Another series set in the same 26th century as the recent series on life on Venus. Will be in three parts.
THE COLONY WORLDS OF EARTH, as of AD.2532
The twenty-three Colonies are often divided into cohorts by the age of their founding.
The First Phase: Exploration and Pride
The first three Colonies – Hanno, Zheng and Degama – were first settled in low numbers, for little clear purpose. The spirit of exploration and expansion motivated this settlement, combined with pride and the desire to demonstrate the power and potential of the species, and of its ruling class. All three of these colonies were profoundly affected by the Invasion and the accompanying coup d’etat by the military – Hanno and Degama had their populations all but exterminated (Degama’s being replenished after the war), while Zheng became the capital of human civilisation.
Capital: Lenko Command Base
Resident Population: thousands
History: humanity’s first interstellar colony never had more than a few million inhabitants – almost all of whom were killed or abducted during the Invasion. The planet is now maintained as a museum and monument, as well as a location for a number of military bases.
Natural Attractions: Hanno is almost entirely a baking-hot, rugged, rocky desert.
Artificial and Social Attractions: the ruins of Horizon City.
Capital: Site Four
Resident Population: a little under 400 million
History: the military bases on Zheng were once a prestige project rather than a major colonial endeavour; but ever since the Invasion and the Founding of the ruling military Protectorate, Zheng has become the political capital of humanity, as well as the largest military concentration outside the Solar system. As a result, its population has grown.
Natural Attractions: Zheng is planet of towering glaciers, jagged rocks, and rocky beaches.
Artificial and Social Attractions: The city of Resistance is home to many of the most important members of the species – though the committee room of the Special Committee itself is buried beneath a glacier nearby. Most settlement on Zheng takes the form of single-structure arcologies, usually an imposing and featureless black. Inside, the population is extremely dense, and the culture is vibrant and communal.
Resident Population: a little under 1 billion 400 million
History: Degama was once a flourishing colony of hundreds of millions of people. And that’s what it is today. In between, however, almost all its original population was killed or abducted in the Invasion.
Natural Attractions: due to its age, Degama has extensive vegetation, particularly along its shores and rivers, though large inland areas remain barren. It is cool and dry, and vegetation is mostly grassland. Many newcomers make a point of travelling through the interior, often in the company of nomads, and in particular seeing the towering ice of the southern polar cap.
Artificial and Social Attractions: Degama has two sides: its dense, populous cities (at over 100 million inhabitants, the new capital, Defiance, is a respectable size even by Earthican standards), and its rolling farmland (mostly small towns, clustered around cities or mining sites).
The Second Phase: Exploitation
The first colonies were demonstrations of concept. Before long, however, human ingenuity sought to find a way to make money out of colonialism, and a century of colonial projects each attempted to find ways either to exploit native resources or to draw in wealthy immigrants from Earth. The colonies from this era have grown highly distinctive over centuries of divergence.
Capital: None (the largest city is Tanager)
Resident Population: a little under 1 billion 400 million
History: originally a ‘luxury’ colony that particularly appealed to archons and their families, Battuta is proud of its independence, and even attempted to remain outside Protectorate control for several decades.
Natural Attractions: the cities of Battuta are all built on the plains – which are kilometres below the immense upland plateaus and kilometres more below the peaks. Most of the smaller lakes are vividly coloured with native halophile microorganisms, which provide patches of colour in the endless grey-green sands; the sky is a pale but striking olive, fading to turqoise and lavender over the larger water bodies.
Artificial and Social Attractions: the soaring and often tangled arcologies of Battuta are humanity’s tallest artificial structures – the Great Pinnacle of Amazilia is 8km tall. Within the arcologies, Battutan society has moved away from capitalism toward a society of clans, blood ties, feudal obligations, and patron-client relationships.
Resident Population: 1 million
History: Hong was once the most populous of all the extrasolar colonies, but its population was massacred and abducted during the Third War, and almost all the survivors chose to be evacuated to a safer location – Hong is far too far into nomansland for safety.
Natural Attractions: Earthlike climate, but a little warmer and wetter. Large forested areas.
Artificial and Social Attractions: Ruins, and stubborn scattered settlers, along with military bases.
Capital: Elcano One
Resident Population: around 150 million
History: oxygenating this oceanic super-earth was a lengthy, and ruinously expensive, endeavour.
Natural Attractions: Water. There is a great deal of water on Elcano.
Artificial and Social Attractions: Elcano’s city-ships, with their unique architecture, host a distinctive, highly-individualist culture. Citizens lead largely solitary lives, with spacious living conditions, but local politics is a raucous national sport.
Resident Population: a little over 600 million
History: founded for free spirits, particularly those seeking lower-tech, simpler lives. Later was briefly the homeworld of the Leveller movement.
Natural Attractions: Barsauma, like Elcano, is a water-planet. However, a large percentage of the surface of Barsauma is occupied by the local flora, a form of mossy sea-weed that fossilises after death into a pumice-like floating rock.
Artificial and Social Attractions: as the mossberg ‘continents’ drift towad the destructive hurricanes of the tropical regions, the human inhabitants are constantly migrating northward. As a result, almost all habitation is in easily-transportable ‘container’ cabins. This helps to enforce a culture that has little interest in material possessions, and a greater focus on spirituality and community.
Resident Population: around 400 million
History: founded as a mining enterprise. Was the de facto capital of the short-lived Free Colonies movement.
Natural Attractions: a largely arid world, the red sands of Herjolfsson are chiefly remarkable for their immense mineral wealth.
Artificial and Social Attractions: a planet that was once home to an indolent ruling elite is now an egalitarian socialist society, in which vertically-integrated worker-run organisations known as ‘unions’ control all aspects of life. The planet’s architecture is also famous – many of the early founding structures were built according to the brief architectural school of ‘hypercore’, and later architecture has often mimicked this distinctive style.
Resident Population: a little over 200 million
History: founded as a haven of decadence for wealthy minor relatives of archons.
Natural Attractions: hot and rapidly-rotating Burton is famous for its continual windstorms. Introduced life has flourished near inhabited areas, forming rich swamps and forests.
Artificial and Social Attractions: Burton remains the most libertine of the colonies, and is also a haven for transhumanism. Many citizens of Burton are easily distinguished by their vibrant bioluminescent genetic skin-patterning.
Resident Population: 400 million
History: founded as a religious colony; later recipient of a brief burst of migration during the early Exodus.
Natural Attractions: a world with high obliquity, Nikitin has an unusual climate. The southern and northern continents are torn between freezing winters and summers hot enough to boil water; the tropical continent is under a permanent icecap.
Artificial and Social Attractions: the founding city of Afanasy, being one of the few easily inhabitable places on the planet, is home to more than half the colony’s population, and is the largest extratellurian human city. The initial spiritual orientation of the colony has remained, despite the diversity of later immigrants.