The Orion's Arm Universe Project Forums

Discovered OA a few days ago, amazed and happy!
Hey! I'm new here. I was amazed when I discovered Orion's Arm because it's pretty much what I've always wanted from sci fi... I like sci fi quite a lot but I've always been annoyed at how unrealistic it often is. I am Singularitarian and I have always missed such themes in science fiction - OA seems to be the most perfect manifestation of it I've ever found.

I actually have a sci fi world I've been worldbuilding, mostly in my head, for a long time - a single planet called Pantellia with biology and structure reminiscent of Earth's but very different, but which is completely compatible with real science as far as I am aware - I know there isn't much in OA about details of individual worlds, but perhaps I will be able to modify Pantellia to fit into Orion's Arm, who knows?

At the very least, I think I have the skills necessary to come up with some very interesting contributions in future... we shall see. Smile

Oh by the way, I also am an abstract digital artist and a musician - I make dark ambient / noise music and just recently published an album inspired by space called Cosmos - so if anyone wants (abstract) art or music for the OA universe I may be able to help! Big Grin
Hi- welcome to OA!

We do have a few worlds where the biology is described in some detail; see
Orwell (early prehistory)

Trees (several species are described in the links at the bottom)

and To'ul'h Prime

so we are always happy to include worlds which have detailed biospheres and geography.
I also actually came up with the concept of "artificial intelligence gods" when I was like 13 or so and thought that it would be the perfect way to create a utopian civilization - a well-designed hyperintelligent AI could coordinate human activity and prevent disputes much better than any human could, and I had no idea that this concept existed anywhere else already - when I was like 16 or 17 I discovered transhumanism and now (I am 20) I see OA already has this concept in spades - very glad that others have this concept, I hope it manages to actually occur on Earth before it's too late...

My world has vaguely humanoid entities on it which evolved there, does this contradict OA? I know they say that no humanoid xenosophonts have ever been found, but they are not very strongly humanlike - the Demaren have digitigrade feet, horns, tails, and fur, among other differences with humans - but they are sufficiently similar that I am unsure whether they and other vaguely hominid-like Pantellian races fit with that canonical idea.
Welcome to the forums Smile we'd have to know a bit more but I'm sure we could find one or two ways for your world to fit. If the aliens are quite human-like one option would be to have the world artificially evolved; perhaps originally it had primitive life and at some point a passing, eccentric transapient ran simulations of how the world's evolution turned out. It chose one in which sentient humanoids evolved and terra formed the world according to that before buggering off.
OA Wish list:
  1. DNI
  2. Internal medical system
  3. A dormbot, because domestic chores suck!
Actually the history of Pantellia is quite complicated and it has what I think could be described as SI>1 intelligences which are were provolved by an extinct sapient race indigenous to the planet, who used genetic engineering to produce many other types of creatures. I don't have much time to write about it now but here's some links to a Reddit posts about various Pantellian things - I'll expand on it later:
That is a very interesting world!

The inhabitants are vaguely humanoid, but are derived from hexapods. That sounds something like the evolution of human analogs in Olaf Stapleton's Starmaker. I think the humanoids on Pandora (in Avatar) are supposed to be derived from hexapods too, although they don't show any particular evidence of this.

In OA we do prefer to avoid humanoid aliens as a matter of policy, not because they are unlikely or impossible, but just as a way of exploring other options. That doesn't matter too much, because we've got innumerable planets full of humanoid clades derived from Terragens, plus a few aliens that have been deliberately reshaped into humanoid form as a way of 'blending in' with Terragen society.
Hi There - Welcome to OA!

Reading over your writings, I agree with Rynn that there are various ways that it could be worked into OA, while still maintaining OA Canon.

The two simplest ways (IMHO) would either be:

1) the world and its inhabitants are a very early colony that used gengineering applied across thousands of years to create the sort of place you describe.

2) the world and its inhabitants are the creation of a transapient or archailect that decided to set things up as you describe for reasons of its own.

Either of these could address the two main issues I see with your descriptions as they relate to OA Canon and structure:

a) The humanoid form of the natives - see our Canon and policy in this area.

b) The multiple different races living on the planet - having multiple sophont races evolve on a planet all at the same time might or might not be a point of contention. I've seen arguments in both directions on this. Something for the group to discuss.

On a somewhat different note - you mention that you haven't encountered a lot of realistic SF. Depending on how you're defining 'realistic', there's actually a good bit of it out there, but a lot of it is older and harder to find these days and much of the rest is either set in the near future or not done by big name authors - or both. You're more likely to come across it doing a crawl through a book and mortar book store than Amazon or the like and so it can be harder to find.

If you're interested, and depending on what sort of SF you're looking for, I might be able to recommend some good hard SF and/or transhuman/Singularity fiction you would like.

