Uplift Universe Patronymic Trees

Home Page, Contents

  • Nighthunter (extinct)
    • Brothers of the Night (or Ebony Shadows)
  • F’ruthian
    • Fonnir
      • Koahgi
      • Norruhk
  • Bi-Gle
    • Buyur
      • Tunnuctyur
        • Glaver
          • three client races
  • Drooli (or Droolt)
    • G’Kek
  • Gl’kahesh
  • Ot’ahh
    • Kooyio
      • Gooksyu
        • Gubru
          • Kwackoo
          • Okgkoo
  • Guthatsa
    • Hoon
  • Human
    • Neo-Chimpanzee
    • (Neo-Dog)
    • Neo-Dolphin
    • (Neo-Elephant)
    • {Kiqui ?}
    • (See also Chooser)
  • Brawch
    • Khilp
      • J’8lek
        • Kaschan
        • Stoort
        • Heebi
        • B’8koo
  • Poa (extinct)
    • Traeki (extinct by Uplift)
    • Jophur (uplift completed by the Oailie, final stage uplift consorts of the Poa)
      • Sarrphor
      • Phasheni
      • Dorrvi
      • Voam-voam
  • Linten
    • Siqul
      • Kanten
        • Nish
  • Nahalli (under rehabilitation indenture to Thennanin)
    • Bururalli (extinct, root-stock extinct by joint order of Institutes of Migration, Tradition, and Uplift)
      • Karrank%
  • Progenitors (believed to have “passed on”)
  • Zhosh
    • Qheuens
  • Rothen (A mysterious species claiming to be the lost patrons of Humanity.)
    • Human

Per Jones, Stephan, GURPS Uplift, 1st ed. Steve Jackson Games, 1990, IBSN 1-55634-165-2.

  • Lethani or Luber
    • Puber
      • Hul
        • Soro
          • Gello
            • Konahd
              • Mn
            • Bahtwin
          • Kisa
            • Pila
              • Pring
              • Skyiano
          • Stheee
          • Paha
            • Naytha
          • Forski (also Froski)

Per Jones, Stephan, GURPS Uplift, 2nd ed. Steve Jackson Games, 2003, IBSN 1-55634-427-9.

  • Puber
    • Hul
      • Soro
        • Gello
          • Bahtwin
          • Ym
        • Paha
          • One client
        • Forski
        • Kisa
          • Pila
            • Pring
        • Stheee
  • Pee’oot
    • Chelbi (extinct)
      • Tharner
        • Synthian
          • Wazoon
          • Klick-Klick
          • Se’een
  • Nght6
    • Tandu
      • Inquisitor
      • Acceptor
      • Episiarch
  • Tarseuh
  • Tothtoon
    • Rosh
      • Kosh
        • Wortl
          • Thennanin
            • Paimin
            • Rammin
            • Ynnin
            • Olumimin
            • Nahalli (as punishment)
            • Garthling (or Chooser. Formerly Neo-Gorilla.)
  • Traeki, see Jophur
  • Krallnith
    • Brma
      • Caltmour (extinct)
        • Tymbrimi
          • Tytlal
          • Niss (secret)
  • Mani
    • Afue
      • Som
        • Urs
  • Xatinni
    • Xappish (also Xap)
1. Discrepancies with Patronymics: Sundiver (p33) claims the Pila are ab-Kisa ab-Soro ab-Hul ab-Puber ul-Gello ul-Pring. Yet Startide Rising (p62) claims that the Gello were the first clients of the Soro, and not the Pila. Tom Orley addresses the Paha warriors as “Paha ab-Kleppko ab-Puber ab-Soro ab-Hul” on p409 of Sundiver. There has never been any other mention of the Kleppko and this Patronymic chain is out of order.

Originally for Alliance for Progress Encyclopedia site. The version in the Alliance for Progress Encyclopedia was not formated correctly, so it has been revised here.
Trent Shipley
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Timeline: History of the Five Galaxies

Home Page, Contents

BYA = Billion Years Ago, MYA = Million Years Ago, KYA=Thousand Years Ago;

BCE=Before Common (Terragen) Era (=BC), CE = Common (Terragen) Era (=AD);
BxY = before Contact, 0xY = year of Contact (= 2550 CE), AxY = after Contact;

All years are standard Terragen measure.

SadPaktar = Paktar that Progenitors Passed On from Main Sequence existence = Paktar 0 = 2.26 BYA;

SS=Steve Sloan addition.

15 BYA: Big Bang (SS)

2.8—3.1 BYA: Massive terraforming campaigns. Evidence of age-long world-shattering conflicts. (Beginnings of life on Earth.)

2.8—2.2 BYA: Progenitors rule the galaxies in what is traditionally thought to be a Golden Age. Records extremely sketchy.

2.75 BYA: Appearance of first textual and archaeological evidence for Hydrogen Breathing and Methane Breathing sapients.

2.71 BYA: Transfer point to Third Galaxy discovered; wrecked Galactic-level civilization discovered there. The Progenitors and allied species revise their ecological ethics and practices in response.

2.3 BYA: Progenitors separate themselves from affairs of lesser races, passing on laws and edicts.

2.305 BYA: Wars with Hydrogen-Breathers begin.

2.26 BYA: Progenitors physically leave the Galaxies (according to Inheritor legend).

2.2615 BYA: H-2/O-2 Wars escalate

2.263 BYA: Machine Wars begin. According to legend self-replicating, intelligent, non-organic constructs—designed by both H-2 and O-2 combatants in the H-2/O-2 Wars—mutually decide their masters are insanely irrational, and so unfit to represent Sapiency.

2.2 BYA: Artificial life enjoys considerable military advantage in the three-way wars between Artificial, H-2, and O-2 life.

2.22 BYA: Progenitors”Pass On,” according to Transcendor belief.

2.202 BYA (a): Hydrogen Breathers exterminate sapient Methane and Ammonia life-forms.

2.202 BYA (b): First H-2/O-2 Trucial Agreements concluded. These agreements result in the official alliance of all Organic life against all Artificial life. Self-replicating AIs and nanotechnology are restricted and regulated in the common interest. Use of cybernetic technology is discouraged. The Foresight Organization is created.

2.250 BYA: The alliance of Organic life defeats the Artificial species. Treaties restrict Artificial life to designated Reserve Areas. These treaties are still in force.

2.255 BYA (a): Macro-Nanitic sapient species are exterminated by the Organic species per the agreement of 2.250 BYA.

2.255 BYA (b): Second H-2/O-2 Wars begin.

2.258 BYA: Open hostilities in the Second H-2/O-2 Wars end with the Cease Fire for Negotiations Toward a Mutually Beneficial Peace.

2.25 BYA: Second H-2/O-2 Trucial Agreements concluded, forming the basis for H-2/O-2 interaction to this day. The first systematic Hydrogen Breather and Oxygen Breather cooperation in migration and ecological management begins. The Galactic Institute for Migration begins to take on its modern form.

2.15 BYA: An O-2 power vacuum leads predecessors of some of today’s alliances to battle for control of the galaxies.

2.1—1.9 BYA: Power struggles largely resolved. This is a crucial formative age for much of O-2 Galactic civilization as we now know it. The Library records from this time forward are notably more complete than for earlier epochs.

