Negsoa: Mu Arae (Cervantes)
Aldennia - inside the Dome
Image from Steve Bowers (after Anders Sandberg)
The Citadel of the Shuttle on Aldennia. When the second shuttle landed on this world, it was deactivated and incorporated into the structure of this fortress

Cervantes (Mu Arae) System - Data Panel

SystemName: Cervantes
Primary: Cervantes (Mu Arae)
- Distance from Sol: 50.897 ly (J2000)
- Constellation: Ara
StarNames: Mu Arae, GJ 691, HD 160691, HIP 86796, HR 6585, Cervantes
Physical characteristics:
- Mass: 1.10 x Sol
- Radius: 1.390 x Sol
- Luminosity: 1.976 x Sol (bolometric)
- Temperature: 5,805 Kelvin
- Spectral type: G3IV-V
- Age: 6.34 billion years
NamesThe star is named after Miguel de Cervantes, an important Spanish writer, and the planets are named after characters in the novel Don Quixote.
Planets1) Dulcinea (Mu Arae c): PyroazurianNeptunian CereJotunnian AquaMuspellian
Semi-major axis = 0.091 AU, Orbital period = 9.639 days, Eccentricity = 0.172, Mass = 10.56 x Earth, Radius = 3.254 x Earth

2) Rocinante (Mu Arae d): AcidiJovian HydrogeoBarian
Semi-major axis = 0.936 AU, Orbital period = 308.9 days, Eccentricity = 0.102, Mass = 0.522 x Jupiter, Radius = 10.95 x Earth

3) Quijote (Mu Arae b): HydroJovian HydrogeoBarian
Semi-major axis = 1.53 AU, Orbital period = 1.765 years, Eccentricity = 0.052, Mass = 1.676 x Jupiter, Radius = 11.79 x Earth

4) Sancho (Mu Arae e): AmmoJovian HydrogeoBarian
Semi-major axis = 5.235 AU, Orbital period = 11.07 years, Eccentricity = 0.045, Mass = 1.814 x Jupiter, Radius = 12.00 x Earth
Image from The Astronomer
Quijote, a hydrojovian gas giant in this system
MoonsMoons of Rocinante
(radius - semi-major axis - name)
(1): 282 km 290110 km Nomwa
(2): 598 km 460520 km Didi
(3): 1101 km 731031 km Thoko

Moons of Quijote
(1): 363.0 km - 298502 km Mazibuko
(2): 588.6 km - 474831 km Cetshwayo
(3): 385.9 km - 621946 km Khumalo
(4): 753.2 km - 874699 km Medupe (Io-like volcanic moon)
(5): 952.9 km - 1197229 km Sandile
(6): 2330.0 km - 1795189 km Aldennia (LowTech culture) Gravity 0.14 gees
(7): 1997.5 km - 3141501 km Mandela (HiTech Negsoan culture) 0.12 gees

Moons of Sancho (1): 501 km 323706 km Shaka
(2): 1919 km 513852 km Biko
(3): 1839 km 815689 km Mhokobo
(4): 2431 km 1294826 km Nyanga
(5:) 2100 km 1809927 km Umlimi
Image from Steve Bowers
Aldennia in the First Federation era; the domed habitats gradually increased in size over the next thousand years until the moon was almost completely enclosed.


After the Great Expulsion a number of groups from Southern Africa who had been exiled to the Lunar Warrens petitioned the Goddess of Earth asking for room on one of GAIA's Arks taking colonists to the nearby stars. In due course the Goddess granted them a ship of their own; (the Zuma), travelling to the star Cervantes, otherwise known as Mu Arae. Launched in 714 AT, the ship arrived in 1080 AT with fifteen hundred colonists in cryosleep. The system was given the name New Greater South Africa, NGSA, which changed over time into the shorter and quicker Negsoa.

Many of the colonists on the Zuma were of Zulu or Xhosa extraction, but a significant number had European or San ancestors, and many had mixed ancestry; a smaller number were descended from Asian or American latecomers, part of the cosmopolitan mix that was a feature of Southern Africa at that time.

The colonists established initial footholds on two moons orbiting the temperate gas giant Quijote. The larger moon was 2330 km in radius, and had minimal atmosphere and few volatiles. This world was given the name Aldennia, to honour the leader of the dominant faction among the colonists, Desmond Aldenn, a traditionalist with an uncompromising vision for the future. Around nine thousand of the Zuma's complement went to live on Aldennia.

A slightly smaller moon, named Mandela, became home to most of the other factions, and quickly began to develop into a successful high-tech civilisation. The Mandelans attempted to contact Solsys, but did not expect an answer for more than a century because of the distance. Aldenn's faction began to construct a number of domed habitats on the surface of their moon. Controversially, Aldenn deliberately crashed one of the shuttles onto the surface to create a new crater, which was later domed over to become a sea known as Ichibi Elilukhuni, "the stupid lake". The other shuttle became part of a vast fortress, within the dome known as Tasha. This effectively eliminated any prospect of using either spacecraft to journey to, or trade with, Mandela and the outposts on other moons in this system. But the Mandelans were able to visit using their own craft, and offered assistance in many ways, an offer which was rejected at first, but was accepted later.

The Mandelans also built a number of small subsurface habitats for themselves on Aldennia, as accommodation for the construction crews and environmental engineers who were helping to build and maintain the domes. Often the Mandelans were able to use large empty lava tubes as natural refuges. Over time the Mandelans became responsible for most of the construction work, as the Aldennian culture turned its back on advanced technology. The Aldennians deliberately reduced their reliance on automation, advanced materials and agricultural technology. What little advanced technology they retained soon failed, their plans were difficult to achieve and efficiency was low. One dome collapsed when pressure could be maintained, and the Mandelans were obliged to rescue the occupants, an event which did not please Desmond Aldenn at all.

To make matters worse Aldenn became paranoid, several times executing officers or experts for disagreeing with him. Within three months of planetfall he was murdered together with his feared cadre of bodyguards through a bombing, which depressurised the palace he had built outside Tasha. His lieutenants scrambled for power, but the two main strong men managed to keep the situation under control. They realised the need to ensure survival, and made a deal dividing the colony between them. Over the next years development went slowly. The domes were often in conflict with each other, but with some help from Mandela a quasi-agrarian society was eventually established. Crops grown within the domes were the main source of food, augmented at first by vat-grown foodstuffs, while small herds of dwarf cattle were raised and occasionally eaten at feasts. Mandelan medical technology allowed the Aldennians to remain healthy and to live moderately extended lifespans, while otherwise recreating a (largely invented) version of African tribal society before European contact.

Image from Steve Bowers
Mandela in the First Federation Era
The Mandelans appear to have been motivated to help the Aldennians to create, maintain and expand their domes because they expected that Aldennia would eventually develop into a hi-tech paradise, like their own world, so they were willing to assist in the creation of the habitats with the objective of gaining influence, reputation and credit. In the event, they did gain many benefits from their relationship with the Aldennians, but probably not quite what they expected.

A reply was received from Solsys in 1198, together with an offer to join the First Federation of Hu and AI. When Federation ships arrived in 1343, the colonies had developed in two separate directions. Mandela and the outposts on Shaka, Medupe and elsewhere were using advanced technology to create a distinct hitech culture with elements of late Interplanetary Age African culture, redolent of what had once been known as Afrofuturism; while on Aldennia a relatively low tech culture had been established, which was recorded in some detail by the Federation ethnologists.

Ethnologist's report: Aldennia in the 1350s

Around 270 years after landfall, Aldennia was a mostly low-tech society, with a minimal amount of external assistance from Mandelan medics and environmental technicians. Each family kept a small number of howtos, handheld technical databases that gave instructions on how to maintain and repair the domes and other infrastructure. The howtos were kept by family howtokeepers, acting as librarians and advisors. Gradually, each dome was being extended and the roof made higher, with teams of Mandelan construction workers operating almost exclusively outside the domes.

Thirty-two domed habitats had been constructed on Aldennia by this time, with a population of two million tribespeople; the population growth on Aldennia had averaged around 2.5% since 1100 AT, but was now declining. Each dome had a slightly different culture, but the ruling families often interbred, so there was significant interaction.

The largest dome Tasha, 700 km in diameter, became a stronghold for the ruling families, ruthlessly controlling the farmers and plotting against each other. While they call themselves nobles, the nobles were at the head of a tribal system where family ties extended into the farming community. The farmers were subordinate to tribal leaders who in turn answered to the nobles and their warriors. The higher ranks gave permission for marriages and land exchanges. Craftsmen and servants lived with the nobles in the city, kept under strict guard by the warriors. Most of the population were farmers.

The second largest dome, known as Joke, was largely mountainous, and held a population of tribes ruled by warlord families each ruling their piece of the landscape independently of the nobles. The mountain villages intermittently united into a loose alliance known as the Hooglanders, supposedly against the nobles and their warriors, but spent most of the time in internal quarrels.

