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Trip

City world in the Inner Sphere

Arcologies on Trip
Image from Steve Bowers
Arcologies on Trip; the atmosphere on the surface is currently unbreathable, following the failed terraformation attempt

Trip (61 Cygni A)

TypeHyperXeric Gaian
Diameter12,100 km
Density5,243 kg / m3
Surface Gravity0.9 x Earth's
Day Length23 standard hours
Inclination21 degrees
Water Area4 percent (ice)
MoonsNone surviving
Population4 trillion nearbaseline humans, splices, rianths, borgs, synths;

530 billion Cygnus Vecs; several thousand transapients
Trip before colonisation
Image from Steve Bowers
Trip before colonisation, in its natural state

OVERVIEW

Trip is a planet in the 61 Cygni system. It has been summarized as simply, 'a business paradise during the First Federation period,' which is an adequate enough summary for many modosophonts. As far as outsiders might be concerned, its high point was probably 10,000 years ago when the system was 'a bastion of humanity and technology untouched by the Technocalypse.— That claim is not entirely true, but the system gave the First Federation's megacorps a considerable boost in interstellar development without ever joining the Federation. Today, it rarely reaches the attention of terragen space, being perceived as a modosophont world notable only for a mild case of pink goo. It is an independent world in the Inner Sphere, but it hardly the only such system. It one of the oldest human interstellar colonies, but as a second generation effort it doesn't stand out. And it generates a lot of modosophont-targeted media, but these products are branded to the media corporations rather than to Trip's name.

Trip was a lifeless world that only has a residue of its once-vast oceans and atmosphere, lost over the past 6 billion years to 61 Cygni A's solar winds. These residues include permafrost, icecaps, and a 0.6-bar nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmosphere. Its diameter is 10,512km and surface gravity is 0.8G. In the third century AT, it was selected by Exa Energy to be the center of shareholder habitation in 61 Cygni, leaving the indentured clone workers to develop the rest of the 61 Cygni system. With stable gravity, a protective atmosphere and magnetic field, and potential for terraforming, Trip seemed like a good center for colonization. It was also easily accessible to the spacecraft of the time and its three medium-sized moons would support space industry.

Trip during terraformation attempt
Image from Steve Bowers
Trip during the failed terraformation attempt of the 2nd millennium

A failed terraforming project of the second millennium put its mark on Trip such that tough terraformed flora dot the 'native' regions to this day. The terraforming project also introduced more water while waste heat from the world-city sometimes warms the world enough to support running water. Oxygen leakage from the world-city has raised atmospheric oxygen to 3-4%, which supports some terraforming fauna. Overall, the 'native' areas of the planet visually resemble other, more habitable xeric ecologies, like those of the Colorado Plateau on Earth. The environment is frigid to the point that carbon dioxide condenses during polar winters, but humans survive easily with insulation and an oxygen mask or respirocytes.

It is ruled by a local archailect, the S4 Expansive Succinctness, who resides in the J-brain Copernicus elsewhere in 61 Cygni.

THE WORLD CITY

To outsiders, the planet's standout feature today is a result of its settlers and their continuous population growth: Trip is an ecumenopolis, a planet covered by a city. Some estates of the original settlers survive and leave about 7% of the surface in a semi-native state, but the rest is buried under urban developments. The world-city is one of the most populated cities in terragen space that is not an entirely artificial megastructure. Its population of 3.5 trillion bionts covers the planet at a density of 10,000 per square kilometer, but that is a gross average. The planet is not actually covered in arcologies (though there are many such structures) and they may one day fully cover the planet, but the arcologies currently stand out among lesser buildings. There are even 'suburbs' (in local terminology) where population densities drop below 1,000 residents per square kilometer to the point individual homes may have a hectare of land. Balancing the lower density districts are 'cities' that are conurbations of arcologies where population densities exceed 100,000 per square kilometer.

(An unbroken covering kilometer-tall arcologies would provide the architectural volume necessary to host another ten-fold increase in population, while transitioning to a complete, multi-tiered shell world would enable a further order of magnitude population increase, if not more. Whether or not infrastructure issues are solvable for such populations is another matter. There is an ongoing debate about terminology for such population densities, with 'metropolis' a leading candidate for population densities over 1,000,000 per square kilometer.)

