Eight colonies on Tau Ceti III

To begin with

Tau Ceti was scouted in AD 2071, by a robotic probe that belonged to the EU. The probe confirmed telescopic observations that Tau Ceti III is habitable. Its report reached Earth in AD 2083. The governments of the EU instantly poured cold water on the idea that public funds should be squandered on an interstellar colony, but they did sell a licence¹ to settle one octant of the planet to the British² Interplanetary Society for €100 + VAT.

The Interplanetary Society announced a colony to be called “Avalon”, and raised several billion euros in a frenzy of fundraising, crowdsourcing, and grant-begging. With that sum it built a Ramotswe-Raerino-Alcubierre warp encapsulator³ that it called Bifrost. Bifrost was built in a highly elliptical orbit around the Sun with its aphelion in the direction of Tau Ceti. That gave it 22 days loiter time near the straight line to Tau Ceti once every 17 months. In that time it was capable of despatching four just-as-fast-as-light capsules to Tau Ceti. The Society also built simple disposable spaceships adequate for a one-way trip and landing. Enthusiasm ran high, and the Society sold 1,300 tickets for good prices, restricting passage to healthy, fertile adults under the age of forty years, who had the technical skills that would be needed to establish the colony and start terraforming.

The first two launches from Bifrost were of uncrewed supply packets. The first interstellar passengers set forth in the ship Red Earth, launched from Bifrost on 20 January 2095. The second, Golden Ark, followed on 27 January. Another 1,300 elite pioneers set out in June 2096. Standards and prices sank slightly for the third window 2097, and again in 2099. People continued to join the Avalon adventure from all over the word, but ticket prices were not high enough to amortise the cost of building Bifrost. So affairs continued until 2118, when the news reached Earth that Red Earth had arrived safely at Tau Ceti. Then demand for passage exploded.

Meanwhile, on Tau Ceti III

Travelling just at the speed of light, Red Earth arrived at Tau Ceti in December 2106, and made its landing on Tau Ceti III on the 3rd of January AD 2107. A single man and single woman had been chosen by lot to set foot on the new world together and hand in hand, but subsequent close examination of the video shows that Gwen Missahan’s foot touched the ground about 1/25 of a second before that of Willem van Zaanen⁴.

Though the colonists did not believe that this would have any magical or religious effect, many had agreed to its ceremonial importance: the passengers of the Red Earth inaugurated their colony of Avalon with a festival, as part of which, and as arranged, Gwen Missahan and Willem van Zaanen were the first human couple to couple on Tau Ceti⁵. There are no records to indicate that the organisers purposely chose a woman who was ovulating, nor that Missahan manipulated her ovulation with conceiving in this ceremony in mind in mind. Nevertheless, Missahan’s first child, Adam van Zaanen Missahan⁶, was born on the 25th of September AD 2118, and must have been conceived at about the time of the ceremony. Missahan and van Zaanen did not form a couple, but Adam v.Z. Missahan was always known as van Zaanen’s son.

650 people from Golden Ark joined the colony on the 9th of January. About 1,300 immigrants arrived every 17 months for 25 years, and the colony flourished. Then in 2133 the rate of immigration sharply increased, as the result of the construction several new flingers at Sol twelve or thirteen years before.

Meanwhile, back on Earth

News arrived in 2118 that the Red Earth had landed safely at Tau Ceti with its supplies, then that the colony’s crops were flourishing, then that a health child had been born. Confidence in interstellar colonisation skyrocketed, and the Interplanetary Society easily raise money to build a new flinger with a larger capacity. Also, four superpowers⁷ undertook the foundation of colonies in systems that had been scouted by probes that they owned. Each built its own flinger, each disposed its flinger in such an orbit as to serve its own colony and Tau Ceti on a 2.2-year cycle. They planned to sell transport to Tau Ceti as a way of defraying the amortisation of their flingers.

The EU again disdained to establish an official colony. Instead, it auctioned licences to settle another three octants of Tau Ceti III⁸.

