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Alexandria (Tichy 44-III)

Library world with a feral information ecology

Alexandria
Image from Steve Bowers

Star: Tichy 44
Near: HD 162909 and Ptolemy's Cluster
Type: G2V
Luminosity: 0.9 x Sol
Distance from Sol: 801 ly

Planet: Alexandria (Tichy 44 III)
Type: lifeless Gaian, terraformed to Eugaian.
Radius 6077 km
Rotation Period: 27.9 hours
Obliquity: 17
Semimajor Axis: 0.93 AU
Year: 0.94 standard years


Middle Regions world known for its vast libraries and archives and the unusual co-operative Alexandrian ecosystem. Part of the Negentropy Alliance.

The Terraforming Project

Alexandria, originally named Tichy 44-III, was first visited and colonized by the Soft Cathedrals. They found a system with a terraformable planet to their taste and unleashed their famous Terraforming Mothers on the planet. Over the span of a century they created an ecosystem widely acknowledged as one of the most ingenious and aesthetic of the known worlds. By making use of ecobalancing pseudobanyan (the famous Alexandrian World Tree) and living stratosphere thermal converters they made the local flora and fauna control the climate rather than the reverse. Lamarkids were introduced for the first time, creating a highly diverse and quickly changing flora and fauna without making it unstable.

While Tichy 44 was a masterpiece of ecotecture it was not ideal for the Soft Cathedrals, who were developing their main worlds around Ptolemy's Cluster (Messier 7, NGC 6475) using a new biological system that was incompatible with the Tichy paradigm. In 3123 they made a complex system lease deal with the Negentropy Alliance, giving them the development rights to the system in exchange for among other things a major wormhole infrastructure development effort linking NGC 6475 with the Inner Sphere, settlement rights on some of the polar atolls and of course lease on the Tichy biosphere. The Negentropy Alliance quickly used the new planet to attract colonists, offering a near paradise with long-term growth potential and social stability. The population quickly increased, managed by the Tichy Interplanetary Trust. It developed into a prosperous but not particularly outstanding Negentropy world, overshadowed by Daffy, Gegton X and Ken Ferjik.

Tichy survived the initial stages of the Version War, safely within the Negentropic/Cathedral volume. But in 4540 a Sagittarius infiltrator fleet attacked using neuronano mental control replicators. The infiltrators played hide-and-seek with the local forces in the outer system while the neuronano spread through the planetary immune defences. While the infiltrators were eventually driven back, the population were almost completely infected. Unfortunately the neuronano was not well-tuned to the local diversity of brains (since Tichy had been colonised by over 43 distinct clades) and caused psychosis in over 70% of the population. The massive overload of mental incompetence combined with fighting between zealous reprogrammed and the more and more desperate uninfected caused widespread breakdowns. Support attempts from orbit failed, and when a badly programmed antinanite was spread 80% of the remaining population died from the side effects. After this disaster, much of the survivors (many with serious mental problems) reverted to barbarism. In orbit the Negentropists watched in horror as the ruined cities were abandoned and the metal pipe became the weapon of choice. The orbitals were forced to accept that they could not save the planet, being swamped in evolving neuronano, and instead turned their duty to defending the remaining stargates in the system. The abandonment was not done lightly, and for decades orbitals sent whatever surplus they could muster to the planet.

On the planet the primitive inhabitants survived, if barely. The neuronano replicators coevolved into ever cleverer infiltrators, settling in mammalian brains and reprogramming their duties. Due to the harsh Darwinism in the process replicators that prevented survival were soon weeded out (with the exception of the "martyrdom diseases" that made their victims behave in ways that increased the likelihood of being eaten by a predator, which would act as a new host), and beneficial reprogramming replicators spread. In fact, the wild nanodevices acted as a kind of memes or plasmids, spreading useful survival tricks through infection. The Lamarkian elements of the biosphere supported and complicated the process further. While some Negentropy research teams briefly went down on the planet to study the phenomenon, they did not interact with the inhabitants or attempt contact. Tichy became known as a major nanohazard and was largely forgotten other than as a transit point.

