So You Want to Come to Fenspace?

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(written by Herr Bad Moon, with commentary by Rob Kelk and SkyeFire; posted May 27, 2007)

June 17th, 2010
Location: In transit between Mars & Ceres

The time is 13:45 Zulu.

I was looking at the threads while eating breakfast this morning, and I've noticed I'm getting non-insignificant amount of traffic from Daneside, asking me all kinds of questions about where I've been. Woohoo and all that, more souls for my ever hungering cauldron of shadows is always nice. But it reminded me of something that I saw drinking Jazz with Perry a couple weeks back while we were docked at The Island. Some guy, obviously a tourist from the fact he gawked at everything and wore clothes that screamed “I am a 40ish upper middle class white collared marketroid peon for some huge multinational corporation trying to fit in among you crazies, treat me with the disdain I deserve,” was continually walking up to people and asking them questions, then inevitably irritating them enough they just yelled something and walked away. Eventually, he made his way over to our table and asked, somewhat warily now, where they had the girls who dressed up like Sailor Moon.


I won't print my response, but it's safe to say anybody who has read anything I have written or talked to me longer than five minutes can probably guess it was laden with flowery sweet endearments, cheerfully informing and educating this guy. I'm a big bag of hearts and lollipops that way.

Back to the point. It got me thinking, the first diaspora of humans into space is still well on its way and really showing no signs of stopping. But it also is now the case where there's enough infrastructure that significant numbers of people are coming up for purely holiday like reasons, and not planning on setting up shop on Starbase 1 or wherever. And because these people aren't Fen, there's gonna be some friction you always get when different cultures brush up against each other. So, to help acclimate these peeps who come up from dirtside, and because I needed something to write as nothing's going on, I've compiled a short guide on some common things you Danes should know before visiting us up here in the Black.

Jon's Easy Steps On How To Not Get Stranded On Top of Olympus Mons By An Unimpressed Fen: A Practical Guide
Odds are, you'll get your ride from some guy in his 'waved up Honda Civic for a free dinner at Panda Express. It'll probably remind you a lot of a taxi ride, only it flies and the driver's speech is just as stereotypically unintelligible, but it's not an accent as thick as tank armor muddying the waters. Oh no, this guy's speech seems to be English (or whatever language they speak at your homeland. My Americanized brain still defaults to English no matter how “worldly” I get), but it's so laden with jargon, idiom, and slang that he might as well be speaking Tagalog. Don't worry about what he's saying. All you need to know is the names of locations and how much pork fried rice it's gonna cost to get there, and that's pretty easy to get across. The other stuff is probably him just geeking out.

#1: Don't Panic:
Seriously, freaking out or otherwise wigging is not gonna do you any good and probably will cause you to make a poor choice in regards to speech and actions. Don't fall into this pit. You just keep calm and things will be 100x more likely to sort themselves out. We're mostly good people up here, so asking for help, even if it makes you look like a newb, is a million times better than trying to half ass your way through. That'll just make it infinitely more likely your whole ass is gonna get flamed by some Warsie with a chip on their shoulder and a lot of time on their hands.

#2: A Green Lantern Shirt Doesn't Make You Fen:
I've seen a lot of tourists try to fit in by dressing up how they think the Fen dress. It's embarrassing to watch. Don't be that guy. You're going to stick out, it's a fact. Your very posture and manner will betray your origins as if you wrote “I'm from Schaumberg Illinois!” on your forehead. So own it. There's no shame in being a tourist. Everybody has had a trip to Mt. Rushmore or Yellowstone. But be aware, that there are some Fen who will look on you with contempt. This stems from the fact that a lot of us were a somewhat maligned social minority back on Earth, and being in positions of social authority makes them giddy with vengeful triumph. Either they are too stupid to be aware of the irony of being abusers of power or are assholes who don't care. Either way, they're jerkfaces. Pay them no heed.

