Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (13)

Hotephny (Flaming Skies Complex): The throneworld and crown jewel of the Simple-Safe Regression, Hotephny is a world which no other polity would ever want, nor indeed be able to take, for Hotephny is a world uniquely hostile to any advanced technology – or, indeed, any post-lithic technology.

How is it hostile? Let us count the ways:

  • Located as it is in the Flaming Skies Complex, Hotephny is bathed in the region’s high levels of magnetism and stellar radiation, in addition to the activity of its own primary, a K-type flare star. Any technology dependent on electronics will not function on Hotephny without high-level shielding, and even purely electrical devices suffer from the extremely dirty power.
  • Hotephny’s native fungus-analogs, along with other chemotrophs, digest hydrocarbon-based plastics (including all known examples of petroplastic and bioplastics, save for a few members of the lactopolymer family) and many other polymers with great efficacy.
  • Another family of local lifeforms, bacterium-analogs, promotes the rapid oxidation of metals. It has been suggested that these show clear evidence of Precursor or other artificial origin – since they do not merely promote oxidation reactions from which energy can be harvested, but even drive those which require climbing a steep energy gradient using catalysts, acids, peroxides, and even perperoxides – but they have been little studied due to the difficulty of finding scientific equipment containing neither metal nor plastic, and scientists willing to risk personal dissolution. (Exoarchaeologists and paleotechnologists comfort themselves with the obvious conclusion that any Precursor site on Hotephny must, by now, be devoid of any useful remains.)

There have been three attempts, despite the above-noted undesirability, to seize Hotephny since the Simple-Safe Regression took possession of the world. All proved to be embarrassing defeats for the invaders, with troops equipped with their civilization’s most advanced military technology falling to a militia armed with ceramic-tipped wooden sticks. While naked.

While Hotephny would otherwise be an interesting world to visit for its pastoral landscapes and the ingenuity with which the Simple-Safe settlers have recreated much early metallic technology with ceramics and native materials, it is unfortunately true that a visit to Hotephny’s surface is certain to be a one-way trip, given the effects of its native life on spacecraft. Tourists should content themselves with the museum aboard the world’s single orbital station, operated by the Cubit-caste personnel of the Simple-Safe Regression’s governance.

A limited communication channel with the surface is available. This may in itself be of interest to visitors, being the Worlds’, and possibly the galaxy’s, only known example of surface-to-orbit heliography.

9 thoughts on “Things to See, Places (Not) to Go (13)

  1. Surely the Esseli or the Gardeners of Rechesh would be able to engineer a ship with wooden heat shields and stage trees capable of landing and returning from the planet?

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    • Heh. Wood, more common in spaceships than you’d think:

      Wooden heat shields are a thing [i]here[/i]. Would not surprise me if someone pulled a fully ‘wooden’ ship there.

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  2. Can’t they just study the bacterium in a vacuum? No air, no oxygen to cause oxidation. Perhaps extract the DNA analogue there and make a simulation?

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    • Hard to study it without touching it with something .

      I mean, it’s not impossible to contain or study; hence “little studied”. But the unparalleled ability of Hotephny’s lifeforms to ruin expensive equipment and decertify P5-grade biocontainment facilities is the sort of thing that makes Principal Investigators think carefully, and then consider letting someone else go first.

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  3. Wake me when they can eat though glass, quartz, diamond or fullerenes. Also, whatever happened to fluidics, phononics and maybe even plain old micro mechanical computers?

    For that matter, has anyone asked the galari (or other silicon-based people) for their input?

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    • Wake me when they can eat though glass, quartz, diamond or fullerenes. Also, whatever happened to fluidics, phononics and maybe even plain old micro mechanical computers?

      Nothing. Have fun trying to build a technological infrastructure using only them.

      For that matter, has anyone asked the galari (or other silicon-based people) for their input?

      The galari aren’t terribly interested in a world that would require them to go back to being sessile.

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      • Who says you’d only need to use those? Once you’ve got the ability to make more than adequately tough and strong and indigestible tensile and compressive structural members, hardwearing bearing surfaces and ultra-thin, superhard and refractory coatings, everything else is just a bonus.

        Non-metallic conductors and superconductors? Check. Good thermal conductors? Check. Clear windows? check. UV-transparent windows? Check.

        Honestly, if you can’t make a ground vehicle, aircraft, power station, computer bank, radio transmitter, offensive laser or even a surface-to-orbit system that works at least once given all that, you need to hand your supersophont interstellar highly advanced technological civilisation card back and leave the thinking to someone else.

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        • Let me put it to you this way:

          You are planning to exploit a loophole you think you’ve found by nitpicking an excerpt from a constellation-wide travel guide, a type of source which doesn’t even pretend to be complete or conclusive.

          It is possible that you might have stumbled across something that might work, but it’s more likely that – like most people who indulge in this sort of cleverness – you’ll end up languishing in a foreign prison, or eaten by hyenas. Maybe both.

          Always remember: everything here is something as seen from someone’s perspective, not a definitive statement sprung forth from the forehead of Zeus.

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