Saturday 1 November 2008

Life On The Stars- Part Two; Time to Disembark

Some of you may have forgotten totally about the people of Ruby Alpha Prima.

Indeed, I figure most of you don't care much about them, and to you I say, don't worry because I will actually be starting another post as soon as this one is published. But to the small handful of readers who are enjoying this series and enjoyed the Life on Mars one as well, here's the next installment.

The situation for Ruby Alpha Prima is that in five years time, it will actually commence the operation of disembarking onto the surface of one of the planets that orbit Ruby. And the guiding lights of Ruby Alpha Prima are starting to look forward to this with some degree of trepidation.

No one living in Ruby Alpha Prima knows anything of life on a planet. Their ancestors left Sol three hundred years ago, a year behind them is another mobile colony, then another stretching in a line going to the one that has just left Sol.

Life in Ruby Alph Prima, bears no resemblance to life in orbit round Sol. And the ancestors that the people of Ruby Alpha Prima recall as leaving Sol, are as far distant to them as the ancestors most Americans look back on who landed on the shores of the New World.
Life on solid ground, is not a concept they are familiar with. They know of it, they study history, they receive regular broadcasts from Sol, but when those broadcasts reach them, they are already fifteen years out of date. Conversation with Sol is a generational affair. You ask a question of Sol, your children will receive the reply.

And life in Ruby Alpha Prima is not like life around a planet. Life in Ruby Alpha Prima is not life that could be understood by an inhabitant of Sol of the 26th century. When the people of Ruby Alpha Prima see the paradise of the planets that orbit Sol, they cannot help but look in wonder. For the most part. Because it is alien to them. The people of Sol live a life of ease, fed, housed, clothed and provided for by a computerised system of production and distribution that merely has to be overseen by technicians. Essentially, the only work done around Sol now, is the pressing of buttons. And for the most part, the system just operates automatically. Fissionable material carved directly drom the surface of the sun is put in one end, food and material goods come out the other end. But somewhere in between elements are forged, than turned into compounds and those compounds manufactured. No one actually needs to intervene, just oversee it, check that the screens are showing that everything is working as it should.

Feeding and providing for itself, that isn't something the people of Sol worry about. What they devote the bulk of their energy to, is the expansion of the species. The perpetual building of more and more mobile colonies.

And now that mobile colonies are finally starting to approach their destinations, to finding ways to co-ordinate between the colonised stars to actually attempt the real scientific miracles that will bring this human web together, to harness vast reserves of power, to harness enough power to conquer the light barrier.

Every year now, Sol pumps out over a hundred mobile colonies, heading in different directions, each one home to a hundred million colonists. Sol is sending out its people and its culture in spores to fertilise the galaxy. This is life taken to the next level. A new chapter. The first virus. The first DNA. The first Eukaryote cell. The first Predator. The first Tetrapod. The first Placental Mammal. The first Man. The first self replicating Star System.

Man is already the Overman.

But life on Ruby Alpha Prima is not life on Sol. There is no room for it to be. It has had to adopt rules that Sol does not need. A hundred million people living in such close conditions have to adopt rules Sol does not. Sol pumps its surplus out into space. Its surplus have nowhere to pump their surplus to, they must wait.

Life in Ruby Alpha Prima has reverted to other human dynamics. It is a hard culture, a brutal culture in some respects, Spartan, austere. Rigid conformity has had to be the watchword. The young are brought up in a rigid ideology, self service to the colony being the absolute ideal, with the reward that one day your children will orbit Ruby. A hard eugenics programme is in force, with each generation only reproducing the exact number it needs to staff the colony and breeding them artificially. Sol is too far away to question the ethics and values that rule the mobile colonies and nor would it care if it did. Ultimately, Sol only cares that the mobile colonies reach their destinations and land people on the surfaces of the planets in question.

Ruby Alpha Prima is a moving police state, a mobile tyranny. But it has no choice but to be. It's very existence is too precarious to allow even one individual to step out of line.

And now, as it prepares to reach its final destination, let us see the problems that its guiding lights need to worry about.

Report by Professor General Mitesh Vara to the Supervisory Committee of Ruby Alpha Prima.

After having duly carried out a study on the possible effects of migration to a terrestial environment on the inhabitants of Ruby Alpha Prima, it is my opinion that the original strategy conceived of by our ancestors is inadequately conceived.

The original conception was for the entire populace to disembark and immediately commence on the terraforming of the planets of Ruby. Within a year we would be joined by the people of Ruby Alpha Seconda. Then two years after, Ruby Alpha Quaterna would arrive. Each year, more colonists. With the materials and technology at our disposal and the constant influx of new colonists, it was envisaged that the terraforming process would last a generation or so, and that within two generation complete infrastructural systems that only needed to be added to to allow for fresh colonists every year would be needed.
As regards the actual homes we have lived in for generations, our ancestors envisaged that once we had repaired and revitalised the units with raw materials from Ruby, they should be sent anew, with a small portion of our number departing in them. In other words, after a generation or so, Ruby would start exporting people onwards yet again. Initially, we would simply use the units we had come in, only in years to come would we actually start constructing our own and exporting at anything like the level our parent star now does.

