were probably a dozen races already, so keeping the conspiracy is pretty difficult. Given the population size of the GH, there would be all kinds of fringe groups that would keep the information stored, even if they all had a "protect the herd mentality." In effect, that mentality can be used to justify keeping the information in spite of what the government decrees.

That said, there's no reason this extra-official information should have been shared with the Shongair and much less that any extra-official information be incorporated into the databanks of warships. Even if they have massive storage capabilities and carry basically the entire Galactic Encyclopedia wherever they go. So the information might be there in the hands of the inner sanctum of the council, but not in Terran hands.

The other part that stretches belief is the fact that an advanced race could have been pushed away and remained away for so long. They may not have had the development pace of Humanity, but 100,000 T-years is plenty of time to produce a tech base sufficiently ahead of the GH that they offset the quantity advantage. Moreover, the starting point of this race seems to have been already ahead of the GH.

So where has a technologically advanced race been for the last 100-150k years? What have they been waiting for? Have they kept their population stable for so long that they didn't expand? And have they kept all the fringe elements of their society in check so that there has been no contact whatsoever?

This is why I actually don't think The Other Guys and the fifth founding race are one and the same. I think it's more likely the fifth race voluntarily exiled itself, such as transcendence or uploading into computers (which would also explain the absence of AIs in the Hegemony).

I think this boils down to two things which as alluded to in the book. The GH races are risk-averse plus that they favor stability. The current technology is good enough to achieve their goal of stability. Also, the anti-gravity thing was a bit impractical due to it's energy use and no risk averse species would do the experiment the humans did.


Good point on their having never developed this particular technology. They may have deemed it to be theoretically possible, but impractical. And yet being at all possible can be sufficient condition to introduce the safety feature.

But we have only one example of a technology safed even without being developed. We can't extrapolate from one. Moreover, we also don't know when the safety was introduced: it could be that the theoretical advance was made much later the disappearance of the fifth founding race and therefore be unrelated to them.

We're told that Hegemony technology hasn't advanced much in the last 150k years, but that doesn't mean absolutely no theoretical work. With a population in the trillions or even a quadrillion, one-in-a-billion scientists are still numbered in the hundreds of thousands to a million. A slow theoretical advance may still have contributed safety features, even if the engineers and TPTB decided not to deploy the technology at all so as to not upset the cart. Especially if the technology was considered impractical in the first place.

So we can't take it for granted that the artificial gravity was a possibility at the founding of the GH, much less that it was a product of the fifth founding race. That in turn means it's speculation that the fifth founding race was innovative and was advancing technologically. It's logical, but not a given. And as I said, if they were advancing, they'd have come back after 10,000 T-years or so, wouldn't they?

It is within the realm of possibility that humans where tinkered with. There is something else that's a tad interesting, considering the timeline of the GH, the 5th race and homo sapiens: behavioral modernity in the human race started about 50-80,000 years ago, well within the timeframe of when the 5th race was erased from the GH records .


I disagree, see above. The fifth race ought to have been erased at least 100,000 T-years ago, more like 130 to 145.
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