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"Freedom is a beautiful, and wonderful, and dangerous thing."

-Acidalia Planitia, Cipher.

On the Edge of Eureka is a science fiction novel posted by Wattpad user strange-quark, also known as Wren (which is probably short for Karen.) On the Edge of Eureka is mostly Speculative Fiction, with bits and pieces of modern-day technology taken Up to Eleven. Set in a grim, dark, Cyber Punk Mega City called Eleutheria, one of its chief themes is the ethics of DNA modification as the planet plunges itself into a civil war over eugenics. In the background, DNA data storage, supercomputers, artificial intelligence, and nuclear bombs all come into play, while the backstory seems to hint at a smallpox pandemic that happened far into the past. Enlightenment, a prequel presumably discussing this more, is in the works.

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Eureka's plot kicks off with an assassination attempt on recently-crowned Imperatrix Acidalia Planitia by the eugenicist group the Novagenetica, intending to force her mother back on to the throne; her mother Alestra supports the Nova, while Acidalia is part of another Revolutionary party that opposes their ideals. She escapes and sends her soldier brother on a wild goose chase to get the right data to a spy in the Revolution, and eventually another leader on Mars. On the way, Immunus AX-C240 ("Ace"), scientists Athena and Carina, dancer Lyra, and a number of other people from all walks of life get swept into high-stakes political games as Acidalia tries to run a rebellion while keeping the planet from descending into chaos. Eleutheria soon breaks out in a civil war, with everyone stranded in the middle of it. Meanwhile, the Mira, a semi-alien civilization from the same roots as humans, take advantage of the mess to land, seemingly seeking Eleutheria's alliance in an intergalactic conflict and leaving Acidalia forced to choose between a planet of her people and a galaxy of aliens she's never met.

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The book received a "reboot" of sorts about a year after it was originally released. Though much of the same plot was kept, it had some minor alterations, among the most obvious being the change from omniscient perspective to limited third-person perspective that switches from character to character every chapter. Aside from that, it remains quite similar to the original. Other changes include giving Acidalia an actual royal title instead of having her be a vague important figure, changing the caste names from a mixture of Romance languages to entirely Latin, and making Alestra more important than in previous drafts.

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This work provides examples of:

     A-F 

  • Abusive Parents: Alestra straight-up tried to murder Dalia, and Lyra's mother just dumped her daughter in a club (a club that's pretty much a strip club, too- but it's a YA novel so it's never explicitly mentioned as being such.)
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Cressida was a complete jerk before her Character Development, but she still got really good grades.
  • The Ace: "Ace" likes to consider himself this, which is where he got his name. According to T, nobody else considers him this.
  • Action Girl: 90% of the cast. Dalia, Cassiopeia, Athena, Carina, Andromeda, Artemis and Alestra, to name a few.
  • Action Fashionista: Acidalia.
  • Affably Evil: TB. He's not evil just to be evil- he genuinely wants a utopian world, his vision of a utopia just happens to involve a lot of morally ambiguous things.
    • Alestra could count, too. Imagine having two children and knowing one of them will have to die. She saves Aleskynn (thus, tries to kill Dalia) because she herself was a younger sister.
  • Aerith and Bob: Acidalia, Aleskynn, Carina Nebula, Andromeda, Cressida... and David.
  • All Deaths Final: Cybernetics and genetic mods only work on living people. Once you die, you're gone for good.
  • Alliterative Name: Aleskynn e Alestra, Andromeda e Amalura.
  • All That Glitters: Most of the diamonds and gemstones Acidalia wears have zero actual value because of how easily fake gems can be created. They exist only to be pretty.
  • Alien Hair: Humanoid, but apparently not made of keratin, as Rae finds the humans' "dead keratin strings" odd. It comes in the same shiny, colorful camouflage as their skin, and secretes oil that prevents it from getting gross and tangled underwater where a human's would get stiff and dirty in the saltwater.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Mira have one that bans them from interacting with the humans. Once Earth becomes a violet war zone and thousands are dying, they go against it to hopefully save the species before they destroy themselves.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Well, Latin in this case. It's thanks to universal translators. The language they actually speak is described as a combination of Arabic, Bengla and English, with Spanish pronunciation and elements of Greek.
    • After the reboot, this was changed to an incomprehensible, vaguely Elvish-sounding language.
  • Alpha Bitch: Cressida was apparently one of these on Mars. She even mentions dating a guy to get with his cuter friend, then callously breaks up with him over text when she realizes she won't be going home any time soon. She also has a massive superiority complex at first.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The genetic modification and DNA storage actually have a strong basis in reality, but most readers see them as sci-fi pseudoscience.
  • Amazon Brigate: Every Eleutherian man is forced to serve in the military, which leaves all other careers as a woman-only field, indicating the police force are this.
  • America Takes Over the World: Played with. Years in the past, an apocalyptic event destroyed most of humanity, and the founders of Eleutheria were surviving Americans. However, by the point the novel takes place, culture has changed so much it's barely recognizable with modern America, with the ubiquitous caste system, the mostly science-oriented world, the lack of personal freedoms, and the death of English (though it's written in English, Word of God stated early on the characters were all speaking heavily modified Latin and Greek. This was later shown when they make first contact and note the aliens are speaking Latin like them with the aid of translators.)
  • An Arm and a Leg: Acidalia started out with metal bones after she was crippled from being forced to do some type of messed up future ballet as a child. After she's captured by the Nova and badly injured, she just has her feet replaced with cybernetics.
  • Androids Are People, Too: It never even occurs to anyone to treat Alpha-24 as something other than sentient, though it is mentioned that sentient androids have been outlawed because the ethical qualms outweighed the few benefits of human-like intelligence. And because they were prone to murdering humans in violent fits of anger.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Aleskynn to Acidalia, Cressida to Estella, and Rune and Rae's unnamed younger brothers.
    • Averted with Tee; even though he's Dalia's little brother, he loves her and they would do anything for each other.
  • Apocalypse How: A class 2, brought about via a pandemic of bioweaponized smallpox.
  • Arcadia: The Republic of Arcadia, obviously. At least, before it was destroyed by nuclear bombs.
  • Arc Words: Eureka and enlightenment.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: "I may be an illegitimate bastard child, but at least my family tree doesn't look like a Möbius strip."
  • Artificial Limbs: Andromeda is half-artificial due to a factory accident when she was 11. She caught on fire and presumably lost her left leg and arm (and face.) Acidalia also has cybernetic legs.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Most characters are extremely careless with their firearms. Lyra mentions that she's witnessed multiple accidents that resulted in fatalities due to people not being safe with guns.
