A Star Apart Glossary 🪱

A Star Apart is intended to be an immersive experience. It takes place on worlds alien to humans. The main character is not human, has a non-human perspective, speaks a language we have never heard, and exists in a unique culture. Viewed from the perspective that alien lifeforms are completely Other, such a story might be difficult to comprehend. Relating to Other species could be challenging and empathizing with them out of the question.

If the perspective originates from a different context, we can flip that narrative around. My view is that life is universal. Biology is chemistry and chemistry is physics and physics has the most laws. Chemistry is second only to physics in the number of proven laws that govern chemical interactions. Biology is farthest behind because life is a system and we must study every aspect of that system to find understanding. Physics and chemistry explorations can take place in the macro world, observing the movements of planets, watching and smelling beakers of chemicals. But the unit of life is the cell. Inside that cell, vital chemical reactions take place on the scale of single molecules. While atomic force microscopes can examine static samples of matter, they cannot watch reactions inside a mitochondrion. Teasing out the chemical cycles of life takes years of effort.

Despite the lack of known laws governing life, I choose to see life as obeying universal laws just like physics and chemistry do. Consequently, I conclude that all living and thinking beings will value life. Those who favor life will oppose those who prefer chaos and destruction. In such a universe, people will be common. Not humanoids, necessarily, but people who find shared values in Others, who can relate to and empathize with all beings who marvel at the wonders of the universe.

That is the foundation of A Star Apart. And as different as the Solum are from humans, they possess an equal humanity.

A Star Apart Glossary

This glossary contains definitions and explanations of initialisms, words, phrases, and sayings used in A Star Apart.

  • AI, Artificial Intelligence, Solum-built AIs range from dumb pattern matchers to fully sentient machines
  • Bajjer, a curse, evokes attributes of an aggressive mammal, blue in tooth and claw
  • Balanty, a tiny town in an arid region of Halm
  • Bloody Six-day, a gruesome six-day near the end of the Third Civ when protests against the ultra-rich turned violent and blue blood filled the streets; the descriptive name became an expression of extreme anger, often shouted during moments of perceived repression
  • Bofa, a fist-sized fruit with dark, flavorful juice
  • Community of Cosmos, fifth of the Five Ways, extends respect and love to all life in the universe
  • Community of Culture, third of the Five Ways, embraces people of all cultures with love
  • Community of Family, second of the Five Ways, teaches respect and love for relatives, ancestors, and descendants
  • Community of Self, first of the Five Ways of Community, reveals the ways to respect and love yourself
  • Community of Species, fourth of the Five Ways, accepts all sentient species
  • Durem, opening scene plays out on this fourth moon of blue and yellow gas giant Esselant, one of three moons with simple life, lowish gravity (0.92)
  • EM, electro-magnetism, electro-magnetic, ex. “the EM spectrum”
  • ESP, Expert System Program, a tool used by undercover SIG agents to communicate secretly with their handlers and support agents
  • Fell, an expletive
  • Findel University on Halm, Mar’s current occupation
  • Five Ways of Community, a popular Solum spiritual practice
  • Formidulosus minima, insect on Durem, common name “tiny terror”
  • Forzh, a red, stimulating, hot beverage, similar to coffee
  • Freeist, member of a community shunning technology, similar to the most common misuse of Luddite
  • FTL, Faster Than Light
  • Funnel-vort, medium-size invertebrate builds funnel-shaped structures of slippery strands, channeling hapless insect prey into its waiting mouth
  • Gosario bean, a legume with a robust, nutty flavor when roasted
  • Grote, first colony planet in Waol system, lower gravity (0.85), lush ecosystems spanning middle latitudes, large fresh water lakes
  • Halm, Solum home planet, normal gravity (1.00)
  • Lake Tarnis, 97-km-long lake on Grote
  • LY, light years
  • Malskin, a material like parchment, made from a Halm animal skin, named for its inventor, Malveinasec
  • Mistli, a large, pale fruit yielding copious juice of subtle flavor
  • MPR, Missing Person Report
  • Neural suppressor, an electronic device that can temporarily shut down the Solum brain
  • New Maldon, large city on Halm
  • Osculatalytic, mash-up of osculate—meaning to kiss—and analytic
  • Pain God, a control device delivering endless varieties of pain to an addressed implant
  • Peslurian, a common mispronunciation of Pesrulian
  • Pesrulian, a twenty-four-thousand-year-old Solum language
  • Petajoule, measure of energy, ten to the fifteenth power joules, equivalent to 238 kilotons of TNT, a small nuke
  • Phot, second colony planet, stronger gravity (1.13), arid, desert dominates from 40° North to 40° South, temperate in narrow bands beyond 40° and at higher elevations with sufficient water
  • Pinafog, a snack made from six grains and roasted gosario beans, shaped into ball
  • Pouchday, the day a Solum breaks out of its embryonic sac into its father’s pouch, becoming a pouchling
  • Pouchling, a young Solum living in father’s pouch during second development stage
  • SIG, System Intelligence Group, Mar’s first occupation
  • Six-day, six days, a Solum week, six being an important number: six eyes, six fingers per arm pair, six leg segments
  • Solum, what the inhabitants of the Waol planetary system call themselves and their language
  • Swyrl, spiral galaxy 210k LY away
  • Tallus, a star and planetary system 40.5 LY away, location of halmforming project
  • Twelve-day, twelve days, a Solum long-week, another important number echoing twelve fingers, twelve legs
  • Waol, Solum’s star and planetary system

This A Star Apart glossary is a great companion for the novel.

Xeriscape Year 2 Update

In the previous issue, I reported that several of the Yellow sundrops (Oenothera serrulata) had gone missing. Squirrels are still digging up the landscape, but they aren’t the culprits. It turns out that every Yellow sundrop survived. I might even say thrived. The largest plants kept many woody stems above ground and those have all leafed out. The ones I thought were dead have now produced a tiny forest of new growth from the crowns. I suspect they will end the season with a large number of stems, which they will likely keep over the winter.

What happens in the ground makes resilient root networks in the ground. And for that, I’m grateful.

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