Astrographer’s Notebook – An Introduction to Human Culture

Another look at the slightly edited contents of some of my notebooks. This is from one titled, “Malthusian Empire Setting,” which is just named for a polity that existed a little farther along the timeline from my Solar Union setting. Given that a lot of my work lately on the Solar Union retcon has been near-future stuff, I guess we could call that the “International Space Agency” setting. But I digress.

Some of this exposition may need to be altered due to my recent retconning of the setting and perhaps to my slightly greater maturity as a writer, or whatever I’m calling myself now.

This particular article was written from an in-world perspective as an excerpt from, “An Introduction to Human Culture for the Nonhuman Complex,” by {G’dwar/Amlix/Steve/Sar/Karen}{V’dros/Amlix/Ivey/Suar/Ivey}, published by BUP University Press, ID Enclave, Kralor, Kumae(date indeterminate).

——- The Solar Union was the dominant power in Known Space pretty much by default. All of the other starfaring races in Known Space were restricted to sublight travel prior to contact with the human species. The nature of sublight transportation required self-sufficiency for every interstellar colony that these races gradually planted. The timeframe of subluminal interstellar travel also allowed for considerable independent cultural development with limited contact with their homeworlds.

In 25,000 years of slow colonization, the pNu had intensively developed and exploited the resources of every system within 30 light years of their homeworld, pGanHam. The central region  of pNu space was built up with Dyson Spheres around every star without worlds that were pNu-habitable or could readily be made that way. In addition, every planet that could be made habitable for the pNu, was.

Similarly, the Fruzanni had, in the 5,000 years of their own interstellar expansion, developed, to a lesser degree, the space within 10 light years of Fruztt.

Sha’Twee’Ar colonization was far less aggressive than that of other races. Over a period of 12,000 years, the Sha’Twee’Ar had created only a few dozen colonies spread sparsely to a maximum extent of 50 light years. The self-sufficient colonies existed, in most cases, to support long-term scientific research projects. Sha’Twee’Ar thus spread out their colonies to areas of scientific curiosity. In the process, the bypassed  many habitable worlds and resource-rich systems.

When the humans introduced the warp drive to the interstellar community, real interstellar communication and commerce became feasible for the first time. It became possible for worlds to politically dominate neighboring systems. At least that was the theory. Reality was different.

In the case of the pNu, the homeworld was surrounded by equally-stron neighboring systems. Central pNu space was thus a place of independent co-existing systems. Rapid transportation allowed cooperation, but not domination.

Conditions for peripheral pNu systems were more amenable to political domination and aggregation. Nearby were younger, weaker colonies to dominate and virgin systems to colonize. Numerous small empires formed, but were limited in scope by competing empires of similar power. These empires were also far less advanced than the Central Worlds of pNu space, giving them far less of a technological advantage over other races. Without a single central power to coalesce around, the pNu race was naturally fragmented. Even as FTL transportation enabled more efficient communication and commerce between worlds in the pNu Sphere, diffusion of technology was slowed by distrust between the advanced cosmopolitan worlds of the central regions and the overtly imperialistic and culturally distinct multi-system polities of the periphery.

The Fruzanni worlds, being younger and having less time to become culturally distinct from the homeworld, were more cohesive than the pNu. Many, perhaps as many as a third, of Fruzanni colonies were associated under the hegemony of one or another of the nations of Fruztt, the Fruzanni homeworld. Conflicts between the Tar Shial and Krantz, the dominant cultural blocks on Fruztt(to one or the other of which the majority of nations on the planet belonged, at least those that enjoyed any significant interstellar presence) as well as the natural independence of worlds that had been on their own for as much as 5,000 years would prove to be a great hindrance to any efforts at real control by the homeworld or their neighbors. Worlds on the Fruzanni periphery are far younger and less developed than their pNu equivalents and mostly find interstellar expansion beyond their ability and interest.

