Aldrin City

Ancient Lunar colony/city

Aldrin City
Image from Steve Bowers
Before the Great Expulsion, Aldrin was a relatively small collection of domed habs

Aldrin (originally Aldrin Base or Aldrin City) is one of the oldest extraterrestrial colonies of mankind, founded in 91 AT on Luna by super-wealthy individuals interested in a lunar resort and tax shelter. For its first half century it was a lightly and irregularly populated facility mostly utilized by the United States of America for in situ resource extraction experiments and, to a lesser degree, its original purpose as a resort. Reluctance from its owners and their heirs to 'ruin their pristine lunar resort' with larger operations pushed the United States to invest in the Artemis project of 113 AT (culminating in that colony's foundation in 117 AT), which soon dwarfed the small Aldrin habitat and arguably claimed the title to the first permanently inhabited lunar colony.

Changing fortunes of the owners led to Aldrin being claimed by creditors in 115 AT and sold to Artemis' competitors in 118 AT, who were quick to develop the rich sulfur deposits of the area for "brimstone rockets", sulfur-oxygen rockets of modest performance nonetheless suitable for cislunar operations. Attempts by America to re-establish its prominence led to lunar colonization programs at Aldrin, Armstrong, and Schmitt.

While those programs were quite costly, they secured Aldrin's survival. Even when independent Artemis floundered in the face of competition from newer lunar colonies and the asteroid industry, Aldrin was guaranteed replacement personnel and financial subsidies. Corporations became adept at lobbying national support for Aldrin's industry, which they were then able to use (or later acquire in privatization programs) for minimal cost.

These expensive investments paid off for Aldrin, if not America. Aldrin survived and even prospered after being weaned from American subsidies in the early 200s AT. It was well-positioned near useful mineral deposits, connected to the Lunar equatorial mass drivers by rail links, and producing useful industrial equipment for other extraterrestrial colonies. Its spacious 1G track habitats attracted skilled American expatriates disturbed by the Californian and Cascadian secessions, and it courted aerospace corporations with its workforce and facilities.

In the third, fourth, and fifth centuries AT, it was a prosperous but undistinguished part of the cislunar economy. Aldrin benefited greatly from the construction of the USS Randolph and others of that class, which were mostly constructed in Lunar orbit from parts manufactured in Aldrin. One of many reasons for the Randolph's enormous expense was the perceived need to expand the remnant American military aerospace industry.

By the dawn of the sixth century AT, though, its investments in Mercurian mining operations and sun-skimming amat platforms, and courting immigrants and corporate operations had made it truly wealthy. If Aldrin's foreign policy hadn't been shackled by pressure from America, it could have been a minor power on the scale of Artemis.


When the Technocalypse washed over the Solar System, Aldrin withdrew into near-total isolationism except as required to cooperate with the GAIA nanodefense network. Like Yueyuan colony, its exemplary blue goo defenses kept it from suffering much direct damage. As a centuries-old extraterrestrial colony, it had no shortage of necessities (oxygen, food, electricity, etc.) to sustain its population, and its diverse nanotech industrial base was more than up to the task of maintaining critical systems. The paranoid firewalls of its "off shore" data haven (part of its fifth century diversification) helped its computer systems rapidly recover from the Malware Plagues. It did, however, suffer catastrophic economic losses as its Mercurian industries went haywire and amat farms were consumed by von Neumann swarms. In 566 AT, the Protowar Rebellion triggered a makework militarization program that kept Aldrin's population busy but would quickly prove useful against swarm onslaughts. It also began breeding helium-3 (decayed from spallation-generated tritium) to support fusion alternatives to amat.

The colony that emerged in 568 AT was run by a consortium of corporate representatives, pro-human AIs, and old colonial leaders. The consortium was essentially a 'constitutional dictatorship' for the duration of the emergency, which the consortium claimed lasted from 565 AT to 673 AT. During this period, its own population was treated relatively well and had their standard of living preserved, even if the "Aldrin Board of Executives" (ABE, to residents) took little input from them and tolerated even less political discord.

