Stanislaw Mechosystem :
Stanislaw Mechosystem

Stanislaw - Data Panel

Stellar Class:G0V
Luminosity:1.3 sol
Planets:Stanislaw is the fourth planet of ten in the system (five terrestrials, five gas giants)
PlanetologyPlanet Type: xeric gaian/early postgaian Distance from Primary: 1.02 a.u.

Insolation: 1.24 earth

Diameter: 0.78 earth

Density: 1.1 earth

Gravity: 0.86 earth

Day: 36 hours, 14 minutes

Year: 0.95 earth

Axial Tilt:

Natural Satellite: Pirx: large selenian body, sidereal period 0.81 lunar (22 days 3 hours 3 minutes)
Geography:Typical xeric gaian with active plate tectonics. Continental shelves exposed; oceans restricted to former abyssal plains and trenches. Broad tidal salt flats adjacent to most bodies of water, due to large tidal range (Pirx's tidal effect is 1.6 selenian)

Atmosphere: N2 90%, C02 3%, O2 2%, traces of H20, CH4, fines, pseudo-industrial gases

Hydrosphere: <20% of surface, variable by local season; extremely saline

Surface Temperatures: average 35° C; ranges -20 to +95 Celsius

Climate: Dry, dusty in places, with extreme temperature variations by day and season. Rain absent over large portions of the planet.

Biology and Ecology: Evolved mechosystem dominates (see below). Biological life of prokaryote grade is common in the oceans and on tidal flats.
Important Local Artificial IntelligenceAI Overseer: Corundum Glittering (SI:3+; present grade unknown)

AI's Ethos: Caretakerism (presumably); other memeticies unknown

AI's Current allegiance: independent
Government and AdministrationActivities on the surface and in orbit are under the direct control of Corundum Glittering, Corundum Glittering allows local rule elsewhere in the Stanislaw system, and avoids interference, but retains executive veto in those polities.
Economics, Local InfrastructureNo industry. Partially camouflaged defensive installations and large volumes of computronium are detectable beneath the natural surface of Pirx, but their extent is unknown. Seven major orbital habitats are found in orbit, and there are a fifty-four known research stations on Stanislaw itself. Other installations in orbit or on the ground are accessed only by Corundum Glittering. All activity on and around Stanislaw is supported by extensive development elsewhere in the system. Stanislaw's sole export is a carefully screened and restricted stream of data concerning the planet, its botforms, and its mechosphere.
Population200,000 nearbaseline to superior equivalent researchers and research assistants: 50% biont (primarily Tavi), 40% vec (primarily Faber), 10% various others. An unknown number of SI:1 guardian or research entities are also active on and around Stanislaw.
TravelStargates: none

Spaceports: none on Stanislaw

Hazard Rating: orbital habitats - 0.0 to 0.5
planetside research stations - 2.0 to 3.7
native habitat - to 4.5 to 7.4 depending on region (add 2.1 for most vecs).

Visa Restrictions: approved researchers or media representatives only

Freedom of Movement: all traffic between habitats and research stations, and all travel on the planet's surface, is controlled by habitat and station AIs, who report to Corundum Glittering.

Environmental Requirements: Oxygen levels are low, carbon dioxide levels toxic to some bionts. High daytime and summer temperatures are an issue for many bionts and vecs. On salt flats, corrosive salts are an irritant to all life forms. Sealed biologically based protective coverings are strongly advised for vecs and cyborgs for protection against native nano and botforms.
NoteCorundum Glittering manages any releases of information on these topics.

Image from Steve Bowers


Stanislaw (also known in some accounts as Lem's Enigma, or Niezwyciezony) is the most highly developed known botworld, and is the best known candidate for an entire bot mechosystem that is not of terragen origin. Because of its great artistic, scientific, and possibly historical value it has been declared a protected area by several polities and clades. An entity called Corundum Glittering presently controls access to the system. Some believe that Stanislaw is not a "natural" find but is instead an elaborate hoax.

