Image from Anders Sandberg

Name: Cervantes (Mu Arae)
Type: G3IV—V
Dulcinea (mu Arae c; Hot Neptune)
Rocinante (mu Arae d; Azurojovian)
Quijote (mu Arae b; Hydrojovian)
Sancho (mu Arae e; Eujovian)

Habitable World
Name: Negsoa (Mu Arae b II), Moon of Quijote (Mu Arae b)
Planetology: Quijote orbits 1.497 AU from Mu Arae, with a year of 1.76 Earth years.

The diameter of Negsoa is 7,102 kilometres, the density is 0.843 of Earth. Gravity 0.372 g. The day is 45 hours and 52 minutes long, as the moon is tidally locked to Quijote. The axial tilt of Quijote is 17 degrees, and Negsoa has negligible tilt with respect to Quijote.

90% of the surface of Negsoa is covered with water; nights are cool, and days hot and humid, but the seas retain the heat well and keep the climate from becoming too extreme. The wet arean moon Negsoa was originally colonised using fairly low-tech Low Worldhouses to retain oxygen; full terraforming was not achieved until the Late First Federation era.

There are two major continents, and a broad arctic archipelago. The colony is located on the southern part of the largest continent, Tasha. The East Sea is a shallow sea with extensive petrochemical resources east of Tasha. Near the island chain Hoto natural geysers of methane erupt at regular intervals. The other continent, Joke, lies on the other side of the planet and is roughly the size of Australia on Old Earth.

The climate is fairly hot and humid compared to Earth (especially on southern Tasha), but with practically no seasonal variation due to the minor axial tilt (just two degrees). Hurricanes are fairly common. Joke is more temperate than Tasha.

Negsoa map
Image from Anders Sandberg
Negsoa - physical features


The Greater South Africa Republic was sufficiently wealthy by the end of the Nanotech window to fund its own colony ship to the star Cervantes. Launched in 490, the ship arrived in 1080 with less than four hundred surviving colonists in cryosleep. The new colony, on a Mars-sized moon of Mu Arae b, was given the name New Greater South Africa Republic. The name was later distorted into Negsoa.

The colony was badly equipped, undermanned and lacked vital competence in many areas. The equipment failed, the core colony Aldennia could not develop according to plan and efficiency was low. An attempt to bring down the colony ship to act as ready-made fortress failed and resulted in a serious wreck; fortunately most useful equipment had already been brought down with shuttle (the crater is today called Ichibi Elilukhuni, "the stupid lake"). To make matters worse Aldenn continued to develop his paranoia, several times executing officers or experts for disagreeing with him. Within three months of planetfall he was murdered together with his feared cadre of bodyguards through a bombing. His lieutenants scrambled for power, but the two main strong men managed to keep the situation under control. They realised the need to ensure survival, and made a deal dividing the colony between them. Over the next years development went slowly. The camps were often against each other or working inefficiently, but a rudimentary agrarian society was set up.

The capital became a stronghold for the ruling families, ruthlessly controlling the farmers and plotting against each other. While they call themselves nobles, the system is also a tribal system where family ties extend even into the farming community. The farmers are little more than serfs; they are in turn handled by overseers who in turn answer to the nobles and their soldiers. The higher ranks have final say in who marries whom, and often trade serfs with each other. Craftsmen and servants live with the nobles in the city, kept under strict guard by the soldiers.

In secret some people fled into the mountains, building secret villages free from the city people. To supplement their farming they took to stealing or plundering from the lowlands. Over time a fragile balance developed with a feudal/tribal system of warlord families ruling their piece of the countryside from their strongholds in Aldennia or from the mountains. The mountain villages united into a loose alliance against the aldennians but spent most of the time in internal quarrels.

Around 70 years after landfall Negsoa was a thoroughly "medieval" society, with some remaining advanced technology in Aldennia, often family heirlooms with little practical use. Earth became a mythical place; according to the common people a wonderful world they had been expelled from by the evil Aldenn, according to the nobility a decadent cesspool most likely destroyed in some war. Several uprisings had semi-religious overtones, seeking to overthrow the Aldennians and return the golden age of Earth.