But with outsiders, Aldrin danced a line between minimal humanitarianism and ruthless corporate aggrandizing that almost resulted in the colony being embargoed and attacked several times. Many contemporary accounts vilify the colony as being a profiteering, even evil force in cislunar space. In fact, its actions may be easily matched to those of sixth century hyperturing game theory for a "farmer" or "centralist" hyperturing resident in the colony's data haven, allowing for modifications by individual actions of the identified superturings and superbright humans of ABE. That hyperturing remains unidentified to the current era; several "superturings" found in Mycroft's correspondence are candidates, and they all departed Solsys in the late seventh century AT.

Fair histories acknowledge the colony's actions during its Emergency Era were not actively malevolent. For example, Aldrin did not attack neighbors for purposes of anything other than defense (e.g., the 566 AT amat sterilization of Tsukuyomi, whose industrial facilities had been suborned by rogue von Neumanns). During the dark days of the Technocalypse and Great Expulsion, it never pillaged other habitats (cislunar or beyond) for vital supplies or equipment — at least not until a habitat was essentially abandoned. It did not even do this indirectly, such as by deliberately withholding aid from a neighbor endangered by swarms or refugees. It did not engage in true profiteering. It did cooperate and aid neighbors, bolstering blue goo defenses and building warships to deal with Protowars. It took in many Technocalypse refugees (through numerous small, isolated quarantine facilities), and it did not discriminate against splices, rianths, and AIs despite the bigotry occurring on Earth.

But all this aid happened from a relentlessly self-centered perspective. Artemis and several other lunar colonies suffered swarm damage when Aldrin withdrew aid to respond to any hint of threat to itself. The refugees it accepted were ruthlessly quarantined under threat of gamma ray and incendiary sterilization (or physical databank destruction, for AIs), and it was very selective of refugees. Generally, a valid candidate had to be socially, economically, or otherwise useful to the colony (large payments of volatiles were accepted), while others found themselves warned away with oft-demonstrated lethal action. Though Aldrin did not engage in profiteering, it did use its position of relative military, industrial, and resource abundance to seek some profits or advantage despite the desperation of their customers. On the other hand, it would be charitable when charity was more productive than immediate profit.


Aldrin's reputation recovered in the years leading to the Great Expulsion when it was a reliable and integral part of the Recovery, but its actions in the Expulsion and Last War almost made it a pariah state. It provided industrial aid to the Treaty Organization's war effort, but was found to be running immigration campaigns on Earth (again targeting skilled labor, wealthy, and socially influential immigrants), accepting volatile shipments from GAIA, and expanding its hab-building industry at the expense of its war effort. In the eyes of many, it was playing both sides.

After the Last War it ran a near-police state that tightly controlled its tens of millions of refugees but pointedly only accepted tens of millions refugees, which was far fewer than many major lunar colonies. Despite the tight control on political discord and frequent recycling of biont malcontents, and despite the refugees' numerical advantage (70 out of 75 million 640 AT residents were refugees), Aldrin's new residents were relatively loyal because they had much better standards of living than many Great Expulsion refugees. It was thus an ironic member of the Selenian faction in the Moon Wars, resisting the Treaty Org's attempts to unite and represent billions of refugees. Though the Selenian faction tolerated and even needed Aldrin, the Treaty Org faction viewed the colony as traitors and sell-outs. The colony was despised by both sides, but it always avoided embargoes, military actions, or financial penalties from its allies, enduring no more than ineffective consumer boycotts and harsh words in foreign media. In short, the colony acted much like a polity dominated by a self-centered hyperturing.

When the Moon Wars erupted in 629 AT, ABE had been making noncommittal but friendly noises to the Treaty Org, probably because the Org was in a position to control some of the flow of valuable refugees and influence large numbers of orbitals. It was a force to be reckoned with, and Aldrin reckoned with it. However, when the Org launched the initial Moon War in a blitz to seize most of Luna's valuable industry and transport (like the equatorial mass drivers), its preliminary special force operations and military raids were caught in traps by well-prepared Selenian defenders. Supposedly neutral colonies like Armstrong and Copernicus attacked Treaty Org forces mid-deployment, preventing the seizure of rotovators and lunar orbitals, while Aldrin's brilliant naval raid on the Org's Bernard Domodo Memorial Station (at the Earth-Moon L3 point) eliminated the few conventional naval forces the Org had remaining from the Last War. (Due to the importance of safe cislunar space travel for the Expulsion and GAIA's apparent intervention to discourage orbital participation, Selenian naval forces mostly acted as a fleet-in-being that discouraged future Org space actions.)

