Sid Jain contacted us with this idea for a science fiction story (or franchise). Sid is considering writing this, but is looking for some feedback, constructive criticism, and some pointers on how to make a start.
It looks like Sid has put a huge amount of effort into the worldbuilding for this novel (or series of novels), and it’s clearly a premise that he loves. So the official feedback from SciFi Ideas is “get writing, Sid!”, but readers should feel free to leave more specific feedback in the comments section below.
In 2156, Earth launches an unmanned probe with the fastest fusion drive yet built towards a planet identified as potentially habitable by humans. 50 years later, when the information from probe has been sufficiently analyzed, the drive perfected and humanity stretching the limits of earth’s capacity to hold them, 9 ships were launched with almost 10,000 people each towards the planet. 3 ships were sent by the United States of America containing mostly Americans and some randomly selected hyper intelligent people from other American satellite states, 2 ships were sent by the European Union, 3 by the Special Chinese Economic Union and 1 by India. It was decided that all the ships would land at one location and begin humanity’s first extra-solar colony with the combined strength of the world’s people working towards building a strong foothold on the new planet.
But, during the long journey to the planet, 1 Chinese ship was destroyed and 1 EU ship never reached the planet surface and was lost to space. Further, the ships’ navigation systems malfunctioned and the remaining ships landed in different parts of the planet and not at the predetermined landing spot. The 3 American ships managed to land mostly in the same landmass, while the rest were scattered around the planet. The two remaining Chinese ships were the first to make contact with each other and one ship’s entire population made the long trek to the other ship, which was the flagship of the Chinese fleet. This became known as the Second Long March and resulted in many casualties. Eventually, each colony ship founded their own initial settlement and grew mostly independent of each other for the next hundreds of years. Over the next 2000 years, the city states grew powerful and began expanding, finally coming into contact with each other and forming a global trade network. The story begins around 2300 years after the ships first landed.
6 city states have come up controlling most of the world’s resources. The three cities that arose from the American fleet were the first to begin sharing resources and formed an alliance. They became known as the Three Sisters. The EU city state grew to control an important trade junction between the ‘American’ cities and the ‘Indian’ city. The Chinese megacity grew completely cut off from the rest of the world for a long time before emerging as a high producing and relatively high population centre because of the jump start it got by joining the crews of the two remaining ships. The areas of the city states themselves are only a few hundreds of square kilometers, but each control a larger area surrounding them to include farms and mines which provide food and resources for the cities. Industrial farming and factory settlements have come up which are under a decentralized control by the cities.
Different cities have different policies on how they are managing their settlements and other cities in their area of influence. This will have to be worked on in more detail.
The Technologies of Colonization
To have been able to successfully colonize the planet, the people had to develop a few essential technologies.
- The fusion drive to power the ships.
- Massive scale building made possible by nanotech self assembly. These nanoscale robots are capable of constructing things a million times their size in a bottom up approach. They were used to create and maintain the large colony ships and are used in factories on the planets to create the machines used for mining, farming etc.
- Human cloning: To provide cheap labor to the colonists for mining and farming. Different cities have different views on cloning. Some treat them as slaves, lesser humans. One chooses to not use clones at all. Some use them as help, but provide them with comforts and treat them as equals for the duration they are alive.
- Genetic Engineering: To remove the genetic defects that will accumulate because of inbreeding that will arise when the starting population is so low and to make the human body more resistant to the environment of the new planet.
- Biomedical Engineering: Bionic supplements, cyborg parts, tissue engineering.
- Mainframes: All-knowledge encompassing computers which provide the plans, blueprints and schematics to build all the important machines, transportation, devices, buildings, structures known to man and will be linked to the nanobots to provide instructions for building almost anything.
The story will be told from the viewpoints of various characters spread out across the planet. One character is an Indian origin historian who is researching the evolution of technology that eventually allowed humans to be able to colonize a new planet. He is seeing startling coincidences in the way the most essential technologies were developed and begins seeing a pattern that he can’t quite be sure what it might mean. One character is a little farm girl in an ‘American’ settlement who gets involved in a local power struggle of a politician attempting to wrest control of his sector and eventually the city state. The politician is also going to be a viewpoint character.
Basically, the whole conspiracy that the historian uncovers is that there is a race of hyper intelligent aliens who have developed the technology to teleport over vast distances. These aliens, once they invented this, find that they need very little energy to expend to teleport and thus had reached the pinnacle of their advancement, people could teleport all across the planet and beyond within seconds and they began to reach a utopia where the aliens did not have to work very hard for anything. They began to reach out across the stars and used powerful machines to provide the energy to teleport across star systems. Once they discovered earth, they took it upon themselves to ‘train’ and ‘guide’ this civilization towards the stars. They acted as benevolent angels to scientists and doctors working towards the advancement of technologies that would enable humans to travel across the stars.