  • Artistic License – History: In-universe, people get a lot of things about the 19th to the 21st century wrong. Among them are mistaking movies and books for actual events.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Acidalia and everything she wears, owns or does. The aesthetic practically follows her around, in contrast to everyone else's Cyber Punk and Industrial Ghetto. It's synonymous with the upper class.
    • There was also an Ascetic Movement in the late 2000s to early 3000s focusing on this style.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Lyra's first appearance has her being brutally beaten for absolutely no reason, and almost nobody even bats an eyelash.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: 90% of cybernetic and gene-modifying technology.
    • Athena tells Lyra of experiments they did that gave humans angel-like wings. However, they stopped because not only did angel wings result in tons of unintentional mutations and deaths, wings in a place like Eleutheria are completely useless.
    • Cassiopeia's photosynthesis. It sounds cool, but Eleutheria is in an eternal smoggy nuclear winter.
    • In-universe, people see "organic" organs as this- luxuries that could be sourced from stem cells or cybernetics more cheaply and ethically.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Most Eleutherian women are named after celestial objects (Acidalia, Estella, Carina, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, et cetera) or mythical figures (Artemis, Athena, Cassandra, et cetera.) This also extends to the names chosen by defected male soldiers (Atlas, Kronos, etc.) Because of preexisting naming conventions, most of these people have Overly Long Names consisting entirely of mythical figures, heavenly bodies, and ancient goddesses.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Miran child soldiers who were later adopted out and given the chance to choose their own names. They were quite young at the time, so the majority have names like Wolfgang Deathridge or Septimius Justinian in order to invoke this trope.
    • Averted with the old Eleutherian soldiers; all their names are taken from serial numbers, so are usually short or just nicknames like Ace and Tee.
    • Averted with Lyra, which is kind of a Tear Jerker when you remember her name is so short because she has no rank, status or family to speak of.
  • Badass Bookworm: In spades. Athena and Carina are both scientists, Dalia is a "programmer," and Ace and T are tech specialists. They manage to hold their own.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The leaders of the Revolution. Dalia and Artemis swap around with beauty and brains, while Andromeda is unquestioningly Brawn.
  • Beta Bitch: Aleskynn's friend Amelyx, Cressida's friend Tetra.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Alestra tries to create this effect. It doesn't work so well because Dystopia Is Hard.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Alestra tried to murder Dalia so her youngest (and illegal) daughter Aleskynn can take her place. Both Dalia and Aleskynn make it out okay, only for Leski to turn on Dalia anyway. Tee and Dalia are the only people who actually get along in this family, and Tee dies at the hands of Alestra while trying to protect Dalia.
    • Averted with Cressida and David; they have a healthy father-daughter relationship. Thea and Estella have a similar mother-daughter one, and it's indicated that Thea really wants to see David again and the only reason they seperated was for his and Cressida's safety.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Dalia to Tee and Aleskynn.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The chapter names, places in Eleutheria, district and organization names, and titles are all in Latin/Greek. When translated they make for some Easter eggs.
    • The insults are mostly in Latin and Greek as well. "Fututus et mori in igni," one of Lyra's favorite phrases, translates roughly to "f*ck off and die in a fire."
  • Bio-Augmentation: DNA mods can make you incredibly strong, smart or practically superpowered. TB uses them to make himself immune to most pain. (This doesn't reduce the actual injury, though.)
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: What the Academic Society apparently thought when they started the Pandemic. Spoiler: they didn't.
    • Also, Cassandra apparently *really* wants to weaponize prions.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Mira breathe through their backs.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Acidalia is the good guy, but she also has a violent cult of personality (and a few actual cults!), regularly produces propaganda that she knows has zero truth to it, uses her beauty and satus to manipulate people in order to get what she wants, and commits war crimes on the regular to ensure a win. The Revolution itself makes frequent use of biological and chemical weapons and breaks the Geneva conventions constantly. But the Nova does all of the above, plus genocide of the lower castes and torturing their prisoners. Their crimes are usually less "war crimes" and more "crimes against humanity."
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: [[spoilers: Acidalia's actual wedding goes without a hitch]], but every time she kills someone it comes across like this because she wears Imperial white everywhere.
  • Blue Blood: The Imperial family and the Dictatorum, as well as extremely high-ranking soldiers. Martians with very . high Points could also be considered this.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Dalia's Magistrate bodyguards are all women, due to nearly all men being drafted.
  • Brainy Brunette: Athena has black hair and Carina has grayish-brown. Dalia has black hair, but she could qualify too.
  • Brainless Beauty: Aleskynn's girl posse: Raveri, Amelyx, Velia and Hera. The only thing they ever do is tell Leski how pretty and smart she is in the hopes of winning her favor to boost their own statuses.
  • Bread and Circuses: Mentioned by name- the Dictatorum, Cantatores, and Castes of the Arts pretty much only exist for this purpose. Dictatorum, Auctores, Actorieses, Incentors and Sollertium all manage/create propaganda in the form of movies, books, and art, while Cantatores are pretty much strippers and sex workers.
  • Broken Ace: Dalia is supposed to be the Imperatrix and a Revolutionary leader, but she's cracking from the pressure. And the fact that she witnessed her brother get shot to death, her little sister taken away groomed by a guy with ambiguous morals, and one of her closest friends dying from poison gas in the span of about a week might have something to do with it too.
  • Bystander Syndrome: In the rewrite, chapter 2 opens with Lyra getting beat up by a drug dealer because she looked at him wrong and he was high on some anger-inducing drug. Her fellow Cantatores' response is to tell her to keep her mouth shut next time and clean up the trail of blood. Even when Ace tells her she has a concussion and several broken bones, she gets little sympathy.
  • The Casino: Hirani, for some reason.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Transport from Earth to Mars in a matter of minutes is easy. Military ships go everywhere and anywhere. However, most people don't take advantage of this trope: for one thing, Eleutherians aren't allowed to leave, and surviving on Mercury is impossible without heavy heat-resistance mods.
  • City Noir: Everything about the red light district.
  • City Planet: Eleutheria.
  • Civil War: Eleutheria is engaged in one from chapter 11 of On the Edge of Eureka, though it was basically a cold civil war before that anyway.
    • The Galactic War could potentially be considered this. Though planets are supposedly sovereign, they're still united underneath the Corps, so it could be seen as a civil war within the Corps itself.