Hope this helps and once again - Welcome to OASmile

So, as I promised, a more complete explanation - Pantellia really is weirdly like a microcosm of Orion's Arm in a lot of ways, and I am amazed that you guys came up with ideas so similar to mine so long before I did. I am particularly amazed at the existence of Bullseye (which is similar to Pantellia in its general structure) and Hobo Sapiens (which is like the spider-people of Pantellia, who live beneath the hurricane).

Btw here's another Reddit link I forgot:

One of my earliest ideas had the Ancients as human beings from Earth who had colonized this planet long ago but went mostly extinct there due to a catastrophe, and over time evolved into the Demaren; I eventually scrapped that in favor of a completely non-Earth-related world because I thought the trope of humans being responsible for everything interesting was overused in sci fi. Now I wonder if I should add something like that back in. However, I know that the pseudo-cephalopod Ancients definitely were the ones responsible for most of Pantellian history, and they existed about a million years ago. If Terragens have had any effect then it would have been very recently, and Demaren are a very old species so... unlikely they would have been responsible for the existence of the entire species.

My explanation is, the Mabelen (draconic word for the fungus-internet uploads / virtuals who are ultimately derived from Ancients) deities, who are effectively SI:1+ entities and considered gods, and who for thousands of years now since their partial reawakening have been using their spore-based biotech to modify the evolution of all other bionts on the planet, have been experimenting for a long time with every single body shape and combination of genetics they can come up with, and found the vaguely humanoid shape of the Demaren to be a rather effective form (derived from a brachiating species with which they spliced other genes), so they used it, but other beings have other forms.

The fact is, the fungus-bioborg-gods have been provolving nearly every species that already had some sentience for thousands of years, which is why there are so many sapient species and so many variants of each one. Pantellia is almost an envome of sorts, in that a single species, the Mabelen, the genetically modified fungal generation of the Ancients, exists in numerous reengineered forms across the planet in a set of sapient networks which themselves are linked into even higher-toposophic networks and which pretty much have had free reign since they recovered from the Great War to manipulate life on the planet as they see fit, primarily in an arms race against one another - each sapient "provolve" species has a particular "god" as its patron and designer (some of which themselves are ascended members of provolved species who joined the Fungus-Network) and each such god wants to gain power above all the other ones, using their race to achieve that.

There is a massive preponderance of distinct sapient species all of which are endemic to Pantellia, because the Mabelen manipulated evolution so much and purposefully created them in order to maximize diversity - one of the Mabelen in particular in fact, the most powerful - Mab, a "mother goddess" of sorts, after whom they are named. Her true form (in one of the many fungal virchspaces, in which she lives) is a terrifying Lovecraftian entity merging every biological pattern imaginable, but she usually manifests to lower entities (through spore-transmitted wireless telepathy) in forms which seem familiar but still divine - like a woman made of flowers or a dragon composed of rainbow flames.

Note, I have had these ideas for years - I only discovered OA a few days ago. I am amazed at the similarities.

I'm not sure how to merge Pantellia in with the rest of OA though. I think they should be recently discovered, suggesting that this system is on the outer edge of the Terragen Sphere; and through the Mabelen's interventions nobody has yet been able to successfully colonize them (reports say that all ships and probes are eaten entirely by spores and corrosive bionano entities before they even reach the ground). The various Mabelen have the same sort of relations that the Archai do but on a planetary scale - always vying for power and having wildly different views of reality - but they would be united in the idea that no non-Pantellians have the right to dictate anything to them. I am considering that the Ancients may possibly have been on the verge of space travel when they (or rather, all of them that weren't uploaded) were wiped out, and so perhaps the various sapient races are going to reverse engineer whatever technology they've left behind...

I think that if they do join Terragen society the various Pantellian races will probably gravitate primarily towards the Zoeific Biopolity, though the dragons would be more inclined towards the Solar Dominion due to their monotheistic belief in the Worldflame (aka the sun of Pantellia, Lurix - one of the many weird synchronicities is that much like the people on Bullseye, the dragons of Pantellia hold the eye of the Everstorm to be a sacred place and go on pilgrimages to view the sun there). I think they would reject the God-Emperor however, partly because he resembles a demar (the Demaren have been enslaved by the dragons for centuries in some areas and there is immense racism) and partly because they are HEAVILY monotheistic and resist any concept of messiahs or divine avatars - saints, perhaps, but no more.

