New Gaia (Lambda Aurigae A IV)

Life-bearing World in Auriga, colonised by First Federation environmentalists

New Gaia Surface
Image from Anders Sandberg
Biology on the surface of New Gaia. The ground surface is covered in several layers of photosynthetic felt, with several spiky felthogs looking for bugs. Braidtrees poke through the felt while bubblekites float sparkling in the air.

New Gaia, Lambda Aurigae A IV : Rachelan Protectorate - Data panel

SystemLambda Aurigae A IV
Distance from Sol41.2 ly
Stellar classG1.5 IV-VFe-1; a late Sun-like star, soon to leave the Main Sequence
CompanionsLambda Aurigae B, 200 AU distant; Lambda Aurigae C, 1300 AU distant
PlanetsMalthus (hermian class)
Rousseau (hot arean class)
New Gaia (eugaian class)
Muir (superterrestrial class)
Nader (xeroarean)
Leopold (eujovian)
Carson (eujovian)
Wilson (iceball)
Hui (iceball)
Kessler (iceball)
Chinoba (cryojovian)
Janosch (iceball)
Sabadir (iceball)
Rifkin (cryojovian)
Winter (iceball)
Rhodin (iceball)
Current Allegiance:Caretaker God (under the hyperturing Rachel), offworlders have ties to the Solar Organisation
Symbol(planetside) A simple picture of a leaf-haired woman embracing the planet. The two nation-continent-states of Dolphin and Swan use their namesakes as symbols, despite the fact that the animals were never introduced on the planet.
(technopolises, offworlders) various.
(primitivist) Total: 12,171,750. Swan: 7,485,620. Dolphin: 4,686,130. Population Type predominantly Rianth (almost no baselines remain) - varying degrees of Rianthism - most are fairly near baseline but a few regional villages are inhabited by inbred that have become quite theriomorphic. Life expectancy at birth: 68.3 Earth-years
(technopolis) Total: 23,461,041. The technopolises are inhabited by su rianths with a few cyborg rianths. Life expectancy at birth: about 480 years (varies).
(offworld): 352,468. Population Type mostly su and su-rianth, with a few cyborg-su-rianth and cyborg-su. Life expectancy at birth: about 1200 years (varies).
Language(planetside): Gainese (Anglish Language family, but incomprehensible to offworlders without a translation device), Pinese (Pine clade), Local dialects (technopolises)
(offworld): Aurigese (strongly derived Anglish Language family, based heavily on local nuances and references, even more incomprehensible than Gainese or Pinese),
Currency(planetside primitivist): Barter. Money is regarded as extremely tox.
(planetside technopolis): Each technopolis has its own monetary unit.
(offworld): trade in bioart or information units (the BICU - Aurigaese Bio-Information Currency Unit)
Foreign Policy(planetside primitivist): Isolationist, some links with other Caretaker God worlds
(planetside technopolis): links with many outsystem eco-friendly clades Foreign Policy
(offworld): links with Sol System and Dionysos


New Gaia (or simply Gaia, as the world was later known as) was colonised by the Green Alliance, a First Federation environmentalist movement of mostly rianth and nearbaseline human race, disillusioned with the decline of ecological standards and the rise of corporate influence that were emerging in the early 1200s. When the first colonists arrived they believed that this planet held a naturally-evolved biosphere, like that of Earth and the planet Darwin. In due course the biosphere of New Gaia was discovered to have been planted there only thirty-four million years ago, by the unnamed species HIE019CZE; before that time the planet was lifeless. Nevertheless this artificial alien biosphere is valued very highly by ecologists and astrobiologists throughout the Terragen Sphere.

