Friday 21 October 2016


Four of Swords.
Another excerpt from the upcoming Cosmic Memory, by Malcolm Sheppard. Backers and Patrons have had the chance to see the whole thing.

Amara, a Moral Abacist of Mentis
In Mentis, totalitarianism is a science. Her Magnanimity’s genius cuts away the traditional flaws of the all-ruling state. Having earned a cult of personality by liberating the Blue Women’s forebears, She does nothing in particular to continue promulgating it, though it persists regardless. The nation doesn’t waste time demanding state worship. It doesn’t appeal to anyone’s sense of fairness or utopian aspirations. The Blue Women believe their dominion is just, but not that it proceeds from justice. They merely won the war. Parties in a dispute don’t cite ossified laws, but argue that legal or not, their position is the most useful — it preserves peace, or earns power for Mentis, for power alone justifies the state. Without it, the Blue Women’s foremothers suffered, but it’s in the nature of power to prevent suffering for some, and infect others with it. Pragmatism is all. Thus, officials measure cardinal and ordinal utility values, run them through Akâshic calculators, and translate the result into the temporary laws that run districts, regions or the entire state. They change when it’s practical. People get away with breaking laws when they make Mentis stronger. The ever-changing, ever-practical policy even extends to names, positions and historical records. If the past threatens the present, why not change it?

Amara is the Moral Abacist of Bronze Angle, an industrial workers’ settlement. The titular abacus is her tool and badge of office. She combines the latest court proceedings with local psychodynamics to set the rules. The Blue Women know that what’s true or legal yesterday might be false and wrong tomorrow. It’s up to them to mind the notices! She posts updates about who may commit murder and why, who can speak for various labour groups, who must no longer be spoken of, and the acceptable bribes for soft offences (if a bribe adds more value than the crime removed, it’s permitted). When citizens argue, she renders judgement in a spiritless way others mistake for professional detachment. When foreigners visit Bronze Angle, she tells them how to behave.

But Amara broke the abacus. Mentis trains her kind to avoid these calamities by designing question-formulae in specific ways, avoiding areas that might cause moral paradoxes or invoke abstract ethical questions. A Moral Abacist develops queries in the form of psychic constructs which, when given mathematical values, may be entered into the abacus, which in turn programs the grand Akâshic machine that every abacus taps. Amara asked: Will this policy be better for the sub-state of Bronze Corners, or for the people of Bronze Corners? It was a rookie semantic mistake, driven by petty curiosity — stupid, since everyone knows these should be the same for calculation purposes. And at first the distinction only produced minor disagreements, not full Yes/No contradictions. But now it’s a mess, and the flaw seems to be inherent to every calculation. Now it’s come to a head, since the abacus produced labour legislation that requires 384 soldiers to engage in combat with 2046 rioters, as the results will evidently produce a “sub-calculation” to improve industrial efficiency. The mathematics work, but Amara is sure that her superiors will second guess it, and probably execute her.

A typical political official of Mentis, one of the Blue Women
Suits: Cups 4, Pentacles 5, Swords 6, Wands 3
Attributes: Body 2, City 6, Hands 3, Machines 2, People 6, Psychic 1 (Clairvoyance), Will 4
Hand Bonus: 0