As for the other races... the Kgelthri, the "frogfolk" or amphibious folk native to the swamplands of the tropical-equatorial band of eternal rainfall; the Delemnaya or naiads/merfolk (offshoots of Demaren who were spliced with amphibious genetics early in their history before complete provolution by the Mabelen); the Ursa or bearfolk; the Aneictha-Se or spiderfolk; and of course the phoenixes (parthenogenic offshoots of the dragons) - I have no idea what places they would choose in society because I haven't developed them enough yet. They all have interesting stories though that I am working on, and the world's history is also in (slow) development - eventually I'll get around to serious geology, geography, and biology as well. Too much to do. I think even now though there is room for a basic article on Pantellia - I even know some statistics about it and its star and moon - I just have to get it all together. I probably should make a post about all this in the appropriate subforum...
Regarding interactions of this world with OA, assuming it was folded into the setting...

a) The idea of ships and probes being eaten before they reach the ground is....iffy. Biology and nanotech simply don't work that fast and it's actually not that difficult to harden a machine against nano-attack. Honestly, nanotech is a fairly niche technology when it comes to being directly applied to weapons applications.

b) Related to (a), If the Mabelen are S1 or so, then they will get rolled over as soon as anything from S3 or higher comes into contact with them. An S3 mind is usually housed in a brain the size of Earth's moon (more or less), an S4 generally has a brain around the size of Jupiter, an S5 may house its mind in something like a 10 solar mass star (With hundreds of secondary processors spread across light-years and linked by wormholes), while an S6 may have a mind spread across thousands of star systems millions of worlds, and some number of artificial universes - all linked together into a single whole via wormholes. Any or all of these beings would be vastly smarter and more powerful than anything the inhabitants of Pantellia could field - really the gap is so large there wouldn't even be a fight - think ant versus dinosaur killer asteroid or the sun exploding.

That all said, if it ends up that this is a discovered xenosophont world, then it could be at the outer edge of explored space and it might be some time before an element of one of the higher transapients showed up.

c) Note that the God-Emperor is just an avatar of the actual ruling Archailect of the Solar Dominion, which can operate bodies (or project images) that look like nearly anything it wants, really. The human appearing avatar is just an affectation, not a requirement.

d) It's not really clear if the Archai are vying for power or have wildly differing views of reality. It somewhat appears that way from a human perspective - but the transapients and archai very much are not human and are so superior to humans that whatever we think is going on may be nothing more than an act they are putting on for their amusement or ours - kind of like using a laser pointer to amuse a pet cat.

e) If the Pantellian races were to come into significant contact with Terragen civ - to the point where they were visiting the different empires and their constituent cultures - then they would encounter a hugely diverse, complex, and powerful civilization spanning hundreds of millions of solar systems. Concepts like racism would have a hard time operating and most of the beings they would encounter would be considerably more capable than they are - so the culture shock might be rather extreme - although also potentially interesting to explore.

Speaking more generally, agreed that you could potentially produce a general article about this world for consideration by the group. You could post it in the Encyclopedia Galactica sub-forum as a starting point. If you want to consider presenting general ideas and description about the world, then the General Setting Discussion sub-forum would be the best place for it.

Just some initial thoughts,

I'm trying to think of some way of ensuring that a Caretaker God ends up in control of Pantellia, but there's no way the Mabelen could ensure that themselves, as they don't know Caretaker Gods exist. The highest SI level any being on Pantellia has is SI:2 (the Stormwood is actually a single clonal entity, with the roots of the trees containing trillions of neurons and synapses and forming one vast brain, but even the Mabelen are unaware of this fact) and they would definitely get rolled over by anything higher even if the entire planet mobilized all its resources. The Stormwood is capable of releasing controlled bursts of electricity at specific locations, the Mabelen have slow acting nanotech, and the dragons do have fire breath, but beyond that I can't think of anything that would have even the slightest chance of damaging a ship. The element of surprise, and the fact that it would likely only be small scouting groups that would find Pantellia at first, are the only real defenses they would have.

However, I have toyed with the idea before that the "Towers" of the Ancients were meant to be not only city-skyscrapers and observatories, but also launching points for engineered probe-organisms which would be able to survive the vacuum of space and possibly become living satellites, but the Ancient civilization fell before completing the project - perhaps they had plans for other spacefaring technologies which were never developed and the Mabelen might find those plans, decrypt them, and figure out how to build them after the initial skirmish with Terragens in order to have a somewhat greater chance of protecting themselves... furthermore, any Terragen technology they came into contact with, they would do their best to reverse-engineer, though this would have only limited success for things developed at very high toposophic levels...

One thing that seriously bothers me about all this is that they WOULD be so helpless against these alien invaders... it would bother them too. The major civilizations and higher species of Pantellia are used to dominion and almost magical (to their minds) powers over the world around them - when they come into contact with beings that are so much more powerful, the culture shock would be not only horrendous but Lovecraftian. I have always wanted to incorporate cosmic horror elements into this world anyway, but it would be such an ironic reversal if the horrible incomprehensible beings from outer space are ultimately descended from humans in some way, as the Archai are... I don't want my beautiful creations to just be subsumed into preexisting structures like the various Sephirotics though, at least not at first, so their only hope is to somehow come under the guardianship of a Caretaker God.

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