Gold-rich world in the Solar Dominion

Image from Steve Bowers

Star: HD 237193
Type: G8 V
Distance from Sol: 319 ly
Luminosity: 1.6 x Sol
Constellation: Camelopardalis

Companion: HD 237193B
Type: DA2 white dwarf
Mean separation of A+B stars: 34 AU

Planet: Mayhew, originally New Koln
Type: Terraformed Arean
Semimajor Axis: 1.3 AU
Orbital Period: 1.43 standard years
Diameter: 9870km
Mass: 0.436 x Earth
Surface Gravity: 0.73 gees
Day Length: 31 hours

New Koln was colonised by the Solar Dominion in 2989 AT, and this arean planet was teraformed over the course of the next 600 years. One problem the terraformers faced was that the surface of the planet was covered in heavy metal dust, expelled from the companion HD 237193B, a former manganese star which became a white dwarf half a gigayear ago. When this star left the main sequence, it began to spray the planets in the binary system with manganese, gold, mercury and phosphorous. Great effort was necessary to remove these elements from the terraformed environment, but significant amounts remained.

For this reason the population of this world are moderately tweaked to tolerate raised levels of these elements, and visitors are advised to use appropriate medical remediation technology or avoid local foods. A cadre of envirovecs patrol the planet's heavily cratered surface, looking for excess levels of a dozen potentially problematic elements.

When the colony was first established the majority of citizens followed mainstream Solarism, and the thinly populated planet was protected by a S:1 Prefect of the Solar Dominion. However the unwanted excess of gold and other decorative metals such as platinum attracted the attention of the relatively new Cult of Gold, an aesthetic movement originating in the inner sector of the Dominion. During the Integration Gold Cultists came to New Koln and began to use the stockpiled gold to decorate their homes and temples. Mercury rivers were an attractive feature of many parks and plazas.

A Metasoft subversion virus during the Version War caused certain envirovecs to malfunction, stealing mercury and other toxic metals and using them to poison the planet's agricultural systems. Few citizens died, but many became ill; this action stretched the limits of remediation technology for many decades. Before Metasoft could use this to its advantage the tide of war moved away from this sector.


After the War many citizens turned away from the Cult of Gold, and a new belief system emerged; synthesised by the envirovec Samech9-20 (Sam), one of the vecs who had been subverted and subsequently cured. After his distressing psychological experience Sam wished to see an end to strife and hatred among modosophonts, so researched and revived an ancient philosophy that e thought might increase the collective happiness of society as a whole.

Agapism is a philosophy that places the greatest premium of spiritual, non-sexual, love. By loving other sophonts as oneself it is possible to construct an ethical framework that can benefit all. Instead of abolishing private property, as in communism, or exalting it, as in libertarianism, agapism encourages the ownership of wealth, but only in order to give it away to those in greater need. The most respected person in a society which follows agapism is the one who gives away the most, or the greatest proportion of eir wealth. Agapism became so popular that New Koln was renamed Mayhew by majority vote in 6980, after an early Agapist from Old Earth.

This philosophy appeared to be diametrically opposite to that of the Cult of Gold, which placed the greatest premium on ostentatious decoration and architecture. The great distance between these belief systems seemed likely to cause sectarian conflict; as on so many other worlds, different belief systems threatened to destabilise previously stable worlds.

In the event representatives of the official Dominion religion of Solarism acted to defuse the situation; the local Prefect (now an S:3 transapient living in a moon of the largest superterrestrial) acknowledged Agapism as a philosophy that could be acceptably followed within the framework of the Solar Dominion; this gave it equal status with the Cult of Gold. Following this ex-catheda pronouncement the Prefect embarked on a program of memetic engineering that encouraged the two cults to find accomodation with each other.

City of Gold on Mayhew
Image from Steve Bowers
The City of Gold on Mayhew

One result of this accomodation was the City of Gold; built with newly mined gold from deposits that date back to the formation of the white dwarf itself, this city houses the poorest of the citizens of Mayhew in the most luxurious conditions on the planet. Since Mayhew has been a post-scarcity society for many millennia, the difference in wealth between the richest and poorest in this society is mostly superficial and symbolic in any case.

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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 10 July 2014.