Most of the major scientific advances starting 1800s+ to 2100s+ was nudged into direction by these randomly teleporting aliens who lived in hiding on earth. Examples, according to legend, Radioactivity was discovered by Henri Bequerel when he left a pile of Radium lying around an iron plate and when he came back the next day he found the iron had become black. Someone had left the iron conveniently lying around there so that he could come back and discover this (hint: it was the teleporting aliens). Hence we had radioactivity and in a few years the nuclear bomb and eventually the fusion drive. Similarly, Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the DNA while tripping on LSD when someone ‘came’ to them and enabled them to draw the structure of the DNA on a piece of paper. The next day, they realized that they were right and thus biotechnology was born. And many more examples like this are present throughout our regular history such as the discovery of penicillin etc.
The problem starts when some of the teleporting aliens turn out to not be so well intentioned. Some sabotaged attempts at world peace; some nudged the military towards more advanced weapons etc. Some even sabotaged the effort which the other aliens had been planning for over 500 years by destroying one of the generation ships and sabotaging the navigation controls of the others so they land in different parts of the planet. They planned that to be the start of a great experiment to see how humans would react now in a new environment with resources in abundance and a fresh start on a new planet. The benevolent alien faction reacted strongly to this in some way and so for the next 2000 years, the aliens had pulled back their involvement (or meddling) with the human race’s destiny and had allowed the humans to grow their science and culture naturally for the first time since the industrial age. At the start of the story, they begin to come back, and this time, someone will know they exist.
Sub plots will include: the hunt for clues to the presence of aliens in our scientific history by the historian that will eventually become the main plot at the end of the book; the political rise to power of the politician that will somehow ruin the life of the little girl and hence will set up her coming of age, hero’s journey, vengeance story arc; rise of militarism in the Chinese origin city (assisted by the mischievous aliens) and what that would mean for the other cities; flashbacks or parallel storyline about the journey of the ships in space and the initial founding of the settlements.
Questions attempted to be answered by this book
What will happen if humans are allowed to colonize a fresh habitat with a jumpstart given by technology? What kind of economic policies, sociology, politics will develop? War? What will motivate war? When everything is available in plenty, will there still be conflict? How much of Earth’s culture will be maintained in the colony?
Bigger questions to be asked (and attempted to answer)
How will humans react to being guinea pigs for aliens? How will our collective cultural consciousness be affected by the knowledge that most of our greatest achievements were almost spoon-fed to us? What will some greedy but short sighted powerful humans do when they have the opportunity to possess the wonderfully advanced alien technology? Will people still care about their petty local politics in the face of the knowledge that there is a hyper intelligent alien race out there that has already made first contact and whose rogue elements are using some humans to cause war for their own amusement?
Side questions to be revealed over the course of the book (series?)
What happened to the aliens in the intervening 2000 years? What happens to the aliens who reach earth? They obviously can’t go back, because they don’t have the powerful machines to beam themselves back home. How did they integrate into society and hide? Why did they do it? Why are some of them using us as experiments? What’s their purpose?
Biggest question to be answered
What is free will? How many of our decisions and actions are based on our own volition?
The Colony Ships and the cities that they founded:
The American Fleet:
USS Cerulean and the resulting city-state Ceruliana
USS Rubicon and the resulting city-state Aquilon
USS Ivory Tower and the resulting city-state Stone’s Fist (Stone is the name of the captain, more backstory here later)
The European Fleet:
UES Ries Verspen and the resulting city-state Neu Mures (pronounced Noy Mewress) [Name note: Ries means Large and Verspen is a contraction of Versprechen (german for promise) and/or Versperen (dutch for transplanting). Double meaning ftw.]
UES Firenze Feuer – lost in space.
The Chinese Fleet:
PLF Maozedong Zhufu and the resulting megacity Du-Jintou
PLF Long Hu – entire population migrated to Du-Jintou, quite a few perished
PLF Kongzhi – destroyed en route.
The Indian Ship:
IES Vishwamitra and the resulting city-state Osion
(United States Ship, Unifié Europa Servizion, People’s Liberation Fleet, Indian Exploration Ship)
It looks like Sid is about ready to write this novel (or series)! What advice can we give to help him with his epic quest?