A Brief History of Bigencenryin


On the 288th day, 11523, a brand new project, almost ten years in the making, was published. The work was called The Tale of Bigencenryin, and it was Pasaru’s first comic book series. This was a highly controversial series as well, because it has always been intended to be an experiment in literature most radical. The great experiment was to introduce a brand new element in literature that no one before thought was possible to be written into a story: the idea of a character.

It was almost immediately a popular hit, but its popularity is very lopsided: some loved it, but others found its new features distracting and superfluous. Even so, it managed to evolve into a mature franchise, and spawned a litany of successor works, as well as inspired an entire genre of works that take some but not all of its unique properties. Its innovation is inspiring enough for it to be hailed as a Great Work and preserved as such, but it was not popular enough to completely revolutionise literature as was known.

Although it seems rather silly to Earthlings, and most can scarcely believe such a central concept of a story can be absent for so long in the development of a civilised society, this is not really so much of a surprise once the observer learns about the context surrounding stories in Pasaru. The full story of stories starts from the very beginning of civilisation itself, wending its way through religion, referendums and treatises, but first, a little background on the world of Bigencenryin itself, as is tradition.


Like many franchises at the time, Bigencenryin is built mainly to please the authors and secondly to make a good and simple puzzle for the readers to think over. This means that not only is the content more in-depth than what Earthlings would have been used to, it also reads more like a textbook than a story. (More on this later.) Content-wise though, Bigencenryin and later its accompanying franchise is pretty bog-standard. As such, it gives an excellent opportunity to examine what a typical story in Pasaru looks like.


In the beginning, there was Onicleu.

And not long after, there was no longer Onicleu. It suffered a catastrophic failure, scattering its inhabitants far and wide.

That sounds a little bit of a depressing start to what is ultimately a pretty light-hearted series of comic books, so let’s back up a little.

Onicleu is (or was) your bog-standard planet, although at first glance to an Earthling’s eyes it may not look like that: it’s hot, it’s dry, whatever seas it has is brackish and lifeless, everything is in a none-too-pleasant shade of brown, the gravity is chokingly high, the air is thin and only breathable in the vaguest of terms, and above all it takes twenty minutes longer to make an ice cream than usual. As such, its inhabitants are noticeably much rougher and tougher, with all the ordinary trappings of evolution that allow them to survive in such a hostile planet. Noticeably the stronger gravity makes jumps a lot stronger, and the dominant species – buminredexu – even has a few proto-wings to help with that.

For however hostile the planet was to conventional life, however, buminredexu have made out of it quite well. They have had made a global civilisation with much contact between each of the nations, an excellent road, air and rail network, and even a mature space program that is capable of moving around the solar system and even do mining trips around it to boost Onicleu’s ailing resources. For the most part, all was well with the civilisation that buminrede have wrought.

Of course, as the reader undoubtedly knows, this did not last too long.

Those Who Are (blunhexu dlimen) are a mysterious force of nature that causes things to happen. The identity of Those Who Are are unknown to both Bigencenryin and Onicleu, but the reader and author both know that they are an indeterminate number of warring civilisations, whose battles tend to step over the recently-born civilisations of the world. They live, essentially, one layer of meta away from the story of Bigencenryin, and in the work itself they are treated as essentially a random event generator.

The reason why we bring up Those Who Are is that they are the ones who disrupted Onicleu’s existence. Some war or another caused, by means of a ludicrously-sized missile, to input the requisite 1033 J of energy required to overcome the gravitational binding of Onicleu. The missile was slow enough to allow early detection and evacuation, but not slow enough to allow research and development to actually stop it. So in the end, although casualties are low, the home planet was lost – absolutely.

In that moment of chaos, here were several ways out of the planet: firstly, you could run away to another planet in the system, but carrying capacity was (and to some extent still is) low and the they got overran fairly quickly. The second, and only other way, was to go through a highly experimental system that launched a capsule containing a family-sized crew somewhere at random at a ludicrous speed. This method was the method of escape to the gang that will later be known as the Zencuru Ulibeme.

Arrival in Bigencenryin

150 years later, Bigencenryin first noticed a strange brightening of the sky where Onicleu once was. It was like nothing they have ever seen before, and it corresponded to no known natural phenomenon, for reasons obvious to us but not them. Many found this unusual, but not particularly noteworthy, so life went on as usual, although maybe this time with a few more conspiracy theories than usual.

It did not take long for things to get wonky again. The brightening was shortly followed by some radio signals. It was unmistakably artificial in form, but no matter how much analysis was done, the code simply cannot be cracked. This led to a considerable amount of panic, but to allay claims of conspiracy, the governments of the world decided to publish the signals, in part to ask the world at large to see if they can do any better than their top men.

A couple of years later, that same spot started to get brighter again, and this time with a very noticeably blue tint to it. The light got brighter and brighter. This time the conspiracy theories really got underway, as did the various prophecies of the end of the world. As the months ticked by, the light got brighter and brighter, and it was clearer and clearer that whatever it was, it was moving right toward the planet.

Oh dear.

