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The Great Library; Little for prez!
Topic Started: Feb 15 2017, 09:42 PM (16,020 Views)
LittleLazyLass
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Proud quilt in a bag

Do not disturb me, for I am reading.
The Great Library

The laws of science must be followed within any universe. This is fact. However, they must not be followed between universes. Rifts in space and time allow for worlds where everything we know is wrong. Such extreme cases are nearly impossible to comprehend, Lovecraftian horrors that no human should ever set foot on - assuming there is anything on which to set a foot on in the first place, or space for a foot to exist, and that a man's mind will function long enough to decide to place said foot. Aside from these, there exists many less extreme universes, ones that inspire the imagination, rather than destroy the mind. How or why they exist is unknown - but they do. This is one of them: The Great Library (or for the simpleton, The Library). Perhaps other dimensions of books and shelves exist - maybe there exists a library world of three by three meters, inhabited only by ants - but someone must have decided this one was the most grand; an opinion few will disagree with. Here is a universe which has room for extraordinary horrors that destroy the mind and adorable birds with quirky habits.

The Library is an endless expanse of, rather unsurprisingly, Library. It has existed as long as man has been making crude copies of it. Or, at the very least, that's when the portals started opening up on earth. Portals to the Library tend to open in terrestrial libraries, secondhand bookstores, or any other place where numerous books are collected - which is to say these are the only places anyone transported through one has reported coming from. These colonizations seemingly began in the first libraries of ancient Sumer, 4600 years ago. However, as time is not consistent between universes, the Library has been inhabited for a staggering 168 million years. Whether the time conversion from earth to the Library is consistent cannot be known - perhaps some days are of equal length, while some earth days last centuries, or millennia, in the Library. Or perhaps not. Such things don't like to be sorted into boxes. Despite this, people have tried to divide the Library into time periods, starting from Sumer, and continuing to the modern day. The futility of this is reflected in that fact that even in the most centralized parts of Library civilization, no one system has been fully accepted, and all suggestions have led to much argument. Most of these schemes have periods corresponding to various time periods of humans on earth. Common division are the ancient world, occasionally featuring some times such as that of Ancient Egypt as their own divisions; the classical era; the middle ages; the first new world libraries and the enlightenment; and the modern day. Most systems differ on semantics and when to cut the times, however. Six terms, the "Sumerocene", "Kemetocene", "Aurocene", "Obscurocene", "Illustrocene", and "Anthropocene", are common period names that several different systems have varyingly used, referring to the six mentioned periods respectively. Despite their relative acceptance, they all have no solid definition in time. This particular exploration of the Library will use those terms frequently as rough approximations.

Every book in the Library is complete gibberish, so far as anyone can discern, with a random assortment of generally Latin characters ranging in length from small pamphlets to giant novels. They have no images, pictures, or drawings on the covers nor on the inside. Perhaps there's a character limit, but if one exists nobody knows what it is. Periodically, what appears to be a logical string of words comes out, presumably due to simple mathematics - although some zealots disagree with this latter conclusion rather aggressively. Many a man has gone crazy upon trying to make meaning from such books. Indeed, if you assembled the right books from the right places in the Library, you would have all the answers to all the questions ever asked, and explanations of the origin and meaning of the Library, and an index of all universes. All the same, for every book that explains such things, there are an infinite number of false answers and explanations. Most books written by humans can be distinguished by being handwritten. For printed books, various symbols are often used to distinguish them from Library books, often on the inside cover. Yet this isn't always done, and cases where it's not has led to yet more confusion and madness among Library peoples and zealots.

In the beginning - assuming, for a minute, that one exists - the Library was presumably rather pristine. At the very least, it must have been at some point in time or another. Inevitably, however, tens of millions of years of habitation and natural disasters will cause anything to be largely destroyed - from endless deserts of sawdust, not unlike the salt flats of our world, to black expanses of ashes - the voids -, the four foot deep saltwater Katrina sea, the imposing Borehole, the spectacular Dagon falls, and numerous other unique environments. Even with all of this, nonetheless, because of its infinite nature, a lot of the Library still consists of shelves with books, or one of the many other natural room-types of the Library. Organisms, descended from earth life brought in from portals, have evolved to adapt to all of these environments, and have created forms like nothing that has ever or will ever evolve on earth. Any object or organism brought through a portal is called an apport. These first generation creatures are faced with an new environment, and are at a distinct disadvantage to native library creatures. However, time and time again, they have successfully colonized this peculiar world, and a wide variety of bizarre organisms have evolved to call the corridors of the Library home. Ironically enough, these are often quite loud, contrary to the stigma of being quiet in a Library - for visual communication is limited in enclosed corridors and rooms. All of these organisms, evidently, have ancestors that could get into buildings frequently enough to form a population - meaning there are no fish, goats, crocodiles, or monkeys, for example. Instead, a limited pool of colonists were the building blocks for the creatures of the Library. These creatures range from the omnipresent and uncanny Bibliodontia, a group of primate-like rats, to several distinct lineages of owls that ambush prey, who could be waiting around any corner, to posthumans, no less intelligent than you or I, in a myriad of forms ranging from library children to wendigos.