  • A consortium of Japanese retirement and investment funds bought the octant directly to the east of Avalon as a commercial proposition. They planned a colony that they called “New Sunrise” and that they promoted heavily in Japan, Korea, and the western Pacific. But they accepted buyers from anywhere.
  • A conservative prelature of the Catholic Church, called the Society of Saint Peter of the Holy Family, bought the octant directly south of Avalon, and established the first religious utopist colony, San Pietro, intending it to be a distributist theocracy ruled by an apostolic vicar, and eventually by a territorial prelate.
  • The octant directly west of Avalon was bought by the New World Company, a private company formed for the purpose, which announced a commercial colony to be called Ys. New World sold blocs of tickets and swathes of land to assorted social groups, utopist outfits, and smaller-scale promoters, leaving it to its clients to organise the planning and equipment of whatever settlements they wished to found. Many of the tickets ended up as prizes in lotteries, or as items in “complete settlement packages” sold individually or in blocs.

So, on Tau Cetii

Five new flingers brought a flood of new migrants to Tau Ceti III. About half were supposed to go to one of the other colonies and not to Avalon. Even at first, over half of those did so. The population of Avalon rose rapidly from 41,646 to 100,000, and in 2144 Avalon established a university, the University of Eridu.

Founded about AD 2133, New Sunrise, San Pietro, and Ys took off from shaky starts, and Ys long remained a patchwork of eccentric independencies founded by eccentrics and crackpots. Many people with tickets to Ys contrived to migrate to Avalon on arrival, or after the failure of their plans. Ys in any case consisted mostly of ocean, though the islands in it were many of them very attractive.

In AD 2179 the rate of immigration jumped again, as a reflection of news having arrived at Earth of the founding of the University of Eridu. At this point the general character of immigrants to Tau Ceti changed. Henceforth immigrants from Earth were not reckless pioneering types, they were not wild enthusiasts for the panspermatic dream, they were not ludicrous utopists with crackpot plans of perfect societies on the islands of Ys. Those people were going elsewhere. New arrivals on Tau Ceti III were now people who had migrated to a sensible, liveable place: spacious and open, yes, but a place with cities and a university, a place with a certain future.

In AD 2183 the population of Tau Ceti III reached one million. The second generation of native-born children of San Pietro started to be born. It was clear at this stage that the settlers — who had not censored the cultural legacy of Earth, nor shut off communications from there or from Avalon and New Sunrise — had not managed to pass on their religious beliefs to their posterity, at least not reliably. And the migrants arriving from Earth were now less pious than the founders had been. The priestly rulers had failed as administrators and technocrats; they undertook reforms to free up society and their economy and to appoint technical experts to the hierarchy.

Back on Earth

News that Tau Ceti had reached 100 000 population and built a university reached Earth in AD 2156, at which time there were 22 other colonies attracting the daring pioneers. Tau Ceti began to attract a more risk-averse class of immigrants, many attracted to nation-building rather than pioneering, more who had plans to practice professions and build up enterprises “in at the ground floor” than take part in terraforming and pioneering agriculture. These were a lot more numerous than the pioneers, and until AD 2200 Tau Ceti was the only place that appealed to them. The EU responded by auctioning another three octants of the planet. All three were bought by commercial consortiums without utopist or separatist agendas. The utopists and separatists were going elsewhere.

  • The section between New Sunrise (to its east) and Ys (to its west) was named “Gogmagog”.
  • The section south of New Sunrise and east of San Pietro was named “Zinfandel”.
  • The section south of Ys and west of San Pietro consist of a couple of continental margins to the east and west, an icecapped polar mass in the south, and numerous scattering of small and very charming islands. It was named “Hell” (ironically), and heavily promoted in Australasia and the southwest Pacific with the catchphrase ”Go to Hell”.

Demand for passage to Tau Ceti grew steadily. AD 2195 was the centenary of the despatch of Red Earth and Golden Ark. It also saw the arrival at Earth of news that Tau Ceti had reached a population of one million. The EU responded by undertaking a colony, Alcuin, on the remaining octant of Tau Ceti, as a government business enterprise. Migration to Tau Ceti became almost a mainstream thing to do: unusual still, but not eccentric.

Only in AD 2199 did news arrive at Earth that any other colony (Mayflower, on 44 Chi Draconis V) had a population of 100,000 and a university.

At about this time it became clear to the Society of Saint Peter of the Holy Family that San Pietro had failed as a Catholic religious utopist colony. They sold the colonisation rights to San Pietro for a handsome sum, and turned their efforts to a new Catholic separatist colony, Agnusdei, on Gliese 113 IV. Catholics were by that stage a much smaller proportion of the world’s population than they had been in AD 2120, but interstellar migration and the colonisation of new worlds seemed much less hare-brained, a larger proportion of people ventured it, and so a smaller population base was needed to make it viable.