36 years later, late at night (as it always was) it landed in a remote field in the country of Bigencenryin,1 slowing down enough so that its crew can survive and that it does not turn itself into a missile. Landing within eyeshot of the most rural motorway in the island however means that they took several hours to be spotted, but when they were the response was quick. Risking the suicide cults, the terrorist attacks and the rampant sports commentators raising into a fever pitch in a situation already destabilised by the strange new star, the government announced that a hitherto unknown species of intelligent being had landed between J3 and J4 of the 3B corridor motorway.

Ascension into crime-fighting and no small amount of friction

After the usual pleasantries – “how are you”, “where do you come from”, “where are you going”, “why do you have so strong a pair of legs”, “do you like these fried noodles with slow-fired *pork” and so on – the immigrants slowly integrated into society. However, being starkly different from the rest of the population in such radical ways that they require such things as a pressure chambers for their homes, a personal trainer for an exercise regime, drafting up new flyways and other accessibility plans to help with their newfound flying abilities, and a couple of hastily-added kludges to the filing and census system, a lot of R&D needs to be done to accommodate them. That had made quite an impact to the economy, which promises quite a lot of return as it needs to keep up with the inevitable burgeoning of the population. It’s all good economic sense, and the nation soared in its businesses and finances as a result.

Nevertheless, the resources expended for all of the two or three hundred buminredexu might start looking like a little bit too much to your average citizen at the time. Some buminredexu think that they’re being patronised and some even think they’re to be treated much better because they have the power of flight and their hosts do not. This undertone of hate and fear simmered for a few months, and eventually came to a violent end in the course of over a week.

To make a long story short, what happened was that each species developed fringes. The first fringe that came out is the group that wanted the aliens out. This in turn sparked a counter-group that more or less wiped them out, but then didn’t stop, and this group is later known as the super-villains. In response another group of biminrdexu banded together with the local law enforcement to help not to become what is eventually called the Zencuru Ulibeme Uligre – the Allies (and Only the Allies) of Zencuru. (The position of Zencuru’s name in the name of the group is unusual, because most of the time group names have little to do with the names of its constituents. We’ll get to that later.)

Equilibrium and the Attractor

In the parlance, an attractor is a situation that typically attracts other situations to itself. It is the holding pattern of the franchise, and the action that happens most often.

In this case, the situation that eventually was settled into was stable if relatively uneasy, a state where many people still hate many other people and there are the occasional battles here and there but overall no one is hurt too badly for anyone to care and it just goes on like an interesting study in chaos theory.

Of course, just because not too many was seriously hurt by this doesn’t mean that no one was seriously hurt, and the infrastructure definitely took a hit over all the overpowered fighting that goes on. That gets rolled into the maintenance costs, and while the entire situation looks very much like a broken window fallacy deal, It did over the years spur on the development of stronger materials that can resist the scary damage that the buminredexu can output. Even so the sign that many motorists in Bigencenryin fear is the dreaded zencuru lenigime sign – “avoiding superheroes”, but more technically the battles they have and the damage they make.

And so, life goes on, and the bulk of the backstory ends here. There are some more history that goes on later, but this is the main backdrop behind which many of the comic books start on.


Not long after the original run, a major event occurred known as the Homecoming. It begins with the reveal of a new planet, known as New Onicleu, which is purportedly a new home to our refugees, who by now are already starting up the new generation. The debate now focuses on whether or not to repatriate the newcomers to the land in question.

Quite a lot of angst was produced, and there had been lots of well-documented debates and even a couple of simulations were run to see how life would be. However after all the deliberations it was decided that no move will be performed.

As so the situation turns out to be, it’s not at all a bad situation because further investigation has determined that there is an unknown threat that will ensure the new planet’s limited life. Overall it was hailed as a great victory of careful planning and attention to detail, even though some would have been happier seeing the backs of these super-powered individuals.

However, this led on to how the Z.-Ulibeme can continue to service the group while also thinking of looking for a new world to live in and not just the special rooms in certain areas of Bigencenryin clustered around the now-indisputable capital of the world (there’s another issue with regards to how Bigencenryin the country is hoarding all the super-heroes and therefore global power). This eventually leads into how the nation, and therefore the entire world, starts to move toward the space exploration and eventually planet-building.2 This new period eventually resulted in the rise of Bigencenryin into the space age, and hence implored the two species to discover who Those Who Are actually are – and whether or not they can stop them or not.

Publication background

Though the idea of a character seems to most of us as fairly straightforward, but as so it turns out this is not the case in Pasaru. In fact, before the publication of Bigencenryin, the world of literature has never once heard of this seemingly basic idea.

The literature history of Pasaru at the time is much more mature than the paragraph above gives it credit for. There had been many stories written before Bigencenryin and after it, and there are literary giants, scourges, unspoken rules and de facto standards, just like the literature we know here and now. The key difference here is that due to a severe difference in psychology, the internal valuation of a single individual who lives in this land, the kilis, is much less than the average inhabitant back on Earth, the humans. In general, this makes individual much less receptive to hearing the thrills and spills of others, especially if it is presented as a deliberate lie, which is of course what fiction is. So the individual has never arisen over the natural development of literature, which was the time when people don’t think above one level of meta and things were mostly devoid of feedback loops. We can go on forever about this, but it would take several thousand more words to explain fully the ramifications of the different psychologies that exist between the kilis and the humans.