The Sha’Twee’Ar, being naturally unaggressive, have made no efforts at dominating their neighbors. They have no nationalistic jealousies and cooperate together quite well. With the exception of some cooperative efforts to colonize promising systems near their homeworld and other worlds, the Sha’Twee’Ar colonization pattern remains pretty much what it has always been: colonies supporting scientific research. The major effect of the warp drive on the Sha’Twee’Ar has been closer coordination of research projects, faster dissemination of knowledge and an ever more tenuous distribution of Sha’Twee’Ar colonies in search of more distant and interesting phenomena such as young stellar clusters, giant stars and even a long-term project to closely observe the galactic core.

Humans, by contrast to their neighbors, had not placed any extrasolar colonies until after they had developed the warp drive. Thus, when fast interstellar travel became possible, it was a simple matter for Earth to dominate its neighborhood, and humans had the ambition and aggressiveness to do so. The continued dominance of Earth over other human worlds was further facilitated by development strategies that exploited the capabilities of FTL transportation. Warp technology allowed easy transportation between systems, and the necessity for a world to be completely self-supporting was alleviated. Many colonies were placed simply to exploit some resource which was locally rich, trading raw materials for finished goods fro Sol and eventually a handful of other industrially-developed worlds. The effects of this were both beneficial and harmful. Human civilization has been allowed to expand explosively to fill a greater volume and more worlds than the other known races combined. In fact, the Solar Union had, at its zenith, many member worlds from all the known starfaring races. The centralization of human power, both political and industrial, at Sol has allowed human domination of known space that is unlikely to end any time soon, even with the continuing disintegration of the Solar Union.

On the other side of the equation, this concentration of power has had a number of dangerous effects. The industrial capacity of human space has been concentrated and limited to only the Sol system and a handful of other vital systems. Virtually all of these, including Sol itself, are dependent upon outside resources to supply their industrial machine. This system lacks flexibility and any disruption of the interstellar transportation grid would have a devastating effect on the entire human economy and indeed the other races are now so tied into the system as to be similarly effected. These economic disruptions have been a major contributing factor in the decline of the Solar Union of late. Unfortunately, even with the Solar Union in collapse, few human worlds have made the efforts needed to attain self-sufficiency. Few even have the ability. As the Union abandons support of worlds on the periphery many have fallen into terminal economic depression. Others have descended to organized piracy: preying on their neighbors to support their own failing economies. This is the pattern followed, for example, by the Republic of Vanguard(which has devoted so much of the resulting gains into further military buildup as to nullify most even of the temporary economic gains that might otherwise have accrued for the populace). This example is altogether too common among worlds on the human periphery.

Many observers believe that the stranglehold of human domination will be lifted from other races with the dissolution of the Solar Union. This is unlikely to be the case and shows an almost human degree of wishful thinking. With the possible exception of the rather odd Ob and perhaps the secretive pNu, the economies of all the races are so integrated and the human industrial capacity, though concentrated, is so large that the failure of the Solar Union is likely to undermine all of the other starfaring cultures. In some systems the effect may be lethal.

It seems unlikely, in any case, that human civilization, such as it is, will completely fail. “Never underestimate the human capacity for wishful thinking,” would be a good motto for any observer of interstellar civilization. Even the enormously advanced pNu admit that, were it not for the nearly insane wishful thinking of humans, the warp drive would not have been created at any point in the foreseeable future. It wouldn’t be surprising if they were to accomplish the impossible and avert the general collapse of civilization that now seems so terribly inevitable.

About the {author}:     {G’dwar/Amlix/Steve/Sar/Karen}{V’Dros/Amlix/Ivey/Suar/Ivey} is an ID complex of 5 Terran years(compound for 15). The components are G’dwar V’dros, an Ob child of the [Ob/Fruzanni/Sha’Twee’Ar] corporate {Angaraka}; Amlix is one of the only pNu to take part in an ID structure, joining this complex’s preceding compound 20 years ago; Sar Suar is a Fruzanni who became one with ID and this compound 12 years ago; Steve and Karen Ivey, a human couple joined in the human compound-analogue of marriage 10 years ago before completing this compound 7 years ago and helping to bring it to attainment of complex status.

The {author} is currently working on a book about human/Fruzanni cultural interaction and is also striving to attain corporation.—

So that’s it. Slightly edited because I’m not eager to put all of my dirty laundry, spelling errors and silly attempts at creating new pronouns for multi-corporate beings on public display…

Thank you for your attention,
The Astrographer

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