2.1 BYA: Institute for Civilized Warfare formed.

1.4 BYA: The Library is reorganized into its modern form. The Uplift Institute is founded.

623 MYA: The ecologically insensitive “Lions” dominate the Galaxies.

620 MYA: The Tarseuh forge a coalition and overthrow the “Lions”

590 MYA: Institute for Recovery of Honor wracked by ideological disputes. The Obeyer/Abdicator ideological war results. The Institute for the Recovery of Honor collapses. The Moderate Consensus results, fills the resulting power vacuum, and provides hegemonic O-2 values to this day.

150 MYA: (Approximately): The quality of available Library data increases again on a scale even more dramatic that of the 1.9 BYA improvement. This relative improvement (possibly an artifact of censorship) is tacitly recognized by most individual sapient scholars and intellectuals, but seldom acknowledged—let alone discussed—in official or academic circles. No Alliance for Progress agency has a satisfactory explanation for this event.

100 MYA: Karrank% released from clienthood and granted the planet Kithrup as a “retirement home”.

31 MYA: Thennanin uplifted; join Abdicators.

2 MYA: Soro uplifted by Hul. (Human ancestors: Homo habilis, possibly Homo erectus. Stone tools of Olduwan tradition.)

100 KYA: At about this time O-2 civilization begins to experience a wave of uplift atrocities and associated ecological disasters. (Anatomically modern humans have now existed for as long as 50 KY. They still share the Old World with less modern H. Sapiens and perhaps with H. erectus. Stone tools are still of Lavalois tradition. Tools of Achulian tradition are no longer found, or are seldom found. There are only minimal signs of artistic behavior.)

70 KYA: Galactic opinion becomes very concerned about uplift abuses and ecological maintenance. Various galactic institutions begin a crack-down.

65 KYA to 40 KYA: The Galactic Institute for Civilized Warfare authorizes numerous campaigns of enforcement at the behest of the Institute for Migration and the Uplift Institute. This begins to increase political instability in O-2 space.

55 KYA: Increasingly invasive GIM and GUI activities produce a counter-reaction among more independently minded species.

52 KYA: The last recorded “wolfling” race, the Paranaj, is discovered. Within a thousand years, it is extinct.

50 KYA: The Bururalli Holocaust wipes out most higher animals on Garth. The Bururalli are destroyed in retaliation—down to, and including, their rootstock. The Bururalli patrons are returned to fourth level clienthood as punishment/rehabilitation. (Early signs of Homo sapiens in Australia. Lavalois stone knapping tradition extinct, or nearly so.)

30 KYA: The rate of sapient induced ecological disasters has returned to roughly historical background levels in O-2 space. The desire of the GUI and GIM for stronger regulations and enforcement powers is stymied by a shift in Galactic opinion that favors less invasive supervision. (Humans paint hunting scenes in what would become French and Spanish caves. Anatomically modern humans—H. sapiens sapiens—the only living representative of the genus Homo.)

15 KYA: Humans arrive in the Americas.

7.5 KYA: Pyramids in Egypt.

c 4000 YA (that is, 1470 BCE): Tymbrimi patrons, the Caltmour, wiped out in galactic war. (Humans have had cities and empires in the Old World for a few thousand years.)

c 3000 YA: Golden Age of Athens.

289 BxY: First manned human space travel.

281 BxY: Humans reach Earth’s moon.

244 BxY: Earth based observers discover NuDawn orbiting in the habitable zone.

225 BxY: Near light speed probes sent to six planets orbiting stars. All planets are in the habitable zone and show evidence of water and O2.

200 BxY to 150 BxY (Approximately): Earth history dominated by the Great Collapse.

170 BxY to 50 BxY: Earth dominated by The Bureaucracy.

119 BxY: Chimp uplift effort begins.

35 BxY: First modern probationary policies implemented.

33 BxY to 30 BxY: The Politburo of the Bureaucracy foolishly makes probationary criteria applicable to members of the General Assembly. This results in the wholesale replacement of Assembly members, and subsequent replacement of the Politburo.

31 BxY: Confederation of Nations founded. It will succeed The Bureaucracy in a bloodless revolution.

10 BxY: Jacob Demwa born.

1 BxY: Earth has established numerous colonies beyond the Solar system and is actively exploring space using near-light-speed vessels. Colonies more than three months travel from Earth are self-governing.

0xY /2250 CE: First Galactic Contact. Human explorers contact Tymbrimi colonists. This was 87 paktaars ago by Galactic measure.

2 AxY: The Confederation of Nations is reorganized and renamed The Terragen Confederation. New election rules allow far-flung communities to participate in a representative democracy.

3 AxY: Neo-Chimpanzees recognized as Stage Two Clients and Humans recognized as independent patrons.

1 AxY to 25 AxY: Terragen Confederation in constant conflict with the Galactic Institute for Migration over pre-contact Terragen colonies.

40 AxY /2290 CE: Sundiver incident.

150 AxY: Neo-dolphins recognized as Stage 2 clients.

182 AxY: Garth colonized by Terragens under a lease agreement from the Galactic Institute for Migration.

275 AxY: Human-Galactic relations stable. Clan Terragen now holds ten G.I.M. leases—including one for the garden world, Calafia, plus the homeworld “lease” on Earth. The G.I.M. is very pleased with Terragen custodianship on all lease-hold worlds. Terragens have now been on good terms with the G.I.M. for more than 225 years.

276 AxY: Streaker encounters derelict fleet, sends psi-cast message, and Central Galaxy goes into turmoil. Flight and battle will continue for many objective years.

277 AxY: Garth invaded by Gubru. Invaders expelled after many months. [Must be at least 12 months. See “278”. SS.] Later in this year The “Siege” of Earth begins. This so-called siege is really more of an armed blockade. Mars colony hurt far worse than Earth itself.

278 AxY: Intercepted Soro time-drop message reports Streaker fled Kthsemenee system. Images of bizarre and wondrous incident on Garth transmitted to galaxy through hyperspace shunt. Gorillas chose Thennanin as stage one Uplift Patrons with Humans and Neo-Chimpanzees as co-Consorts. Soro, and other forces, begin their invasion of Calafia.

279 AxY: The Soro consolidate their invasion of Calafia. Later this year they abandon their effort to make the Neo-Dolphins take on the Gello as Uplift Consorts and make their strategic objective Transfer of Lease by Right of Conquest. Early this year the Streaker is seen in port at Oakka.

280 AxY: Earth temporarily safe thanks to Thennanin alliance, but the colonies are still in danger. [Streaker arrives on Jijo? SS]

282 to 380 AxY: Horpie region to be opened to settlement sometime in this period.

Originally contributed to S. Blandón’s site and modified by Steve Sloan from the original in Stefan Jones’ GURPS Uplift. Subsequently modified by Trent Shipley for the Alliance for Progress Encyclopedia site and for use in Trent Shipley’s Uplift role-playing campaign.

Trent Shipley
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: Galactic Response

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents


Major Institutes

The Galactic Bank was concerned with the primitive and impoverished state of the Terragens’ economy. The Earth Confederation Council actively resisted the Galactic Bank’s overtures, out of concern for the clan’s sovereignty, and pure stubborn opposition to superior Galactic economic technology.

The Galactic Institute for Civilized Warfare did not see the Human Clan as a military threat. If anything, the GICW was concerned that some of it’s members would declare war on the Terragens, either to take over the clan’s uplift, or to exterminate Humans. The GICW went out of its way to reaffirm the Galactic Institute of Migration’s finding that Humans had, in the main, been adequate environmental stewards, and the Galactic Uplift Institute’s findings that Humans were proper patrons with recognized client species.