The Story of fiction

In the beginning the only usage of language was to facilitate survival. this is awfully dreadful and boring, so in time people divided the use of language into three parts:

Fiction grew out of the last of these, but not before a strange precursor: religion.

Religious undertones

In retrospect this isn’t particularly surprising, considering that the whole idea of understanding oneself has a very deep connection with understanding one’s place in the world. In particular, how one comes to be, continues to be, and ceases to be. This is the perfect job for religion, at least as a first-order approximation.

Later developments demonstrate just how different these beasts are from humans. For instance, for the most part religions started out as being just-so stories, (and sometimes morally charged just-so stories, graduating to viral it’d-be-a-shame-if-you-don’t-believe stories at that) but later on someone had the brilliant idea of starting a religion that tells no lies by telling its believers absolutely nothing that it doesn’t know for sure. Others, realising that their stories wrote themselves into a corner, pulled a mulligan, decided that their stories don’t describe reality anymore, and said it outright to their followers. From the former group arose science and all its wonders, and from the latter group fiction arose.3

The earliest fictions really showed their (classically) religious ancestry by having a plot which involves a bunch of overpowered men running the show – a show that is in fact Pasaru, the world that the authors live in. These are very close to the Earthling conception of a god or a pantheon of gods but even then it was very clear that it’s not so much a pantheon as an entire city, or country, or even a whole planet – “other world” – of them running around meddling with Pasaru’s business. From there a little bit of random drift and a little bit of creative input from the descriptivist religions either whittled them away to nothingness or made them multiply into mundaneness.

Soon the proto-fictions/post-religions, otherwise named irrealis religions, proliferated and became more or less became the bread and butter of the world. However, although they sound a lot like modern fiction and for the most part can be read today as such, their religious heritage makes them markedly not so in their historical context. For instance, they are all that special type of religions that does not accept the existence of other religions, so readers of one story-or-religion only ever read that story-or-religion, and no others.4 And further to it is that they tend to have mysterious origins, with most of them having no author and the rest claiming to be “divinely inspired” rather than just being “written” by someone. Some of these properties will endure, and others won’t.

I, in the mirror

In the year +500, self-awareness started getting really meta in an event that sounded really goofy to most Earthlings, and the men of Pasaru started to delve into the wonderful world of feedback loops, people started analysing how literature was done by the ancients, and wondered about how they can use this to make better books. “Books”, or “stories”, in our case, to them, always meant creating an alternate reality that would pass some level of scrutiny by the reader. In fact, the reader has always had to take a much more active role in storytelling than on Earth; the philosophy is that while a story can be all within the mind of one, for the most part it would greatly benefit from collaboration and peer feedback.

A hundred years later the first treatise of fiction, simply titled Fiction, was published, outlining all of the properties of fiction mentioned above and marking the time when fiction and religion finally went their separate ways. Books started to proliferate in ways that has never been seen before, and increasingly authors own up to being authors of the story instead of claiming divine inspiration.

As mentioned before however, fiction never really became fiction as we know it because of its religious heritage, and one of the most important differences is that the closest equivalent to the character before Zencuru is a group of units with relatively little differentiation between individuals. This comes from the concept of pantheons, but rather than on Earth where pantheons in Western civilisations dwindle away to monotheism, in this case the pantheon dwindled away into infinity as members of a Star Race.

A matter of emergence

The beginnings of religion in Pasaru made it so that they are mostly polytheistic in nature, and from what we have learnt earlier about the history of fiction one immediately sees that it’s not implausible that characters can possibly not fall out of the equation. In the following sections we track how pantheons slowly gave way to the worlds they live in.

The Star Race and its decline

Perhaps one of the few commonalities that all religions share is a pantheon, or a group of men with, essentially, superpowers. As religions slowly became fiction, the going trend is to add more and more of these gods together into the cast until their numbers swelled to that of a fairly large city. From there on it’s clear that this is not so much a pantheon, as a full race of special types. In short, a “star race”, with “star” in the sense of celebrity rather than a big ball of glowing gas.

As society develops in its own idiosyncratic way, people slowly got curious about how the world can possibly empower the Star Race to world-changing proportions. It seems like the species-wide intuition is that it is mostly the environment that shapes the fate of the units, and the choices that the units themselves are largely immaterial. Whether or not this is applicable to the civilisations of Pasaru, the conception makes it so that the stories moves away from what the Star Race has done and toward the world of the Star Race. Therefore, as we go up along history we slowly see the Star Race of each story becoming less and less of a focus, and in their stead is the Star World.

Later on simulation books started to pick up. These books detail the evolution of a world, and its countries (if there is any) and their interactions as a whole. While individuals are mentioned, they are in passing and there is rarely any opportunity to develop them. And so, with these books slowly becoming dominant form, civilisation as a whole avoided character analysis and just had world analysis in its place.

The World of Seven Individuals

However, this is not to say that individuals don’t get too much of a focus.

That’s not strictly true, but there had been quiet developments to individual analysis. In particular, there had been exploratory stories – after the treatise – where the “world” is in fact a circle of friends and the story is about how they are affected by outside forces. Further exploratory stories built upon this idea, and soon a small but substantial library exploring the idea of the Roving Band, as the concept is eventually called.

While this group never become very influential in the grand scheme of things, it did set the stage, and formed the inspiration of the final publication and creation of Bigencenryin.

