Society of Ether

She blinded me with science!

-Thomas Dolby, She Blinded Me With Science

Reckoning

The Storm hit the Society of Ether nearly destroying the Ethernauts, the Crash crippled the Cybernauts, and the battles of the end of the Ascension War took the lives of many of Science’s greatest warriors. Cut off from the Gernsback Continuum, at least for now, the newly named Society of Ether has had to reconcile with its past mistakes and decide whether or not a better future is possible.

Current Status

When the Storm came the Society of Ether ran towards the flames rather than from them. Members were at all the major battle brandishing laser guns, power armor, and a host of gadgets to do battle against their enemies. This all lead to nothing, however. Horizon is dying husk in Etherspace, the Conflagration caused untold damage, and the loss of the Gernsback Continuum cut the Tradition off from many of its greatest leaders and thinkers. Chairs went vacant, funding declined, and the lecture halls were shuttered. With Paradigma having stopped production in 1997 many believed the Sons of Ether were no more. The dream was dying, or was dead. What few Etherites languished in their isolated laboratories to wait out the Storm.

The Etherites were among the first to heed the call of the Rogue Council, and its Manifesto was passed from lab to lab, renewing the flagging Tradition’s spirits. This resulted in Paradigma Volume 95, Issue 1 (2002) wherein Progressivists declared a new aeon for Ether, one lead not just by its Sons by the Society.  The selection of Chairs began not long after as the Tradition came face to face with a groundswell of inspired Scientists. The Storm proved to be a cauldron of transformation for the Tradition, and the changes are more than just its name. Disconnected from the Gernsback Continuum, the Tradition can no longer dwell among the angular clouds of its favored Horizon Realm, and create solutions aloof from the concerns of those they have pledged to help. Furthermore, the myth of Great Men that founded the Electrodyne Engineers and whom were supposed to save us all has proven hollow. With the old guard now in decline, a more diverse cadre of Professors and Chairs have taken up the cause of Science.

Primus

When the New Horizon Council was called the Hastings Chair of the Council of Nine remained empty. Professor Emeritus Alexis Hastings has yet to return to the fold to resume her duties so a Chair Pro Tempis was selected. Scholar, novelist, and Futurist Wilhelmina “Willa” Harmen was a tenure track electrical engineering and physics professor at Stanford in the 1980s before she attended at a meditation retreat seminar on ethics, meditation, and the spiritual life that had a transformative effect on both her thinking and her career. During the retreat some unknown Etherite introduced her to the Kitab al-Alacir,  and she Awakened. The experience completely changed her concept of what is important in education, and inspired her to pursue human potential as a kind of meta-discipline. In her many scholarly works, novels, and talks she has insisted that  civilization will soon face a period of major cultural and environmental crisis, and must be prepared for a profound transformation of human consciousness. Her focus on human potential gained her the Hastings Chair (Pro Tempis), and under her guidance the Tradition has moved forward with a slate of changes and funding priorities. Research and field work concerning the Storm, its origins, and have taken a priority. The Storm is an enigma too significant to to ignore, and many believe its power, if properly harnessed, could be just the edge the Traditions need (or at least a potent weapon). The Tradition, as a whole, has put off re-establishing funding Ether travel until the Ethernaut scouts have returned with their findings. Instead, the Chairs have pushed a new Etherite philosophy that places human beings, Awakened and Sleepers, as integral parts of the natural world, and individual self-realization and environmental sustainability as synergistic rather than contradictory paths forwards Ascension. Harman has pushed for the Tradition to counter the Technocracy with the transformation of scientific institutions to support the personal development of individual Sleepers within an environment of potentially limited. Harman also recognized the large (and often problematic) role that consciousness plays in the Consensus, and the needed to better understand how it might be harnessed in positive ways. Most Etherites no longer simply ask after the many possibilities of Science, but also what kind of impact such Science could have on humanity and the Earth. With this in mind, coupled with the changing of the guard, formally vacant Chair positions have been filled, and new ones are created to meet the needs of the 21st century Ascension War.