Indeed, some of the greatest inhabitants of the Library are humans themselves. True humans, not their wild descendants that appear rather alien to us. With earth humans that are apported very, very occasionally integrating into the genepool, and mankind's inherent and ever present will to defy nature, they have stayed rather unchanged over millions of years. Of course, although there are some major cultural differences, and some minor anatomical ones, they are still considered Homo sapiens. Many of these people have been driven insane, becoming zealots, who range from crazy birdmen to cults who worship particular books religiously. Other, more civilized people have formed civilization - and the shining gem of these is known as the Ivy League. Nearly all of the traditional researchers of the Library - who document its fauna, geography, and try to decipher various mysteries from its history, to the nature of the other world where apports come from, are in the Ivy League. Beyond this, are also researchers who's status as scientists is more debatable - mysterious nomads who have just as many answers as some of those in the Ivy League. They are just one example of the unique kinds of people might find in the Library - should one be uneducated enough to wander through enough un-mapped hallways to find such people. In it's 4600 year history, men from all eras, places and classes have been entering into the Library, from the ancient bearded sages of Sumeria and Chaldea, to the sober-minded Academics and Zoologists of the Victorian era, to the great warlord Cletus, an inbred hillbilly who just happened to be carrying his AR-15 around his County's Strip-Mall library.

Library humans and other organisms have formed a single coherent world within an infinite universe, and this may be thanks to something which has been termed The Epicenter Principle by Ivy League researches. Although theoretical, it suggests all apportations happen around a similar spot in the infinity of the Library - relative to infinity of course, for the epicenter is still far larger than earth. This means that life arrives at a similar enough spot to each other that populations can form, that predators can find prey, and humans can find others of their kind. It also means that the Library becomes more bizarre and archaic the farther out you go. Beyond a certain distance, only descendants of the ancient Sumerocene fauna exists, having continued to evolve long after being outcompeted in the main part of the known Library. Further out, even more alien things could exist - nobody knows for sure. Likewise, the closer to the epicenter you are, the more normal the fauna seems, as the ecosystem has the chance to develop naturally - or at least, as naturally and normally as it can in the Library. Extinction is therefore a somewhat different concept than here on earth - with the infinite and closed nature of the Library, it is impossible to know if something has truly gone extinct. Perhaps it exists farther out from the epicenter, or perhaps you simply haven't found the surviving populations in perhaps the single most extensive labyrinth in existence.

All of this and more creates one of the most unique ecosystems ever studied by mankind. It is impossible to document even a notable fraction of even just the highlights of the Library, alas, but this will attempt to, at the very least, be a good effort, and hopefully a lot of fun.
A [Far too] Brief History of the Project

This idea was first thought up by forum member Sayornis, and posted in the Alternate Universe section of this internet forum. It was inspired by various other internet projects, in particular Borges' Library of Babel, Terry Pratchett's Library-Space, and The Wanderer's Library, a sister-site to the spectacular SCP Foundation. It got a little bit of discussion, relatively low amounts of attention (as was standard in that part of the forum back then), and never got any updates past the original post. However, starting on September 12 of the same year, another forum user, flashman63, began work on the project, expanding the vague idea into something more concrete. Eventually other members starting contributing, and it became an open community project anyone could contribute to, led by flashman63 and Sayornis, who had veto powers and decided what was canon.

A canon of respectable size with all sorts of various organisms, locations, crazy zealots, and other phenomena made by over twenty different people was established, and was continually growing. However, some other members of the forum, who had long simply ignored the project, expressed their distaste to several concepts and recurring themes, and this unrest quickly grew into consensus and then a full out revision. Sayornis decided to finally step down as leader of the project, no longer interested in carrying the burden of management, and the project was handed over to yours truly, LittleLazyLass .
The Library and You

I highly recommend you read this section if you're new to the project.

