Skˇiiws'nnii

A prosperous alien-human-dolphin hybrid civilisation in the Serpens sector.

Dolphin spacecraft - interior
Image from Arik

Skiiws'nnii Timeline

All dates in AT8693 - Human and dolphin refuges from the Gerkletoss rebellion/transcendence arrive in the system and begin to terraform Skiiws'nnii and exploit the resources of the system.

8694 - Construction of laser link completed - message sent to nearest STC world - Gilboa Reach (distance 251 LY) - for purpose of connection to Wormhole Nexus

8750 - a schism develops between those who wish to continue terraforming and others who would rather remain in space.

8762 - terraforming complete, the 'groundhogs' colonise the planet. Fearful of another AI rebellion and advanced technology the surface dwellers (who constituted the majority) attempt a low-technology civilisation even more extreme than that of the Gerkletoss culture in the wake of the version war, although the colonists who choose to remain in space and construct orbitals retain a high tech civilisation.

8810 - Merger of a conglomerate of orbital projects, corporations and other organisations called the Orbital Exploration Bundle (OEB), quickly reaching tremendous influence.

8861 - the attempted reactivation of a stored person in an early Consolidation Era robot colony ship that had moved into orbit (attempts to communicate with the piloting expert system proved difficult) nearly ended in disaster. The person, one of the original colonists, attempted to take control over the ship systems (likely to stop what it believed to be an invasion) and nearly succeeded, but the OEB researchers managed to contain and freeze it.

9134 - Tipusa was formalised by a council of sages on the request of the Kevar of Mateke-Jeyuma. It quickly became the dominant religion on Mateke

9195 - Orbitals receive reply from STC colony at Gilboa Reach.

9196 - STC Relativistic ship arrives to begin formalising agreements and introducing basic technology. Establishment of OEC megacorp Expansion Industries for exotic matter creation and Stargate construction

9220 - STC culture all the rage among some Orbital Clades.

9386 - technology from the Orbitals began to be introduced to the surface, causing social upheaval and tension between the old guard neoluddites and the young turk technocrats, who especially dislike the Gilboan STC influences.

9445 the Mayehode Crisis occurred, when the planetside Mayeche politicians attempted to assert power over the orbitals. During this regrettable period of Skiiws'nnii history the Mayeche attempted blackmail through spacer hostages and securely-built anti-orbit weapons.

9512 - The dolphin federation develops, a number of habitats dominated by dolphins and dolphin interests.

9596 - the dolphin federation officially secedes from the OEB.

9650 - The OEB dissolves and is replaced by the Orbital Council.

9675 - OC-STC exotic matter factories upset planetside ecologists

9702 - arrival of a further STC relativistic linelayer ship from Gilboa Reach with nanowormhole module. It is set into the local Stargate Docking Superstructure

10223 - Completion of the OC-STC GateNode state of the art Wormhole Nexus

10265 - major influx of tourism and venture capitalism begins disrupting local culture

10318 - regular ferry service established by Miracle Mile Tours, a relativistic round trip (156 years) to Miracle City

10367 - The Hedonic Telos, a major philosophical work on hedonism is published by Oneler Eleraniele and becomes a major focal point for much of polynomial philosophy. Encouraging individual excellence and pleasure as guiding principles, it firmly denounces the exponentialist dilution of self and meaning as well as promotes interstellar expansion to escape their deadening influence.

note on pronunciation

The name "Skiiws'nnii" (more correctly, Sk¡iiws'nnii ) is, like much of the words in the Gerkletase family of languages, a hybrid of late Federation Anglic and Hwiisi, and hence can be difficult for outsiders to pronounce. The "k¡" is pronounced as a click, not unlike the clicks of the original Kalahari Bushmen of Old Earth, although subtly modified in a dolphinesque fashion. The "ii" is actually a dolphin whistle, almost impossible to simulate using a baseline vocal apparatus.



The Orbitals

The Orbital states - which were mostly human run, soon dived into a number of cooperations and local megacorps to exploit the resources of the Solar System. Cooperation and mutual trade began to flourish. The orbital exploration developed into a conglomerate of orbital projects, corporations and other organisations called the Orbital Exploration Bundle (OEB), quickly reaching tremendous influence.

Beginning in the late 9300s, technology from orbit was gradually introduced into planetside society. The OEB profited immensely, developing into a very independent political/economical entity with its own orbital installations. In 9445 the Mayehode Crisis occurred, when the planetside Mayeche politicians attempted to reclaim their power over the OEB. The result was a massive demonstration of OEB unity and power against any national government attempting to impose its will on the project - for all practical purposes OEB declared itself an independent political entity. The relation between OEB and groundside was complex; while OEB in many ways was an independent space nation with less than cordial ties to the groundside parent nations, it also was firmly tied to their economies and had great popular support. A distinct OEB culture began to emerge, and the use of the first manned spaceflight as year 0 (instead of the many incompatible national calendars) became a popular cause.


