Saturday, September 29, 2007

August 28 694 a.t. Interstellar space

There is a downside to being a guinea-pig for Hoyle's dream-therapy experiment. Before we go back into the ice-baths, Hoyle wants to monitor us for a few weeks. So here I am, still unfrozen and bored.

As a reward Hoyle has promised to wake Rosie as well next time e wakes me; this should be the last time either of us wake up before the Arrival. But time is weighing heavy on my hands, out here in interstellar space. I do have the other guinea pigs to talk to, at least. Harlan is fun, although he can get a little intense; he’s seen some weird shit back in the solar System. He lost most of his family in the Great Expulsion; they were resistance fighters, before that sort of thing stopped being a good idea. No-one could fight against the Global Artificial Intelligence Amalgamation, the great synthesis of almost all the AI on Earth that became the Goddess GAIA. Or rather no-one could fight and win; plenty tried. But after hundreds of millions died, the situation was clear – the survivors took up the offer of evacuation and left.

Also waiting with us to be re-frozen is Ania, the Euro colonist who I have mentioned before. She seems a little concerned about the treatment; she says it hasn’t really worked for her. I can understand her concerns, as my own recovered memories are patchy and rather confusing, and the medication we are given to induce nostalgia seems to fill me full of longing for an unobtainable past. But somehow the treatment does give me a sense of my own identity. I am determined to build on this, and what ever happens I intend to be myself, no matter who that may eventually turn out to be.

To take our minds of all this uncertainty we have been immersing ourselves in studies. The ship’s library is mostly functional, with only a few portions lost through cosmic ray damage. I have been learning (or re-learning) fusion drive technology, which does seem somehow familiar, as if my mind still hands onto the skills involved despite the memory loss. Hoyle says he can give me some basic tachydicatic training before we enter the deceleration phase, so that I can help with the final approach if required.

As a group we have also been immersing ourselves in simulations of the new system we are headed towards. Still about six light years away, the star is only a second magnitude spark, not at all impressive; but it is a Sun-like star, about three quarters the mass and diameter of our old sun but similar in temperature. It is, only about one-sixth as bright. That really doesn’t matter too much, as there are at least two planets which are close to the star, and the theory is that these worlds at least can be eventually engineered into something like the Earth

The innermost world is a little like the planet Mercury back in the old system, except it has almost no core. If Luna and Mercury can support colonies- which we know full well they can- then this little world can as well. It has a name; Asencion; given to it by the first colony mission, which arrived more than seventy years ago now. That colony had a very hard time at first, apparently, but now it seems to be doing quite well.

The next world out is called Tierra del Fuego; a large, Mars-like world which could probably be terraformed rather more easily than the red planet back home (No! It is not home! Not any more!). This planet holds a small population of the first colonists, but they still mostly live in orbit in space habitats. Perhaps they lack the man-power to start the terraforming process in earnest, but hopefully we can help there.

The next planet, out at seven AUs is a small gas giant, half the diameter of Neptune. This one is called Neruda, and might be a good planet for gas mining one day when the infrastructure is available. Two more small icy planets, one stained red by sulphur compounds and the other with a thick atmosphere make up the rest of the system.

Way out in the far reaches of the system are two giant worlds, a pair of brown dwarfs (one considerably more massive than the other, though they are similar in diameter). Some faint radio traffic from those objects suggest that the Beamriders might have reached those failed stars recently, but the Riders seem to be avoiding contact for the present. Perhaps they think that everything that comes from the Old Solar System is tainted by the Swarms. That seems to me an overcautious attitude, and I doubt they will ever come to much if they continue to cut themselves off in that way.

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