Image from Steve Bowers
The poorly terraformed world of Orinoco

Orinoco - Data Panel

System:Lambda Serpentis
Spectral type:G0 Vvar
Distance from Sol:38 ly
World:Lambda Serpentis VI
TypePelavenusian terraformed to Gaian
Colonised2103 AT
Galctic xyz26.74, 7.642, 26.39

Largely settled by colonists claiming South American ancestry, Orinoco was one of the first worlds to be terraformed by TakiCorb, although this effort was not entirely successful.

Orinoco became known as the classic example of colonial mismanagement, as the population increased and the environment began to suffer. As the situation worsened, the local government (Orinoco Government Associates, a TakiCorb subsidiary) used more and more harsh or intrusive methods, creating one of the most complete control societies ever up to that point. Various subversive movements developed in the high-tech dictatorship, and through them Cyberia gained a powerful foothold. In the Glorious Defenestration of 2223, OGA was overthrown and the planet became at least on paper democratic and independent.

Unfortunately the revolution led to a trade blockade supported by TakiCorb (still powerful within the NoCoZo), damaging the economy and isolating the system. To make matters worse the environment continued to deteriorate, and lacking resources for major re-terraforming, improving the efficiency of the industry quickly or escaping to orbital habitats there was little that could be done. Over the following century most of the population retreated into vast arcologies to survive, keeping themselves entertained through virtual reality. Over the years this went from a desperate escape to a preferred lifestyle. The planetary economy became more and more roboticized, and an ever larger population spent ever more time interfaced into virtual reality.

Orinoco is currently together with Fata Morgana one of the leading planets of the Cyberia Sphere. Over the millennia the virtuals have been perfected and many inhabitants have chosen to emigrate to new colonies in neighbouring systems — not in order to escape the crowded homeworld, but rather to participate in the emergence of fresh virtuality and networking.

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 12 August 2000.