Planetology

Sk¡iiws'nnii was originally a prebiotic planet with a cool, somewhat thin atmosphere of nitrogen, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide orbiting around a dim K star. It was not the ideal terraforming target, but the settlers were not picky. They terraformed the planet using orbiting solar mirrors to heat up the polar areas and massive use of nanotechnology. The hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide was replaced with oxygen and artificial greenhouse gases, the polar areas heated to release water and the continents seeded with life. The terraforming process was not entirely complete when the planet was settled.

One problem was that the climate and biosphere of the planet was not stable on its own; without constant prodding it would revert to a glacial stage. Since the settlers did not want to monitor the planet eternally they left it in the hand of automated systems in the halo of solar panels (later known colloquially as the Lights of the Sky) and in massive nanosystems on the surface, the Gaia Pillars. The Gaia Pillars were several kilometres high and deep, baroque pillars of diamondoid and mineral encrustations. They took their energy from geothermal sources or in special cases fusion, constantly monitoring the local climate and ecology. If needed they could produce or absorb gases, microorganisms, or even perform local heating to regulate the weather. Each pillar was controlled by limited AI, seeking only to maintain planetary homeostasis.

The atmosphere of Sk¡iiws'nnii has always been a bit smoggy and reddish due to both the orange sun and the composition. The greenhouse gases are constantly produced by the Gaia Pillars and broken down in the stratosphere. Above the atmosphere the halo of the Lights of the Sky drift, sometimes changing course. At the height of the non-technological period when neoluddism meant even the destruction of radio and internet systems, the Pillars were actually worshipped as gods or homes of the divine, not just due to their sheer size and indestructibility but also because of the sometimes noticeably better harvests around them (due to local ecological control).

The polar regions of Sk¡iiws'nnii are cold seas and glacier covered continents, depressing landscapes permanently covered with a black or grey soot from the Pillars and with nights eerily lit up by the Lights of the Sky (this is in order to prevent glacial build-up). The temperate regions are more variable, but in general cold and either forested or windy steppes.


Geography

Sk¡iiws'nnii has three major continents: Tiyema, Kegege and Chehoma. Tiyema and Kegege are middle-sized continents in the southern hemisphere, while Chehoma is an Eurasia-sized continent covering much of the northern hemisphere. Much of its interior is glaciated or desert, but the India-sized Mateke peninsula stretches down into the tropics and have been heavily populated by humans since colonisation. Tiyema and Kegege surround the Yetehoho sea, a shallow temperate sea that has been the corresponding dolphin center.

Between northern Tiyema and the Mateke peninsula lies the extensive equatorial sea, with many volcanic islands and shallow banks. This is the most hospitable area of the planet, with many archipelagos such as Bitye and Yneke inhabited by humans and dolphins. This is the cradle of civilisation, and here most of the oldest cultures started.


Skiiws'nnii dolphins
Image from Steve Bowers

Religion

The two major world religions among humans on S¡iiws'nnii has been Providentialism and Tipusa; both religions date back to the Gerkletoss and were a major part of the culture.

Providentialism shows strong dolphin philosophical influence and remains strongest in Yneke. According to the Seven Hundred Precepts, the universe unfolds according to a deterministic plan set into motion at the creation by the Creator(s) (Providentialism does not care about the number and nature of the creators, they are regarded as beyond comprehension and attempting to understand them and their goals is at best counter-productive, at worst heresy). The grand Plan unfolds in mysterious ways, and the goal of every human is to learn about their place in the plan, accept it and help it along. To this end the Guides of the religion sermonize about what is known about the Plan and hold personal auditions with the faithful to help them find their way. Providentialism is often combined with the old polytheist cults, and accepts the existence of other gods and possible afterlives but points out that they are also part of the Plan. Since the 9300s and the crisis and cultural upheaval caused by Orbital influence, Providentialism has splintered into a number of fiercely competitive schools and has for a long time been the national religions of choice, as the local creeds often work the vision of the leaders into their interpretation of the Plan.

Tipusa (originated on Gerkletoss Prime during the mid Empires era) experienced a strong revival through the council of sages on the request of the Kevar of Mateke-Jeyuma in 9034. It quickly became the dominant religion on Mateke and influenced other beliefs strongly. Tipusa teaches that there exists eight beings of awesome power, the Great Ones, that created everything in the universe and now wanders inside it masquerading as ordinary beings. Each of the Great Ones has its own special domain (they began as fairly normal gods in a pantheon, but since the founding of Tipusa a highly abstract theology has been introduced, making their domain abstract realms such as Concentration/Diffusion or Stasis/Change/Balance). Humans should live good lives, caring for each other as if they were one of the Great Ones (which they might well be). If they act well and according to the laws of Tipusa, the Great Ones will remember them and they will be recreated after the ending of time, when the Great Ones create the next universe. Unbelievers and evil people will be left inside the universe as it winds down to eternal heat death. Some modern offshoots teach that remembered humans can actually become new Great Ones.

