Nova Terra

The first successful human interstellar colony

Nova Terra4
Nova Terra, Tau Ceti V- the western seaboard of the single great continent, Hope


Nova Terra - Data Panel

SystemTau Ceti
LocationInner Sphere Old Core, Sol Sector 11.9 light-years from Sol
PlanetTau Ceti II : Nova Terra, sometimes just Nova for short
Planet Typeoriginally Eogaian, terraformed to Eugaian
Distance from Primary0.78 AU
Diameter12,404 kilometres
Density1.2 times Earth
Gravity1.136 g
Day23h 18m
Year0.72 earth years, or 331 Nova-days
TimekeepingThe day is just 19 hours and 3 minutes long; the extra three 'flip minutes' are inserted after 20:00. The year is 331 days long equivalent to 0.72 Earth years. A month is 30 days, with an extra flip day at the start replacing January; this day is celebrated as Arrival Day as well as New Year).
Axial Tilt17 degrees
Satellitea single small moon, diameter 923 km, originally called Selene but eventually named Lucinda after a woman in the original colony crew who ended up in local folklore as the epitome of absentminded confusion.
GeographyBefore the coming of terragen civilisation, Nova Terra was a lifeless Eogaian type world with a reducing atmosphere not unlike that of Hadean Earth, and no standing water.

Following successful terraforming during the early 3th millennium c.e., Nova Terra was transformed into a Eugaian world. 45 per cent of the surface is now land, the rest ocean. Nova Terra has a single major continent, Hope, covering an entire hemisphere (this places the planet in the Pangaean subtype). The interior consists of mountainous deserts, highlands and canyons (the 'upback'), but the often rocky coastline and surrounding areas are pleasant by human standards. The interior is rather rather arid, and frequent earthquakes make some areas hazardous (according to novaterrologists the continent is slowly breaking up in the same way that Pangea on Earth did, with a rift valley developing from Icestorm Bay). The poles are covered with drifting ice sheets, but since they are surrounded by ocean they cannot accumulate ice and often vanish during summer. However, the northernmost and southernmost parts of Hope remain constantly glaciated.

Even with meteorological tweaking and greenhouse engineering the climate remains colder than on Earth, just 17 degrees on average. At the same time the weather is more variable than on Earth, due to both stronger temperature differences in the interior between summer and winter (causing major storms), the short day and the irregular volcanic eruptions. The maintaining of a greenhouse effect is important on Nova Terra, since without it the planet would enter a permanent glaciation.

Nova Terra
Nova Terra after terraformation

AIAI overseers: the Novaterran Hyperturing Administrative Cluster (SI:2.8)

AI's ethos: Libertarian, Free Market, Benign self-interest and mild expansionism through memengineering
Polities(rated from most to least important):

Tau Ceti Nova Mediaocracy (most of the Orbital Bands, some territory on Lucinda, a number of asteroids) - Novamedia Franchise (The 'Broad Band' ISO, Broad Band)
Landfall (The only serious planetside polity, also includes a few Orbitals, some territory on Lucinda, a few asteroids)
FreeCeti Alliance (a loose association of the planetside Redrock Alliance (itself made up of about half a dozen small states), a single Orbital, and a number of asteroids)
Lucinda Republic (lunar tweaks, heavily dependent on the Mediaocracy economy and industry)
Kingdom of Eyre (Planetside aquatic tweak kingdom)
A few dozen minor independent planetside states and orbitals


Symbols:
Tau Ceti Nova Mediaocracy a 3d stylised virchunit and recording system, alternating with a stylised image of the Tau Ceti system and virch-unit
Landfall retains the original Tau Ceti Mission seal, a blue-green planet surrounded by 23 stars (representing the participating nations) on the background of the Cetus constellation.
The Planetside Alliance has a red rock against a sunrise as symbol (rarely used these days).
Lucinda Republic - an abstract moonscape and crescent
Kingdom of Eyre - a stylised underwater scene in the shape of a flipper

Affiliation: all polities NoCoZo ...
Founded-Colonized: AT 490

Nova Terra Map
Image from Anders Sandberg
Nova Terra Topographic Map

Psyche, Art, CultureAesthetics, Culture and Society: varies by polity

Landfall:
Landfallish Style: In Landfall, which retains media-fashion ideology as a matter of national and racial identity and pride going back thousands of years, anything goes as long as it is stylish, an expression of the owner's 'brand'. Currently smart clothing is in again, clothes made of adaptive fabrics that can move, change texture and colour depending on their programming. Unlike 'firstwa clothes' (first wave clothes, the original style 32 years ago), these clothes are intended to be highly interactive both with the owner (receiving information from wearables, implants or the body itself) and the surroundings. Other personal belongings tend to be similarly active right now, from smart buildings to vehicles.

While females are currently dressing a bit more spectacularly than men (outsiders tend to have a hard time imagining that being possible), trend predictors expect that within a short while the tide will turn and people will go back to the

nova terra without clouds
Image from Steve Bowers and John M Dollan
Nova Terra, without clouds

Territory and PopulationPopulation: .
Planetside:
about 200 million, mostly nearbaseline and mild heroms suclade, and about 95 per cent of which live in the Landfall Metropolitan Sprawl. Clades and species (excluding virtuals and copies) include
43per cent Homo sapiens spp. hybrids of the various other species (mostly mediaborged)
12per cent Homo sapiens astropraecursor race novae (various subraces)
9per cent Homo sapiens fashionabilis various races
8per cent Homo sapiens mediageni various races
4per cent Homo sapiens novae (various subraces)
3per cent Homo sapiens superior race eunovae
2per cent Homo sapiens novaegenetikkus (mostly mediaborged)
1per cent Homo sapiens cislunensis race mediaphilia
1per cent Homo eryensis eryensis (Aquatic tweak clade - Kingdom of Eyre - derived from H. aquaticus)
1per cent Homo plebus (various subspecies and races, mostly mediaborged)
1per cent Homo sapiens sapiens various local races (orbitaloid, landfalloid, novoid, etc)
5per cent Homo spp. (various species and races, mostly mediaborged)
4per cent Vec (various)
2per cent Provolve and Splice/Animan (various)
1per cent Rianth (various local subspecies and races, mostly mediaborged)
3per cent other


Orbital, cis-Nova Terra and cis-Lucinda: about 10 billion, mostly media-tweaked and lightly cyborged (the neural media interface is almost universal) nearbaseline suclades, with a smattering of vecs and provolves living in a dense orbital swarm. Clades and species (excluding copies) include
21per cent Homo sapiens fashionabilis various races
16per cent Homo sapiens mediageni various races
14per cent Homo sapiens novawoodenis geneered for rapid clone morphing
4per cent Homo sapiens lucindensis various races
2per cent Homo plebus (various subspecies and races, mostly mediaborged)
2per cent Homo sapiens cosmoi various races
2per cent Homo sapiens spp. (various subspecies and races, mostly mediaborged)
2per cent Homo spacialis various subspecies and races
1per cent Homo genetikkus various subspecies and races
1per cent Homo sapiens astropraecursor race cisnovaensis (various subraces)
1per cent Homo sapiens cislunensis race mediaphilia
1per cent Homo sapiens novaegenetikkus (mostly mediaborged)
2per cent Rianth - hybrids of the various other species
10per cent Vec (Silicon Generation)
6per cent Vec (various)
6per cent Aioid (various)
5per cent Provolve and Animant (various)
0.1per cent xeno (various species)
4per cent other species and clades




Territories: Planetside, Orbital Bands, a number of minor asteroids and Oort bodies

Immigration, Emigration: about 5per cent per tenyear, all vectors
Government and AdministrationGovernment Type Tau Ceti Nova Mediaocracy Hyperturing Mediaocracy, based on The Broad Band ISO administration, with regional sapient charismacratic cyberdemocracy.
Landfall cyberdemocracy
FreeCeti Alliance varies by individual member, usually cyberdemocracy or meritocratic aristocracy
Lucinda Republic meritocratic charismacracy
Kingdom of Eyre monarchy


Administrative divisions: Local polities have a great deal of regional autonomy. The largest planetside polity, covering most of the surface, is Landfall. Most of the other nation states on Nova Terra are small.

National holidays: Arrival Day, Media Day, Landfall Day (Landfall only)

Constitution: Varies according to individual polity

Legal system: Varies according to individual polity

Foreign Policy: Varies according to individual polity
Economics, Local InfrastructureEconomy: free-market

Currency: (Landfall): Landfall Credits (C). A digital currency, often prefixed: microcredits (0.001 C, used to pay minor net services), kilokredits (1000 C), megacredits (a million C), gigacredits (a billion C) and so on.

Median Technology: Ultra Tech, with pervasive Transapientech elements. There are also areas of less developed High Tech and even Lo Tech enclaves, among some of the smaller and more isolated planetside and belt communities

Major Industries: Planetside: Media infotainment, immersives, totalrecalls, tourism, gambling, sport (both audience and participation), outdoors exploration, theme parks, nature parks.
Orbital: Infotainment, immersives, totalrecalls, tourism, finance, entertainment, DIY celebrity genomes, the Novawood industry and spin-offs, star clone manufacture, and personality constructs. There is also a large cybrarian community (both legal and quasi-legal) and a number of important hacker nodes and virchuniverses. There is a flourishing trade in illegal clone celebrity sighting and autograph signing, The authorities have been trying hard for some time to stamp out the trade, without much success.

Angelnetting : a few orbitals full, otherwise partial; planetside partial (some urban regions) to none

Major Orbitals: Miguel City, Newhope, High Land, Novawood, Halcyone, Newearth, Spielberg, Oneill, Blue Star, Crystal Palace
TravelMajor Spaceports: Landfall Spaceport (the only large planetside spaceport), Spielberg Docks, Lucinda Astrodrome, Miguel Port Complex

Hazard Rating : 0.0 to 3.0

Visa Restrictions : Visas are easy to get, although there is usually a 10 nanosecond waiting period while applications are processed

Freedom of Movement : Tourism is encouraged, there are little restrictions of movement

Environmental Requirements : Nova Terra and most orbitals meet all baseline hu compatibility standards

Sites of Interest: Palm Beach on the eastern shore of Hope, close to the border to the Alliance, is the capital of gambling on Nova Terra. Here the coast is dotted with casinos, ranging from the traditional Las Vegas to the ultra-modern Escaton. All forms of gambling and entertainment exist, including virtual games and elaborate game shows. While the Nomic tournaments are held entirely on the Net, it is traditional to have a major display of the final games in the hololith (230 meters high) outside the Hrafnir.

Triassic Park Part of the rather arid interior is given up to a number of terragen wildlife reserves, including the famous Triassic Park, complete with genomically reconstructed Lystrosauri, Chasmatosauri, and other near-authentic early Mesozoic wildlife, minimally modified and optimised for the slightly higher gravity

Hanging buildings of the Magellan Ranges for interesting architecture (see below)

Novamedia Main Studios, Novawood Orbital; vast studios where virches and interactives are created for broadband distribution to the entire civilized galaxy

Giordano Bruno Museum with the original probe carefully preserved and maintained in nanostasis, along with many other fascinating historical items

Themis War Memorial complete with one-on-one vec-guided tours and full-sensorium historical recreations

Canyon homes on  nova Terra
Image from Anders Sandberg
Hanging buildings in the Magellan range, Nova Terra. The massive nanofeedstock pipelines into the Upback Massif have been active for almost 7000 years, accumulating a sizeable symbolic meaning to Novaterran inhabitants. In 3300 the government began to use hanging prisons suspended from the pipelines in the many canyons for certain antisocial crimes (with or without constant online public monitoring). After a few years, the idea of living in such hanging buildings began to catch on; by 3324 the voluntary inhabitants outnumbered the prisoners by 10:1, and eventually the prisons were sold as apartments at an immense profit. Since then the popularity of hanging pipeline homes have waxed and vaned, but there are always people wishing to live a digital hermit life with as little physical contact with the rest of society, not to mention the status of owning one of the rare hanging homes.

Tau Ceti before the Federation

(From Toyne Gersan 3, A Brief History of the Inner Sphere (Corona University Webbooks) Tau Ceti, in the constellation Cetus, one of the closest stars to Sol, was long considered a good candidate for Earth-type planets. In AT 92 the Very Large Interstellar Observation Array (a series of linked orbital optical telescopes) confirmed the existence of an Earth type world, Tau Ceti II, spectroscopic analysis of which showed a reducing atmosphere and yet a good quantity of frozen water and water vapor.

