Pilman: Imagine a picnic. Picture a forest, a country road, a meadow. A car drives off the country road into the meadow, a group of young people get out of the car carrying bottles, baskets of food, transistor radios, and cameras. They light fires, pitch tents, turn on the music. In the morning they leave. The animals, birds and insects that watched in horror through the long night creep out from their hiding places. And what do they see? Gas and oil spilled on the grass. Old spark plugs and old filters strewn around. Rags, burn out bulbs, and a monkey wrench left behind. Oil slicks on the pond. And of course, the usual mess — apple cores, candy wrappers, charred remains of the campfire cans, bottles, somebody’s handkerchief, somebody’s penknife, torn newspapers, comic, faded flowers picked in another meadow.

Noonan: I see. A roadside picnic.

Pilman: Precisely. A roadside picnic, on some road in the cosmos.

Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

’’Excession’’ is a term from a novel by Ian Banks, and the title of that novel. It refers to an ‘’outside context problem’’, as defined in that book. In essence, it’s a threat that there was no way for anybody in the world to have ever predicted, a threat against which it was impossible to prepare, and indeed a threat against which no knowledge could possibly have availed.

In the parlance of 2077, the term “excession” applies to things that don’t belong in our reality, things for which physics has no explanation. There’s certainly a physics that apply to them, and they certainly play by rules, but for our purposes they are outsiders. Among them are the functional excessions, but there are worse things. Fortunately, most of those worse things are not in this world. There’s a lot of money hoping they stay that way.

Possible Points of Excessive Intervention

There are several moments at which it’s believed excessions had impact on the world. Many people point to the Tunguska explosion, but that’s unlikely. Indeed, the major excessive events mostly date to pre-history, and the major sources of information on them are SFS.

SFS point to a major event in the Late Pleistocene that is the most profound event on human development. According to them, excessive intelligence intervened on the developing human species, generating organization and order and manufacturing no fewer than five haplogroups, manufacturing arcane potential within human biology. According to SFS, the purpose behind this was to bend humanity towards providing excessive intelligence with access to resources from our world.

This is a bit chilling, as it states that human civilization occurs because alien intelligence wanted us as the sacrificial lambs for their own purposes. This doesn’t seem to register as particularly important to most people – it doesn’t matter to most people how we are an organized society, it matters what we plan to do as a society.


Death may Die Pneumonica Pneumonica