The Rules for the University for Human Study

Steven Bergom

The University for Human Study was never meant to be a closed universe. There is no way that I could possibly write every story of every student within a university while still maintaining an overall sense of direction. I would end up getting stuck on too many details; details which are best left to the minds of the readers.

What follows are a set of rules, suggestions and tips, some of which are unbreakable, some of which can be bent for a very convincing argument. Use them, and use them wisely. If you have questions, ask, and I will attempt to provide answers.


  1. The Myrtraal Nothing is known about the Myrtraal social structure or biology. They appear aloof to the students but will make themselves available to answer questions on their studies. At no time may the reader know anything about the Myrtraal; a character may, but cannot pass that information beyond the bounds of the story.
  2. Technology Arthur C. Clarke once said — and has subsequently been paraphrased to death — "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." This is the primary governing rule of UHS and will not be broken. Since the technology of the early twenty-fifth century is not sufficiently advanced, there is no magic. There are no warp drives or convenient "discoveries of the week" as has been so prevalent in recent Star Trek incarnations. New devices may be introduced so long as they do not leap too far ahead of 'current' standards.
  3. Transformations All transformations are based upon human anatomy and physiology. Keep this firmly in mind when desiring to create a centaur: the transformation must be at least semi-plausible. Nano-machines may be used as part of the transformation but remember that they can only work slowly and for small 'tweaks' since the energy required to convert, say, Phil Geusz into a cuddly little bunny would probably melt the entire university complex into a polymer puddle. (Of course, there are arguments that Phil is already a cuddly bunny so any such transformation would, by its very nature, be useless.)

    Transformations by the Myrtraal are, by their very nature, slow since they are medically sculpting living tissue. To increase the chances of a student surviving their procedures, the Myrtraal first fix telomeres and other genetic abnormalities while at the same time "kicking up a notch" the students' metabolisms (with apologies to Emeril Lagasse).

    It should also be noted that the Myrtraal are never malicious about their surgical procedures. They honestly do not want to hurt any living creature but are never-the-less curious about human culture and spirit.

  4. Students The students are really just your average college kid who wants to see the world (galaxy, in this case). They are all quite intelligent and have a desire to learn since these are two of the properties that the Myrtraal filtered their candidates for. Most have no one back on Earth waiting for them.
  5. Leaving No one leaves Mnalik'tor or even goes to the surface of Myrtraal (see rule 1) until they graduate. Exceptions to this rule may be made in extenuating circumstances.
  6. Superpowers I am loathe to add this rule but since people will more than likely be asking I shall give a resounding, "NO!" For further discussion, see rule 2.
  7. Telepathy Until such time as I have researched the mental arts I hereby place a moratorium on floating pencils around with brain-power alone. In the meantime, I am considering using a system similar to what is seen on Babylon 5, but without the Psi Corps. (If you are unfamiliar with B5 then just don't use it.)
  8. The University Complex A fairly detailed description was given for the university in An Introduction to the Age of Innocence and a map will be made, time permitting.
  9. Time The Age of Innocence as the first series of stories will be called, concern the time from the opening of the university (2413) to a cataclysmic event (to be revealed in later stories, around 2434).
  10. Academia There are three education periods during the Earth solar year (henceforth called trimesters) each being aprroximately x weeks in duration with a month in-between. Each student attends general lectures in the morning covering general requirements. In the afternoon the students meet in small groups with a Myrtraal professor to focus on their course of study. These groups are often involved in a project of some sort to give them real-world skills.
  11. Numbers There are two dormitories each with ten floors and forty rooms per floor (one person per room). Therefore there is room at the university for 2*10*40=800 students. Do not exceed this. The dormitories are oficially named A and B, but informally called Wallace and Wilson (respectively) by the students. Wilson will not be used until Wallace is at 75% capacity. At twenty students per trimester this comes to 15 trimesters or five years (year 2418).