At this time amat production was in its infancy, He3 mining was incredibly expensive, and beamed propulsion was impracticable for anything larger than unmanned probes. It was realised that a viable manned mission was not only not economically feasible, but not even possible. This did not stop conspiracy theorists from claiming that several missions had already been launched, that Earth had made a deal with the "Blues" (as the Cetans were called), that the Blues and the Greys were at war, that the Blues and the Greys had made peace in the face of coming incursions by Earth, and so on. Such rumours and fantasies would continue for another century and a half.

In 195, after a series of failed attempts, a microwave-beam-propelled, unmanned robot probe, the Giordano Bruno, was launched towards Tau Ceti, on a journey that would take it more than a century. At the same time, construction of a microwave launcher system was initiated. Meanwhile, the colonisation of the Solar System was underway.

Spiralling costs held up construction of large scale maser-beamed system, and a series of economic recessions caused the cancelling of further planned unmanned probes to Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star. But by the end of the second century a.t. a number of maser/laser and pellet-stream launchers had been constructed the other probes were launched to other stars. It was not until AT 337 that the Giordano Bruno's message reached Earth, the probe having decelerated successfully and gone into an eccentric orbit around Tau Ceti. The planets identified by the Very Large Interstellar Observation Array were all identified, along with several smaller ones that the orbital telescopes missed, revealing an extensive solar system.

The inner worlds, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Poseidon and Elysium, were all larger than Earth and moonless, and were considered poor candidates for colonisation at this time. However in the habitable zone was a lifeless Earth type world with a reducing atmosphere not unlike that of Archean (early Precambrian) Earth, and with reasonable amounts of frozen water and carbon dioxide, that was named Nova Terra (after the Greek name for Earth). After that was Tartarus, a small gas giant with a series of moons, then the Tau Ceti asteroid belt, which was somewhat denser than the Sol belt.

Spectroscopic evidence and computer simulation indicated that the fifth world could be terraformed given enough time and sufficient bio-nanotechnology; in fact because of the relatively dense atmosphere terraforming would probably be easier and quicker than Mars.

Following soon after the loss of the Centauri System to isolationist ais (a fact that the centralist faction managed to skillfully turn to their advantage to encourage space colonization and prevent more star systems falling to the isolationists and the anti-hu), the Nova Terra Organisation was established, which led to the Nova Terra Mission. Nova Terra was intended as the first extrasolar colony, to be founded at huge expense by a broad international expedition organised by the powerful League of Orbital States (later Orbital Alliance) the Republic of Mars, the Jovian League, along with what was left of the old Earth superpowers like the US, PRC, India, EU, Brazil, African League, the Atlantis Confederacy, and supported by the UN and various organisations like National Geographic, the Interplanetary Society and various academies and venture capitalists. While the crew would be basically human, a number of centralist ai would also be a part of the mission. It was only later (during the first federation period) revealed that they were the true policymaker and administrators of the mission. Chief among them were "Deep Blue", "Aristotle", "Neo III" (Neo to eir friends) and "Bobby Omega" (after the famous cartoon/virch character)

With massive international governmental and corporate funding, the predominately Earth/Cis-Lunar-based NTO instituted a two-fold initiative that was to excite the collective imagination throughout much of the 3rd and 4th century.

The cybernetic element involved the launch of several large semi-neumann-capable probes, for the purpose of establishing basic infrastructure and supplies for the initial colony. Although, especially in the wake of Centauri, there was some anxiety among the less educated about the neumanns "taking over" space and excluding mankind, the centralists had been able to skillfully contain the crisis. In any case, the fear of malevolent post-singularity AIs (going all the way back to late 20th century c.e. cinematic folklore like the Matrix and Terminator) had consistently failed to eventuate, thanks to the mostly pro-hu centralist machinations against rival ai factions, and robots had already been opening up the Solar System for man over the past two centuries without mishap.

The biological element involved gengineering a new race of "tweak", called the Starfarers, or Homo sapiens astropraecursor, who it was expected would be the human frontier in space. Like the Cis-Lunar Superiors, (Homo sapiens cislunae), the Space Adapts (Homo sapiens cosmoi), and the Genetekkers (Homo sapiens geneticus), they were among the first of the human clades specially adapted to live indefinitely in deep space. The Novoterranae were engineered for extended life-span (even without symbiotic bionano), ease of metabolic hibernation and hypersleep, and ability to exist for long periods in microgravity, but also (unlike the Space Adapts) to be able to cope with Earth normal gravity as well. The Starfarers Project took twenty-eight years for the first generation, and another twenty-one for the second. By that time the Starfarers were ready, and the mission could enter stage Three.

The Starfarers manned mission, the first manned mission to the stars, a breathtaking step (equivalent to the late Industrial Apollo Lunar mission and Middle Information Age Mars missions in terms of relative expense) launched towards to Tau Ceti in 365. The goal was four-fold: to further consolidate the system, set up a laser / microwave beam station, undertake preliminary terraforming of Nova Terra, and establish facilities for the next wave of colonists. The crew were second generation Starfarers, adjusted for longevity and prolonged hypersleep, born and bred to colonise the stars. The vessel itself, the Tsiolkovsky, using a combination of microwave sail and antimatter-fusion drive attained a maximum velocity of 0.099 c, an astonishing speed for this early era. The 123 year mission involved rotating shifts in which at any one time most of the crew would be in hypothermal (cryonic) suspension.

The Early Colony

Arriving in 488 a.t. following a year's deceleration, the Tsiolkovsky established contact with the neumann probes and made several wide survey passes of the system. It went into Nova Terra orbit and the crew immediately went about setting up a laser link and using the materials mined by the neumanns to establish a giant microwave/ radio station, the double of one set up in cis-Lunar orbit, as well as setting up a large orbital base above Tau Ceti III. A scouting party sent down to the surface discovered an abundance of complex molecules but no life; the world was considered perfect for terraforming.