  • Close-Call Haircut: At the very beginning when the Nova tries to kill Dalia, she feels the lasers singe her hair.
  • Chocolate Baby: Alestra and her partner were white. Acidalia is vaguely South Asian and is rumoured to be the daughter of a Martian farmer. Apparently nobody thought to do a DNA test.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The castes. The Ciphers on top wear white, the middle class scientists wear light gray, the working class servants wear dark gray, and expendable Laborum and Cantatores wear black.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Ciphers wear pure white, as stated above.
  • Cool Big Sis: Dalia, biologically to Aleskynn and T, but in spirit for everyone else in the main cast.
  • Cool Ship: Acidalia's Revelation is a combinatiomn stealth ship and luxury cruiser. She also has an entire fleet of personal luxury starships from when she was a princess and another separate fleet of Revolutionary battleships.
  • Cool Old Guy: Atlas.
  • Conscription: Men are literally drafted at birth.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Eleutheria is a shiny, glitzy, Ascetic Aesthetic Utopian future- but it's actually a Cyber Punk crapsack if you get too deep.
  • Cultured Badass: The majority of the cast.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: The Miramans are a more organic, ocean-y version of this.
  • Cyborg: Andromeda is missing the entire left side of her body.
  • Cyberpunk: Some elements are invoked, namely the "high-tech lowlives" culture of underground Eleutheria. There are also some post-cyberpunk elements.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Averted: the Eleutherians can control precipitation. They don't have rain because there are so many computer systems running throughout the planet, and not all are waterproof. Lyra tells Cressida that rain is always a bad sign because it means a weather-control machine has broken, and now the androids are going to get fried.
    • Later, when Eleutheria is rioting and in shambles, Aleskynn sees rain over the district of Kathara, indicating things have gotten so bad either someone deliberately is making it rain or the weather systems have been destroyed.
  • Daddy's Girl: Cressida is this to a T. She loudly complains to David whenever something goes wrong and is shocked when he doesn't immediately give her what she wants. When she realizes that she's surrounded by authority figures who have more power than her father, she's shocked that she has to actually respect them.
  • Dangerous Workplace: The factories and anything in the Underground.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: According to blog posts/Reddit posts, Alestra. She was raised by an uncaring mother, living in the shadow of her elder sister Avina's crown and her younger sister Celestia's cult following. She dealt with the problem with murder, naturally.
  • David vs. Goliath: David versus the Eleutherian army.
  • Dawson Casting: While not in the book itself, a fan cast list is filled with this. Athena and Carina are 16 and 15, respectively, and are listed as Laura Harrier (27) and Miranda Cosgrove (24.) Even the adults get this treatment: the actor for David looks to be in his fifties or older. In the book, he's 32.
    • Funnily enough, this would make Willa Holland, the actress listed for Dalia, younger than half the cast.
  • Defector from Decadence: Acidalia and Artemis, an empress and a vicereine, respectively.
  • Designer Babies: Implied that pretty much everyone in Eleutheria is this (or at least, everyone who can afford it.)
  • Despair Event Horizon: Acidalia's capture is pretty much this for everyone, though it turns out Acidalia was alive the entire time and Andromeda was deliberately trying to make the situation sound worse than it was so she could seize Acidalia's power.
  • Deadly Gas: The ketacyanide bombs released during the riots. They kill Artemis within minutes.
  • Divided States of America: T's comments about "Arcadia" imply this. At some point in the past, Eleutheria was at war with a very religious country called Arcadia, both post-apocalyptic states arisen from the USA and both considering themselves the true children of America.
  • Divided We Fall: The split in Eleutheria's government into two warring factions, neither of which is really helping anything despite their good intentions.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Alpha-24 has his own personal hopes and desires, including escaping the Terminal he'd been trapped in for centuries.
  • Draft Dodging: If you find a single Eleutherian man who isn't actively figting the Mira, they're this. Ace and David included.
  • Drama Queen: Cressida was this on Mars.
  • Dystopia: Eleutheria is a cool, interesting world filled with scientific knowledge and badass robots and cyborgs... to outsiders who don't know what it's really like to be stuck in the caste system, unable to see a future beyond the monotony of working yourself to death.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: Eleutheria is a city of trillions, and the citizens are scientifically aware enough to know that monitoring them all constantly is impossible, so people aren't afraid to insult Alestra. It only becomes a problem when she has cameras on their location for whatever reason.
  • Eat the Rich: A sentiment shared by most of the oppressed populace, but exactly which rich person to metaphorically eat differs. The Revolution supports Acidalia because she's on their side, and the Movement supports Alestra, and Cassiopeia because they're on this side. No one likes the Dictatorum.
  • Eldritch Location: Faraday and the Iron City come across to the cast as this, but it's just because all of their architecture consists of force fields and holograms. It's translucent, barely visible, and can change completely in seconds, leading the main cast to think they've stumbled into something horrifying.
  • Electronic Eye: Andromeda has one. It's blue, which is jarring because her other eye (and her hair) are brown. Presumably one that matched her actual eye was available, but Andromeda didn't want it. She isn't a fan of hiding her prosthetics.
  • Emperor Scientist: Acidalia.
  • Eye Colour Change: In the first draft, Acidalia swaps out her pink eyes for her natural brown ones via genetic mods. Unlike most examples, it's not because of any significant event; she just think pink eyes make her look "demonic."
  • Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: Well, as long as you're in the upper levels.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: According to the caste guides, Incentores practically live off shiny, saprkly gemstones in order to get attention. Cantatores do the same thing, but it's to get attention for different reasons...
  • Extreme Speculative Stratification: The differences between the rich and poor are incredibly wide. The Ciphers get luxurious penthouses, beautiful ballgowns, and everything that comes with being royalty- the poor don't even have basic human rights.
  • False Utopia: Read the above.
  • Fallen States of America: By the time Eureka is set, America has been dead for over two thousand years, and Eleutheria considers it their long-dead ancestor.
  • Family-Friendly Stripper: Lyra pretty obviously works at a strip club or brothel, but Viola is called an "exotic dancer," the actual term "brothel" is replaced with the Latin "lustris," and she doesn't get called a "whore," but a "meretrix." Actual sex is never mentioned or even hinted at despite the fact that it's clearly happening.
  • Fantastic Caste System: It wouldn't be a dystopian Crapsack World without one. There are 20 castes, ranging from Ciphers to Servum.
  • Fantastic Racism: Ubiquitous.