While the establishment of the Tradition’s lines of communications and structures has restored the Society to its former vigor some old habits die hard. During the Storm the Dissidents persuaded a vocal minority that the recent Technocracy Pogrom, and the potential for a second Storm justified their work. They presented an argument for freedom in Science where anyone should be able to create any invention and perform any experiment, regardless of the consequences or suffering involved.  The ends ultimately justified the means. This is the line of reasoning the Dissidents have always made, but it has been re-contextualized under the banner of Scientific freedom and appears in a more persuasive form given the recent past. This contentions were made worse by the Manifesto of the Rogue Council and the continuing messages of the Sphinx. Etherites remain divided on the meaning and motivations of the Sphinx, and the Dissidents among them use Sphinx’s call to action as a means to legitimize their arguments. If the Dissidents have their way, the Society will be retrofitted into a war machine, a second coming of the past decades Ascension War. Desperate times call for desperate measures they say, but the Utopians recall the atrocities of World War II, the Progressivists point to the harm done by the elite to the many, and it goes round again.  The debates, thus, continue.

 

Learned Societies

  • Ethernauts – Victoria Station, the moon landing, and so many other unsung (or really under-sung) accomplishments lay at the feet of the Royal Society of Ethernautical Society. So many great works undone, and no one can explain why. The Ethernauts were almost entirely wiped out by the the Storm leaving only the handful of survivors who happened to be on Earth re-supplying – they have yet to recover. With their priorities being the Jovian race against the Void Engineers and monitoring Etherspace from Victoria station, most of them were lost or cut off from Earth when the waves of Ether caught fire from the Vadum of Forces. Victoria Station went dark, and the ships due in with bounties of Jovian Tass never returned. The Royal Society, now grounded by the searing winds of the Storm, took to trying to solve the problem, or at least understand it. A causal theory has been developed…the electromagnetic fields around Doissetep violently colliding (some say catalyzing) the super charged Ether and then carried on the winds across the Tellurian…etc, etc. The various theories can be read in the most recent issues of Paradigma. The exact mechanism of the Storm have yet to reveal themselves, and this frustrates the Society members who don’t feel confident returning until they do. Perhaps were the Ethernauts not so few in number the problem could be solved faster. Recruitment and training initiatives have been funded, but it will take decades to for the Society to regain even half of what it lost. Chairs stand empty, labs have been shuttered, and lectures go unattended.  All is not lost, however.  A cabal of Ethernauts at the Great Hall chantry in Paris have been attempting to determine the status of the Gernsback Continuum, but Realm’s location continues to elude them. Recently, they were able to confirm that it still exists, but its state or those status of the souls within is still unknown. Some survivors have decided to return to conventional space or explore uncharted regions of Earth, but there are a few dire hard Etherites who won’t give up on Etherspace. They have pushed forward with missions outward, and  have reached as far as the ruins of Victoria Station. The sketchy reports that have come back to the Society’s Executive Directorate in the SoHo office in London and the new HQ in Kazakhstan were extremely difficult to decipher. There are also ciphered transmission from the Jovian sector of Etherpace with very odd time-space signitures associated with them that have the Society concerned. Some among them whisper of a pending invasion of some sort, but more data must be gathered to confirm exactly what.
  • Cybernauts – There once was a great romance between the Virtual Adepts and the Cybernetic Institute. From 1961 to 1997, the two collaborated on numerous projects, developing hardware, coding software, and exploring the possibilities of the Digital Web. So entranced by the Virtual Adept’s engineering that the two became almost in indistinguishable. No longer. When the Crash came it soured many a Cybernaut’s taste for the Digital Web. Decades of work was lost or destroyed when with the White, and this has lead to a sharp divide in the Institute’s computer experts. The majority have refocused their efforts on alternative command and control systems, while a small minority continue explore the Digital Web. Funding is in short order these days for Web projects so unless Web-based Cybernauts can come up with something good they are on their own as far as institutional support. The Virtual Adepts have venture capital groups within their ranks, but there are still tensions between the two that haven’t entirely smoothed over.  The rest of the institute, being Earthbound, has benefited from the now available funds that were once allocated to Digital Web projects. As a result, the Institute have taken steps to introduce alternative brands of computerized assistants, and other robots into the lives of Sleepers. While this may prove an effective strategy for the Ascension War it has not solved the Institutes money troubles as some had hoped.  The Institute remains a chaotic, self-funded start-up.
