History AwesomeButImpractical / Literature

1st Jan '17 1:51:21 PM Kakai
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* At the end of ''Literature/{{Edgedancer}}'', Lift uses her newfound ability to manifest an AbsurdlySharpBlade from thin air to create a fork. She soon realizes that there's a very good reason kitchen utensils don't strive for AbsurdCuttingPower.
25th Dec '16 8:51:24 PM PlasmaTalon
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** Double-sided lightsabers have shades of this, as discussed in ''Literature/DarthBane''. Despite its impressive appearance the weapon has a number of obvious drawbacks. For starters its advantage of having more options is an illusion. The second blade greatly obstructs the user's movement, limiting them mostly to swings while making other moves harder. Requiring specialized training and a lot more stamina than a regular blade. The enlarged hilt is also an easy target for enemies. The weapon's real advantage comes from how little most know about it, and thus these weaknesses. Anyone who is familiar with the weapon can easily exploit these weaknesses.
6th Dec '16 3:05:43 PM Nentuaby
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** Several books treat [[FrickinLaserBeams blaster weapons]] this way. The plasma/laser bolt of a blaster technically does more damage than a rifle bullet, but it's slower and brightly-visible. Blasters are also said to foul up in bad terrain, like swamps, almost instantly, while your trusty [[BoringButPractical slugthrower]] won't stop firing until you throw it under a tank tread. The prevalence of armor-piercing blasters also made body armor much less common throughout the galaxy, with armies favoring lightweight uniforms so troops could move faster; this is the exact kind of target slugthrowers excel at fighting. Most of all, though, blaster bolts can be deflected by a Jedi's [[LaserBlade lightsaber]], but [[MugglesDoItBetter slugthrower bullets can't.]]

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** Several books treat [[FrickinLaserBeams blaster weapons]] this way. The plasma/laser bolt of a blaster technically does more damage than a rifle bullet, but it's slower and brightly-visible. Blasters are also said to foul up in bad terrain, like swamps, almost instantly, while your trusty [[BoringButPractical slugthrower]] won't stop firing until you throw it under a tank tread. The prevalence of armor-piercing blasters also made body armor much less common throughout the galaxy, with armies favoring lightweight uniforms so troops could move faster; this is the exact kind of target slugthrowers excel at fighting. Most of all, though, blaster bolts can be deflected by a Jedi's [[LaserBlade lightsaber]], but [[MugglesDoItBetter slugthrower bullets can't.]]]] ([[DependingOnTheWriter Other books emphatically do NOT treat blasters this way, of course.]] The bit about lightsabers not deflecting slugs is just plain not true in other works, for one.)
6th Dec '16 2:54:23 PM Nentuaby
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* In ''[[Literature/HonorHarrington On Basilisk Station]]'', Honor's [[CoolStarship ship]] was refitted with a shiny new weapon that could destroy the protective force fields on other ships. Unfortunately, it had a relatively miniscule range of about a hundred thousand kilometers, and required the removal of most of the ship's conventional missile and beam armanent, making it incredibly ineffective at typical combat distances of up to a few million kilometers. She manages to make use of it, but would have been much better off with the original BoringButPractical armanent. [[spoiler:Later books would reveal that her ship was intended to be a test platform for the grav lance, which was not supposed to be used in a real fight until enough of those issues had been worked out to make it more practical.]]