The Library Institute was not particularly involved in the Human Contact Event. In a great blunder, Humans did freely release their cultural patrimony and gave away species specimens. The new knowledge was a tiny, tiny addition to the Library’s vast data, however it was the largest addition in millions of hab-years. A bigger challenge was translating the very undisciplined and un-Galactic Terragen languages so that Galactics could use the Human Clan free content.

The Galactic Uplift Institute ruled that Humans were not only a mature species, but were proper patrons. However, the GUI refused to recognize a blanket Human right to uplift any and all Earth species. The GUI did, nevertheless, recognize Neo-Chimps and Neo-Dolphins as stage one clients. The GUI also recognized that Humans had valid uplift claims in the Neo-Dog and Neo-Elephant programs, although it froze further development of specimens of these species until further notice.

The Galactic Institute of Migration was largely satisfied with Terragen ecological stewardship. It granted leases for most existing Terragen colonies, except for Mudawn which was on a fallow reserve planet. The GIM was of two minds about the research Terragens had done on life in gas giant and ammonia ecologies. First they were worried, because the Terragens had engaged in genetic manipulation of gas giant species—which was against GIM law. Second, just taking an interest in non-O2  biology was frowned upon. On the other hand, by O2 standards, primitive Terragens were experts at the Hydrogen Order, and the GIM wanted to tap that talent.

Minor Institutes

The Galactic Foresight Organization became deeply concerned when they learned that Terragens had independently developed theory for self-aware machines and self-replicating machines. Worse, the Human Clan had made progress beyond what would be the prevailing level of competence for a similar overall technological base among Galactics. Due to Terragen naivete, the GFO became aware of the Human Clan’s highly Nontraditional independent progress in artificially intelligent and self-replicating technologies. The GFO immediately insisted on carte blanche access to all Teragen research facilities; however, the GFO has been blocked by the Galactic Institute of Tradition, the Galactic Institute for the Promotion of Progress and Newness, and the Library. The effectiveness of the Human Clan, the Clan’s allies, and GIPPN in stonewalling the GFO
is quite mysterious, since most Galactics have deep seated fear and hatred of the Mechanical Order.

The Galactic Institute for the Promotion of Progress and Newness was delighted with the discovery of Humans, their clients, and Earth. Without a Galactic Library and Tradition, Humans had novel kinds of knowledge, most notably certain kinds of mathematics, such as calculus and analysis. More importantly, Terragens had the scientific method to continuously produce progress, and other methods to generate unending newness.

The Galactic Institute for Tradition saw its role first as arbitrating Galactic justice. In front of the GIT, Terragens did quite well by most standards, although there were setbacks for the Wolflings. The GIT also saw a role for itself in helping the Human Clan to survive by providing tutoring in Galactic manners and traditions. To a degree this was a missionary program. It was hoped that the Terragens would become good, moderate Galactics. Sadly, that conversion has yet to happen, but Humans and their clients did become reasonably conversant in participating in Galactic Civilization.

The Interspecies Academy for Sophont Language and Communication was very interested in documenting native Terragen languages, for they would surely soon die out. The IASLC actively wanted Terragen languages to become extinct in favor of Standard Galactic Languages, notably Gal-6 or Gal-7. At the time the IASLC did not appreciate how tenacious and contagious languages like Anglic and Trinary would be. Had the IASLC known, it would have worked much harder at replacing native Terragen languages with Civilized languages.

The Unified Institue of Standards and Interspecies Trade was interested in the Earth Confederation adopting Galactic Standards. To date, Terragens have adopted Galactic Standards, especially when trading with Galactics or building Library designs. However, to this day Terragens still use parochial units of measure and engineering standards for internal trade. Of more concern was the initial, and continuing, caution on the part of the Human Clan in adopting Galactic trade agreements, standards, and Traditions. The backward Humans have an irrational fear that standard Galactic terms of trade would harmful to their Clan.


  • Abdicator
  • Awaiter
  • Inheritor
  • Obeyer
  • Transcender


Hostile Clans

  • Guburu
  • Jophur
  • Soro
  • Tandu
  • Thennanin

Friendly Clans

  • Kanten ab-Linten
  • Synthian
  • Tymbrimi

Galactic Reaction to the Earth Confederation

  • New market
  • New goods
    • Art
    • Culture
    • Genes
  • Trade on advantageous terms
  • Number of diplomatic missions to Earth

Treaty of Luna

  • Regularize institute findings
  • Tolerance of Humans/Terragens
  • Leases
  • Ecological protection of Earth
  • Human uplift rights
    • Patron status
    • Clients
      • Chim
      • Fin
      • Neo-Dog
      • Neo-Elephant

Trent Shipley.
Created: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: Relations with Humans

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents

Given their still limited understanding of Anglic and the fact that the small Tymbrimi crew of the Cuthmar were merchant spacers, they did not really appreciate the effect that their arrival had on the Humans. What was quite clear was that Earth was a uniquely pristine ecosystem, Humanity was a singularly extraordinary case of spontaneous uplift, and Tymbrimi and Humans got along quite well. Furthermore, Human and above all Tymbrimi interests had to be protected. The Humans had several hab-days until even the closest and fastest ships would appear in Earth's star system. During this time the crew of the Cuthmar was hard pressed to advise the leadership of Earth's Confederation of Nations and satisfy the insatiable desire of all three Terragen species for information and contact with the available ambassadors of Civilization.

Meanwhile, the Cuthmar started to bristle with primitive Human communications gear and their eccentric computer technology. Unfortunately, the Tymbrimi in their unfounded suspicion of Library bias, and arguably in violation of the terms of a Standard Library Lease, failed to make the on-board Library party to all the new communication channels. Nevertheless, the Library unit on the Cuthmar managed to accession almost one-quarter pico-branch worth of new data. This necessitated sequestration of data and reallocation of assets normally devoted to search-and-retrieval to data accession. With the arrival of the Galactic Library Institute ship the Cuthmar Library unit also had to allocate resources for coordination with the 2-128 branch on the Library Institute ship. Communication by the Cuthmar with Tymbrimi space remained minimal due to limited facilities for securing faster-than-light communications.

The closest planet to Earth, Gvuderon, is leased by the Paha ab-Soro. Paha ships with Soro authorities aboard were the first on the scene. The Tymbrimi had honored Human ecological protocols and worn isolation suits when visiting bio-active areas. Not appreciating the pristine state of Earth’s ecology (and having the military means to do as they pleased) the Soro-Paha expedition dispatched teams nearly wherever they pleased.

Galactic Institute for Migration ships are always dispersed throughout Civilized space. They were particularly common in the Ehbu'chi'u sector because of the pending migration scheduled for the region. Thus, a GIM Gamma Warden was the next representative of Civilization to arrive in system.

The Captain of the x03b3;-Warden promptly heard a long list of complaints about Soro violations of the Wolflings quarantines. After consulting with the Cuthmar Library unit and confirmation by the Warden’s drones, the Captain promptly reprimanded the Soro and Paha, ordering them to honor the Wolflings biological encounter protocol in full. Unfortunately, several exotic micro-organisms had already been introduced to Earth’s fragile ecosystem.

The Paha also filed a claim on all apes and cetaceans (including Humans) as promising uplift candidates. This claim was widely and immediately disputed upon the arrival of Galactic Uplift Institute authorities. Therefore, the GUI changed the status of the Paha Uplift Candidacy Claim on apes and toothed cetaceans to inactive . The claim is still on the inactive list, but it has not been declared invalid.