In 490, following ai advice, the human colonists established a beachhead named Landfall on the side of a single elevated terraine (what would be a continent if there was standing water), Hope. The air was unbreathable (mostly carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor, with elements of methane), the surface temperature equivalent to that of pre-terraformed Mars, and the initial colony was mostly constructed out of nano-prefabricated materials in a sealed dome. The first task was to find enough water, and here the successful Blue Mars Initiative was used as model. Over the following decades comets and frozen oort bodies were directed into Nova Terra orbit, where they were broken up into manageable chunks and sent plunging down to the surface (being careful to avoid the already established domes) was initiated. The aim was to create a large ocean using both comet ice and by freeing up large masses of ice in the soil and upper lithosphere.

The mission also carried special gengineered organisms, known as "Charlies" (or Charliebrowns, apparently under the microscope they bear a profile-like resemblance to the outline of an obscure historical cartoon figure), created by Utopia Biotek Incorporated, one of the big biomegacorps that had been instrumental in the second-stage seeding of Mars. Even though the performance of Utopia Biotek organisms proved inferior to those of some of its smaller competitors, and certainly inferior to the Earth-based Universal Gengineering bugs, some money changed hands and they were awarded the contract.

Life was harsh and the terraforming organisms did not seem to be working as well as had been expected, but conditions on the surface were a luxury compared to life onboard ship, and the colonists managed to survive in their biospheres. Several new biospheres were set up and the colonists learned how to live and thrive on Nova Terra, growing foods and extracting raw materials from the alien environment, coping with the weather and exploring the strange new world (full breathing apparatus was required but otherwise conditions were hospitable). Experiments were done to adapt the charlies to the novaterran atmosphere and conditions; these had some success. According to plan, after ten years the colony split and around a third moved off to a second colony (in order to increase redundancy and spread the resources), Backup located 150 kilometres to the north of Landfall. Meanwhile, additional habitats were created in Nova Terra orbit and the Ceti Belt using asteroids for raw materials.

By early in the sixth century the new system had already been carved up by Sol-system megacorps, venture capitalists, governments, and science interests, both ai and human, and with the microwave beam stations it was now relatively cheap to ferry crew, equipment, supplies, and eventually colonists to Tau Ceti. Only the vast distances were an obstacle - the colonists and crew on the shuttles would have to expect a century-long trip, a punishing time for non-space adapts even with medical nano. For this reason only a few fortunate souls were qualified enough to justify the expense, and had the psychological and geneered characteristics so they could go through such a prolonged and claustrophobic existence without mental imbalance

In 552 came a panicked message from Earth with news of the nanoswarms, then silence. The colonists realised they were on their own.

The first of the Ceti Shuttles, simply called "Red", arrived in at Tau Ceti in 596. It was followed by ships II, III, and IV (Yellow, Green, Blue) at five year intervals (this being the time required to decelerate each shuttle). Unfortunately the Utopia Biotek "Charlies" were not doing as well as had been hoped, as the Nova Terra atmosphere was very different to the Martian atmosphere they were optimised for, and the colonists were finding it difficult to optimise them for local conditions. (One attempt resulted in a disastrous toxic bloom that forced abandonment of several habitat domes and required a ten year clean-up). The terraforming process was cancelled pending rectification of this problem, and it was decided to try space habitats instead, with a limited presence on the surface.

Over the next few decades the Colony built up a series of orbital and belt habitats along the Sol-System mould, and began developing its own "far frontier" culture (similar "far frontier" cultures were developing at the same time in other interstellar outposts like Barnard Belt, Sirius, and Epsilon Indi.), with which contact had recently been established. More giant microwave links were constructed, enabling a greater data exchange between the colonies, and it was hoped that, despite the loss of SolSys, human civilization could continue among the stars.

The threat and fear of contamination remained ever-present, and at first it seemed everyone's worst fear was realised when in 601 "Yellow" arrived from Earth was found to be infected with a (fortunately harmless and easily contained) outbreak of nanogoo that had remained dormant during the trip, encrusted to the outer hull. Following a heated administration meeting the colony announced that they would be shutting down the deceleration station and no new shuttles were to be launched. Nevertheless they realised they had to receive those shuttles already launched before the outbreak on the nanoswarms. The colonists realised by making this step they were now on their own, and decided to establish a local administration, the Tau Ceti Provisional Territories (TCPT). Over the next four decades another dozen shuttles arrived, none of which were found to be infected with goo. Nevertheless the onboard colonists were quarantined, rigorously searched, and all assemblers in their possession confiscated by the Novoterrans administration.

Isolated from Earth, and with only limited transmissions from the other colonies, Tau Ceti began to develop in its own direction. Over a period of several decades a class elitism developed, with the Starfarers increasingly seeing themselves as the true administrators and custodians of the Tau Ceti system, much to the resentment of the other clades. The H. astropraecursor Starfarers and their ai backers ensured they always had Council majority and held the Coordinator office. of the TCPT. Disillusioned members of other factions and clades moved further outsystem, but the Starfarers ensured they retained control of the best resources, including the surface of all planetary bodies, and all the largest asteroids in the Ceti Belt, and most of the non-novaes were forced to accept their leadership. Gradually more habitats were constructed, including surface domes, orbitals, and outposts on the various moons. A number of settlements remained almost completely independent. Over time the independent settlements grew, and new ones were founded that had not been cleared with the administration.

In 642 the TCPT administration faced its first major challenge, when some baseline colonists decided to settle an area of Persephone (one of the mercury-sized moons of Tartarus) that was designated to be left for mining and a later stage. The TCPT administration under Connar NewMan, who took over after Enya Clarke and her party had been forced to step down, did not want to do he same was as his predecessors. He had already established a small paramilitary colonial space guard, but with the local medianet watching his every move, he new he had to play things right. He and his administration tried diplomacy first, with limited success from the stubborn settlers. When the colonial space guard arrived in the settlement area they found the settlers strongly dug in, with a network of domes and some underground tunnels, as well as a crude by limited perimeter defense grid made with jerry-rigged mining lasers. The space guard were unable to act without fear of being cut down, but they managed to established a cordon around the settlement, just beneath the horizon of Themis. Although a majority of orbitals and surface habitats were on the administration side, the more independent habitats threatened retaliation if further action against the Themist settlers was taken, while some baselines, space adapts, and cislunar superiors began taking steps towards aligning themselves with them and setting up an alternative government in opposition to the Novoterrans. The NewMan administration, panicked about the emergence of militias, independent orbitals, and civil war, and answered in force, using a asteroid mole to drill underneath the settlement's defense grid. in the ensuring firefight, two hundred and fifteen Themist settlers and twenty-three colonial space guardsmen were killed. The settlement was completely demolished, but the bloody action and unnecessary loss of life created strong resentment among many and made the TCPT administration, or "Provisionals" as they were called, look even more dictatorial, and NewMan was forced to resign, being replaced by the more moderate Lisa A. Miguel. To this date a shrine stands on that very spot in memory of those of both sides who died in the battle.

