61 Cygni

Trip before colonisation
Image from Steve Bowers
Trip (formerly Edison) as it existed before colonisation, as a dry hyperxeric gaian world

System Overview: 61 Cygni

System Name61 Cygni
Stars61 Cygni A and B, 13.6LY from Earth
Class: K5V and K7V, 0.70 and 0.63 solar masses
Age: 6 billion years
Orbit: 84AU (44 to 124AU), 659 years
Planets 61 Cygni AGee: Hermian, 0.11AU, 0.45 terrestrial masses
Trip: HyperXeric EoGaian world, 0.4 AU, 0.82 terrestrial masses
Singapore: Ferrinian world, 0.7 AU, 0.63 terrestrial masses
Tokyo: AreanTundral world, 1.1 AU, 0.43 terrestrial masses
Copernicus: EuJovian J-Brain, 3.7 AU, 0.37 jovian masses
Planets 61 Cygni BBernal: Ferrinian, 0.07AU, 0.23 terrestrial masses
Labrayuh: Adamaean world, 0.4AU, 0.9 terrestrial masses (note unusual gaps in system)
London: Arean, 0.7 AU, 0.35 terrestrial masses
Swan Belt: Carbonaceous asteroid belt, 1.1 to 2.1 AU, 0.01 terrestrial masses
Gloriousexecutivesusanlee: EuJovian, 4.3 AU, 0.6 jovian masses
PolityCygnus Development Corporation
Ruling Archailect: Expansive Succinctness, S4
Colonized370AT (arrival of first robotic probe) 597AT (arrival of first colonists)
Population Trip: 4 trillion nebs, splices, rianths, borgs, synths; 530 billion vecs; several thousand transapients.
61 Cygni A: 450 billion nebs, splices, rianths, borgs, synths; 75 billion vecs; several thousand transapients; 1 S4 J-brain
61 Cygni B: 330 billion nebs, splices, rianths, borgs, synths; 230 billion vecs; several thousand transapients
ImmigrationNear zero relative to existing population
TravelTransport Wormholes, all 10km diameter;
Exa Memorial Wormhole (to Vega )
Hyperion's Gift (to Epsilon Cygni)
Wallstreet (to Pardes)
Numerous spaceports throughout system

Since humans first left Earth, the 61 Cygni binary star system has drifted rapidly away from Solsys because it is moving radially from Earth at 64 kilometers per second. Over 10,600 years, it has traveled over two light-years from 11.43 to 13.6 light years. The added velocity necessary for early interstellar colonization missions created some misunderstanding of the origin of the system's nickname, "Trip." This misunderstanding started early in the system's history and became so widespread that it seems impossible to fully correct even among natives.

In fact, the system's nickname and the eponymous planet were named after a resident who played a significant role in the system's early colonization and political liberalization. The planet (formerly "Edison") was renamed after Jonathan 'Trip' Daniels in 705AT on the 50th anniversary of a revolution in which he played a lauded figurehead role. Meanwhile, "61 Cygni", not 'Trip', is the formal name of the entire binary system, with the individual stars retaining "61 Cygni A" and "61 Cygni B" as formal designations. Residents tend to refer to them as "Ay" and "Bee."

Other planets are generally named after significant pre-Technocalypse Solsys financial centers (London, Copernicus, Tokyo, Singapore) or the parent corporations of Exa Energy (Gee and Bernal). The origins of the adamanean world Labrayuh's name might be known by Trip Daniels, but he only evasively replies, "The records sank into Labrayuh's tar pits." The gas giant Gloriousexecutivesusanlee was named after a very successful but vainglorious and obese First Federation leader. The awkward name survives because residents still are amused by retellings of Glorious Executive Susan Lee's tale of epic vanity, hubris, and arrogance and as the joke goes, "You can't find a better name for an economically important gassy behemoth."

61 Cygni exhibits some oddities in its composition. The stars are unambiguously binaries formed from the same protostellar cloud based on their isotopic composition. 61 Cygni A's planets show a normal composition range from a Herminian inner world to a gas giant outer world, though the J-brain Copernicus is anomalously distant from the inner planets. 61 Cygni B's planets start with a Ferrinian inner world and then change to adamaean and carbonaceous middle worlds and a gas giant deficient in heavy elements. Astrophysicists suspect the binary system formed from an unhomogenized nebula, or the partly mixed nebulae resulting from two contemporary supernovae. Other evidence is found in unusual orbital spacing that suggests complicated interactions between the two planetary systems before it settled into the current stable configuration, and perhaps multistellar interactions with other stars in early 61 Cygni's that caused it to be ejected from its birth cluster with such speed.

61 Cygni A's brood of planets has the majority of the system's population thanks to the planet Trip's world-city. The innermost world, Gee, is a heavily developed mining and energy center. The third planet, Singapore, is also a center of production of heavy elements. Trip is detailed elsewhere. Tokyo is a large, Mars-like world and the least-developed planet in the system owing to its relative paucity of heavy elements - it is primarily a defense center for 61 Cygni's modosophont military. Copernicus is a Jovian whose atmosphere is churned by the heat from the J-brain that occupies its core and metallic hydrogen mantle. The unusually large gap between Copernicus and Tokyo has a few asteroids, and enough asteroids cluster at the Copernicus-Cygnia A L4 and L5 points to determine the system once had far more debris. Past events have apparently swept away those asteroids.

