Blefuscu

Superterrestrial world with a population of minaturised humans

Blefuscu
Image from Steve Bowers
Originally a dry, anoxic superterrestrial, this planet has now been terraformed and has a helium-rich but breathable atmosphere

Blefuscu - Data Panel

StarJD 788901101
TypeXeric SuperGaian, (modified with imported ice to increase surface water cover)
Luminosity0.863 x Sol
Distance from Sol2101 ly (epoch 2000)
PlanetBlefuscu
Mass4.9 x Earth
Diameter18600 km
Surface Gravity2.3 gees
First reached in 6110 by a Nisse colony ship, this large world in Pyxis, 2105 ly from Sol, was originally a dry SuperGaian type world with very little water. Several thousand water-ice outer-system objects were diverted to impact with the surface of this world, increasing the ocean cover to 50%. The high gravity of this world means that elevation differences betweeen highlands and lowlands are quite small, and the ocean is generally shallow. There are fifteen major continents, with many smaller islands.

The nitrogen/helium/carbon dioxide/neon atmosphere was modified over the next six hundred years to contain enough oxygen for easy respiration, at which point it became possible for the colonists to occupy the surface without breathing apparatus.

The Blefuscans

Already a highly modified species, the miniaturised human of Clade Nisse were further modified to live in the unusually high gravity of this planet. Only 22 cm tall on average, Homo tantilis Blefuscu are strongly muscled and compact.

A Blefuscan has a short thick neck that supports a small head, with a highly optimised neural structure within the skull to allow normal human-level cognitive abilities. Their heads are the same size as other members of the Nisse clade, but their bodies are shorter and stockier, an adaptation to the high gravity of their homeworld.

Due to the helium content of the atmosphere and their short vocal chords, they have unusually high-pitched voices, which drop an octave or two when breathing an Earth-standard atmosphere. Their small size allows them to cope with the higher gravity well, although their reflexes and sense of subjective time need to be considerably faster than those of humans living on planets with lower gravity. The high gravity acts to rapidly pull any fallen object to the floor, so a Blefuscan who falls over or drops something must react quickly or damage will almost certainly result.

Many or most Blefuscans wear helmets or reinforced hats and caps, to protect against falling objects and the heavy raindrops that fall from the low clouds. Knee- and elbow-protectors are also commonly worn.

Blefuscan
Image from Steve Bowers
A Blefuscan individual converses with a normal-sized nearbaseline human
Blefuscu has a large land surface area, more than three times that of the Earth, and the Blefuscans are one-eighth as tall as normal humans; as a consequence of this there are many small but relatively populous nations on the fifteen continents, subcontinents and major islands. This has resulted in a complex political situation on this world, rapidly changing in line with their faster experience of time.

Slave-ownership

One controversial development on this planet was the introduction of hereditary slavery and serfdom among many of the major nations, following a rapid but widespread series of wars. The victorious Tramecksan empire absorbed several smaller nations in 7988, and declared that the defeated population would henceforth be subservient to the victors.

At this time the only transapient in the system was a Sophic League Omega class ISO, the Jambudvipa, orbiting the star at 0.2 AU and deeply committed to ecumenism. This broad-minded entity expressed er concern at this cultural atavism, but agreed to refrain from intervention in the afairs of this world as long as the slaves were treated well. The Tramecksans adopted a policy of paternalistic slavery, where the slave owners were responsible in law for the well-being of their human property.

Slaves who did not obey their masters or whose work was judged inadequate were imprisoned, in conditions that were reasonably comfortable but far below normal living standard in the Terragen Sphere. In most cases slaves were obedient and performed their duties well, especially as those duties were not too onerous given that most tasks were automated to a greater or lesser extent.

Slaves were status symbols for the slave-owning classes on Blefuscu (who were distinguished by white or golden caps). The slavery system had originated as a way for the victorious Tramecksan empire to assert their dominance over the losers; this practise continued within that empire as a marker of status and respectability. Mostly slaves were drawn from nations defeated by that empire, or from nations which were economically indebted to them or their allies.

Slaves who were well-cared-for were particularly good markers of respectability; since the well-being of the slaves was the responsibility of the masters, many slaves did not actively desire change. Very accomplished masters might own a small army of slaves, who carried out many responsible duties within their households). A reasonable number of slaves were freed by their masters; a few freedpersons in fact went on to hold high office, but none of these appear to have been able or willing to change the system.

Paternalistic slavery persisted in various forms on Blefuscu for more than two thousand years, despite efforts by various liberation movements (including the Pansophontists) to free them. Eventually slave-owning simply went out of fashion; there were hundreds of countries on Blefuscu, and not all were slave-owning cultures. Over time the countries which did not own slaves became more influential, and by the 10200s slavery was an anachronism, practised only in a few locations for the benefit of tourists.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers

Initially published on 15 August 2011.