  • Utopians –  With the Cybernauts reorganizing and the Ethernauts nearly extinct, the Utopians have become the backbone of the Tradition. When the New Horizon Council was called the Utopians, lead largely by Progressivists, published the landmark double issue of Paradigma called “Storm’s End”. The double issue was bursting with new ideas, and contained a forward from the Primus with a controversial condemnation of Ascension War violence. It detailed a plan to refocus the Tradition’s efforts back on inspiring Sleeper science. Paradigma is once again publishing regularly, recruitment efforts from the Progressivists have brought in new members, and under Utopian leadership the Tradition has begun to reestablish a leaner structure refocused on winning back the hearts and minds of Sleepers by offering them Scientific solutions that are better than the status quo offered by the Technocracy. A now much more diversified Shadow Ministry still works within government institutions to seed Etherite ideas, but has begun doing outreach to non-government organizations or institutions to encourage scientific education among previously under served populations. Now that the Storm has passed and a the leadership structure is beginning to be re-established Council for the Enforcement of Scientific Ethics has begun assessing laboratories, investigating allegations of unethical behavior, and questioning the burgeoning voices of the Dissidents.
  • Adventurers – Derided as dabblers and eclectics for not practicing so-called “pure Science”, the Adventurers have nonetheless always informed the Tradition’s culture from the margins. The Storm brought with it a host of unanswered existential and metaphysical questions that confounded the Science practiced in the Tradition’s center. In the years since the Storm receded it has become clear to the Society that not all answers can be worked out as theories in the lab. As a result, more and more Scientists have ventured out of the lab to do field work. Adventurer methods have suddenly become en vogue and their experience is needed to lead expeditions in search of not only inspiration but answers. Their work appears in Paradigma, and their methodologies are taken seriously.
  • Mad Scientists – Dissident tendencies had been largely held in check by the Utopians for decades, but in the chaotic days of the Storm and the intensified Pogroms of the Technocracy, many turned to the the means justifying the ends philosophies of earlier eras. Deadly prototypes were recalled from the archives and once non-lethal weapons were retrofitted with fatal functions. Experiments once only done in secret suddenly found funding from secret patrons. With phasers  set to kill, the Mad Scientists entered the theaters of the Conflagration, Concordia, and later conflicts with the enemies of Ascension where they emerged in the eyes of some as heroes. Emboldened by their victories and the chaos of the Storm, the Dissidents have had something of a renaissance in the past twenty years – or rather had. Without the watchful eye of the Utopians and the threat of a Council Tribunals, Dissidents methods became semi-legitimized with a minority taking positions of leadership within the Society. What was once suppressed by the Council for the Enforcement of Scientific Ethics (CESE) has once again been given voice. The CESE has once again asserted itself, but overall mood and make up of the Tradition has changed. More radical elements question the CESE’s judgement in the name of “necessity” using the fear of the Storm and the Pogrom as justification for Science that would have once clearly been regarded as unethical. Critics question who, exactly, is funding the Dissident’s work, and rumors of corruption or Technocratic infiltration can be hear over the coffee after lectures. Dissident actions over the last two decades have lead some to label the Society of Ether as something of a mini-Technocracy in the making, and if the Dissidents have their way they could end up just like the Technocratic rivals they so despise.
  • Progressivists – Since their inception as a Technocratic Convention, Etherites presented a Eurocentric, very often male, image of homogeneity. The theory of  the Great Man was so deeply woven into the Tradition’s mythology that they mistook it to be reality. The truth of the matter is that Science has has moved forward often in spite of these Great Men rather than because of them. Which isn’t to say that there weren’t great minds among them. Of course there were, but the Storm caused the scales to fall from the Tradition’s eyes, and long marginalized Progressivist arguments and evidence sudden took center stage. Progressivists finally succeeded at changing the name of the Tradition to reflect the reflect the actual gender diversity within the Tradition, and new methods of Science are being embraced. Indigenous science and other non-European scientific methodologies has begun to flourish under Progressivists leadership, women and non-white Scientists now occupy chairs, and indigenous Adventurers are sought out for their cultural knowledge. The Society now marvels at the embarrassment of riches that has been allowed to languish in the Tradition for so long. As a result of their successful recruitment efforts Progressivists now dominate the political discourse and funding priorities of the Tradition, much to the frustration of the minority of old guard still around.
  • Common Etherite Focus
    • A Mechanistic Cosmos, Bring Back The Golden Age, Everything Is Data, Might Is Right, Tech Holds All The Answers, Consciousness is the Only True Reality, Embrace the Threshold, A Holographic Reality, Transcend Your Limits, Turning the Keys to Reality
      • Less Common but probably someone is into it…
        • Aliens Make Us What We Are, We are NOT Men
      • Practices
        • Hypereconomics, Craftwork, Crazy Wisdom, Cybernetics, Hypertech, Martial Arts, Reality Hacking, Weird Science (duh), Yoga, Elementalism, Bardism, Mediumship, Psionics, Animalism
      • Instruments
        • Armor, Artwork, Blood & Fluids, Bodywork, Bones & Remains, Books & Periodicals, Brain/Computer Interface, Brews & Concoctions, Cups & Vessels, Devices & Machines, Drugs & Poisons, Elements, Energy, Eye Contact, Fashion, Food & Drink, Formulae & Math, Gadgets & Inventions, Herbs & Plants, Household Tools, Labs & Gear, Languages, Management & HR, Mass Media, Meditation, Money & Wealth, Music, Nanotech, Numerology, Sex & Sensuality, Social Domination, Symbols, Thought-Forms, Toys, Tricks & Illusions, Vehicles, Voice & Vocalization, Weapons, Writing, Inscriptions, and Runes