61 Cygni B's planetary system starts with the ferrinian planet Bernal, a counterpart to Gee. The composition then shifts to one suggesting an origin in a lower mass supernova that produce few heavy elements, hence the adamanean world Labrayuh and the carbonaceous Swan Belt. Both of these supply light elements through 61 Cygni. The under-utilized counterpart to Tokyo is the carbon-rich arean world London, which is notable for an expensive failed terraforming in the fourth millennium; diamondoid computing clusters poking from its dry continents; and space-time anomalies consistent with Expansive Succinctness's experiments in S4-S5 space-time engineering. Gloriousexecutivesusanlee was once a major source of helium-3 production, but is now a gas mining site and home to billions of residents in bubblehabs and its large, icy moons.

Image from Steve Bowers
Singapore, a dense, iron-rich world in the 61 Cygni A system


61 Cygni is a long-settled, independent Inner Sphere system notable today for possessing a massively populated planet, Trip. It was once a business paradise for megacorps early in the First Federation, but is now a modest financial and media center while its major business activities have moved outward with the terragen frontier. Domestically, it is an archailect-dominated autocracy with cyberdemocratic elements nominally granted to modosophont residents. Standards of living are good for the modosophonts, who live in a post-scarcity, leisure economy environment. Diplomatically, it is blandly neutral and mostly noted for exporting relatively large quantities of media and virch entertainment.


Trip was one of the first interstellar colonization targets. 61 Cygni A & B's planetary systems were largely mapped by 120AT and gradual improvements in astronomical instruments confirmed these were mostly rocky, dense worlds by 180 AT. 61 Cygni B-II (later named Edison and then Trip) was noted to be approximately terrestrial in size, possess a nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmosphere, and had signs of abundant water ice at its poles. For the Interplanetary Era, these combinations of features made 61 Cygni appear to be an attractive target for industrial development and possibly terraforming, if not quite as attractive as some of the EoGaian worlds being found by ever-improving telescopes.

The goal of developing and colonizing Trip was the cause for the 243 AT merger of General Electric and Bernal Space Power Systems, which created the megacorp Exa Energy with sufficient capital to fund von Neumann probes in the 'Cygnus Project.'

The Cygnus Project built on preceding interstellar missions and particularly benefited from the vast cis-lunar infrastructure developed for the Columbus Program. This accumulation of infrastructure and knowledge of starflight meant costs were coming down and, by 243 AT, the new, diverse megacorp could largely run the Cygnus Project internally, with few subcontractors. This, in turn, meant Exa could run a more efficient program than the sprawling Columbus Program a generation before it.

The first Cygnus "pathfinder" probe was launched in 255, to be followed by two or three 0.1c von Neumann transports, the 'industrial probes,' in 261, 267, and optionally 273. As originally envisaged in 243AT, Exa would then shift its probe production to target other star systems. However, in 267 the technology of the time required customization of ships, von Neumann payloads, and maser boost beam arrays for each new system, and such customized proved prohibitively expensive. Accordingly, Exa dawdled on missions to new systems while accumulating funds for them. To keep its starship construction slip and supply chain functional continued building additional, nearly-identical industrial probes (differing only in payloads) for Cygnus and launched them in 273, 279, and 285. Thus, a total of five Cygnus industrial probes and one pathfinder were launched.

Based on the problems in Alpha Centauri, a seventh probe was launched toward Trip in 309 AT. This security probe was based on the failing Exa Energy bid for the R-class probe.

(Exa would not, in fact, begin launching to other systems until the 300s. Notable examples included missions to Beta Pictoris and Procyon. The 311 pathfinder flight to Beta Pictoris arrived in 849AT, preceded by faster Exa industrial and security probes launched in the 400s. These were barely able to hold the system in the face of an advanced Diamond Belt settlement attempt in 859, and the independent decisions of the ai management militarized the system to a degree that alarmed the First Federation. In 338, Exa launched a pathfinder probe to Procyon, which was subsumed on arrival by a rogue AI that had stowed away, AKO Forward Chaining. Exa's mixed successes in what were long-range missions for the era would not be known until long after the Technocalypse, which destroyed the megacorp.)

The Cygnus pathfinder probe arrived in 370 AT. It established a fuel depot, limited industrial base, and an interstellar communication platform of much higher bandwidth than used during its long cruise. Four of the five follow-up industrial probes worked exactly as planned and began developing an automated industrial base in Trip that would receive colonists. It appeared that the Cygnus project's "in house" nature had reduced its exposure to the AIs that resulted in the rogue behavior of the Columbus project.


The faster 309 AT security probe arrived in 392 AT, actually overtaking two industrial probes, and is generally credited with the first ever case of interstellar combat (excluding the in-system skirmish of the Class R probes against Clade Nauri). When overtaking the 279AT probe, the security probe's queries found data similar to an inactive, unauthorized AI. The security probe spent a year maneuvering closer to the industrial probe before it successfully attacked it with several guided tungsten munitions in 373AT, which impacted at a relative velocity of 0.03c. The industrial probe was utterly destroyed. Exa's review of SolSys records indicate that data files of concern were likely an uploaded Exa scientist stowing away, but exonerated the security probe's action.

Critics dismiss the incident as 'in-flight scrapping' or "euthanasia" rather than a battle because the security probe convinced the unarmed industrial probe to lower its debris defenses during the final approach of the munitions. However, this was not a simple case of the industrial probe being ordered to lower its defenses. Even with authorization codes, the security probe required considerable deception to convince the industrial probe's turing shipmind to ignore the dangerous "flyby inspection packages."


While the automated pathfinder and industrial probes were within the means of Exa Energy, the larger, follow-on human colonization ships of the Cygnus project's last phase required an alliance with Ares Heavy Lifting and Teledyne, forming the ETA Consortium. The Consortium planned to begin launching colonial missions to 61 Cygni in 485 with the assumption that the pathfinder and industrial probes reported success. These were not groundbreaking missions as they followed the flight of the Tsiolkovsky by 20 years.

As with the automated stage of the Cygnus Project, the crewed colonization phase built on the interstellar programs that came before it, such as the Tsiolkovsky. For example, an additional two decades of growth of Exa's amat farms both dropped the cost of amat and made it more plentiful. And unlike the Tsiolkovsky, the Cygnus colonial missions would not be required to carry their own von Neumann industrial packages. Those were already in the system and even industriously constructed maser boost/braking arrays. As a result, the colony ships could be smaller, faster, and cheaper - or faster and carrying a larger payload.

Exa and its partners were willing to reduce risks by using larger, more expensive ships similar in speed to the Tsiolkovsky. There was a shotgun strategy with respect to the choice of colonists in case one method failed. Accordingly, the ships each carried banks of frozen zygotes to be raised by parental vecs; a small quantity of cryosleep colonists (managers, scientists, and engineers); and even destructively uploaded veteran managers. Cyborg Su crews oversaw the century-long flights. The workers stored as zygotes included a range of species, including Sus, space- and vacuum-adapted humans, and nebs. Cruising velocity climbed to 0.125c in order to hurry profit generation in the system, and debris defenses were enhanced to protect the investments.

In addition, the Consortium's plan for rapid development of the system hinged on a system of governance (including indentured servitude of the tweaks and vecs) and rapid population expansion by cloning that would have caused outrage in many SolSys jurisdictions. However, 61 Cygni was emphatically outside the jurisdiction of SolSys. It would only be run by a council of executives, with suffrage limited to shareholders.

Five Cygnus colonial missions were launched from 485AT to 505AT. Including multi-year boost and braking periods, their journeys lasted almost exactly 100 years. The transmission bearing the news of the successful arrival of the first ship and successful awakening of 96% of the cryosleep colonists reached SolSys in 597, but unfortunately this was after the Technocalypse, which had occurred in 540, and the Solar System was still in disarray at this time.

Half a dozen flights had been launched from 500 to 540 AT, and were still en-route. Exa, separate of the Consortium, was planning to build a mass beam array to enable two-way, 0.2-0.3c flight after 550 AT, which would replace the older models of ships. Obviously, the Technocalypse and its aftermath and then the Great Expulsion truncated those plans; none of the later ships were ever built.


The planet Trip was a respectable starting point for colonization of the system. Its carbon dioxide-nitrogen atmosphere and modest magnetic field offered some cosmic ray shielding. The atmosphere had enough pressure than humans only needed cold weather gear and an oxygen mask to survive on the surface. Its geology had been spared free oxygen and thus had large quantities of free metals. While it had no freestanding water other than some seasonal meltwater, it had icecaps and plentiful permafrost left over from an era when it was nearly submerged in oceans before 6 billion years of solar winds stripped volatiles away. Its gravity and escape velocity were modestly below Earth's, which made chemical rocket single-stage-to-orbit vehicles practical and bean stalks easier. Its three moons (since consumed for orbital rings) were 600 to 1000 kilometers in diameter, rocky objects with extensive subsurface ice beds and low escape velocities. This meant they were excellent sources of material and fuel in Trip orbit. Accordingly, most colonists were settled on Trip.

Though Trip was planned as the center of shareholder population for the system, Exa Energy's plans for industrialization had always included the Swan Belt, Gee, and Bernal. Much like the great energy corporation had done in SolSys, it released von Neumann swarms on the inner planets to build mines, solar collection arrays, accelerators to generate amat, maser power transmitters, and mass drivers to launch mined ores. The Swan Belt was a rich, untapped asteroid belt that would support nearly unlimited space industry for the foreseeable future. The first asteroid project was to supply carbon nanotube and diamondoid materials for the orbital tethers and bubble habs that supported He3 mining in Gloriousexecutivesusanlee. And all this was done in the absence of competing claims, overlapping jurisdictions, and feuding polities - the system could be developed as fast as the Consortium's Sixth and Seventh Century technology allowed.

The colonization flights found operating industry, habitats, and maser braking systems waiting for them as they began arriving in the late Fifth and early Sixth centuries: the von Neumanns had worked as planned and (with some updates from SolSys) even compensated for the loss of the fourth industrial mission. The security probe reported all was quiet, its Neumann charges were well-behaved, and no competitors had attempted to seize the system.

The Cygnus colonists' work began immediately and according to the long ranged plan, which was essentially that of real estate development. Except for data and perhaps amat, there was no payload that could be readily shipped back to SolSys at a profit. Instead, 61 Cygni would be a new star system entirely owned by the ETA Consortium for the benefit of its shareholder colonists, and would be a lynchpin of future interstellar programs. The concept of system development, governance, and profit was that the ETA Consortium would primarily act as a landlord and supply assorted services to settlers. Colonists could buy land, resources, and shares from the Consortium to form an autonomous polity within 61 Cygni, over which the Consortium held eminent domain and some notional inter-polity arbitration powers. The less expensive alternative would be purchase of shares without autonomous polity rights, and such colonists would be settled in the habitats directly owned and operated by the Consortium. It was entirely possible for colonists to supply their own transport and industry, but ETA's established shipyards and industry meant it was much cheaper just to book flights with ETA and contract industrial services from them. The Consortium business operations and strategic decisions were made by a board of executives (the ETA Leadership Council, which was sometimes subject to shareholder votes) and a conventional hierarchy of business managers. Shareholder habitats and autonomous polities had local governments that, in various fashions, were subject to 'federal' input from the Consortium. Shareholders were also due a dividend whether they settled in an autonomous polity or in Consortium habitats.

