Wilds, The

The dangerous and untamed volumes beyond the Civilized Galaxy

Blue Dragonfly
Image from Steve Bowers

The Wilds, or The Wildernesses, is a term sometimes given by modosophonts to the vast regions of dangerous and unconsolidated interstellar space beyond the Civilized Galaxy. Home to transapient pirates and raiders, ahuman ai empires, prowling autowars, out of control nanoswarms, rogue ISOs, and vast (even by sephirotic standards) enigmatic megastructures, it is not a place that the ordinary sapient would feel safe in. Here sentient rights of lower sophonts are not respected, good hacking agreements are ignored, and the Tragadi Treaty considered irrelevant. But here also there is much beauty and wonder - exotic nanoecologies, extraordinary high toposophic experiments, vast regions preserved for their natural (or artificial) beauty, unexplored and forgotten low resource systems that might serve as havens for isolationists, Free Zones where there really is no memgineering (at least none detectable by even high transapients), gigantic orwood forests cultivated by ISO gardeners, friendly transapient utopias following non-Sephirotic principles, archaeological treasures of lost alien civilizations....

Occasionally a Lawkeeper, an Empire Ship, a Black Angel, a neumann swarm, a linelayer with khaki convoy, or some other emissary of sephirotic civilization will venture into the Wilds to establish a beach-head for Sephirotic colonization, or destroy a particularly pernicious blight. And as new frontier worlds are established, and Nexus links set up, the sephirotic empires expand their presence, create more living space, and assimilate more local polities and civilizations, at the expense of the Wilds.

But the Wilds will never be beaten, because they too are constantly expanding, moving outwards on a wavefront at relativistic speeds. And while one lot of new worlds is settled then other seed colonies will leapfrog past, so the frontier is never ceasing. Meanwhile, some old regions in the Wilds are so entrenched with their local civilizations and non-sephirotic archai they can never be absorbed into the Civilized Galaxy. Thus they are bypassed, and the Civilized Space grows in a sort of piecemeal fashion, leaving untouched these other empires and metaempires (such as the Panvirts, Diamond Network, and many others). And despite the unease that lower sophonts have regarding some of these polities, the sephirotics themselves seem to have no problems with them, leading to the common paranoid opinion that there is really no difference between them, and it is just part of the game played with and on lower sophonts. Others say that the Wilds and the ahuman ai are just part of the diversity of the Terragen bubble, and that the whole of colonized space would be impoverished if they were to be completely assimilated into sephirotic civilization, and this is why there is co-existence between the various metaempires, and between the Civilized Galaxy and the Wild places.

Whatever the opinion of the higher transapients and archai, for the lower toposophics and ordinary sapients, the Wilds are as diverse as the orientation of sentient beings:
  • For the contented citizens of the sephirotic autotopias, they are a place of unnecessary risk and danger, the wildernesses that, whatever their purpose, are not optimized for sapient habitation.
  • For the missionaries and the pious, they are unhappy places, where the tragic locals are ignorant of the cornucopia that the holy and wondrous sephirotic archailects provide.
  • For the simple-minded, they are the terrifying unknown, the dark, the place where bogeymen and monsters dwell.
  • For the scientists they are a wonderful repository of new (natural and artificial) lifeforms, new societies, new technologies, and new civilizations.
  • For the social engineers they are a source of new diversity, new fads, and new possibilities.
  • For the memegineers they are the perfect example to illustrate how precarious life would be without the archai and their hyperturing servants.
  • For the bored and the adrenaline junkies, the Wilds are a place of adventure, excitement, and danger.
  • For the "crazy scheme" (and many not so crazy) entrepreneurs they are a place of unexpected opportunity, for those with the courage to risk all.
  • For non-sephirotic idealists, they provide a territory to set up one's own memetic empires.
  • For the subversives they are a base to launch operations against the sephirotics.
  • For idealists, extreme discwuzitianists, hu supremacists, and others disenchanted with sephirotic civilization, they are a place to establish new civilizations free of memetic oppression.
  • For the hiders they are a great place to hide.
  • And for the sephirotic loyalists, they are the new, ever-expanding frontier that must be colonised and claimed.
At any one time, a significant part of the region known as the Periphery, beyond the reach of the furthest wormhole, can be considered to be part of The Wilds. Since this region is continually moving outwards, it can be difficult to determine which locations in this volume are currently Wild and which are comparatively safe. A location which is rumoured to be dangerous and uncivilized may be tens or hundreds of light years from the nearest stargate, and by the time a traveller or colonist arrives, the locality may have changed for the better. Or sometimes very much for the worse.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Initially published on 16 December 2003.