From AD 2200 Tau Ceti was no longer a place to go with a special social, religious, or political agenda. It was just a place to live, where by liquidating ones wealth and surrendering part of it for fares and freight one could enjoy a new start in a much less crowded world with more opportunity. In AD 2253 word reached Earth that Paraíso had a population of one million. Only then did Tau Ceti acquire a serious rival for attracting mainstream migrants.

About AD 2300 Tau Ceti was only one of nine sensible place to go. The most developed and urbane, but with rivals now, and a prospect that land would some day be scarce there and labour plentiful. Migration to Tau Ceti tapered off as other colonies stole its lunch, and on the 18th of April AD 2353 it suddenly stopped. Everyone on Earth, in Earth orbit, and on the Nearside of Luna was killed. The people surviving on Farside and in deep space enterprises packed up the stuff they could and evacuated through the flingers, scattering to Tau Ceti, Mayflower, Aeneas, Fureidis, Iter, Egalité, and Todos Santos.


Word of the destruction of Earth reached Tau Ceti in 12 ADT, followed by a few dribs and drabs of refugees from Farside and the Belt, who brought with them salvage useful for constructing a space industry. Tau Ceti had received a total of 3,880,000 immigrants from Earth over 358 years. It had a population of 80.9 million, and its development level was 5.9.

¹ There is, to put things mildly, considerable doubt that the EU had any right or power to issue such a licence as the law then stood. But the BIS was glad of the publicity, the EU was keen to establish title to the rest of the planet, and other powers that had probes en route at lightspeed to assorted destinations were happy with the precedent that it set. No-one else had standing to sue.

² The name was traditional. At this stage the “British” Interplanetary Society had long been an international association. It dropped the “British” shortly afterwards.

³ A “flinger”.

⁴ There has been a succession of monuments on the spot, from a simple obelisk to a monstrous 6-metre statue group in stainless steel. The current marker is a life-sized group of the pair hand in hand, Missahan watching her step and with her foot just touching the ground, van Zaanen gazing off to the horizon with his forward foot a centimetre off the ground. It was carved from a large block of chert from the Fig Tree Formation in Africa, Old Earth, which was shipped specially for the purpose. The monument is over 650 years old.
Based closely on photographs and video of the actual event, but not actually an exact image, the monument has been criticised for sentimentalism, slavish realism, as a copy of a photograph, racism, sexism, heteronormativity, and poor artistic taste.
The original landing stairs from Red Earth, and other relics, are in a museum nearby.

⁵ Ritual sex was not a main-stream custom anywhere on Earth at the time, but the colonists were by self-selection unconventional in their inclinations. Some people wanted to do this. The rest, though perhaps thinking it was silly, went along with it.

⁶ Adam van Zaanen Missahan was the first human conceived on a habitable world other than Earth. He has by now many millions of living descendants, but he is far from being what is sometimes said, an ancestor of everyone on Tau Ceti.

⁷ The North American Continental Congress, Mercosur, Bhārat Gaṇarājya, and Zhōngguó.

⁸ Avalon had a licence to claim an octant of the rotational northern hemisphere of Tau Ceti III, defining its western boundary as the half-meridian through a stainless-steel post driven into bedrock at a place of the colonists’ choice, its southern as the equator, and its eastern boundary as the half-meridian 90° longitude east of the one defined by the Great Steel Peg. Very roughly, you can imagine Avalon as the kind of territory that might be claimed by people who wanted North America, and chose boundaries at about 50°W, 140°W, and the equator to get it. Everyone else’s boundaries were implied by this choice, and were often very inconvenient.

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Just a couple of small comments on points that struck me:

° Are you serious about the accusations of racism, sexism, and heteronormativity, or is that a satiric touich? The tendency to make such accusations looks to me like a quasi-religious mania of our time, akin in spirit to Savonarola’s movement in Florence; I wouldn’t expect people centuries from now to share such a preoccupation, and it seems even less likely that it would still exist in a population on another planet descended from a small sample of colonists (founder effects seem to come into play). And the strongly mixed population of future Earth seems likely to have less occasion for realistic concerns over such issues.

° I like the Catholic colony being distributist—a nice historic touch.