    • Obviously, in Eleutheria, there's the caste system. Those at the very bottom are treated as worthless at best.
    • The Eleutherians in general see Martians as backwards and uncivilized.
    • The Mira dislike the Southerners, which is a group encompassing Raeilya.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: Acidalia says after their victory over the Nova that Alestra's visions for Eleutheria were unsustainable anyway. She had no way to quell inevitable rebellions, the civil war had caused massive damage that would take centuries to repair, and the rest of the galaxy was not too keen on her and her movement at that point. Her empire would probably have lasted less than a century, if that.
  • Fish People: In a way. The Mira don't have the stereotypical scales, but they're definitely ocean-dwellers. They have hair that secretes oil like a duck's to keep it dry, special glands that filter out salt (thus, they can drink salt water with no issues, and even seem to prefer it to fresh water) and have camouflage in the form of their skin, which is a cool color (green to blue-violet and shiny.)
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Acidalia is the responsible one to Aleskynn's fool.
    • Even though they aren't biological sisters, Carina and Athena were raised together, making Carina the responsible one and Athena the foolish one.
  • Four-Star Badass: Praetors Atlas and Andromeda.
  • Freedom from Choice: How Alestra views the world.
  • Free-Range Children: Acidalia apparently joined the Revolution at 14; Alestra didn't seem to notice or care. Athena somehow got anthrax three times as a kid because she was allowed to wander around BSL-3 laboratories completely unsupervised. Rune and his crew were put on a ship and sent out to space when the oldest among them was 12, resulting in a crash that killed the majority of them. And the less that can be said about Lyra's childhood, the better.
  • The Future: Sometime in the early 4000s, according to Alestra's diary. At this point, an apocalypse, a Second Enlightenment (that basically contradicted everything that happened during the actual Enlightenment), the recreation of the feudal system in midwestern-postapocalyptic America, the rise of several other nations, the subsequent destruction of said nations via nuclear bombs, many art movements, and several civil wars have happened.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Only some of it. The rich get real food.
  • First Contact: First peaceful contact, at least. The Mira and the Eleutherians have been at war for decades, but so much time has elapsed between peaceful meetings that neither of the generations that began the war is still around. Dalia, Andromeda and Atlas meeting Rae and Cadé is the first civil discussion in decades, and it's been so long since the last one that both species have never seen the other before and are bemused by each other.
  • Five-Man Band: The main characters:
    • The Leader is Acidalia, the most experienced and the oldest hero of the group.
    • The Lancer is Andromeda, the less girly but more physically strong and violent.
    • The Smart Guy is Carina, who is brilliant but not very strong.
    • The Big Guy is Athena, who has very little common sense.
    • The Chick is Lyra, the most inexperienced and idealistic.
  • Flower in Her Hair: Acidalia wears dahlias.
  • Future Slang: "Stars!" is a popular one (or "astra!" or "stellae!," seemingly with no distinction between the two.) "Kyrie Eleison" (meaning "lord have mercy") is used frequently by Athena, though the characters have no idea what it means or the religious connotation. At one point, Dalia thinks "Christ," a phrase she heard from her grandmother, then notes she doesn't know what it references, but it feels like a stronger expression than "stars."

     G-M 

  • Gem-Encrusted: The Imperials have gemstone motifs; Alestra's is malachite, and Acidalia's is lapis lazuli. It's on practically everything they own.
    • Also the Miran ships and buildings—they are very attracted to sparkly things.
  • Gendercide: Played with. There's no specific effort to kill off all the men, but they are the only ones (other than the mostly obsolete Generalis women) forced to fight the Mira in what's obviously a losing battle. A rare variant where this is not used to focus on a romantic relationship primarily; it mostly develops Dalia's relationship with her little brother TB-2115 or "T."
    • Possibly balanced by the "industrial accidents" common in Eleutheria. With the death rate from laboratory incidents, factory fires and machine breakdowns, starvation from lack of resources due to overpopulation, organ harvesting, slavery, gang violence, overdosing, suicide, assassination and every other horrific death that could happen on a regular basis, maybe the men are better off.
  • Gender Is No Object: Rae mentions that South Cirya is like this.
  • Genre-Busting: A Cyberpunk setting with Speculative Fiction science and a cast made up of: an Imperatrix, two scientists, a low-class stripper in all but name, a tech-specialist soldier, and a cyborg Rebellion leader.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Acidalia singlehandedly recaptures Appalachia City by creating a sort of Synthetic Plague that destroys the DNA of her enemy soldiers, killing them all rather nastily.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: A villanous example. Alestra basically tells this to Cassiopeia when she tries shooting Acidalia in the head for no reason.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: All the swear words people would normally say are just translated into Latin. "Meretrix," "lupa," and all the other things Lyra is called basically just mean whore, prostitute or slut. When she says she was abandoned in a lustris, she means a brothel. Mori in igni means "die in a fire."
  • Girly Girl: Acidalia may be a revolutionary leader, but she still likes elaborate ballgowns, fancy crystal tiaras, and makeup.
    • Aleskynn and Cressida are this in a more childish, immature way.
  • Girl Posse: Amelyx, Raveri, Velia, and Hera to Aleskynn. They basically only serve as Brainless Beauty idiots who only hang out with Aleskynn to boost their own social statuses. Even Aleskynn gets sick of them after a while, calling their interactions "hollow" when she realizes they've been mindlessly complimenting her the entire conversation instead of actually talking to her,
  • Gold and White Are Divine: In-universe, the propaganda has photos of Dalia in gold/platinum and white Cipher gowns when they want to make her look like a goddess.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Andromeda can be a straight up asshole when she doesn't get her way, turning from nice to violently abusive in seconds.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Acidalia is on the "good" side of the war, but she regularly kills, maims, threatens, and blackmails her enemies, and shows no mercy to any of them, including her own mother.
  • Gorgeous Greek: Dalia deliberately tries to invoke this trope when she meets the Mira for the first time by wearing an elaborate Greco-Roman toga.
  • Graceful in Their Element: The Mira look like gangly, awkward, vaguely fishy people on land, but become beautiful and indescribable creatures in the water.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Played with. Cassiopeia is an Earthling, but her photosynthetic green skin and fixation on TB fit.
  • Handicapped Badass: Acidalia is an epileptic amputee by the end of the series, and she still kicks ass.
  • Heroic Bastard: Under Eleutheria's definition of what makes a bastard, Lyra is definitely one. It's also implied that Acidalia is illegitimate.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: Acidalia spends the entire first book refusing to acknowledge her grief, pain, or discomfort because she can "do it later."