Anyone is allowed to write entries for the Library, or generally voice their opinions and feedback. I recommend you read any of the topics linked above, plus anything else that seems rather essential. Is would nice if you have read everything in our canon, but I understand that reading so much can't be expected of the average contributor. I do however expect you've at least read all posts relating to the subject of anything you submit. So, if you, for example, make a post about The Ivy League, then I hope you've read all posts that relate to that part of the project. That said, if you're a big enough fan of the project to have read it all (or a loyal enough Pelican to sort it all), major props! I appreciate that you like the project so much, and if you haven't written anything yourself, I recommend you do! We appreciate entries from all sorts of different people, and in all sorts of different styles. An entry doesn't even have to be from a member of the site - if you're a lurker, but are on deviantart or tumblr I'm sure you could come across some of our members to get it to this thread. Don't refrain from making an entry because you don't think you could make something of high enough quality, we don't bite, and I'm sure you're capable of more than you think.

That said, we do like to keep a standard of some quality around here. Some major problems that were identified with the original run of this project were an over abundance of pop-cultural references and cheap horror. Entries along these lines are not well liked, have little substance, and should be avoided. Even referential names for creatures or places are generally looked down upon to some extent. Another disliked subject is stuff that suppresses the uniqueness of the environment - we previously had an ecosystem which was just a normal plains environment in the Library, and we decided it was unfitting and against the spirit of the project. If an entry is badly received to a large enough extent, and/or has major flaws, it won't be included in the canon unless it is sufficiently revised. Don't take this as attack - we simply want to avoid content we feel takes away from the project. Certain members (such as the three above mentioned [former-]managers, and perhaps a few other major contributors I decide to appoint) have limited veto power over any entry if they so wish, although this can be overruled in extreme cases, and I don’t imagine it’ll be used to any notable extent. This doesn't, however, mean that all entries must be all professional and scientific - this project is full of crazy, whacked-up stuff, and it's always welcome, so long as it doesn't notably conflict with other elements of the project.

There are tons of things you could write about - the project has its roots in speculative evolution, and therefore entries about different animals, plants, fungi, or other organisms are the most common ones, and a great place to start for people new to the project. Despite its roots, the project can be interesting even if you don't particularly have interest in animals (although if you don't, I'm somewhat curious what you're doing on this forum). Other elements such as the architecture, nature, and geography of the Library itself is another thing you could write about - with it being such a unique environment to work with, incredible ecosystems such as Dagon Falls can be created by anybody with a little bit of inspiration. Another huge part of this project is stuff about the humans themselves and their culture. Again, this setting is very unique, and can lead to many fascinating concepts revolving around humans.

One rather touchy part of the project are the posthumans. Although this is in no way a closed subject you can't write about, we hold these to a higher standard than other parts of the project. We were more lenient on posthumans in the past version, but found that they far too often just became generic monsters. In addition, their plausibility in general was brought in the question, but their inclusion was deemed to be for the better of the project. Non-sapient posthumans in particular are a point of contention, and barring certain cases, we recommend all posthumans be mentioned or implied to be at least "possibly sapient". Also understand posthumans are more likely to be far more complex animals than many others in the project, and so creation of a new species should be done with care. No posthumans in the Library have formed a civilization of any sort, for it was decided this would give the project a generic fantasy feel to it. Non-human sapients also exist, including birds and fungi, however these are generally told in the form of unconfirmed tales, and most have only seen humans and vice versa once or twice. These should not become a common thing in the project, and so only a few every now and then should be created, although once again there's no rule saying you can't write about them.

If you're dead set in the opinion that you can't write anything worthwhile for the project, that doesn't mean you can't contribute. The vast majority of the content on this project currently exists only in words, and any contribution of art is greatly appreciated, although it’s encouraged that you get author permission before drawing their creature, and probably their help to ensure its accuracy. You can also simply take part in discussions, pitch ideas for other people to write, or suggest improvements to existing entries - we don't want this to be a project that only some people can make contributions to. In a similar vein, if you know anyone that might have an interest in this project in any way, on or off the forum all help is appreciated.

One thing that must be noted is that in any group project, not everyone gets what they want. We all have different visions as to what the Library is and should look like, and no one person is going to have the canon correspond exactly with their vision. It's important that we all know how to accept a middle ground, even myself, who can technically overrule or re-write anything with the project should I so desire.

The last thing I'd like to touch on is the fact that nothing in this project should be thought of as static. Many entries were revised, or marked for revision, when this new iteration of the project came to be. This doesn't mean, however, that the ones that weren't marked for such can't be improved or expanded if someone has the idea. Although author permission must be heavily stressed, it's always amazing to see someone take somebody's one or two paragraph creature and turn it into something brilliant. With so many creative ideas, it's a shame every time one isn't expanded upon, and I encourage everyone to share their thoughts on how any aspect of the canon could be improved.

