beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
If you're bringing people with you to another planet, people who will literally be 100% of the humans you see for the rest of your life, who do you bring?

Read more... )

I'd be tempted to start with people with shared fandoms.

... no, for serious. They'll have something to talk about, shared focal texts, a starting point that may suggest a shared set of values, or at least a way to talk about values that seems relatively neutral. They'll share a dream.

It has to be easier to get along with a shared starting point.

But with that very familiar context you can imagine all the drama you'd be packing too. The flame wars would be epic, if there was never again the possibility of just leaving...

Also, if you start with space scientists, you get a lot of fandom people anyway.

But F&SF is super popular, so it might not be much of a sorting mechanism.

I'd also be really tempted to bring a bunch of actors too.
Read more... )

Culture and science are so much bigger than you can fit in a small town, you'd want everyone to have diversified skills. Like if you could choose between two doctors and only one played an instrument you'd probably want to bring them. Or artists or writers or actors.

... I have a *very good reason* to want to bring Peter Wingfield. Made of logic and everything.

Space Colony, as an idea, is a way of weighing up your priorities and values. Apparently my first thoughts are F&SF fans, actors, writers, and only then medics...

But it's also a daydream of getting away from all them others. Which... is less nice.

Slight improvement on the appeal of the apocalypse, but you have the same math problems after the end. If you need to scrape together 10K survivors to have a chance of human survival, there's really a lot of stories that are just about the slow dying of the light, cause groups that small aren't going anywhere in the long term.

Read more... )

I'd want to bring the widest packable variety of foodstuffs too. I, personally, do not eat meat or dairy, but if the survival of the colony depends on growing food under conditions you can't possibly predict in the relevantly long term, you want all the biodiversity humanly possible.

Read more... )

... so the ideal colonist is an actor with medical training who can grow some sort of food.

I've thought on plot bunnies that start with having a sf convention through a Stargate, that then stops working. You'd probably have medics and military in the mix somewhere, but you'd very probably not have done the math on genetic variation, and 10K would be a really large con around here.

I've also got one where a planned colony of 200 go through the Stargate partly to make propaganda films for declassification, to sell the world on the universe, but also to build up their own planet with naquada mining and a university with medical school that can trade through the gate. They need to build quickly in preparation for the rest of the 10K arriving. But they have all the usual hostilities to contend with too.

... imagine being a builder and having to worry about... well, building in a war zone, not a new idea, just with some alien whatsits on top.

Builders and plumbers and carpenters and all sorts, you'd need.

... huh, imagine trying to keep the skill of carpentry alive on a generation ship, simply because you know you'll need it eventually. Or lumberjacks...

You wouldn't want to rely on Earth for all your culture because it's going to drift away from locally interesting pretty quickly. It's another country now. Consider how foreign soaps and comedy travel, and then imagine a few light years in the way.

And how would you feel about crowd scenes?

Stargate Atlantis fandom has done a few plans, for 200, mostly as crit of how ridiculously under prepared canon was. Start with olives and honey and sweet potato and all the staples of a thousand years that you just can't be sure are out there...

Colony design is ridiculously tricky, and some of the early ones will fail. We should start practising now. Intentional communities designed for a minimum of outside input, the ultimate in local supplies.

... but I think we'd currently be really bad at this, because even if we allow unlimited data import, there's still so many other things we'd want from the wider world.

How do you even dress yourself without half the stuff being from the other side of the world?

... must pack tailors and seamstresses and people with the knowing of fibre arts...

So much human knowledge, how do you pack it all small?

Appreciation of interconnected specialisation rising...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So, I read a story where the Earth's entire colonisation effort was something like thirty women, and they were going to get implanted with preserved embryos on their first day there because they might be the whole hope of survival for the human race.

... which bothers me on several levels.

Read more... )

Obviously if everyone is women you do what the computer tells you and grow whatever was frozen well enough. Er, whoever.

How long would they keep up the Ladies Only plan?

I mean if the plan is to get as much genetic diversity as possible out of the frozen embryo stores in the ship and there's some kind of time limit on that, you'd want to make sure there's plenty of wombs to go around. Would you get everyone out in a single generation?

If you're aiming for ten thousand colonists, even if you have multiple births routinely and soak the risk, that needs a really big first gen pool. So you'd want to keep up the embryos plan for multiple generations, without losing any of the earlier generations. You could do that with donor sperm and embryos. Or with a lot of social stuff to make sure your great grandchildren are still interested in decanting old world people.

also one of the mathier pieces says "the consequences of the increased medical risks of late childbirth have not yet been considered." It wanted to stretch the generations on a generation ship by having kids around 40, but, wow is that a biggie to leave out of your math. I mean, your chances change substantially over time.

Read more... )

But only the first 200 would be volunteers who up front believe themselves willing to act that way. The future survival of the human race would depend on their reproductive behaviour. Their choices would be severely constrained.

And to get all the embryos out of storage in the shortest generations they'd need to get their daughters to act the same way. Which seems... unlikely.

Read more... )

Hard science fiction that sets out a space colony as that baby focused without thinking through how they're actually going to feed the babies is just bad.

I mean, maybe they all get pregnant before they've got a crop going on the grounds that if they starve to death it's all one anyway, but... no.

Also the science problem in the novellette I read was far less interesting to me than the social consequences of the background setup. Read more... )

I think one big factor for viable colony size calculations is something like, if we send people who act pretty much like people of that cultural background do, how many do we need?

