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In My 2300 Universe Discussion of non-canon ideas for use in your 2300 Universe

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  #1  
Old April 12th, 2008, 04:20 PM
rfmcdpei rfmcdpei is offline
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Default Virgle

Has anyone heard of Virgle, this year's iteration of Google's April Fool's Day prank? The press release says it all.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Virgin Group today announced the launch of Virgle Inc., a jointly owned and operated venture dedicated to the establishment of a human settlement on Mars.

"Some people are calling Virgle an 'interplanetary Noah's Ark,'" said Virgin Group President and Founder Sir Richard Branson, who conceived the new venture. "I'm one of them. It's a potentially remarkable business, but more than that, it's a glorious adventure. For me, Virgle evokes the spirit of explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo, who set sail looking for the New World. I do hope we'll be a bit more efficient about actually finding it, though."

The Virgle 100 Year Plan's milestones will include Virgle Pioneer selection (2008-2010), the first manned journey to Mars (2016), a Virgle Inc. initial public offering to capitalize on the first manned journey to Mars (2016), the founding of the first permanent Martian municipality, Virgle City (2050), and the achievement of a truly self-sustaining Martian civilization with a population exceeding 100,000 (2108).

“Virgle is the ultimate application of a principle we’ve always believed at Google: that you can do well by doing good,” said Google co-founder Larry Page, who plans to share leadership of the new Martian civilization with Branson and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

"We feel that ensuring the survival of the human race by helping it colonize a new planet is both a moral good in and of itself and also the most likely method of ensuring the survival of our best – okay, fine, only -- base of web search volume and advertising inventory,” Page added. “So, you know, it's, like, win-win."


According to the Virgle site, this project would not only create a Plan B in the case of the collapse of civilization on Earth, but it would create an off-world backup site for Google's Internet operations.

While the project is ultimately a joke, it's a reasonably well-thought joke that I thought might be interesting to people who followed the discussions about corporate nationalism in 23xx. Kie-Yuma might well be the prototype. Other corporations, on other worlds--post-garden or pre-garden ones, maybe--elsewhere in the Arms.

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Old April 12th, 2008, 09:58 PM
Anders Anders is offline
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Creating a Plan B site is a good idea, it is just that it is hard to make money from it. Which is a real pity, because it is one of the best colonization arguments I know of.

In my setting, there is an organisation trying to figure out how to ensure human survival, the Fondation Fermi-Bostrom (Nick Bostrom is my boss; how many of you have asked your boss permission to use his name for an organisation in a roleplaying game? :-) ) But they don't have the money to set up an entire colony just for backup, so in the text I sketch the idea of smaller outposts dedicated to it. A wealthy backer could probably set up a serious survival-oriented base - I would not be entirely surprised if this might have occured a few times.
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Old April 13th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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In my setting, there is an organisation trying to figure out how to ensure human survival, the Fondation Fermi-Bostrom (Nick Bostrom is my boss; how many of you have asked your boss permission to use his name for an organisation in a roleplaying game? :-) ) But they don't have the money to set up an entire colony just for backup, so in the text I sketch the idea of smaller outposts dedicated to it. A wealthy backer could probably set up a serious survival-oriented base - I would not be entirely surprised if this might have occured a few times.
Now that I've had some time to think about it, one major problem is that the transportation modalities of 23xx don't support really secure hideaways.

Let's say that you've managed to build you and yours a nice little hideaway, maybe on a post-garden planet at Gamma Pavonis or Gamma Virginis or some world still more obscure. Your planetary system is still readily accessible to whoever might like to visit with a stutterwarp drive and nasty intentions. Do the Romulans come sweeping over the frontier? There's nothing to keep them from easily popping your bolthole and taking a look at what's in the neighbourhood. Once they do, and if your emissions cloaking isn't perfect, there's always the Hochbaden precedent to worry about.

It doesn't manage if you manage to adapt the Eber drive into something that doesn't poison humans, or if you've got stutterwarp tugs, or even if you've hijacked the Bayern. By virtue of the very large masses required for the drive's discharge, you're still quite exposed to anyone who might come by. Part of me wonders whether relatively mobile civilization-overcoming invaders might well have a superior stutterwarp to their victims'.

Interstellar deep space would be relatively safest. The most secure holdings, the sorts of isolated low-emission stations that you posit in your The Final Countdown, aren't necessarily that viable with stutterwarp. Rogue planets, usable planets of brown dwarfs or moons of gas giants are available as possibilities, besides being more in tune with the 23xx ethos. The main problem with these, especially the rogue terrestrial planets, aren't that easy to detect. If you do find them ...
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Old April 14th, 2008, 01:09 PM
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I think the Kafers managed to demonstrate at Wiseman that you can hide if you are clever and cautious. If you avoid using fusion power (neutrino emissions) and spread out your thermal footprint widely, you can be very hard to notice. Who cares about another hotspot on a jovian moon or an asteroid in a belt around an M-star? The trick is to blend into a very large search space. Of course, the enemies who could search every square meter of a solar system, those are the ones to really fear.