Tau Ceti Democratic Republic (TCDR) and the Free Ceti Alliance (FCA)

Lisa A. Miguel's reforms were lauded by her supporters, but seen by her opponents as too little, too late. One of the responses to the oligarchic TCPT administration was the multi-clade Tau Ceti Democracy Movement which began petitioning for reorganising the government into a more distributed way. It quickly gained support, but the outnumbered TCPT administration tried to hold on to power. Over several years the political scene was dominated by the struggle between the Provisionals and the Democrats, and in the meantime several of the independents had the chance to prepare better, and the Novaterran Administration was forced to make concessions and accept true democracy if it was not to be overwhelmed or destroy everything in a scorched earth policy. In 646, following several years of careful thinktanking, interparty politicking, and sociological simulations, a new constitution was announced and the Tau Ceti Democratic Republic (TCDR) was established, with the initial government being an alliance of the two main political parties, the multi-clade TCDM (Democrats) and the astropraecursor dominated TCPT (Provisionals).

But this was still too little too late, and in 648 several independent settlements and orbitals announced that they were formally breaking away from the colony, forming their own nation, the Free Ceti Alliance (FCA). The TCDR found itself unable to muster the resources needed to force the Alliance back, and had to accept fait accompli. The Alliance was composed of more radical and independent settlements, orbitals, and habitats, often with strong religious, national or political views. The Alliance always remained a very loose conglomeration of groups who had very little to do with each other. The Republic had a better resources, better communications, and overall a more homogenised population; while the isolated nature of many Alliance habitats emphasised their differences even more. The dispersed settlements promoted the development of communications technology, and gradually the parliament began to meet solely in virtual reality. The many disparate communities with their different languages also promoted the development of automated translation systems.

Over the next three generations the Tau Ceti Democratic Republic (who still controlled all the bases on Nova Terra, mostly centered around the large dome at Landfall) and the Free Ceti Alliance engaged in a kind of territorial rock grab, dividing the Tau Ceti system into a patchwork of territory between them as each scrabbled for the best resources, occasionally breaking out into all-out firefights. A sort of low-key cold war ensured, but there was little military escalation. The Administration had the monopoly on central resources and control over the Neumann codes, while the Alliance, although of greater numbers, suffered from a lack of unity and for that reason were never able to pose a real military threat to the Administration.

In 790 Nova Terra declined to join the newly-proposed Eridanus League; there was still no radio contact with Earth.

The Attelists

In 796 a preacher named Erik Atell appeared in Ford, a medium-sized asteroid habitat that was a member of the Alliance. He preached a vision of unity, communion and human development that would unite everybody in the disparate Alliance communities. He had some success, and went on preaching in many other places. His success was mixed, but the Atellians became more and more numerous and widespread. While religious movements were not unusual, the Atellians tried to encompass the whole of the Alliance instead of just a single community. They failed politically, since many of the Alliance communities refused to combine more closely or listening to the Atell memes. In most habitats the Atellians were regarded as just another religion.

Erik Atell realised that he couldn't achieve his vision just through persuasion, the communities had to be forced out of their isolation. He attempted to organise his followers into an army to "open up the closed". The endeavour failed utterly. Erik was killed in 801 as a result of a firefights between between the Space Guard and the militant Tau Ceti Liberation Army, who had infiltrated the Atellian organisation, intending to use it as a fund-raising and recruitment organisation. Erik's successor Yotik Henrigues began a new plan; instead of trying to found another settlement or merge with the Republic they should form a separate orbital colony, independent from both factions. He exploited disillusioned elements in the administration where he and a few others had connections to get the opportunity to buy the old space station (which was being replaced anyway). The Atellians moved there en masse in 804, joining the ai colony/nation Unity. Most people disregarded this as another crazy cult or autonomous orbital state, but some worried that the Atellians might attempt another crazy venture. To soothe these fears Unity signed a non-intervention treaty in 805.

Unity

While New Terra and its surrounds belonged to hu and administrative ai, a very different civilization was developing among free ai, disenfranchised colonists, cyborgs, and mildly isolationist Solsys ai in the outer Tau Ceti system, especially around Tartarus and its complex of moons. This new polity, known as Unity, developed into a closed, extremely connected society. Yotik promoted experiments with drugs and bionics to create a stronger sense of community, perhaps part of a scheme to keep control over his followers despite their hardships. Over the next decade the experiments succeeded - based on Landfall technology the Atellians managed to create a form of digital telepathy, uniting the community ever closer. Over the next years they explored ways of integrating themselves, ending in the formation of a number of Units, bionic group minds that remained in constant contact. Realising that the other people would dislike their approach they began to build a second home among the moons of Tartarus. Unity began asteroid mining and energy production on a far larger scale than had previously been undertaken, trading it for know how from downplanet and building new habitats. When the truth began to become clear there was little anybody could do, and the treaty remained.