Like, we'd need to include murder rates from somewhere.

You do not get perfectly behaved people. No matter how you filter them at the start.

And the cultural changes would be massive even in the first generation kids. I mean how many immigrants feel like they don't really understand their children?

And if the future of the human race depends on women's reproductive choices, it's kind of more likely to work if you start with what those choices *actually* tend to be. First gen you could filter for people that want big families - though not for people that want big families once they start having them and are surrounded by them - but second gen will do as they will.

How do you design a colony socially so it does what you need genetically?

Clue: you do not stick thirty women on a one way trip and keep them pregnant from the first month they get there.

Hard science needs to at least glance at soft science or it requires the ridiculous.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
It is Cleaner Day
so I have to be awake until there is a cleaner and they work and go away
but I do not have to like it.

I mean I like the part where things get clean
ugh, awake.

So post apocalyptic societies Read more... )

Economies have a lot of story in them. I know I go straight from post apocalypse economics to zombies and magic but it's plenty complex enough for plot without. Actually that's part of the appeal of magic, there's a rulebook and we can say what the effects are without multiple degrees, because it's all handwavium.

Except it wouldn't be once you had established parameters. Magic would be just another factor in a thriving economy.

It's easier to control the magic use by thinking of ways it just wouldn't do the thing, but it's more fun to try and see what it would do, if the thing got easy.

I still have to be awake some more but I don't think I'm having great insights.

I'll go do something else.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I was thinking about colonising other planets via the Stargate network
as you do
which led to looking up some numbers.

In the milky way the Stargate has 39 symbols, 38 plus point of origin, leading to 1,987,690,320 hypothetical possible gate addresses according to wiki. But google suggests the current best guess on habitable planets in this galaxy is about 11,000,000,000 - though we're really guessing a lot of things to guess that. So even if every address was a functioning address to a currently habitable planet, that's like 90% of the galaxy that you can't dial. Read more... )

What kind of civilisation needs the gate system with these numbers?

I'm thinking it's so easy to fracture and fragment that they inevitably would. Way worser than the Cherryh Alliance/Union stuff, if so few people can go so many places.

I keep thinking about a mutant homeworld for Magneto. If they dialled the gate themselves then there'd be a 1/1,987,690,320 chance of finding them by random dialling. Though obviously if they're sensible people they'd have used an explored address. There's still a bunch of those after 10 years.

How many empty worlds did they find that were even marginally suitable for colonisation?

I know the empty world narrative is creepy, as is colonisation as a word, because historically there have been rather a lot of people standing around trying to get people's attention to point out they were in fact there first, and historically they have been responded to with genocide.

So, bad.

But it's a very big universe and we're dealing with very long timespans when we think of intelligent life evolving so finding a planet with no intelligent life to contest occupation seems kind of likely.

... Science Fiction has much more fun with the places that seemed empty but ain't, or the ones where empty isn't the half of the problems.

But I kind of like the idea of giving people a petri dish to start their preferred civilisations. I mean, that's going to go wrong in plenty enough ways just from people being people. Even without the people including Magneto.

But Magneto with a mutant homeworld that's actually a safe haven and not just a target... would he be able to relax? I think not, because he couldn't bring every mutant there forever, he'd feel responsible for the ones left behind. And if you have more than one wave going there the possibilities for discovery increase. But still.

... some people I kind of want to give a world and a holiday.

GURPS Space suggests you need 10K people for a self sustaining high tech level society. Lower numbers and the tech level inevitably drops. And I'm pretty sure they had to make up that number, but I want to poke it and possibly run experiments or find where the natural experiments are. Read more... )

Why I keep circling back to this problem is it's a medium scale How Do People Work. I mean, there's more than 7 billion people on this planet, that's way too many for me to get my head around. Countries are still pretty large. But colonies are potentially a smaller system with still all the working parts. How small can you pack a civilisation? Is 200 people going to be a representative or working sample? How about 1,000? How about 10,000?

What kind of skew or influence would you introduce simply via the sorting process?

The idea that Atlantis ended up very, very queer simply by bringing mostly people who didn't report being married is pretty plausible, at that time.

And obviously you'd get people who left the planet for a reason. You'd try and sort by compatible reasons, but you'd get clashes between different colonies that way, and you'd probably get clashes within a colony. Because put three people in a room and get five opinions.

I need to study much, much, much more and I don't know what bits.

Studying history isn't massively helpful because it seems to be mostly about who fights who. Fighting is the bits that don't work, I want to know how stuff works when it's working.

Also I'm not so much studying as picking up library books that seem in reasonable condition, and I haven't even done that for a couple months.

Really though, history of Britain is too huge a subject, how I to get my head around other people histories that maybe did better?


Okay, cleaner has been and gone, I'll think of something else to do.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm planning a space colony, with only Sim City and Settlers games to guide me.
I think I need better reading. I know urban planning is a thing actual people actually do, I should probably learn how they get started.

Things humans need: Air, water, food, waste disposal, shelter, warmth, stuff to do, ways to make more humans

Assume a new planet is terraformed to the point it has breathable air and a whole lot of trees (this being Stargate, that seems to be the case most often.)

A new colony could take a year's supply of ration packs, and clothes and tents and so forth that would last more than a year. The idea is they have a year to make enough profit to pay for a second trip through the gate with more supplies. But they also need to build the basics ready for the second wave to move into.