° What’s the etymology of “ganarajya”? I would guess that it’s a political term, but my Sanskrit vocabulary is limited and my Hindi effectively nonexistent.

° Geometrically, the first octant doesn’t completely constrain all of the other octants. If, say, the first octant starts out from 0° of longitude, the other three octants in its hemisphere must start out from 90° east, 90° west, and 180°; but in the other hemisphere, a colony might choose to start out at 30° east to get a more desirable slice, and no conflict would be created with the boundaries in the first hemisphere. That could have given rise to some interesting legal squabbles!

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  • Satirical mostly, but serious about some of the criticism about artistic taste, realism, sentimentality…. The monument is 650 years old, the site a tourist attraction amounting almost to a secular pilgrim destination; by now every criticism expressible in Standard will have been levelled at it.
  • I know my Fascism!
  • “Ganarajya” is the Standard Hindi word for “republic”, from Sanskrit गणराज्य “gana rajya”, meaning “equal government” or perhaps “government by the peers”. “Ganarajya Bharat” is the official name of the Republic of India.
  • Avalon’s choice of half-meridians for its eastern and western boundaries need not have constrained the boundaries in the southern hemisphere of Tau Ceti III, but the EU chose to make them do so when it chose to auction the three octants adjacent to Avalon an not the three octants remaining in the northern hemisphere.

I had long assumed that “pradesh” was the Hindi word for “republic,” with desh for country and pra as in “prakrit,” vernacular speech.

I’m surprised to see a connection between distributism and fascism; fascism seems to me to be all about speed and modernity and large-scale organization, where distributism, at least in Belloc’s The Servile State, wanted a world of small farmers and artisans. I haven’t read Chesteron’s essays, but his “The Rolling English Road” seems to celebrate inefficiency and avoidance of central planning. I assume there’s some traceable lineage, but I find it hard to envision the intermediate steps.

Certainly there’s plenty of fetishism of the agricultural lifestyle in Nazi fascism – all that stuff about “you can have a farm in conquered Ukraine, with local slaves to work it for you”. And, at least in theory, you can have a one-person farm and be your own master (as long as you’re male, obviously), whereas factories need economies of scale to work at all, so you end up working for somebody else. Of course, a fair bit of the appeal of that movement was that it promised all things to all people.

I sometimes consider an alternate world where the pre-Raphaelite movement got to do everything it wanted to. That would certainly take something like a dictatorship to make happen. (Obviously one would set the story/game after the mass starvation.)

I would translate “pradesh” as “country”, I think. Tamil Pradesh is the country of the Tamils, not a republic nor even necessarily a state.

I had a litle thing here about the connection between distributism and fascism, but I think it’s more tactful to keep a still tongue in a wise head.

I don’t think I have mentioned here Ulli Steinhilper’s Spitfire On My Tail and sequels. He was the son of a rural schoolmaster, and before the Nazis came along he simply wouldn’t have had any chance to learn to fly - that was for the same sort of aristocrat who could be a cavalry officer. The promise of rising on merit had at least some truth to it at first.

(He got shot down in the early days of the Battle of Britain, and spent most of the war in (and escaping from) a Canadian PoW camp. Later he invented the word processor while working for IBM Germany. Interesting chap.)

Anyway, I’m hijacking a thread and I’ll stop now.

Is Tau Ceti the largest single settlement at the time of the destruction of Earth? How does that affect their culture?

Yes. The next closest was Navabharata with a little over half as many people, and then Mayflower, Xin Tian Di, Paraíso, Aeneas, Fureidis, and Emmaus with populations 20–30% Tau Ceti’s.

Tau Ceti was also the colony that had the largest population-at-the-end-of-migration, even though the others all had more time for population growth and more migrants in the pipeline owing to longer lightspeed times from Earth. On that score the second is Navabharata with 52 million, followed by Paraíso with 34 million and Emmaus with 30 million, then Pentecost with 25 million, Tian Di with 21 million, Mayflower with 20 million.

How does that affect their culture?

I haven’t given that much thought.

During the Age of Migration Earth was very real to the masses on all colonies: it was where the migrants were coming from, it was where their cargo was made, it was where all the imported “popular” culture was made. But other colonies were obscure: no-one and nothing came from there. Therefore colonies in the Age of Isolation imagined their place in Being in relation to Old Earth: as its survivors/heirs, as its struggling orphans, as its vindicated outcasts and the righteous survivors of the judgement visited upon it. That there were other colonies was not forgotten: there was a week about them in eighth-grade history, and most people forgot about them a week after the exam.