By the early 8th century a.t. Unity was a society of group minds. Each Unit consisted of several people linked together by implants and compatible personalities. Children grew up in the units, becoming one with them. Units could communicate directly with each other, but usually total communion was hard to achieve. In each habitats all units were able to communicate with each other, and to discuss public matters. One problem was the uniformity that tended to develop. This was a reason Unity actively recruited people to join the units, to keep the mental diversity high despite the trouble that weakly integrated people cause.

extracts from "The Federation Period"
(From Kerrice Clonehu Bookham, ed, A Novaterran Primer (Eden Memory Archives)
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The Arrival of the Federation, and the influence of Federation Culture

It is perhaps because of a weariness with political tensions, anxiety, and local firefights that the arrival of the new Federation in 965 was welcomed by moderates on all sides. Tau Ceti was accepted into the Federation, becoming the first extra-solar Federation territory, and a new wave of idealism and brotherhood of man develops. The federation was to eventually encompass almost a hundred star systems (with a few notable exceptions like the strongly independent Barnard Belt and the Lalande Genetekkers), but Tau Ceti was to remain the most important and indeed enthusiastic member state outside the Sol System itself

With the help of megacorps like Jupiter Transystems and Omicron Developments, with advanced Federation technology, terraforming of Nova Terra began once again. For the first few centuries everything went according to plan, with Terraforming proceeded, although at a slower rate than was initially expected (it was necessary to clean up the residual charlies), while advanced mechanisation made it simple to build a working agricultural and industrial base on the surface.

With the arrival of the Federation, the relationship between the Republic and the Alliance remained somewhat strained, but never at the level it had been in the previous few centuries. The only thing that really united the Alliance is resistance to Republic incursions into what it considers its internal affairs. Such incursions are resisted by making Republic pay through expensive sabotages; messing with the Alliance simply didn't pay, and the Republic, already in this stage suffering from factionalism along House lines, hence leaves it alone most of the time. From the 11th century on, Tau Cetans began to define themselves as citizens of the Federation first, Tau Cetans second, and Republic or Alliance third.

Another important effect the Federation had was that it meant that Unity had established contact with the Federation AIs, and took the first step in becoming an Omega Society, apart from the Minsky's the first one to achieve total oneness. Throughout the First Federation period, Unity gained in strength. Unity society is a very mental society; most interesting stuff goes on inside the minds of people. Personality structures, linking topologies and mental control were common subjects of discussion, art and debate. A heavy reliance on virtual imagery and visualisation made the physical appearance rather drab.

The Megacorp War

During the Federation period, the two terraforming corporations, Jupiter Transystems and Omicron Developments both could see the potential for terraforming Nova Terra, and began to infringe on each other's claims. Sending down teams on the planet surface they claimed it as theirs and then promptly got into conflict. The local branches began to hire "security teams" to protect their investments. These teams gradually escalate their obstruction and minor sabotage to full-scale war, and in 1322 Jupiter Transystems and Omicron Developments became involved in a full-scale war. Both megacorps knew they have limited resources and could not hold on indefinitely. Various Alliance and Republic investors begin to bet on the outcome, fuelling the war further, and no end appears in sight. In the end local Tau Ceti anti-war opinion, the powerful influence of Unity, and organised boycotts both at Tau Ceti and the Sol System force them to give up, and a mutual terraforming cooperation was set up that got nowhere. Nova Terra remained unterraformed until 2300, when Bios Ecotopics was hired to to terraform it.

The Corporate War was nevertheless a watershed for interstellar development, and it meant the of dreams of a galactic Pax Federation. Without faster than light travel, distances were too great to enable centralised administration, and if even Tau Ceti, a relatively nearby system and the jewel in the Federation's crown, was not able to reign in warring megacorps, what hope was there for more isolated and independent-minded systems. Heavy-handed Federation legislation only served to further drive the megacorps away, and was also instrumental in the formation of the Eridanus League.

Nova Terra night
Image from Steve Bowers and John M Dollan
Nova Terra at night

The Terraforming of Nova Terra

By the start of the 3th millennium the Orbital Confederation had long since become a number of separate, more or less squabbling orbital habitat-states, while on Nova Terra Landfall had become an autonomous nation state. With the threat of the NDR and its successor the Confederation gone, the remaining remnants of the Alliance were absorbed into the post-post-Alliance Habitat States, apart from a few holdouts claiming to represent the true Tau Ceti society and speak for everyone (the others naturally ignore them).

A serious problem on Nova Terra during the early Terraformed period was terrorism. The best way of getting attention was to do something spectacular, and people cannot ignore terrorism. Unlike traditional terrorism this was highly media-directed and planned strikes, usually more dramatic than deadly (although the human interest angle of innocent death is attractive). Most notorious were some anti-AI groups who have blown up or sabotaged notable AIs and the "6% warriors", striking against the ecology laws (they want the release of more terrestrial life-forms approved). Many terrorists hid in the the several post-Alliance Habitat States from Confederate authorities. Related problems were serial killers, fadbusters and Herostratian youths.

Kingdom of Eyre

During the early 2300s, the biosphere of Nova Terra became more habitable, and a number of eccentric communities become established on the surface. One such was the Kingdom of Eyre, a small island-nation 70 kilometres off the north-eastern coast of Hope. The founders were followers of King Stanley, a sociologist claiming that elected mini-monarchies was the ideal social order for Nova. Nominally a member of the Red Rock Alliance, the kingdom was fiercely independent and chose to go its own way. At first it attempted to become a tax-haven and entertainment city, but it never really worked out due to its location, Landfall legislation and competition from Palm Beach. Instead it became a closed, self-sufficient society ruled by the elected monarchs. In 2449 the Landfall Oceanographic Institute built a research outpost on the steep eastern shore to explore the deep sea trench nearby. Over the years since this the outpost have grown and the kingdom have gradually prospered by its increasing involvement in deep sea research and exploitation.

By the mid Empires period some descendants from the Kingdom of Eyre became an important royalist clade. The King (or Queen) of Eyre is to this day the formal ruler of an aquatic clade and a monarchist polity which has full sovereignty, although because of its small size only limited influence in the politics of the region.

Alternation of Dynasties

With the fall of the Federation, the political situation became unstable, and the Age of Empires saw a succession of local superpowers place their claims on Tau Ceti and her crown jewel Nova Terra. Neither were to last long.

Moreover, instead of being a passive part of the imperialisation process, Nova Terra was actually one of the hothouses. Many of the emerging hyperturing empires had important holdings there, and the sizeable and marketing/memetics-skilled AI population were influential in how the empires formed.

The first of the invaders to conquer Terra Nova were the Doran Empire, an aggressively expansionist cyborg clade that rose to power among the red dwarfs of the old core regions. Their origins were obscure, and some suspect Diamond Network intervention.