Read more... )

It's much easier to imagine the kind of stories where a couple of groups shoot at each other until one wins the shiny to take home. Actually making the homes is pretty complex. I don't think I've seen that story so often neither, to learn from it. It'd be like Grand Designs, only hundreds of times over, and where you have to figure out the entire supply chain from the dirt on up. And feeding the labourers. And if you wanted a sick bay to treat their injuries in then you'd have to bring or build it too.

Hard. No wonder there's more Space Vampire stories.

Okay, I'll post this and get on with my Sunday.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My first fandom, with conventions, mailing lists, and fanfic, was Highlander. That's where I got both my icon and my tattoo. I haven't rewatched it for a while, partly on the sneaking suspicion it might not be as good as the good bits version in my head, but it did shape me.

I build a character by choosing their weapon. It don't have to be a sword, or even a tool of violence, but whatever it is, it will be very specific. Each weapon has a specific use, a culture and community who used it, a history, a heritage. Their use was learned somewhere, and perfected over time as that particular tool seemed suited for that character's tasks.

Highlander was big on flashbacks. Read more... )

So I learned from Highlander that every character has history. Which seems pretty obvious. But a lot of shows, just by only telling the present, they make it seem like a character's life started in the pilot episode, or at least the interesting bit. Read more... )

A character's journey, historic and geographic, will influence which ideas they carry as well as the tools they use. And it can be very, very specific. Read more... )

And that kind of depth and detail is an absolute bugger to build into a created 'verse, fantasy or SF. It's hard enough to show what a world is like now, but it'll feel like a paper backdrop until it can give the impression it had a journey to get that way.

It's tempting to leave an individual in a holding pattern before the story gets started. Read more... )

I sat down to write this just to say that I think the space colony series I've been planning could benefit from flashbacks. Read more... )

Buuuuuut, presence of extensive flashbacks does not automatically endear a show to me. And even shows I like can have (interminable) flashbacks I could do without. I think the tricky bit is to keep it both relevant and fresh, despite it being the past. If the same thing happens in every flashback, bored now. And it's nice to see what made a character the person they are today, but it's tricky to get the right speed of revelation and to keep it tied to the plot of the week.

I'm also thinking about arc vs self contained stories. If one timeframe is arc and the other is self contained, does that compliment or drag at each other? Read more... )

The thing with my space colony though, I was going to use fanfic characters to give it depth of background, only to adapt them to this setting which is kind of a fusion or AU then I'd need to retell the most significant bits of their lives. New old friends, yes? Even if I used familiar names we'd need to get to know them twice, who they were in the fusion backstory and who they are in the ongoing plot. Read more... )

I keep telling myself that I haven't started writing this thing because if I just let it stew a bit longer it might be possible to file serial numbers off and make it proper original. Actually at the moment I have two slightly different offworld colony stories that just don't mesh, one with capertillers and Welsh stone circles and a very British cast, the other with a straight up Stargate setting. The Stargate one is always going to be fanfic, but right now it's merely a mess of a multi fandom fusion that I can't imagine anyone would read, and with a bit of polish it might be spin off series level original. The two series don't quite mesh, but they do both deal with disability and some magic cures. And I know that nobody hesitates to write different Being Masculine On a Starship stories, but I'm hesitating over different Being Disabled in a Space Colony stories, even though the differences are not things I could smush together. One is a low character point low resources ordinary people story, the other a high power vast resources big politics tale that draws on comic book characters and Star Trek level competence. They don't match, they don't go the same places, I kind of want to tell both, I stall on telling either.

I stall on putting one word next to another, and whenever I notice that, instead of opening a file and trying it, I just talk myself into a woe spiral about how maybe I'm not a writer after all. Blergh.

Or, as you may notice, pontificate at length in meta.

i'm going to post this and get breakfast. it's only 1530, i've been up since 0730, that's a totally reasonable interval before breakfast...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm currently mulling different structures for the governance of the 200 person offworld colony I keep planning. Democracy is good and dramatic, with the speeches and trying to gain the popular vote. Having representatives keeps the character pool small, but really, with 200 people and modern technology, how hard can it be for them to all turn up together and vote for stuff? But if they're voting, do I want to keep it one person one vote? And does anyone have a veto?

State systems of government don't seem to scale down real well. I mean, I could declare myself Queen and have two houses of people making up rules for me to approve or not, but I don't see 200 people thinking that's a good and efficient way to run things.

So I've ended up on wikipedia trying to learn the words about stocks and shares.
How they work I would also like to know, but thus far what I'm mostly learning is they've got their own language, and it is one which I do not as yet speak.

Read more... )

I can't just throw people at another planet and leave them to it, I have to figure out some kind of functional economy.

... I maybe need another degree?

... I need knowing where to start.

*wanders off looking for 'for dummies' stuff*
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Random thought about my Stargate space colony: it's supposed to be funded mainly by mining.
And I have decided that any story that could involve giving actors jobs should have at least one character of restricted growth.

... 7 mining technicians just introduced themselves, and I can't decide if it's a terrible idea...

see I decided to make more roles for short actors after I saw a documentary that featured some people who have spent their entire careers in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Years and years and years. In the same panto. Sometimes playing a different dwarf. I cannot even imagine how tired you get of the hi ho song. ... actually that probably applies even without being an actor.