Dolphins have never had the human idea of attributing external events to humanoid agents, instead believing more in processes and abstract principles. The most common dolphin religion/philosophy has been the Universal Pancreative Principle, which has influenced much of human thinking too. The UPP is regarded as an abstract tendency to create form out of formlessness, complexity out of simplicity. Normally it acts subtly, but occasionally it may with tremendous force create new things in order to further the way of creation. Another dolphin religion/philosophy has been the search for Enmati, the state of "perfect swimming" that seems to correspond a bit to human concepts of flow, Zen enlightenment or self-actualisation. Providentialism has been a quite common religion among low-ranking dolphins, while purists have denigrated it for being a human-centered misunderstanding (however, several prominent dolphin philosophers and rhetoricians have risen to high levels in various Providentialist orders).

The introduction of Orbital science and culture in the late 9300s caused the different religions have adapted to new technologies and events in different ways. On the one hand there was a watering down or outright rejection of the old religions among the educated majority, and on the other a strong modernizing influence. Both religions also continued to be a strong factor in nationalistic, fundamentalistic, and anti-STC groups. The arrival of tourism and massive cultural influxes through the OC-STC gate in the 9700s caused a period of faddishness among the humans, as well as a great growth period for rabid minority groups of militant extremists and missionaries.


Governance

Each orbiting habitat is in general an independent political entity, with an internal political system determined by the inhabitants. Clusters of habitats form cluster councils, dealing with local matters. Each cluster council in turn has representation on the ring council, which corresponds to all habitats sharing the same orbit. The ring councils in turn send representation to the swarm council, which acts as the parliament of S¡iiws'nnii.

The planet Sk¡iiws'nnii remains an independent political entity, governed by 44 national governments of various kinds but under the "protection" of the Swarm and with a nominal representative at the council. The dolphin habitats form their own somewhat secretive system, but sends representatives to the swarm council. Recently the Gilboa STC clade has established a local Protectorate and Embassy-State on the surface. However, the system remains fiercely independent and free from rule by any major AI empire.


The OC-STC GateNode

A major stargate industrial complex for interstellar commerce was completed 9723 - the result of a joint cooperation with the Sagittarius Transcultural Cooperation and a conglomerate of Sk¡iiws'nnii orbital megacorporations.



Clades

Original Sk¡iiws'nnii Human, Homo sapiens Skiiws'nniiensis

Compared to the baseline humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, Sk¡iiws'nniians are long (average height 210 centimeters), usually with a bronze complexion, a wider separation of the eyes, a longer and more flexible tongue, a significantly longer maximal natural lifespan (160 years) and better mutation resistance.

Modern Sk¡iiws'nniians generally sport artificially extended lifespans, arbitrary skin colours and many individual variations such as adaptations to amphibious living, flying or changed metabolism. Also, most have nanointerfaces to the dataspace enabling information access, communication, ghosting and other practical functions.



Dolphin Human, Homo delphinus

Throughout history many humans have sought to emulate the dolphins, and there are many stories about man-dolphin hybrids in myths. However, with the advent of morphological freedom some people began to modify themselves for amphibious life or even to become delphinoids with more dolphin-like appearance, flippers, sonar etc.

In the 9590's, when the dolphins seceded, a contingent of dolphin humans (and some unmodified humans) followed them, and have been living in the dolphin sphere since then. The dolphins regard the dolphinhumans with amused contempt. It is known that the dolphinhumans in the dolphin habitats live subordinate lives, apparently conditioned to obey the dolphins (those who were not content have long since left). Overall the dolphin-human adaptation appears to have been fairly radical, there have apparently been some technologically enabled interbreeding experiments, but the results are unclear. Other results are the pet humans and vocal adaptations making humans able to speak dolphinese.

Enhanced Dolphin, Tursiops sapiens

More on Enhanced Dolphins here



Spacer, Space Adapted Human, Homo spatialis

More on Spacers here


Pet Humans - Homo parvus

More on Pet Humans here.


Ultimates

The Ultimates are a minor but old species that was discovered in the Sagittarius arm. They have developed their own local climax civilisation, but when they encountered humans some of the more adventurous Ultimates joined them.



Interstellar Neighbours

Skjiiws'nnii is located approximately 1600 lightyears from Sol. It is located in the Serpens direction (36 degrees galactic longitude), somewhat further into the space between the Orion arm and Sagittarius arm than the sun. The Black Acropolis system lies 132 lightyears away in the direction of Cygnus.

Local space is dominated by an open cluster called the Sparks (IC 4756) approximately 50 lightyears away and a small dark interstellar cloud called The Tatter. Most local civilisations have been founded or influenced by various clades that originated from the Gerkletoss culture. Also important is the Cooperative Venture.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg and M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 20 August 2000.