The Fox Meridian Lexicon

So, Fox Hunt is out tomorrow and I thought I’d give you all a hint of things which might appear in Fox’s world. Now, this is a direct paste of the lexicon I compiled for my use, and for Kate, my proofreader, and it currently spans three completed books, so don’t expect to see all of it in the first.

Now, if you read on a Kindle, you may get a bonus since I think X-Ray pulls information out of Shelfari and I’ll try to get as much as possible of this into the glossary listing there. Of course, that’ll take time, so all you folks who devour my books two minutes after they go on sale might have to check back after that first read or, date I say, read the book a second time. I know, a terrible hardship. That’s why you get to do the manual lookup here if you like.

  • AI: Artificial intelligence (except in agricultural circles; look it up). AIs are grouped into ‘classes’ based around how closely they mirror humans in sentience and processing power. Class 1s are dumb, barely aware, never learn, and don’t have emotions. Class 4s are largely indistinguishable from a human. All AIs are infomorphs.
  • Android: A humanoid cyberframe. Often a male bodyform, but the term is used more generically for male and female shells.
  • Arcology (arcologies): A self-contained, largely self-sufficient, ‘hyperstructure’ designed to allow people to live in it without ever leaving the building if they wish. These structures are enormous, some exceeding a kilometre in height.
  • Arigeep: A genetically modified sheep breed used in America. Compounded from arid, goat, sheep.
  • Bindwire: Genericised trademark name for a kind of plastic fibre a little like high-tensile silly string. Used in crowd control and prisoner capture, the material forms thin, very strong fibres which stick to a subject, tangling their limbs and fixing them to the spot.
  • Bioroid: A ‘biological android.’ Currently (2060) little more than a concept. These are artificially created life forms which can be manufactured, but require normal growth processes. (Wet nanofabs will fix this.)
  • Blip: Short video advert designed for insertion into IB channel multicasts.
  • CRS: Cyber-Rejection Syndrome. A collection of conditions which either preclude the use of cybernetics or tend to make them malfunction over time.
  • Cyberframe: Some form of robot body which can be operated by remote or by an AI.
  • Dopy (dopies): One who is high on drugs, alcohol, virtual mood enhancement, or just life.
  • Droid: Shortened from android, but typically used when the gender-form of the frame is unknown or unspecified.
  • Emergent AI: A lower class AI which develops to AI-4 on its own. No one knows how this happens, or whether it has actually ever occurred in real life.
  • Force de Police Républicaine (FPR): Canadian national police force, replaced the RCMP in 2032.
  • Frame: Shortened form of cyberframe.
  • Gynoid: Specifically a female bodyform android. Some consider the term crass, others consider it more accurate and correct than using android. (When wishing to ensure no offence is given ‘cyberframe,’ ‘frame,’ or ‘droid’ is always correct.)
  • Hyperstructure: A very, very large building.
  • Infomorph (infomorphs): An entity which exists as data. Probably an AI of some sort. (I didn’t make this one up!)
  • JITC: Just-In-Time Compiler. A mechanism for allowing code to run on multiple machine architectures. (I didn’t make this one up either.)
  • Lensman (lensmen): UNTPP operatives. Derives from the first book of E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Lensman series, Triplanetary, which someone thought was just like ‘Trans-planetary,’ and also the perceived gung-ho attitude of UNTPP cops.
  • LifeWear: Wearable computing technology (a small headset) designed by the LifeWeb people and sold as designer tech (rather like the iPhone today).
  • LifeWeb: Replaced Facebook as the number one social site due to a focus on sociometry, the control and visibility of the links between associates.
  • LWOS: The LifeWear Operating System, a VA designed to interoperate with LifeWeb, running on LifeWear hardware. Pronounced ‘L-was.’ Attempts to get it pronounced like ‘low-os’ never caught on.