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* In ''[[Literature/HonorHarrington On Basilisk Station]]'', Honor's [[CoolStarship ship]] was refitted with a shiny new weapon that could destroy the protective force fields on other ships. Unfortunately, it had a relatively miniscule range of about a hundred thousand kilometers, and required the removal of most of the ship's conventional missile and beam armanent, making it incredibly ineffective at typical combat distances of up to a few million kilometers. She manages to make use of it, but would have been much better off with the original BoringButPractical armanent. [[spoiler:Later books would reveal that her Her ship was only intended to be a test platform for the grav lance, which was not supposed to be used in a real fight until enough of those issues had been worked out to make it more practical.]]practical-- but since it didn't turn out to even be promising in the wargames at the beginning of the book, the ship was ReassignedToAntarctica (along with its unfortunate commander) to save the Admiral responsible for it the embarassment of having it around. Of course it DID end up in combat, leading to the first of MANY ReassignmentBackfire moments for Harrington.
4th Dec '16 1:28:41 PM Bissek
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** Once missile pods were invented, they were mounted on two grades of warships: Superdreadnoughts and battlecruisers. Pod battlecruisers turned out to be fragile (when the pod core is fully worked out, it takes up the entire interior of the midships portion of the hull, leaving virtually no room for proper armor), easy to knock out of action, cramped, and in order to prop up salvo density, the missiles they carry are cruiser-weight rather than capital-weight.
** WordOfGod says that [[spoiler: LACs are a strategic dead-end]], making them this once navies have figured out a counter for them. Unlike BC(P)s, however, LACs still function as working area defense ships, helping larger and more important ships escape harm from extremely heavy pod missile salvos.

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** Once missile pods were invented, they designed warships that were mounted based on the ability to store, deploy and launch large numbers of pods in two grades of warships: classes: Superdreadnoughts and battlecruisers. Pod battlecruisers turned out to be fragile (when the pod core is fully worked out, it takes up the entire interior of the midships portion of the hull, leaving virtually no room for proper armor), easy to knock out of action, cramped, and in order to prop up salvo density, the missiles they carry are cruiser-weight rather than capital-weight.
capital-weight. They didn't even try making pod ships of classes smaller than battlecruisers (apart from a few anti-pirate Q-ships) because they wouldn't be large enough to store enough pods to be worth it.
** WordOfGod says that [[spoiler: LACs [=LACs=] are a strategic dead-end]], making them this once navies have figured out a counter for them. Unlike BC(P)s, however, LACs [=LACs=] still function as working area defense ships, helping larger and more important ships escape harm from extremely heavy pod missile salvos.
24th Nov '16 12:48:51 PM Euodiachloris
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** [[BigFancyCastle Harrenhal]] is another example. On the face of it, it's an awesomely solid defensive construction, most of which has managed to stand the test of time -- if rather badly scorched, melted and battered. However, it's also a massive ode to [[TheTower hubris writ in stone]]. Even if it hadn't met ruin-by-unforeseen-dragons trimming its available living space a fair bit, it'd ''still'' have been an impossible castle to supply, maintain and run properly thanks to the sheer scale of the damned thing, and due to the army of servants and/or serfs needed to keep it going. Let alone anything else, like unsupportable supply lines. The Riverlands and the Iron Isles would probably have been beggared and/or partiality depopulated and deforrested in just a couple of generations trying to make it work at its peak. As it is, even in its partially-used state, it's still TheMillstone around the neck of any poor, unsuspecting Family that gets given it as a "[[UnwantedGiftPlot reward]]" for services rendered. The Whents are only the latest Family to go under primarily due to its financial and logistical weight making them sitting ducks in the Game at the start of the series. The total list of Houses to fall to the place: Qoherys -- totally extinct; Towers -- extinct; Harroway -- extinct; Strong -- extinct (although the name does resurface from time to time, probably stolen), Lothston -- extinct; Whent -- extinct in the main, male line, although a side-branch still struggles along; House Slynt -- new and still going, [[spoiler: although utterly stripped of the title, though Lord Slynt was sent to the Wall and executed; and, last but not least, Baelish -- gods alone know how that's going to play out, but he's so far studiously avoided going anywhere near the damn thing.]] Also misfortune happens to those that hold it, [[spoiler:Vargo Hoat, captured by the Mountain, who had pieces of him cut off each day and fed them to him, and the Mountain, who shortly after this was wounded and began dying from an incredibly painful but slow poison,]] though [[spoiler:he may have survived via necromancy.]] All this, in combination with the burning backstory and other notable historical disasters unrelated to actually running it, is why the common folk (and a few not-so-common) [[HauntedCastle consider the thing]] under an unspecified, if potent, {{Curse}}.

