So you’ve gone and read some of the canon, checked up on the setting and timeline, maybe even taken a peek at some of the extras. Are you interested in creating canon material for the Post-Self universe? Wonderful! The setting is open to allow for exploration of topics that are important to all. Here are some guidelines for creating works to be incorporated into the canon.
During 2112, hundreds of individuals wound up trapped within the implants they used to interact with the immersive portions of the Internet, thanks to a virus triggered by elements of the Western Federation. These individuals, known as the lost, were left changed once they were pulled back to reality.
- Each subjective experience is unique — While RJ and Michelle’s experiences were detailed in Qoheleth, the experience of each of the lost was unique while embedded. There are some shared features, such as a dreamlike quality to their time spent in there and a sense of it being an eternity within that dream, as well as complete solitude. Beyond that, what they actually see, hear, touch, and so on within that experience is unique
- There are permanent effects — All of the lost were left changed by what they experienced while trapped. As stated, all of their experiences are unique, but there are some shared features:
- Language: due to the strange way in which language works within our dreams, each of the lost experiences a unique relationship with language after being pulled back. RJ, for instance, is left with a helpless compulsion to speak lines of poetry, while Michelle and the Odists were left with an allergy to using contractions and a somewhat topsy-turvy engagement with grammar.
- Between dreaming and waking: the boundary between the conscious and subconscious within the lost is thinner, with the logic of dreams tending to linger with them. They may feel confusion in engaging with the waking world, a desire to return to the dream experience, or even difficulty interacting with a world bound by rules that dreams ignore.
- All of those who didn’t die uploaded — Of those who were lost, many committed suicide within the years between 2112. Of those who did not, all uploaded within the first years of the System’s creation.
Most of the stories within the setting take place in the world of uploaded consciousnesses known colloquially as ’the System'.
- The key mechanics — The key mechanics of the System (forking and merging, exocortices, the perisystem architecture, sensoria, cones of silence, the relative perfection of memory, etc) are known by all of the inhabitants via their introductory orientation when they are first uploaded. The same is not necessarily true phys-side, where many hold grand (and sometimes dangerous) views of what life must be like on the System.
- True anarchy — The society aboard Lagrange, Castor, and Pollux borders on a true anarchy. While there are some efforts to steer the general track of the society, they tend toward maintaining that anarchy rather than enforcing any core rule. Even the two specified organizations who poke at this, The Council of Eight in the System’s early days and The Guiding Council on the Pollux launch vehicle, in theory act only as advisory bodies. The Guiding Council does take a far more governance-oriented role near the end of the 2300s.
- A collection of varied societies — Homogeneity is impossible in a System full of, by 2400, more than two trillion people. After all, should one build up a shared set of ideals, one might as well congregate with like-minded people. A set of linked Jesuit sims? Climate activist groups? Furry nightclubs? The answer is yes.
- A species divided — Life phys-side back on Earth continues much as it has. While climate change continues to wreak havoc, people still live out their lives reading, writing, loving, hating, cooking shitty breakfasts for each other. Death remains a constant, life remains something to cling to. Many upload, of course, perhaps leaning on the subsidies offered by governments, but many do not.
In 2325, two separate, smaller copies of the System were launched, sent in either direction across the orbital plane. Castor and Pollux quickly made their way away from Earth while the L5 System — now called Lagrange — remained behind.
- Three Systems — One consequence of having these three Systems moving forward is that they quickly began to diverge. This was not just accounted for but, for many, an explicit goal. After two decades, Pollux began to loosen some of its social strictures and gained a leading body in the Guiding Council while Castor maintained much of the status quo until the arrival of the Artemisians.
- Transmission delay — With the high speed of the two LVs (nearly 1,400 kilometers per second), the transmission delay between Castor and Pollux and Lagrange quickly grows so that, by 2400, a message sent from Castor would arrive at Lagrange nearly four months later.
First contact happened in 2346 when a new vehicle containing uploaded consciousnesses contacted Castor, one of the two launch vehicles sent out in 2325. Dubbed Artemis, several of the Artemisians wound up joining Castor on its journey, while several from Castor joined the Artemisians.
- Four new races, one new System — Four separate uploaded races live aboard Artemis, each picked up as the vehicle passed by a planetary system with an uploaded population. After convergence, humanity joined as fifthrace as many on Castor uploaded to Artemis.
- Convergence — When Artemis made contact, there was an exchange of emissaries between the two Systems. The result of these meetings was the joining of the five races, known as convergence. Artemisians were allowed to upload to Castor to remain in a restricted zone of the System, also known as Convergence. Anyone who wished to join from the rest of Castor was allowed as well. Similarly, anyone from Castor was allowed to join the Artemisians aboard their craft in turn.
- Skew — Rather than having forking as an available mechanic, those who live on Artemis may individually skew their engagement with time. That is, one may skew positive so that they exist within the system at a faster rate than common time.
- The Council of Ten — Two representatives per race aboard Artemis were selected to act as part of a mediating and guiding body. While often described as purely a group to provide assistance and mediation, it’s suggested that they also gently govern the races aboard without explicitly acknowledging such. This is echoed in Convergence, the location aboard the LV Castor where several Artemisians remain behind, though this remains a far more anarchic mediating body.
The world is built for this
The Post-Self setting is aggressively and explicitly queer. This is a place to explore identity through romance — monogamous and polyamorous — gender, species, plurality, anything. If it can be queered, please queer it! The System makes an attractive target for queer identities, after all. Does a trans character transition further sys-side, or do they revel in that identity? Perhaps a plural character experiments with forking out singular identities, perhaps not. The setting is ripe for metafurry exploration — that is, furries themselves who upload and get to live their lives as their fursonas. The society is far, far more accepting of queer identities than today’s, even phys-side.
As neurodivergence follows one along after uploading, this is an area ripe for exploration, whether that means finding ways to fork it away or finding ways to revel in it as an integral part of oneself.
One big draw to the System is getting away from the worsening climate back on Earth. Even after it starts to level out (and even improve) after about 2350, the System offers greener grass. There are many stories to be told there.
Uploading is one-way and destructive. There is a loss behind every upload. The System itself is built on the backs of the lost. Climate grief remains a real issue. Finding ways to deal with grief and yet find the sweet in one’s new life is part and parcel of the setting.
Imagine yourself in a world you could come to love. An open universe invites you to imagine what you — yes, you! — might do with such a setting just as much as it invites you to create new characters of your own or use those of others (with permission!). The concept of a ‘Mary Sue’ is a toxic remnant of machismo in geek spaces and should not prevent you from exploring a lovely existence for yourself.
Reconsider before writing this
While there is some violence in the System, and obviously things remain somewhat difficult back phys-side, the core of the conflict should not boil down to or result in wanton violence. The goal is not to write of wars — political, ideological, religious, or turf — nor of punchy shooty explosiony action as the guiding plot-point. There are plenty fine settings for this; Post-Self simply is not one of them.
There are some taboos that remain, such as the one surrounding intraclade relationships (until about 2355), but there is little need to overcome adversity over identity sys-side. Explore these identities, yes. Explore the lingering effects of bigotry experienced phys-side, but there are stories of personal fulfillment to be had without necessarily focusing on these particular struggles. Actual transphobia, homophobia, racism, etc. on behalf of the authors is unwelcome and will be denounced.
Using other people’s characters without asking
Try not to use other people’s characters — even open clades such as the Ode clade — without asking. While many will say yes, this will have the added benefit of you being able to write more closely to the author’s vision, as they will often have paracanon to share. Additionally, in some cases, these characters feature in the noemata of several individuals’ headmates or personalities, and it’s worth avoiding trampling on identities!