A number of new families had recently established tribes that lived on floating rafts or boats in Ichibi Elilukhuni habitat. Thanks to water brought to Aldennia by Mandelan technology, the lake had now become a small sea 800 square kilometres in extent, almost entirely filling the dome. The sea people developed into a significant culture in the 1300s due to their skills at seafaring, fishing and navigation. With a ready source of seafood they organised themselves into thriving cooperatives, possibly the only comparatively peaceful society on the planet. Attempts by the other powers to get access to the sea were denied, and the skills required to harvest the sea were jealously preserved.

The Aldenn Council was a yearly meeting of the leaders of the noble Families, inside the Citadel of the Shuttle. This was a huge family festival when the different families mingled, competed, plotted and generally interacted with each other. At the Meeting marriages were announced, alliances made or broken. The Mountain Lords and Sea Peoples also sent representatives to the Council to participate in the main debate; the cooperatively-organised Sea Peoples in particular were diametrically opposed to the noble Families in many ways, and were often antagonistic participants.

In Aldennian mythology Earth was a legendary place; a paradise they had been expelled from by the evil GAIA. Several uprisings had semi-religious overtones, seeking to overthrow the nobles and return the golden age of Earth.

Aldennian Language at the time of the study

The dialect of Anglic used in the First Federation era retained certain Xhosa, old English and Afrikaans phrases, although their pronunciation had changed considerably over time. Some of these words and phrases are remembered today, mostly in Dantean docudrama virches.

Abantu bolwandle "People of the sea" in Xhosa, common name for the seapeople among the farmers.
Quijote shadow When Quijote eclipses Mu Arae; traditionally an unlucky time. Usually averted by carrying around lights or biolumniscent plants in the evening.
Bhabha ikhaya! Fly home! Expletive suggesting that somebody should try to fly back to Earth. "Goduka!", go home, is sometimes used to suggest that somebody return to the domain of their own family.
Big Papa Title used for the leader of a family.
Femeli Family; one of the extended clans ruling Aldennia.
Home/Ikhaya Term used for Earth, usually with religious overtones when used by the farmers. The Hometurning movement claims that by overthrowing the nobles they can return to Earth in the colony shuttles.
Hooglander Highlander, someone of the mountain people.
Howto Instructive Mandelan handheld databases used by the Aldennian families. Derived from ancient Earth instruction manuals with various sources.
Howtokeeper A librarian/advisor studying the howtos. Generally the technological experts of Aldennia.
Intaba Iyafeza "Mountain master", formal title for the mountain lords.
Landcraps Derogatory word used by the seapeople for the other inhabitants.
Kittekop Afrikaans for "kitten"; term used for small but deadly genetically modified predators, introduced from Earth, named due to their small size and often pretty appearance.
Stinkfishes Derogatory name for the sea people.
Uitlander Outsider, somebody not from Negsoa.
Umlimi Farmer.

The First Federation ethnologists (known as uitlanders by the locals) inspired wonder, hope, and a little fear throughout Aldennia. The nobles quickly realised that the uitlanders were technologically far in advance even of their Mandelan benefactors, and grudgingly settled for cautious diplomacy while trying to figure out how to use them and retain their own power. The tribespeople were fearful of the god-men from the stars, but secretly nurtured the hope that the Homecoming was at hand; this of course was not the case.

Image from Steve Bowers
Medupe, an Io-like volcanic moon, extensively mined in the Negsoan period

Utopianist and Negentropist factions

Negsoa became a minor power in the First Federation era, and with the help and encouragement of the local FedRep they successfully established a secondary colony of their own at Morrow, which was unfortunately depopulated in a plague in 3541 AT. Negsoa forged close ties with the nearby colony of Dante, with beamrider links established by the end of the Federation Era. Most Negsoans expected the Aldennian low-tech culture to be subsumed by the Federation ultratech-level civilisation and lose its distinctiveness, but this did not happen.

After the fall of the First Federation two new factions arrived in the Cervantes system; the Negentropists, a faction of idealists dedicated to the preservation and diversification of order and complexity, and representatives of the Utopia Sphere, who were curious about the low-tech Aldennians and their eccentric lifestyle. The Negentropists set up bases on the moons of Rocinante, where energy was plentiful, and forged strong alliances with the Mandelans and the miners on the Io-like moon Medupe.

Utopian Sphere colonies were established on Shaka, Biko and Mhokobo, orbiting Sancho. The erstwhile FedRep, by this time a S:2 entity, joined the Utopia Sphere and adopted the name Umlimi. By the start of the Second Federation era e had ascended to the 3rd Toposophic level and occupied the moon now named after em.