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** [[BigFancyCastle Harrenhal]] is another example. On the face of it, it's an awesomely solid defensive construction, most of which has managed to stand the test of time -- if rather badly scorched, melted and battered. However, it's also a massive ode to [[TheTower hubris writ in stone]]. Even if it hadn't met ruin-by-unforeseen-dragons [[NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight ruin]]-[[KillItWithFire by]]-[[OutsideContextProblem unforeseen]]-[[WeaponOfMassDestruction dragons]] trimming its available living space a fair bit, it'd ''still'' have been an impossible castle to supply, maintain and run properly thanks to the sheer scale of the damned thing, and due to the army of servants and/or serfs needed to keep it going. Let alone anything else, like unsupportable supply lines.lines in a notoriously politically unstable region given to being the standard battlefield of choice for the whole continent. The Riverlands and the Iron Isles would probably have been beggared and/or partiality depopulated and deforrested in just a couple of generations trying to make it work at its peak. As it is, even in its partially-used state, it's still TheMillstone around the neck of any poor, unsuspecting Family that gets given it as a "[[UnwantedGiftPlot reward]]" for services rendered. The Whents are only the latest Family to go under primarily due to its financial and logistical weight making them sitting ducks in the Game at the start of the series. The total list of [[HighTurnoverRate Houses to fall fall]] to the place: Qoherys -- totally extinct; Towers -- extinct; Harroway -- extinct; Strong -- extinct (although the name does resurface from time to time, probably stolen), Lothston -- extinct; Whent -- extinct in the main, male line, although a side-branch still struggles along; House Slynt -- new and still going, [[spoiler: although utterly stripped of the title, though Lord Slynt was sent to the Wall and executed; and, last but not least, Baelish -- gods alone know how that's going to play out, but he's so far studiously avoided going anywhere near the damn thing.]] Also Also, misfortune happens tends to find those that who just hold it, entitled to or not: [[spoiler:Vargo Hoat, upon being captured by the Mountain, who had pieces of him cut off each day and fed them to him, and him; the Mountain, who Mountain himself suffered shortly after this was upon getting wounded and began dying from an incredibly painful but slow poison,]] though [[spoiler:he may have survived via necromancy.necromancy; Roose Bolton's plans haven't been going so well since he left the place... and his erstwhile patron, Tyson Lannister, has also succumbed to HoistByHisOwnPetard.]] All this, in combination with the burning backstory and other notable historical disasters unrelated to actually running it, is why the common folk (and a few not-so-common) [[HauntedCastle consider the thing]] under an unspecified, if potent, {{Curse}}.
25th Oct '16 11:11:18 PM PaulA
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** Han Solo at Star's End's Corporate Sector Riot Gun. It can fire a constant stream of energy (used for mowing down a crowd as "crowd control") that can clear a room of combatants in a hurry. However, it has very poor aiming characteristics as Han Solo found out when trying to shoot at ESPOs using its single shot mode. It can only hit effectively on "constant fire" which dramatically increases the chances of friendly casualties in a pitched battle. Contrast with the obsolete blaster carbine (no designation mentioned) in the same book that was "rugged and extremely durable", "with simple telescopic sights", with "no moving parts" and "if left against a tree in the jungle, would still be fully operable ten years from now."

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** Han Solo at Star's End's ''Literature/HanSoloAtStarsEnd'': The Corporate Sector Riot Gun. It Gun can fire a constant stream of energy (used for mowing down a crowd as "crowd control") that can clear a room of combatants in a hurry. However, it has very poor aiming characteristics characteristics, as Han Solo found out when trying to shoot at ESPOs [=ESPOs=] using its single shot mode. It can only hit effectively on "constant fire" fire", which dramatically increases the chances of friendly casualties in a pitched battle. Contrast with the obsolete blaster carbine (no designation mentioned) in the same book that was "rugged and extremely durable", "with simple telescopic sights", with "no moving parts" and "if left against a tree in the jungle, would still be fully operable ten years from now."
10th Sep '16 11:41:14 AM Discar
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* Kaladin's spear katas in ''Literature/TheWayOfKings''. He himself admits that they're only designed to stretch the muscles and get you used to handling a spear, and would be totally useless in an actual fight. On the other hand, the Awesome part proves to be of some practical use, as demonstrating his [[MasterSwordsman Master Spearman]] skills and his [[PowerGlows shiny]] new Surgebinding powers helps cement the loyalty of his followers.