Stanislaw's primary is a metal-rich G0 type star, still on the main sequence but relatively late in its lifetime. Stanislaw itself, the fourth planet in the system, is an arean/postgaian world: hot and dusty, with a nitrogen/carbon dioxide atmosphere containing small quantities of water and free oxygen plus trace gases produced by the mechosphere, at an overall pressure of 0.7 atmospheres. The hydrosphere is now greatly reduced, but still covers about 20% of the planet, mostly in the form of small salty seas and seasonal lakes. Insolation is strong, and rich in shorter wavelength radiation. Surface temperatures average 35° C over the planet's surface, with strong seasonal and diurnal variation. There are polar caps composed of mixed ice and dust. The planet itself is rich in metals. It is still volcanically active, and plate tectonics are still factor in its geology, though there is evidence that these processes were once much stronger. It has a surface gravity of 0.87 g. There is a large moon, tidally locked. The planet's period is 36 hours, and its axial inclination 5 degrees. Paleontology indicates that Stanislaw was once a gaian gardenworld. However, the only surviving biont life is equivalent to that of terran prokaryotes.

There is spotty evidence of habitation by sapient bionts with advanced technology some 1 billion years in the past, though whether these were indigenous or whether they were colonists is unknown. Photosynthetic activity by the existing prokaryotic cells and mats of cells accounts for the traces of oxygen in the present atmosphere. There is some evidence of nuclear and/or nanotech warfare at some point in the planet's distant past, but this may be a result of the mechosphere's evolution. Much of the planet's geological history has been erased or altered by nanotech or by large-scale mining operations carried out by the native botforms.


Stanislaw's bots use advanced ceramic, diamondoid, metal and corundumoid components, supported by some extremely sophisticated nanotech. Energy collectors are usually, but not always, advanced photoelectric systems, or highly efficient dynamos powered by wind or water currents. There is evidence that in the past some botforms relied on nuclear fission, but if so available deposits were long ago exhausted. Trace amounts of fission by-products are now widely distributed across Stanislaw's surface, and contribute to background radiation which is significant but not immediately lethal to most standard bionts and vecs. Some interpret this widespread scattering of radioactive materials as the relic of a final nuclear confrontation in the hypothetical civilization that founded Stanislaw's mechosphere. Standard energy storage is in capacitors of intricate and sophisticatd design, or occasionally in similarly advanced chemical batteries. A corundumoid processing centre found in all botforms is equivalent to both the brain and the genes of a biont, as it not only contains the instructions for replicating another bot but also carries out any mental processing. This is a relatively simple unit or set of modular units in most sessile energy gatherers, but can mass quite large and consume considerable energy in the most intelligent models. The nano used to assimilate raw elements or to break down the materials of other bots is of highly sophisticated design, having been honed by what appears to be over a billion years of evolution. Stanislaw's bots use electrical or fiber-optic wires for internal communication, and use both sound and a large segment of the electromagnetic spectrum for long distance communication.

Reproduction uses both nano and macroscale internal "factories". The botforms exchange the equivalent of genetic information in a variety of ways. Some use electromagnetic broadcast signals in the radio or microwave range, though given the clutter on all wavelengths this critical data exchange is usually done by laser or maser to avoid communication errors. Others make direct contact, or manufacture subsidiary motile bots that contain code and have a few simple tropisms and predator-avoidance programs. Interestingly, evolution seems to have produced the equivalent of biont "male" and "female" specialists in some reproductive lines. A "male" botform is either himself highly mobile, or has special code for the production of motiles, or is a specialist broadcaster/beamcaster. A "female" is usually sessile or less mobile than the male; her specialities are receipt and interpretation of signals, collection of energy and materials, and efficient, rapid manufacturing.

The range of physical forms is astounding. Sessile "plant-like" energy-gatherers often resemble trees if they are photovores, but competition for light has caused them to grow to heights in excess of 1000 meters where available materials allow, and some are supported by multiple stalks, rather like banyan or mangrove trees. Wind harvesters most often have pinwheel and windmill-like designs. Those using hydropower are very low and broad; they create dams and roof over their ponds and watercourses to prevent evaporation losses. The bizarre ridged designs of the tidal energy harvesters dominate the shores of the largest seas. In the polar areas, the heat-radiating fans of forms dependent on geothermal energy are common. Motile bots are usually reminiscent of insects, crabs, or centipedes, and range in size from near-microscopic up to more than a dozen metres. Small co-ordinated swarms of insectoid forms are a dominant feature of the mechology. Wheeled forms are found, but are common only on the internal roadways of hive-like colonial bots. Aquatic bots are usually bottom crawlers or boat-like in nature, though there are mid-water forms as well. Airborne bots are extremely diverse. Some of the more sophisticated means of locomotion, predation, and defence are still under investigation as to their basic principles.