... but, mining, and my current approach to characters of 'fanfic all the things'...

also, if I'm playing with the sarcophagus, there's plots about what constitutes healing and how disability is constructed and how it impacts / interacts with identity. Like, there's some ways of ending up short that might be 'healed', and others that would not, if the sarc takes a pattern from genetics and then resets everything to that specification. so a group of people to have different experiences would be helpful.

... but possibly still *facepalm* of me for thinking of it...

It's a story I was going to do in the Rhodri 'verse, only if you start with 200 colonists you can bring more variety from the get go and do the same story lots of different ways at once.

There's the thing where any story I sit down and make words on is a better story than the ones that never get made, but that only applies to the making of them, not the releasing them into the wild.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My space colony and my temple for my clerics and my hypothetical dream home can all be made with GURPS rules.

Read more... )

This isn't very interesting to read, but to figure out, it fills a few hours.

Settlers has people cut wood, and mine for clay, stone, iron and sulphur. You then build sawmills, brickmakers, stonemasons, smithies and alchemists. So I reckon the GURPS Spaceships rules for mining and refining Read more... )

I keep meaning to just write story, but playing with numbers keeps showing me holes in my story, and ways the initial decisions could be one way or another or a third, and then nothing gets started because play.

I did decide to only have one container of armoury, Read more... )
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
My brain is super helpful. So I end up with weird math in the space tag. Possibly also rhodri or stargate tags? I should have thought of a consistent tag if I ever wanted to find it all again.

So I worked out that a single stargate activation could easily let through 200 standard shipping containers, the artics carrying them, and whatever passengers fitted in the cabs. Or, of course, a shipping container full of people, but I'm making lines to color inside, so say each colonist brings one container and a theoretical 25 tons of cargo plus their personal backpack load. Then the lorries unload, turn around, dial home, and drive back.

Read more... )

200 people with stories that hook into sarcophagus use and leaving to build a new world.

Who would you bring?

... and how many others would they bring, on ice, on the hope?
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
How many people can you fit through a Stargate? I have thought about this before . Read more... )

So I guess it's between 10,000 and 15,833 people per gate opening, depending on margins of time and space.

Next I want to figure out how much freight can fit through, but there's too many variable numbers in that. Read more... )

I'm so bored these numbers are interesting.

But, if you were packing for another planet, and shelter is all going to be the shipping containers and their contents, what 8000 kg of stuff would you take with you?

... I wonder how much my stuff actually weighs?

... actually, simpler and just as crucial to figure, will it all fit in the one removal lorry? You could be driving one lorry each to the new world.

A 200 person new world is pretty small though. Which 200 people would you bring?
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

Could a standard shipping container fit through a Stargate?

Read more... )

I make all these daft plans for other planets.  I should go back to making daft plans for this planet.  Intentional communities as practice for space colonisation.

… fun?

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Have found in GURPS Low Tech Companion 3 a lot of rules for agriculture. It being Low Tech, they stop at TL 4. Logically there's plenty of available data on current tech level, but that's kind of the problem, there's a lot and I don't know where it is or which bits are remotely useful. Found one table that says cereal yields are currently around 7,000kg/hectare. Another article says potato 45 tonnes/hectare (tonne is 1000kg). GURPS doesn't always use sensible people units of measurement though. Their yields tables are in pounds per acre. Do not know how far TL changes yield, but know it is a lot. Cannot guess future of agriculture.

All becomes irrelevant once there are replicators. But once there are replicators, can we really imagine society? Think it, make it, no work for anyone, endless supplies. Your spaceship needs only a power source. The engineer is also the cook.

If making a garden in a spaceship, what kind of food yields do you get? Substantial higher than TL4. Something on HowStuffWorks reckons one experimental aeroponics system got 1000% (one thousand percent) better yields than current dirt grown versions of that crop. But they weren't talking about food crops. (They were quite a lot talking about pot. Apparently pot growing is a really cutting edge sort of enterprise.)(Somehow I suspect difficulties in reliability/repeatability of pot plant studies.)(Also my browser history now looks even worse than usual.)

Annoying thing is I know I've tried to figure this out before and gone lalala *handwave* in the end, but I forgot to check and now cannot find my earlier notes.

I realise very few space adventures are based around growing your own food. I have read a few hard SF stories and some fanfic that turned on details of space agriculture and nutrition though. I guess it's the kind of fiddly detail that lets you play with numbers happily even if engines bore you. Also, there's a lot of cooking shows on TV, so someone must be interested; not so many farming shows though, more gardening, possibly more interested in aesthetics than yields.

... I do all this, yet when faced with my own nutrition, I just kind of eat stuff and hope it works out.

beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I tried to start a game on tumblr of Starship Crew, add a person and pass it on. Then imagine what kind of adventures would need that crew, and who that crew would need to have adventures. But I don't know many people yet so it not working as a game.

With a starship for storytelling purposes, you need adventures, you need a slightly lopsided crew that has needs they can't meet, it's more like designing an RPG party than anything sensible. Real life ships can go all the way up to floating cities. Sensible well designed crews have someone to do almost any job you can think of.

Space colonies need that, only more so. Any skill you do not bring with you either needs to be book/video learning compatible, or it will die out in that colony. The next generation cannot have a skill that the first generation lack, unless they teach it to themselves. There could be much reinvention of the wheel involved.

So I was wondering who to bring. Read more... )

I need to study a different degree. ... I don't think society design is a degree, but I'm sure there's lots of things that are like all the parts.