Trip City Vertical Farms
Image from Steve Bowers
Vertical farms inside one of Trip's worldhouse areas (these cover around 7% of the surface)

Along with the failed terraforming, Trip has never managed to complete a global worldhouse or other paraterraforming option like a shell world. Such features exist within limited areas. For example, many suburbs favor domes or similar enclosed, terraformed regions that may cover hundreds of square kilometers, while more built up districts often enclose streets and other inter-building spaces to provide habitable 'outdoor' spaces. Cities interlink their arcologies with multi-tiered spaces as they grow upward, leaving lower floors and streets isolated from natural light but supplied with breathable air. (There are areas where such spaces develop without planning and no neighboring arcology takes 'ownership' to supply fresh air to the 'public' space. Air masks may be required.) Cities also grow downward to make the most of their expensive land, producing either shellworld-like caverns or 'corepiercer' structures. (The former are popular ways of hosting large bodies of water, both for sport and as reservoirs. Trip does have large lakes, but they are artificial and underground.) New arcologies usually have foundations designed for future kilometers-deep underground development, while older ones must have expensive reconstruction or replacement.

The plan, if it could be called such, for the next several thousand years is to allow arcologies to develop into a near-continuous shell across the world, forming a 2- to 5-kilometer thick ecumenopolis capable of hosting tens of trillions of residents. Otherwise, the population seems content to allow its ecumenopolis to evolve with little central guidance other than required building codes, infrastructure regulation, and intelligent urbanization principles.

As noted in 61 Cygni, Trip's slow growth began in the 2000s, shortly after the system underwent a change in government from the ETA Consortium to the Cygnus Development Corporation. The new transapient owner appears to have stimulated population growth to expand the domestic economy. At first the population slowly surged from 2 billion in 2500 to about 30 billion by 3000, at which time the population was scattered across the binary system in no singular concentrations. Thereafter, though, a majority of population growth took place on Trip. Overall, the system has seen about 0.1% growth in the past 7600 years, bringing it to some 5 trillion.

NOTABLE DISTRICTS

Olympus Mons: The northern conurbation of arcologies forms a dark mountain that rises above the surrounding cityscape, though it is so large - like its namesake - its mountainous form is not visible to those on its surface as it follows the curve of the horizon. It is a blister of mammoth buildings roughly sixty kilometers in diameter with a central peak ten kilometers above the bedrock, and even the smaller arcologies on its fringes tower like ramparts two kilometers tall. Olympus Mons is also honeycombed on a horizontal level as pressure walls are strung between arcologies, forming pressurized 'outdoor' spaces and the appearance of continuous exterior walls. The assorted arcologies within have been integrated by street platforms established every 500 meters of altitude, producing up to 20 levels below the central peak.

This 'city,' in the local parlance, has grown over the last 500 years from the efforts of a leading board of su owners. The city attracts relatively wealthy residents for its unique combination of services, brand-named and copyrighted goods unavailable from outside nanofabs, roomy residences, and dense concentration of high social credit individuals. On the other hand, Mons is criticized for underpaying its maintenance staff (in energy and mass credits) and artificially stratifying society by altitude within its confines. Deferred maintenance and deviated energy and resources from lower levels produce a warm, dim, humid, CO2-rich and oxygen-poor environment that contributes to the unpleasantness of the lower levels, while upper levels effectively have subsidized surpluses of energy and cool, fresh air. The billion residents, however, seem to enjoy the stratification and (in the lower levels) the challenging environment - most are quite able to move out, but the archaic social stratification allows high growth opportunities in social credit funds.

Westcliffe: This thirty thousand square kilometer estate encloses some scenic equatorial plateau area, mountains, and deep, stratified river canyons. A few hundred square kilometers are under pressurized domes but the remainder is in a natural state. (Insofar as an area with relatively dense terraforming scrubs and open water can be called a —natural— state.) The permanent population consists of a several hundred family members and employees of the Daniels clan. Jonathan 'Trip' Daniels acquired a respectable number of shares in the ETA Consortium and cheap land during the early settlement of the planet. Unlike many investors, he did not resell the land. Instead of banking on its land value, the estate generates considerable resource, energy, and social credits by hosting a few thousand tourists a year. Most are very wealthy and visitor slots are booked years in advance, but there are also inexpensive and even free slots for charitable cases. A second source of revenue is the farm domes, which raise cattle, chicken, sheep, and 1st Century AT crops. Scarcity, authenticity, and copyrighted branding make the farm's products (everything from simple food stuffs to leather, paper, and alcoholic beverages) very profitable, easily covering the district—s operations.

Interstellar visitors are often mildly surprised that there is little pressure to urbanize Westcliffe, but the land ownership rights of shareholders are considered inviolable in the local culture. Further, the district actually offers little real estate of great value because it is easy to purchase land in areas of average population density and develop them into an arcology, as witnessed by Olympus Mons— growth. And in an era of flawless virch experiences, Westcliffe offers little in the way of space or vistas that planetary residents cannot find in their own DNI. Instead, the district thrives on authenticity and name recognition, not physical values. There are many residents on Trip who would like to join one of the oldest humans alive - the planet's eponym - for a ride around the estate in his prized archaic combustion ground vehicle. (As commonly translated from ancient English, this is a 2BT Aepyceros Melampus. It uses an ultratech air processor penetrating the engine compartment's top access panel to scavenge sufficient oxygen from Trip's air to support the vehicle's 6,997 cubic centimeters of hydrocarbon combustion volume even at peak fuel flow rates.)

New Angeles: This 50,000-square kilometer 'suburb' has a population of merely 25 million residents that live in a low-density sprawl of individual homes (on 0.1 to 0.25 hectare lots) and low rise buildings that surround several clusters of towers, all encircling a northerly anchor site of a space elevator. The suburb is noted for its steadfast insistence on the use of ground transport, which results in its surface roads being clogged with all manner of ground vehicles. Unlike other suburbs on Trip, it eschews district-wide worldhouses and instead either uses sealed buildings or small domes over individual home lots. New Angeles is avowedly an attempt to avoid the 'crushing urban growth plaguing Trip' (to quote district modosophont leadership), and it definitely attracts planetary residents who dislike arcology living. Neighboring districts, however, dislike New Angeles because of its inefficiency and the view it presents: the high level of individualism and lack of coordination in building architecture means, overall, New Angeles is an ugly, blotchy landscape.

For unknown reasons, New Angeles hosts a noticeable percentage of Trip's S1 entities who are involved in day-to-day planetary administrative work or teaching and research. In addition to members of the Darwin clade (who have rooted in various parks), nanoborgs, and hyperturings, two large clans of Athenaeids immigrated to New Angeles from the Terran Federation and NoCoZo, respectively. (The latter also brought the majority of existing Morrigans with them.) This makes Trip and New Angeles the largest center of the posthuman clade outside of a Sephriotic empire.

Naica: This compact, equatorial city - or 'metropolis' - grows from the surrounding suburbs like a cluster of crystal spires. The architecture is a transapient work of Perfect Art, harmonious and entrancing to many modosophonts. The central tower, the tallest, is a 100-kilometer tall skyscraper that anchors a space elevator and reaches Cloud Tops, a static orbital ring (see below). The soaring towers sit on a foundation of corepiercers that reach ten kilometers into the crust. The city is organized as stacks of kilometer-tall arcologies, achieving a population density well beyond one million modosophonts per square kilometer. Naica is known to host an S2 regional administrator, who might be an avatar of 61 Cygni's ruling archailect.

New Rome: One of countless Nova Romas in Terragen space, New Rome (formerly Paul VII and renamed after the Great Expulsion) is a 10-square kilometer districts bordering between a suburb and city in planetary parlance. It has a single modest arcology among its plazas and low-rise buildings. The various administrations have worked hard to maintain a coherent, beautiful Italian Renaissance architecture reminiscent of the Vatican and largely achieved this goal, even with the rather gothic arcology. It falls short of Perfect Art but has consistently ranked highly among modosophont architectural achievements in the Inner Sphere. Besides attracting plentiful tourists and students to its popular-but-archaic in situ, in person university, New Rome is the seat of the Universalist Church in 61 Cygni and several nearby systems. It is located about ten kilometers south of Olympus Mons, well within sight of that district's southern ramparts. Despite the importance of the Universalist Church's Jesuit educators in the Revolt of 655, the Church rarely claimed followers in over 10% of the population in the subsequent ten millennia. It is just a particularly well organized and centralized religion among many in 61 Cygni.

SPACE DEVELOPMENT

In addition to the 3.5 trillion residents on Trip there are 500 billion in orbit around the world, living in habitats built from the entirety of Trip's original three moons.

'Cloud Tops' is a popular, expensive residential district with less than 1 billion residents. It is a static orbital ring merely 100 kilometers above the planet and strung between the numerous orbital elevators. Its deck, like a tiny version of Nieuw Amsterdam, drips 'stalactites' (or 'starscrapers') of towers that provide views of the planet below while a smaller number of residents live on the pressurized, enclosed upper surface that is parkland.

There is then a gap of over thirty thousand kilometers cut only by the invisibly thin elevator cables and swarms of spacecraft traffic before 'Clarktown' (a Clark Ring, of course) is reached. Clarktown consists of two orbital rings ('The Cables') 100 kilometers above and below synchronous orbit, respectively. 2,200 small McKendree cylinders, large Bernal spheres, and large Freespheres anchor to The Cables, necessarily limited in size by the 200-kilometer spacing between The Cables and their adjacent habitats. Some 150 billion residents live in Clarktown habitats, often involved in the hundreds of freefall shipyards, fueling stations, and docks along The Cables. The Cables carry dozens of high-speed inter-habitat rail links.

Ten thousand kilometers above Clarktown is a continuous 0.2G, 200-kilometer wide ribbonworld ('Anchortown') that serves as ballast to the elevators and hosts 100 billion residents in urban-like densities. Its apparent gravity is reversed compared to Cloud Tops so Trip appears overhead, and the Trip-facing deck has a pleasant, Earth-like low gravity environment under a transparent tube. Most residential and business spaces are 'under' the deck in starscrapers reaching toward deep space.

And beyond Anchortown is an artificial ring system of hundreds of thousands of free flying habitats called (based on its appearance from Trip's surface) 'The Arch.' The Arch hosts habitats in many forms, rings to cylinders to freefall structures that stretches a further 20,000 kilometers into space. These are relatively small habitats, with none allowed to have maximum dimensions beyond 20 kilometers due to traffic issues. They host the remaining 250 billion residents of Trip orbital space. The Arch is likely to increase in radius and density as it absorbs orbital population growth over the next few millennia, but will eventually need to transition to higher density habitats like ribbonworlds and Clarke Rings.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The government and transapient real estate moguls have ensured that transport and other infrastructure elements are well-run and up to the task of keeping trillions of residents alive. Almost any service or entertainment may be found virtually or within three kilometers of a resident, so walking is a viable option aided by slidewalks. Multi-tiered subways and elevated roads carry floods of ground vehicles that may link into ad hoc trains, climb the walls of compatible buildings, or move along surface roads like conventional, private ground cars. Assorted forms of aerial vehicles provide faster transport, though the large numbers of flying vehicles are stacked into vertical lanes and carefully controlled. Because of the dense orbital rings, suborbital flight is restricted and long distance surface travel is thus handled by vacuum tunnel maglev trains that may reach up to 12,000kph. (This is a fair portion of orbital velocity and riders experience reduced gravity.)

Trip hosts extensive space infrastructure. It has 250 orbital elevators spaced equidistantly along its equator, and each elevator (made of 7 to 37 interlinked, spaced cables) splits its cables into three groups: one anchored at the equator (also supporting 'Cloud Tops;) and one anchored at each 10 degrees north and south latitudes. The planet's vacuum tube maglev train system includes branches that are Lofstrom Loop to boost and receive carefully controlled orbital shuttles. Away from the equator are hundreds of space ports where conversion rocket shuttles (with transapient noise damping systems) meet the needs of other districts.

These systems allow tens of billions of tons of asteroid-sourced materials to be imported annually to make up for recycling losses, and transit of tens of billions of space travelers. However, Trip still has a small space transport infrastructure compared to its population.

Most other infrastructure - power, data, water, forge feedstocks, food - is handled locally, typically within a few kilometers of a given building if a building isn't fully independent by itself. Arcologies are typical examples of such independence, possessing areas for food production (by many different techniques); redundant conversion reactors and power storage; computronium throughout the smart structure; recycling systems; energy recovery and scavenging systems; etc. This is done because the government is aware of the risk of a Bourgatov Collapse and has long mandated such independence. (Thanks to backups and ultratech industry, even a complete collapse of the orbital rings onto the equator should only be a problem for a couple of decades before the world is fully rebuilt and all lost lives restored.) On the other hand, those millions of independent infrastructure cells are interlinked to support distressed neighbors and even distribute utilities globally.

A population of 4 trillion poses interesting infrastructure challenges for a small surface area structure like a planet. At approximately 3000 food calories per resident per day and 33% chemical processing efficiency, nanotech food synthesis alone requires approximately 40 megajoules per day - 11.1 kilowatt-hours per day, or about 500 continuous watts over one of Trip's 23-hour days. Such food synthesis is not the norm, though, as less efficient vats, aero- and aquaponics, and soil farming are used. Energy for food production thus approaches the total solar energy intercepted by Trip, but it is not a solar-powered world.

Instead, it primarily uses conversion reactors. Including food, power consumption per resident is close to three continuous kilowatts for everything from infrastructure to transport to industry. (Average human usage is actually under a kilowatt even including food production, but the small transapient population uses much more.) This amounts to six times the sunlight intercepted by Trip, which admittedly is a cool planet because it only receives 500 watts per square meter, but means power release per square meter is still two to three times that experienced by Gaian worlds like Earth. The presence of atmosphere is actually a burden as it interferes with the ability of radiators to shed this heat into space; hot radiators necessarily heat any air that contact them. The older technique used across Trip are rooftop infrared radiators tuned to 'infrared windows' in the planet's atmosphere. With reflectors and transparent vacuum insulation, they are pure radiators that vent kilowatts of heat per square meter into space day and night. This technique is reaching a limit - residents do not want their world roofed over by radiators - so 61 Cygni's ruling Archailect has introduced transapient neutrino chillers for new construction. The S2 chillers are currently prohibitively difficult for modosophonts to install and maintain (though they were reverse-engineered), so they tend to be centralized facilities for a district or arcology. The chillers have probably eliminated the last barrier between Trip and further population growth. Indeed, they have inspired something of an economic boom as energy budgets to modosophonts have been increased.

In between heat sources and radiators, Trip makes use of numerous, clever power recovery techniques to make the most of its energy. Well-insulated buildings are partly warmed by metabolic activity of residents; convection aids air circulation within structures; hot portions of food synthesizers and waste processors have their waste heat used to preheat incoming material; many nanoscale sensors scavenge energy from the environment; buildings' masses serve as passive heat storage; and so on.

Despite some elements of advanced technology (e.g., transapient chillers and ultra-tech computronium), Trip makes deliberate, defensive use of obsolete technology. Most of the underlying arcology frames, surface transports, and space elevators are merely Information / Interplanetary Age technology to minimize risks of subversion. This demands a large maintenance workforce (up to 1.5% of the population, plus more in the form of government administrators), but this has the added benefit of keeping a percentage of the population employed and engaged in ril activities. While other aspects of Trip's culture shifts from generation to generation, the maintenance guilds are a constant, employing a strategy of defensive obsolescence.

Trip in the Current Era
Image from Steve Bowers
Trip in the Current Era, with numerous orbiting megastructures extending to the surface

CULTURAL AND ECONOMIC FEATURES

61 Cygni is nominally a cyberdemocracy with representative elements derived from its corporate origins - a hierarchy of civil service managers handle day-to-day governance at the nominal behest of shareholders (citizens). In practice, frequent polling of modosophont shareholders only gives general policy guidance and the government implements any such guidance - or gently ignores it - with at the behest of transapient executives, who in turn defer to 61 Cygni's archailect, Expansive Succinctness. Like most modern archailect-dominated governments, the archailect and transapients are very light-handed in their governance, typically memetically engineering public opinion to steer shareholder voting and avoid many direct conflicts.

Unlike the relatively quiet and indirect memetic and social engineering in New Brooklyn, Expansive Succinctness and er transapient managers are active and sometimes obvious in their manipulation of 61 Cygni—s population. Transapients own a substantial portion of real estate and local media companies, allowing them a multitude of non-governmental means of keeping the system's culture stable and sustainable. Destructive memes, like conflict-seeking cults or revolutionary ideals, are winnowed out. Instead, modosophont cultural preferences are engineered to favor getting lost in the minutia of a post-scarcity, leisure economy, ultratech society. Their next art project, media program, urban maintenance project, spaceship, or transapient science conundrum keep them engaged.

The creativity-oriented population gave 61 Cygni and Trip the foundation of its diverse media empire. The system is rarely associated with this industry, contributing to the foreign perception of blandness. Instead, product branding focuses modosophont attention on the media megacorps that produce and distribute the popular programming. Trip by no means produces the majority of media in terragen space, nor does it make the most popular products, but its virch games, interactive dramas, multimedia stories, and news programs are statistically more popular on a per capita basis than the output of similar ultratech polities.

The large population of bright and Sus also accomplished something else: 61 Cygni, especially the densely populated planet Trip, is a noted center of reverse engineering transapient technologies and has been for several millennia. As with any ultratech civilization, reverse engineering successes are few and far in between but the success rate is above average on a per capita basis. Several factors account for this. First, the system has long sustained an ultratech modosophont civilization, since the late First Federation, and this has created an unusually deep data base of transapient technologies. Further, its large, long-lived population has been involved in maintaining that technology base from the beginning and the education system revolves around this. Third, the system's archailect and subordinate transapients encourage this reverse engineering, gifting simple technologies and translated materials to modosophont research teams. The relatively large number of Darwin clade residents and recent arrival of Athenaeids are related to this effort because both clades are noted for their cross-toposophic translation abilities and many occupy educational positions in preeminent Cygni universities. The recent initiation of neutrino chiller manufacturing by modosophonts for Trip's dense urban centers is one of the latest reverse engineering successes. The open licensing and illegal duplication of these technologies has prevented 61 Cygni from greatly profiting on these inventions among modosophont markets, but Expansive Succinctness appears to be interested in stimulating modosophonts' creativity rather than their economy.

The system has variations in culture across its regions. The space-based habitats near industrial areas like Gee, Bernal, and the Swan Belt tend to favor manufacturing and industrial work to the leisure economy, though practically speaking their unnecessary involvement in extraterrestrial industry amounts to a leisure activity - it could all be automated. Success in designing, building, and selling ultratech ships, or working Gee's mines, or managing massdriver ore streams is a source of pride, social credits, and expanded mass-energy credits. Inhabitants of Trip see a percentage of the population engaged in infrastructure maintenance due to the planet's use of defensive obsolescence, so bionts and vecs perform work normally handled by a mechosystem on other modern planets. In that subculture, significant authenticity and social credit are generated by solving difficult maintenance, repair, or construction problems. Walking into a bar with an epic story of personal suffering and success, like unplugging an arcology sewer after a Wuppist convention or enduring smalltalk with a krekvec for a 12-hour shift, can make a maintenance worker a hero for a week. Some workers are currently engaged in a fashion arms race involving the most authentic overalls and tool belts, upon which many forms of credit (mass-energy and social) are wagered. Other residents on Trip formal regional subcultures, like the Olympus Mons, have created a district culture of conflicted social strata, and from such social polarization substantial credit may be generated. Being the oppressed rebels in arcology bowels trying to overthrow the high-handed nobles in the heights presents numerous opportunities for social success and thus credit acquisition.

Most residents stay close to home because of the availability of almost any good or service within a few kilometers, which leads to certain ril-related features in the culture. Habitats, arcologies, and urban districts tend to be relatively tightknit communities where there is at least general familiarity among residents and a geographically-based community identity. Most modosophonts like to gather and socialize at least several times a week in pubs, sharing their experiences of the week in person rather than in a vlog. This tendency to gather around food and drink is actually strengthened by Trip's vec population, which is designed for compatibility with the biont population thanks to features like oral consumption of alcohol fuel and internal maintenance resupply packages. Neb maintenance workers won't take leave of their vec coworkers at the end of a shift when they can both have dinner at the same pub.