Even at this early stage of the Federation's history, there were unsettling signs of things to come, including the Genome Ownership Act of 1212 that was pushed through by big biotech corporations such as Birnam Ecotech, which allowed the patenting of alien genome material. Unable and unwilling to return to Old Earth (at the time under Protective Quarantine by the goddess GAIA), the Green Alliance membership (under the leadership of the so called Naturalist Seven) nevertheless believed that the Solar System and Federation colonies were doomed (just as Old Earth had been before the emergence of GAIA). The Naturalist Seven the taught that Federation civilization, by removing itself from true nature, was cutting off its roots and would eventually perish. The Alliance instead wanted to create a more natural society, to live in harmony with nature so that a healthy humankind could evolve and survive in ecological self-sustainability. During the 1220s and 30s such neo-primitivism was quite popular, especially on some of the CisLunar Orbitals. The Green Alliance exploited this feeling to gain funding for a colony mission. Most important of all was the support of the ecotech AI known as Rachel (after the late Industrial Age ecological activist) who had in the 1190s manipulated the futures exchange in order to gain enough capital to buy rights to the fourth planet of the Lambda Aurigae system, which was known to support complex life. Rachel also obtained a two hundred year lease on the system as a whole

The colony ships Root and Seed were launched in 1245, arriving at Lambda Aurigae IV in 1365. The colonisation plan had been meticulously designed. While most of the colonists remained frozen, a number of pioneers explored the planet and set up three experimental farms. The purpose was to find out just how much necessities indigenous life could provide, and what absolutely had to be supplemented by the bioarchives onboard the ships. After two local years enough had been learned, and the colonisation began in the earnest. At first all available high technology was used: shuttles, robotic building, expert systems and biotech. Then as the colony (divided into three regions around the original farms) began to produce its own necessities the technology was largely abandoned. Instead of being scrapped it was sealed into the Vault, a large concrete structure that was finally sealed permanently in 1375. It could only be opened by a code sequence distributed between the three sub-colony councils. Some advanced technology such as radios and medical equipment was left, it was appropriate but must in the end be replaced by local products.

Everything went well until 1380, when an epidemic attacked the Swan colony. The local council demanded help and opening of the Vault, but the other colonies were reluctant. Eventually the crisis subsided, but it was clear that a problem had to involve all colonies before the Vault would be opened. There was also lingering resentment from the decimated Swans against the others; from now on they would not cooperate overly with them.

The young generation tended to react differently to their society. While some questioned the self-imposed limitations, many became more radical than their parents did. Some demanded (together with the hard-liners among the colonists) that the Vault should be destroyed, it was a temptation they could do well without. In 1387 a small team almost managed to blow up the entrance to the Vault with explosives, but were hindered by locals.

However, the hardships of agricultural life made politics less and less interesting. The slowly failing remaining technology was never replaced, as the infrastructure to make replacements was never constructed. Old knowledge was meticulously passed on (libraries were built at many places to retain a selected heritage of mankind) but lacking important details, and the plans for the infrastructure remained politically hard to implement. In Swan hard-liners even destroyed the plans to ensure that society would remain pristine.

New Gaia became an agricultural society just as planned, but at a much lower technological level than the original program had intended. The old ecological ideas also drifted. The ideas of living in harmony with nature became a kind of religion, where certain things were seen as "ec" and others as "tox". The libraries were carefully tended, but the contents not well understood; they were the wise words of the pioneers. At the same time they never lost their knowledge of how the world worked, it just became inhabited with spiritual meaning. Complex living systems became forces of ec, while entropy, negative emotions and the mysterious worlds of the un-Gaians were tox. Certain animals, such as the parasite block that attacked humans, livestock and many other species, were also seen as tox - New Gaia had actually not intended them, and removing them was actually an ec act. The Vault was the Pandora's box of ec and tox, not to be touched by the unworthy. Today the founders would likely disagree with much of the ecology taught on New Gaia; especially the farming which was originally intended to be optimally low-impact has, due to the lower technological level, a significant ecological impact.
New Gaia
Image from Steve Bowers
New Gaia with two of its three moons, Isis and Diana
The different colonies developed in different ways. Swan, always the most radical, promoted a strict agricultural society run by the Mothers, the priestess/librarians interpreting the word of the pioneers and New Gaia. Dolphin remained more open, a loose democracy centred on the densely inhabited Watson valley. In the eastern part of the Purple Sea the Pine colony retreated from the coast, which was plagued by regular floods and storms. It became isolated from the others, and slowly dwindled over the span of a century. Eventually the last colonists left for the west and disappeared into the other colonies.

New Gaia, or Gaia as the world was now known, could not remain isolated for long. The arrival of the Megacorps, beginning with Omicron Developments Inc in 1425, Carbonaceous Chondrites Holdings Ltd in 1431, and CisLunar Mechanosynthesis in 1440 meant the end of the neo-primitivist idyll. While the Gaians had ownership of the fourth planet, the other worlds and the moons and asteroids of the system were open slather.