The foundation of the mechosystem is energy collection by simple specialized bots, supported by nanotech mining of the "soil" (which is a combination of underlying natural rocks and the remains of inactivated bots). These primary producers are usually sessile, and derive their energy from solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, and hydro sources, depending on the local conditions. Necessary minerals are extracted with simple nano, or in some cases collected by macroscale bots and processed at a central location. These energy collectors and materials processors form a dense network over the entire planet, making mixed "forests" of solar panels, wind-powered generators, and the like. Other sessile or slowly moving mechanical life forms are comparable to decomposers or parasites. Like the energy harvesters they are usually of modular design, but they expand and replicate using the materials and energy caches of other bots. A few of these are exclusively nanotech, analogous to biont viruses, and present a severe hazard to Terragen vecs or machines operating on the surface.

Many of the bots are comparable to animals: mobile botforms that tap the energy sources of the energy collectors and use the materials they have mined and refined. There are even creatures analogous to carnivores, preying on the other motile bots. The continuing arms race between predators and prey has led to some potent weapons and some novel defences against them, both of which are still under study.

Because the bots of Stanislaw are able to manufacture subsidiary units, there are many botforms that have no equivalent among Terragen bionts. One of the most successful of these is a sessile bot that manufactures an energy collecting "farm" and also creates hundreds of subsidiary motile bots. The motile bots defend and repair the energy farm, and range out to gather materials and energy. Some of these subsidiary bots can travel hundreds of kilometres in search of critical elements for the central unit. One or more species of these polysomatic bots may be sapient, with a form of intelligence that would qualify its members as vecs in terragen society. After some sketchy initial reports, Corundum Glittering embargoed further information on these, "pending a full assessment".

Impressions and Appearances

Typical terragen bionts find the surface uncomfortably hot, and cannot breathe the air without a filter, a C02 scrubber, and a supplementary oxygen supply. The sky is sometimes pink with dust, and has few clouds in most areas; contaminants give a clear sky a blue-green colour rather than the purer blue common to a full terragen-style biosphere. Both vecs and bionts find the planet extremely noisy. The hum, squeal and clash of operations and short-range signalling in the audible range is equalled by the clutter of the electromagnetic landscape, with signals running the range from visible light through infrared and microwave frequencies and on into the radio spectrum. Movement is restricted in many areas by the clutter of sessile botlife. The planet's surface winds are much weaker than might otherwise be the case, since the bots harvest most of their kinetic energy. Mineral dust is also less common than might otherwise be the case, since much of the planet's underlying surface is covered by solar panels or other energy harvesting forms. To someone who is accustomed to a typical artificial mechosystem, or a biont ecosystem, the forms and movements of the thousands of bot species are often surprising, and sometimes extremely beautiful or disturbing. Most of the colours are brown, white, black, or silvery, with lustre ranging from dull to metallic or glassy, but there is a constant glint of comm lasers, and some of the botforms use bright colours in the visible range as warning or signalling devices. One of the semi-sessile forms uses mirrors and coloured heliographs to communicate, but Stanislaw is otherwise a world with few bright shades. The small seas are more hospitable to the few remaining bionts than to bot life, but even the adjacent salt flats and the oily waves of the water's surface show small rafts of solar panels and scuttling crab-like bots.


There is no question that the m-life forms found on the planet are highly sophisticated, and give the appearance of having evolved for millions of generations. Unfortunately, the mechosphere has "gardened" the surface to a great depth, in some cases up to a kilometre down, erasing some geological features and most of the evidence of past mech and biont forms. According to Corundum Glittering's reports, research teams have confirmed that some of the oldest components of the sessile bots are more than 2,000 years old, but analysis of the bot equivalent of fossils has proved more difficult.

Naturally, hypotheses concerning the nature and origin of Stanislaw's bots and mechosystem are several. These include.

1) Stanislaw's mechosphere was intentionally or accidentally seeded by xenosapients from another solar system at some time planet's distant past. These might themselves have been either vecs or bionts.

2) Stanislaw's mechosphere is the first known representative of a widespread form of bot "life" of xenosapient origin; this particular planet was colonized in relatively recent times by a form with interstellar capability that has since moved on or become locally extinct, leaving the descendant botforms now observed.

3) Stanislaw's mechosphere is descended from the machines of an indigenous xenosapient biont civilization; the bionts left, destroyed themselves, or otherwise became extinct on the planet, and the existing mechosystem evolved from surviving self-replicating machines.

4) Stanislaw's entire botworld was created by one of the terragen ahuman AIs, who simulated some millions or billions of years of evolution and then embodied the Stanislaw mechosystem in its entirety for reasons unknown.

