Civilization Ship
Futurological congress
Image from Steve Bowers

The Version War left many of the borders between empires quite muddled. While the NoCoNeg is perhaps the best known example, there was also the long border between the Negentropy Alliance and the MPA While large regions of space were rendered hazardous by rogue autowars, there was also other areas where the MPA had captured Negentropy Alliance worlds, or where the Alliance had captured MPA worlds. The situation was complicated by the fact the Formalhaut Acquisition Society had quite a few important trade polities and regional centers scattered throughout the area. The Curatorist traders strengthened their toehold through providing important relativistic services in the centuries when the wormholes were down or the stargate AIs were blockading out of protest, stubbornness, or simple survival. By the time the stargates were back up and functioning the traders had developed a strong memetic foothold, taking advantage of the chaos among the Negentropists and MPAists.

Inevitably the local administration and wormhole hyperturings, the ship ais, the local godlets, disillusioned superbrights, and whoever else was around looking to gain advantage out of the mess, formulated a kind of hybrid ontology as the least-disharmonious common denominator. This became the CPN Ontology - also called the Triumvirate - because of phyles and factions from three main empires - the Negentropy Alliance, the MPA, and the Formacs. This was not a free zone like the NoCoZo. Rather, the Negentropists insisted on strict regulation and tariffs, and since these tariffs benefited the curatorist trade ships, they were most happy to oblige.

In 7482 a Formac godlet (a curator ISO) usually called Likhachev happened along, attracted by reports of some interesting artifacts in the area. Spending time in the area, e became both impressed and worried by the remnants of the Version War, the Softbot genocide, the Paradigm and the rumors of the Dawn Hunters and other inhibitor myths. E discussed this with several MPA and Negentropist multi-planetary AIs, and they all agreed it was important that civilization would survive, even if there is a greater danger, such as a hyperblight or a perverse archailect or even an unknown superpowerful alien civilization of hostile intent (assuming such existed, about which e reserved judgement).

Thus there developed the first Curatorial Progress Negentropy Civilization (CPNC) ship, named Evergreen Future. Like the projects of the Mutual Progress Association it was ostentatiously huge, at first seeming impractically so (some 400 km long and 120 km at widest diameter). In keeping with the ideas of the Negentropy Alliance it had among its primary goals the maximization of Negentropy through preserving and spreading information as widely as possible. Like the Curators it was interested in every bit of collectible it could find, thus adding to the store of information and negentropy. Like the trader sapients of the Formalhaut Acquisition Society it was interesting in making erg-credits and seeing far off places, hence adding attraction it has for sentient beings. The Evergreen Future was not only a city but a vast habitat, even a world, in itself, and more even than that it contained and embodied the entire Terragen civilization within its transapientech hull. In the event of a catastrophe it could restore everything linked by the nexus, and much of the known Net, from its vast repository. It is true that many of the hider cultures, provolve internal sects, cyberian encrypted nodes, undiscovered xenos, and other exotics were not able to be included, but everything the designers thought important would be there. More than a city, it was also a mobile fortress, able to defend itself against almost any threat.

The launch of the Evergreen Future in 7561 was a sensation throughout Terragen society. Everywhere this giant vessel went, crowds flocked across the nexus to see it. Millions of sentients wanted to join, far more than there were spaces or accommodation for.

Because even a vessel as mighty as this one could be destroyed given sufficiently advanced and destructive clarketech, the Triumvirate felt the need for more such vessels. Even before the launch of the Evergreen Future construction was begun on its sister ship, the Everblue Future, and the excitement caused my the launch of the first vessel caused investors, corporations, clades and individuals to lend their support to and petition for places on additional civilization ships. So, over the centuries, more of these great CPNC ships were built, all following the same basic pattern. Even so, each ship and its complement of crew is still unique in many ways - and has its own specific character and personality. Even if all civilization in the Terragen bubble were destroyed, a single surviving ship could recreate everything again from scratch, using only raw materials. These ships are also able to replicate, although slowly, because of their huge size and resource-expense. In effect they are the culmination of the Negentropic and Curator memetics - the Encyclopaedia Everythingiana deluxe - providing a means not just to recreate a bit of civilization from scratch, but to actually save all of it.

At present there are over a hundred CPNC ships travelling throughout known space, travelling widely but careful to steer clear of known dangers such as the Amalgamation volume or the Laughter Hegemony. Because of their size, they cannot pass through even the largest stargate, and their interstellar travel is relativistic. Usually at any one time around three-quarters of them may be in interstellar space, and perhaps twenty to thirty are holding orbit, hosting visitors, taking on items of interest, undergoing minor repairs and maintenance, and so on.

Despite its popular appeal and charismatic presence, the CPNC is not universally loved. For many hiders, ousters, and paranoids the civilization ship is just one more example of archailect imperialism. Even for some empires and ideologies of the civilized galaxy itself, there is anxiety that perhaps the CPNC is too much of a memetic trump card for the Triumvirate. Although other empires have considered constructing their own civilization ships, and the Dominion for a while scaled up some of its fabled Empire Ships for this purpose, none have ever been able to match the Civilization Ship in sheer grandeur, nobility of purpose, and functionality.
 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Image by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 21 September 2001.