The newcomers also resulted in a crisis of faith among the colonists. The overall assumption among the early Gaians was that the Federation and its colonies had failed, for how could they thrive in a non-natural way? The appearance of the megacorps was a major blow to their worldview. The Mothers were extremely critical of outworlders, and have pronounced them as bringers of tox. Dolphin was wary but interested.

Contact with the Dionysian Erotocracy

At first the megacorps were well behaved, the tweaked, cyborg and vec miners and workers keeping to themselves. But by the early 1500s, with an influx of even more megacorps and larger populations of workers (including rude baseline types), the situation took a turn for the worse. Workers would sometimes land on Gaia, visit their settlements (inspired by old images of near-naked hippie females), make a nuisance of themselves, and in general violate their sovereignty, and there was nothing the Gaians could do about it. Additional problems for settlers was the arrival of the Erotocracy. This was inevitable, as New Gaia was the closest major colony to Dionysos.

Not only was the Erotocracy a major player among the arriving megacorps, but also Edenist missionaries were active on Gaia. This was yet another reason for the hardliners to rage. In desperation, in 1512 the Swan radical faction known derisively among the other colonists as The Technocrats, opened the Vault and found among the advanced technology inside (although the technology was still primitive by megacorp standards) a laser transmission device. They sent a laser transmission back to Rachel in the Sol System, informing Jer of the circumstances. But it would take almost a century for the message to make the trip there and the reply back. This period saw the emergence of a number of radicals. Foremost among these were the Cybelists.

Rise of Cybelist primitivism

The Cybelists were a militant group of neo-primitivist colonists, seeking to return even closer to nature than the Pioneers. They centred around the charismatic Cybele Kekkonen, who claimed to be a reincarnation of Cybele Mallory, the first human born on Gaia. Kekkonen She grew up to become a fanatic gaianist, regarding herself (and regarded by her followers) as an avatar of the planet, and defender against the invading megacorps. She agitated fiercely that the only proper life was as a hunter-gatherer. Her cult gained great popular appeal by waging a successful guerrilla war against any megacorp workers that landed within their reach. Even when the workers armed themselves with home-made lasers they were still unable to protect themselves, being caught out in traps, ambushes, and dwellings. Their weapons were distributed among the Cybelists (who made the exception against technology in the case). Many Gaians rallied to her cause, and the megacorp worker parties were finally too frightened to come to the surface. Unfortunately, the Gaianists good-will for the Cybelists was destroyed by their sabotaging of the Colonies low-impact industries, several attacks on the Vault. Since the Cybelists had trained themselves to survive well in the wild they were hard to restrain, and their surprise attacks were eventually more of a drain to the early colony than the nuisance visits of the megacorp workers. In 1599 Cybele committed suicide with her closest followers when they were surrounded by the colony militia at Tidegap; proclaiming she would incarnate again.

Rachel's reply came in 1609, Rachel told them e was aware of the situation, which was occurring in a number of worlds, and e and a number of other AIs were looking at ways of rectifying the situation. During the 17th century the Lambda Aurigae system was opened up for colonisation. Those Gaians - the Mothers, the that retained the neoprimitivist outlook were horrified to see a repeat of the old Federation. Others, including the Pines and the Swan radicals, adopted a balance of technology and ecology, trading genetic material for megacorp tech and isolating themselves even further from the neo-primitivists. And while New Gaia was not a formal part of the erotocracy, it had clearly become part of the sphere of interest.

The arrival of the Rachel ISO

In 1687 an object of unknown nature entered the system. It was essentially a diamondoid shell of several kilometers diameter, propelled by what appeared to be a remarkably efficient amat-fusion drive system. This object established communication with all the regional megacorp AIs and local biont and aioid management, and informed them that the Lambda Aurigae system was off limits to development. Those that had already set up home in the asteroid and moon colonies were welcome to stay, but everyone else had to go. They were given twenty-four hours to begin dismantling their mining operations

The megacorps conferred and, while their bionts, cyborgs and vecs wanted to call the object's bluff, their AIs informed them that they had examined the object with long-range sensors and that the object was in fact a hyperturing ISO, with an 84% likelihood of sufficient weaponry to make good hir threat. The following year the megacorps withdrew. The ISO, which told the Gaians it was the ascended "Rachel" (even if it seemed to be nothing like the Rachel AI they knew) established a cordon of surveillance nanodevices around the system.