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* ''Literature/TheWayOfKings'' (first book of ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''): Kaladin's spear katas. He himself admits that they're only designed to stretch the muscles and get you used to handling a spear, and would be totally useless in an actual fight. On the other hand, the Awesome part proves to be of some practical use, as demonstrating his [[MasterSwordsman Master Spearman]] skills and his [[PowerGlows shiny]] new Surgebinding powers helps cement the loyalty of his followers.
31st Aug '16 6:54:05 AM Malady
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* Creator/ArthurCClarke's short story "[[http://www.mayofamily.com/RLM/txt_Clarke_Superiority.html Literature/Superiority]]" is about AwesomeButImpractical means of warfare hilariously turning almost inevitable victory into utter chaos and failure.

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* Creator/ArthurCClarke's short story "[[http://www.''Literature/{{Superiority}}'' ([[http://www.mayofamily.com/RLM/txt_Clarke_Superiority.html Literature/Superiority]]" Link.]]) is about AwesomeButImpractical means of warfare hilariously turning almost inevitable victory into utter chaos and failure.
31st Aug '16 6:41:59 AM Malady
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* Bryn's [[WolverineClaws Wolverine Gauntlets]] from ''Raised by Wolves''. The claws are silver, and extend and retract via a quick twist of the wrist. The only time they're used in combat, [[spoiler: the enemy figures out how they work and neutralizes them by grabbing Bryn's wrist and twisting them to the retracted position.]] Made more annoying by the fact that Bryn was already carrying around [[KnifeNut two perfectly good silver knives]] when she got the gauntlets.
* In ''DarkHeavens'', Emma is unexpectedly able to generate an ultra-rare black chi that can instantly annihilate demons, or turn them human... sometimes. Other times, it does nothing at all. Emma eventually decides that it's too unpredictable to be useful, and stops using it... [[ChekhovsGun for now]].

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* Bryn's [[WolverineClaws Wolverine Gauntlets]] from ''Raised by Wolves''.''Literature/RaisedByWolves''. The claws are silver, and extend and retract via a quick twist of the wrist. The only time they're used in combat, [[spoiler: the enemy figures out how they work and neutralizes them by grabbing Bryn's wrist and twisting them to the retracted position.]] Made more annoying by the fact that Bryn was already carrying around [[KnifeNut two perfectly good silver knives]] when she got the gauntlets.
* In ''DarkHeavens'', ''Literature/DarkHeavens'', Emma is unexpectedly able to generate an ultra-rare black chi that can instantly annihilate demons, or turn them human... sometimes. Other times, it does nothing at all. Emma eventually decides that it's too unpredictable to be useful, and stops using it... [[ChekhovsGun for now]].



* In ''TheElenium'', the undead soldiers created by Otha. While they ''look'' like an undefeatable regiment of unkillable warriors in ScaryImpracticalArmor, there turn out to be two crippling problems with them: 1. Their armor really is ''impractical''. The guys making it didn't understand armor had a purpose beyond looking scary, so they made armor that looked really scary but was restrictive, didn't deflect blades properly, and was too thin. 2. Otha is a moron. He has the power to raise the dead, but no idea what to do with it. The soldiers are set to guard the stone they're standing on, and that's all. The heroes win by just walking around them. Then because it didn't occur to Otha that his soldiers should be selective in their targets, they chuck a rock at one soldier causing it to enter the square of another, and the DisasterDominoes set the entire regiment fighting each other.
* The Aeyrie, batlike {{winged humanoid}}s in Laurie J. Marks's ''Children of Triad'' trilogy, are described as such—by [[ThisLoserIsYou one of their own]], no less—in the second book: Between the weight of the musculature required to get something roughly human-sized aloft, and the hollow bones and general frailty required to compensate for said weight, they're "too heavy to fly easily, yet too light to do anything else."