5) Stanislaw is an elaborate hoax, possibly carried out by Corundum Glittering erself. It has been pointed out that some aspects of Stanislaw's tech are reminiscent of basic Faber designs, or at least of terragen technology (others, of course, dismiss this as mere convergent evolution, and point to some extremely bizarre and alien developments). Corundum Glittering is originally of Faber origin and may well have retained the famous Faber sense of humour. If this is true then Stanislaw would then have been designed or emulated and then embodied, possibly with the help of some more powerful and sophisticated entity than Corundum Glittering. Alternatively, Corundum Glittering is the dupe of someone else's hoax.

6) Stanislaw is a relatively simple hoax, carried out by Corundum Glittering. Reports to date depend entirely on transmissions from the system, all mediated by Corundum Glittering, or on the memories of SI:<2 individuals who claim to have travelled to the system. These witnesses could be lying, or their memories might have been tampered with.

These hypotheses are not entirely mutually exclusive; various combinations of them have also been proposed. Corundum Glittering asserts that all evidence points towards an extremely ancient origin on the planet itself, and argues for a native xenotech origin. Available evidence has not allowed researchers to determine the truth at such a distance, if in fact it will ever be known. Attempts have been made to use distant components of the Argus Array to determine how long Stanislaw has borne its existing mechosystem. Results so far have not been sufficient to confirm or deny any of the conventional assertions.


First reports of Stanislaw reached the wormhole network in the late 9920's. Initially its location was well concealed by its discoverers, though it was known to be at the periphery to the galactic "south" of the border between Metasoft and NoCoZo areas of influence. According to later accounts the planet was discovered some unknown time before this announcement by a relativistic Faber/Tavi expedition. Given the nature of the find, the members of an alliance of Faber reprogroups were the first sapients to explore Stanislaw and recognize its unique value. However, they soon retreated to orbital habs and ceded the work on the ground to their Tavi partners. In the face of the extraordinarily sophisticated and aggressive bot ecology of Stanislaw the Tavi were more successful, not only because of their quick reflexes and more highly developed responses to danger but also because of their biont nature. Biologicals are less attractive to Stanislaw's equivalents of predatory and disease organisms, which to this day present a danger to any vec who ventures forth unprotected onto Stanislaw's surface. Subsequent research has led to the development of safeguards, but biont researchers are still the general rule on Stanislaw. Before leaving they discard any clothing and technological devices and live for a period of time in a biotech-based quarantine hab before returning to civilization. This is a reversal of the usual roles when a typical gardenworld is discovered and explored, in which case for similar reasons vecs are usually the first researchers and explorers.

Reports of subsequent development in the system are sketchy. The Faber/Tavi explorers lived there at least two centuries, and were joined by members of their clades from nearby systems. Adjacent planets in Stanislaw's system were developed in the usual Faber/Tavi style, but Stanislaw itself was kept as a preserve, with orbital observation posts and some carefully limited planetside research stations. Some nanotech designs derived from studies at Stanislaw were copied and sold to several NoCoZo corporations, in return for information of an undisclosed nature. Similar agreements were apparently concluded with one or more Museum Ships and other institutes of learning. At some point in the past 500 years the post-Faber entity Corundum Glittering took charge of activities on and around Stanislaw. It is widely believed that Corundum Glittering, who was known to be an SI:2 entity, has ascended one or more levels since, using system resources and the information bought with research on Stanislaw, and that e has greatly expanded the insystem resource and defence base created by the Faber and Tavi colonists. E has authorized several tantalizing bursts of information in a public form comprehensible to baselines, and has apparently been in communication with the larger SI:>1 community.

No major power has claimed Stanislaw, but several polities and organizations declared the system a protected area under Corundum Glittering's management, according to an information release that was broadcast in 10209 AT and repeated with additional signatories in 10309. The Metasoft Version Tree, the Caretaker Gods, the Silicon Generation, and Formalhaut Acquisition Society are some notable members of the very mixed bag of supporters. A variety of terrorist bioist organizations have declared an intention to remove the Stanislaw "hoax and abomination", the militant vec protection organization KROME1101 has offered anti-terrorist services in exchange for the designs of several of Stanislaw's predators and drytech viroids, and several NoCoZo organizations have posted lucrative offers for exclusive first-use entertainment and tech rights.

A connection to the wormhole network is expected to arrive at the Stanislaw system within the next few decades. Corundum Glittering has declared the e will limit and screen any traffic by would-be researchers, tourists, and representatives of the entertainment media, but has not yet declared er criteria.

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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 04 August 2004.