Over time the mountain lords grew in power, especially after they began to mine and sell metal. Metal objects had gained in popularity, not just due to usability but also as a symbol of status, power and magical charm. The Aldennians managed to keep the balance of power, but in the struggles more people managed to escape from their control along the shores of the East Sea. They began to live on floating rafts or boats to escape attackers more easily, The sea people developed into a major power in the 1200s due to their skills at seafaring, fishing and navigation. It was they who discovered the methane geysers of Hoto; selling bottled gas to the mountain lords or Aldennians they became wealthy and powerful, possibly the only comparatively peaceful society on the planet. Attempts by the other powers to get access to the sea were easily defeated, and the secrets of navigation were held strictly secret.

The arrival of uitlanders (the First Federation) in 1443 sent shock, fear and hope throughout Negsoa. The nobles quickly realised that the uitlanders outgunned them totally, and grudgingly settled for cautious diplomacy while trying to figure out how to use them and retain their own power. The peasants were fearful of the god-men from the stars, but secretly nurtured the hope that the Homecoming was at hand; this of course was not the case. Negsoa became a minor power in the First Federation era, and with the help and encouragement of the local FedRep they successfully established a secondary colony of their own at Morrow, which was unfortunately depopulated in a plague in 3541 AT.


Overall, Negsoa is primitive but politically quite dynamic. Over time it is likely that it will change tremendously as trade and industry pick up again; the knowledge of the earthlings may have been partially lost or incomprehensible, but the realisation that it is there and can be rediscovered helps development. The main problem is that so much energy is spent in internal struggles that little remains for development.

As the colony effort disintegrated and the technology began to fail, most of the families did what they could to keep the old knowledge alive. Especially important was the printing of the large library of "How to"-manuals in the computers, manuals and documentation describing how to construct various machines, basic textbooks and other useful stuff. Even if the situation didn't allow the use of the information at that point, they realised that in time it would prove invaluable. Since then the families have kept libraries of howtos, well guarded and tended by trusted members (there have been many thefts or sabotage attempts - by depriving a family of howtos, it not only loses important information but the loss of treasure also hurts its status) . Most of the information is useless, but occasionally a gem can be found giving the family an edge. The howto libraries are kept by family howtokeepers, acting as librarians and advisors.

The Colony Council is a yearly meeting of the leaders of the families of Aldennia; the name is taken from the original colony leadership, but in practice it is a huge family festival when the different families mingle, compete, plot and generally interact with each other. This is the time when marriages are announced, alliances made or broken. The Mountain Lords have sent representatives to the Council for the last decades, and after the arrival of the uitlanders the representatives have even been allowed into the Council House to participate in the main debate.

All clothing is based on simple natural fibres such as wool or the bast of the brace tree, and colouring is expensive. Most people wear a kind of grey burnoose, while the nobles sport more complex clothing, richly painted and often with leather or metal armour.


Abantu bolwandle "People of the sea" in Xhosa, common name for the seapeople among the farmers.

Quijote shadow When Quijote eclipes Mu Arae; traditionally an unlucky time. Usually averted by carrying around lights or biolumniscent plants in the evening.

Bhabha ikhaya! Fly home! Expletive suggesting that somebody should try to fly back to Earth. "Goduka!", go home, is sometimes used to suggest that somebody return to the domain of their own family.

Big Papa Title used for the leader of a family.

Femeli Family; one of the extended clans ruling Negsoa.

Home/Ikhaya Term used for Earth, usually with religious overtones when used by the farmers. The Hometurning movement claims that by overthrowing Aldennia they can return to Earth in the colony shuttles.

Hooglander Highlander, someone of the mountain people.

Howto The old "How to" guides printed shortly after the colony was founded. Today rare, carefully guarded texts owned by the Aldennian families.

Howtokeeper A librarian/advisor studying the howtos. Generally the technological experts of Aldennia.

Intaba Iyafeza "Mountain master", formal title for the mountain lords.

Landcraps Derogatory word used by the seapeople for the other inhabitants.

Kittekop Afrikaans for "kitten"; term used for the local genetically modified predators due to their small size and often pretty appearance.

Stinkfishes Derogatory name for the sea people.

Uitlander Outsider, somebody not from Negsoa.

Umlimi Farmer.

Population Population: 3,093,296. Aldennia valley: 1,855,977 Mountains: 989,855 Sea people: 247,463. Life expectancy at 1 years: 54.6 Earth-years (infant mortality 21%).

Currency Barter or silver.

Timekeeping The day is approximately 46 hours long; since timekeeping isn't very important that is close enough for practical use. The years are counted by the seasons; one year is 335 days long.

Symbol None, but each family has its own coat of arms.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Some additional material by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 24 July 2000.