Saturday 4 October 2008

Life On The Stars- Part One; Ruby Alpha Prima

This post commences the second mini-series, a series which should be seen as a sequel to the four part 'Life On Mars' series.

It is set on one of the mobile colonies described in the last post of that series.

This series takes place along way away from Sol. For those who don't know what or where Sol is, it's here. Sol is- as you might see as obvious if you think about- the astronomical name for THIS star, the one we orbit. But we rarely use it today. After all, it's different to all the others. It doesn't need a name. There is The Sun. And stars.
Of those other stars, a few have names. Names given them largely by Arabic astronomers and bearing names like 'Aldeboran' and 'Rigil'.
But in fact, most stars don't have names, not names recognised by the IAU anyway. Most of them simply have catalogue titles.

So in fact, few of our nearest neighbours in fact have a name at all.

However, there are numerous companies out there offering you the chance to pay a fee and have a star named after a loved one. Now as it stands, this counts for nothing in reality. These companies are not legal bodies. Indeed the naming of stars is, generally considered the prerogative of the IAU.

And the premise of this series, is that it describes the first mobile colony to reach the star we would now call Gliese 876. Gliese 876 is actually quite an important star- although not important in the night sky. It's important because it only 15 light years away and we know it has a planetary system like ours. We call it Gliese 876, because it is the 876th star listed in the Gliese catalogue of stars. There are a couple of thousand stars which are simply known by the designation 'Gliese' and then a number.

But I'm postulating that when the first mobile colony propelled in that direction is fired forth from Sol, those who go will not be calling their destination Gliese 876.

So, in this future launch date of 2250, all the stars that have been chosen as final destinations for the Mobile colonies, bear names. And I'm guessing that maybe those gullible people who paid money to name stars after loved ones in catalogues that had no technical standing might turn out not to be losers after all.

In this series, Gliese 876 carries the first name it was given by a human being, as humanity has now decided should be fair.
And in this series, that happened to be Ruby.

And every year, Sol sends out a mobile colony to Ruby. Every year it also sends one out to Elvis, Joanna, Nikki, Kylie Minogue and about fifty stars all bearing very typical twentieth and twenty first century names of celebrities and loved ones.

And each mobile colony is practically a self contained world within its own right.

Ruby Alpha Prima was the first to go, and will be the first to reach it's destination. At the time this series commences, 2546 AD, it is five years away from reaching its destination. It has the shortest journey of the mobile colonies. It will have taken just three centuries to reach it's final destination.

It was followed, a year behind by Ruby Alpha Seconda, then Ruby Alpha Tertia, Ruby Alpha Quaterna, and so on. Indeed, it is five years from it's destination, but even now a mobile colony leaves Earth in that direction. A line of mobile colonies on their way to Ruby, stretches across space between Sol and the star we today call Gliese 876.
And of course, for each of the other fifty chosen stars, the same is so. Only Joanna Alpha Prima is still a hundred and fifty years away, others further yet.

Not all mobile colonies have survived. Ruby Alpha Prima has radio contact with Sol still, but also with the other mobile colonies. Some mobile colonies have imploded, the pressures of two many people living so long in closed conditions has created unstable societies which have destroyed themselves. Gone is Ruby Alpha Tertia, and others too.

But as time has progressed, the wastage has decreased. The mobile colonies which have survived are those which have been able to work out a way for a hundred million people to live, feed and breed inside a mobile rock the diameter of Wales.

Because live has changed for the people of Ruby Alpha Prima.

The first generation knew they would never see the end of the road. They were a representative sample of the people of Sol, a cross section of belief systems, of tastes, of ideals, of skills. They knew that they could not mourn their home star, they'd never see it in the flesh again, nor would they in their lives EVER be in orbit round a star again. But they still relished the daily broadcast received from Sol, still sent recently enough for them to know when they received it that it was up to date. They still sent messages home to friends they knew, still looked at the holographic images of the worlds of Sol and saw a life they knew. And in their minds that was what they were taking with them to Ruby.

For the second generation, it was different. Sol remained the largest star in the sky, it remained large in the stories they had grown up with, they knew it existed and they knew of it as a reality they had never experienced, but they learned heir life from those who had. And the news from Sol was still an important part of their lives.

But as the generations passed by, that changed. Eventually generations were reached who no longer asked Sol what to do when they encountered a problem. Why would they they were the sons of sons of sons of mobile colony dwellers. Who was likely to know the answer, them or Sol?

And why wait the years it would take to get an answer from Sol?
The broadcasts from Sol depicted a culture alien to them. A culture that made a certain sense to them from their knowledge of history, but still, Sol both past and present wasn't a culture they recognised. Not a culture they quite felt they'd belong in.
Their nearest neighbour was after all, another mobile colony.

And so each mobile colony essentially existed as a place in a thread, the culture diverging between Sol and Ruby Alpha Prima like a cultural game of Chinese Whispers.

These were the middle generations. These generations were the generations who never thought what it would be like to walk on a planet, not in reality. The mobile colony was their home.
And the final destination assumed a kind of religious significance. It was the goal, the point of life. Not your own life, but life generally.
And one day a generation was born which saw Ruby as the brightest star in the sky. Sol had to be pointed out to them, the distant origin world.

A generation which could not in reality conceive of vast open spaces. Of a natural light in the sky. Of steel craft thronging the atmosphere, of rivers, of hills, of the life their ancestors had left and which their descendants would enjoy.

And finally, a generation was born which looked towards Ruby and knew that, barring accidents, one day they'd be in orbit around it. In their lifetime.

That the three hundred years of cultural development that had been their history was going to change. A whole new life was in front of them. They were going to land on solid ground.
And a year after, they'd be joined by Ruby Alpha Seconda.

And their leaders were looking ahead in consternation. The final goal.

For their ancestors had been sent forth to recreate Sol.
It could not be Sol that was recreated.

Sol lived only in history and irregular broadcasts of information. Day to day life on Sol was something no one on Ruby Alpha Prima had an inkling of. Or life around a star system generally.

And it's this concept I want to look at next week, as the people of Ruby Alpha Prima look ahead to landing on the planets of Ruby, the star they have long looked forward to, their new home. How they tackle the huge culture shock, how they set about the task put on them long ago in their history and what decisions they make.

To be continued.


Anonymous said...

"And one day a generation was born which saw Ruby as the brightest star in the sky"

All i can say is: Finally! :p

Anonymous said...


Yes but it is one born in about four hundred years time...
You may have to wait a bit longer :)

Anonymous said...

Very cool.

Regarding site navigation -- it doesn't appear you're using the 'labels' function. Is there a way (link?) for me to bring up all your 'sci-fi' offerings together in one view? I know I'll want to read them all again concurrently without doing a great deal of searching if possible. Just asking.

Anonymous said...

FWG- The answer to the labels question is a simple one.
When I started blogging, I didn't know how to edit posts- if you look at the history of this blog, it's also a history of me becoming IT literate.

And now with six hundred odd posts I just can't be arsed, but I guess at some point I'll have to face that task.

Each post in a series does link back to it's predecessor, so it's possible to read them in reverse.

You might want to google 'Crushed by Ingsoc The Grand Vision The Utopia I believe in' I have no idea when I wrote it, but it kind of elaborates the future I hope for. There are others, but I can't think of them offhand.