Production process

The creation of Bigencenryin is very representative of the prevailing customs of the time, so it will be very productive to give an account of its creation and at the same time provide insight to the creative process of the citizenry at the time.


A world is hard to make, especially in the modern world where exacting detail is expected from authors. As such, the creator usually enlists helpers or co-authors to help. This means that Bigencenryin, being production-wise very ordinary, has a large team of creators behind it, not unlike how things on Earth are made nowadays by the big companies.

While it would not be very useful to readers to provide the name of the authors, as the average reader of this piece is unlikely to understand the magnitude of his achievements or lack thereof, the organisational structures of the thing is still helpful in order to see how the team is broken up and how they work with each other. It will also be useful to see how these groups come and go across projects. So this section will be about explaining the makeup of the Team Making Bigencenryin, how they work with each other and how they also work on other jobs.

Team Breakdown

At the top is the author, otherwise known as the creator, whose name is Luħradnikvut Beȝnrilzis from Jenvad.5 Jenvad has been known for quite a few other stories in the past, but they never have gotten much traction from society at large. He made some miscellaneous books, or worlds, all mostly conventional but a little heavy on the illustration side, and a bit light on the tables. He has always resented maths a little as a private prejudice and so have always hired creative teams to help with that, so he has excellent experience in that part.

Below him are the main working groups you would see in any two-bit book-writing programme: a maths group, a timeline group, a national defense and tactics team, the geologists, the biologists, the physicists, the alchemists,6 really, all the academic fields have some graduates that inevitably band together into these roving teams whose job is to advise authors on writing a world. There’s also artists, choreographers, language technicians and all those good stuff from the arts.

However, one new team is responsible for Bigencenryin, primarily from like-minded peers of Jenvad, is unique to the new comic book: character builders. This particular group works especially closely with Jenvad and in fact is not considered to be a working group but part of the circle of authors; however as multiple authors are not something that is particularly uncommon in the modern writing scene7 that’s not a thing that would make the book stand out in the end, although it does mean that Jenvad would, unlike earlier books, not be credited directly on the title.

Finally come the messengers who are the ones to relay information between working groups and the author. Jenvad, like most authors, fulfil this role sometimes, but the efforts of a single individual is never enough and others have to be hired. The relationship situation is complicated: some working groups have their own messengers that they keep around with, while other messengers are freelance and not tied to any particular working group. But in the end their job is simple: inform groups, move information, and occasionally act as guinea pigs – playing the role of interesting people lost in the corridor that are quizzed about certain plot points to see if a puzzle is too hard or too easy, and similar situations.

Formation and communication of the groups

When a book is being created, the author and his circle of friends come around to the jobs board and start hiring Working Groups (and couriers, who don’t count as a working group for some reason) to help make their/his book. This can take some time, and they are usually paid by the hour because working groups, by custom, work multiple jobs in the same period of time. This inevitably results in leakages of data from one story to another, but no one really cares particularly because, as the Grand Ethics Committee put it (although not in the same words), de minimis is a very stiff defence.

With all that said and done Team Making Bigencenryin would have amassed a total of one thousand units, which is by no means an easy amount of subjects to command and coördinate. As such the couriers also play a significant role in communicating and transferring details. Some of the messengers are in fact fully devoted to the project as opposed to only relaying messages back and forth, as is the standard. This ensures that everyone’s roughly on the same page as they proceed. To further affirm that the various details are right, one would also use meetings and a Big Board (later supplemented by computer technology) to ensure that everything is in the right place at the right time.

This means that internal consistency is more or less institutionally mandated. However, do not take this as a statement that all stories in Pasaru are well-organised or “plothole-free”, in whatever sense of the word. In the case of Bigencenryin, the well-known and conventional rules of causality is respected and utilised, but in other fictions this is not necessarily the case, and there had been stories that deliberately mess with causality, sometimes even in ways that are not self-consistent.

Publication and Ongoing Work

In any case, the story is slowly hashed out through these meetings, and slowly the final version takes form and is able to be published. After it has, Team Making Bigenceryin would continue to work on sequels for a while until Open Season is declared (typically within 40 years or so), when what is essentially the analogue to copyright expires and the rest of the population gets to work on the world as well. When that happens however the team still gets to add to the world, but in a reduced capacity as a great deal of work will have been done elsewhere.

This is the fate for Bigencenryin’s publication future at least, but this is not necessarily where all published fictions will end up. For instance, if the story is a one-off then it is possible that total authorial abandonment will come after Open Season, and even the commencement of Open Season can be and often is brought forward by authors wishing to rid their hands of the work. One fate conspicuous by its absence however is that the work would be forgotten. This essentially stopped being an option soon after people started cataloguing and discussing these things en masse, and it is a quirk of the brain of the kilis that anything that is discussed is permanently remembered. This can work to or against the author’s advantage, much like the reverse case…

Constructing the character

A more detailed read of the synopsis of Bigencenryin given above would show that at no point were the characters of the story ever explained upon, despite apparently being the novelty part of the story. Partially this is because of force of habit: for the most part such an introduction would suffice when it comes to describing stories. However this being a special kind of story that is specifically about the characters, it would indeed be a mistake not to talk about them at some length. So this section will do so, in the context of their creation.