The Society In L.A.

Los Angeles is the city of the future, and what a weird, retro future it is at that! If you fly into LAX you are flying into the future. Once there, you can join the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, see the Chemosphere, or have a piece of pie at one of the many Googie diners across the city. If you’ve seen a Hollywood science fiction movies you’ve been to the dream of the city of the future with its close real-world ties to aerospace industry. All this has conspired to turn LA into an epicenter where science, technology and fiction walk cheek to jowl giving LA a glittering reputation. The dependency on technological intervention to make the city livable in an inhospitable climate is in a lot of ways not dissimilar to what we imagine would happen if we built a colony on Mars. As much as the critics of Science would prefer otherwise, heralds of the imaginative possibilities of Science can be found all around you.  Even the river is a pavement wonder! The impossible city lives, and the Society of Ether has thrives within it. Members of the Society can often be found at Clifton’s Cafeteria listening in to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, or discussing the Kitab al-Alacir with a potential recruit over a late-night snack.

The Forgotten City

Hidden beneath the Vasquez Rocks in the Sierra Pelona Mountains is a massive cavern filled with what appears to be the ruins of buildings made from glowing crystals. Alien flora and fauna grow in the light of the many colored crystals. The Society of Ether claims that this was a test colony of Agharta, but the Order of Hermes argue that it is simply a former haven of Earth Elementals. Whatever the case may be, it is one of the most powerful nodes in Los Angeles, and Montague Labs controls a secret underground portal leading to the node. Its Tass comes in the form of a bismuth-like crystal formations with a erratic resonances.