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* In ''TheElenium'', ''Literature/TheElenium'', the undead soldiers created by Otha. While they ''look'' like an undefeatable regiment of unkillable warriors in ScaryImpracticalArmor, there turn out to be two crippling problems with them: 1. Their armor really is ''impractical''. The guys making it didn't understand armor had a purpose beyond looking scary, so they made armor that looked really scary but was restrictive, didn't deflect blades properly, and was too thin. 2. Otha is a moron. He has the power to raise the dead, but no idea what to do with it. The soldiers are set to guard the stone they're standing on, and that's all. The heroes win by just walking around them. Then because it didn't occur to Otha that his soldiers should be selective in their targets, they chuck a rock at one soldier causing it to enter the square of another, and the DisasterDominoes set the entire regiment fighting each other.
* The Aeyrie, batlike {{winged humanoid}}s in Laurie J. Marks's ''Children of Triad'' ''Literature/ChildrenOfTriad'' trilogy, are described as such—by [[ThisLoserIsYou one of their own]], no less—in the second book: Between the weight of the musculature required to get something roughly human-sized aloft, and the hollow bones and general frailty required to compensate for said weight, they're "too heavy to fly easily, yet too light to do anything else."



* ''[[InfinityPlusOneSword Callandor]]'' in the ''WheelOfTime'' is an extremely powerful AmplifierArtifact, but it was built without the normal safeguards in place on artifacts of its type. [[spoiler: Both times [[DarkMessiah Rand]] uses it at full power, he ends up with temporary delusions of godhood and starts doing insane things. It's later revealed that ''Callandor'''s flaw is actually a deliberately designed trap, and proves crucial to Rand's plan for winning the Last Battle]].

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* ''[[InfinityPlusOneSword Callandor]]'' in the ''WheelOfTime'' ''Literature/WheelOfTime'' is an extremely powerful AmplifierArtifact, but it was built without the normal safeguards in place on artifacts of its type. [[spoiler: Both times [[DarkMessiah Rand]] uses it at full power, he ends up with temporary delusions of godhood and starts doing insane things. It's later revealed that ''Callandor'''s flaw is actually a deliberately designed trap, and proves crucial to Rand's plan for winning the Last Battle]].



* Creator/ArthurCClarke's short story "[[http://www.mayofamily.com/RLM/txt_Clarke_Superiority.html Superiority]]" is about AwesomeButImpractical means of warfare hilariously turning almost inevitable victory into utter chaos and failure.

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* Creator/ArthurCClarke's short story "[[http://www.mayofamily.com/RLM/txt_Clarke_Superiority.html Superiority]]" Literature/Superiority]]" is about AwesomeButImpractical means of warfare hilariously turning almost inevitable victory into utter chaos and failure.



* ''StarWarsExpandedUniverse''

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* ''StarWarsExpandedUniverse''''Literature/StarWarsExpandedUniverse''



* Offensive magic in the HarryPotter universe generally falls under this trope. The Killing Curses, Forbidden Curses and even more mundane magic attacks tend to pale alongside modern firearms save for situations where the target are immune to anything else. [[WordOfGod Rowling herself]] maintains there's a reason muggles with guns still rule the world (well, [[ExplosiveBreeder one of two reasons]]).

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* Offensive magic in the HarryPotter ''Literature/HarryPotter'' universe generally falls under this trope. The Killing Curses, Forbidden Curses and even more mundane magic attacks tend to pale alongside modern firearms save for situations where the target are immune to anything else. [[WordOfGod Rowling herself]] maintains there's a reason muggles with guns still rule the world (well, [[ExplosiveBreeder one of two reasons]]).



** It's the ''mundane'' aspects of the wizard world which are less practical than [[MugglesDoItBetter what muggles use]]. Like kneeling down at a fireplace and sending your head through it for a conversation instead of simply using the phone. This is even lampshaded at one point concerning the use of owls in the ministry of magic, due to the problem of owl droppings. Enchanting the missiles into paper birds which fly to the right place instead is certainly a solution, but a computer system would be an even better one. Somewhat {{justified}} due to the "magic is an EMP" subtype of MagicVersusTechnology being in play: [[NecessaryDrawback you have to choose]] between the advantages of using tech and the advantages of using magic in any given area. Want to teleport to work and skip the commute? Then you'll have to deal with sharing the elevator with a bunch of enchanted paper airplanes, because email won't work. It's not at all clear why they can't use magic to get the same effect however, especially since making mundane objects intelligent and at least partly sentient is commonplace. For instance, the students occasionally used the paintings to run messages and at least two of the dorms were protected by paintings asking for passwords.
* Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's ''Always Coming Home'' features a post-industrial society where most societies manage without advanced technology. One expansionist state decided to look up ancient weapon designs on the Internet (there are AI's maintaining a version of it - in a book published in 1985). Since their society has a religion based around condors, they make a few military planes. However, it's a PostPeakOil world, and they find out rather quickly that it's very hard to expand when all the food has been converted into biofuel...