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Alestra wore white, Alestra made political decisions, Alestra got angry sometimes, Alestra fell in love once... thus Acidalia is criticized for doing those things, despite the fact that most of them are things everyday humans do, or things that are expected of her position.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Lyra's past occupations have never been described in detail, but it's clear that they were something she isn't proud of, and when you take into account her former home and her desperation for money, she was probably this.
  • Hot Consort: In-universe, Rune is considered very attractive (though, to be fair, most Eleutherians are.)
  • Human Resources: The Organ Theft, the forcing women to have children they don't want to keep the population up, the Laborum in general...
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Miramans think humans are weird for "dead keratin slabs," or fingernails, among many other things.
  • Idiot Savant: Alpha-24 has knowledge of pretty much all of Terran history, but other than that he's mostly useless. One of his first appearances has him sticking his finger into a piece of lab equipment to watch the sparks fly.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: A 22-inch-waist (while wearing a corset, at least) is one of the effects of Acidalia's genetic modification and various cosmetic alterations. It's apparently in her "specs."
  • Industrial Ghetto: The slums where Lyra comes from.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Acidalia makes fun of tabloids for portraying her as this after she escapes the Nova.
    • It's somewhat ironic, as the Revolution perpetuated that stereotype itself in-universe for a while for propaganda purposes, which also annoyed Acidalia.
  • In-Series Nickname: Many, since the names are so long. Acidalia Planitia, Carina-Nebula, Raeilya Aeshiel, Rune Archer-Sagan, and Aleskynn are Dalia, Rina, Rae, Ru, and Leski, respectively.
  • Inter Class Friendship: Acidalia is rich enough that this could count in all of her relationships, but it's most evident with Andromeda and Lyra, who are from the two lowest castes on the planet.
    • Also Rae and Rune, with Rune being a middle-class soldier and Rae being a plague orphan.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: No two societies have the same gender roles, so a lot of the male cast are this. Notably, Rune likes his girlfriend's glittery bath bombs, and Seven, Leo, Ajax, and the rest of the Miran squad avert Ciryan gender roles simply by not murdering people on the regular.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Acidalia says this verbatim after Athena's death.
  • Lady Land: Men have required military service, leaving women in control of the rest of the planet.
  • La Résistance: The Revolution likes to portray itself this way, but they're not really an underdog so much as they are one faction of a civil war.
  • Layered Metropolis: The rich on top and the poor below.
  • Law of Alien Names: The Northern Mira, generally being more violent, have harsher names and a more guttural language. The Southern Mira generally have sweeter, more vowel-heavy names. Northern Mira include Cadé Maru and Jahin Svare, while Southern Mira include Raeilya, Chiramel, and Ararien &A Elig;shiel. The Southerners are closer allies to Eleutheria.
    • Averted with Faradayers, who mostly have a blend of several different names.
  • LEGO Genetics: Invoked but not played straight. DNA modification can change hair color, eye color and other cosmetic appearances, as well as give you more muscle mass or intelligence, but this takes time and careful study. They can't do much of anything truly outlandish: though characters mention cross-species hybrids and enhancements, this is very rare- Athena says that there was an experiment that tried to give people wings, but they all died. (It also helps that most abilities that would be cool to have today- like Cass's photosynthesis- are useless in Eleutheria.) Also, it's very much limited to the upper class- anyone lower down on the totem pole is limited to cosmetic changes.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Acidalia and Andromeda, respectively (when Andy decides to dress up.)
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: So far, we have Acidalia, Aleskynn, Alestra, Athena, Carina, Cressida, Cassiopeia, Tee, Ace, David, TB, Estella, Thea, Atlas, Andromeda, Artemis, Cadé, Raeilya, Alpha-24, Rune, Seven, Kalyn, Wolfgang, Leo, Ajax, and Lyra, and all of their respective families.
    • Counting the characters from other works in the universe, we also have Kate, Taylor, Anna, Scout, Scarlett, Tim, Rebecca, Lillie Anne, Natalie, Kallie, Eva, Jace, Trinity, Remembrance, Emmanuel, Patience, the Faiths, Hope, and Cosette.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: Upper-class women usually have full-on Rapunzel Hair.
  • Lost Technology: Pretty much everything the Precursors left behind. The galaxy has a bunch of futuristic technology but no idea how any of it works, and rediscovering how it functions is an achievement in and of itself. Love Dodecahedron: Mostly averted. Romance plots are generally resolved extremely quickly, and the main characters all have such different tastes that they rarely chase the same people. Despite the massive cast and huge ship potential, the only love triangle has been slight jealousy on Rina's part over Rune.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: Arcadian border towns and Mars.
  • Magic Genetics: Averted. DNA modifications are commonplace, but people are still limited by basic biological principles. They can't sprout wings or superpowers out of thin air, and experiments that try to do that oftentimes wind up killing/dismembering the subjects.
  • Mama Bear: Averted with Alestra and Dalia, but played straight for Aleskynn. Alestra is the one who tried to have Dalia murdered so Aleskynn could move up in society by taking her place.
  • Meaningful Name: Many throughout the series.
    • Acidalia is named after Acidalia Planitia, where she was born.
    • David is from David and Goliath, symbolizing his struggle against the seemingly unbeatable monster that is the Eleutherian military.
    • Lyra was named after the lyre; she's a Cantator singer and performer who played it.
    • Athena the scientist was named after the Greek goddess of knowledge.
    • Aleskynn literallu means "smaller Aleskynn."
    • Alestra, Estella and Seren are all names meaning "star." Other "space names" like Andromeda, Carina Nebula, Lyra, Acidalia Planitia, etc show up often.
    • Raeilya and Cadé's names mean things in their own languages. Cadé's is "sea warrior" and Rae's is "light-bringer."
    • Cassiopeia is named after a notoriously vain and selfish queen; Cassia means "empty headed."
    • Averted entirely with Aleskynn and her friends; their names mean nothing, but were deliberately created to sound "as annoying as possible."
  • Meaningful Rename: Every time soldiers ditch their serial numbers in exchange for names. TB-0125 became Kronos, AX-C240 became Ace, and other men like Rune and David presumably had numbers before as well.
  • Mega City: Eleutheria.
  • {{Microts:}} Cycle, sol, et cetera are used when talking about non-Earth planets.
  • Mind Probe: TB/Kryptos threatens Acidalia with this. It turns out he was just trying to scare her into confessing and mind-probes aren't real.