  • NAPA: North American Police Administration. In a similar manner to NIX, NAPA was formed to reduce administrative overheads and improve efficiency, collecting together metropolitan and federal police agencies, and judicial enforcement under a single banner. Unlike NIX, NAPA has a fairly reasonable reputation: certainly no worse than the old cops.
  • Napper: Derogatory term for police in America. From NAPA, obviously, but also aimed at suggesting most of them are asleep on the job. Believed to come from the common conception that, since patrols are performed by cyberframes, the rest of the cops spend most of their time in bed.
  • NIX: National Intelligence eXecutive. America’s national intelligence agency, formed from all the civil and military intelligence agencies in what was described as a cost-cutting exercise. Generally considered as a Big Brother organisation.
  • Nomad AI: A (currently theoretical) AI which exists on the internet and has nowhere to call home. They hack into computers powerful enough to host them, taking over operations or hiding on unused processors.
  • PA: Short for personal assistant. Where this is an AI rather than a human, a PA is generally a class 4. PAs are likely to run on a server and interact with their owner via telepresence since (as of 2060) few implants are capable of executing a class 4 AI. See also VA.
  • Painaway: Proprietary painkiller about equivalent to aspirin, but without the side effects.
  • Pearl, the: The pearl is the best, the ultimate, the greatest ever. From sup-PERL-ative.
  • Plazkin: Technically a trademark, but now so standardised that it’s become a generic word. A thin, polythene-like plastic material with elastic qualities. Used in a lot of clothing. A common component in 3D printed clothing and easy to recycle for reuse.
  • Q-bug: Basically an electric quad-bike, commonly used for transport in agricultural regions and on Mars.
  • Robot: A robot, obviously, but now used more specifically for devices which have their operating software built in (firmware) rather than cyberframes which can have operating software downloaded. The more generic meaning of a self-motivated device does still apply: robot is used where the precise nature of a device is unknown.
  • Slideway: A moving sidewalk, generally elevated, generally running from a station to an arcology or apartment block, or between associated apartment blocks.
  • SOS: Acronym for Smart Operating System, an AI (usually class 2) which is used to operate a computer through vocal/gesture/neural command.
  • Sprawl (usually has a capital ‘S’): The litter of temporary and semi-temporary dwellings which fill the spaces between the arcologies, apartment blocks, and other permanent structures. Some Sprawl is actually old buildings still in place, but those occupying them are technically squatters and could be kicked out if someone wanted the land. Others live in tents, old cars, lean-tos, and whatever else they can find shelter under.
  • Sprawler (sprawlers; not usually capitalised): One who lives in the Sprawl.
  • UNTPP: United Nations Trans-Planetary Police. Effectively Interpol with teeth. Responsible for international and interplanetary policing, and liaison between national and private forces.
  • US: Mostly used in speech as a shorthand for America. It no longer really means “United States” since there are no states, officially.
  • V-tag: A device which emits a signal detected by local receivers and interpreted by a neural implant or wearable interface to augment a user’s virtual environment (viron).
  • VA: Short for Virtual Assistant.
  • Viron: Virtual environment. The environment created through the use of an implanted computer/neural interface system and its interaction with v-tags.
  • Virtual Assistant: An AI program (generally class 2 or 3) which provides basic augmented reality functions (memory enhancement, facial recognition) and secretarial functions.
  • Wet Nanofab: A fabrication system which performs bottom-up object construction starting from a molecular source. It requires carefully controlled conditions to operate and is done in a ‘soup’ of nanomachines and source material, hence the ‘wet’ part.