Ironically Soro high-handed power politics earned them an acute and irrational reaction typical of the savage Terragen Wolflings, and left Clan Soro at a significant disadvantage relative to other clans and species because the Soro were penalized in the Humans' early tendency to freely provide copious information and hospitality. Furthermore, since the crew of the Cuthmar were themselves highly biased against the Soro, the behavior of the Soro only boosted the status of the Tymbrimi and their radically extremist politics.

The GIM’s initial interaction with the Humans was schizophrenic. The GIM guaranteed the Confederation of Nations biological quarantine. However, they dismissed the Confederation’s claims to absolute sovereignty in its home system. Soon Earth was swarming with GIM drones and personnel. There were minor casualties among park rangers and guards at secure facilities. The ranking GIM Associate also expressed concern about a number of ecological problems on Earth. The GIM was particularly alarmed over biological research projects in the system’s gas giants. The self-evident fact that Humans had an unknown number of colonies in other star systems was also cause for enormous concern.

However, the Associate did issue a preliminary (and controversial) finding that Earth was the legitimate Homeworld of the Humans and that they had met or exceeded minimal criteria for ecological competence. When an Alpha Warden arrived the a GIM Fellow reiterated the findings of his junior colleague on the x03b3;-Warden.

The Fonnir’s Homeworld is very close to Earth. Fonnir curiosity had been piqued by reports and all the psionic chatter in nearby space. A small delegation from this elder species easily traveled to Earth using quantum tunneling drives. The dignified and venerable Fonnir were mostly content to observe the events unfolding. Most contacts were through the Norhurruk caretaker species. Norhurruk representatives deflected all requests by Humans or Tymbrimi to deal directly with their estimable Fonnir patrons.

Nevertheless, small numbers of Fonnir met almost daily with Terragens throughout their mission’s 2.5 hab-year stay in-system. Norhurruk were evidently stressed and worried that harm might come to their valuable charges through regular contact with the unpredictable savages. However, no Fonnir seemed to display any ill effect from contact with Terragens.

A Norhurruk team was also a major contributor to early research on real-time machine translation of Anglic to standard Galactic languages.

The next arrivals were a Tymbrimi patrol cruiser with two destroyers. Many experts remain highly skeptical of Tymbrimi claims that this state-of-the-art force just happened to be protecting nearby Tymbrimi assets and trade routes.

Within 1024 hab of the x03b3;-Warden’s arrival small, over-powered ships representing various clan and commercial news organizations entered orbit around Earth. Throughout the initial contact phase news agencies were frustrated by the lack of accurate automatic real-time translators for Anglic. They were forced to rely on Terragens learning Gal-7 and other civilized languages.

As luck would have it the Linten were interested in reports of a lush, isolated ecology and primitive wolflings with surprisingly clever techniques in micro-biosphere engineering and terraforming. The Linten used a second generation quantum warp drive ship on special loan from their retired grand-patrons to rush to Earth's star system. The main-sequence passengers (including the Linten) were housed in a modular pod equipped with standard Lesh Clan research technology. No Terragen was ever introduced to the Linten Grand-Patrons. The Linten mission contained a large Kanten contingent. The Human-Kanten special relationship dates from this early contact.

About 1.15 x 215 after Contact a larger Kanten contingent arrived using standard A-Level hyperspace drives. They established the first permanent Alien presence on Moon Base Alpha. 1.31 x 213 later, the same mission established the first consular office at Tijuana.

Unlike the Tymbrimi and Kanten, Synthian involvement during the initial contact episode was guarded and limited to an assay of Wolfling technology done for the Galactic Institute for the Promotion of Progress and Newness. Other than enthusiasm inspired by the novelty of Human culture and technology, the first open support by Clan Synthian for Humans was a friend-of-tribunal brief that strongly argued for granting Humans the status of a mature species and unencumbered patron status over Neo-Chimp, Neo-Gorilla, Neo-Dolphin, Neo-Elephant, Neo-Dog, and Neo-Lion. Namely all species actively under any stage of uplift by Humans at the time of contact.

Over the next sixteen hab-years most influential clans and nearly all galactic institutions established a presence in Earth's star system. The diplomatic and legal chronologies are long and involved, inspiring a substantial body of analysis. and historical interpretation (see bibliography).

However, the casual reader should note that Humans were found to be a mature species by the Galactic Uplift Institute. The GUI also confirmed that Neo-Chimpanzee and Neo-Dolphin were level-1 clients and that Humans were their patrons. Also, the GUI reluctantly agreed to allow the Tymbrimi to serve as level-1 Uplift Consorts for Neo-Chimpanzee and Neo-Dolphin. On the other hand, the GUI refused to grant Humanity presumptive patron status over all of Earth’s genetic stock. The institute refused to rule on whether or not Neo-Dog and Neo-Elephant had attained the status of level-1 clients, but Humanity’s claim of Patron status for canines and elephants was given preliminary recognition. Any rulings on Humanity’s patron status over active uplift programs for gorillas and lions were postponed. The remarkable adoption of the Thennanin as patrons by Gorillas on Garth has since unequivocally resolved the case for Gorillas. Human claims of patronhood for lions and other cats remains in bureaucratic limbo. The GUI also ordered a cessation of all Human uplift programs except for Neo-Chimp, Neo-Fin, Neo-Dog, and Neo-Elephant. Severe and unusual, but temporary, restrictions were put on the Neo-Dog and Neo-Elephant projects.

In addition to active rulings and regulations, the GUI issued official but non-binding findings expressing serious reservations about the speed of Human uplift projects. Institute officials were also concerned about the degree of freedom that Humans gave to uplifted species early in their uplift minority.

After an initially mixed relationship the Galactic Institute for Migration clashed with Humans over their pre-contact colonies on ecologically sensitive planets. Relations reached their nadir after the extermination of the Muduan sooner infestation.

The Language Academy was and is vexed by the refusal of the Human Clan to adopt a civilized language. However, the Academy’s annoyance pales compared to ongoing Galactic Foresight Organization alarm over Human indifference to traditional restrictions on technology regarded as critical to peace and security in O-2, and even Organic, space. These concerns have their parallels in the GUI where some parties worry about the Human Clan’s blasé attitude toward cyborging and even artificial intelligence.

Only two major incidents occurred in the Earth system during the first years of contact. Little is known about the first except that sealed briefs were submitted by the Galactic Institute for Migration, the Galactic Uplift Institute, the Galactic Institute of Civilized Warfare, and the Linten, Thennanin, and Soro to the Galactic Institute of Tradition. The GIT issued a sealed finding. Thereafter, the commander of the large Tandu expedition that had recently arrived in system was summoned to the GICW mission for a brief meeting. Directly after the meeting all Tandu left the Solar System, and except for very small temporary diplomatic missions, did not return until the Siege of Earth.

The second major incident involved the Jophur leading a mass exodus of Obeyer clans from the system when the GUI issued preliminary findings that Humans were a competent, mature species and patrons of two level-1 clients. As a result, most Obeyers and the Tandu never signed the Lunar Accords. In fact, the Jophur were so upset over back-channel Synthian involvement that they suspended relations with the Synthians for more than 128 hab-years.

