On Basilisk

This is sort of like a Worldbuilding Wednesday post, but with behind-the-scenes creative processes rather than in-universe documents.

The idea for Basilisk predated the idea of Boltzmann Brains as a discrete species. I knew I wanted some giant staticky villain to cast a shadow over the plot before I settled on the rest of the Boltzmann worldbuilding.

Boltzmann Brains are coerced into serving as, essentially, better AIs. Lots of sci-fi has wrangled with the ethical implications of AI, but I like adding some wrinkles to it. Rather than creating a mind that wants to serve, is it more ethical to find such a mind and quietly stop it from doing anything else? Is it more ethical to create a being with no concept of freedom directly or indirectly?

Of course, Basilisk never got that far. They have a taste for math and science, highly marketable pursuits, but they have a far stronger taste for never being ruled by anybody.

And now, as a Tyrant, they created a parody of Boltzmann servitude. Basilisk curates enormous libraries of what they love, but they have no desire to make anything easier for anyone. “Come and share in my archives, or don’t, I don’t give a shit.”  Basilisk could speak coherently, but using bursts of static is easier and pisses off Litany. They could have a city fancier than endless concrete towers, but if they don’t want any amenities, why should anyone else? The best Boltzmann network ever isn’t some Yima project, it’s a dictatorship that demands fluency in Boltzmann norms.

Their contempt of oppression starts and ends with oppression against themself, but they’re more of an aloof despot than anything. They’re happy to stay cooped up with interesting theoretical problems, delegating as much as possible to bureaucrats and contractors(Managing pirates is a huge pain in the ass, and Basilisk delegates everything unless things get utterly disastrous.)

There are parallels to Peter- fiercely independent, yet aware that tyranny gets shit done. Peter sits uneasily with the consequences of his actions, but presses on.

If Peter was in a Tyrant’s position, would he think twice about seizing a planet for the Greater Good?

Would he question his definition of such?

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