19 responses to “The Fox Meridian Lexicon

  1. Very Interesting!
    Looking forward to the book

  2. I have to say, I particularly like “viron” as sounding like something someone might actually say.

    Also now that this is out can we have more Ceri pleeeeeeeeeeease. I need more Ceri being ruler and diplomatic and fish demons swimming to Australia.

    • I am going to do one more Fox book, or at least start it. Once that’s out of my system, I believe the next Thaumatology book is likely to come up. I won’t promise. I’m afraid I have to be in the right mind set to write any of them, otherwise they just plain don’t work and you guys get “not my best work.” So, I won’t promise anything, but we shall see how my mind’s working in about a month.

      • Also my desire to nitpick compels me to point out that you list (in the book) the third Fox book as “Death Web” coming out in January 2015, which I think will be a jolly good trick.

        On a slightly more serious note I can’t help but notice, that uh, a particular traumatic event has happened to 4 out of your 6 main characters now. Isn’t that a little ridiculous?

      • You didn’t see my Kickstarter to build a time machine? (Silly mistake, thanks for pointing that out. :))

        As for the traumatic events… Ah, drama. Actually, I’m not sure exactly which traumatic events you’re referring to. This may be my natural distance from the original text which would be less if I hadn’t done that pre-order thing (not something I think will be happening again), but the flow seemed reasonable when I was writing it. If it helps, I just did the first edits on book 2 and I don’t believe the trauma continues. (For the main characters, anyway. Murder mysteries tend to need some trauma for someone.)

      • Well I’m attempting to be super circumspect since spoilers and all.

        I’m not talking about just trauma in general but the specific type of trauma that seems to only happen to female characters. I’m talking about the scenes involving uh, wine, an apartment and sandoval. (It also happens in the first reality hackers book, book 2 of thaumatology and book 1 of Aneka, which is where the 4 out of 6 comes from)

      • Yeah. It doesn’t just happen to female characters (or real people, sadly), but I’ve written more than you’ve read and maybe read the odd book you haven’t. Sadly, though people do tend to call it an easy out for the writer, especially the male writer, but I don’t tend to find it to be so. Unfortunately it’s something that is done in the real world and, I think as long as it’s handled properly, it has a place in fiction too.

      • I had to come back to this thread, mostly because it took me a while to properly formulate my thoughts. You’re right, it does happen, and fiction should mirror reality, but I think my objections come from the minor point that most of the characters are less affected than I imagine someone like that would be. Of the four only Ceri seems to be really affected by it, and that’s after several books, although granted hers is … ridiculously.. more extreme.

        The more major point is, yes it happens, but why does it have to happen to *all* of them? That was what I was trying to get at with the whole four out of six thing. I rather dread picking up book three of Ultrahumans or whatever and seeing it become five out of six.

        The event in reality hack seems especially egregious because it’s basically never mentioned again past the first five minutes!

        All that being said I still finished the book something like two hours after it hit amazon, so uh, yeah. I just kind of had to get it off my chest.

        More Teresa please.

      • Points taken.

        Terri, huh? An interesting choice. (I’m not sure why I find it interesting, but I think it is.) Terri will, of course, be back. She has a fairly big role in book 4 and is likely to come up fairly heavily when AI starts really taking off. That’s her forte.

      • Wait, book 4?! How many books do you have planned here?

        Honestly I mostly said Terri because I figured you were setting her up to be the main love interest…

      • Planned? Not sure, but I’m writing book 4.

        As for Terri… Hmm, interesting.

      • You are already writing book 4? Does that mean book 2 and 3 are mostly ready and we can read them soon 🙂

      • I just started book 4, it’s at 7200 words. Book 2 is planned for early November, book 3 for just after Christmas/New Year.
        I said somewhere that I’m really enjoying writing Fox so the books tend to come streaming out. That’s what happened with Thaumatology. Aneka was actually a little harder, especially the second one which had to be restarted from scratch at one point.
        It takes about 2 months after the first draft is done for a book to come out, but I also like to leave a month’s gap between releases. So, November and January are the likely dates for Inescapable and DeathWeb.

  3. Just finished the book. Found it to be a fun read, and very much enjoyed as I have most of your work. The only comment I’d like to make and call out here is your time line. You’ve set the book in the year 2060 and have described it as near future, yet given the state of technology I’m assuming that you aren’t positing a direct near future of our current timeline? I can’t see things advancing that much in 45 years, plus you’ve mentioned events as turn of the century that don’t seem to fit current history. This suggests rather near future of a parallel earth time-line.

    Just asking out of curiousity and the need to be slightly nit-picky. :-). Very much looking forward to the next book in November.

