Things to See, Places (Not) To Go (14)

Jarnobu (Torch Radiant): While the system is controlled by the League of Meridian, Jarnobu is not counted among their 83 member worlds.

At first, this might seem puzzling, inasmuch as Jarnobu proper is a garden world eminently suitable to hosting sefir life, with a mild climate and a biosphere which is unusually compatible, biochemically speaking, with the sefir and their commensal species – to the point that native foods are edible without extensive preparation.

However, in a cruel twist of irony, it is this very biochemical compatibility that makes Jarnobu a unique form of sucker bait. While the native flora and fauna is certainly edible, it is also saturated with compounds which serve as potent euphoric and psychoactive drugs on sophonts with sefir-style nervous systems, many of which survive long enough ex vivo to be a constant low-level presence in the planet’s air and water.

Thus, Jarnobu does not resemble a traditional failed colony world, appearing to be a pleasant, low-technology, pastoral world – if one populated by people with a marked tendency to grin all the time, giggle at the slightest provocation, stare in fascination at their own appendages, and on occasion, fall over. Nonetheless, it is classified as one by the League.

No regular passenger or freight service calls at Jarnobu, and even visits by tramp traders are rare. (The world has no starport facilities beyond areas of cleared ground and landing beacons.) However, orbital scans show numerous abandoned junker hulks and homesteader pods on the planetary surface, regular immigration by means of which is presumably responsible for maintaining the planet’s population and technology.

Unusually, there have been few long-lasting attempts to export Jarnobun drugs to other worlds, and those which have persisted have been run by non-sefir syndicates. It appears that the difficulty of maintaining long-term chemical isolation in an environment where a seal failure will directly lead to precisely the kind of carelessness apt to induce a cascade has discouraged all but the most persistent.

Trope-a-Day: No Biochemical Barriers

No Biochemical Barriers: Averted, mostly.

While there will be absolutely no Half Human Hybrids, or indeed Half Anything Hybrids running around, as I said back then, it can get a mite fuzzy:

Alien Food is Edible: Well, no, for the most part it isn’t, given differing biochemistries, chiralities, etc., etc.  Even really simple molecules can be tricky.  By and large, if you end up in a serious Interspecies Romance or Mixed Marriage, you are going to need two kitchens, or at least two refrigerators.  That being said… with the help of a genetic engineer, some helpful symbiotic bacteria, some drugs, and a really good chef, it’s often possible to find a few dishes you can share.  Unless, y’know, one of you is made of rock or something.

Cross-Species Diseases: Uncommon, since for one thing, viruses just won’t work, and parasites often need to interact enough with their hosts’ biology to not work either.  Bacteria – well, they’re more often a problem since the environment can offer enough of the right stuff to let them grow, the resilient and resourceful little buggers that they are, even if it’s not exactly the same disease when it happens to a different host, and immune responses can vary.  (They tend to be much more of an ecological problem than a medical one, which is why they sterilize you – no, not like that – when you go offworld.)  And allergen issues are downright common.

But anything cross-species that’s effective, similar, and contagious… that’s bioweapon/nanoweapon sign.

All Atmospheres Are Equal: Elemental abundances, energy sources, and the problem of Too Much Oxygen Causing Wildfires mean that there are a decent number of oxygen-nitrogen garden worlds out there, but the ammonia, halogen, hydrogen, methane, and sulphide breathers out there would like to point out that all atmospheres sure aren’t equal for them.  And even the people for whom the basic gas mix is right still often need filter/compressor masks due to low partial pressures (or suits due to issues with the absolute pressure or temperature), toxic gases in the mix, and allergens.  People who travel extensively often can get around some of these problems with extensive lung and immune system gene-work, but by no means all of them, and all the really different gas mixes/pressures/temperatures will still kill you.

Of course, all of these problems can be solved by doing the old Body Surf, but it’s not like that doesn’t have problems of its own…