So the fact that Tau Ceti had 81 million people influenced its culture. The fact that they and their forebears were drawn from all over Earth influenced their culture. The fact that 88% of its total immigrants had left Earth expecting to arrive at an urbane place with over a million people influenced their culture. But the fact that these values were larger than the corresponding values on other planets didn’t enter people’s consciousness. At least, not until 350 years later, when Tom Eichberger showed up from Mayflower in his FTL spaceships.

Large population, diverse origins, and a large contribution of comparatively staid and normal late arrivals had an influence. This influence is stronger on Tau Ceti than the corresponding influence elsewhere. The result is probably a founder effect that is less marked: the founders of Tau Ceti were a larger and less biased sample of the people of Old Earth than any other colony. Tau Ceti now thinks of itself at the centre of the social and cultural mainstream, the home of fine art and high culture, the place with the most museums and galleries, the most, best, and most diverse restaurants. It’s the place that continues the most traditions from Old Earth in such matters as cuisine and art. Tau Ceti is the only place you can get genuine Hungarian barbecue.

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If I’m figuring right it seems that the starting population was ca. 80 M at Tau Ceti, 40 M at Navabharata, 120 M on the next six, a total of 240 M; and I suppose the other colonized planets all together wouldn’t have exceeded that number. So maybe half a billion humans. That’s large enough so the risk of important genes being lost through genetic drift probably isn’t high. But none of those planets is going to have anything like Earth’s division of labor or its degree of occupational specialization, and there will be things it just isn’t possible for them to produce on an efficient scale, or so I would guess.

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Yeah, I’ve got a total “starting population” (as you term it) of 423 million, not including perhaps a hundred thousand on Farside and in the Belt who went to Tau Ceti, Mayflower, Aeneas, Fureidis, Iter, Egalité, and Todos Santos as refugees after the Destruction of Earth. But the genetic bottleneck is established by the total number who left Earth: 56 million. That’s well and truly enough, especially as —

  • The eccentric billionaire philanthropist who established Aeneas¹ included racial diversity among the criteria for sending people there. He was assassinated in 2151, but the charitable trust he had established² wasn’t wound on the pretext of it being a mortmain until 2163, and it continued to accept and/or choose people by running a program that had been written by him. The first 20,000 or so migrants to Aeneas were a structured sample of human racial diversity: more varied than a representative sample would have been, not less.
  • Genetic therapy and libraries of DNA sequences were available.
    Amateur theorists have supposed that the current human population is descended from a non-representative sample of the population of Earth self-selected for willingness to accept risk. About 25 million of migrants left Earth expecting to arrive as a colony with over one million population.

Individual colonies, particularly those of the last fifty years (where migration was cut off early) were populated from an Earth where racial distinctions had been erased by 300 years of global migration and intermarriage. Nevertheless, they were sometimes small enough to have marked founder effects from sheerly small sample size. But the population of Earth had been using medical genefixing of generations of the colonists’ ancestors, and it was still available to them after arrival³, so medically significant genetic loss was uncommon.

As for degree of specialisation of the workforce and capital stock (and extent of the market to support economies of scale and specialisation), that was indeed significantly limited by population and capital wealth. The best-developed colony was Tau Ceti, which upon the sudden cessation of the importation of high-tech components by immigrants⁴ suffered an economic depression from which it recovered at something like development level 6 or GURPS tech level 9 (early)⁵. Tau Ceti started recovering and developing pretty promptly.

Other colonies struck the same disaster with the same lack of warning. All the rest had less economic resources to withstand it that Tau Ceti; some managed their crises worse. Another six colonies had or quickly built plants to produce integrated circuits on semiconductor chips: Mayflower ~DL 5.4; Aeneas ~DL 5.2; Fureidis ~DL 5.2; Iter ~DL 5.3; Egallité ~ DL 5.0; Todos Santos ~DL5.0. About 115 more retained the equivalent of DL4–4.9 (mechanised industry). That was more common among the old and populous colonies in the core, but occurred sporadically out as far as Eden III (orbiting HD 30101, 123.1 light-years from Sol). Everywhere else it was worse. Dirawong (HR 8718) suffered a complete breakdown of social co-operation and fell to ~DL 1.4 (early Iron-Age development and economic organisation).