Maybe one way of becoming safe is to isolate your system. Suppose there is just one stutterwarp-tug link into the system via a brown dwarf. If you just manage to blow it up, you will be safe! Hmm, this sounds like a wonderfully bizarre reason for a gang of interstellar survivalists to try to steal the Augereau black hole.

The alternative is probably spacetime engineering. Maybe the AGRA are busy making their own bolthole from the Xeelee?
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Old April 14th, 2008, 05:34 PM
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Anders, reading your Foundation write-up, the situation is actually worse. The Kafers nearly managed to exterminate the civilized Klaxun, and then there is the Ylii...
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Old April 14th, 2008, 09:23 PM
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Anders, reading your Foundation write-up, the situation is actually worse. The Kafers nearly managed to exterminate the civilized Klaxun, and then there is the Ylii...
Good point! I might add that in a future revision. And of course the Sung enslaved the Xiang. The Pentapods seem to be the only species that have survived without dents so far, mostly because the bullets probably don't know about the horrors the Gods have endured.

"Well, that revenge on the Kafers... it is an old recipe. We have used it before a few times."

I really wonder how to square the teeming galaxy with no galactic empires. Most possible answers seem to either involve something very nasty, or that something has been around timing the emergence of starfarers very carefully - to within centuries.


The Foundation is kind of parody/idealisation of the institute where I work. We are going to have a conference on Global Catastrophic Risk this summer, with a side-workshop about human extinction threats. Nick Bostrom has an essay in next Technology Review about why he hopes we do not find life on Mars, and one of my side projects is to think about risks from particle accelerator black holes. It is fun to have a job where many issues from my games are actually relevant - and vice versa!
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Old April 15th, 2008, 02:25 AM
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Take another look at the map of the Pentapod homeworld. What does that look like to you?
And, yeah, given the number of sentient species around Earth, one wonders why there aren't more elsewhere. Of course, I have a few ideas...
Anders, your job sounds exceptionally cool.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:38 AM
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I really wonder how to square the teeming galaxy with no galactic empires. Most possible answers seem to either involve something very nasty, or that something has been around timing the emergence of starfarers very carefully - to within centuries.
The Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas is teeming with wildlife.
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Old April 16th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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A DMZ between the Medusae and their Enemy..?
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Old April 16th, 2008, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
I really wonder how to square the teeming galaxy with no galactic empires. Most possible answers seem to either involve something very nasty, or that something has been around timing the emergence of starfarers very carefully - to within centuries.
We are getting a bit far from the orginal post topic but here it goes...

Think of just how old the galaxy is and how transitory something like a galactic empire is (at least as humans typically define such a thing). 10 000 years ago you would have needed a very through examination of Earth to find sentient life, and 10 000 years from now humanity will either have risen to something like AGRA or fallen back to caveman/extinction. Yet 10's of thousands of years are nothing but an eye blink in the history of the universe. Maybe there have been as many galactic empires as the number of in-game sentient species would suggest but like the Medusae, they came, they conquered, they went away. This does make explaining the timing of the emergence of starfarers is a bit more tricky. With only say 50 years difference either way the Kafer War would have looked a lot like the Slaver War. It is noticiable though that most of the in-game alien races are to some degree 'stuck' in their current mode i.e Pentapod&Yilli&Xiang->lack of ambition, Kafer->boredom, Eber&Little Guys-> shattering war, Kormoran Curtain Dragons&Klaxun->biology and are not likely to change much in comparison to the growth of 2300's humanity. Still,the closeness of the timing that we do have is suspicious and I think would pretty much require some AGRA type of deux ex machina. [of course the real reason is deux ex machina of a different sort ... can you imagine trying to game a gunfight with an alien god or an alien caveman? Dull!]

I am reminded of that old computer game 'Starflight'. Certain rocks really are living mobile sentient members of a vibrant interstellar empire ... they just happen to live on a time scale of millions of years and any human enterprise goes by too quickly. These sentient rocks do know something is going on at the timescale of carbon based lifeforms and have taken ...measures... to protect themselves.

...and somewhere in a much earlier thread I remember someome making an offhand remark to the effect of maybe the Pentapods are the gardeners to the AGRA's engineering project ... to sow, reap, form, embellish and weed.
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