General Principles

Each individual character is a world of his own.

What this means is that every individual character is understood as a system of related objects working together in vaguely related and possibly random ways. Like a world has its land and its inhabitants, a character has his body and his psyche. Both parts play an important role in determining how the character would respond to situations.

The conceptualisation of a character as a world analogous to a literal world of land and sky makes a large difference to how each character is portrayed. Like Bigencenryin, each character’s thoughts are traced out in excruciating detail – most of the time indicated with decision trees and graphs – and there is an overall unwillingness to take things as granted, so the decisions are revealed very slowly, with a single decision taking up a good few pages to resolve. To the Earthling eye this kind of ultra-low-level thinking process can get a little overwhelming, especially when the process is so detailed that the more major characters have their decision processes and terminal values spelt out explicitly in one of the book’s – comic books, may I add – literal dozens of appendices.

Because the character is a world, little emphasis is put on agency and self-determination; the characters are treated as little more than clockwork automatons that have the appearance of the typical reader but otherwise is completely devoid of personality and can even be considered to be entirely deterministic because of the explicit thinking processes that are outlined in the book. This is however not to say that they are completely logical; Characters are completely capable of violating logic with their principles and may make non-deterministic choices when their terminal values conflict, generating a lot of angst in the process. However, “deterministic-as-default” is the overarching principle.

This “character is world” thought will now be fleshed out with a couple of examples.

Zencuru and Clibinmre

At first, Zencuru was merely the self-styled leader of the Onicleu refugees. Slowly however the story shifts to focus on him more and more and that makes him the protagonist of the story. On the other hand Clibinmre was the primary dissenter of Zencuru and therefore makes perfect sense to be the antagonist.

The arrangement of pro- and antagonist is more or less an arbitrary choice made by the author; were he to decide differently – and he well might because this was decided by a coin toss! – Clibinmre might end up being the “good guy”. In fact it has to be said that there is nothing in the story that says that either character is good or bad; this is determined in-universe however because Bigencenryin obviously doesn’t like Clibinmre’s ideas on how they should be dealt with.

A schematic showing the difference between a human’s conception of a unit (a) to that of the kilis’s conception (b). Notice that (b) has much more internal structure than (a), with the mind (blue) and body (orange) occupying the same level of importance and the the mind itself analysable into different decision nodules (blue circles). On the other hand, the mind of (a) (different shade of blue) is not divisible, and is inextricable from the rest of the body.
A schematic showing the difference between a human’s conception of a unit (a) to that of the kilis’s conception (b). Notice that (b) has much more internal structure than (a), with the mind (blue) and body (orange) occupying the same level of importance and the the mind itself analysable into different decision nodules (blue circles). On the other hand, the mind of (a) (different shade of blue) is not divisible, and is inextricable from the rest of the body.

Zencuru and Clibinmre are therefore while important in the story strangely interchangeable with each other. But because they are so important, they got the appendices in the book that detail their reactions to every single thought that has or will ever appear in their heads, and in a way it’s not so much Zencuru or Clibinmre are actual units but are rather a bunch of algorithms and bodies that synthesise to make up a unit. In the mind of the author, there is no difference between these two things, but Earthlings tend to view units as, well, a unit – indivisible, unanalysable,8 and definitely not made up of an algorithm and a body (at least, not just that). When we talk about Zencuru doing this or Clibinmre doing that, what we are really talking of is that the algorithms that hold their name are reacting to this or that (and sometimes the body comes into play as well).

So in the end, who are Zencuru and Clibinmre and what are their raisons d’êtres?

Zencuru is the sort-of-protagonist of the entirety of the Z.-Ulibeme, and he was the head of the refugee spaceship, although that doesn’t really mean much. His primary motivation is to adapt to the place and live with the locals, and a couple of his terminal values are:

Whereas Clibinmre’s terminal values9 are closer to:

The specifics are not particularly important, but what is important is that these things are spelt out in the appendix. Furthermore, the discerning mind can easily see trouble spots where the values conflict with each other. There are reams and reams of this kind of thing, and whenever a major decision needs to be made in the story the decision paths are followed, step by step.


As for the others, a good bulk of them don’t get appendices showing their every thought, at least not at first. Books published later expand on them later on, and an entire anthology of thought processes was published as a separate book not too long later. There really is a strong fixation on the whole thing.

As with most “units” of the time, characters are stuck to a location, heavily associated with that location, and are rarely shown outside of that location. However, the special part about them is that unlike units in contemporary fiction, they are recycled.

What that means is that unlike other stories where a unit is simply a tool, a means to an end that is meant to do one thing and one thing only, Bigencenryin reuses its characters so they do more than one thing, and amazingly instructs them to do more than one thing at the same time. This means that the cast is generally smaller but more tight knit. Don’t confuse this with any sort of characterisation however; for the most part the overriding factor is again the location that the character sits in and not any kind of “personality” that the unit possesses.