Read more... )

If you pack people in priority of how difficult it would be to reinvent it yourself or learn it from videos, you get a very different list than if you pack people based on how often their work is needed. Since on the whole carers are needed much more often than acrobats. And if you sort it by how likely people are to want to reinvent it themselves you sift things different again.

So many possibilities.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I have been reading about food banks. More people need more food and the food banks are running out before they feed all the people. It is bad and getting worse and it's because of the government deciding that people need bullying more than they need food and I don't understand how there's politicians sitting there saying it's nothing to do with the government when it's so closely tied to welfare reforms.

My idea of a practice space colony seems more urgent today. Especially the food self sufficiency bit. It would be hard to do, but it is important.

Read more... )

I have vast empty where knowing where my food comes from could usefully be.

If people want to practice food self sufficiency, such as would be necessary for a space colony, then they need a place to grow things and someone who knows how and a plan that gives all the nutrition they need and a plan that grows... how many percent extra? You can't grow precisely the right amount because then if it goes wrong you have starving.

This morning when I woke up I thought I would start a Dreamwidth community so people could post their ideas about practical practice space colonies, and then go ask some SF writers what they know from their plannings, or possibly from their gardenings. Also maybe ask SF conventions how they organise a few hundred people for a weekend and how that experience could translate to space colonies. But now I'm thinking that's a bit fluffy compared to actual hungry people. There still needs to be a plan with communication, and something that catches the imagination, but it needs nice strong concrete details to be going on with. And probably somewhere to dig.

My planned practice space colony grows all its own food plus a bit spare, and has a central kitchen and dining room, partly because I can't cook and I like eating on a regular basis, but also so it can have a little cafe. That would be the start of the business side while the colony practice gets going. And then if there's anything else to be made and sold then it can go on display around the walls or something.

My plans need a lot of people and some real estate.

Food banks at the moment are drawing on existing religious communities, who have halls and humans. My space colony plan is intended to get a different community interested. But the SF community, while many and variously skilled, mostly hires its real estate by the weekend.

I should go looking to see what existing volunteers are doing. They probably have proper practical things going on already. ... I just don't see me being very helpful to them.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
The other day I watched The Man in the White Suit. It's about a man who invents a new sort of fabric, rumoured to last forever and never need cleaning. Only one person thinks it'll be a good thing, freeing people from the drudgery of laundry and repair; everyone could be clean and well dressed forever. Every level of society unites against him because such an invention would wreck the economy. They'd only need to sell one set of clothes once! Horrors! The funny all comes from stereotypes of the different classes reacting to the idea.

The idea of a lot of modern progress is to free people from the drudgery of what used to be daily necessities. Read more... )

Something has to change. The mess won't go away just by wishing there's work for everyone. The work went away, and there's a lot more of everyone than there used to be.

So I've been thinking all this, and I've been thinking about space colonies.

Read more... )

If I figure out how to make that work then I've solved economics.

Slightly good trick.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Am playing fantasy house with rightmove again. Have made a map that leaves out London and looked for properties over £3 million. There's only a few hundred of them.

Have realised again the places I like best are the places that remind me of boarding school.

A proper long term space colony would also be a boarding school. and a university. that greatly resembled home schooling. You'd have all the students of all the ages living and studying in such close proximity it wouldn't much matter if you called it home or school. You'd need to pack a lot of distance learning courses and download a lot of online lectures and suchlike. ... very, very long distance learning. Communications constraints would depend on technology plus location. You probably wouldn't want to bring a lot of paper books, but it depends on the propulsion system, there's some mad ideas where you wouldn't mind carrying a ton of them. And they have advantages in the not crashing department. If I went through a Stargate I'd want to bring a bunch of paper books, in case we got cut off.

Running a boarding school would be tricky. I mean, it's hard enough keeping small numbers of small children vaguely under control and unlikely to explode stuff, add to that trying to raise them to sufficient competence to run the place when you want to retire and it gets very not easy. If you were choosing people for your space colony you'd need not just people who excel in their field but people who would be happy teaching it to others, including small children. You'd want to leave out the kind of people who kids would try and avoid due to excessive creepy and/or yelling. Every single one of your co-workers would be someone who would help raise your kids, and you'd help raise theirs. And then their kids would be the ones making sure you don't die too early once you're old.

There's aspects of this smaller scale that's hard to get my head around, even knowing villages worked like this for the longest time. I mean, granted, even in Dereham it's hard to employ someone who isn't related to someone related to someone I went to school with, but it would be even tighter in a space colony.

What size colony would you need to be self sustaining? I mean, if there's no other tribe over the hill, who gets married to who and how many do you need to keep it going? Does anyone study this stuff?

You could maintain genetic diversity by bringing a sperm bank, that'd probably be a good idea whatever size you go with, because you can't fit a representative diversity of humanity in when humanity is seven billion and a colony is... not. I mean, you'd be more than one in a billion but getting up to one in a million would be giant. Especially if you have to fit them all in a tin can to get them anywhere.

Imagine having less than seven thousand people on your entire planet.

Imagine having lived in submarine type conditions to travel for more than a year before landing and building probably only marginally larger permanent dwellings... with everyone on your entire planet.

You'd have to be really, really sure you liked them first.