With all that said, I think this "little" introduction and foreword has gone on quite long enough - we do, after all, want you writing, and not just reading. I've never been good at conclusions nor goodbyes, so, without further adieu... enter the Great Library!
Index
Index by Subject
Index by Author
A Compilation of Library Flora and Fauna, curtosy of Ichyander.
totally not British, b-baka!
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Beetleboy
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neither lizard nor boy nor beetle . . . but a little of all three
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Well, this is exciting! I might have more imput in it this time, do some entries and stuff. Last time by the time I had started thinking about making entries, the Library had already got pretty big, and it kind of put me off doing something for it in case I messed up. But this time it's a different matter because I can contribute right from the beginning . . .
~ The Age of Forests ~
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Dr Nitwhite
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Well, it’s finally back. Really, this endeavor is one the proudest group effort I’ve been part of on this forum, and some of the most enjoyable posts I’ve read and pieces I’ve written have been in this great project’s name. As such, I think some special thank-yous and congratulations are in order! I’d like to thank, before I say anything in particular, everyone who has ever posted here. Really, you may think you aren’t important, but your contributions have inspired new entries and continued the thread where it had slowed. And for that, you all have my sincerest thanks. But I’d like to especially thank The Xenologist for creating the most spectacular, grand environments in the lengthiest and most detailed descriptions, and for inspiring so many further posts down the line, Glarnboudin, as perhaps the most resistant to this change, for his patience and courtesy (and, you know, his great entries too), Sheather and Beetleboy for providing the input that lead to this change, Sphenodon for all his incredibly valuable input and concerns relative to his time here, but above all, I gotta hand it to flashman, Little, and Sayornis. Not only have their entires been wonderful and input continuous from day one (hell, one of them is the damn things founder!), but their willingness to keep this thread managed and operational has been unprecedented. If flashman hadn’t made those first crucial posts, and Little never picked up the torch during the early days of retcon, I shudder to think where we might be now. Really, thanks a lot guys, bully for you all!

Have a picture of Joe Biden in the Library-
Spoiler: click to toggle
Edited by Dr Nitwhite, Feb 16 2017, 03:09 PM.
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My bookwasp images are broken because I may have deleted them so let me re-upload them for you.

Oxford book wasp

Misc species and nest

Library builder

Library builder nest

Pagewasp nest

Twistwasp nest
Edited by Vorsa, Feb 16 2017, 03:22 PM.
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Birbs

"you are about to try that on a species that clawed its way to the top of a 4 billion year deep corpse pile of evolution. one that has committed the genocide you are contemplating several times already. they are the pinnacle of intelligence-based survival techniques and outnumber you 7 billion to 1" - humans vs machine
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The Oxford bookwasp isn't working. For that matter, neither are your dreadcroc images in Cornucopia.
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LittleLazyLass
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Quote:
 
I gotta hand it to flashman, Little, and Sayornis. Not only have their entires been wonderful and input continuous from day one (hell, one of them is the damn things founder!), but their willingness to keep this thread managed and operational has been unprecedented.
I'm really not worthy of being put beside them. In all my time with this project, as the second person to post in the original thread, and the third one to like the OP (I think), I've been here from the start, but I've only ever actually written two very short entries for the project, something I very much hope to change with this new iteration. I've also taken far longer than was precedented to get this up and running again (something still very much in progress). Flashman on the other hand wrote the vast majority of the groundwork that allowed this world to come together. Sayornis is the reason we're here on the first place, and has also contributed far more than I have.

Mod Log:
  • Fixed images in the bookwasp post. Oxford bookwasp image still not working.
totally not British, b-baka!
Posted Image You like me (Unlike)
I don't even really like this song that much but the title is pretty relatable sometimes, I guess.
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Dr Nitwhite
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Little
Feb 16 2017, 04:23 PM
Quote:
 
I gotta hand it to flashman, Little, and Sayornis. Not only have their entires been wonderful and input continuous from day one (hell, one of them is the damn things founder!), but their willingness to keep this thread managed and operational has been unprecedented.
I'm really not worthy of being put beside them. In all my time with this project, as the second person to post in the original thread, and the third one to like the OP (I think), I've been here from the start, but I've only ever actually written two very short entries for the project, something I very much hope to change with this new iteration. I've also taken far longer than was precedented to get this up and running again (something still very much in progress). Flashman on the other hand wrote the vast majority of the groundwork that allowed this world to come together. Sayornis is the reason we're here on the first place, and has also contributed far more than I have.

