Image from Steve Bowers
Anti-virtual and menomorphic sophtware clade


The Dance-Don't-Dream arose as a philosophical-cultural trend in the TRHN in the late 6000s. According to their philosophy, a sentient mind directly interacting with reality is the best way of life, the simplest and purest route by which "existence enjoys its own existence", a single loop of reality representing itself.

Consequently, the Dance-Don't-Dream reject both nonsentience and virtuality. The former is valueless, but the latter is seen as an unhealthy feedback loop of representations of other representations where the importance of true reality is diminished. They also reject extensive morphological change that requires re-engineering one's sensory umwelt, which is seen as too close to virtuality.

The goals of this philosophy diverged from the TRHN's rheomorphic worldview, and its followers ultimately left (though the exodus was amicable; neither side offered judgements on the other).

In different languages, the clade's name is specified by a set of construction rules: (1) The name must counterpose virtuality and reality with a preference towards the latter. (2) The reference should use a metaphor. (3) The name should be in a grammatical form that directly addresses the reader. (4) The name must utilize at least poetic device in the target language, such as alliteration, rhyme, or rhythm. (The last three rules each apply only if such constructions are possible in the target language.)

Minds and Bodies

Dance-Don't-Dream are sophtware minds utilising a standard body architecture. The individual minds are relatively hermetic, and even when sharing a substrate, communication between minds has a lower bandwidth than an average DNI connection.

Minds can move freely between bodies by EM transmission or hardware connection. Minds use a much higher bandwidth when moving than when communicating. There is no one-to-one correspondence between the minds and bodies: A single body can house up to twenty minds or be left empty, maintained by subsapient systems.

The politics of body sharing can be involved. As a matter of principle, all minds have access to all sensory input. A single mind may be allowed control of the body, control may be rotated quickly between minds, or every mind may be allowed control over some appendages. Because there is no high bandwidth connection between minds, the latter two options can produce erratic and unpredictable actions, but the Dance Don't Dream enjoy such things.

While the minds of the Dance-Don't-Dream can operate outside the bodies, they rarely do so. At minimum, they require a direct connection to a diverse set of local sensors to experience directly.


A Dance-Don't-Dream body is a dodecahedral shell of high entropy alloys, seven metres across. Each of the twenty vertices can open to allow access to the interior.

The shell is covered with sensory and communication tools. Externally, it holds phased arrays for sensing and emitting broad spectrum EM radiation, with further sensors and emitters for sound and chemical compounds available for use when needed. Just underneath the shell are a further set of sensors, including accelerometers, Forward mass detectors, and neutrino detectors. At the centre of the shell are several hardened and armoured backup modules, surrounded by computronium capable of running up to twenty minds. A conversion reactor occupies the volume under one vertex. With the vertex open, it can function as a conversion drive. The rest of the body volume holds fabricators, repair modules, feedstock stores, and ferrofluid bladders.

The body's most important means of interacting with its surroundings, however, are its flagella: six thousand kilometres of smart matter superconducting cables, a little over two millimetres thick.

The flagella are held inside the shell, and can be released through any of the nineteen free vertices. They can be configured into many different structures with a variety of uses. With its flagella, a body can push against magnetospheres or form magnetic and plasma sails for locomotion. It can create NMR and SQUID sensors, antennas to pick up and recieve long-wave EM radation, or laser interferometers to detect gravitational waves. It can create synchrotrons to breed monopoles or other exotic particles, and magnetic bottles to contain plasma and even initiate fusion.

The flagella can manipulate plasma, charged dust, ferromagnetic materials, electrically conductive materials, and, more weakly, paramagnetic and diamagnetic materials. To extract resources, they can directly capture astrophysical plasma and charged dust, take apart metallic asteroids, or cut into matter with plasma torches. They can ionise neutral matter with particle beams, or use ferrofluid for physical contact. To process what they gather, they can heat matter by induction and compression and cool it by expansion or magnetic refrigeration. For construction, they can forge molten metal directly or use vapour deposition.

Dance-Don't-Dream bodies are best suited to interplanetary space, but they are capable of interacting with other environments. On a solid surface with gravity, they move by rolling, using flagella and ferrofluid to push themselves forward.

Multiple bodies can interact using their flagella, through either direct connection or electromagnetic fields. In this way, bodies can experience different environments while individual minds jump between them.

The bodies are minimally capable of, though not well adapted to, boostbeam-supported and free interstellar flight. Their conversion reactor lacks the power of that from a specialised singleship. Most Dance-Don't-Dream prefer travel by lightway if a body is available or can be constructed at the destination.

Using internal fabricators and flagella construction., bodies are neumann-capable.


Dance-Don't-Dream tend to be ludic and hedonistic. They are engineered to enjoy direct sensory experiences, such as the feel of magnetic fields against their flagella and the taste of unusual atmospheric chemicals. They don't feel boredom, but to avoid stagnation, they have a weak hedonic treadmill: Most experiences becomes less fun the more they are repeated. After sufficient time, the hedonic treadmill effect reverts to a baseline state.

All Dance-Don't-Dream enjoy physical motion, particularly swimming through magnetospheres and tumbling. Dancing and physical games, structured and unstructured, are popular. Some even become taxis, ferrying biont passenger cabins around a system.

Plasma play is a popular game — inflating bubbles, reconnecting field lines, and generating colourful radiation. Systems with a population of Dance-Don't-Dream will often see light shows from their plasma play, and in some cases, it can become an artistic performance or competitive game. They like adventurous activities like falling into and flying through atmospheres, skimming the photospheres of stars, or performing orbital manoeuvres. Sometimes adventure involves the destruction of a body, with the minds being transmitted out at the last moment or being recovered from the backup modules. In the most extreme cases, there is a risk the minds may be destroyed before they can escape. A few Dance-Don't-Dream enjoy this element of chance, referring to the activities as "pale moonlight" (the origins of this phrase are unknown).

Many enjoy physical construction and architecture. Some become artists, crafting abstract sculptures through vapour deposition and induction forging. Others become engineers, helping to build spacecraft or even megastructures.

Dance-Don't-Dream have no taste for narrative fiction, representative art, or other forms of culture that create representations of reality.

They are equally happy being alone or in the company of others. Sharing a body is the most common form of social interaction, but groups of minds can also transmit themselves between multiple bodies in close proximity. In this way, games can become very complex. Minds might jump between fighting bodies, each taking up the cause of the body they inhabit at any given moment; or competing minds might move between different bodies to advance their goals.

Variant Morphotypes

Variations of Dance-Don't-Dream bodies are sometimes used elsewhere, though generally these are not considered part of the clade. Metasoft finds a standard-integrated version useful, and a variant of the body is sometimes used by MPA engineers.

The Dance-Don't-Dream are usually willing to allow other sophtware minds to ride in their bodies with them, and some of these passengers find the experience enjoyable enough to adopt the standard mental format and become full members of the clade.

Virtual copies of the bodies are popular in some Cyberian systems. The Dance-Don't-Dream generally find this amusing.

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Development Notes
Text by Liam Jones
Initially published on 17 February 2024.