The Rachelan Protectorate, as the Lambda Aurigae system was now known, has remained studiously neutral throughout the millennia, although maintaining good ties with other Caretaker God systems, and various eco-clades. Many of the moons and asteroids have been allowed to keep the original biodomes and ecohabitats that were set up during the system's megacorp age. However, the offworld - or Aurigaean - population remains small, even if technologically advanced. Most of the Aurigaeans' income comes from their unique bioart, and the occasional sale of the hard to get real estate, which is much valued for its hugely spacious quality (rarely found among the otherwise crowded Inner Sphere) and replication of Old Earth habitats. And although the arrival of the Rachelan ISO meant that the local erotocracy lost political power, memetically its influence remained, and to this date there are Edenist communities around the system and various enviro-hedonist movements.

New Gaia in the Current Era

This system holds several interstellar space-time catapult links, a number of Beamrider routes to nearby stars and high-bandwidth Lightways transceiver systems, but no traversable wormhole links to the rest of the galaxy. However the Aurigaeans and the Gaian Technocrat cultures both include a number of transapient-level entities with access to reactionless drive spacecraft, and the proximity to other systems means that the Protectorate is in no way isolated. In fact, all the citizens welcome the relative isolation and privacy that lack of wormhole links provides, and are quick to point to the atrocities of the Version War as an example of how foolish it is to maintain such huge and expensive structures.

New Gaia remains strongly polarised between the luddite primitivist society under the rulership of the Mothers, and the techno-ecologists, both of whom claim to represent the true ecological ideal of the Pioneers and of the great Ecologists of the past.

The Primitivists have refused the offers of alliance made by various Ludd groups, preferring to remain isolationist. Elsewhere on the surface technology has remained primitive, although this varies from bioregion to bioregion. Much of it is roughly equivalent to pre-industrial Earth, around 18th century, although use of polybuckminsterfullerene building materials, photovoltaic banks, and other low-impact implements imported from the Technopolises or from off-surface, is widespread. Energy is provided by windmills and solar cells, farming is done manually and using work animals. A wide variety of plants (both terrestrial and New Gaian) are used for making everything from medicine to glue. The society is sited as a luddist utopia, free of the ills of an ultra tech society (glossing over various social and clade tensions and the fact that the low technological level is more disruptive to the environment than the ultratech used by the technopolises.

There are two distinct clades of techno-ecologists, those that inhabit the Technopolises built by descendants of the Swan Radicals, as well as the those of the Pine "Arcology". Each technopolis/arcology includes a small but well-equipped Space Port and local infrastructure the equal of anything other civilised world in the Inner Sphere.

An interesting phenomenon among the primitivists is the Art of Memory. In the absence of computers, mental techniques were developed. At first they were mainly memory techniques used by the Mothers, but later other mental exercises such as emotion management, daimons and body control developed. In the fairly leisurely pace of gaian society most techniques were used just as utilities.


Gaians dress very colourfully, mostly thanks to the abundant plant dyes that can be used to dye the felt fibres after they have been treated with potash and the digestive juices of felthogs (especially the green from the Garthonberries is popular). A popular custom in both Swan and Dolphin is to have bright ribbons that flap in the winds; the Swans sometimes include tiny whistles too.

Gaian buildings tend to be built from stone due to the lack of wood; parts are often covered by fabric to shield against the winds. Tents are sometimes used for temporary buildings, but the wind makes them troublesome to maintain.


The Gaians divide the day and night into six hours each -- exact time is regarded as very tox. The years are divided into twelve months, each approximately 90 days long. One year is 2.5 Earth years, or 1095 days. Time is often counted from the latest conjunction (called Diaselene, Dianisis, Selenisis and grand).