Mod Log:
  • Fixed images in the bookwasp post. Oxford bookwasp image still not working.
Don't be preposterous. You've borne the brunt of the retcon work and furnished this wonderful introduction post. Far more than two short posts.
Edited by Dr Nitwhite, Feb 16 2017, 04:44 PM.
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Dakka!
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MYSTERIO! You have mislead me!
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Some project ideas
The Future is Right
Ediacaran Explosion
Great Old Ones
Skinkworld


Unrelated:The Final Spec:What Could Have Been, And Still Can
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Sayornis
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I've said it before in Discord,but I'll say it again here: Many thanks, Little, for taking up the helm of this project!

And many thanks to you, too, Dr. Nitwhite-- for your diligent organizing and your excellent contributions to the original project!

For my part, I probably won't be taking an active role in the rebooted project (I'm pretty busy at the moment and won't have much of a break till June), but I look forward to seeing new entries.
The Library is open. (Now under new management!)
Dr Nitwhite
Aug 19 2016, 07:42 PM
As I said before, the Library is like spec crack.
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DINOCARID
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I didn't know beetleboy was onboard! And are we allowed to reuse concepts? I really liked the light-fixture's-beds.
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Dr Nitwhite
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DINOCARID
Feb 17 2017, 09:41 AM
I didn't know beetleboy was onboard! And are we allowed to reuse concepts? I really liked the light-fixture's-beds.
For now, probably not, but If I'm not mistaken the concept was deemed canon (or in need of minor adjustment) and should be returned to the index soon.
Edited by Dr Nitwhite, Feb 17 2017, 10:02 AM.
Speculative Evolution Projects-

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Final SE Lifelist standings

BREAKING NEWS
We interrupt your regular programming to bring you this cutting edge report.
ATTENDANCE DROPS DRASTICALLY ON SE SERVER
This past Monday on Discord, famous server Speculative Evolution took a hit in the attendance office when it's offline member list suddenly reappeared. Mods scrambled to rectify the situation, but unfortunately there was little anyone could do. Server member Ivan was asked what he thought of the situation. "So long as Flisch, lord of machines and scion of Urborg lives, all will be well". SE, (in)famous for it's eccentric userbase, has recently been spiraling downward, and now we have hard conformation of the decline. Moderator "High Lord" Icthyander states "There is nothing to be concerned about, Discord is merely changing its UI again", but members are beginning to suspect the honesty of their staff.
Stay tuned, we'll be back with more at 11.
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Beetleboy
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neither lizard nor boy nor beetle . . . but a little of all three
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DINOCARID
Feb 17 2017, 09:41 AM
I didn't know beetleboy was onboard!
Well, I am now I guess!

I'm brainstorming some ideas right now . . . I might do some invertebrates eventually.
~ The Age of Forests ~
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Vorsa
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Little
Feb 16 2017, 04:23 PM
Mod Log:
  • Fixed images in the bookwasp post. Oxford bookwasp image still not working.
Hmmm. Well here's the link to the DA page. Maybe coping the image address directly from here will work.
My Deviantart: http://desorages.deviantart.com/