  • Model Couple: Rune and Acidalia are both considered quite good-looking, but it's mostly because Eleutherians have easy access to technology like genetic mods that prevents them from being anything other than good-looking.
  • Multicolored Hair: Prominent, since genetic modification makes it easy to make your hair bright colors without having to dye it constantly. It's also a symbol of the upper class to have unnatural hair and skin tones. Dalia sports blue and purple, Athena black and red, Carina varying shades of gray and Aleskynn bright red-oranges (though this is the result of a botched mod. She originally wanted black with red tips.)
  • Multicultural Alien Planet: The Mira's home planet. Evidently, they even have a bunch of Fantastic Racism against the Southerners.

    N-S 

  • No New Fashions in the Future: Most of the clothing is just historical clothing with shiny holographic material instead of normal fabric. Martian kids wear a variation of Classic Lolita, Eleutherians wear normal but monotonous clothes that match the color of their caste, and aristocrats usually wear modern-ish ball gowns and evening gowns.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Most factories in Eleutheria. Child labor is everywhere, and workers are expendable, leading to many industrial accidents. Andromeda was nearly killed as an eleven year old when she caught fire in an incident, and ultimately lost half her body to burns.
  • No Periods, Period: Taken literally. In a society where DNA mods are ubiquitous and pretty much every mild complaint can be cured with future tech, people just don't get periods, ever.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Eleutherian leadership. It used to be strong and powerful, but as time marched on, it became incompetent. Castes meant the proletariat no longer had a voice in the government, the military meant that all men- even political leaders- were drafted, and low life expectancy made the government entirely teenagers and twenty-somethings. By the events of the book, they're relying of genetic modification and propaganda to control an unruly people, the planet it split between two rebel factions, and aliens are on the brink of landing, but no one has any idea what to do about it. The leadership is: Cassiopeia, who's obsessed with TB's approval and gaining power, and nothing else. Alestra, who pretty openly supports one of the rebel groups and is one hundred percent willing to kill her own people over it. And Acidalia: the only Reasonable Authority Figure, who still can't get any reforms done because everyone else is trying to kill her.
  • No Woman's Land: Based on the way characters speak about it, the long-dead country the Arcadian Republic was this.
  • Odd Couple: Platonically, Acidalia and Andromeda. Dalia's a classy, eloquent royal with a deep understanding of politics but clueless about military strategy, while Andromeda is a cyborg bruiser Labora who couldn't give less of a damn about nuance and respect in favor of punching stuff. They're best friends. Obviously. Or at least they were.
    • Theodora and David could be this too. Theodora is a ex-con super-spy who spent her days illegally collecting data from electronic waste to send to the Revolution, and David is a hardworking regular guy whose only illegal action was leaving Eleutheria.
  • Offing the Offspring: Alestra to Dalia and T.
  • Older Than They Look: Because of DNA mods and surgeries, Atlas looks like he's in his forties when he's actually pushing eighty years old. Alestra, who is in her 40s when the story ends, looks young enough that the press sometimes confuses her for being Acidalia's sister.
  • One-Federation Limit: Averted. Like Truth in Television, most planets and countries have names like "The Republic of [Name]," but those names are rarely used in the same way The Philippines is rarely called The Republic of the Philippines. More humorously, Acidalia notes that the planets that call themselves things like "The People's Democratic Utopian Republic of X" or "The Free Democracy of X" are usually the most dystopian, nightmarish places in the galaxy.
  • One Steve Limit: Majorly averted. There are so many people in Eleutheria and so few popular names, one can expect to have hundreds of thousands of others with the same exact name. They go by nicknames.
    Athena: Gemstone names are everywhere. We had six Ametistas. Amé, Missie, Mista, Meti, Ameta, and just Ametista.
  • One World Order: Played with. Eleutheria rules all of Earth, as well as the moon and some floating cities orbiting the gas giants.Howver, this is not all of humanity; the Martians live in a society similar to a more agricultural version of modern-day, and supposedly heavily genetically-modified people populate planets like Mercury and Pluto that are too hot, cold, or small for normal people to settle. They have their own societies, cities and governments.
  • Only One Name: Lyra.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: When Dalia escapes an assassination attempt, she winds up wounded and on the floor with only two teenage Scientia. She assumes they know what they're doing when they reach for the first aid kid, but there's a problem- by scientists, they mean astrophysicists. She winds up with several large scars up her legs and on her back.
    • This happens repeatedly in the series. Most of the main cast are scientists, but somehow never the one they actually need at the moment.
    Lyra: You're a Ciencia, do something!
    Rina: I'm an astrophysicist, I have no idea how anatomy works!
    Athena: Isn't Acidalia a doctor?
    Acidalia: I'm a geneticist, not a trauma surgeon!
    Rune: I think they're already dead.
  • Oppressive States of America: Eleutheria considers themselves the descendants of the United States, even though they're a totalitarian dystopia.
  • Organic Technology: Data is stored in DNA.
  • Organ Theft: There's an entire black market for organs, which are frequently stolen from Cantatores and Laborum, expendable "dancers" and laborers. The kicker is that people don't even need transplant organs; cybernetics are ubiquitous. The upper classes just like "organic" organs better and are willing to pay for them.
  • Overly Long Name: The way the naming system works means that this happens quite frequently. Given name is followed . by the mother's given name, then the grandmother's name is added on for formality, then the caste, then any caste specifications. Names can be six or seven words long without titles—Carina's full name is Carina-Nebula Julia-Maxima Scientia Astrophysica, and she's just a middle-class scientist. Acidalia's full name and title would be Imperatrix Acidalia-Planita Alestra Harmonia Cipher-Sagan. Nicknames are used frequently.
    Athena: Like if you work in viruses, it'd be Ciencia Biologica Virii. And then you have people with double names, like Acidalia Planitia, I guess. So it gets long fast. I knew someone named Ametista Margarita e Seraphina Minora, Ciencia Quantistica Theorica Astrophysica. We called her Amé.
  • Overranked Solider: Acidalia's status as a princess and the fact that she's basically a living biological weapon made her a Rebel Leader at fourteen, before most people could even sign up.
  • Parental Betrayal: Alestra and possibly Elijah.
  • Penny Among Diamonds: Athena and Carina are middle-class and Lyra is an impoverished street urchin, while Acidalia and the rest of the people around her are incredibly wealthy (to the tune of owning entire planets.)
  • Person of Mass Destruction: All of the Ciphers are basically living biological weapons because of the skill they have in using DNA modification tools to create dangerous Synthetic Plagues that can destroy entire armies.
