Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (8)

Spandore (Diaspora Margin): The formerly inhabitable planet of its system, Spandore was once home to a worldbound species that achieved a high-technology civilization with particular advancement in the fields of biochemistry and genetic engineering.

Unfortunately, several centuries to a millennium before contact (approximately), the planetary civilization wiped itself out in a global war, utilizing a large number of biological, ecological, mutagenic, and teratogenic weapons, along with a smaller number of “salting” nucleonic weapons. The ensuing apocalypse, bolstered by the synergetic effects of these weapons upon encountering each other, destroyed 90% of the planetary population and effectively transformed the descendants of the surviving remainder into monsters as twisted as the thousands of biological weapons systems, both microscopic and macroscopic, which continue to roam the planet today.

Due to the obvious risk potential of these weapons, Spandore is an interdicted planet, protected by an englobement grid. Unlike the majority of englobement grids operating under the aegis of the Conclave Commission on Latent Threats, however, that of Spandore is relatively easy to bypass – in the inward direction.

Since every known attempt to run the grid by those attempting to recover Spandorian biological weapons for their own purposes has resulted in a variety of horrifying deaths before any attempt to leave the planet could be made – the grid beacons monitor and record these events as well as they can from orbital overwatch, and append the resulting recordings to outgoing warning advisories – this author feels safe in ascribing this particular peculiarity to the Commission’s taste for irony.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene

14 thoughts on “Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (8)

  1. One would think people would wise up and just send in drones, or at the very least sleeve into synthetic shells, to make handling such things a little easier (hypothetically).

    • The possibility of evolution trending in that direction is another reason why the Existential Threats PWG ain’t giving up its stock of outlawed planetbuster warheads any time soon.

  2. And when it really, really gets bad, you can rig up a Shkadov thruster and toss a nearby star at them.

    I seem to remember hitting into something many moons ago – where, I can’t quite recall – about an empire with a penchant for overkill deciding to deal with a particularly nasty self-replicating nanomachine abomination by using a Shkadov thruster to toss an A0V star at the planet. It… Um, has the advantage of being exceedingly thorough…

    • OTOH, it’s surprisingly not as thorough as one would first assume. According to [link], it would take the entire power output of Sol for over 5 days to completely overcome Earth’s gravitational binding energy. A planet the size and mass of Earth could orbit inside Sol’s photosphere surface for a surprisingly long time. It would probably still be effective at a unbinding all the bio and nano on the planetary surface in just a few minutes, yes, but if you are up against something advanced enough that knows that you’re going throw a star at it, it’s going to start building replication seeds in the deep mantle and at surface escape velocity as soon as it’s able.

    • A rather more efficient (not to mention re-useable and multipurpose) way to weaponise a star would be to construct a Nicoll-Dyson laser. Researching that term is its own reward, so I’ll not go in to any detail here.

      • The problem with a Nicoll-Dyson laser is the lengthy time interval between pulling the trigger and the beam arriving on target – over a year even if you have them everywhere (unlikely) – which allows plenty of time to get out of the way if you have any reason to suspect the other side might have a NDL, and if FTL communication exists, this problem only gets worse.

        (There’s also a certain diplomatic problem with having giant star-sized installations lying around whose sole purpose is blowing up other stars, belike. Building one of those things is a pretty good way to get your neighbors to take an interest in cleaning up the neighborhood, I should think.)

        So, even if the traditional methods, like pouring on antimatter (manufacturing which is a rather more productive and peaceful-looking use of a Dyson bubble) until the local nuclei corrode, fail, I suspect the next answer up is to pop the primary:

        • Sure, I never said it was the best option, just one that’s quite a bit better than trying to use shkadov thrusters to crash a sun into someone.

          The topic in question was planet sterilisation; ND blasts are certainly better than stellar snooker in that situation as a) the target probably isn’t going to move very far during the beam transit time and b) having a star fired at you is probably more likely to kick you out of your orbit and fire you into deep space than cook you.

          The ND beam is also rather less wasteful than starcide, as both the origin star and the one about which the target orbits are both left intact. You could build a new planet, given sufficient patience and a working star, but building new stars is problematic.

          I’d also take issue with ‘sole purpose’, too. Sure, FTL travel and comms make the presence of a really big continuous duty ultra high power multidirectional starwisp accelerator less useful, but doesn’t make it useless.

          Lets imagine, for example, that you’re some kind of weakly godlike and terribly misunderstood superintelligence who only wants to make it easier for things to talk to each other, and your unreasonable neighbours have taken issue with your goals in life and restricted your ability to travel away from your core systems. A nice Nicoll-Dyson array then serves two purposes; it grants you the ability to explain your point of view to them VERY LOUDLY from a long way away so they’ll come round to your point of view, and to send starwisp probes everywhere so you’ll be a bit less restricted in future. What’s not to like?

          • Fortunately, it appears that this `verse’s local “weakly godlike and terribly misunderstood superintelligence who only wants to make it easier for things to talk to each other” entity has a mental blindness about the very existence of it’s neighbors, or even of “everywhere else”. At least until some moron transmits a SYN packet at it. (At least, as was explained by the Author.)

  3. (There is the small matter of the transit time, but that piece kinda handwaved it. Dinor metails, as it were.)

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