Birbs

"you are about to try that on a species that clawed its way to the top of a 4 billion year deep corpse pile of evolution. one that has committed the genocide you are contemplating several times already. they are the pinnacle of intelligence-based survival techniques and outnumber you 7 billion to 1" - humans vs machine
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LittleLazyLass
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Okay, so here's the little outline post before we get started on new entries. This is the reason I've gotten you guys to wait a couple days, because things might be confusing with the incomplete list of entries. I'll just separate these into different bullet points:
  • So clearing a few things up on the list of entries unless it wasn't clear: my plan is to go through every entry and edit it for quality control. You can see examples of this in all the entries currently in the list (by author). I fix formatting and grammar (see some of flashman's old entries, for example of formatting changes), make slight wording alterations and improvements whenever I think it improves to the entry, change titles or give titles where not present (see kopout's entry on electrical power and associated fungi), and otherwise change or expand the entry if necessary without stepping on the toes of the original authors (see the brownbirds for an example of an entry that has been expanded significantly). Some ideas simply have to many problems and are instead scrapped. This helps improve the project and iron out remnants of problems everyone agreed needed fixing. With all this in mind, the list can be seen as the canon of the project. Only a few of the entries are done so far (the ones in the list, plus a few more), but I didn't want to hold back the project any longer, so instead it'll be sequentially updated over time, hopefully as fast as possible. Once all the entries are edited and added to the list by author, the list by subject will be added for better navigation. Managing only one simple list instead of two, one being more complex, means that I'll get through all the entries faster.
  • New entries are allowed, however I would very much appreciate you not reference entries that have not been added to the list yet in a major way. In most cases it won't be a problem (changes to the old entry being small enough that it doesn't effect the new entry), but I'd rather not run into any problems with disconnects between the old version of the project and this slightly revised edition. A small off comment would fine, since it can be changed or removed without issue. But, for example, don't make an entry revolving around the reading room until the new version of that comes out. Some major things like the Ivy League or something like the basic concept of an elevator shaft are exceptions to this since they'll obviously still be in the project in more or less the same way they are now. If you do want to make an entry that's connected in an important way to a past entry not on the list, please ask about it and I'll go edit that entry before other ones, moving it up the priority list. If you already have an entry fully written that might conflict with this rule, just post it and I'll accommodate; this more applies to entries written in the coming weeks as the list is filled out. Once the list is complete, the things outlined here are obviously irrelevant.
  • While on the subject of new entries, I'd appreciate that things not part of the entry itself be kept out of entries. So don't have a sentence at the start responding to the a previous post before the actual entry. This looks really out of place if someone's just reading the entry from a link in the index.
  • Otherwise, posting new entries is just like before. You can just make a post anytime. Try and accept and be mindful of criticism or lack of acceptance of the entry should those things come up.
  • Any sort of minor questions (such as asking about the list and revising of old entries) or less important discussion is better kept to the discord chat (found here if you haven't joined yet; *this link has an invite link, so if you have a discord account, it won't help). It prevents clogging the topic and allows for smaller questions or comments that otherwise wouldn't be deemed significant enough for a post here. Stuff like suggestions on improvements to entries and more complex commentary, questions, or discussion are of course better placed here. It's not a big deal if you just post here, but it'd be better to use both places appropriately. Any oppression of memes by Flisch is not my fault.
  • If you want to rewrite an old entry of yours instead of me merely editing it like the other ones, by all means feel free, just notify me. Likewise with works of other people, but ask the person with the idea, stub entry, or rejected concept first.
  • The mod log that you've seen in a couple posts by now will mention what entries have been added to the list, which ones have been deemed non-canon, and any other things I've made changes to. Think of it as a sort of changelog.
  • If you have any other questions about how the project will work going forward, please ask. Less confusion can only be for the better.


Mod Log:
  • Fixed oxford bookwasp image in the bookwasp post.
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Ecological Succession and an Example of an Early Stage Successional Community

An Introduction to Ecological Succession

The Library, an infinite structure incomprehensibly large, naturally contains every single possible arrangement of wood, stone, carpeting, linoleum, electric lights, and books possible, and then some, so long as they at least resemble a library. As such, many regions of the library exist completely sealed off from the rest, some managing complete sterility, not even bacteria have spread to these sealed locations. However, several species, notably the wallpeckers, as well as simple rot caused by various molds, mushrooms, bacteria, and derived plants, may cause an area previously uncolonized to be discovered. A similar effect can be found at the edge of where life has been introduced, but here we will be discussing what happens in more familiar territory. These new regions are quickly colonized and, over time, modified by life, certain species relying on specific stages of succession to thrive, just as with earth ecosystems. However, these stages are different from those on earth in two major ways:

Firstly, bookshelves are non-renewable. Succession is one way, and once destroyed an area will never regrow its tomes, floors, or shelves. Wood and books generally go quickly, other materials may take longer to erode.

Secondly, succession is generally slow. While the presence of a leaky pipe or other water source will generally result in very quick decay, areas without this facilitator will take hundreds, perhaps thousands of years to move completely through stages. In areas where water is particularly scarce, succession may take millions of years (this is not rare, “book deserts” or more commonly “unmarred regions”, are common features and form a fairly equal patchwork with saturated regions in some areas).

As per these general rules, early successional communities outside book deserts are often ephemeral and highly variable. A particular assemblage of organisms that rely on relatively undisturbed habitat, for example, may last a few million years as it is pushed by habitat destruction into some sort of barrier, walls, voids, etc. Late successional communities, on the other hand, are much more stable (though generally not in regions with wood flooring, which often give way and create sinkhole like structures), as nutrients are recycled into a “soil” made from decayed wood and books and life continues almost as if on earth, until finally the floor gives way. These “saturated regions” support much of Library civilization, as well as support a much larger biomass and biodiversity. These forms are also noticeably more “normal”, compared with earth ones, and unspecialized forms can be found in much larger numbers. In Unmarred Regions, however, multiple adaptations must be made to deal with the general lack of water and food, covering large areas to get it, and finding mates in a much more sparsely populated area.

