Image from Steve Bowers

Orwell - Data Panel


The Orwell sun (usually called Norton) is a fairly old orange K3 star, producing the unique orwellian turquoise sky.
Distance from Sol 1954 ly
Location Near NGC 6885, in Vulpecula
Orbiting Norton are seven planets:

1 Machin, a massive and hot Euarean world.
2 Orwell, terrestrial garden world
3 Meyermann, minor iceball (center of much of the volatile industry)
4 Susi, major gas giant and heavily industrialised.
5 Wirt, Gas giant
6 Zdenka, small gas giant
7 Zu Chong-Zhi, Gas giant
OrwellDiameter 12,833 km
Density 1.1 Earths
Mass: 1.19 Earth
Gravity: 1.13 G
Air pressure: 1.12 atm
Axial tilt: 1 degrees
Length of day: 16h54m22s
Average temperature: 30 degrees Celsius
PopulationPopulation by world (millions)
Orwell 1091
Circumference 2230
Julia Aurore 30
Yazhi 60
Tirela 20
Strand 20
Aegle 0.01

Population by Clade (percentages)

Cyborg 22
Su 19
AI 19
Baseline 18
Vec 11
Rianth 5
Virtual 3
Splice 2(mainly enhanced dolphins and vacates)
Alien 1
Image from Steve Bowers

The Orwell system is the capital system of the Chronos Cluster. It was colonised in 5502 by a colonisation fleet from Criw-Ta, a Cygexba client world. Criw-Ta was at the time going through its most baroque bureaucratic phase, and the colonists largely left in order to escape the stifling gerontocracy that held the power and limited all initiative. They named the main world Orwell as a reference to the ancient anti-bureaucrat, and the rest after famous people in Criw-Ta and earlier history.

The population is mixed, with a notable baseline minority beside the large su and cyborg contingent. Many AIs and vecs have also settled in the system. As the rest of the Cluster was colonised many discontents emigrated, but after a few generations their prosperous descendants often returned to visit the old ancestral home. Together with the occasional immigrants from the Cygexba volumes this contributes to the system being a melting pot of beings and ideas. Over its history a metropolitan culture has developed, accepting mixed-clade relations and fairly radical clade-shifting.

Orwell's government is a close derivative of the First Federation: a parliament of representatives with AI decision support and a federal division of power. It keeps the system peaceful but doesn't interfere unduly with business (especially after the QDG coup), instead working more on the long-range development of the system and cluster.

The status of Orwell as the leading or at least central system of the Chronos Cluster has varied extensively over its history, but due to its location and the Tianzi wormhole it is always an important system. Extensive catapult launches are done from the Aegle volumes and the industries of Susi supply much of the cluster with useful tools and devices such as Orwellian consoliders, naughtyboxes or pan-malplons.

Orwell has two small moons, Winston and Julia (34 and 84 kilometres respectively), orbiting 240,000 and 430,000 kilometres away. Due to their small size Orwell has periodically shifted between high and low inclination axial tilt (controlled by a resonance with Machin) the last billion years; in the past this led to regular and long ice ages, but they ended 200 million years ago.

Orwell is a fairly old world, although it is still geologically active. However, the slow increase in luminosity of Norton means that the planet will enter a runaway greenhouse effect within 30-40 million years. In order to manage this problem, resources for long- and short range biosphere maintenance are being collected in the mighty Biosphere Maintenance Fund, one of the major political influences in the system.

70% of the surface is water, with four main continents called Steina, Sitarski, Shair and Sevre. Between them are extensive archipelagos and shallow seas, teeming with native life. Especially notable are the bamboo seas near the equator, where a local bamboo-like species of floating plants with weighted roots and buoyant stems form dense undulating forests on the water.

The weather is more hot and humid than on Earth, with spectacular tropical thunderstorms in the afternoons in the tropics. Most baselines and cyborgs prefer the temperate areas if they go outdoors, as the equatorial regions are too hot and humid for them, while warmth-loving superiors and vecs inhabit the tropic karsts and archipelagos. Since most of the population lives in well air-conditioned and climate controlled indoors environments this is less of a restriction than it might have been on a more sprawling planet.

Orwellian life is roughly terracompatible. Plants tend towards having large blue-green leaves and long hollow stems housing symbiotic animals. Since carbon dioxide is fairly limited they also complement air by breaking down carbonate rocks, creating the amazing biokarst landscapes of Steina and Shair. Animals exist in all sizes and shapes, often involved in complex symbioses with different species of plants. Several taxa of animals are deeply linked with plant taxa. Their co-evolution has lasted for hundreds of million of years. Animals protect and support their "parent plants", sometimes attacking other plant species.

City on Orwell
Image from Steve Bowers
In order to minimize ecological impact, building on Orwell is highly regulated and only allowed in designated areas or exploiting low-impact methods. Most cities tend to build vertical; kilometre-high but very thin skyneedles pierce the clouds, and continue as groundscrapers beneath the ground. Some cities are mainly subterranean, while the three largest cities Achaia City(Sevre), Keet Seel (Steina) and Pravdo (Sitarski) are built around the foundations and length of the three beanstalks that extend to orbit. Having an above-ground apartment with great view is regarded as a sign of status.

Surrounding Orwell is Circumference, the main orbital band. This is where most of the Orwell population lives, with easy access to the planet and other habitats. Most of the government functions are here, in the Arc of Jahe complex. Another important "location" is Hirai Modulus, the main upscale AI neighbourhood in the nets.

Other major population centres:

Julia Aurore - Station complex in, on and around Julia. Headquarters of the QDG. 30 million inhabitants of all clades.

Yazhi - Orbital around Susi, a major industrial centre.

Tirela - Moon of Susi, inhabited mainly by vecs in the energy business and the Tirela clade of radiation resistant su.

Strand - Wormhole and terminus facilities located 400 AU from the star.

Aegle - catapult volume above the ecliptic plane, administered from Aegle 1-5, space stations in high inclination orbits.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 22 November 2000.