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** It's the ''mundane'' aspects of the wizard world which are less practical than [[MugglesDoItBetter what muggles use]]. Like kneeling down at a fireplace and sending your head through it for a conversation instead of simply using the phone. This is even lampshaded at one point concerning the use of owls in the ministry Ministry of magic, Magic, due to the problem of owl droppings. Enchanting the missiles into paper birds which fly to the right place instead is certainly a solution, but a computer system would be an even better one. Somewhat {{justified}} due to the "magic is an EMP" subtype of MagicVersusTechnology being in play: [[NecessaryDrawback you have to choose]] between the advantages of using tech and the advantages of using magic in any given area. Want to teleport to work and skip the commute? Then you'll have to deal with sharing the elevator with a bunch of enchanted paper airplanes, because email won't work. It's not at all clear why they can't use magic to get the same effect however, especially since making mundane objects intelligent and at least partly sentient is commonplace. For instance, the students occasionally used the paintings to run messages and at least two of the dorms were protected by paintings asking for passwords.
* Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin's ''Always Coming Home'' ''Literature/AlwaysComingHome'' features a post-industrial society where most societies manage without advanced technology. One expansionist state decided to look up ancient weapon designs on the Internet (there are AI's maintaining a version of it - in a book published in 1985). Since their society has a religion based around condors, they make a few military planes. However, it's a PostPeakOil world, and they find out rather quickly that it's very hard to expand when all the food has been converted into biofuel...



* The Literature/StarRiskLtd team once tried to hang onto a destroyer they bought and crewed for one of their jobs, but then one of their accountants took Freddy von Baldur aside to explain to him that they couldn't afford to maintain it if it wasn't earning any profit.

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* The Literature/StarRiskLtd ''Literature/StarRiskLtd'' team once tried to hang onto a destroyer they bought and crewed for one of their jobs, but then one of their accountants took Freddy von Baldur aside to explain to him that they couldn't afford to maintain it if it wasn't earning any profit.



* Literature/FlowersInTheAttic and its sequels mention a swan bed with custom made sheets.

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* Literature/FlowersInTheAttic ''Literature/FlowersInTheAttic'' and its sequels mention a swan bed with custom made sheets.



* In the {{Literature/Uplift}} universe, the Tandu races get around by using Episiarchs, a race that has the ability to [[RealityWarper temporarily alter reality by force of will]]. They open short-lived portals that allow Tandu ships to travel instantly to different areas, making them faster than about anything else in the Five Galaxies. It sounds awesome, but the other starfaring races refuse to use this method of travel because it's unstable beyond belief, sometimes randomly destroying ships or even whole fleets. The first time we see Episiarchs in action, they get the Tandu to a battlefield hours before anyone else. The second time, they cause a Tandu warship to ''implode''. Krat notes that the Tandu are the only major race crazy enough to think that the reward outweighs the risk.

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* In the {{Literature/Uplift}} ''Literature/{{Uplift}}'' universe, the Tandu races get around by using Episiarchs, a race that has the ability to [[RealityWarper temporarily alter reality by force of will]]. They open short-lived portals that allow Tandu ships to travel instantly to different areas, making them faster than about anything else in the Five Galaxies. It sounds awesome, but the other starfaring races refuse to use this method of travel because it's unstable beyond belief, sometimes randomly destroying ships or even whole fleets. The first time we see Episiarchs in action, they get the Tandu to a battlefield hours before anyone else. The second time, they cause a Tandu warship to ''implode''. Krat notes that the Tandu are the only major race crazy enough to think that the reward outweighs the risk.
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