Meanwhile the domes on Aldennia had expanded until they covered most of the surface; the world was effectively paraterraformed, except for a few hundred thousand square kilometres at the southern tropical meridian. Under the influence of the Utopia Sphere the low-tech cultures on this world were thriving, while having access to improved medical technology and mind-state backups. The Negentropists admired the culture of the Nobles, citing this as an example of the rule of Law, and also the culture of the Hooglanders, which they saw as typifying the complex and critical role of the Trickster. The Sea Peoples were seen as following the ecological principles embodied in Negentopism; they harvested the seas of this small world while perpetuating the sealife.

The Aldennians themselves saw this as a vindication of their lifestyle, and became even more entrenched in their low-tech ways. The Utopianists introduced backup technology to the tribespeople, and this mean that conflicts that ended in death were not necessarily final for the participants. Most deceased Aldenianns took advantage of one of the Utopian virtual afterlife options, or joined Mandela's increasingly complex ultratech society as an observer or participant. Some became virtual howtokeepers, advising the embodied population on matters requiring knowledge or experience. Conversely a significant number of Mandelans and members of other factions in the Cervantyes system toook the option of joining Aldennian culture on a temporary or permanent basis, generally on the lowest rung of society's ladder.

Version War Era

By the end of the Second Federation Era a form of ritualised combat had replaced the skirmishes and raids of earlier times; opponents would engage in hand-to-hand combat or melee fighting, athletic contests or feats of endurance. These contests were sometimes fatal for some of the participants, but thanks to Utopianist technology these fatalities were recoverable. Also popular at this time was a local version of the Earthdance ritual, based on memories of the Great Expulsion that were now thousands of years old.

During the Version War the Negentropists recruited a significant number of Aldennians trained in ritual combat to fight for them on the Revisionist side; these volunteers were converted using transapientech into efficient killing machines with only their warrior instincts and experiences intact. A battle at Boccahio (GL 676B) was particularly significant, protecting the local systems against MPA incursions.

ComEmp and later

In 5800 the influence of Authenticism began to be felt in this system, a philosophy which caused the influence of the Utopianists to wane dramatically on Aldennia. Authenticism started in Solsys in the 5700s, and was a philosophical religion or cult with the core belief that there was an essential difference between lifeforms, planets and environments which had developed and evolved 'naturally', and that the actions of mindkind were changing the cosmos into something unnatural and no longer Authentic. The Authenticists felt that it was their responsibility to return these worlds and environments back to their natural state, and that only authentic, natural forms of culture and mental activity were to be encouraged.

The lowtech culture of the Families was seen as pure and quintessentially human, and should be insulated against the effects of advanced technology such as backups and longevity treatments. For several hundred years the tribespeople of Aldennia lived grew old, and died in the same way their distant ancestors had done on Earth, with no technological afterlife and no interlopers from outside allowed. Living and dying as a human was seen as more important than an empty technological immortality. Only the eclipse of the Authenticist memeticity in this system in 6550 allowed the return of hi-tech meditech and uploading to this world.

Aldennia came once more under the protection of the Utopia Sphere, while the Mandelans aligned themselves more with the Negentropists; another influence was the nearby colony of Dante, which had close ties to the Cervantes system by beamrider. Mandelan technomages set up outposts around Beatrice and Virgil in the Alighieri system, while Dantean virsurroundings grew in popularity around Quijote and Rocinante.

In the Current Era Aldennia is seen as a retreat from the complexities of Sephirotic life; a citizen of the Terragen Sphere often faces many challenges and becomes involved in events that cause stress or concern, and a sabbatical in a low-tech reserve such as Aldennia is often seen as an antidote to these conditions. In many cases a Sephirotic citizen might reconfigure themselves significantly to conform to the Aldennian lifestyle. Modosophonts who have experienced a period of immersion in the tribal culture of this world have often expressed surprise at hwo demanding and competitive it is, but it remains a popular choice in the Inner Sphere.

Aldennian Style

Aldennian art and clothing has changed considerably over the last ten thousand years. Currently the favoured apparel is handmade using simple natural fibres such as wool or the bast of the brace tree, and colouring is muted. Most people wear a kind of grey burnoose, while the nobles sport more complex clothing, richly painted and often with leather or metal armour. For celebrations, imported self-luminous beads are sometimes permitted.
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Revised 2020 by Steve Bowers, The Astronomer and Arik
Initially published on 24 July 2000.