For instance, there’s Dibunme, the constable of the Bigencenryin Police Group. It’s not surprising then that he only ever appears in the Grand Security Hall, and there’s never a time when he doesn’t appear at least some of the time in it, even if it is just to detail the 80-minute, 20-station commute10 from there to the Zencuru residence. Or to his home. However, although he’s virtually married to the Grand Security Hall he has far more than one duty other than as an information dispensary, as he would have been were he part of another story.11 For instance, he is invaluable for providing extra detail in solving the various mysteries that the Z.-Ulibeme are inevitably tasked with, but he is also the one who acts as a liaison between them and the rest of society. He too has some internal desires as well, which can – and do – interfere with his stated purpose as an information dispensary.

However, do keep in mind that although they have some limited form of agency and much more personality than usual, they are still considered in the grand scheme of things as merely the “animate factor” of a story, which is basically a more-or-less random number generator that influences the story in a “biological manner”.12 As such their personalities are still severely limited and in fact there are very few ways for a character to feel happy or sad apart from things happening in accordance to or in violation of their terminal values.

Continuity is King – Verboden te Retconen

If you know a lot about Earthling comic books, one very defining part of them is that the authors – of which there are thousands, spread across many time periods – keep, as a collective, writing themselves into a corner. What’s worse, society changes around them so that to stay relevant and popular, they have to essentially restart the story over again in order to break new ground. Usually this comes with a new style (art, writing, clothes), a new thing from real life that can be incorporated into the story, or maybe it’s just to explore the characters in a new direction (usually away from comedy and toward drama).

In Bigencenryin, brought up in the world where continuity is king, this will never do.

Every single event must be able to be placed in a timeline with all the date arithmetic13 checking out exactly. Furthermore there are no take-backs: everything must be explicitly excluded from the timeline outright (but it still must follow its own timeline strictly, or else define itself a brand new metric of time where the difference between (say) March 1 and March 15 is −3 days!) and if something was published that the authors regret, then tough, it’s staying and it’s there for good. However, this isn’t as nasty as it sounds, because the environment these books are published in are very different from what you would expect from Earth:

Essentially a combination of reader expectation and slow pace of life made a vast and sprawling continuity that lasts entire billions of years entirely possible and entirely expected. The very idea of scrapping it all and starting over, or even scrapping a middling portion and starting over, is simply too much for readers to bear. This is also why as (real) time goes on the story expands to completely unrelated times and places that have increasingly tenuous links to the first story. And this is as true for Bigencenryin as for any other story.

In the end though a fixed timeline would have an end, since it’s no longer “fight the Evil Force(s) and/or react to changing situations until further notice”, even with the addition of a brand new puzzle type in the form of “let’s predict how this algorithm of a character will react to next” it can only really go so far, and the story has to end somewhere. So it does, and the story is retold, exactly as is, in another viewpoint. In the meantime, and to extend the longevity of the franchise, the holding pattern of “find whatever trifling detail that readers want and expand everything about it” came to be. This isn’t as boring as it sounds because almost universally a good story writing team would have at this point set enough constraint into the world that the justifications are going to be sufficiently complicated and interesting for the readers to chew on.

In conclusion, a complete franchise reboot is unlikely in the current literary climate and has never happened with Bigencenryin, or in fact most stories that it is contemporary with. Instead of starting the story over again, the franchise is willing to retread old ground and explore different sections of the timeline, because, after all, if you’re not starting from the beginning of the universe (be it scientific or otherwise) then you’re not telling the whole story.

Box and Vector: Far From Realism

So we’ve talked a lot about how the book is made, and how a franchise’s life cycle ends up being, but there is still the important question of what the book looks like. As stated earlier, Bigencenryin is a comic book, which would mean that most of the story is expressed in the form of a series of pictures with dialogue in speech bubbles. This turns out not to be too far from the truth, but there is a significant difference that anyone would be able to see from the outset.

The art style is extremely simplistic.

There’s no two ways about it: Not only is it abstracted and symbolic, it’s also got a specification rather than a style, and most of the time any given situation would only have a handful of right ways of handling it, if not just one. This specification is, with few exceptions, strictly adhered to and allows anyone to imitate or avoid the style as is necessary.

Specification Summary

The most visible style of the specification is that for the most part, all pictures involving units consists of arrows. “Arrows” here of course consist of a sense, indicating the start of the arrow, and a shaft, which extends out to the destination. As with Earthling arrows, the height of the arrow represents the height of the character, with the arrow’s sense – origin – being at its feet. The arrow’s sense also, via its shape, size and colour, indicate the identity of the character.

Other things sometimes adorn the vector to identify them. Most notably, up to three letters14 can also be used to identify a character as well as its sense. These two ID markers are independent of each other and redundant; either can be removed and the other can still fully identify each other.

Why have two redundant methods of identification? Because for some other pictures a wide-angle view is desired, where the size of the character is not important. In this mode every character as well as certain other small things are represented as single dots on a grid, and large objects are boxes. Their motions are indicated by arrows with plain senses but in various colours to emphasise their different meaning.

The redundancy is not lost on the authors and illustrators; often only one of the two identifiers is used in any one illustration, although which one tends to be used depends on some slightly complex factors. For instance, if there are status codes written next to the character, then generally it is the arrow’s shape that does the identification, whereas when a character is in the focus shot, the letter code is used, sometimes even adorned with a (potentially decorated) box.

There are exceptions to this abstracted style. Establishment shots are always done in photo-realistic style, as are concluding shots, picture that show the summary of the end of a scene, though for some reason either individuals are left as arrows and not as shapes. Ostensibly this was a stylistic choice, but there were rumours, later confirmed in a memoir, that this is because no one on the team had any idea what the individuals look like.