  • Plant People: Cass has green, photosynthetic skin, and can survive on photosynthesis alone as a result of genetic modifications. It's kind of useless, since Eleutheria is in an eternal nuclear winter and so polluted you can't see the sky.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Acidalia's clothing is almost always like this.
  • Power Glows: To the point where Eleutheria (an eternally dark city because of smog and nuclear winter) is known as the "City of Light," simply because of the neon.
  • Precursors: No one really knows anything about them, but apparently they exist.
  • Proper Lady: Dalia, when she's not leading a revolution. And even then some.
  • Rags to Riches: Rae and Rune when they were adopted; Lyra, Carina and Athena when they became involved in the Revolution; Estella and Theodora when they were reunited with David and Cressida.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Acidalia, David, Rae... and that's about it.
  • Rebel Leader: Acidalia is one of several in the Revolution.
  • Rebellious Princess: Acidalia, though technically not a princess, is still the child of the reigning monarch.
  • Rebellious Rebel: As the end of the Civil War nears, both Andromeda and Artemis wind up being this, as neither can agree with Acidalia on what a government should be like.
  • Red Light District: Lower Appalachia and Terra, and Lyra's hometown. To innocent soldier boys, it's a liberal version. To outsiders like Athena, it's a hostile version, and to natives like Lyra, it's just sad, pitiful, and miserable.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Eleutherian society in the first book (before the civil war.) It's a horribly oppressive nation-state, but a very effective one for the most part. They're entirely self-sustaining and very scientifically advanced... it's just that the ordinary citizens are miserable.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Revolution commits war crimes just as often as their enemies, using biological and chemical weapons constantly. The reason Acidalia is so high up in their hierarchy is because her ability to modify DNA essentially makes her a living biological weapon. And though Acidalia is careful not to target civilians, her colleagues certainly aren't, excusing their actions with the philosophy that all's fair in love and war.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Alpha-24 is pretty much a regular guy, apart from the metal. He knows he has to follow the laws of robotics, but he also knows every loophole in the book. He has his own fears, desires, and motivations, and can make friendships with others like they're both ordinary humans.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Lyra has pink hair, and she's arguably the sweetest and nicest of the bunch.
  • Royal Brat: Aleskynn. Oh, God, Aleskynn.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Alestra and Dalia both qualify, though Alestra's actions do not necessarily help the people.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Mira are described as very human-like to an extent, but purple and blue, with bodies more developed for living underwater (i.e. special glands to filter out salt, hair that secretes oil like duck feathers so it doesn't get tangled when wet, and big, kaleidoscopic eyes for seeing better, and presumably the colors are camouflage.) They also have only 3 fingers and no fingernails, for unexplained reasons.
  • Save the Princess: In a nonromantic way. Tee tries to save Acidalia, who's essentially a princess in all but name. She makes it out alive, but he dies in the struggle.
  • Science Is Bad: Averted. Eleutheria generally sees science as good and a worthy enterprise, though they take it to the extreme, with knowledge being put over innocent lives and incredible money and time devoted to fields like distant-space astronomy while countless people die of plague. Dalia notes the genetic mods are useful and helpful, but are being used in the wrong way.
  • [1]: Eleutheria's massive buildings, neon signs, gritty slums and utopian penthouses are described in immense detail. This becomes unnerving when it's described by Tee, Ace, Atlas or David, because they are implied to have undergone genetic modification during their training as a soldier that resulted in increased nationalism and patriotism.
  • Self-Made Man: David Seren, who started as a poor immigrant and a single teenage parent and eventually became wealthy enough to be an advisor to the President.
  • Shout-Out: Cressida and David are farmers in Acidalia Planitia, much like Mark Watney. There's also a mine on Mars named Lewis Crater, in reference to the same book. Dalia's name also comes directly from the plain on Mars, justified in that she was born there and Acidalia is a rare but real given name.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Alestra has cameras around the planet, but they're only ever used when she needs them because Dystopia Is Hard and monitoring every citizen every day would be impossible.
  • Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Acidalia worries that her attack using the Terminal crosses the Moral Event Horizon in the first book.
  • Solar Punk: There was an art movement in the early 3000s that was a strange combination of these leafy, green, eco-future styles with the stark whiteness of Ascetic Aesthetic.
  • Skyscraper City: Eleutheria, Faraday, The Iron City, and urban parts of Hirani.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Or at least some bizzare Variant Chess version.
  • Space Amish: Some of the Martians. Though they don't eschew all technology, they live in a society where farming for a living is the norm, with cities being few and far-between and the population low. Their lives are a lot more similar to modern-day rural Americans than the glitzy cyberpunk Eleutherians right next door.
  • Speculative Science: Nearly every piece of technology used in the book has a real-life counterpart.
    • DNA data storage is real and is being developed right now- and the author is right in saying that DNA doesn't degrade the way hard drives do. It's reasonable to assume that all of humanity's data could fit in a comparatively small amount of DNA, and it will fix itself over time. By whatever year Eureka takes place in, having DNA as a primary data-storage method isn't that far-fetched.
    • CRISPR-CAS 9 technology is quickly opening the door for new research and easier genetic modifications right now. The ability to program DNA is not that crazy, especially so far into the future.
    • And, as far as Mira tech goes, it's quite realistic for what it is. Quantum teleportation of the sort they use when dissolving doors/membranes is also currently in development, with scientists having already transported a photon. Assuming the Mira have had sufficiently advanced alien technology, help from the Lightyear Corps and other sentient species, and a history of research, their atom transportation technology is not impossible.
  • Spoiled Brat: Aleskynn, who demands special treatment and surrounds herself with less advantaged girls so she'll always be the one on top.
    • To a lesser extent, Cressida.
  • Star Scraper: Every building in Eleutheria.
  • Starship Luxurious: Dalia's Revelation. Also Andromeda's Scorpio.
  • Stellar Name: Most of the main cast are named this way.
    • Acidalia's name comes from Acidalia Planitia, a geographic area on Mars.
    • Andromeda's name comes from the Andromeda Galaxy.
    • Carina is named after the Great Nebula in Carina, which is fitting, considering that she's an astrophysicist like her mother before her.
    • Cassiopeia is named after a constellation shaped like a famously vain queen.
    • Principessa Celestia Cipher's name means "sky."
    • Estella's name means "star."
    • The last name Seren also means "star," meaning Estella's name literally translates to "Star Star."