Which gets back to boarding school, because really, is there anyone who went to a school where they liked all their teachers? Doesn't every school have the crazy one and the stinky one and the VERY LOUD MAN and the one who you're not entirely sure is mentally speaking in the room? And just like school, you wouldn't have a choice about turning up and interacting with them every single day. But unlike school, this would be true for the rest of your life.

... I realise every group with me in it has some of those types covered and I'm unlikely to contribute to the social harmony of any endeavour but it's my daydream so I go if I want to.

If the Stargate programme sends people to another planet then the US military gets to filter who goes. If private enterprise does then the money is the filter. These things seem unlikely to be maximally conducive to long term harmony.

Would you want a group where everybody had to choose everybody else? Like, if everyone in a group of two hundred needed 199 matching votes and no vetos... you could probably do that out of seven billion, but it wouldn't half take some doing.

Is filtering a group for 'everybody likes each other' going to change the nature of humans, or society, or just store up problems for when the argues start? I mean, even if it goes perfect in the first generation, teenagers are going to shout, that's what they do, so you might get like a decade of happy shiny lalala and then have to cope with Kids These Days and there's a sudden generation gap.

Packing kids and teenagers for the build phase seems unhelpful, but once you send humans somewhere together there will be kids. If everyone gets contraceptive implants on the way into the spaceship you could have a few years to build.

Human biology isn't very forgiving of waiting though. Everyone has a tick tock.

but if you don't send kids then you don't send people that have kids. filtering out a whole space colony made of people more interested in going to space than having kids does not seem maximally conducive to a well adjusted second generation.

requirements for a space colony: entire colony made of good parents? ... humanity never leaving Earth...

boarding school must be tricky to run. has to make good diet, get it all delivered on a timetable, hundreds of kids all very varied and difficult, all have same bed time, not all need same amount of sleep. even before the education stuff, just adding all the kids together in the same space and keeping them alive be tricksy. Olders supervise youngers, helps a little, but still not simples.

Space colony not need space alien vampire snake whatevers to attack. Has a few hundred humans and no way out. Plenty much dramas right there.

Boarding school stories are a whole genre on their own. Boarding school on another planet where getting out just means working with instead of being taught by the same few shifts of people who all have essential jobs... yow.

Getting a first gen space colony going be tricky. Getting it to survive means making the second gen survivable. When none of them chose the place and their options are severely limited compared to what current rich western humans are used to.

stories. many.

and of course if you get it right you have a functioning economy that takes care of all its members. so practicing on Earth right now seems like good plan.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I've been thinking on how to design social housing for my offworld colony.
We'd need to do practice runs here first, of course, like the dudes that went to Mars and back without leaving their living room simulator. Every plan needs a test.
So we could build the first version here.
Read more... )

So the first thing we'd need is to set up a lot of accessible housing for people with disabilities.

If you're thinking that the Enterprise lacked many people with disabilities (unless you count the superpowered blind guy), well, that's a far higher tech level than we currently have available. Their shields protected them from almost everything, and their meds could repair even major radiation damage. We are somewhat short of that standard.

Any major offworld expedition is going to spend a long, long time getting there, through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered. Read more... )

A proper colony isn't just people being looked after and people doing the looking after, it would have all the parts and pieces of a functioning community. In my happy dreams as well as a cafe we'd have the airponics and chickens to supply that cafe. Or hydroponics or whatever actually works. Dirt gardening is traditional and most people know how it works, but higher tech can make higher yields for the same energy and water. Building in growing areas to the colony is a good investment. Areas on different levels so wheel people can help with the food too.

A machine repairs place that can fix or even build wheelchairs and other assistive tech sounds good too. Not that I personally would have a clue where to start. But that seems to be steady business, a need that's not going away.

Not all the flats would be for people with disabilities. Their carers and the cook and the farmers and the tech people could all live there too. That would be proper colony style, everyone in one place working together.

You'd also need family sized places and places for kids to play, because a sustainable colony needs to grow the next set of farmer - carer - techs too. Not just make a stack of bedsits and warehouse people in them.

Starting with the people with disabilities and working out until everyone gets what they need you get a little economy going. Granted, probably based on government benefits right now, but if the people who brought you to the planet needed looking after for the rest of their lives, it would be a sign of an already failed colony if they didn't get what they needed. Plus many people with disabilities can and do work, though it's harder to get hired in the first place. Most places don't start out designing accessbility in, so there's avoidable barriers. Having a whole little community set up this way though, some people with disabilities would also be carers, or farmers, or techs, or just do something on the internet that brings in money, I don't know. (Not being one of those can work people. I just study.) Oh, and study is another thing everyone could do, there's study for all levels of ability, it's more fun than staring at the walls. We'd need to bring teachers and make sure we had access to books. (Hence being near the Library. Or University. And not just because they're my favourite places in the world.) Plus there should be somewhere to do dancing. I like my dancing lessons. Though that does loop back to the soundproofing and social spaces items.

So, okay, design a community, get some social housing built, make it epic with this being the first step to colonisation.

Probably needs a few more details before going asking for funding...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So then I spent the rest of my evening trying to design a Tel'tak in GURPS rules. Read more... )

... neither I nor anyone else really needs to know this, but, now I do.

The tricky bit was realising I hadn't seen escape pods on the equipment lists anywhere. Read more... )

... I'm too tired and headachey to think of setting up my computers, because mistakes would cost, but I'm perfectly fine to do lots of fiddly box filling maths, including converting between units because GURPS uses yards and similar. Mistakes in GURPS spaceships don't cost. I'm not even playing them.