That development began with the first Cygnus colonists, the indentured workers, being born. In 598 thousands of children were birthed to waiting parental vecs, who raised them to be indoctrinated to the megacorps and look forward to the decades of hard labor that would follow. Not only had all the clades been tweaked to have improved attention spans and tolerance of boredom, they were educated to enjoy construction work, 'Neumann wrangling,' surveying, and the many other tasks of colonial development. Childhood games and reward systems revolved around such tasks. Each colonial flight carried somewhat over one million zygotes to guarantee one million workers at the colony. The first group would require nearly 30 years for all the zygotes to be incubated, born, and raised due to limited facilities, but tireless work by vecs to expand worker habitats meant subsequent colony ships could expect their full worker payload to be raised en masse. Adult workers were encouraged and rewarded to have children, work schedules allowing, and the worker burden was reduced by having the children often raised by parental vecs. Artificial wombs still churned out new waves of workers, too, often with genetic modifications in light of results from prior generations. Overall, high worker growth rates of 3 to 4% per annum were sustained in the 500's and 600's. The worker population doubled six times from 630 AT (6.2 million) to 650 (400 million) before post-revolutionary social changes slowed growth significantly.

Governance of the indentured workers was not nearly as harsh as occurred in some megacorp orbitals in the Second and Third centuries owing to the workers' general obedience and non-abusive Su managers. However, 61 Cygni was a very limited democracy with civil rights and suffrage restricted to the small number of shareholders. Dissident indentured workers were often recycled after a few warnings and corrective training sessions. (Dissident managers and shareholding colonists received home imprisonment and restricted utilities.) Until indentured workers acquired sufficient funds to pay off their indenture, they could not acquire Consortium shares. At the formation of the Consortium, the founders anticipated workers would gradually pay off their indenture and use share dividends for their retirement. This 'in situ' shareholder population growth was anticipated to form an economically-stimulating middle class of consumers, much larger than the small group of shareholders who could arrive from Sol.


To those in Recovery-period (543-621) SolSys still familiar with 61 Cygni, the system seemed of little consequence except as a potential boogieman: its rampant use of von Neumanns was terrifying to some who feared the next Technocalypse could be interstellar.

News of the Great Expulsion was received by the 61 Cygni colony in 634, briefly paralyzing local ETA leadership and dropping worker productivity for a year as their "revered founding corporations" in Solsys were endangered. News of the collapses of Ares Heavy Lifting and Exa Energy (arriving in 637 and 638 AT respectively) also briefly called into question ownership and command of the ETA Consortium, but the system's leadership agreed to continue operations as before with the understanding that - pending communications with SolSys - the Consortium was probably wholly owned by Teledyne. As a field expediency, Ares and Exa shares in the system were converted to newly conceived generic ETA shares.

The workers, of course, were soon rallied to continue development of 61 Cygni, which they would make into 'a pure, glorious testament to ETA's founders and ensure the survival of technological human civilization,' to quote contemporary propaganda.

That development including providing luxurious habitats for the first 'real' colonists, the thousands of ETA shareholders launched in the 400's and early 500's. Worker population growth was also accelerated, reaching 4% in the late 500's before slowing due to worker disgruntlement. Some effort was diverted to defenses meant to address hypothetical interstellar spores and protowars, and all von Neumann operations were gradually converted to bicameral architectures or had reproduction abilities restricted to centrally-controlled mother-factories.

A major problem that developed in the 650's was widespread Trojan horses hidden in technological updates transmitted from SolSys (or, later, carried by colonists and refugees): AIs, viruses, even some of the Technocalypse agents. The problems were multitudinous but the most troublesome to the ETA leadership was the widespread infiltration of computer systems. The initial 550's outbreak saw many habitats and industrial sites require complete replacement of their primary computer systems. (Emergency systems, based on different architectures, were usually untouched.)

Compounding the computer replacement issue was that many blueprints of Sixth Century technology used by nanoforges and automated factories were completely infiltrated by corporate ransomware: keys needed to be purchased at regular intervals from now-extinct SolSys megacorps to continue using the blueprints. The replacement computers for those infected by malware were thus often built to patterns decades out of date, which hindered productivity when operations resumed.

There were other issues that bothered the bulk of 61 Cygni's population: thousands of fetal clones in artificial wombs were killed by a variety of computer problems, viruses to ransomware. Several ships and industrial facilities were destroyed with tens of thousands of biont lives lost when their systems began acting in a way ETA leadership considered 'too dangerous.' Millions of vecs (especially Neumanns) were abruptly terminated by safeguards and saw their backups purged, a genocide that would inspire vec participation in Seventh and Eighth century revolts. There was also a growing awareness among the docile worker population that shareholders had retained high standards of living while entire habitats of workers had been forced onto emergency life support. Their beloved superturing habitat minds were often purged and replaced by less capable, more primitive habminds. Further, the frontline worker technicians leading the repairs were aware that the leadership's definition of 'dangerous' was excessively broad. For example, large nanoforges had been abruptly purged by massdriver bombardment simply when they were temporarily shutdown by ransomware, not subverted by Technocalypse agents.

