Children of GAIA

Ice Age Earth.
Image from Steve Bowers
Earth in the Current Era has entered a period of glaciation; this appears to be an aesthetic or possibly ideological choice by the ruling transapient of Earth, GAIA

The Children of GAIA are a culture of highly diverse ordinary sophonts, most of whom are rianth or human in morphotype, who serve the Archailect of Old Earth, GAIA. Though the numbers are difficult to confirm it is believed for most of post-Expulsion history there have been only about 50 million of them living on Earth at any one time, with perhaps another 5 million more resident in Solsys, mostly in CisLunar space. On occasion individuals or small groups are found elsewhere in the Terragen Sphere; most often these declare themselves to be scions of originals in Solsys who are already serving as ambassadors, couriers, or biological restoration experts. Most cultures and clades of the Children of GAIA are known only through accounts given by apparently friendly and truthful individuals, since only tiny portions of the planet are available for direct observation to a few carefully selected and supervised persons, and since GAIA or Her agents have consistently prevented detailed long-distance surveillance of Old Earth. However, over the centuries experts have developed a general consensus picture of the Children.

Though small, the population of Children shows great morphological variation. While a small minority of those assigned administrative, technical or ambassadorial duty are vecs, ais, uploads of formerly embodied persons, or cyborgs and bioborgs, the vast majority, including all who are living embedded in Earth's restored ecosystems in prim and lo tek settlements, are bionts of one sort or another, and the greater part of those are human-derived and of humanoid form, though some populations of neogens and provolves of various kinds are known. Some of those are indistinguishable from human baselines, usually retro-abo in aspect, strongly resembling some regional type of human appropriate to their geographical origin, and including some lazurogened to the form of Neanderthals or other extinct humans, but more often than not they are also rianths, having adopted aspects of other Old Earth animals. Such rianthism is also strongly regional: Africans with aspects of leopards or wildebeests, Australians with traits of goannas or kangaroos, Europeans or Asians or North Americans who resemble crows or bears or wolves, South Americans with aspects of jaguar or macaw, and so on. Occasionally some of the hominid Children have taken on mythological forms appropriate to the old myths of their region and resemble various conceptions of elves, dwarves, fauns, menehune or mimis.

The Children vary even more by culture than they do by physical type; GAIA seems to have encouraged a high degree of regional and ecological specialization. They also vary quite strongly by technological level. The stereotype of Children is that they use only low-end primtech stone-age technologies and live as hunter-gatherer or early agriculturalist humans did, and this does appear to be true of the majority. However while many some seem to live exclusively that way many employ a mix of technologies all the way up to ultratech. The common denominator is that however they live they have limited their effect on the local ecosystem, one that allows an authentic set of lazurogened Pleistocene flora and fauna to coexist with them. Local tribal cultures tend to be lower tech in their choices, but there are entire cultures and metacultures devoted to ecological restoration, or to administrative or ambassadorial functions. To the confusion of some outsiders, it appears that an individual Child of GAIA may begin life as a lo-tek or prim in some simple regional tribe, spend time in one of the higher-tech groups, and return at a later stage to their native culture or one like it.

Diverse as they are in appearance and culture, the Children do have some common traits. All or nearly all of them revere GAIA and GAIA's transapient agents, and most are extraordinarily proud of their connection with Her. Collectively, they have a reputation of arrogance and an attitude of superiority when they deal with offworlders. Greedy or mischievous Children whatever do whatever they can to cheat tourists and researchers. A few of the most hostile individuals go beyond this and taunt or insult visitors or envoys at every opportunity, in ways both subtle and unsubtle. These are things the Solsys Organization and various Pilgrim Groups have to take into account in their dealings with Earth. Unfortunately for outsiders, GAIA refuses to communicate directly with ordinary Terragen modosophonts (though She and her transapient minions seem to have good relations with other Caretaker Gods, even to the extent of treaties) and so the authorities have no choice but to go through her sometimes irascible and uncooperative Children.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev; amended and expanded by Stephen Inniss
Initially published on 24 September 2001.

Expanded and amended August 2016 by Stephen Inniss