It would be nice to go to sleep, sleep 8 hours, and wake up again. Possibly at set times every day. I hear many humans do that.

... I do spaceships, or get very very bored staring at the ceiling.


Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:33 pm
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I keep on getting bits of background on my spacer characters. Like, what games they play at school. It pretty much has to be the battleroom game from Ender's Game, but they'd just call it Enders. The enemy's door is down... but that only makes sense to kids raised in gravity.

If you mix dirtsiders with stationers with fleet born with merchanters you get minimum four different ways to relate to gravity, and if you add belters or whoever you hypothesise as being mostly freefall then that's five.

People born on planets get an idea of down as a constant, of falling meaning down, and that makes sense to them.
Stationers live in spin gravity that is constant in a given area but varies by deck, whereas merchanters have spin gravity that spins up and down variably. So how hard 'down' pulls you depends on both where you are and when it is. Both of them have to adjust to things falling down-and-away, not what we think of as 'straight' down. Like living on a hill all the time. Or in a bowl. I could never quite figure that out.
Both merchant and fleet kids grew up with burn gravity, the kind where the engines kick the ship up at you, but only fleet can spend fuel so profligately they can have near-constant thrust. Fleet kids live closer to planet conditions than station kids, their down is just down, but it can be stronger or weaker depending. Sometimes very much stronger. And sometimes when they manuever the ship kicks sideways. Often enough to get used to the idea that sometimes walls jump out at you.
Belters experience all those conditions when they put in to station or get boosted out somewhere, but they spend a lot more time in freefall than any of the rest.
So all of them have different relationships with gravity, and the enemy's door is wherever the hell it is, variably, with expectation of 'down' kicking off in a different direction any minute now.

They would not design the same game. And they would not play it the same way.

Plus they'd all have muscles and reflexes optimised for different roles within the game. You'd develop something a bit like rugby where what position they play goes with what shape they are. Sort of.

There would be kids who were better at flying/falling and there would be kids who were better at throwing them.

Manuevers would be something like trapeze art or floor show gymnastics, depending what the gravity was doing. You'd get kids kicking off from each other to change direction mid flight. You'd get people launching in pairs or groups so they could change vector unpredictably, or you'd get them intercepting each other already out there, like the world's most swooping rugby tackles. You'd have kids with some kind of anchor who have the whole job of boosting other kids and changing vectors for them, catch and throw.

and then you add guns. If they're little hand held thingies they can't do much but shoot, but if they're long with a t sort of thing going on then they can hook in to each other, bash against each other like I said about the morris dancing, hook on the surroundings, give you extra leverage. Be a tool in themselves, not just a point and click. Even if you could have a tiny next gen phaser you'd want a big nightstick sort of thing so you can have more options.

The playing field would depend on what they wanted to make an analog of. Free floating or circle spinning lumps to play planet or rock would be for one set of challenges, thinking of yourself as a ship, using the gravity to slingshot into new orbits. But to train for in ship fighting you could have any configuration likely to be found inside or around a ship hull, like warehouse racking or sensor vanes on a magnetic surface or whatever plants grow up there, trees even. And you'd give the kids magnetic boots, or not, or some of them with and some without.

To get used to the idea of finite fuel you could have backpacks... would super soakers work as a propellant system? Small finite thrust, but in any direction and without cooperation.

... my society would want to get cooperation in bone deep, so they'd keep that trick for the olders.

Add to this the fact every last one of them would have read the Ender series... wait, no, actually that would only be true of my lot before the War. So lets just say all the tricks from there would be very familiar.

Oh, it would be grand.

... you'd probably get kids with broken necks fairly often, but this is the far future, they can fix that pretty good too.

... now I'm wondering if I just figured out what happened to one of my pilots. it beats the hell out of half pipe basketball...
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Clothes: Uniforms are a bugger to differentiate, but: fabric quality and state of repair. Read more... )

... and now I should go back to actually writing. I just sat down with a character with a faded uniform shirt and thought, hang on, does future fabric do that?
Answer: yes, but it means she customised her uniform with rich stuff.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
Right. I have been trying to fix my spaceship so it doesn't do the thing the Enterprise always does of having a few named officers and a lot of people wandering around who may or may not be officers. And Miles O'Brien. He was chief petty officer, but only sometimes. But since I have watched a lot of Star Trek, and not much else, I feel I understand who is the boss of who out of Captains through Ensigns, but I have no idea who all else is around. Even if I'm just going to file the serial numbers off the Enterprise I want it to make actual sense. Not necessarily match, but have words in the right orders and look like it could work.

So what do all the other people do, and what are they called?

It would really, really help if I could get the hang of the real world stuff. Since that does make at least a working sort of sense. Reality has good continuity, usually.

So I looked at the Royal Navy website. Read more... )

I think I need a book. 'Royal Navy for Dummies' or 'Life in a ship if you're not the Captain'. Or possibly just the glossary and a little flow chart.

*big sigh*

Read more... )

Now I know some words, I need to find out how many of what words are likely to be on a tiny ship, and make a little organisation chart for my spaceship.

Or, obviously, I could write that romance I was planning and ignore the whole rest of the ship. That would be simpler.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So this explorer ship is sent out with the magic fuel tank, the stargate that refuels constantly from a planet sized tank. Maybe the Fleet is wasting a potential ecosystem, or maybe they're using meltwater from under the glaciers of a highly volcanic moon. The ships just know the water keeps coming. Its fall gives them electrical energy and pushing it out the back gives them thrust. Firehose ships.