The immediate result of the problems in the 650's was 61 Cygni's technology fell back by generations. Worse, the star system lacked the diverse knowledge base of SolSys to replace it. The ETA leadership gradually built a credible higher education system and created more technically-oriented workers who could innovate and replace lost technology without, of course, gaining a broad education in social sciences and history - the leadership wanted innovative workers, not revolutionaries inspired by radicals like Karl Marx or Thomas Jefferson. But with a relatively homogenous, uncompetitive, and regulated population slowing innovation, the colony had not recovered to 539 AT technology in all areas before it was contacted by the First Federation.

ETA dutifully continued to transmit 'progress reports' back to Sol, the so-called "Trip Tales." To Terrans, 61 Cygni became a human-controlled oasis beyond the grasp of "Mad GAIA" with no resource shortages, no cramped habitats (workers' habitats didn't count), no spores, no protowars, and no insane agrimonkeys. As a result, some refugee starships (megacorp, backyarder, and GAIAn arkships) attempted to reach the colony. About half succeeded, with the first GAIA-assisted megacorp ship arriving in 730 and the last 0.01c backyarder cryoship arriving in 1794 AT.


The emergency of the Technocalypse kept 61 Cygni unified through most of the Sixth century, but ETA leadership continued to push the indentured workers to greater productivity and longer hours due to management's and shareholder reward structures. There was an associated climb in worker fatalities from fatigue and reduced safety margins. And while some workers were bred and educated for flexibility and creativity to help 61 Cygni's recovery, genetic and educational modifications were made to other Recovery-era worker lines for greater attention spans, resistance to boredom, and other productivity enhancements that resulted in almost mental disabilities. Incidences of dysfunctional behaviors - such as the case of squad of workers spending a week tightening screws by hand for lack of screwdrivers and lack of permission to use tool fabs - alarmed workers and sympathetic shareholders. The rapid growth of 61 Cygni's population meant almost a quarter of the workers in 613AT had these 'zombie mods.' Distribution of tools with domineering interactive interfaces and use of controlling ais in DNIs was also seen as turning workers into bots, which bothered workers because they were raised knowing that the Consortium needed modosophonts (bionts and vecs) for their flexibility. The percentages of workers buying their way out of indentured servitude dropped to almost nil from the 550's to 600's as a variety of revenue-increasing measures effectively trapped them in a spiral of debt to ETA's 'Division of Consumer Products,' which began billing for many necessities and then offering usurious payday loans. Freedom from indentured status and acquisition of shares had been the retirement program for most workers, and now that safety valve was all but eliminated. Combined with the harsh measures taken in the 550's to purge the colony of The Technocalypse threat, all these factors led to significant discontent.

It took decades for the workers to even figure out how to express their simmering anger. They were raised in a well-monitored environment and knew there were always more security systems hiding behind the obvious ones, leaving the workers imagining their every thought and deed was monitored. Their entire environment had been purged of examples of rebellion, everything from histories to mass entertainment being sanitized. Leaks happened around the shareholding colonists (who were not restricted in their access to historical works), but the workers close to them were subject to heavy monitoring and special training.

In fact, the ETA Consortium security apparatus was quite lax because it was used to docile employees who usually heavily telegraphed any hints of rebellion. Thus, the Revolt of 613AT thus got as far as seizing most habitats and even the ETA Leadership Council despite its absolutely amateur organization and lack of planning. Much of the Revolt of 613 was spread and shared through Neumann vecs, who formed a poorly-monitored secondary communications network, but the militant part of the revolt that aimed to seize control of 61 Cygni was largely handled by human and tweak workers because they were already close to management. The vecs simply paralyzed industrial operations with a "sit in strike," distracting leadership while the human workers moved. The initial success, though, gave way to a problem: the ill-prepared revolutionaries had only scattered notions of what to do next. Security forces recovered and counterattacked while management began a media campaign trumpeting continuous success against the revolutionaries. The majority of workers, who were uninvolved, had no memetic defenses to the propaganda and soon abandoned their revolutionary coworkers.

The Revolt of 613 ended with little damage and light casualties on either side, at least until the government's authority was restored. Thousands of revolutionaries were methodically "disappeared" (to be executed), spreading fear among the remaining workers. Vecs underwent a much more thorough purge than human workers. Both courses of action guaranteed another revolt, this one erupting in 655AT.

The Revolt of 655 was of a different character. Both security services and revolutionaries had improved. One of the key tools that developed in this era was the printed word: 61 Cygni so universally utilized electronic media for the written word that print was extinct outside of shareholder homes. The use of paper tracts and the superbright workers' own ireading and eidetic memory tweaks spread the classics of revolution like Jensen's "Founding of a Nation," "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung," Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," Conrad's "The Secret Agent," various national constitutions, and (of course) superturing e349f13's hilarious but factual "Socio-Politico-Economic Analysis of Human Behavior Through History." These works and others gave the revolutionaries mental tools to plan their actions and set goals.

Shareholding citizens also provided significant aid. A shareholder could impart powerful concepts to workers with a few sentences in a casual conversation, such as a concise explanation of cellular organization and security. Other shareholders put much more effort into aiding the workers. Notably, the entirety of the Universalist Church's city on Trip, Paul VII, was both a black hole to security services, who were not allowed in the autonomous polity, and committed to educating workers with ideas of liberty. Management had almost ignored the Universalist's Jesuit educators that helped staff 61 Cygni's nascent higher educational system because it was thought their syllabus 'reinforced hierarchal modes of thought and respect for reason, organization, and authority. That was largely correct, but the Jesuits often slipped in concepts such as social contracts and need for reciprocal respect from leadership toward workers. Their archaically printed course material also tended to contain microdots with off-syllabus reading material.