Tichy was recolonised and renamed Alexandria by the Aratron Archivists in 5022. The Archivists, a sect of information worshippers attempting to uphold the Axiom of Information Preservation, were relocating their holdings from the badly decaying Nomenna Cluster and their other local bases. They used nanosystems to construct a diamond-walled biosphere enclosure on the continent of Lokaam and began the work of restoring the orbital facilities. Over the next century they managed to both set up a viable colony and to make it a major library.

In 5097 Basileus Herlady, one of the leading archivists, ventured out unprotected into the biosphere in order to fully experience the Alexandrian memory-myths. Ve returned strongly changed, and managed to convey some of the basic visions of the Alexandrians before returning to the wilds. Ver sacrifice became a cornerstone in the Archivist view of the system. They decided that the planet was indeed perfect as a repository of information - this was the world where memory lived its own life, the memory-myths being a self-created embodiment of the virtues of Negentropy that wrested order (a confusing, dangerous kind of order but yet order) from attempted subversion.

Herlady personality worship grew into a major sect among the Archivists, venerating the archives, Herlady and the memories of the ecosystem as the triune manifestation of Memory. The Herladists work hard to bridge the gulf between the Alexandrians and Archivists, and often chose to end their lives in the outer biosphere so that their memories will merge with the larger myths and that they will experience the living wisdom of Herlady.

Over time Alexandria has developed into the major repository of information in the Alliance, with enormous holdings on the planet, in orbit and especially in converted asteroid memory nodes. In 8740 the moon Gortot of Alexandria V was converted into a nanocluster to store information, the first of (to date) six such converted moons in the system. It is estimated that the total capacity of the entire system is around 1036 bits, although there may exist even more storage capacity in the transapientech nodes maintained by the Order of Aichives in close solar orbit. Unlike Ken Ferjik the system is more an archive than an active research institution, and most information requests and input is done digitally through the massive wormhole communicators.

Meanwhile, Alexandria III has developed into a favourite meeting place for the various Negentropic librarian orders, archivists, databasers and anakalyptic consultants. Over the years 310 biosphere enclosures have been built, covering an area of over 30,000 square kilometres. Within the enclosures the inhabitants can live safely, while just outside the one meter transparent walls the wild nano-infected ecosystem flourishes. A multitude of styles and cultures meet here, not in competition as at Ken Ferjik but each attempting to demonstrate the virtues of their own and how they all fit together in the Negentropic vision. It has been called a galactic world fair, albeit one with few tourists.

The Alexandrians

Although proposals for cleaning out the nanites have been fielded a myriad times the Archivists and Negentropy judical system are firmly opposed to the idea: they have become an essential part of the Alexandrians and represent a spiritual negentropic force. Their biological and cultural evolution has been closely studied with as little interference as possible. The Alexandrians have developed into a fascinating and alien culture based on the spread of knowledge and views through infection. Members of a tribe exchange information only partially through language and mainly through intimate contact. Children are quickly infused with the mentality of the group. Individuality is somewhat loose, and cross-infection with the local wildlife makes animals part of the constant flow of knowledge. Alexandrians do not just eat for food, they also deliberately seek out or avoid animals depending on their likely skills and views.

When tribes meet, the encounter leads to cross-infection of skills which may or may not be beneficial. Quite often scouts are sent out to mingle and report back what they have become. If it is safe, they will return, otherwise the scouts are rejected and have to become a new small tribal group. Given the near paradisical environment there is little incentive for any other lifestyle than hunter-gathering. It appears that a large part of their culture consists of story-infections, where the whole tribe shares in complex mythical weaves of ancient memory fragments contributed by everyone but taking on a memetic life of their own. In special story trances all join together, creating the story and often leaving an area noticeably contaminated by their vision for other tribes to find, admire or fear.

The Alexandrians have reached a form of understanding with the archivists beyond the diamond walls, which they refer to as the Unremembered. They do not regard themselves as Negentropists or with any allegiance other than to Alexandria itself, which they refer to as the Web of Memory, but they still have story-infections hinting at their mutual past. The few direct contacts have helped cement the mutual respect, if not mutual comprehension.




Note: The original Library of Alexandia on Earth has given its name to many different libraries and databases throughout the history of the Terragen Sphere, from the Alexander II Bibliotech project to the secretive Alexander Dyson Clusters spread throught the Middle Regions. In total there are 26108 orbitals, 1319 asteroids, 57 moons, 12 planets and 11 dyson swarms called Alexandria.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 23 September 2000.

 
 
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