The Treaty Org, though, had just spent 7 years fighting a war against an ever-adapting, ever-winning enemy. It knew how to lose and keep fighting, and it did have the larger military force. Its veteran, Superior-guided forces achieved successes at less-guarded but vital areas like mines, solar fields, and remote industrial complexes. The Org's efforts to stimulate revolts among disgruntled refugees had some incredible successes, resulting in even some ardent Selenian colonies like Artemis falling to pro-Org revolutionaries. It was in such situations that, again, Aldrin shone. For example, during the liberation of Artemis, it provided competent troops to a task force built by Copernicus, Armstrong, and Schmitt, but the winning aspect was a "filthy" (by the standards of the time) action: rapid field implantation of DNI in captured revolutionaries. Technotelepathic interrogation allowed rapid identification of revolutionaries, and the subsequent control routines allowed fast re-introduction of now-docile revolutionaries back into the Artemisian workforce. Artemis was soon back on its feet as a key member of the Selenian faction.

Ironically, if the Treaty Org had not unleashed amat weaponry in 630 AT and vilified itself then the use of DNI at Artemis might have led to a political revolt by the colonists and demand for action against Aldrin. However, 150 million deaths were sufficiently distracting that Aldrin was not subject to repercussions for its actions by other Selenians.

Predictably, Aldrin skated through the remainder of the Moon Wars without further threats from its allies by modifying its behavior to be more tolerable. It even found good use as a "boogie man" to terrify opponents. In the Seventh Moon War (636), pro-Treaty Org revolutionaries in Chang-e were panicked into surrendering to Selenian forces from Artemis by the rumor that Aldrin had delivered a shipment of millions of DNIs (reportedly the dangerously balky 'Leavenworth-3c Behavioral Modifier'). In fact, Aldrin simply used the rumor to disrupt the revolutionaries' cybersecurity. Many bypassed the Chang-e firewall to connect with the larger lunar computer networks and download popular anti-DNI cybernetic implant templates or even useless quackery like "anti-DNI memetic packages." Aldrin's hacking experts exploited the compromised firewall to cripple revolutionary defenses and seize the valuable carbon mines, which precipitated the rapid surrender to Artemisian forces.

The continued military success, business-friendly environment, relatively advanced industry (compared to many post-Technocalypse colonies), stable politics, and good standard of living drew a surprising number of corporations and carefully filtered refugees to Aldrin. It emerged from the Moon Wars and Great Expulsion in a position of significant strength, one on par with much more populous colonies like Yueyuan, Copernicus, and Schmitt.

Contrary to its selfish behavior, Aldrin turned out strongly in favor of the Luna States. It opposed strong centralization in the body but supported its diplomatic and resource-mediating functions. Considering Aldrin's post-war position and clout that granted in the States, its support of an organization that allowed it to extend its influence further is sensible.

Modern historians have little difficulty mapping Aldrin's Great Expulsion and Moon Wars behavior to hyperturing game theory despite the shortage of records from the time. The hyperturing behaved in a very "centralist" or "farmer" fashion by not only promoting its own interests but also obviously promoting and protecting those of Aldrin, which the AI apparently regarded as one of its valued assets. In the Last War, the colony positioned itself in support of both the Treaty Org and GAIA in different ways, setting itself up to take advantage of the post-war environment regardless of the victor. It turned out sharply against the Treaty Org in the Moon Wars because the Org sought to seize Aldrin's assets and suborn the colony, something that obviously contradicted some of the goals of the hyperturing. During the Moon Wars, the colony's more abhorrent actions were exactly the minimal expenditure (e.g. DNI controllers for revolutionaries) needed to obtain maximum profit. Those profit calculations obviously factored in long-term negative impacts of Aldrin's wartime actions so the colony never went so far as turning the Selenian faction against it.