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: Earth

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents

By the time the Tymbrimi discovered Humans, Humans had spread throughout their home star system. Research crews were constantly housed in planetary bases, all the inner planets and the Jovian system hosted permanent habitations, while Earth’s moon, Venus and Mars had colonies. Humans had city-sized artificial space stations in the habitable zone. At the time the Vesarius was launched, the savage Humans had even discovered how to use jumplines. In the time since the launch of the Vesarius, Terragens had discovered D-level hyperdrives for faster-than-light travel.

The crew of the Cuthmar and their Human passengers had months to debate how best to make contact with the Terragen primitives. The Humans aboard made it eminently clear that Terragen unpredictability and primitive superstition made just dropping into Earth orbit unannounced particularly untenable. The ultimate plan was to drop out of hyperspace on a trajectory that would graze Mars and let the Cuthmar rendezvous with Earth, decelerating into orbit. As soon as the Cuthmar was clear of hyperspace, the Tymbrimi Captain Irrdhamae and the ranking Human, Coronel Suzhak, sent their mutual greeting by radio wave to Mars and Earth. Four hab later stunned authorities in Arriane, Providence of Guiana, France received the message from a man who should have been light-years away. He was accompanied by something claiming to be an alien. The technicians immediately set about verifying the broadcast and forwarded the raw footage up the Confederation of Nations command chain.

The Cuthmar made ready for its high speed fly-by of Mars.

Radio and laser communication with Earth, Luna, and Mars were constant but of limited bandwidth. However, as the Cuthmar neared Mars, communication equipment cannibalized from the Vesarius allowed an overwhelming amount of communication to bombard the Cuthmar. Access to the ship’s computers and its little Library had to be rationed resulting in a formal protest from a disgruntled Library unit using its first Anglic-to-Galactic-Seven translation unit. (By this time a copy of Galactic-Seven’s grammar and primary lexis had been sent to Earth along with the first preliminary Anglic/Galactic-Seven dictionary.)

Though their Human guests told them to expect a large reception, the Tymbrimi and Tytlal were stunned by the amount of the space and eco-art deployed for their brief Martian fly-by. Indeed, all linguistic work had to stop as the Tymbrimi Clan-Folk admired the fireworks .

By the year of contact, dozens of ships per hab-year made the passage from the vicinity of Earth and Luna to Mars. All could be in constant contact with Earth and the three major Terragen colonies. From Mars until the end of its mission the Cuthmar’s communications facilities remained saturated. Quarters became increasingly cramped as the Cuthmar crew retrieved equiptment put adrift by Confederation authorities. The conversion of the Cuthmar to a massive telecommunications center was well underway.

The Humans on Earth had forty-two days (15 x 24 hab) from the time they received the first broadcast from the Cuthmar until the ship reached Earth orbit. The Humans on Earth prepared a tremendous reception for this momentous event. Their patrons unknown, Terragens had nevertheless dreamed for many of their centuries of reuniting with civilization. At last the glorious moment arrived, and Humans welcomed their saviors with a production of such magnificent primitive grandeur that it immediately established the Earth Clan’s reputation for imaginative drama, and quieted even the most cynical and sarcastic Tytlal on the Cuthmar. Another Human action immediately established a Terragen reputation for ecological conservation. The Humans imposed a stringent quarantine on the Tymbrimi and their passengers. The earliest visits were to Lunar colonies in bulky Terragen bio-hazard suits, but the Terragen suits were soon replaced with excellent Galactic thin polymer biological containment exoderma. Ecological effects on Earth’s delicate biosphere from first contact were minimal.

After three Earth days in orbit (3 x 23 hab), the Cuthmar’s on-board Library’s daily news brief reported the initial discovery of the Vesarius. The initial Tymbrimi advantage would soon be lost. A-Irrdhamae decided to use the long-range telepathic communicator to send the Galaxies their first images of Earth in a brief 1/3 hab broadcast.

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: Voyage

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents

Once the Tymbrimi established first communication with the Humans, the Tymbrimi and the wolflings started discussing what to do next. The Cuthmar could hardly carry all the Vesarius’ crew and cargo. Most importantly, the colonists in cryogenic chambers needed to stay where they were. At any rate, the Vesarius would reach the Horst colony in just 2.8 hab-years. However, the Humans did have a plan for converting the hold of the Cuthmar to Spartan Human quarters, leaving the Vesarius with a full, if green, crew by reviving some of the frozen passengers.

Meanwhile, Captain a-Irrdhamae of the Cuthmar was becoming increasingly concerned by mission delay. The Cuthmar carried valuable cargo, some of which needed to be delivered in a timely manner. Also, once the Cuthmar was sufficiently overdue, the Tymbrimi Transit Authority would automatically dispatch search and rescue teams. Ordinarily, a-Irrdhamae would just use the psionic faster-than-light communication system, but if she did so, the on-board Library would surely piggy-back a priority announcement on any transmission. Instead, the Captain sent the Cuthmar's runabout on courier duty to the nearest Tymbrimi outpost. The femto-branch on the little ship would still dump its data to any Library that came in range, but it bought about 212.5 hab. The runabout took two Humans as passengers.

By reviving a second crew, the cargo hold on the Cuthmar soon became quarters for Humans (No Neo-Chimps were included because they were high-priority colonists.) In less than 211.3 hab a-Irrdhamae was making all possible speed toward Earth. The ever difficult passage to Earth would take 214.5 hab in B-level hyperspace. Meanwhile, an adventure in xeno-sociology and linguistics took place aboard the Cuthmar.

The construction activity had further enhanced communication between the two crews, and by the time the Cuthmar was a third of the way to Earth, most of the Humans were reasonably conversant in Galactic 7. Unfortunately, Humans would take extraordinary liberties with the standard Galactic language’s lexis and grammar—a bad habit that Terragens still have. Increased linguistic competence contributed greatly to sociability between the three species, which was not an altogether positive thing. Although Humans were quite friendly with the Tytlal, the Tytlal took to mercilessly pranking and teasing the poor wolfling passengers until such time as the Humans managed to indelibly tie dye every Tytlal pelt on the ship. The Tytlal then treated Humans as adversaries who were not only likable, but also worthy of respect.

Despite personality clashes and early missteps, inter-species relationships were relatively stable and very productive during the last 200 hab of the voyage.

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: First Communication

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents

The expedition from the Cuthmar found it necessary to space walk to the unidentified vessel since the Vesarius had no suitable internal hangar and lacked compatible Galactic standard docking ports. Besides, the aliens made no move to help until the Tymbrimi entered space, then alien spacewalkers guided them to a small entry hatch, down a sealed tube, to a room.

Entering the ship, the Tymbrimi were shocked to find the aliens wearing what seemed to be (and in fact were) biological isolation suits. At strategic points some of the aliens were holding what were obviously sidearms. The Tymbrimi again tried to communicate in all twelve standard O-2 languages and even used some inter-order hailing codes. The aliens did not respond in kind.

Instead, they gave the Tymbrimi a quantity of gold and gestured that the Tymbrimi sit down. This despite the fact that the aliens had yet to remove their isolation suits, nor invited the Tymbrimi to remove their vacuum suits, despite the clearly suitable nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. The aliens departed even further from normal polite behavior by leaving their visitors in zero gravity (of course, a discrete scan did reveal that the room was probably not equipped with gravity generation.) Still convinced that something interesting must come from all this bizarre behavior, the Tymbrimi opted to go along with the elaborate game, and took their seats. The lights were dimmed and an impressive multi-media show began lasting about a hab. Meanwhile, three of the five visiting Tymbrimi took the opportunity to surreptitiously set down their heavy air tanks. By the end of the entertainment, the aliens had been joined by two furry quadrupeds without bio-isolation suits and their two handlers who wore the absurd precautions. (The quadrupeds, German shepherds it turns out, also proved unidentifiable.)