Social Factions (Planetside)

The Mothers are the most powerful group on the planet, since they control religion, education and the libraries. They run the libraries and temples, where they also act as teachers. Access is strictly through their admittance, and they also hold strict reins on social life. Their most important function is to explain how different acts are ec and tox, and suggest what the Mother wants. They are also well trained in psychology, and adept at using hypnosis and suggestions to treat illnesses and personal problems. Mothers are divided into four ranks: apprentices, maidens, mothers and crones. The apprentices do menial tasks and are taught the basics of ecology, reading, writing and gaianism; when they have reached full understanding they are initiated to become maidens. At their first childbirth they become mothers, and at 50 they become crones. The crones usually reside at a temple or library which they govern. Each Mother is expected to obey those of higher ranks.

There are several guilds, guarding various important skills. Of special note are the herbalists, who keep the old knowledge of pharmacology and biochemistry; they not only produce healing drugs, but other practical and ec substances from the plants and animals New Gaia supplies them with. Another important guild is the engineers, who build windmills, pumps and other simple technology. They are closely watched by the Mothers, so that their thoughts are not polluted by tox.

The Cybelist movement has nearly died out, but some of the memes remain among radical Mothers, who train themselves to survive only by hunting and gathering and revere Cybele as at least someone deeply inspired by Gaia. Tidegap where in 1599 Cybele committed suicide with her closest followers is to this day revered by the remaining Cybelists, and by many hardline Mothers as well.

Adonis is a semi-secret group of male rights activists, working against the Mothers. They claim that men and women are equal, and that the Pioneers never intended the women to be her sole spokespeople. They have appealed several times to the Rachel ISO, but each time the archailect politely informs them that, short of self-extermination, the world's internal affairs are not jer business.

The Pines were descendants from the Pine colony. The colony failed, and they were forced to move west. They form a somewhat distinctive group, with shared family ties and a feeling of kinship; towards others they remained a bit clannish and suspicious. Like the Swan Radicals they decided that overzealousness is more damaging than technology. This led to several run-ins with the mothers, and at least in Dolphin the Pines remained apart.

Indigenous Biology

New Gaia was a lifeless world until the arrival of the HIE019CZE terraformers. This alien species were colonial organisms who were skilled in genetic engineering and ecological management, but were wiped out in a conflict thirty million years ago. Gaian life has many characteristics that distinguish it from terran life; many chiral molecules have an opposite handed-ness to those found on Earth, and many energy-containing molecules include nitrogen.

The planet was a cold, icy ball until a hundred million years ago, when the local star began to warm up; this star is near the end of its stay on the Main sequence and will soon become a Red Giant. At that point New Gaia will become uninhabitable once more.

The basis for the land ecosystems is the felt, a thick homogeneous undergrowth of fine plant fibres that covers almost everything in the lowlands. Instead of traditional soil there are layers of old felt; each year the felt grows a new layer, absorbing parts of the underlying material. Other plants coexist with the felt or grow through it. Most are thin fibres or tendrils extending into the air, some individually, others in bundles or braids. There are very few larger plants, except for the braid-bushes and braid-trees; this makes winds and storms much more severe. Wood does not exist, all plants are supple and easily bent. Instead of wood weaves or plaits are used, sometimes treated with minerals to become hard.

Many animals live in or beneath the felt, such as the flatbugs or twee. The most common grazers are the blowers, small round creatures with soft bodies, not unlike decimetre-sized aphids. They are in turn preyed upon by the felthogs, spiny starlike creatures that are also used as livestock by humans (their quills are extremely useful for all sorts of applications, from knitting to gluing together into beams). Larger animals also exist, such as the feltshark (hides beneath the felt and pounces; it can be dangerous to humans), the pyralopes and tritti (jumping, large herbivores named for their sound, often used as steeds). The air is filled graceful air plankton and their accompanying flying ecology, including the colourful bubblekites that are often used as insulation and decoration (their dried bodies are filled with air cavities).

The first inhabitants of New Gaia were modified by Federation genegineers to be tolerant of the local biology; however many of the local crops contain high levels of selenium, causing certain uncomfortable side effects even in the mildly tweaked population. To ameliorate the effects of this metal a geneered teabush was developed. These tea bushes are found at every gaian household. Drinking the tea (known as Pioneer tea) has become a part of daily ritual, linked to a short meditation of thankfulness to the wise Pioneers.