  • Symbolic Wings: The little holographic wings on Acidalia's ankles when she gets cybernetic implants.

     T-Z 

  • Technical Pacifist: Alpha-24 never actually kills or harms anyone, as it would go against the laws of robotics. However, he is perfectly happy to stand helpfully on the sidelines and cheer the humans on while they do the killing and maiming. Acidalia mentions it while they're in the Terminal, but Alpha isn't too concerned about it. According to Lyra, it "doesn't count" as long as Alpha's finger isn't the one on the trigger.
    Acidalia: You just helped us escape, potentially killing all those soldiers indirectly.
    Alpha-24: That's different.
    Lyra: Not really.
  • Techno Wreckage: Eleutheria during the riots.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Aleskynn, being only 13.
    • Lyra to an extent, because despite being older than Aleskynn, she has almost none of the experiences that the rest of the cast has had. She's uneducated and can't do basic math and reading, speaks vulgar Latin, and generally knows a lot less than the others.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Via genetic mods. People can live to be 200-300 years old (in the case of women with cushy jobs; military men and women in any sort of political job or research job often die under 50 from assassination, lab accidents, gang wars, or murder.) Alestra was In her mid-40s and looked the same age as her 20-year-old daughter. Atlas is pushing eighty, but is physically more like the average modern 40-year-old.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Dalia notes that her position as a Cipher means it's her responsibility to save Eleutheria from destroying itself. Also shown on a smaller scale: she's the oldest and most powerful in the main cast (save for David) and feels responsible for the younger girls, especially her siblings. She notes that all power comes with a price.
    • With Rae, too.
  • Theme Naming: The author likes naming characters after celestial object, gemstones and myths. See the Meaningful Name section.
  • The Rich Have White Stuff: Everything the Ciphers own.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Acidalia is the Wife, or the mature, beautiful, intelligent one. Lyra is seen by society as the Seductress, but is actually the innocent Child. Cassiopeia likes to see herself as the Wife, but is actually the Seductress.
  • The Unfavorite: Played with. Dalia, the older girl, is the one put on a pedestal and given immense amounts of money and power by society, but she is loathed by her mother. Aleskynn, the younger girl in a world where this is stigmatized, is treated with a sort of indifference by everyone- except her mother, who would do anything to help her littlest daughter succeed. Even if it involves trying to murder her eldest and actually murdering her son.
  • The Unpronounceable: Raeilya and Cadé. Dalia notes that the vowels in Raeilya are too fast and fluid for her- or any other human- to reproduce, and the C in Cadé has a "guttural" sound. Raeilya is happy with the nickname Rae, but Cadé has yet to offer an alternative. Likewise, the Mira can say Acidalia and Andromeda... but not the letter T, resulting in them calling Atlas "add-lass."
    • Most Mira names are like this. All of Rune's siblings' names are completely unpronounceable to Acidalia.
  • Translation Convention: The Eleutherians all speak some mostly gibberish Latin-like language, but of course, all the dialogue is written in English. The only time you hear what they're actually saying is when the chapter is written from Cressida's perspective, as she barely understands Terran Latin.
  • Tron Lines: Andromeda's prosthetics, the military in general.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Andromeda's tomboy to Dalia's girly-girl, Athena's tomboy to Carina's girly-girl.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Nearly everyone has these. Andromeda likes dramatic musicals, Carina likes pretty hair and nice clothes, Lyra likes fancy dresses, etc. Even some of the men have girly streaks.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Rae clarifies her age with this, as Mira years are 1.5 times as long as Earth years.
  • Vague Age: Alestra. According to basic maths, she's middle-aged, but other characters consistently describe her as looking as young as her 20 year old daughter. Carina says that if she didn't know who it was, she'd assume Alestra was twenty-something. Justified, considering the easy access the rich have to DNA mods and anti-aging therapy.
  • Variant Chess: Three-way chess, as depicted in the page image.
  • Verbal Tic: Lyra says "I mean..." a lot.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: The first sign that they're no longer in known space is when Cressida's metadit starts giving her errors.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Labora are expendable, common factory workers. Presumably robots are too expensive to make and repair.
  • White Sheep: Acidalia is a descendant of hundreds of dictators, ranging from dangerously stupid to outright genocidal.
  • Wine Is Classy: Sort of. Alestra is fond of the stuff.
  • Woman in White: Dalia and Alestra, naturally.
  • Worldbuilding: Everything about Eleutheria is meticulously planned down to the smallest details: the castes, the districts, the business system/economy, the gangs, the socioeconomic levels, the language- it even has a measurement system based on SI units but with more Latinized/Greek-ized versions of the names to better fit the city's languages (eketo instead of hecto, and metron instead of meter, for example.)
  • World of Action Girls: It's a horrifying dystopian megacity where all men are conscripted into the military. Being an Action Girl is a prerequisite if you want to survive.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: In the future, diamonds and precious metals can be synthesized so easily they've lost their value. Characters treat them like they're plastic and rhinestones.
  • Wretched Hive: The Cyber Punk slums of Appalachia are basically this. Gangs rule everything, there's a massive stim problem, Labora regularly work themselves to death, abandoned orphans are practically as common as air, pollution makes the white buildings gray, and it's not explicitly mentioned (this is a YA book) but it can be assumed that prostitutes are everywhere.
    • T explicitly refers to the red-light district, and Lyra basically all but says that plenty of Cantatores turn to sex work because "dancing" doesn't make enough money.
  • Uptown Girl: Acidalia is much wealthier than Rune.
  • Urban Segregation: The Ciphers live in shiny penthouses. The Cantatores and Laborum die on ground level.
  • Used Future: If you can't afford the shiny Ascetic Aesthetic of the upper class- meaning, if you're a member of 99.99% of the population- this is what you get.
  • Uterine Replicator: How most of the characters were "born." Acidalia is the notable exception, being that she's technically illegitimate royalty and her conception was an accident.
  • Utopia: How most outsiders see Eleutheria, at least until they meet someone actually from there.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: TB and Cass justify eugenics because it will create a "perfect human race."
  • You Never Did That for Me: Acidalia frequently thinks this, and T as well, but to a lesser extent considering he never lived with his siblings. Their littlest sister is definitely the favorite child.
  • 0% Approval Rating: The modern Eleutherian caste system. Loyalists hate it because they feel that the "genetically superior" people are stagnant and not allowed to move up to take the control they deem rightfully theirs, while Revolutionaries hate it because of its inequality, abuse and genocidal tendencies.

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