They look a bit like the Gherkin building, though this Explorer is only half the height. The outer shell is advanced materials, tougher than diamonds, but it looks like glass. The inner shell is designed to stop laser weapons, so there aren't many windows for the crew. There are airlock doors in three places, above between below. There's also a collar or two for the attitude jets. The main engine is underneath, the thrust defining which end is under. But if they're generating power from the fall then the fuel tank, the stargate and its pond, will be up in the top. Big crystal gherkin with waterfalls flowing down inside. Okay, probably not actual free flowing waterfalls, probably great big pipes, but either way, could be pretty.

Read more... )

I'd say poking around with ship design is more fun than actual writing, but getting the hang of the ship design nailed down some plot I needed and suggested a lot of other things that happen in reaction to that event. Physics can be fun that way.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I decided that my spaceships would go FTL only through having stargates. Those gates would exist in pairs, so you have to take the far end all the way out at sublight and only then can nip through. They would be wormholes, playing with gravity, so you just sort of fall through really. And they're not reprogrammable, only paired, so if you want to get anywhere it's like riding the railway with interchanges and stations and all.

Then I realised: the main limit on reaction drives is how much fuel you can carry around. But if you're carrying half a stargate with you then you only push the mass of the gate around but you never have to stop for supplies or fuel tankers cause it just goes through the gate. So what if you just put one end of the gate under an ocean on an uninhabited world? You ride the firehose through space! Even if the stargate itself is not pushed by things going through it, it would continuously refuel your ship. You'd have a fuel tank that never emptied. Your main problems would be getting rid of the stuff, including getting rid of salts or impurities or fish or inconvenient marines who find the back way in to the ship. Probably you want a small tank and a hot engine to deal with the marines and the fish. Otherwise you could just let a distant planet's gravity push water out your back end. Just like waterfall power.

So then I was thinking, ships like that wouldn't need generators, except for backup. They'd be hydroelectric.

Until they deplete a planet. That would probably take a while. I don't know, it would depend on the planet.

If stargates are scarce then not many ships could play this game. Since my stargates can spin small or wide then such a ship being captured would let people go back through their fuel gate and emerge on the refuel planet. You'd probably want to put the fuel gates somewhere thoroughly inhospitable on both ends. Above a volcano you'd get a head start on your hot water. Geothermal hydroelectric spaceships.

All this is thoroughly ridiculous but I think it's the logical consequence of the first ridiculous thing, the tethered wormhole stargate pairs. Especially if falling through such a gate adds to your speed, which I already decided it did. You'd have all the push you needed right there.

I wanted the gates to spit you out so you couldn't blockade by sitting in the middle but had to be far enough back other people could get in and start a fight. It's no fun if someone can close the door. If the two sides are both trying to control the size of the gate then they just cancel out. I also decided the gate always spits you out the middle, so if you go in at the edge and out at the middle the spin-and-stretch can tear you apart. Threading the needle requires precision, and skilled pilots. And there's a reason to keep the gates small and send small ships or ship trains. Get it too big and your outsides get squished towards your insides too hard and fast. There's a sweet spot of varying size that puts a maximum on what size ships can go FTL. Because I wanted small communities, not FTL cities, much less FTL planets.

So anything trying to get through a fuel gate would spin-and-stretch if the gate was really small and the calm area was tiny. It wouldn't have far to travel to get to the center, but the gate would want to push it into a very small area, so it would still be unconducive to comfortable travel. Anything sneaking in that way would have to be pretty tough in the first place.

Geothermal hydroelectric spaceships with a door back to a planet they can use instantly in an emergency. Hmmm, you wouldn't want your fire exit to exit to an actual fire, so maybe not on top of a volcano? Depends if you're more worried about entrances or exits.

You'd still end up with a ship that had a tiny fuel tank and only backup generators yet still an endless supply of fuel and energy. It would look like ultratech or a reactionless drive to bystanders, if they hadn't thought of the trick.

It would also leave them in trouble if the fuel supply ran out somehow. Or if the other end of the gate was somewhere hotter than ocean. Or colder, it would slow right down. Or if there were vacuum on the other side, then fuel would fall the other way. There would have to be a tank with valves for reserves, but there's no way it could handle the v the endless fuel tank could give the ship.

So, one of those ideas that's great when it works, but really disastrous when it stops.


... if I've understood physics at all. I only mean to tweak it the once, the tethered wormhole gate pairs. Everything else is meant to be ordinary physics. But I've only read bits of the 'for dummies' version.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
I'm filing the serial numbers off the Enterprise NX01 so I can have Malcolm go out on the ship hull to deal with a mine. So I need to rename it. Enterprise is a core virtue of the USA and the Federation, having to do with hard work in risky ventures, with some connotations of business and making money. Plus there's the less subtle Enter Prize. Renaming the ship is therefore an opportunity to show the core virtues of the made up world I'm working on.

CSS Incorrupt
Commonhealth Star Service

Read more... )

Captain Iteza of the CSS Incorrupt.

Does that sound good?

Read more... )

Ships are hard.

Why am I inventing a ship just so I can throw Malcolm and Beatrice at each other?

... because the mine started talking with a Welsh accent and I cannot resist a pun...


beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)

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