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Home  > FAQs  > FAQs - Introduction to OA  > What we don't have in this setting  > The "Plucky Baseline" meme and OA Canon

The "Plucky Baseline" meme and OA Canon


Among those popular tropes that are everywhere found but are non-OA compatible is the one we like to call "the plucky baseline" meme: the idea that beings like you and I (i.e. "baseline" or cybernetically and genetically unmodified representatives of humanity) can still give a good account of themselves in the face of overwhelming transapient intelligence and firepower. Sure they inevitably (and tragically) will lose in the end, but by God they'll go down fighting, and the transapients will learn what it means to take on mankind!

This meme might be derived from outdated and cliche'd 20th century science fiction based on Cold War and other such scenarios (today's world but with space ships and ray guns), in which communists or Nazis or whoever are replaced by aliens or evil empires or what not. Us (the good guys) and them (the bad guys).

Even worse is pluckybaseline munchkinism, where the baseline doesn't stop at anything less than knocking out the highest archailects themselves!

Now, it is important to understand that the Orion's Arm universe has nothing to do with any of this. It is based on insights gained from transhumanism, artificial intelligence research and elsewhere, as well as new science fiction tropes flowing from this. We refer you to the work of Vernor Vinge, Greg Egan, Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Hugo deGaris, Charles Stross, and others. We're not saying that the plucky baseline meme is bad in itself; after all the human spirit is a wonderful thing! Just that in OA this spirit has found both new ways of expressing itself and new limitations that have never been thought of before. Both these new opportunities and these new limitations add spice to the setting, and make it all the more interesting, unique, and, we hope, enjoyable.

All that this is not to say that an inferior sophont can never ever harm a superior one. That is just silly. (more on this here). Only that this very way of thinking - this whole idea of a big Hollywoodesque battle with two arrayed armies (or spaceship fleets, whatever) facing off, with the noble, valiant, against-all-odds forces of baselinehood on one side, and the sinister and oppressive transapients on the other - has nothing, and we mean nothing (need we say it again - nothing), to do with OA. Nor does the idea of an Orwellian oppression (a la Big Brother, Animal Farm etc) have anything to do with OA.

So if you want to write up or roleplay the plucky baseline whose indomitable spirit overcomes all obstacles and/or beats the bad guys no matter what, you will unfortunately need to find an appropriate sci fi universe, or create your own, to do so.

Unlike pluckybaseline munchkinism, Orion's Arm is based on the premise that superior intelligence - which we call Transapients - will soon evolve or appear, and take over from current or "baseline" (i.e., unmodified or non-augmented) humanity. Baselines will not be exterminated, but will continue into the future, while at the same time giving rise to a more numerous and myriad array of variant races and species derived from humanity such as nearbaselines (or nebs) as well as other clades, and all of these (and other beings like vecs, lesser ai, etc) will be part of the ecology of much vaster beings called archailects, with the transapients occupying a sort of middle position in galactic society.

This is explained in the illustrated intro pages, and elsewhere on the site, to which new members are referred. [see the illustrated outline, and the general intro page ]

It should also be remembered that the sephirotic transapients are the baselines' (and equivalent sapients') friends and protectors. Why would you want to attack your guardian and provider? And anyone who wants to leave the safety of the human friendly nanotopias is free to do so.

Also, in the revised OA Canon, the following is now impossible for any subsingularitan sapient