Supposedly, for a civilisation that’s so strong on imagery, photo-realism seems like a no-brainer. So what caused this to happen?

The main problem is simple: the group doesn’t seem to be able to decide what new characters should look like. This has scarcely been a concern for earlier groups because for the most part, earlier individuals are fungible: their exact appearance is not only unspecific but also completely irrelevant. When characters come into the equation, suddenly this is not the case. The main problem is that it is impractical for everyone to look the same, so to solve this problem a few solutions were fielded and applied in turn.

The first suggestion was, of course, to simply use the names of everyone and have them (the names) float awkwardly on the top of the figure that represents the object. As you can imagine that idea stuck all the way out to the finish line. It was then thought that this creates a new and interesting way to mix abstraction with realism, but this was a post-hoc rationalisation of the initial project.

With that in mind, all that is needed is to formalise what is meant by an illustration, which is the beginning of the style book. Being staunch descriptives, no restriction was made on the formatting or the grammar of the text, but a lot of concern was brought up regarding way that items or object should been drawn in the abstract style that the picture was made. The specification was itself a dedicated undertaking, with an entire crew behind it and its own special meetings and tax heading.

It still happened faster than the main story though, and in the end the style guide was completed in a quick order of about half a year (1½ seasons). The guide was later reused even for future franchises as well as parodies of Bigencenryin.


Upon publication, the critics were amused and excited: excited because this brought something new to the table, but amused because it doesn’t exactly fill its stated purpose. It wasn’t much of a success commercially, but there’s enough hoopla about it to give it a continued existence in its own none-too-small niche.

The Sceptics Vindicated

With every world that is published comes a statement of purpose: A book that explains and makes clear what the author means, or what the thought processes the author has, when explaining every little bit.

This book has several uses: with it readers can sometimes “read around” the intended path and maybe even make a halfway intelligent extrapolation about alternate histories. Also such a book would allow the author to get out of hairy situations where a bunch of rabid critics – largely hated by the authors – to arbitrarily accuse the authors of trying to bring about the end of the world.15 To us though the important part of this statement of purpose is to give an account of the thought processes and motivations of the author as he writes the work in question.

Book reviewers, known as arbitrators, read this statement of intent and evaluate whether or not the work has followed that statement. They’re largely unrelated and unaffiliated with each other, like book critics here on Earth, and are subject to much the same flaws, such as biases toward consensus, bias toward a high score and the inherent uncertainty that subjective opinions have. Nevertheless, for things like these where opinions don’t matter so much a little natural spread of subjectiveness is not considered harmful and so is tolerated.

In this case, the consensus is that the book didn’t live up to its promises, but this isn’t at unexpected as it is a pioneering work. A choice quote from one of the earlier reviews follows:

This new work, Bigencenryin, does indeed have grand ideas, but it has many of the flaws that first-time authors and their first-time work with first-time modifications to the normal storytelling paradigms. The new “characters” have the opportunity to provide unique insight to how we behave under various (unlikely!) situations; however concern is reserved over how the usage of such characters will affect judgement and opinions in an unknown and potentially hazardous way.

Basically, the arbitrators are interested and even like the idea, but find it has some very tricky complications and unintended consequences and unfortunately Bigencenryin fell into quite a lot of the traps, or at least left them unanswered.

The art style on the other hand is more or less universally beloved, with many praising the inclusion of photorealistic graphics and also incorporated the trademark abstracted styling that books at the time seem to always have. Indeed, it has sparked something of a trend that later books have sought to emulate, characters or not. According to the book census of 11530 the amount of illustrations rose from 15 per 12 k*wd16 to almost 40, and the proportion of illustrations that are diagrammatic dropped from virtually 100% to just under 80%. Indeed, this art style, being almost immediately amenable to reproduction in the now-mature moving pictures industry, was picked up by them, and so Bigencenryin also picked up another world first: the first franchise to move into the cinema.

The film adaptation is extraordinarily faithful (by Earthling standards anyway), and as a result took a long time to complete and to verify that it is so (again by Earthling standards; this being the first iteration it sets its own standard for its contemporary.) Being the first to make the transition the critics have little to say other than that it managed to emulate the original very well.

Fate of the Comic Book

Although the art of Bigencenryin is much appreciated, it is forever associated with the alien concept that is the character, so its usage remains limited. In a way, the two become inextricable the moment the reviewers got to it; the public, being largely unable to comprehend that two innovations can occur in the same work, assumes that the two must be related in some way. This means that books with mostly or all photos or diagrams tend to become character-based affairs in other, otherwise unrelated franchises.

The end result is that rarely one will appear without another, and like on Earth the pair became relegated to an affair of the youngsters, but for noticeably different reasons: for the children in Pasaru, it is extremely valuable to show that the framework of fiction can be extended in unexpected ways, which hopefully inspires future generations to create more unusual things. Perhaps one of the more interesting results directly attributable to this education is that the author of Living Forces (11566) explicitly says that Bigencenryin is the inspiration behind his novel idea of having First Class Plots – plots that are tangible objects in the story that vie for their own resolution in the overall story.