Further, there was significant sympathy for workers among management. Jonathan "Trip" Daniels was a hardworking ombudsman in this era noted for his attempts to shelter workers from discipline and vecs from memory wipes, but his confinement to home arrest in 653AT was yet another aggravation for the nascent rebellion.

The Revolt of 655 started off in a bloody fashion that focused on destroying the security services (human personnel and superturing monitors) and gaining control of von Neumann failsafe systems. As before, there were labor strikes that shutdown facilities from amat farms to maser boost beam arrays. Parts of the Revolt had been identified by security and the two sides launched operations to defeat the other at nearly the same time. A stalemate evolved after a week, with many workers' habitats in worker hands but most industrial capacity in management hands.

Technically, the Revolt of 655 was ended by shareholder votes in favor of worker rights. Shareholders overruled the ETA Leadership Council in several contentious meetings. However, the votes took place in a knife-edged situation where workers were in a position to cripple technological civilization in 61 Cygni if they lost.

To the bafflement of the Consortium and shareholders who misunderstood how indoctrinated the workers were, most of the workers returned to work immediately after the votes. They had wanted better working conditions and rights, not to rule the system. The workers were not just born to their tasks, they were raised to enjoy their employment. The handful of diehard revolutionaries who were planning a new Workers' Leadership Council (or other variations on the concept of worker rule) were quickly abandoned to security services.

The Consortium could have cracked down again but superturing recommendations weighed against it. Thus, shareholder votes for worker rights stood: indentures (for bionts) ended; shares were easier for workers to purchase; workers were granted access to courts and legal aid; and so on.

The leadership did, however, begin modifying education plans to introduce counter-revolutionary memes. Next generations of workers would be educated about history, government, and other "free thinking" topics, but in such a way to discourage the unchecked spread of revolutionary concepts. For example, workers learned more about revolutions gone wrong (e.g., Cambodia's "killing fields") and the detrimental social impacts of revolutions than about successful social change.

In any case, the system's industrial base was reaching the point that the Consortium could afford to be lenient with its workers. With the cessation of colonial flights, it was economically stimulating to allow workers to acquire shares. The shareholder population was not only too small to really power the economy, but the company store practices that had led to the extended indentures of most workers had retarded economic growth. This last point had swayed many fence sitting executives and shareholders.


The Great Expulsion had little immediate impact on 61 Cygni other than to change long term plans for interstellar trade and local development. In essence, the ETA Consortium had expected to find new colonists and customers in SolSys by the mid-600s, certainly by 700, and was shaping its transport systems (like braking beam arrays) and habitat construction plans around that. When news of the Expulsion arrived in early 633, ETA delayed those plans and refocused on domestic development, such as enacting further revenue generation policies at the expense of indentured workers. Its Su and superturing leadership fairly accurately projected the SolSys's recovery in the late Ninth and early Tenth centuries, but recognized that any such recovery date would be very sensitive to subsequent events.

However, Solsys had not forgotten 61 Cygni. A number of expelled refugees made the system their destination. Most of the survivors would arrive long after the birth of the Federation, but one well-funded group of megacorps accepted GAIA's and transapient aid to make a faster flight. The ship carried representatives of megacorps who had invested in Cygnus Project colonial flights before the Technocalypse, plus families and associates. It was a cousin of New Brooklyn's F.H.L. Guardia, but traded the critical fourth stage for a sizable nanostasis section and a desperate gamble that the ship could negotiate for braking services from ETA. That gamble was correct, but the ship was intercepted 1000AU from 61 Cygni and subject to a very thorough evaluation and lengthy quarantine before being allowed to unload.

The nanostasis, ai, and upload refugees were eventually allowed to purchase one ETA share each in exchange for various advanced technologies and keyless forge templates. All the refugees - including vec stowaways among the ship's maintenance bots - were well-behaved and blended into shareholder society without, apparently, a ripple.

In long hindsight only granted by contact with Federation hyperturings, the refugee ai J. Johnson, an affable entity that had worked extensively in Recovery-era reconstruction of cis-Lunar orbital industry, was belatedly recognized as a hyperturing. J. Johnson was nearly impoverished upon release from quarantine, but steadily built up a large and influential bloc of ETA shares in 955. The hyperturing and eir diversified mind-children had ensconced themselves in the Consortium's upper management and executive ranks, where they significantly improved ETA's organization, economy, and productivity without provoking anthropoist or nativist responses. Indeed, the 'Johnson Administration' of 880 to 1050 was considered a golden era of the system prior to the First Federation economic boom in the 1300's.


61 Cygni's sporadic contact with various habitats in SolSys meant it was quickly contacted by the First Federation in 945 AT. The Consortium declined the Federation's invitation promptly (answer arriving at Ceres in 957), but countered with an invitation to establish less binding trade, investment, and colonial ties. The ETA Consortium's invitation included guidance for establishing high bandwidth interstellar communications, both to support more detailed exchanges and with the eventual hope of transmitting uploads and ais between stars at light speed. (Interstellar upload transmission was not achieved until the 1130's, but Solsys megacorps soon sent turing-grade ai representatives.)

The Consortium was somewhat limited by a smaller population (then 1.2 billion, its growth having slowed enormously since the 600s) and older technology than Solsys, but it was a tightly organized, heavily industrialized system with none of the divisions or Technocalypse-related threats. The Consortium soon found customers across Solsys requesting ship construction, amat production, colonial habitats, and support for further interstellar expansion. Exa's long-dead dream of a beamrider link between Sol and 61 Cygni was realized in 1022, and at 0.5c it was much faster than Exa's vision. Other megacorps arrived to hire, lease, or purchase facilities, real state, and personnel from the ETA Consortium.

