Trope-a-Day: Gaia’s Lament

Gaia’s Lament: Rather strongly averted on Imperial worlds, and always has been even back in the Era of Steel and Steam – it turns out that one of the things that comes along with immortality is the observation that all those problems you expect to crop up in the distant future? They’re still going to be your problems. This translates, via certain other attributes, into a powerful incentive to not shit all over where you eat, sleep, and live.

(In the modern era it helps that the nanoecology makes Gaia’s laments extremely visible right up front, and as such eminently solvable before they turn into big problems.)

It is enforced variably elsewhere, with positive incentives provided by the Accord’s general recognition that garden worlds and their ecologies are really goddamned valuable and thus dim view of people who go around screwing them up – especially since the Accord on Colonization, while not actually a blanket prohibiting things, does make it possible for them to press the notion that such screw-ups shouldn’t be handed any more planets to make a hash of.


Things to See, Places to [Not] Go (6)

Brak Tífel: A gas giant moon in the Rilni (Magen Exodus) system, Brak Tífel was once a promising terrestrial world in development, until errors in its late-stage ecopoesis led to it becoming a world which was entirely livable, but not particularly desirable: an erratic diurnal temperature cycle that gave it both days too warm for practical habitation and nights too cold likewise, desert terrain broken only by the most resilient and hostile scrubby brush, and so forth.

These errors could, perhaps, have been corrected by further work, save that Brak Tífel had the misfortune to be located near the borders of the Magen Corporate. Seeing an opportunity for profit – and a loophole in the Accord on Colonization which, at that time, established no ecospheric protections for ecopoesed worlds – Brak Tífel was acquired at a bargain price by a Magen corporation, Impalpable Waste Management, JSC.

Since then, daily loads of garbage rain down upon Brak Tífel’s surface: while most polities in the Accord have learned to take care of their planets, there remain a regrettable number that lack suitable recycling technology of their own, are unwilling to suffer the expense of purchasing or operating offworld recycling technology – or have technophobic or regulatory objections to such – and are quite happy for externalities to exist so long as they need not look at them.

Thus, Brak Tífel is today a grotesquely polluted, highly toxic wasteland of space junk, radioactive, biological, nanological, and chemical waste, scrapped machinery, abandoned cargo, ore slag, and anything and everything else that people will pay to have put a long, long way away from anywhere they’d have to care about, whose lye-choked seas and foggy green atmosphere should be taken as a warning – as indeed they are by those commanding the garbage freighters, who prefer to offload their cargoes without the necessity of landing.

The inevitable local population consists mostly of unbonded mercenaries doing hostile-environment training, and squatters with nowhere else to go that even Márch won’t accept. The former have protective equipment and attitude problems; the latter have tumors and previously unheard-of diseases. Neither make for good company unless you’re looking for someone to shoot, and even then, the planets in Chapter Three offer the same with less chance of unwanted teratogeny.

– Worlds Not to Visit: The Galaxy’s Worst Places,
Grotesquerie Press, 7719

Drake-class Questions

James Sterrett asks:

I gather that storage of consumables for the crew is in the external tankage, on the theory that a penetrating strike is a kill and thus there’s no point protecting stuff for survivors to use to survive/repair the ship?

Well, all the tankage is under the armor (except in the case of up-the-kilt shots), but most of the non-fuel non-heatsink tankage is between the crewed area and the hull, yes. On the other hand, it’s designed in much the same way as I gather some Russian submarines (the Typhoon-class, for one, IIRC) handle it; lots of smaller tanks, heavily subdivided. The theory being that a single penetrating strike may take out some of them, but it’s extremely unlikely to take out all of them, and indeed not much is short of battering the entire ship into a hulk and leaving no hull intact.

What are the limits on the ability of the frigate to recycle stuff? What’s the general cruise duration & actual maximum limit?

The recycling is very efficient for life-support purposes. I haven’t run detailed numbers, but a safe assumption is that you’ll run out of less depletable non-recyclables (ammunition, spare parts/specialized fabber feedstock, crew endurance, etc.) long before running into a problem with life-support consumables. Especially since most things you’re likely to deplete life-support-wise, even through leaks, can be renewed by pulling up alongside the nearest convenient iceteroid, hauling it in, chopping it up, and having your crew shovel the resulting slush into the gray-water system.

In terms of non-recyclable parts, a Drake follows the IN policy of being nominally stocked for a year’s cruising before needing replenishment. In practice, policy is to keep cruise duration between three and six months in space, depending on mission requirements, mostly for crew efficiency reasons, although that’s something that can be extended during time of war or other emergency. (That, though, is likely to require refueling from fuel stations or oilers along the way; and with oilers available to provide logistical support, theoretically, one could stay on station in space continuously – at least until suffering structural damage serious enough to need yard repair. The effects on crew morale would probably not be pretty, though.)

How much time does one of these spent in maintenance – is it a 3-for-1 rotation, where one is in dock refitting, one is working up for deployment with its crew, and one is deployed; or are matters such as refitting and crew training accelerated by high tech capabilities?

.The high-tech capabilities help: with good AI and lots of robotics, including nanotech self-repair capabilities, they have been able to cut down a lot on maintenance and time spent in the yards for that. On the other hand, while high tech does speed up crew training in some respects (tachydidactics, mnemonesis, etc., making it easy to absorb lots of raw data), there’s both a lot more of it to absorb than there has been before, and there’s a distinct limit to how much you can speed up simulations.

My subject-to-some-possible-revision current view is that they try to keep up a 2-for-1 rotation, one deployed and one in dock refitting and training, made possible mostly by the reduced maintenance burden; and that while deployed, the crew spend a lot of off-time in additional training and keeping current with simulations. But this may change once I find time to spend more time on the IN’s inner workings.

Trope-a-Day: Infinite Supplies

Infinite Supplies: While nothing in this case is actually infinite, thanks to the Laws of Thermodynamics, centuries or millennia of living in space have made most advanced cultures in the Associated Worlds very, very good at closed-cycle recycling; and on a simpler level, well, the cornucopia machine does wonders for logistics problems, inasmuch as – albeit with inefficiency – it’s able to manufacture essentially anything that doesn’t need rare elements or exotic-matter components from fairly simple feedstocks.  So unless you need something particularly exotic or bound about with draconian Fabrication Rights Management restrictions, the odds are that you can get it without too much trouble.

Trope-a-Day: Derelict Graveyard

Derelict Graveyard: Most major planets have one of these in high orbit, somewhere, where old habitats, satellites, starships and other space debris are lashed together in a rough mass of dead hulks waiting to be torn apart and reclaimed, or at least transported elsewhere by tugs for this purpose.  The ultimate destination of most of these in or near the Empire is the wreckyard at Kathar, a planet in the Cilmínár (Imperial Core) system, which plays host to some of the largest recycling facilities around, as well as some of that specialized equipment mentioned in Landfill Beyond the Stars.

Missing, Presumed Eaten

CATHCHAL (Principalities) – A prominent codramaju businesssoph and head of the Surameru Trading Coalition, Surameru Kenth, was reported killed today at the Starcradle Xenodochium in Cémálles, Cathchal, after falling into a waste-disposal conduit. In an apparent oversight, the safety parameters of the Xenodochium recycling system had not been updated to include the unusual biological characteristics of the codramaju species, relatively infrequent visitors to the Principalities, resulting in its disassembly by the waste-processing nanogoo.

Surameru Kenth died without backup, and is survived by its two contracted-merge-partners, seven dividends, and commensal digisapiences. Condolences may be sent via the codramaju embassy or the local offices of the Trading Coalition.

The Watch Constabulary are treating the death as suspicious.