After having carried out an analysis of the culture of Ruby Alpha Prima, it is my considered opinion that a major alteration needs to take place in this plan.

And this alteration needs to be communicated back to the colonies following us, and they too need to consider this is what needs to be done.

Our ancestors did not consider what a culture shock disembarking would be. Our ancestors considered that everyone would want to land. Our ancestors were born on solid ground, our ancestors looked up every day to see a star shining across their sky and turning it bright blue.
They have sold us this vision.

Our people think they want it, they think they want to land and build a world, like the visions they see of Sol.
They do not, for the most part.

We have built a colony that functions on principles which we have learned by studying the insect colonies of Earth. That is how we now live. This is how mobile colonies function best. It is not how stable societies reproducing exponentially in orbit around a star function best.
The people we now need to do what our ancestors envisaged we should do, are the exact ones we now find as things stand, are the ones that usually pose so much difficulty to the orderly administration of the colony. For three hundred years we have survived by stifling free thinking. But Ruby will need that. Free thinking, determination, lateral thinking.

Our ancestors never envisaged the idea that we'd be in the position where most of us just aren't suited to disembark, but the facts of the matter are, that is the case.

The bulk of our population are suited to simply maintaining the seed of human life whilst it travels. In brutal terms, it would be better for most of them if they didn't disembark.

The question is, how we tackle this?

My actual assessment of this colony- and I would guess it holds true for all colonies, is that about ten percent could probably handle disembarking. Around ten million.

Of course, this poses a problem for this particular colony. Because the original concept was that we should all disembark. And for this colony to go onwards- as with all colonies, fresh materials are needed to restore the fabric of the colony to the state it was in three hundred years ago. It was built to last and work for three hundred years, then be replenished and revitalised.

My suggestion is this. We change the disembark procedure. Only this colony should disembark in full. And even then, only temporarily.

I propose we land and divide ourselves into two groups. Unfortunately, we're going to have to accept that more people are going to have to be part of this first batch of planet dwellers than are suited to it, but in the long run, it will still be a better plan than our ancestors envisioned.

One group will consist of the fifty percent who really should continue life in mobile colonies. The other will be those who can conceivably cope with terrestial life long term. The second group will continue with the terraforming plan as originally envisaged.

The first group however will devote themselves to simply gathering the necessary materials and preparing the means to replenish and revitalise a mobile colony. Hopefully, this can be done by fifty million people within the space of a year.

Then, when Ruby Alpha Seconda approaches, these fifty million can simply fly out to meet it, and simply engage in a simple population swap, Ruby Alpha Seconda sending down the fifty million it believes can cope with terrestial life, and those we elected to continue mobile colony life will enter Ruby Alpha Seconds, which will now replenish and revitalise itself without stopping. It will head onwards to a star beyond this. Where, in centuries to come, it will repeat the same procedure.

And after that, as each mobile colony reaches Ruby, it will send down the ten percent it believes can cope with terrestial life, and be sent up the materials it needs to restore itself in return.

This plan is actually better in the long run, because it means;
  1. No break in colonising space.
  2. It will take longer for the worlds of Ruby to fill up.
  3. After a few years the population of Ruby will mainly consist of people suited to terrestial life.
  4. New births- and therefore natives of Ruby- will always exceed incoming colonists, thus allowing a stable native culture to develop.
  5. Rather than wait before expanding the human sphere beyond the initially proposed globe of stars around Sol, mankind takes no break before carrying on. Mankind's long term objectives are achieved quicker.
  6. It will actually be the plan that most accords with the overall happiness of all involved.

It is my recommendation that this report be implemented immediately. It is furthermore my recommendation that we take due care and consideration in how this is announced. At present, most of our people think they want to disembark. They don't. But they have been brought up to believe they do. We need to prepare them for the facts, that really, the real future of mobile colonies should be that they continue forever, only depositing a small percentage of their populace on the worlds they were sent to seed before continuing.

And we need to start spreading this down the chain of mobile colonies, to their commands. And ultimately back to Sol.

I am certain Sol will approve this change in the plan.

We need to face the facts- as do our people- that we are not planet dwellers, that for us, disembarking is the hard choice.

Ruby is the great unknown, the Brave New World.

We need to face the facts that over the last three hundred years humanity has been dividing itself into two types, two groups. At present there exist more human beings in mobile colonies than exist on the solid ground of stars. And we need to accept that mobile colonies are permanent habitats. There really are two modes of human existence, living around stars, and carrying the seed of humanity to stars.

And one of the functions of those who carry the seeds of humanity to stars, is to take as much care as we can to give that seed the best chance we can.

To be continued...

No comments: