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?

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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.
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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.

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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.

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... 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.

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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.

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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.

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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
but
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)
Okay, so, in the fic I'm reading, it's actually really repetitive tell-not-show that's driving me nuts. I keep wanting to send them beta notes like 'pick three telling physical details and then get back to the plot' or 'you have mentioned they are evil, perhaps you wish to illustrate how?' or 'you said the exact same thing two paragraphs ago'. But that would be wrong, rude, and futile, so instead I rant to the internet.

So they've got a tiny world on the edge of the system that's borderline habitable and the corporations that rule the universe now are sending it food aid in quantities small enough two men can hand it out in an afternoon. Corporations are evil y'all. Eeeeevil. Evil. Just doing it for the PR and also did they mention evil?

Okay, but, this is a multi planetary solar system, not a... one stop sign town in a dried up ex mining valley. They've said the area was known for mining but this settlement wasn't. Okays. They've said there's a cutting wind on an otherwise hot planet, dust blowing and omnipresent dirt, and the ship has stopped to get parts from the junk yard. But they've also said they don't know why anyone settled there in the first place, and no one does know.

It's a terraformed planet with a breathable atmosphere. They're wandering around outside breathing air that can whip around the whole planet picking up dust. Those things aren't a dime a dozen, even in a populous galaxy. Is this a populous galaxy? Well they left Old Earth because it was all trashed and uninhabitable and now humanity is huddling on much less helpful planets. Great, stated that, now showing it, got the details all lined up, because now it isn't a planet nobody knows why they settled, it's a planet full of refugees who stopped somewhere they can breathe.

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The observable details can build a picture, but it can't build a coherent economy when compared with the (endless) inner monologue of the guilt ridden captain giving the food out.

So either he's very wrong or you need a whole different set of details.

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Presence of junk suggests a history, inner monologue stops people filling in the gaps about that history.



So, how does a marginally habitable planet demonstrate the evil of corporations? And the goodness of the crew visiting them?

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Poor on a planetary scale means something a whole lot different than poor just down the road. Planets with breatheable atmospheres imply a whole stack of resources that just aren't that easy to get. Unless travel is so immensely cheap and easy they really can just skip to the next nicer one.



SF worldbuilding, it is complex.
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
So say England was sending a colony on a one way trip to another planet. Say they send some Church of England dude to look after the colony. Would they treat it as a new parish or a new province? It's the difference between being the vicar and being the archbishop.

The colony might start out real small, like a church worth of people, but can a vicar promote himself if there's a country worth later?

... obviously the history of the church says that if the dude in charge wishes to make it so they can decide they're second only to God and just go :-p to... everyone. And marry who they want.

But I was just vaguely wondering what a proper organised Church of England decision would be, if they were thinking they would stay basically in charge. And the decision would be different if the colony was meant to get cut off, and it would all work out different if they went independent. So whatever the decision, it says a lot about how the Church back home views the project.

I've read books about trying to retain tax and mercantile control with a time lag of years between colonies, but how about religious control? You can't exactly turn up at the Synod and vote on things with a light lag between question and answer. Probably things would just fracture and turn into lots of new churches, but it seems unlikely an established church would actually plan on letting that happen. The Anglican Communion is already one answer to the fracturing forces of colonisation, but how much time lag could it handle?

... the have a Primates Meeting. I know what it means in churches, but it's still amusing, that primates are the boss.



I think I'm going to get bored before I come up with any decent answers, but it's still interesting questions.

Religion in space can get lots of interesting. Like, Muslims trying to do the pilgrimage thing, they'd have serious pressure to remain in contact with Earth and stay good at space travel, except it would take years or decades or generations to actually manage it. Or, Buddhists looking for a reincarnation, if that dude was going to go spread the dharma to another planet, they'd send people out on journeys to look for them but it would take so long the traveller might reincarnate while they're out there.

Making handwavey pronouncements about All Religions Ever, like saying they just kind of went away somehow, or having space bishops in charge of space clerics and doing shooting, it's okay for forty minutes at a stretch, but it's not exactly how human history has worked thus far and makes for a very shallow future. Organisation is complicated and mostly tries to not change very much at once, and if it does make a giant change all at once it's still going to try and use concepts familiar to the revolutionaries.



... mostly I've been wondering how to get one character addressed as 'Your Grace', because I like the word, and then there was wiki surfing.

Humans make complex twirly dances out of everything.

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