Arkuel Múras: Where’s next on the agenda?
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Freylis. Fourth planet of Ardylis in the Dark Sea, two moons, oxy-nitro-water garden world with a levo-protein, levo-lipid, dextro-carbohydrate, DNA-encoding ecology. And most interestingly, a former sophont civilization, or what’s left of it.
Arkuel Múras: How former?
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: By the aging on the city cores and the radio shell, five or six centuries, approximately, and the remaining artificial satellites and the artifacts we found on the major moon – some rocket parts, scientific instruments, and monumental engravings, dating to perhaps a century or century and one half before the end – would bear that out, as would the current levels of common industrial pollutants in the atmosphere and the available bioarchaelogical records showing their fall from a peak shortly before that time.
There are some signs that the civilization took some time to die out – the remaining cities appear to have been abandoned from the outside in, suggesting a population eroding by attrition. No signs of general war or natural disaster.
Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: These satellites – any habitats, shipyards? Signs of star travel?
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: No, no habitable stations. The technology of the artificial satellites is equivalent to our Middle Information Age, which suggests that they could have had the technological capability, but don’t appear to have exercised it. The technology of the lunar artifacts is older, pre-Information Age, I would say, but no later —
Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Feh. It’s another bloody choker.
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Choker?
Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Pedant. General Socioeconomic Systems Failure, Etiology Unknown.
The biosapient equivalent of an elliptic collapse. Where a civilization stops or greatly slows development for one reason or another – one economic blind-alley or another, factional protection, neophobia, safety paralysis – runs the complexity overhead of their socioeconomic systems up beyond what their infotrophic pyramid can support, relying on the legacy of the past to keep going – then discover the hard way once they start slipping that they can’t build back up again. In this particular model, they keep ignoring the problems until they slip all the way. It’s a classic civ-killer trap.
Arkuel Múras: Anyway, back on topic, gentlesophs. Any exceptional recommendations for this one?
Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: Anything particularly unusual about their technology that, say, our cousins over at Probable Technologies would be interested in? Or any connections to other extant civilizations?
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Nothing in what we’ve been able to dig up so far. The cities are all pretty wrecked, anyway, not much to find even partially intact.
Moiré Andracanth-ith-Cyranth: So, a fossil world in a bad part of space with nothing but some academic archaeology and a few artifacts for museums of the ironic going for it? Scrub it. File the plat and toss it to the auction guys at the Registry.
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Well, there could be some interesting successor species… but, yes, not a high priority for us, I must concur.
Arkuel Múras: I also agree. Good. Where’s next up?
Ethly 0x4414CC2B: Galróp. Third major moon of a gas giant, fifth planet of Pesdiné, in…
– from the minutes of an IES review meeting
Dedicated to the alt-text of this xkcd strip, but noting that studied, and remembered – especially in any grander sense than a footnote in a dossier in a filing cabinet in storage room 32-3-C-19(a) – may be a little too hopeful, at least when you consider that the people who will find them have an entire galaxy filled with cultures that haven’t got EPIC FAIL scrawled right across them to play with, instead.