Aldrin's situation was sufficiently stable (domestically and diplomatically) that it began reducing security and political regulations through the 640s and 650s AT. Its "de-tyrannization" is a case study for would-be dictators: residents were engaged to create and demonstrate new political processes and freedoms via assorted "freedom councils," "liberty committees," and "rights teams." Unsurprisingly, public ire was drawn to the argumentative, slow-moving committees rather than ABE, which granted freedoms and trials of new political systems while metaphorically keeping the trains running on time. By ABE's formal end in 673 AT, the former tyrants had received amnesty and substantial retirement packages, and were well on their way to be mythologized as "the hard-nosed leaders Aldrin had required in its time of crisis." Several would return in subsequent centuries during economic or political crises, while a few were scapegoats in carefully stage-managed show trials for ABE-era "excesses" and exiled "to the far wastes of outer Solsys" (i.e., Uranus's well-off bubblehabs).

Aldrin Worldhouses
Image from Steve Bowers
Dome habitats in First Federation-era Aldrin, covering parkland for recreational use and market gardening

There was a marked change in Aldrin's diplomacy and business activities after 703 AT, which came to resemble a typical Su-dominated polity. When the First Federation was founded in 933 AT, Aldrin's post-Moon Wars rehabilitated image allowed it to be an integral part of the early Federation economy. This was probably Aldrin's high point, when its mines and industry supported the proselytizing of the Federation that brought an end to the dark ages.

In 965 AT, Aldrin sent out its sole interstellar colony mission, a simple neumann probe to Barnard's Star intended to establish an industrial foothold with vecs. The Barnard mission failed, in the sense that after signaling successful deceleration in 1173 AT the probe went silent. It would be 1227 AT before communications traffic from other Barnard colonies revealed a vec colony had developed in the Barnard Belt, occupying one of the larger planetoids and being "rather neighborly" with the other colonies. As of 10600 AT (present day), the vec-occupied planetoid hosts an S2 hyperturing that claims to have arrived in 1173 AT but will not verify its association with the Aldrin hyperturing.

In the Federation's later eras, the polity only existed as a convenience to megacorps and it was simply a corporate outpost that was soon dwindled in importance as the Terragen frontier spread outwards. The final collapse of the First Federation in Solsys led to a 432-year interregnum during which there was no stable central authority in the system. Independent Aldrin appeared to initially revel in the period, but by allying with the Moon Coop (a near-copy of the Lunar States) it was dragged into a shadowy conflict with the Lagrange Association in the 2520s AT. The threat of escalation to open warfare was summarily quashed by the Pentarchy and rendered irrelevant by the newly formed Second Federation, whose internal dispute resolution mechanisms and post-scarcity economic plans successfully maintained the peace and provided more or less uninterrupted general prosperity throughout the remainder of the Sec Fed's lifetime and subsequent replacement by the Solsys Organization.


Like most of Solsys, Aldrin has stagnated culturally. For about 8000 years now, it has been a conventional cyberdemocracy with a mostly Su population. Its ultratech industrial base and economy rapidly adopt to changing Solsys markets, in which it is a small player. It currently has several resident transapients, including (for the last 322 years) an S2 entity whose avatar refers to emself as "Mycroft II" because of an apparent interest in lunar history.

Aldrin accepts refugees from various interstellar wars. Thousands of years ago, Version War refugees brought a wave of new ideas and aesthetics that caused Aldrin to almost entirely abandon its "Nuevo Federation" architecture, the revival of "Golden Age" (First Federation) architecture that followed the founding of the Solsys Organization. This led to the habitat maintaining a small section of warrens as a museum but otherwise deconstructing much of its revivalist Federation-style dome-and-track habitats in favor of tens of thousands of square kilometers of underground habitats with low gravity, terrestrial-derivative ecosystems.

