Soil Science, Sol System, and Interstellar Gardening

I doubt if there has even been one proper Traveller Colonist adventure, compared to military, trader, and exploration adventures. And this is understandable: Traveller is based on entertainment and adventure: and, while it can be extremely satisfying to bring a world to life, it isn’t very quick, and it’s very science and labour intensive.

Even if you toss in robots and tailored bacteria and nanobots, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of money to bring a world to life!

And a lot of time too: a minimum of a century, assuming a near-perfect world to start with, and it never really ends. The PCs should be tied to (preferably) a family or a religious organization tied to the soil, or (if necessary) a corporation or a national government, assuming they can keep their focus on their job (bringing life to the world) and not get distracted (getting money and power) over the decades and centuries.

(Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take 500 years to build up topsoil: it can be just 30 years in some instances, and I suspect that technology can accelerate it further.

Same deal with building an ecosystem from scratch, especially as humaniti gets to cheat with a lot of imported lifeforms: mainly from Terra, but bits and pieces from across Charted Space and numerous labs, depending on what results you want to produce.

Still: it’s going to take a lot of work to make a complex ecosystem work, and of course, the ecosystem stretches into the soil as well as the oceans, and far into the atmosphere in some ecosystems (low-grav balloon creatures, vast green living clouds, complex bug clouds (that may or may not eat you alive), etc.))

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. — Genesis 2:7

Naturally, there are different soil care philosophies, just as there are different terraforming schools, small-scale farming techniques, agriculture projects, etc.

In Traveller, I can instantly sketch out a few, off the top of my head:

Solomani: highly skilled genetics, who exalt the best ecosystems as works of art. (Including works of religious art.) But they tend to be quite impatient for results, and dislike genetic material that isn’t from Terra, or shaped from the hands of the Sons of Terra’s Soil. They are often into detail work, and come the closest to producing the amazing complexity and interconnectedness natural — many (including this author) would say divine — ecosystems display.

And unlike the Vilani, proper respect to the invisible forms of life — viruses and bacteria — is shown by the Solomani. There has always been a huge fight against diseases on Earth, a fight that continues: and the Solomani can handle the fight capably, not only protecting themselves, but their crops and livestock as well.

Vilani: They have always seen ecosystems as essentially hostile and poisonous – just like their homeworld’s ecosystem – and in this, they have far more in common with all non-Solomani branches of humaniti. The focus is on individual organisms, and in producing particular organisms to get the needed nutrients they need to live. Efficient, well-regulated monocultures are far more common in the Vilani school of agriculture – the Vilani corporate bias definitely shows here.

(On the other hand, they are not stupid ecosystem-destroying morons, like the K’kree.
The Vilani revere their corporate traditions, and have no mystical connection to the land: but they are intensely practical, and can change and learn when circumstances demand it.)

On the good side, it is the Vilani — and not the Solomani — who have the multi-generational time horizons needed to really make the time-and-money commitment needed to reach distant goals for their worlds. (The Solomani have to rely on technological acceleration to cover for their easily-distracted nature.)

Aslan: The goal of the Aslan is not to farm the land, but to own vast stretches of it: lesser beings, incapable of the rigors and discipline of warfare, can dig and plant like weak and powerless peasants, or grub for money like some female. While owning land per se is essential, huge stretches of living, fertile land – nicely mixed with wealth-generating cities and factories – gives the greatest prestige. The Aslan get no joy from gardening: it is in leading, fighting, taking, owning, and consuming that there is honour and respect.

Vargr: Much like the Aslan, the Vargr are carnivores, and think as such:

Others – lesser species, and low-charisma members of our own species – humbly toil and dig in obscurity, generation after forgotten generation. Forever!

We strike, and kill, and feast: and our names will shine across the heavens, pushing waves of fear, dread, and respect across the stars! The stars shall remember us always: the Ancients shall be proud to call us their offspring!”

While the Aslan revere the static aristocratic model (not so far from the Imperial Nobility: but less interested in nurturing the land or building wealth like some herbivore or female, and a lot more focused on military glory), the Vargr are far more unpredictable: but they well know that it is the warrior and the hunter that is remembered, not the farmer or the gardener.

And the Vargr intend to have their names remembered by their audience: their pack, their opponents, all bystanders, and the hidden Ancients.

(But not so much by the ancestors: the Vargr freely rewrite their histories at need, depending on what gets them the greatest charismatic surge today. Even the Ovaghoun Vargr — so strongly influenced by the Vilani  — are definitely more open to rewriting/redacting/expunging their histories for immediate political benefit than any Vilani society would tolerate.)



About Alvin Plummer

I'm working to build a better world, a world that blesses Christ and is blessed by Him. I hope that you're doing the same!
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2 Responses to Soil Science, Sol System, and Interstellar Gardening

  1. Timothy Newman says:

    I’d suggest that while male Aslan leaders may think that warfare is what matters, the successful ones – the ones that do most to spread the Aslan way – are the ones who listen to their females. The females are certainly interested in the value of the land, what can be done with it, and how expensive that will be in a way. And I think they’re the ones who stop the wilder schemes that some Vargr spend their efforts on. To use an analogy from an entirely different context, the Vargr come on like a storm without thinking that nearly all storms blow out without achieving much (Hurricane Katrina is a rarity, most storms don’t do anywhere near as much) while the Aslan come on like the snow, one flake/ihatei group at a time and before you know it they cover the whole landscape/starscape in a region.


    • Alvin Plummer says:

      OK, OK, I will (with some grumbling) grant that the smart Aslans males listen to the females. After all, they do rise up to Chief of Staff positions (as per Solomani & Aslan), as well as many critical technical and scientific positions, and the wiser Aslan males know when to listen, as well as when to roar.

      “Flag officers who ignore/disrespect their Chief of Staffs don’t stay Flag Officers for long!”
      “Actually, they are very unlikely to have even risen to that position in the first place…”


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