Though a center of media production necessarily produces a thriving, diverse virch environment, uploads and pure ailife is proportionally small. Modosophonts, vec and biont, are mostly restricted from virch residency by local laws that appear to want to cultivate a more materially-oriented culture. Short term usage for long distance travel (by virch appearance or rental body) is acceptable, as is the use of avatars, but Expansive Succinctness has set an unambiguous policy that only allows a small number of permanent uploads by modosophonts - typically out-of-date backups of the dead. The explanation, if translated correctly, is that —grounding in ril inspires greater productivity due to an awareness of mortality.' And 61 Cygni's modosophonts are somewhat more productive than the usual post-scarcity society, even if most of their pursuits amount to leisure activities. The restriction of accelerated time virches and a virch population is an inhibition on ultratech research, which may account for the archailect's support of Trip's population growth: rather than a trillion virtual modosophonts trying to comprehend transapient technology, e is creating an equivalent ril population. In some ways, then, Trip is the ideological polar opposite of the Impossible Dyson and other centers of human virch life.

Despite the safety of their ultratech habitats, most Trip residents wear the equivalent of a thinsuit (contracted as a belt or shoulder accessory) or self-deploying air mask. Trip's exterior environment will not support human life and one wayward aircar can tear open the pressure seals on an entire block. Without flo-stone and airwalls (which are vulnerable to subversion), residents must have an alternate precaution handy. Plus, some public areas have poorly maintained atmospheres.

LOCAL CLADES

Cygnus Vecs: While Trip and 61 Cygni at large make extensive use of human labor in areas that other ultratech human societies would detail to a mechosystem, there are tasks for which bots and vecs are better suited. Cygnus vecs are the result: personable, human-relatable modosophonts. The vecs are generally purpose-built to various tasks like mining, sewer cleaning, zero-G manufacturing, bending, welding, etc. Instead of being built and shaped to a task (e.g., a taxi vehvec or million-ton bucket-wheel excavator mining vec), Cygnus vecs tend to have human-like, or at least human-scale, —core body' that contains their processor. If a humanoid form is insufficient to the task for which they were built, a core will then plug into the 'external body' that provides their design functions. This allows the core vec to detach when off work and interact easily with the human population.

About a third of 61 Cygni's modosophont population are Cygnus vecs. They are not von Neumanns and are actually deficient in nanotechnology as part of Trip's defensive obsolescence, instead being built at central factories according to hiring requests from the government and businesses. Those with external bodies are especially numerous in the mines of Gee, Bernal, and the Swan Belt, while most working on Trip only have core bodies.

Cygnus vecs have human-like personalities, usually in a narrow band of gregarious, industrious traits suited for workers who may spend unbroken days at a task. Gender-identification is sometimes exhibited, and the modosophont vecs may both form pair-bonds and submit offspring specifications to a central factory. Further, the core bodies are usually powered by liquid fuels, alcohol being a popular choice. This was done to encourage intermixing of human and vec populations at social centers like pubs, building social ties and avoiding speciesism.

A number of AI-rights groups beyond 61 Cygni periodically express outrage about Cygnus vecs, citing their 'memetic enslavement to inappropriate biont modes of sophonce.' In other words, the personalities with which Cygnus vecs are imbued at their creation make them too much like 'pet vecs' and 'biont mimics' rather than 'true vecs.' However, Cygnus vecs are not indentured or enslaved, and are certainly able to rewrite their personalities if they choose. They just prefer the tasks for which they were built, slugging back a few liters of high-proof at the end of a day, and beating their puny meatbag coworkers at pub games like darts.


Administrators: Many low level government functions are handled by nebs with the special 'administrator' genetic enhancements that allow them to efficiently handle the flood of details generated by a population of trillions of sophonts. The enhancements are usually provided upon reaching a certain level in 61 Cygni's civil service, those of low and middle managers. Cygni Administrators are similar to the Terran Federation's Bureaucrats, but do not exhibit transavant spikes in different areas of governance or networking between Administrators. Instead, the Administrators simply deal with transapient-scale quantities of information while applying Bright levels of creativity to issues that appear in the data, such as shortfalls in district agricultural production, maintenance trends, transportation guidance, and so on. They are assigned to single departments and are not universal problem solvers like Federation Bureaucrats, but instead function as low level managers overseeing offices of non-Administrator workers. Some potential candidates may have biologies incompatible with the enhancements or strong personal objections to the genetic modifications, in which case cybernetic enhancements are offered.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
original brief entry by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 09 January 2002.

 
 
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