The colony is a cultural refugium of the Technocalypse era, potentially one of the largest stores of 4th to 8th century Solsys data. However, the value of its records is a topic of heated debate among modosophont Terragen historians. Several issues weigh against direct interpretation of Aldrin's records.
  1. First, Aldrin was an ideological opponent of the Authenticity Purges during the 5000s AT because it objected to purging "non-authentic" material such as its mess of pre-Dark Ages data that had gone through numerous conversions in both format and computronium substrate to remain accessible to modern users. The data was slandered with a "non-authentic" label, which resulted in it being dismissed from consideration by many modosophont historians despite being factually correct.
  2. Second, the ABE-era government had frequently edited publicly-available records to help control its population, which cast a shadow over any casual interpretation of the Aldrin records. On the other hand, the unorganized original database does retain once-secret, unedited records used by ABE for its own use.
  3. Third, the Aldrin data has points of contradiction and differing perspectives from contemporary records in other lunar colonies, which suffer similar issues of editing, missing data, and dubious pedigree and thus call into question the overall veracity of Aldrin's files.
  4. Fourth, the "database" is, in fact, a disorganized mess of different records: internal security databases; government records; ABE-era intelligence records; assorted copies of contemporary AIs and uploads from the colony's Technocalypse- and Expulsion-era digital quarantine process; various local caches of interplanetary internets and virch worlds; residents' and refugees' personal DNI files; Aldrin's pre-Technocalypse data havens; and much more, all in archaic filing systems and languages. Most efforts to utilize the data necessarily requires a great deal of translation, interpretation, and reconfiguration, all of which is subject to the personal preferences of the researchers.
As a result of these factors, the Aldrin historical files are referenced less often than contemporary cultural refugia like early interstellar colonies and lost backyarder starships, which tend to be in the form of succinct, easily-understood libraries meant for colonies and generation ships.

Aldrin in the Current Era
Image from Steve Bowers
Today Aldrin is mostly underground, with a few domes on the surface concealed by chameleon tech, in order to preserve the ancient appearance of Luna as seen from the Earth's surface


Currently, Aldrin is a typical ultratech low-gravity colony inhabited by Sus and nebs on this archetypical selenotype world, Luna. Like all Nearside city-states, it uses chameleon technology to reduce its visual impact, for the benefit of GAIA and her guests and inhabitants. Most of its habitat space, covering about 5% of its physical territory, is in the form of giant underground caverns. It has a small number of tented craters covered in advanced optical camouflage, none close to the limit allowed by GAIA, but its other surface installations are usually industrial facilities not bothered by the requirement to be colored "lunar gray."

For the last millennium, Aldrin's habitats have been cultivating a cooler, damp environment with high levels of precipitation and average temperatures ranging from 0°C in winter to 15°C in summer, apparently to provide a contrast to the warmer and sunnier Copernicus. Terrain varies from verdant farm fields to rich, temperate rain forests surrounding fish-stocked crater lakes.

The 80 million residents of Aldrin live in a distributed community across the cavern area. Living areas tend to consist of small clusters of homes and buildings forming hamlets and villages, with the current architectural aesthetic favoring 1st century BT era masonry. The rock appears to be native lunar basalt and granite but is flo-stone. (Accordingly, the pseudo-Scandinavian and pseudo-British "stone" architecture may be interrupted by radically different architectures enabled by the smart materials.)

These structures are only the tip of a residential area, which sits atop an underground conglomeration of industrial, business, and residential spaces in the habitat walls and floors. Though the 'surface' buildings are intended to survive cavern decompression, the adjoining underground spaces are more robust and intended to protect residents from the many disasters that threatened Aldrin over the millennia.

Aldrin is marked by its Dark Ages-era volatile shortages even today. The humid cavern environment is one example: it is a huge reservoir of hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon. The artificial caverns are filled with hundreds of cubic kilometers of water (mostly in the form of life-filled oceans), as well as reservoirs of hydrocarbons, nitrates, and other volatiles. It is able to rebuild its cavern terrestrial environment many times over.


Many contemporary accounts of Aldrin during the Technocalypse and Great Expulsion remark on its baldly selfish economic and diplomatic policies, and the purported "brutally authoritarian" governance of its people. The propensity for executing criminals, suspected criminals, and political dissidents often resulted in the ABE government being described as a "dictatorship."

However, stripped of reporting biases, the ABE-era government appears similar to many modern archailect-dominated governments in that a small group of toposophically superior entities directed utilization of colonial assets in a high-handed, top-down fashion. This was done within a framework of laws, including a constitution, and had high buy-in from the governed populace because the populace usually benefited from the government's decisions. (The counterpoint being that many dictatorships start with high buy-in from their populations.)

There are differences from modern archailectocracies, though. Aldrin's population lacked the millennia of intellectual stabilization modifications common to 10600 AT nebs, a percentage evincing emotional imbalances and outright mental disorders. It did not have an angelnet, nor was its population used to cradle-to-grave angelnet-type policing. The disrupted lives of refugees made them prone to acting out and rebelling against the Expulsion-era restrictions. All together, Aldrin had higher crime rates and more disruptive residents than a comparable modern population, but fewer preventive options for curbing bad behavior.