Where there is an original, there are derivatives, and no less than five other franchises came to be. Apart from Bigencenryin, there is also Wotsi, Îmharad, Tardodefnenv, Weshi j coren and Nnn Pee, Nnn Pparrr, each one with its own host of zencuruxe. On occasion they may meet, but this must be done in a very strange ritual17 and the outcomes aren’t particularly interesting, at least not at this level.

The idea of character fiction has also created a new field of study: experimental literature. Although the idea of extending the pattern that stories weave is not a new one, exactly how one does it is extremely hard, since it involves no small amount of imagination, a quantity that’s somewhat scarcer in the lands of Pasaru. Though it is a small player in the grand scheme of “inventing new things to improve the world”, it is still notable for being one of the early pioneers and demonstrators of how strong imagination can be.

  1. The planet, the country, the island, the city and the language are all called the same thing. This is confusing, but that’s how it worked out.

  2. As you can see, the Bigencenryin franchise is not afraid to go so far as to simulate events that at first blush seems to be quite removed from the superheroes.

  3. The fate of religion itself is largely irrelevant after this point, but in summary a significant number of religions went on business as usual until the events following the discovery of self-awareness pressured all but at most six of them into giving up any pretences of being relevant to the world they inhabit and reformed themselves to describe alternate histories (or fan-fiction!) of Pasaru instead. Up until the events of Zencuru they are still immensely popular, though most religious units of Earth would find it almost unrecognisable as a religion, no matter how liberal their ideas may be.

  4. Meanwhile the other branch of religion that split off, named the descriptivist religions, only kept the “religion” part of their categorisation for raisins most hysterical, and is essentially protoscience at this point. As such they don’t participate in much of the weirdness that irrealis and classical (normative) religions have with each other, and in fact most descriptivist religions slowly became interdependent on each other as they begin their long march toward becoming science.

  5. The name syntax is the normal one in Pasaru, but it’s not exactly one commonly seen on Earth so here’s a quick primer: “Luħradnikvut” is the “given name” of sorts, “Beȝnrilzis” is the “last name” (which may or may not coïncide with a family name) and “Jenvad” is a “tribe name”, typically a town or city name but not always. If there is a need to abbreviate the name, the tribe name is the one that gets first priority, not the given name as is standard in most Earth places. This also shows that this is an integral part of one’s name and isn’t something optional that speakers add on to differentiate from each other after the first two names.

  6. Read “nutritionists”, because that’s what they are now.

  7. Of course on Earth multiple authors are bread and butter in the non-fiction department, but in Pasaru this is also true for the storybooks as well, and the number of primary authors/idea generators can be frighteningly large. Once an entire family of twenty collaborated together and formed a world exploring the implications of a world where food is evenly distributed not just in transport but in the very soil itself.

  8. To be fair, few would think that units, viz humans, are unanalysable. What is meant here is that the going theory with human characters is that you can only really analyse them by asking them questions. Here however we take the extra step of composing an algorithm for them and using that to attempt to predict their future movements. Essentially, determinism.

  9. We’re playing with the terms a little fast and loose here, but essentially these are the things that make the subject happy for no reason other than them having been occurred.

  10. A detailed explanation of how characters get around comes hand-in-hand with the description of the lay of the land, and in this “modern-style” story things like transportation and mass transit are not going to be missing – it’s simply considered far too vital to any story.

  11. The idea behind an information dispensary is that it’s the source of some of the conflict behind some part of the story. It’s quite simple: it knows something, others do not, others wish to know the thing, conflict arises.

  12. The definition of doing something in a biological manner is that it is done by something that cannot be scrutinised in a physical sense. Basically, they are things whose motivations cannot be answered with a simple “because” then a phrase.

  13. For any self-respecting Team there is a Working Group that crunches the time differences and works out the date arithmetic for the rest. This group eventually grew up to be the programmers and database interface as information technology entered the storytelling scene.

  14. The comic book is written in B.-Çendre, which utilises a syllabary: one glyph, one syllable. As such, three letters have the expressive capability of three syllables. A happy coincidence is that for the most part names in Bigencenryin are trisyllabic: Zen-cu-ru, Go-bi-dri, Gu-u-en, Cli-bin-mre. So often the three-letter code is just the unaltered name. For those with not enough syllables, the letters are filled in with echo vowels; for those who have too many syllables, the first two and the last syllable is chosen, unless that causes a name collision, in which the defaulting behaviour is complicated.

  15. Not necessarily a literal end of the world but definitely a major, catastrophic change that would be harmful to a large portion of the world, or promote Harmful Opinions that Must Be Stopped At All Costs.

  16. The star-kiloword (k*wd) is equal to 1728 wordlets in E.-Pasaru.

  17. Because the World is Sacred, none of the original lands can carry everyone at the same time. When a crossover is proposed all Worlds involved must excuse their animate factors (be they individuals or entire countries) and place them in a special world just for their making. Sometimes these worlds are specially made for the occasion and may never be used again, but there are also worlds that are built for this purpose and can be used over and over again. In any case it goes like this:

    • Animate factors exit home World and enter the crossover world.
    • Things happen there.
    • Animate factors return to the home world.

    Of course, if it is so that animate factors can appear in multiple Worlds at the same time and that is justified in some way, then the excusing doesn’t have to be.