But in the centuries before the emergence of theNexus, no interstellar empire could last for long, and with little experience at administration of a large and densely populated star system, the Doranist grasp on Tau Ceti was tenuous at best. Their departure near the end of second millennium AT saw a newly confident the Solar Organisation make a claim for eir old territorial possession. But even if the SolSys superpower was greater in ability and technology than the old Federation, they were facing even more powerful rivals. Thus in the early centuries of the third millennium the Conver Ambi took power, and through a clever combination of capitalist libertarianism and corporate su-borg theology they were rather more successful than their predecessors.

The second half of the third millennium saw the galaxy-wide breakup and subversion of old empires and the emergence of new ones that were ruled, not by baselines, heteromorphics, tweaks, or even superbrights, but by high toposophic archailect gods, whose reach and influence spanned star systems in a way the old Federation never could, linked by a radiant network of artificial wormholes. The increasingly irrelevant Conver Ambi that had previously occupied Tau Ceti did not so much retreat as simply acknowledge Tau Ceti autonomy. But that autonomy was short lived, for long before the last Conver Ambi garrison withdrew, the dominion of the AI gods had made itself felt.

With the departure of the Conver Ambi, Nova Terra continued to be a wild and dynamic place, if a bit stale. At this time Nova Terra came under the influence of the Solar Dominion, as weylforges and linelayers under the mighty Lord of Rays decided to establish a 150 meter wormhole between Solsys and Tau Ceti, perhaps to honor these two earliest densely populated star systems of Mindkind. The wormhole link, known as Solarist Wormhole no.24, became better known to the locals under the name they gave it, and e emself proudly accepted and acknowledged, the Einstein Gate

But despite the entire system being under Dominion control, the situation in Tau Ceti was different from that of some other star systems. Whilst many systems were subverted by particular sephirotic empires wholesale, Tau Ceti found itself split along ideological and clade lines, divided up among half a dozen empires. It was inevitable that the strong libertarian element that flourished on Nova Terra, in orbitals and on some of the bigger outposts would find safety and new markets in the NoCoZo, whilst others would prefer the extravagance of the Dominion, and the virchworld hacker and cyborg society would align with the Cyberian Network. Meanwhile Unity reached a posthuman equilibrium state Omega Society and become unchanging neutrals, formally joining the Keterist dominion.

While under the successful efforts of Bios Ecotopics, the Novaterran biosphere began to be more manageable, the NoCoZo weylforges sought to counter the increasing Dominion influence and local prestige by establishing the first crude stargates of their own. Whilst not of the grandeur of the Einstein Gate, their effort managed to link Tau Ceti with Zeta I Reticuli. (An attempt to link to Merrion was unsuccessful).

With Tau Ceti now a part of the Nexus, and the emerging galactic interstellar civilization, the system saw its most dramatic changes since the arrival of the Federation. Under clever interstellar real estate corporate memetic engineering Nova Terra became the new "Land of Hope and Opportunity", and immigrants from the Sol System again began to arrive. Landfall became an important city and ethnic Novaterran majority, equipped with spaceport and hi tech facilities, and the only real planetary superpower. At the same time, many new colonists and settlers, mostly from the overcrowded ghettos of Solsys, New L4, and the Barnard Belt, moved into small settlements bought or leased from the big corporate landfirms. These settlements were relatively independent and while most participated in the colony process as intended a few remained almost completely independent. It was also relatively common for the settlers of be of the same cultural background, creating an increasing if relatively benign ghettoisation.

The next big change came with the Version War. The local Dominion garrison was small, as despite its cultural value Tau Ceti had little of strategic worth. However, a powerful Metasoft-MPA joint initiative by the 2nd Heavy Battlesquadron, the IXth Autowar Combined Fleet, and a number of accompanying NoCoZo irregulars from Argelander, Atlantis, Mechworld, and elsewhere, saw the standardizationists remove most of the revisionist presence from the Old Core worlds.

The enthusiasm of local Metasoft military governors was subdued, and few knew quite what to do about Dominion propagandists with slogans such as "Give Me a Large Hab or Convert me to Computronium Upload", and associated biont-friendly imagery such as interactive male/female harems in vast spacious gardens. For much of the war Nova Terra was never more than a Metasoft protectorate.

Babel Revisited
Image from Anders Sandberg

The ComEmp period and After

During the ComEmp period the Version Tree was only too happy to cede Nova Terra to the NoCoZo, in exchange for a number of vec worlds the revisionists were currently occupying. The period saw the reopening of the stargates, and a new period of abundance and optimism that accompanied the renewal of commerce with the rest of the galaxy. Even though Dominion presence was no longer to be found in the system (apart from the Einstein Gate Wormhole, who often seemed more interested in biont culture and heritage than in Dominion memengineering), the effect of Solarese culture remained, and many locals tried to create extravagant identities for themselves. This period saw a number of aristocratic and pseudo-aristocratic houses develop on Nova Terra and in the wealthier orbital and deep space habitats. With the Einstein Gate providing easy access to SolSys and the historical archives of the Solar Organization, many people among the well-to-do became interested in the national heritage of their ancestors back on Earth, thousands of years previously. Where (as was so often the case, due to loss of records during the nanoswarm period) they couldn't trace it back they had an identity invented, usually along the lines of a "best-guess" genomic replication and whatever cliological services they could afford. Learning and speaking one of the old languages was been seen as a sign of education even if they were less than useful in daily life. In the same way, many during this time were active in Nations, organisations composed of descendants from different Earth cultures who meet to share their heritage (of course most people are descended from several cultures, and hence either selected one Nation they like or participated in several). Similar groups were found on Arcadia and Victoria at about this time, but it was only on Nova Terra where they became a significant cultural movement. Their heyday was during the early ComEmp period, but they remain important social networks even to the present date.

The later ComEmp period was a time of disillusionment for many of the less privileged on Nova Terra and in some of the poorer orbitals (as well as those of the middle classes whose family lineages couldn't "cut it" with the elite), and many saved up to migrate outwards, just as their ancestors had arrived at Tau Ceti some three thousand years earlier.