Please note, before we begin, that these general ecological concepts have many exceptions, and some areas defy expectation due to any number of bizarre circumstances. However, as a general guideline most Library ecosystems can fall into the unmarred or saturated category, or somewhere between the two.

An Unmarred Community

Posted Image

Unmarred Communities are, by nature, fairly sparse and creatures are often very distant from one another, and where there are population centers most creatures attempt to remain hidden. As such, the scene above is meant to depict various organisms, not to paint a realistic picture. As we can tell with the presence of mostly intact books, the most fragile indicator of successional state, this is a very new community, probably being established in a matter of years countable in the tens. The presence of an adult shelf-heron and dewey’s shelfhatch indicates that this region has been inhabited longer rather than shorter, probably around 20-40 years (any longer and around half the books would show some wear. It is important to note books can last a long time in an unmarred region, but will usually be torn up and/or fed upon by some Library denizen). These pioneer species are adapted to handle the hardships of locating food, water, and mates in their seemingly lifeless abode, and are relatively common in their expansive ranges.

1- Shredbeak (and nest)

This basal house sparrow derivative is a common species in unmarred regions, and oddly are a driving force in creating intermediates due to their particular behavior. Shredbeaks build their nests with paper from Library books, particularly those that are undamaged, and will often tear into books riddled with things like Alphabet Beetles to feed on the tiny “librovores” that dwell there. These behaviors are not unique to the shredbeak, but they are by far the most common and ubiquitous creature that displays these behaviors. They are a social species, travelling in flocks of around 10 individuals in most cases, but pairs split off to breed. They move about in a loosely organized fashion, and particular “dominant” males seem to decide where and how fast the flock goes. Factors that lead to “dominance” seem to be age, bib size, and body size, and older, large bodied and bibbed birds are almost always at the front of the flock. Nests are built on shelves, lamps, clocks, sinks, and any other available surface with some sort of protection.

2- Lamppost Fruit

One of the hardiest, most widespread pioneer species found in the Library, this ubiquitous plant can be found in all manner of environments and is often the first plant to reach a new area. It’s success is largely due to two factors, ability to live on minimal water and a host of symbiotic pollinators and dispersers. Several Library insects, ranging from flighted silverfish to ants to the more usual bees and flies, take nectar from the elongated, bright flowers that we see as yellow but are in fact also colored with intense UV colors invisible to us. This exaggerated flower does serve as a downside in some cases, and many creatures have learned they can bypass the flower tube (and thus pollen) and steal the energy-rich nectar. Another tempting target, though more beneficial to the plant, is the similarly colored starchy fruit, which is readily taken by any passing animal that can digest it. The plant’s structure, which when on a shelf hangs out into the hall, makes the fruit quite obvious, along with the intense coloring. Once eaten, the miniscule seeds pass through the digestive system and are excreted in a new location, starting life with a little nutrient packet to help it along. The plant needs very little from soil and gets most of its requirements from the air and bacteria in the roots, allowing it to grow on pretty much any substrate. The plant is very conservative with its energy, but as soon as it’s pollinated all of its resources are put into creating the fruit. After the fruit ripens or is removed, the plant dies.

3- Dewey’s Shelfhatch

A member of a family of starling derivatives convergent on nuthatches, creepers, and woodpeckers, dewey’s shelfhatch relies on wood that has been only slightly damaged, feeding on wood-boring invertebrates but relying on a solid surface to cling to. Males drum on wood to attract mates, and when they do do so ⅔ the way up a bookshelf, around where you might expect dewey decimal numbers to be in an earth library, hence the name dewey’s shelfhatch. Unlike others in its family, Dewey’s shelfhatch is brightly colored with iridescent blues, but these aren’t always visible. The wings can be lifted over the back, making the bird appear dark brown, and can be flashed open to startle potential predators. As the recoiling threat recovers itself, the shelfhatch is clear to fly away.

4 -Cobweb

Spiders are common no matter where you go, unmarred regions are no exception. This cobweb would have been produced by any number of small spiders, most likely transported as a spiderling through a ventilation system, a common dispersal method among Library species. This web would have been used to catch primarily tiny flies, beetles, and flighted silverfish, but is now derelict, the owner probably having been prey to some larger creature.

