Jonathan 'Trip' Daniels

Jonathan 'Trip' Daniels
Image from Steve Bowers

A footnote in 61 Cygni's history is Jonathan "Trip" Daniels, who has lent his name to the 61 Cygni-A planet "Trip" (formerly Edison). Trip is among the oldest humans alive (by calendrical age) though definitely not the oldest. He was born in 375AT in the ancient United States of America, where he pursued a career in engineering and later management. Some corporate religions in the NoCoZo have enshrined Trip as a saint to "company men" — loyal, lifetime workers — because of his history.

During the Fourth and Fifth Century AT, Trip worked at Exa Energy. After a couple of decades of hands-on engineering, he reached middle management. There he was noted as a problem solver with an excellent engineering background, exactly the 'man on the ground' preferred at new projects ranging from sunskimming amat farms to the Cygnus Project pathfinder probe construction where he untangled personnel, engineering, and production problems.

Trip was born to an era where longevity treatments were widely available, and these gave him a long life, while Exa's healthcare packages paid for more. Decades of reinvestment in the giant corporations had made him rather wealthy, but a new challenge presented himself. In his second century of life, while possessing the physiology of a man approaching middle age, he volunteered for the first Cygnus colonial flight.

After surviving the long flight in cryosleep Trip awoke in Edison (later "Trip") orbit in 597 AT, to find his Solsys portfolio had continued to do well and, as ordered, had procured advanced gerontological treatments that were transmitted to 61 Cygni. With many effects of age being gradually reduced and eliminated in the following decades, Trip has commented that he never felt older than in 600 - except in 713, when the first 61 Cygni Worker Revolution failed and so many of his students and friends were "disappeared."

From his revival, Trip resumed his work overseeing Exa Energy industrial operations in the system, serving as an engineering troubleshooter, middle management, and interface between workers and executives. He was a talented teacher and helped correct deficiencies in parental vec educational programs for ETA's indentured tweak workers.

One of his tasks during the 600s was to provide progress summaries of major development projects to in-system executives, which were often transmitted verbatim to investors in SolSys. After news of the Technocalypse arrived in 61 Cygni, Daniels began including human-interest snippets, witticisms, and observations of the human condition to counter the gloom of the Technocalypse. His writing style was engaging and humorous to begin with, a result of centuries of practice trying to keep the attention of executives, and ETA Consortium's upper management had been referring to them as "Trip Tales" for this reason. The term became formalized in the 653 annual system report, when a "Trip Tale" was appended under that chapter name.

From 653 to 780, 217 Trip Tales were received by Teledyne (the sole survivor of the ETA Consortium) and disseminated through cislunar space. They were often ignored by the public during The Recovery because they told a story of a system where von Neumanns and construction swarms were still common and thus held the terrifying possibility that the next Technocalypse could be interstellar in nature. But during the Expulsion and its aftermath, Trip Tales were received in a different light. They were rays of hope and humor that spoke of a system beyond mad AIs, plagues, and swarms, where humanity was still thriving. No few Expulsion-era ships targeted 61 Cygni simply on the basis of Trip Tales.

After the costly failure of the 713 Worker's Revolution, Trip began to back workers, trying to mitigate the productivity enhancements demanded by executives still scarred by the Technocalypse. He used his stature and formal position to become an ombudsman and probably headed off rebellions in the 720s and 740s by easing worker conditions. But in the opinion of management, Daniels overstepped his bounds in 753. Trip was put under house arrest and suspended from any official duties. This sparked the successful Revolt of 755.

Daniels was a key figurehead around which revolutionaries rallied, but actually contributed little during the revolution. His contribution had been in the inter-revolutionary years when he moved from station to station, providing an example to workers that conditions could be different and management could be more merciful. After the rebellion, he was quickly elected to the ETA Leadership Council and worked to mend fences between workers, leadership, and shareholders, a task at which he did well but left after a decade when the new order appeared stable and worker conditions were improving. High politics did not suit him.

Trip has another 10,000 years of history, but they are less remarkable. During this time, he has used his wealth and near-immortality to explore the universe. At any time, several of his engenerated forks may be found in middle- and high tech systems aiding local modosophonts on space engineering projects. A few forks, engenerated or uploaded, tour the Known Net in constant bemusement of how far terragens have come since his earliest memories. Most of these gradually circulate back through 61 Cygni to share their experiences.

His alpha fork, a nearbaseline, remains in 61 Cygni where his original shares in Cygnus Project and ETA Consortium have turned into huge real estate wealth and numerous shares in the modern Cygnus Development Corporation, the system government. His best known estate, the district of Westcliffe, is named after a similar district on Earth where he once raised a family, but it is not his only estate - he owns thousands of square kilometers of urban real estate and continues to draw profits from them.

As might be predicted of someone of such antiquity, Trip has some archaic possessions (some older than him) that are of interest to modern historians. He has the only known surviving works of the painter Norman Rockwell (on loan to the Cygni Museum of Art), a pre-AT combustion-powered ground car, and the Trip-to-Gee cycler "The Brick Moon." This tile-clad Bernal Sphere built in 605AT is his alpha fork's alternate home every few years as it continues its endless journey between the two planets.

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Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 10 August 2016.