#3: Read the Fucking Manual
Before you come up, do a little research, huh? Maybe read a faq on the major factions, browse a little wikipedia, glance at a pamphlet. Something. One of the greatest sources of fubars is some guy not knowing the difference between a Trekkie and a Browncoat or something like that. Now, I'll be the first to admit the Fen can be daunting at times. There's a lot of factions, we all have our own peculiar foibles, and get our backs up if we precieve them to be under attack or slighted in any way. Again it comes from a lot of us not sitting at the cool table during lunch and wanting to avoid that again. So your best bet is to treat it like you're visiting a foreign country and be mindful of social taboos. And that's what we are really, another country (or twelve!) that sort of sprouted up in the span of a couple years.

#4: Don't Gawk at the Catgirls:
Come on now, this should be easy. Yes, there are factions with substantial numbers of members whose outfits are... provocative. Yes, there are a number of individuals who've been biomodded into various anatomically flattering animal-people hybrids or hair colors that came out of the 64 pack of Crayolas. Yes, they are frequently hawt like the Sun hawt. But don't leer at them like some frat boy at the gym. It's like nude beach etiquette. They're there but you don't pay attention to them, you go on with your business even if that Senshi's skirt could be classified as a belt in some nations. And no, I'm not just targeting guys. I've seen more than one multiperson pile up because some lady was staring at some Bishie's ass in leather pants and not watching where they were going.

#5: This Is Our Lives:
In a similar vein as #4, don't be a yokel and stand rooted in middle of a traffic lane while you take pictures of some hover dolly that is carrying drill bits for Rockhounds. With a few rare exceptions, we're not a TV show for your entertainment. We're trying to live our lives out here, and gumming up the works by being in the way is a surefire way to piss us all off. We don't come to your place of business and stare at you while you give the Q1 report to Ted from Accounting.

#6: It Better Be AAA Approved:
Stick to the reputable locations and guides. There's a lot of people with access to the 'wave and the common sense of a banana slug, not to mention those who are just shady. It will most likely end in tears if you try to cut corners here. They'll be yours. So if you want a tour guide, ask the Help Center on Stellvia or Kandor City or Utopia Planetia. They'll steer you to somebody who will be smart enough not to get you stranded on the moon Triton because they couldn't be bothered to read that Triton is full of ice geysers and parking on top of one is a maybe not so good an idea. You think I'm kidding, but I've made this pick-up.

#7: Have Fun:
Seriously, you're in friggin' space! How cool is that? Don't be afraid to show some enthusiasm. The average Fen will forgive a lot if you're actively being friendly and enjoying being out here with them. Don't be a moron about it, but being a tourist is about visiting the locales and living it up there. Do so, and you'll be planning your next trip for soon and not never. Maybe you'll even like it so much you'll move out here. Weirder things most certainly happen.

Well there you go. Follow these simple-to-understand words of wisdom, and you'll greatly increase your chance of not being a complete toolbox while visiting us. I'll set this off onto a permanent sidebar on the site, and edit it periodically if anything new comes to mind. Now, I'm off to play World of Starcraft. My level 70 Protoss Dragoon Headinajar needs him his a epic phase disruptor cannon. My Life for Auir bitches!

Last edited Sept 4th 2010

Reader Replies

Comment by Callisto
June 17th, 2010
13:45 Zulu

Everybody here aboard the Truth is well aware of the irony of JON writing a guide on how not to enrage various Fen. This from the guy who told a senior member of the Senshi during an interview about terraforming Venus that he'd view it as a challenge to his writing skills to work in “and then she fell over exposing her panties” every three sentences without seeming to repeat himself. He's a bit dim, but we love him anyway.

ps: Fuck Protoss, Zerg 4 Eva

Comment by Noah Scott
June 17th, 2010
14:07 Zulu

Even though there's a distinct lack of advice on buying as souviniers some of the ... interesting ... items the Professor makes, this is going to get laminated and mounted on the door of every hotel room in Stellvia.