5- Cheshum Cat

After many millennia, original names and words change, and this small feline would have at one point been called a “cheshire” cat, and a vast region of unmarred territory near the Ivy League would have born the name, likely named after the animal. However, as ages past, “cheshire” morphed into “cheshum”, especially amongst the poorer members of society, and taxonomists fruitlessly argue over the appropriate name of animal and region to the day. cheshum are very particularly adapted for life in the unmarred Library, and we can start with what was likely the namesake mouth. Like that of a frog, the mouth of a cheshum is wide, so wide that when it moves to yawn it looks as though the head’s been split in two. When the cheshum comes across likely prey, it pounces, arms first and claws barred. It then dispatches it (if necessary) with a bite, usually one is fatal, and then swallows the prey whole. Later on, the indigestible bits are regurgitated in a pellet as might an owl. Also of interest is its fur, over which it has great control. Minute muscles at the follicles allow the animal to sleek down its fur or fluff it up, or hold it in between with a degree of precision seen only in birds. This function seems to be key in temperature regulation, as air conditioner malfunctions can cause highly variable temperatures over the wide swathes of territory required by these animals.

6- Dial Mice

Small, hopping mammals descended from house mice, dial mice are common unmarred creatures, replaced by more conservative versions in saturated regions. They are notable for their long, colorful tails, in this species a light yellow, but in others greens, reds, blacks, and even iridescent silvers and golds. Dial mice require book dividers in their distinctive mating displays, raising their tails over the tops and waving them back and forth, hence their name. They become less common in areas without large, undamaged bookshelves, for they often have trouble finding places to display.

7- Shelf-heron

Perhaps the most supremely adapted animal to life in the sparse unmarred is the shelf-heron. The size of a cat, plump, and completely flightless, shelf-herons even have difficulty moving, borderline sessile. In becoming so they’ve managed to cut down on energy requirements significantly. But how then, does a shelf-heron even copulate? The simple answer is that they don’t. Shelf-herons reproduce parthenogenetically, and are totally female. Shelf-heron poults are quite mobile, and spend most of their short adolescence wandering far from their mother. Once they settle down, they begin stalking only a certain territory, then remaining in a particularly choice spot. Ambush predators, shelf-herons lunge forward and stab small animals that wander by. The digestive and excretory system of the shelf-heron works very efficiently, and most of any kill is in some way used or stored in the body. In their near-sessile lifestyles, another issue faced by Shelf-herons is predation. However, shelf-herons have three defensive strategies that generally translate into being left alone. When first threatened, shelf-herons let out a long, slow hiss. If this doesn’t deter potential predators, the shelf-heron reacts either by striking with its massive bill or by spitting a lipid packed, fulmar like fluid from special glands underneath the tongue. The fluid, which tastes and smells awful, remains pungent for weeks and is incredibly difficult to wash off. Generally, shelf-herons will be left well alone after releasing a hiss.

8- Wisewester sign

The solitary wisewester is a curious animal, and goes by many different local names, shelf-puller, howlie, boomer, gorilla, and half-man have all gained some traction in certain provinces. In fact a rodent, wisewester are large, perhaps man sized bibliodonts found sporadically in several habitat forms. As with many librarial animals, wisewester communicate through sound, and are the source of many of the odd howls, yodels, booms, shrieks, grunts, and whistles one hears. Their communications are quite complex, and some have wondered if there might be manlike intelligence behind their wide and expressive eyes. They walk on their knuckles and sport hefty claws, hinting they had tarasque-dwelling ancestry. Indeed, skeletal structure seems to indicate they may be close relatives of the diverse shelfclambers. Ambling along through the corridors of the Library, wisewester will often tear books off the shelves in search of prey items hiding there. As with most animals in the unmarred, wisewester are not picky when it comes to food, and have even been seen to eat Alphabet Beetle infested books, tearing off chunks and chewing them like a hunk of meat. Little else is known about the mysterious wisewesters, as they make a point of avoiding humans, one of the few predators they have to worry about (save creatures like turndemons). It is theorized (as the size of the ear corroborates) that wisewesters have exceedingly better hearing than people, and so can hear them coming and leave long before they arrive. As such, things like scattered books on the floor may be the closest any person gets to seeing a live wisewester.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few descriptions here may reference older posts, but only briefly and I believe none of them where problematic.
Edited by Little, Feb 17 2017, 09:21 PM.
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ATTENDANCE DROPS DRASTICALLY ON SE SERVER
This past Monday on Discord, famous server Speculative Evolution took a hit in the attendance office when it's offline member list suddenly reappeared. Mods scrambled to rectify the situation, but unfortunately there was little anyone could do. Server member Ivan was asked what he thought of the situation. "So long as Flisch, lord of machines and scion of Urborg lives, all will be well". SE, (in)famous for it's eccentric userbase, has recently been spiraling downward, and now we have hard conformation of the decline. Moderator "High Lord" Icthyander states "There is nothing to be concerned about, Discord is merely changing its UI again", but members are beginning to suspect the honesty of their staff.
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