Summer Debacle, The

Raman's World
Image from Steve Bowers

Raman's World orbits a red giant star locally known as Omg or Rukbat al-dajajah. It is a high density remnant of a gas giant core that had most of its atmosphere blown off by the solar wind during the expansion phase, leaving an unusual rock, metal and diamond planet behind. Continents of diamondoid and metal carbenes float on its enormous seas of lava, surrounded by a hot carbon dioxide atmosphere.

Aeoina explorers first discovered this inhospitable planet, and a Cygexpa wormhole was leased to the system. The Aeoina began to set up carbon mining around the planet, hoping to construct a profitable amat production gigastructure or perhaps the start of a ISO. However, the 4983 AT collapse of Aeoina planning led to the abandonment of the project and the removal of the wormhole. Left on the surface of Raman's World was a fraction of nanocyborg ambitionalists that decided to wait out the crisis and set up their own settlement.

When contact was re-established by a Cygexpa inventory mission in 6430 AT they discovered a thriving civilisation on Raman's World, calling itself Summer. It was based on highly redundant hylonanotech structures growing on the diamondoid continents, adapting and moving as they churned in the high gravity lava oceans. Summer had apparently developed into a peculiar inward-directed aesthetocracy. When contact was established the Summerians were quite interested in certain forms of info-trade, and a number of virch artworks and infowebs were exchanged for fresh knowledge base updates, some literature databases and ergopedias.

When the inventory ship returned to the Cygexpa net in 6551 AT the Summer artworks were well received and widely copied. It was not until 6553 AT when it was discovered that they were seeded with exceedingly subtle memifex ai viruses hidden within the emergent art. Although their main objective appeared to be directed against the Aeoina (now long defunct), they also apparently tried to modify viewer values to set up a daughter ideology of some kind. The containment efforts proved expensive but effective, and in 6594 AT Cygexpa and Cyberia jointly announced success. It was a serious reminder about the dangers of unfiltered near-toposophic software, and the Holy Cygexpa Corporate Judiciary Office seriously disciplined the 47th Inventory Fleet for deficient decontamination procedures.

The next expedition, an investigation/retaliatory force in 6680 AT, discovered Raman's World quite empty. The Summer civilisation had apparently vanished, only leaving some silicate residues. Whether it escaped, dissolved during the subjective millennia between the first and second visit or hid within the planet or star is unknown.

A theory advanced by the Davenna School of posthumanists is that the viruses were the entirety of Summer civilisation; it had simply exported itself, and was neither as large nor as complex as imagined. This idea, the Omg Potemkin Hypothesis, became briefly a popular explanation for many unusual or threatening frontier phenomena: that any alarming or impressive reports from the Periphery were actually the result of a multitude of minor clades and individuals exploiting the mythically magnifying effects of distance to give themselves fearsome or impressive appearances. The hypothesis in this form is not taken seriously by scholars but recurs in many forms among Inner Sphere eucrats.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 09 January 2001.