Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Notes on the Necklace

According to Albert, the gas torus of the Necklace has a volume of 9e15 cubic kilometers. So the mass of the ring is about 0.006 Jovian masses. Very different from a planetary surface; Malthusian limits effectively don't exist. Room for lots of native and alien species without even managing to encounter them.

Albert suggested that the Carnival, the second of three Slowboats to reach the Necklace, should break up on entering the denser air at the center of the torus, with the passengers dispersing will-he nil-he all over the torus in random clumps determined by the flight of the wreckage they were contained in. Klax and I talked it over. At first we liked it, a lot, but then we realized it would complicate one of the cool things we thought of for Los Carnivales, the people of The Carnival. Since the ship's educational systems broke down on the flight - one reason their society degenerated - they would have to use verbal memory to transfer necessary skills like hydroponics, programming, mechanics, electronics, and fusion drive tech - basically tending the machines. This would give them chants and songs which taught what was necessary in a ritualistic fashion rather than from first principles. This would give rise to rote specialists who would retain their ritual skills even after the occasion for them - for instance programming - were gone. We were imagining a clan structure for each of the specialties that survived, which would be maintained despite the breakup of the culture into tribes in the torus. If these clan members were randomly distributed in the breakup, would that hurt the chances of the tribes surviving an already chancy life without technology? I'm a bit torn on this! It could be cool, and another way to distinguish tribe from tribe, though I'm thinking hydroponics - farming - would be almost universal, and by far the largest clan. Some cool things - cargo cult religions, programmers communicating by writing programs in ink on tree bark, the ability of these untrained 'savages' to have a marketable skill if they join a town or city, adapting mechanics for found local materials... just interesting stuff

One of the core concepts that led to this project - Klax's idea built entirely from random stuff he heard from me about Niven's Smoke Ring setting and his own fertile imagination - is that The River should be navigable by ship, so it needs its own gravity. That's why we went with it being artificial, rather than naturally formed by shepherd moons. The River does need to corkscrew, for one to reach as much space as possible within the central Smoke Ring part of the torus, thus being a simple and convenient, though slow, way to get from here to there; and for another to avoid the masses of the core and trojans. The idea of ships sailing a river on a journey that will take many lifetimes to return is just inherently cool. And even at very low tech levels, the Carnivales could travel, at least locally. Some may be nomadic, drifting down the river, stopping for a while here and there to harvest resources before continuing.

The core of the gas giant is problematical. Why wouldn't the people settle there instead of the torus? It must be habitable - everything else is! That's why we thought of making it already settled when they got there. Klax would prefer a new humanoid sub species like the Tagris or Vantor, created by the Seeders. I prefer an alien species, as in StarCluster 3, there is no canon on how the Tagris, Vantor, and Sastra got there - they could be just a popular bio-engineered variant, for example - and is entirely up to the Group. Even the existence of the Seeders is open. This torus could have been modified by an ancient alien species, perhaps those that inhabit the planet, more probably another, with the species now on the planet being new. I just prefer to leave things like this open.

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