Immediately after the entertainment, the aliens gave the Tymbrimi miniature holographic displays and showed their visitors (still in their suits) how to use the controls and change the curious little shiny squares that provided the machines with data. The alien sapients also gave each Tymbrimi two data squares one square contained holographs and sounds of an incredible variety of plants and animals, while the other was obviously a primer for an unknown language. After an hour or so, the Tymbrimi were given another ten squares, and for some reason shown a detailed scale model of the alien ship, Vesarius.

The Tymbrimi team spent many hours examining (and secretly recording) the well presented, but frequently incomprehensible data in the weightless unadorned room. They did eventually remove their vacuum suits and make the acquaintance of what they had learned were “dogs”. Unfortunately they could not agree whether the aliens called themselves “zhon”, or “limda”. Also unfortunate, the aliens had offered neither refreshment, nor toilet facilities, and the Tymbrimi group had to leave.

Having captured only a portion of the data, the Tymbrimi put aside the aliens’ possessions. The visitors rose and indicated they wanted to leave by patting the doorway and repeating the word “egzid” to the delight of the aliens who soon understood that in addition to knowing the door was an exit, also wanted to use the exit. The aliens scooped the gold, miniature holographic displays, ten little squares, and the oddly literal and delicate model of the Vesarius into satchels and pressed them into Tymbrimi hands. It was unbelievable wealth, that much entertainment gratis, even for a really good joke. But after a brief debate with the Cuthmar, they kept the property and returned to their boat.

Back on the Cuthmar, the Tymbrimi poured over the data. One holoplayer was devoted to the small Library unit aboard. The Library requested use of, and got, 112/128 of the Cuthmar’s limited computer resources. For the next 29 hab the ships’ Library refused to download news updates, and tersely announced postponement of any data requests. In the end, the Library unit announced that it could identify none of the species depicted, that there was very high probability that both dogs and the limda were genuine species, and it was quite plausible that many other species in the holographic file also really existed. It concluded that the species provisionally designated “limda”; was probably a “wolfling” species from a rich, but poorly documented biosphere. The unit also advised the Tymbrimi to contact responsible institutes at the earliest opportunity.

The Library unit then downloaded the full text of the most recent news magazine from Tymbrim and gave rather thorough and helpful (or at least straightforward) answers to most pending queries.

The captain then cautiously hinted she had more data that she would like to share with the unit. Negotiations followed in which the Library unit agreed to deal with queries as a batch every 26 hab, and process urgent requests immediately. It also agreed to discuss its findings every 28 hab.

The computers had little luck with the Anglic primer having little data or programming to deal with a completely novel language. In this regard the Tymbrimi did somewhat better on their own.

The Vesarius continued on its slow progress at near light speed. So after more than 211 hab devoted to studying the data squares, the Tymbrimi had no problem re-establishing contact. Bringing the Cuthmar close to the alien vessel, the events of the last contact were repeated except that the Tymbrimi expedition took care to wear comfortable vacc suits and bring presents. The aliens dispensed with their protective suits. Although there were no dogs, the Tymbrimi did meet (and poke, and prod) a rather patient early generation Neo-Chimp, named Houdini, tending to bottles of liquid ammonia and water with numerous graphic indication of the contents and the potential for ingestion. The aliens seemed quite pleased that the Tymbrimi preferred water. However, the aliens did not even offer a choice of simple sugars hardly a surprise from a species that would think an O-2 species might ingest ammonia.

The aliens also gave their Tymbrimi visitors a tour of their amazingly cramped, industrial, delightfully complex vessel. They also had extensive on-board greenhouse facilities with an extraordinary selection of exotic plants (the soil in some of these micro-farms would host the first invasion of Galactic micro-organisms, to the detriment of the entire Vesarius micro-ecology.) There were also on-board gene banks with samples for many organisms shown in the holographic bestiary. The Tymbrimi were astounded that the aliens parted freely with samples.

At the end of the visit, several aliens put on vacc suits, and escorted the Tymbrimi back to their boat, and onto their boat, and back to the Cuthmar. The aliens accepted water and glucose. The also spent several minutes jumping up and down and picking things up and dropping them. (The Humans later explained that they were fascinated by the synthetic gravity.) The Humans got a chance to meet a Tytlal, who was allowed to rummage through the contents of a Human's supply satchel. The Tytlal used the opportunity to open all the food packs in the bag and replicated two of the more interesting entrees. The people then duplicated things for an entire 3 x 22 hab. The rest of the ship's tour was relatively uneventful.

For the next 29 hab the Cuthmar accelerated to near light speed, and there were constant visits between the two crews. By this time enough progress had been made at language learning that mechanical translation aided communication significantly, so long as the conversation kept to technical matters.

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: First Contact

Home Page, Contents, Contact: Table of Contents

In the year 2250 C.E. by Earth’s old calendar the Confederation of Nations’ ship Vesarius was on a mission to maintain contact with existing Earth colonies and to search for other potential colonies. The Vesarius, a sub-light ship capable of transfer point navigation, had sufficient crew and supplies to support the foundation of an entire new colony without outside assistance for 200 subjective Earth years. The Vesarius was partway through its visits to the Cygnus Earth colonies when sensors on the Tymbrimi freighter Cuthmar detected the stream of ionized and radioactive plasma from the combination of pion drives and primitive thrusters used to move the Vesarius through normal space.

The Cuthmar was making a standard supply run to Tymbrimi colonies, but on a recently redrawn route. Fearing pirates, but also reluctant to let what might well be a heavily damaged vessel founder, the Captain of the Cuthmar, a-Irrdhamae absu-Caltmour ab-Brma ab-Krallnith ul-Tytlal, shadowed the Vesarius for several Tymbrimi days before deciding to risk closing to range for a passive scan of the electromagnetic spectrum. Immediately it became obvious that the ship conformed to nothing in the small on-board Library, was actually using reaction drives to augment unbelievably inefficient thrusters, and showed no signs of damage. Also, it was putting out a huge amount of chatter in the radio and microwave frequencies, but not in any identifiable code or language.

The working hypothesis aboard the Cuthmar was that the unidentified vessel was probably a member of the Mechanical Order. This would explain, the size of the ship, the willingness to travel at sub-light speed, and at least a fourth of a confusing, repeating signal broadcast at the frequency of water. A small part of the transmission conformed to the signals used to identify vessels belonging to Main Sequence orders of life. Namely the atomic number followed by the weight of Hydrogen, the number and weight of Oxygen, and the number and weight of Silicon. However, the unidentified vessel was broadcasting all three in E.M. and it soon became clear was broadcasting the whole periodic table of naturally occurring elements.

The a-Irrdhmae then authorized small boats to collect reconnaissance on the unidentified ship. They were unexpectedly detected using radio waves and encountered unarmed small boats at visual range whereupon the Tymbrimi immediately discovered the ships were designed for, and crewed by an O-2 species that they did not immediately recognize. The strangers were not hostile in the least, and the more fortunate Tymbrimi scouts rendezvoused with the Vesarius while the other half of the Tymbrimi reconnaissance mission (containing an unpredictable third-level Tytlal client) relayed messages from the party aboard the Vesarius. It soon became evident that the mysterious sentients aboard the mysterious vessel mysteriously recognized none of the twelve Galactic languages.