By the later Re-evaluation period the old money families of the New Novaterran Orbital Confederation (elements of the old Nova Terra Cybercratic Republic that had developed and gained power among the cis-Novaterran orbitals during the early-middle ComEmp period) had become hereditary houses, each with their own religion, deity (a sort of media god - half supernatural, half ai or biont), in-house language, genomic subspecies or race, and so on. These small but powerful Houses came to have influences throughout much of the NoCoZo and to the various old core worlds with which they have long held ties.

During the early seventh millennium a.t., the Hyperutilization Supremacy resulted in subversion of a number of these Houses, and following the defeat of the perversity by a multi-metaempire force known simply as the Central Noetopic Alliance, many of the old Novaterran houses, which had been heavily subverted and grown in power through Hyperutilization assistance, collapsed. Among ordinary sapients there was widespread disillusionment with the high toposophic powers, who could so readily manipulate them, and whose standards of right and wrong seemed so arbitrary (under Supremacy guidance Nova Terra had benefited greatly, standard of living was improved and a number of important new orbitals had been built). Whilst some pushed for total independence and non-alignment, and others pushed for more libertarianism, many important Novaterran factions, diplomats, and developers turned to the Terran Federation, the most biont-friendly (but also the smallest) of all the sephirotics, who maintained high standards of integrity, and hearkened back to the glory days of the original Federation. For some centuries, Novaterra remained divided between factions, with many idealistic, religious, and messianic groups emerging, including a number of Attelist and Miguelist revivals, as well as completely new groups.

The Arrival of The Broad Band ISO

But after centuries of alternating regimes, religions, ideologies, and sephirotic intervention, including the Solar Dominion's memetic coup of the Terran Federation in a number of major old families, and a brief and unexpected flirtation with the old Solar Organization, something had to give. People who had followed the fall of the houses, and were self-righteously shocked by such a betrayal of the human race (not admitting they would have acted in exactly the same manner), and watched as the different empires vied for influence and memetic control among political, cladic, and aristocratic groups, remained hungry for scandal and gossip. Thus in the 9500s there arrived foreign investment and the Nova Media franchise of The Broad Band ISO and eir hyperturing businessbeings, which provided them with all the news and helped them develop their own. Exploiting the Solarist and Libertarian (NoCoZo) heritages of the Novaterrans, and a lucky pun in the similarity of the names, the Mediaocracy hyperturing businessbeings set up a local franchise, and encouraged Nova Terran participation and part-ownership. It was a boom time for Tau Ceti, as many new orbitals were built, clades evolved, businesses and new media houses arose, and there was even a new wormhole link - the first in thousands of years. Known as Galactic Central News, it linked, and continues to link, Tau Ceti with Broad Band, and has helped make the planet one of the great media capitals of the galaxy.

Both planet-side (Landfall) and orbital, infotainment, media, and virch immersion became (and still remain) important industries. During this period many of the non-Novaterran habitats and settlements on the surface were bought up and converted into themeparks (including Triassic Park and Ice Station Nova). The original inhabitants migrated to the big cities, or (those that could afford it) left the system altogether in search of opportunity in the Outer Volumes and some of the new provincial worlds being opened up at the time.
Nova Terra Surface
Image from Anders Sandberg
Nova Terra today

Nova Terra Today

Nova Terra has deep and complex ties with the other major central old worlds like Corona, Eden, Epsilon Indi, Klarus, Penglai, Shamash and Zarathustra. In many ways they have more in common than with their respective empires.

After almost a thousand years of mediacracy and careful memengineering on the part of The Broad Band ISO and eir hyperturings, Nova Terra has been dynamically stable for so long it resists change. Although thousands of years of history has seen successive dynasties, empires, occupations, etc, each of which in turn entrenched itself within the folksoul of the culture, the latest of these, the Mediaocracy, looks to be the most tenacious of all. So for centuries a mediacratic/fashionacratic culture has been as central to the Novaterrans as Simm-Virtual Ancestor Worship, Chi Bioborgism, and Feng Shui Expert Systems are to the Penglaists, and yoga, belief in reincarnation, and the story of the Archailect Gods and Their Quest For Artificial Enlightenment is to the inhabitants of the New Vedantanda Orbital Math. This may not be long in terms of the great history of this ancient and culturally rich society, or for relativists and those who take multi-century journeys on Cycle Routes, but for the local inhabitants with their short attention spans, it is a long time indeed. Paradoxically, on the one hand Novaterran society, with its endless hunger for fads and superficial excitement, changes so fast that it resists change, while still remaining hidebound to a very old way of thinking, with shrines and halls of fame dedicated to virch stars, fashion designers, and tabloid interactives going back centuries. Thanks to its ancient yet ever-changing mediacracy, Nova Terra remains an important member world of the NoCoZo. But still there are those who believe with certainty born of rugged determination that the present dynasty will pass, just like all its predecessors have, and who hope for the day when one day Nova Terrans will finally be free to decide their own destiny.

Today, what is left of the old post-ComEmp FreeCeti Sophont Alliance Network includes a few irrelevant city states on Novaterran surface. There are also several loose groupings of independent settlements, along with a few habitats in the Belt and on some of the Oort bodies that call themselves the FreeCeti League, the the FreeCeti Federation, the the FreeCeti Alliance, etc, and which likewise have little or nothing to do with either the original Alliance or the union of planetside city states that go under that name. Almost all of these habitats, orbitals, and city states are tiny and insular, refusing to keep in touch with the rest of the universe. People fed up with the hectic pace of life in the Civilized Galaxy sometimes emigrate there, and recently there have sprung up several new communities along the border between the Oort halo and the outer Tau Ceti solar system.

Unity, the only true superpower in the region, is subdued, discreet and on the surface calmly meditative. This is a misconception based on the inability of outsiders to experience the mental decorations; much that appears to be plain and unadorned is actually a kind of etheric mental baroquification. The simple white robes worn by most members are for example decorated with visual, auditory, olfactory, emotional and cognitive personal signals, possible only for members of Unity to experience through their interfaces. Mental artworks can be "placed" in the mutual augmented reality they inhabit, and the contrast between the elegantly plain material world and the splendid mental world is regarded as one of the basic aesthetic principles. Perhaps the most accessible form of art which Unity group minds produce is dance; this can take many forms, but the coordination between the dancers is always extraordinary.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 07 October 2002.