As planned centuries before, the system became a business paradise. The Consortium acted more of a landlord than a system government: it was the overall owner of the system and so long as new residents didn't bother each other then they could almost do whatever they wanted. The laxity and resulting misbehavior eventually gave way to some regulations and law enforcement when some megacorps played too loosely with nanotech and amat, or attacked each other, but the hyperturing-dominated system was generally peaceful and profited from the under-regulated environment. (It was sometimes cited as a model for the NoCoZo though, ironically, it never joined. And despite being a satrapy of Federation megacorps, it didn't join the Terran Federation.)

Some of the megacorps exploited this laxity to cut costs with terrible working conditions, indentured or enslaved workers, and low safety standards. Others performed research - especially on sapients, biont and ai - that would have prompted intervention in SolSys.

The latter research did result in some fantastically profitable advances in genetic engineering, new clades, and even ai ascension. For example, the ETA Consortium's surviving founder, Teledyne, opened a new research facility in 61 Cygni. There, it built on Yo Virtual Institute's technique for second toposophic ascension to develop a safer one in 1116 AT. This rapid development was only possible because of frequent, fast experiments on varying transapience models, followed by termination of the unstable, even warped entities that resulted from failed experiments. Teledyne's morally dubious but effective work would provide a foundation for development of S3 entities centuries later.

In the heyday of the First Federation (1300's to 1600's), increasing respect for sophont rights led to many resident megacorps successfully pressuring more abusive neighbors to desist in their practices. The ETA Consortium eventually (1529) implemented additional regulations setting minimal standards, similar to the conditions set for its own workers.

Yasamura Artificial Environments Corporation was contracted to begin terraforming Trip in 1653 AT. As with many of Yasamura's "turnkey terraforming packages," the result was incomplete and unstable, and the effort collapsed in 2091 during the turmoil of the late Federation. Trip today is much the same uninhabitable, cold, dry planet as it was prior to settlement.

Copernicus (gas giant in 61 Cygni system)
Image from Steve Bowers
Copernicus, a gas giant in the 61 Cygni A system (before its conversion into a J-Brain)


The 21st Century AT struck 61 Cygni with a variety of crises. The spread of higher toposophic technologies like conversion drives and Q-mirrors were deathknells for many of the megacorps operating in 61 Cygni. The booming Age of Expansion moved the profitable frontier away from the system's shipyards and beamriders. Workers of the profit-starved ETA Consortium engineered a buyout of the megacorp in 2097.

The buyout occurred within a few years of a moon brain coming on line (2090) to supposedly host the several S2 entities of the system, the happier products of long-past Teledyne experiments. However, these beings almost immediately formed an S3 godling (known as Succinctness) in the moon brain. After the ETA Consortium repeatedly refused to sell one of the system's Jovians to the moon brain, the worker buyout occurred. One of the first achievements of the new management was to shore up the indebted government's finances by selling Copernicus to Succinctness. The ailing ETA Consortium was formally liquidated in 2114 with most of its business assets, such as distant colonial ventures, sold to an anonymous corporation chartered in the growing computronium masses of Copernicus. Meanwhile, ETA's system governance operations were consolidated into the not-for-profit Cygnus Development Corporation (CDC).

In later centuries, Copernicius fully converted to a J-brain and Succinctness eventually transcended to an S4 entity (Expansive Succinctness) near 3200AT. E rules the system to this day via its Cygnus Development Corporation.

CDC's first steps were to shift the system's economy to focus on domestic development rather than foreign ventures vulnerable to the whims of trade and technological advances. Service and leisure industries soon dominated the system, something that has only changed briefly (such as during the Version War or construction of 61 Cygni's wormholes) in the intervening millennia. Today, the system is noteworthy for media output targeted at modosophonts around the Known Net. 61 Cygni's products have a popularity sufficiently higher than average to not be just a statistical anomaly. Its relatively central location on the Known Net has made it a financial hub, though the system itself does not stand out for large economic clout.

At some point within a few centuries of CDC's formation, the stable modosophont population began exhibiting an above-replacement growth rate. This varied from year to year, but has averaged about 0.1% per annum for the past 8000 years. The 2 billion residents of 2500 AT have become about 5 trillion in 10,600 AT. The growth rate was fastest in the 2000's, when the population reached 30 billion scattered in habitats between the two stars. Since then, the growth rate has been so stable and concentrated on Trip that it is assumed to be a result of Expansive Succinctness's social engineering.

Image from Steve Bowers
Labrayuh, a hydrocarbon-rich adamean world


61 Cygni is nominally a cyberdemocracy with representative elements derived from its corporate origins - a hierarchy of civil service managers handle day-to-day governance at the nominal behest of shareholders (citizens). In practice, frequent polling of modosophont shareholders only gives general policy guidance and the government implements any such guidance - or gently ignores it - with at the behest of transapient executives, who in turn defer to 61 Cygni's archailect, Expansive Succinctness. Like most modern archailect-dominated governments, the archailect and transapients are very light-handed in their governance, typically memetically engineering public opinion to steer shareholder voting and avoid many direct conflicts.

CDC shows some traces of its corporate roots in that shareholders may have more than one voting share, but shares are not inheritable. Additional shares are issued by the government periodically and placed on an exchange, usually keeping the number of shares at about 2.5 per system resident. Shares may only be acquired by existing shareholders, or are issued at birth, or to immigrants who renounce foreign citizenships. Financially desperate shareholders may sell their last share without giving up their 61 Cygni nationality. Those who do so become wards of the state with reduced rights and benefits; an average of 5% of the population are such wards. As might be expected, Expansive Succinctness holds a near-majority of shares, so no other entity can acquire enough shares to individually impact national votes. Indeed, even regional votes are rarely swayed by entities who have acquired hundreds or thousands of shares due to the large voting districts of the CDC. More shares tend to be interpreted as a dedication to civic duty and improve a citizen's social credit.