New Gaia Map
Image from Anders Sandberg
New Gaia Map


Gaia is 11,830 km in diameter, 0.8 times Earth density. Gravity is 0.758 g, the day is just 20 hours. The mean distance to Helios is 1.82 AU, producing a 1.86 earth-year long year (813 Gaia-days). The orbit is somewhat eccentric, currently producing a milder climate but over time precession makes the climate shift periodically towards stronger heat and cold over the span of thousands of years. The axial tilt is 14 degrees.

The air is relatively thin (the primitivist ideology has meant no optimising or terraforming), and humans often feel the need to rest. The quick rotation often produces strong winds, but the thinner air makes them less devastating.

60% of the surface is sea. There are four main continents, Dolphin, Swan, Pine and Cloud. Dolphin, Swan and Pine surround the Purple Sea (coloured by micro-organisms; originally it was called the Demeter Sea). The three sub-colonies were located on their respective shore a few thousand kilometers apart. Between Dolphin and northern Swan the Waters of Eos form a Mediterranean-like sea.

The three moons are Diana, Selene and Isis (4408, 320, 3175 km in diameter respectively); all three are too far away to cause any major tides, but their conjunctions are used to measure time. When Diana and Selene align, it is called Diaselene; the other conjunctions are called Dianisis and Selenisis.

The Lambda Aurigae System

There are 16 other planets, all named after important environmentalists but of little relevance to the Gaians. The innermost world is a barren rock named Malthus. Outside lies Rousseau a hot desert world with intense storm systems. Outside Gaia lies a superterrestrial planet named Muir, followed by a desert world Nader and the gas giants Leopold and Carson. Outside lies a series of minor gas planets and iceballs named Wilson, Hui, Kessler, Chinoba, Janosch, Sabadir, Rifkin, Winter and Rhodin.

These worlds were all developed by the megacorps before the arrival of the Ascended Rachel, and most moons have domes. Technology is in keeping with the rest of the civilized galaxy. However, because of both local xenophobia and the Rachel ISO's restrictions against new habitats, the population remains minimal, and rock ownership is handed down from family to family, and jealously guarded. Most of the Old Families are very elitist and aristocratic, forming a tightly-knit community, and turn their noses up at both the Gaian "savages" and the outsystem "commoners". They are a variable lot, including among their number su, rianth, cyborg, and even a few nearbaseline. There are only a few vecs (mostly dormbots) and no splices or posthumans. Most offworlders have an interest in biotech and eco-engineering, and some have created beautiful eco-habitats and bioart. Some of the families and clans have trade and financial links with the some of the aristocratic Sol System families, others have connections with old established clades like the Genen.

Some Gaianese Terms

(note: Gaianese is spoken by primitivist Gaian society only - the Technopolises speak a different dialect, a hybrid of Gaianese and Contemporary Anglish, and the Pines have a different language again (Pinese)).

Bubblekite: Air plankton. The term often used for drifting, lazy people.

Conjunction: When the goddesses line up. Grand conjunctions, where all three move together, occurs approximately every 41 years. Diaselene occurs every month, Dianisis around once a year and Selenisis every 4 years.

Cybelism: A militant form of Gaia worship, rare these days.

Ec: Something ecological/good.

Ecocalypse: The end of technical society.

Feddie: Affworld technical and/or tourist, whether from insystem or outsystem

Gaia: Mother Earth, the personified life-force of everything.

Mother" Priesthood in Swan maintaining the tradition and guarding the libraries.

Pine: A member of the Pine Clade; however, not all Pines are descended from the Pine refugees.

Purple storm: Storms blowing in water from the purple sea over land.

Rachel: A benevolent ISO or archailect; help from above.

Quill: The quills of felthogs, used for writing, sewing and a variety of applications. Also used to refer to something useful.

Recycle: To die.

Rouges: Wandering people, doing odd jobs or stealing. Regarded as a tox aberration of the social system

Technical: People using technology (usually derogative).

The Three Goddesses: The moons.

Tox: Something toxic/evil.

Trittiweb: A weblike harness used for riding the tritti.

Un-gaian: Outsiders. Negative term.

Wellington: To stay indoors to avoid the weather. "The harvest is in, now we can wellington".

The Wild: A disease caused by a throat and lung infection of gaian bacteria that produce an adrenaline-analogue. The victims become stressed, agitated and in severe cases violent.

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Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 13 November 2000.