The Tymbrimi and Tytlal were delighted.  Either this was a wonderfully surprising discovery OR an incredibly elaborate and creative jest. In either case, delivery of supplies could wait.

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This work shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Contact: Table of Contents

Home Page, Contents

Part I: First Contact

Part II: First Communication

Part III: Voyage

Part IV: Earth

‎Part V: Relations with Humans

Part VI: Galactic Response

Appendix A: Human Response

Trent Shipley.
Created: Early 2000’s
Updated: 2016

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. This page shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send questions or comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org

Orders of Sapient Galactic Life: A Terragen Reliability Survey White Paper

Home Page, Contents

Key Words: Terragen Reliability Survey (Tg.R.S.), life, Galactic life, Orders of Galactic Life, sapience, sentience, sophonce, Organic, Hydrogen Breather, Oxygen Breather, Terrestrial life, Jovian life, Built life, Artificial life, Hypothetical life, pariah species, Galactic dissidents, dissident species, refugee, refugium, Quantum life, Memitic life.

Also Terragen relations with: Built species, Machines, Mimites, pariah species, refugees, Galactic dissidents.

Orders of sapient life

First, it is useful to recall that Galactic knowledge divides sapient life into several super-groups. The first division is between main-sequence and advanced sapience. Advanced-orders-of-sapience include Retired and Transcendent life-forms. For now, suffice it to say that organic-artificial distinctions are not important in classifying advanced sapient forms. Main Sequence sapient life-forms can be broadly divided into Organic, Built (or Artificial or Mechanical) groups, as well as Quantum sapience. It is held—at least among H-2 and O-2 species (all of which are Organic)—Organic life-forms have a higher right to existence than Built forms. It is also well known that many ethicists—not least Terragen and Tymbrimi Clan philosophers—consider the Organic-Built distinction to be not only invidious, but also absurd. The authors largely share this view, but this is not the place to dwell on it. We will, however, propose that there exists a fourth category of main-sequence sapient life that we call “Hybrid.”

There are also three concepts that cut across this classification scheme. The first concept-continuum is “Empirical” (or not-hypothetical) as opposed to “Hypothetical.” Simply put, empirical life-forms are attested to in the documentary record. Examples either exist, or have existed in the past. Hypothetical life-forms could—in theory—exist, but have never actually been documented. The most famous example of hypothetical life-forms are a Plasma Order. Demonstrating the existence of plasma life would be very difficult, at best. One would probably need to descend into the corona of stars, since the corona itself would drown out any trace signal from Plasma Beings. Unfortunately, wise Galactics are certain that entering a stellar corona is impossible; the Library knows of no apparatus having ever been built to perform such a voyage, or for any similar set of engineering stressors.

The other cross-cutting criteria are the concepts of sentience and sapience. These are not mutually exclusive. Speaking plainly, sapience is the ability to solve problems: cold intelligence. On the other hand, sentience is the ability to feel or perceive, or (more deeply put) awareness. First, we discuss the problem of sentience.

Rocks are sentient…at least according to the Jain religion rocks are sentient. They react to stimulus. For instance, if you hit a rock hard enough, it breaks. Thus the Jains reasoned, each rock must have its own distinct “rock spirit” that causes it to perceive hammers and react appropriately when struck. A plant is much more sentient than a rock, an ant much more perceiving than a plant, and a cow or a Human is very aware indeed. According to Jainism everything is sentient. Even neutrinos must be sentient–but just barely, because it seems there are very few things that a neutrino can perceive. This is only a schematic presentation, Jainism is probably the most systematic animist formulation ever developed. The Jain theory of sentience actually hangs together rather well when examined at greater length that we can devote to it here.

Consider the common lap dog. It may be much less intelligent than a human, but it is almost as sentient. It sees, feels pain, hunger, plays, and even has emotions. Furthermore, there is some evidence that dogs have a sense of self, albeit pre-symbolic, and even some quite sophisticated apparatus for perceiving other highly developed sapients—be they Humans, cats, or other dogs—and reacting accordingly. They can even perceive emotional states in others. The Jains would say that it is the nature of a lap-dog’s animating spirit to be aware of the desires of others, and to perceive pleasing certain other sentients (such as members of the family that owns it) as pleasurable. Note, however, that a highly sentient creature need not be highly “altruistic” or gregarious. House cats and Terragen_sociopaths are as sentient as dogs, or more so. However, a house cat certainly does not care very much whether others are pleased or not, though cats do seem to perceive the emotional states of others. Sociopaths also perceive the emotional states and needs of others, and ruthlessly exploit them.

Beyond this high level of sentience lies what is called haut-sentience. This is the ability to imagine, to speculate for pleasure, to wonder, to appreciate, and above all, to know the self as a knower. The ideal Galactic citizen has highly developed haut-sentience.

Note that sapience is not necessarily closely associated with high levels of sentience. Some cephalopods are fairly good problem solvers—as good as, or better than, some birds. However, they are not as sentient. Among Galactics this independence between sapience and sentience is perhaps most evident among the Tandu ab-Nght6. Without a doubt Tandu are impressive problem solvers. Also, Tandu are aware of the self, and are even aware that they are aware of the self. However, they have a limited capacity to see others as other selves, and have hardly any capacity for wonder, appreciation, or for non-utilitarian speculation. Nor is haut-sentience essential for sapient survival. Pre-contact A.I researchers developed Mimetic (or virtual) life-forms with impressive problem solving abilities that would do quite well in their complex—and competitive—virtual ecologies. They were rather sapient. However, while the researcher might think (and know that he thought) “I am talking to a virtual sapient,” every indication was that the virtual sapient thought something like “Action: communicate from/to_and_to/from entity_capable_of_complex_symbolic_communication,” and knew not of its own thought. Where we think “I am hungry,” and have the consciousness to be conscious of this, the non-sentient thinks “PRIORITY: obtain sustenance,” feels no hunger pains per se, and is not conscious that it is hungry. In short, the non-sentient sapient is clever, but not conscious.

It is worth noting that it seems much more difficult to make a built life-form sentient than to make it highly sapient. It is thus likely that at least the early Galactic Machine life-forms—like pre-contact Terran machines—were sapient but not sentient. They would have been socially autistic, and thus probably made rather poor Galactic neighbors. There are intra-textual indications in the Galactic Traditions that this was one of the main reasons for privileging Organic over Built life. If so, this reason has long been obsolete, because it is evident that Machine life is now quite capable of building haut-sentience into a client “race” (or design series).

When an entity has high levels of both sapience (intelligence) and sentience (awareness), it is most properly referred to as a “sophont.” To avoid having to call the property itself “sophistication,” or worse, “sophistry,” we use the term “sophonce.”

Organic life-forms, in turn, fall into two divisions, Terrestrial and Jovian, usually referred to as “Oxygen-breathers” and “Hydrogen-breathers.” Hydrogen breathers are by far the more numerous order due to the much higher frequency of suitable biospheres. However, the advantage of many more biospheres is off-set to a degree by the immense size of any H-2 individual relative to even the largest of O-2 sapients, and the much slower bio-rhythm’s of most H-2 life-forms. Indeed, while O-2 civilization tends to regard H-2 civilization as a potential threat because of its immense demographic and economic advantage, H-2 species tend to regard O-2 civilization as a potential threat because of the much faster rhythm of O-2 life. H-2 anxiety about O-2 speed is only compounded by the fact that H-2 sapients seldom use more rapid means of interstellar travel—such as A-level hyper-space, jump-line travel, F.T.L. telekinesis, or probability drive. Instead, most H-2 species putter around the galaxies in D-level hyperspace or in normal space at near-light-speed. (See interstellar travel, Hyperspace, light speed.)