These are not rules but suggestions on what to write about in the UHS universe. Since they are not rules, I will not in any way, shape or form enforce them or declare war on the author should he/she/it break them.

Totem animal - Many list members have a totem animal or form that they identify most with. More often than not, this form is seen consistently in various writings and can be a good thing because it provides a nice little already-researched base for character development. UHS, however, desires new and exciting forms that are created with an eventual purpose in mind. For example, Jenny is a young lady who is green, not because of envy, but because she has had a symbiotic plant fused to her dermis. As such she is much more likely to survive on a planet with few resources but abundant sunlight.

Time - Though it is not required it is a good idea to include a year/rough date with a story to provide context for actions and to make it easier for other authors to fit their stories into the UHS universe. The first age is rather tight and a university by its very nature has students coming and going, making the composition of the student body extrememly dynamic. Any help that you can provide other others will be appreciated.

Archive - A lot of backstory has been written in my exploration of this universe and will be made available should anyone need or request it. Since much does not include transformations it will not be posted to TSA-Talk but lives at the main UHS site, but you already knew that, didn't you!

Creator authority - I, Steven Bergom, retain full control over the universe and the right to declare a story non-canon. This control may at some future date be given up either because I have become bored (not likely) or there is a coup wherein the giant Astral Lemur does not come to my aid and beat my attackers off with a large burrito.

Plot - I do have a super-plot mapped out and may seem a bit tight-fisted about the Age of Innocence, but that control will be loosened when the second age is entered. Be patient; I have my reasons.


Question How many different kinds of aliens are there?

Answer Currently there are three known sentient species in the Milky Way galaxy: the Myrtraal, the humans and the Xixxr. The Myrtraal and humans we have already met, but we won't see much of the stick/insect-like Xixxr because they are extremely xenophobic. The Myrtraal met them during their initial explorations and were kindly asked to "bugger off". In fact, only those in the upper echelons of academia know about the Xixxr, but they keep the secret tighter than the military men in charge of Ultra. Do NOT randomly add new aliens without my express permission because I don't want this turning into another alien-of-the-week sci-fi series (derogatory meaning of "sci-fi" used here).

Question Can I write a story where a character graduates and finds work on Earth?

Answer By all means, please do! You can't spend all of your time in college (though some have tried) and one of my ulterior motives for UHS is to get these well-educated, transformed students into Earth society. If they can't get a job in the private sector, there will always be the government that needs manpower (blatant hint for things to come).

Question You know, I got this great idea where my character can turn into a jelly sandwich from a monkey. Can I do it?

Answer As long as you cut the jelly sandwich morphing part out. See rules 3 and 6.

Question My character had a close relative/friend die while at the university. Can he/she return to Earth for a period of time?

Answer Consider the time and circumstances involved. First, at what stage in the transformation is your character at? Do they need special equipment or have special nutrition requirements? Second, the travel time between Earth and Myrtraal is immense taking several months and the ECF Dixon is the only liner on that particular running, making only three trips per year. In short, probably not.

Question How about a sweetheart left back on Earth?

Answer As explained in An Introduction to the Age of Innocence Earth-Myrtraal communication is not extremely reliable and long-distance relationships have not been known to be the most stable. If you want to meet up with a high-school sweetheart after your character graduates, I'll fully endorse that. Otherwise you need to come up with a better communication design than wave-propagated subspace ansibles.

Question But my jelly sandwich idea is real good.

Answer No it's not. Trust me. And work on your grammar, because it's "really good".

Question Aw, come on!

Answer When I was a TA I never budged on inflating a student's grade no matter how much they begged. What makes you think I'd change a stated policy now?

Question But…

Answer If you persist with harrying me over this point I will start a rumor that you perpetrated an awful pun and sit back to watch a certain synx beat you over the head with a dead fish! Now, scoot!


Hopefully that should be enough for now. More answers will be available when my muse deigns to give me insight.