Comment by anonymous
June 17th, 2010
17:57 Zulu

Dear Jon (no jokes, please), as a Scot (not a Dane, I want to make that clear up front (what do you lot have against Danes, anyway? I've always found them to be nice people)) who just recently returned to his ordinary workaday life from a mindbending vacation tour through the untamed, uncharted wildnernesses of the various Fen 'nations,' I have one thing to say first: WHY DIDN'T YOU WRITE THIS THREE WEEKS AGO?!?!?

<ahem> Sorry, had to vent a bit.

Still, after my own experience, I feel confident in saying that the bulk of your recommendations are the kind of common-sensical axioms that no person of even modest intelligence should have to be told about, but most of us do anyway. Fortunately for myself, I am an experienced international traveller on Earth (speaking of which, I'd like to offer my apologies as an Earth-dweller for my fellow Earth-dwelling blowhard (must have been a Yank of some sort, obviously) who opened your article), I found myself well-served by applying normal Polite International Traveler rules and walking more softly than normal (which was certainly made easier by the lower gravity maintained in so many Fen habitats :) .
Still, I feel motivated to jot down a few detailed bullet points regarding your rules list.

  • 1: Always good advice in general. But some guidance to how to contact the nearest consulate (or equivalent), for travelers in distress, would be well-added here. I realize such things are rare within Fen borders, but surely there must be some "professional roving diplomats" among the endless supply of cheerfully free-market mercenary Fen, licensed to act as consular contacts in areas deprived of typical diplomatic channels....
  • 2: Works both ways. I will admit to nearly reaching the end of my patience with individuals who kept cracking "beam me up" jokes at me after hearing my Glasgwegian accent. I realize most of them were probably in good fun, or even trying to invite me into friendly discourse, but at least a few were definitely laughing behind their glitter-soaked costume sleeves at the "dumb tourist." I *have* seen enough Star Trek to realize when I am being thusly mocked, thank you.
  • 3: Unfortunately, Frommer's has yet to publish any such guides. Then again, perhaps there is an opportunity here....
  • 4: In any unfamiliar culture, one should always be circumspect about approaching, eying, or speaking of local individuals in a context that is sexual, or might be interpreted as such. OTOH, let us be honest -- for individuals who place themselves so openly on display, they must be at least expecting, if not inviting, some frankly and openly appreciating glances, if nothing else. I *tried* not to stare, my word upon it, but... sometimes I was simply too shocked not to. Even so, I attempted to at least not make a drooling arse of myself. By my calculation, the instances where I was caught staring or just looking resulted in 3 cold stares, 4 measuring looks, 8 "mission accomplished" giggle-wriggles, and one rather exotic proposition (which, and responses to same, I would suggest well warrant an additional entry in your guide. Did I accept said proposition? A gentleman never reveals these things).

  • 5: In fact, I have such a quarterly report to deliver Thursday next, and frankly I feel that the presence of some of the Fen I met on my travels would liven things up immeasurably. So please, everyone, feel free to drop by. But, ah... please don't mention *I* invited you, eh? My corporate masters have had their senses of humor, irony, drama, and ridiculous surgically amputated (do you think Sector General might have a cure for this condition), and once you lot are all back flitting untouchably among the stars, I'll still be stuck within easy reach of their wounded vanity, and vengeance demanded by same.
  • 6: I could NOT agree more! As nice (or at least non-hostile) as the vast majority of Fen in encountered in my travels were, one must keep in mind that much of Fenspace is still an untamed frontier, and not nearly as safe as a stroll down to the chemist's, or driving one's lorry down to Edinburgh. Speaking of that pickup, Jon... might it have been, perhaps, seven months ago? A rotund German tourist of rather florid complexion? If so, I believe I may actually know the gentleman in question (small world-- er, solar system, eh?).
  • 7: Utter agreement. Now that I've done it once, I feel far better prepared to take the plunge again, this time better prepared (I'm going to bring my own towel). I expect my second foray will involved a much higher fun/gaffe ratio (now if I can just find that magical formula which makes catgirls and sailor ladies receptive....).