June 2nd, 2008

ozarque figure

Personal note; yesterday...

Yesterday was difficult here. First we had thunderstorm after thunderstorm after thunderstorm. Then, when I could finally turn my computer back on, the screen greeted me with a note saying "This computer cannot recognize this disk." I'm blessed with a husband who knows what to do about that sort of computer event, and everything seems to be working again, but for a few hours I wasn't at all sure what would happen. Only thirty percent chance of more storms today, and I am busily thinking positive thoughts....
ozarque figure

Cyberdragons; answering some questions...

In a comment, dteleki -- after pointing out, accurately, that from the beginning the cyberdragons have also been referred to as "dragons" -- asked a number of hard questions. I'm going to try to answer them below...

1. Can cyberdragons talk?

Yes, but only in a limited sense. They're programmed with the sort of vocabulary an average three-year-old human child might have, and with a very simple basic grammar that's heavy on pragmatics and politeness. That grammar doesn't allow them to complain or whine or threaten or in any other way use language that adults might find annoying or unpleasant.

2. If they can, what are they able and willing to talk about...

They aren't able to initiate conversations themselves and talk "about" things. Their linguistic competence is for the most part an ability to respond approriately when spoken to.

3. ... and what mental age do they appear to display?

The target mental age is three years. Owners are going to project their own perceptions, certainly, and some owners may decide that their dragons display a mental age of at least four or five, but the figure would never go higher than that.

4. Do they develop or mature mentally? ("Eleven years" suggests either they don't, or it's very slow.)

I don't remember the source of the "eleven years" reference; I don't question it, I just don't remember when or where it came up. If I said in some post or response that they develop to a perceived age of eleven years, that was a careless error on my part, and yet another example of why an author should always go back and check before answering questions. A central pillar of the cyberdragon cultural phenomenon is that the dragons always remain tiny-child surrogates.

5. Can a purchaser select or custom-order a specific mental age, or a specific personality or personality type? Or is it just the luck of the draw?

It's just the luck of the draw. And that's a deliberate decision on the part of the manufacturer.

6/7. Can a dragon owner choose to annihilate the personality of a cyberdragon, and start over with a new personality inside the same cyberdragon body? Can multiple cyberdragon personalities be swapped in and out of a single cyberdragon body, with most of them remaining in storage until they're wanted again?

No. And the very idea of doing such things would strike the society in that fictional universe as horrifying and twisted and unnatural.