Unlike the relatively passive memetic and social engineering in New Brooklyn, Expansive Succinctness and er transapient managers are active and sometimes obvious in their manipulation of 61 Cygni's population. Transapients own a substantial portion of real estate and local media companies, allowing them a multitude of non-governmental means of keeping the system's culture stable and sustainable. Destructive memes, like conflict-seeking cults or revolutionary ideals, are winnowed out. Instead, modosophont cultural preferences are engineered to favor getting lost in the minutia of a post-scarcity, leisure economy, ultratech society. Their next art project, media program, urban maintenance project, spaceship, or transapient science conundrum keep them engaged.

The creativity-oriented population gave 61 Cygni and Trip the foundation of its diverse media empire. The system is rarely associated with this industry, contributing to the foreign perception of blandness. Instead, product branding focuses modosophont attention on the media megacorps that produce and distribute the popular programming. Trip by no means produces the majority of media in terragen space, nor does it make the most popular products, but its virch games, interactive dramas, multimedia stories, and news programs are statistically more popular on a per capita basis than the output of similar ultratech polities.

The large population of bright and Sus also accomplished something else: 61 Cygni, especially the densely populated planet Trip, is a noted center of reverse engineering transapient technologies and has been for several millennia. As with any ultratech civilizaiton, reverse engineering successes are few and far in between but the success rate is above average on a per capita basis. Several factors account for this. First, the system has long sustained an ultratech modosophont civilization, since the late First Federation, and this has created an unusually deep data base of transapient technologies. Further, its large, long-lived population has been involved in maintaining that technology base from the beginning and the education system revolves around this. Third, the system's archailect and subordinate transapients encourage this reverse engineering, gifting simple technologies and translated materials to modosophont research teams. The relatively large number of Darwin clade residents and recent arrival of Athenaeids are related to this effort because both clades are noted for their cross-toposophic translation abilities and many occupy educational positions in preeminent Cygni universities. The recent initiation of modosophont neutrino chiller manufacturing for Trip's dense urban centers is one of the latest reverse engineering successes. The open licensing and illegal duplication of these technologies has prevented 61 Cygni from being greatly profiting on these inventions among modosophont markets, but Expansive Succinctness appears to be interested in stimulating modosophonts' creativity rather than their economy.

The system has variations in culture across its regions. The space-based habitats near industrial areas like Gee, Bernal, and the Swan Belt tend to favor manufacturing and industrial work to the leisure economy, though practically speaking their unnecessary involvement in extraterrestrial industry amounts to a leisure activity - it could all be automated. Success in designing, building, and selling ultratech ships, or working Gee's mines, or managing massdriver ore streams is a source of pride, social credits, and expanded mass-energy credits. Inhabitants of Trip see a percentage of the population engaged in infrastructure maintenance due to the planet's use of defensive obsolescence, so bionts and vecs perform work normally handled by a mechosystem on other modern planets. In that subculture, significant authenticity and social credit are generated by solving difficult maintenance, repair, or construction problems. Walking into a bar with an epic story of personal suffering and success, like unplugging an arcology sewer after a Wuppist convention or enduring smalltalk with a krekvec for a 12-hour shift, can make a maintenance worker a hero for a week. Some workers are currently engaged in a fashion arms race involving the most authentic overalls and tool belts, upon which many forms of credit (mass-energy and social) are wagered. Other residents on Trip formal regional subcultures, like the Olympus Mons, have created a district culture of conflicted social strata, and from such social polarization substantial credit may be generated. Being the oppressed rebels in arcology bowels trying to overthrow the high-handed nobles in the heights presents numerous opportunities for social success and thus credit acquisition.

Though a center of media production necessarily produces a thriving, diverse virch environment, uploads and pure ailife is proportionally small. Modosophonts, vec and biont, are mostly restricted from virch residency by local laws that appear to want to cultivate a more materially-oriented culture. Short term usage for long distance travel (by virch appearance or rental body) is acceptable, as is the use of avatars, but Expansive Succinctness has set an unambiguous policy that only allows a small number of permanent uploads by modosophonts - typically out-of-date backups of the dead. The explanation, if translated correctly, is that 'grounding in ril inspires greater productivity due to an awareness of mortality.' And 61 Cygni's modosophonts are somewhat more productive than the usual post-scarcity society, even if most of their pursuits amount to leisure activities. The restriction of accelerated time virches and a virch population is an inhibition on ultratech research, which may account for the archailect's support of Trip's population growth: rather than a trillion virtual modosophonts trying to comprehend transapient technology, e is creating an equivalent ril population. In some ways, then, Trip is the ideological polar opposite of the Impossible Dyson and other centers of human virch life.

61 Cygni is one of humanity's pre-Technocalypse cultural refugia. Like many interstellar cultural refugia, it does not have much data from Earth's living virtual worlds. However, it brought extensive libraries and copies of Exa Energy's corporate archives. Further, it remained in contact with Solsys during the Recovery and monitored its electronic traffic patterns as a safety precaution (e.g., signs that protowar plagues were winning and turning their attentions to the stars.) Scholars find these compiled databases useful for teasing out mysteries of pre-Technocalypse history.

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Development Notes
Text by Mike Miller
Initially published on 10 August 2016.