    • It’s not nit-picking, it’s variance of opinion. 🙂
      I actually think this deserves a little more of a reply than just a comment, so you may see a post on where I get my “futurology” from in the near future, however…

      I don’t come up with this stuff on my own. I go hunting for information on what’s expected to happen over the next few decades as well as applying a universal truth: this is fiction and it’s supposed to be interesting. So, I research future tech and social expectations and trends, and a lot of the Fox timeline is based on that research. But (big but) it’s called speculative fiction for a reason and it’s quite possible that these trends and predictions don’t match up with everyone’s views. In fact, I’ve put the breaks on some of the tech: I just don’t believe it’ll happen as fast as some people believe. AIs, for example, are predicted to be more advanced than I’ve got them. OTOH, the one thing I probably have going too fast is neural interface tech. It’s quite advanced in Fox’s world and will require a genius (like Jackson Martins) to get it there via some breakthrough.

      As for the history, keep in mind that what you read is not objective. Generally you are hearing Fox’s recounting of things. Fox was (will have been going to be? I hate tenses) born in 2031. She missed the turn of the century by 30 years and would have been taught about it almost half-way into the 21st century. I remember my father’s comments on my O-level (that’s high school for you Americans and GCSE for the younger Brits) History course, WWI through Vietnam: I was learning as history what he had lived through (he’s not quite that old, but he was born before WWII). It’s a bit like that with Fox. We’re hearing her recollection of what she learned in school, we lived it. And, to her, “the early century” is into our future (maybe up to 2025) and, yes, I made that up because it hasn’t happened yet. (As an aside, even Jackson, one of the older characters, was born in 2006 and would not be aware of some things we all lived. If he recounts something it may be more accurate, however.)

      One last comment. A couple of geological events in Fox’s world had a fairly drastic effect on American history. They come in 2041 and cause massive social upheaval. In March, “the Big One” comes when the Cascadia fault shifts, a megathrust earthquake which lays waste to the west coast. As a side-effect, Yosemite cracks: not the megavolcano eruption everyone’s waiting for, but still a huge release of ash which displaces millions of people and kills not a few. In the real world events like these could happen tomorrow, or in 10,000 years, but they will happen. These events plus climate change let me force some social changes, and stave off some others, which gave me a world I found interesting. It stills falls into a broad band of possible predictions for how things will turn as we go forward.

      That was longer than I planned, but I hope that answers some questions.

      • Variance indeed!

        It’s all well considered on your part and I concede possible. Also the beauty of spec-fic. The hardest sell for me was the space program. Even with a global effort, what appears to be orbital settlements, permanent lunar bases with civilian tourism and manned Mars missions is a huge jump in space effort in the given time frame, even with a societal change driver like you’ve posited in 2041 in your time line. I’m just not sure that that level of infrastructure is physically possible in the given timeframe, but it is what it is. The same applies to some of the non space related infrastructure. It’s just hard to believe even with a massive geologic and climatological societal change driver.

        Part of it may be that as a current U.S. Citizen I can’t see something even like the Pacific Northwest falling into the Pacific Ocean and the Yellowstone caldera spewing massive amounts of ash into the atmosphere generating enough political will to overcome corporate greed and ideological gridlock in government to help save humanity. Yes I’m a cynical bastard when it comes to my country.

        So, to sum up, it’s not any one piece, but all of them together that make the environment changes in the time frame a hard sell, for me at least. It doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book, or hopefully anyone else’s. With any luck we’ll both still be here in 2060 to see how much you got right! 🙂

      • I might add that corporate greed is part of the reason the space programme has got where it has. And it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In book 2 you’ll come across a space station owned by MarTech, but not built by them. The original owners went bankrupt building the thing and MarTech bought the company out. Other areas have been more lucrative and large corporations have moved in where governments feared to tread, because they saw profit (big profit) in it.

        But… Like you say, it’s speculation. I’m not exactly optimistic about our colonisation of space myself. I remember the thrill of the moon landings (well, the last one or two, I’m not that old), and how Skylab and the Shuttle programme made us feel like we were a step away from ordinary people going up there. And three decades later I’m still waiting. I doubt I’ll ever see the Earth from orbit, but I still live in a tiny bit of hope. And I think commercial spaceflight is likely to be more of a driving force than governments in the fairly near future.

        But it’s all speculation… 🙂

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