So, ABE used what would be excesses in many polities today: behavioral monitoring, arrests on weak suspicions, and extensive technotelepathic interrogations. It would act out of an abundance of caution on the results of the interrogation, sometimes executing individuals who had only daydreamed detailed revolutionary plans or political ladder climbing. From 541 to 673 AT, approximately 73,000 residents were executed after arrests. Another 41,000 were killed by police during arrest attempts, normal patrols, and Aldrin's minor refugee riots.


Aldrin entered the Expulsion with excellent per capita industrial capacity, having weathered the Technocalypse and Recovery well. If it had an issue, it was a shortage of volatiles like hydrogen and nitrogen for refugees. At the announcement of the Expulsion, Aldrin's leadership promptly reached out to GAIA for aid and received recovered, pre-Technocalypse construction technology, shipments of volatiles, and permission to begin recruiting among potential refugees while the Final War was sorted out.

With a strict policy of only accepting a number of refugees that it could comfortably absorb and strictly quarantining them, Aldrin's refugee issues were milder than most lunar colonies at the expense of annoying its more-beleaguered neighbors. Due to that and its industrial capacity, Aldrin could build more comfortable, more advanced warrens than most lunar colonies.

In fact, Aldrin's warrens were at the far end of quality from hellholes like Freestead and Indonesian Corporate Development Farside. The standard warren module was 10 meters diameter and 25 meters long including tapered ends. Usually laid horizontally, they had three floors and were typically subdivided into merely two apartments per floor by pressure-tight walls. Divisions within an apartment were not so durable, but the metal-faced ceramic foam wall panels were very sound absorbing. The middle floor held the public passage (3 meters wide) from end to end of a module, plus stairs to the other floors. Aldrin would process the materials for the modules in bulk refineries, but its refugee and bot work gangs would print the hulls and utility lines on site. These were then wrapped in a layer of in situ fused, foamed regolith brickwork and covered in at least two meters of regolith held in place with retaining walls. These core modules were interlinked by airlock nodes that in turn connected to separate transit tunnels so the residential modules were not subject to heavy traffic.

Utilities were good; Aldrin was able to manufacture fast recycling systems that allowed residents to turn a few liters of water into endless hot showers, for example. Data utilities within the sheltered Aldrin networks were tolerably fast for refugees, supporting distracting virch worlds. Furnishings were spartan but comfortable and hardworking refugees could always acquire more. Like many lunar colonies, Aldrin had no shortage of power to light its warrens and control the climate. It did splurge on atmosphere, maintaining a comfortable humidity and full sea level terrestrial atmospheric pressure and nitrogen content.

Such "warrens" were grouped into clusters that held merely two to three thousand residents, which were centered on a "cluster park," a 30-meter diameter (or larger) dome. The park was often the pride of a cluster and held fabs, shops, and carefully managed gardens. Clusters were in turn built into larger conglomerations until reaching the sector scale of about 100,000 residents. The fine division allowed Aldrin's police to isolate a troubled area without engaging neighbors and contain war damage.

Like Copernicus, also on the moon, Aldrin allowed refugees to improve their warrens. This was accomplished by allowing a modicum of spare resources to such projects using spare time and tools idled by such downtime, superficially like Copernicus. These resources were used in contests or by votes that helped build social ties and friendships among the refugees of a cluster and sector. The difference was control: Aldrin placed fabs in public areas under the guise of privately owned workshops where they were strictly run by undercover government workers posing as shopkeeps. The government overtly controlled spare energy and resource budgets so it could make a show of donating volatiles and other raw materials to public projects. Of course, private individuals who just wanted a better couch or x-ray convection oven for their apartment could approach the shops with their own mass-energy fab credits. But those fabers were never in private quarters, unlike Copernicus.

With the end of the Moon Wars and Expulsion, Aldrin quickly shifted its warren-building industry to more permanent, rotating habitats. The conversion was largely complete in 650 AT and saw most of the old warrens scavenged for materials and atmosphere. Ironically, the warrens have outlived the track habitats as Aldrin converted most of its living area to the multi-chambered caverns of later millennia.

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Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 10 August 2016.