Everythingiana Worldbuilding Contest
This competition is touted as "The most extreme form of 'worldbuilding' since Homo sapiens first emerged!". Every few centuries, the Institute of Survival (the Semperist-derived organization that emerged during the Second Federation and is responsible for compiling the famous Encyclopaedia Everythingiana) sponsors a competition to see just how rapidly contestants (and usually eir descendants) can create a nanotech level civilization, literally from the ground up.
Contestants, typically several hundred in number and always bionts who are able to reproduce emselves faithfully without technological assistance (Cyborgs, vecs, neumanns, and bionts such as bioborgs, tweaks, and splices who must rely on external technology to reproduce emselves, and usually have artificial technology incorporated, are understandably ineligible; The most frequent and enthusiastic contestants, not surprisingly, are near-baseline Humans, with Rianths a close second and Superiors a somewhat distant third), are dropped literally naked (a feature of the competition which has earned it the unofficial nickname, "The Adam & Eve Worldbuilding Competition,") on an undeveloped (though extensively surveyed and continually monitored from orbit of course) terraformed world, with nothing but a standard copy of the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana to guide em, and eir own wits and innate faculties to rely on to start with.
The object is to progress from effectively a Stone Age level of technology to Nanotech Age in minimal time (Contestants are strongly encouraged to develop agriculture and/or animal husbandry — using whatever indigenous vegetation and animal life are most appropriate — textile weaving, effective medicine, and permanent shelter construction first, but are absolutely free to proceed however ey or eir descendants will). The record to date is 78 standard years, achieved by one of the rare teams of Superiors, although figures ten times that number are more common, especially among hu nearbaselines (it is also not unusual for the population to increase from an initial group of contestants numbering several hundred to slightly over 1 billion in that time).
As a prize, contestants and eir descendants get to keep the planet for emselves, and the satisfaction of having accomplished what ey have. The competition is obviously a great promotional tool for the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana. Critics maintain, however, that to truly demonstrate how quickly it is possible to progress from Stone Age to Nanotech Age, contestants should not be allowed to bring a physical copy of the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana, or anything else outside of eir own persons, with em.
Text by Mike Parisi
Initially published on 28 July 2003.