Nor are the mutual security concerns misplaced. Disastrous wars have been fought between H-2 and O-2 civilization in the distant past (See O-2/H-2 Wars), despite the fact that H-2 and O-2 species do not directly compete for most resources. The major reason for the existence of the Galactic Institute for Migration is to limit contact—and hence conflict—between the two great orders of Organic life. Though after billions of years of research, communication between O-2 and H-2 species remains quite difficult, the two orders do engage in trade (See O-2/H-2 communication and O-2/H-2 trade). Many (but by no means all) trade practices resemble “silent trade” procedures used on Earth in the past.

H-2 life-forms are classified by habitat: namely Browns (Hydrogen breathers who live in brown dwarfs), Jovians, and Neptunians. Curiously, while higher environmental temperatures are positively correlated with faster rhythms among O-2 species, the reverse is the case among H-2 life-forms. Though chemical processes do occur at faster rates, Hydrogen breathers who evolve in hot environments are larger (and lighter) than their colder cousins. Hence, Browns are the largest and slowest of the H-2 breathers. The occurrence of Browns is limited by the occurrence of brown dwarfs. Jovians are also quite large and slow (though less so than Browns), and are much more common than the other two kinds of Hydrogen breathers. Neptunians are the rarest of the Hydrogen breathers due to the low frequency of neptunian planets with complex ecologies. However, Neptunians are active Neptuniformers, and are enjoying a secular increase in population. Though still immense and slow by O-2 standards, Neptunians are the smallest of the Hydrogen breathers and much faster than their cousins.

Terrestrial organic life is much less common than Jovian life. This is largely because terrestrial life is limited by the geological presence of liquid solvents. In practice, this solvent is almost always water. The vast majority terrestrial sapient life releases energy from hydrocarbons through chemical reaction with oxygen (hence the common practice of referring to the entire group as O-2 life). However, at any given time “O-2 civilization” contains a few species with anaerobic metabolisms (usually based on hydrogen sulfide) as well as a tiny number of Halogen Breathing species. Anaerobic_life is, of course, rather common. However, multi-cellular anaerobic species with uplift potential are very rare. Halogen (Fluorine, Chlorine, and Iodine) based biospheres are simply incredibly rare. Those known to exist are very carefully managed by the Galactic Institute for Migration. Such Anaerobic and Halogen species as exist usually participate actively in wider O-2 civilization.

One other kind of Terrestrial life was once common throughout the Galaxies. These were Methane and/or Ammonia life-forms that lived in Titan-like habitats. Though complex Methane-Ammonia ecologies are rare, they do occur, and historical sources clearly indicate that Titan-forming was relatively easy and economical. At the time of contact, Terran scientists were surprised to learn that no methane or ammonia life existed in the five galaxies. It took some time to discover that Methane-Ammonia intelligence was simply extinct. H-2 civilization considered the Methane-Ammonia sub-civilization a partial competitor and immediate security threat to both existing H-2 species and to fallow H-2 ecologies. Some of the wars between H-2 and Terrestrial civilizations were genocidal in intent. In one of these H-2 civilization was partly successful. They exterminated most Methane-Ammonia species, and the peace treaty ended further Methane-Ammonia uplift.

Prior to the great O-2/H-2 wars all Organic life was thrown into a struggle for survival against self-reproducing artificial intelligence. Though initially quite successful, Built civilization was eventually very nearly driven to extinction by the combined forces of Organic life. The terms of the peace for Built sapience were harsh, and limited Built life—not only to stellar systems hostile to Organic life—but to “sterile” stellar systems in certain specified regions regarded as largely unproductive and non-strategic. By this time both Organic civilizations had also drawn up elaborate codes restricting commerce between Organic and Built species. O-2 (and H-2) civilization remains very phobic about Built life to this very day, and most of the traditions restricting contact with Built species are still respected and enforced.

Most species of Built sapients are “sapient machines.” Except for those explicitly licensed by the galactic institutes—none of which can reproduce themselves—all Machine species (or design clusters) live in the above mentioned reserve areas. Though it has been many aeons since the last Organic-Machine war, most Machine (and software) clans still avoid contact with the Organic civilizations. A few clans and species—such as the Seven Spins Clan—do have guarded relations with Organic civilization. However, trust seldom runs very deep.

Somewhat distinct from true “Machine” sapience is “Software” (or “Virtual”) sapience. Software sapience is not specifically hardware dependent—it is, in fact, a computer program. Of course, the program requires a suitable hardware substrate, and manifestations of a given Software form may vary somewhat depending on the supporting hardware platform. However, strictly speaking, the hardware contains no inherent potential for sapience. After manufacture the machine will not learn on its own. Only after certain Software program(s) are loaded will any sapient qualities become manifest. Indeed, if the sapient program is completely deleted and scrubbed, the hardware should support another member of the Software species equally well. As a rule, Software species can survive de-powering of hardware substrates if properly stored, and they can clone (copy) themselves or migrate from one platform to another. Also, provided a sufficiently sophisticated substrate is available, more than one (distinct) software sapience can “live” in one hardware substrate.

If anything, Software sapience is even more strictly controlled than Machine sapience. All Software sapients in O-2 space must be highly dependant on specialized hardware substrates and incapable of self-replication. Records for historical Software races and those few Software sapients still participating in Galactic civilization show a distinct tendency for succeeding client races in sapient lines to become
increasingly Machine-like1.

In contrast to Software races, true Machine species function much more like Organic sapients. Having been born or built, the young Organic or Machine sapient automatically begins to learn. As a rule, Machine sapients—like Organic sapients—cannot be neatly divided into an “intelligent self” that is separable from a substrate. Damaging the intellect, personality, or memory of a sapient Machine often requires physically damaging the Machine. Also, damage to the cognitive resources of a Machine intelligence often result in a cascade failure of the entire entity—including non-processing parts of its machine body. Storing a Machine personality is only somewhat less difficult than artificially storing Organic personalities. In addition, a Machine’s personality is always very sensitive to initial hardware conditions. Even when sophisticated techniques are used to “copy” a personality into an “identical body,” results are never exact—though usually more so than in analogous procedures performed on Organics.

Memitic life shares traits with Software life. Memites live in the minds of sapient individuals (indeed without memites, it is hard to be sapient). Memites rely on trans-individual communication and existence. Memites live autonomously in E-space.

Quantum life emerges and lives in the quantum foam. Quants trade with Newtonian races.

1. Note that software intelligences need not be sessile. If software lives in a “robot,” then for most practical purposes the living software is the robot.

//Computer// “A restricted file is attached. Please initiate a security clearance routine to interact with the attached document. This is a Blue document.

Follow appropriate precautions.In point of fact, the Tymbrimi secret client race (and the god-clients of Humanity) known as the “Niss,” are a Mimetic sophont species. At present they are restricted to a substrate called a Niss computer. The ensemble is known as a “Niss Machine.”

Trent Shipley.
Created: Late 1990’s

David Brin reserves all rights to his creative elements of his universes. This page is not for the profit of Trent Shipley nor his employer nor contracting agent. It shall not impede David Brin’s ability to use and extend his stories.

Please send any comments to: editor@davidbrinfans.org