¹ Anchises Inangulo. He sent several of his very numerous grandchildren along to Aeneas, others to Avalon, New Sunrise, Ys, Mayflower, Paraíso, and Navabharata.
² Its control was a tangle of undisclosed offshore holdings; ultimate ownership of the colonisation rights was vested in a charity registered in Luxembourg.
³ Genetic engineers and their equipment were regularly included in the first wave of settlement on every colony, to support the work of the terraformation engineers.
⁴ Tau Ceti had no flinger, besides which the opportunity cost of goods in transit, problems with trust and agreeing on prices given a 24-year comms lag would have made trade impractical anyway. Importation of high-tech components and so forth for local manufacturing and assembly was supported by trade with recently-arrived migrants: imported tech for local goods and services.
⁵ It was not quite the same as either: fewer high-dev imports than in dev level 6, more high-tech know-how than in GURPS TL 9.

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There’s a settled planet called Todos Santos? Is this a reference to Niven and Pournelle’s Oath of Fealty, either Watsonian (someone in the Flat Black history had read an ancient SF novel) or Doylist (you were making a little joke)?

I’m not sure why Tau Ceti’s having a flinger or not would make a difference to its being economically depressed after Earth stopped sending it high-tech products. It seems more as if the reduced volume from the Solar System’s flingers would be the issue. Not having a flinger seems to mean that Tau Ceti can’t throw manufactured goods out into interstellar space in the hope of getting something back in a few decades; that’s not quite the same as Keynes’s joke about digging holes in the ground, burying gold bars, covering them up, and waiting for people to dig them up again, but it’s going to take a long, long time to get supply-side effects added to any immediate demand-side effects.

(In the very long run it might be beneficial and rational to provide aid to the other colonies that had good odds of survival, to improve those odds and speed up their development—but you’d have to do some harsh triage. Though without a flinger this is academic.)

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It’s an entirely academic footnote!

I mentioned Tau Ceti’s lack of a flinger as part of an explanation of its trade before 12 ADT. Sometimes when I discuss the early colonies’ dependence on imports from Earth my interlocutors object that trade by way of flingers is non-economic, citing The 20 Billion Dollar Bottle of Wine. They are quite correct about that, and moreover it is completely impractical because comms lag makes it impossible to make or enforce a contract. And none of the colonies had a flinger anyway, so they could not export anything.

But that doesn’t matter, because the colonies weren’t buying their import from Earth anyway. They were buying them from immigrants, and paying in classically non-tradeable goods such as land and buildings.

Except to the extent that they were able to attract subsides and donations, colonies were funded at Earth by the liquidation of the wealth of the migrants. That’s what funded the flingers, the migrant ships, the pioneering equipment and supplies, and the trade goods the settlers in later waves took with them. Migrants sold land and capital at Earth to pay fares and freight and to buy Earth’s exports. On reaching a populated destination they sold imports from Earth and bought local products, and land. Thus the colonies were able to trade for, and become dependent upon, imports from Earth without making an exports to Earth.

Tau Ceti possessing a flinger wouldn’t have made any difference after the destruction of Earth. But then, it wouldn’t have made any difference before, either. Nevertheless, importation in the character of trade was possible, because of continued immigration. That’s what that footnote is about.

As for Tau Ceti assisting other colonies for the reason you suggest, lightspeed delays make it impractical even for the motive you suggest. “Umm. Hello Tau Ceti? This is Covenant. Do you have a radio telescope, and is it pointed this way? We desperately need a turbo-encabulator.” “Covenant! This is Tau Ceti. Here’s the turbo-encabulator you need. Pay it onwards!” “Thanks Tau Ceti, it was a generous impulse, but we needed that thing fifty years ago, and now (a) we’re okay, because we made do until we could build one, or (b) for want of it forty years ago we’ve collapsed to the point that we can no longer use it, or are all dead. Have a good one!”

As for the name “Todos Santos”, it is a reference the Niven & Pournelle, a little Doylist joke that I made in 1990, and that no-one got until now. I have never committed myself Watsonistically as to whether the founders were referring to the novel or using the Spanish phrase naively. But Todos Santos is the place where everyone is in continual life-long psycjiatric treatment an self-improvement, i.e. California.

Heh. I make jokes like that, too, though sometimes I can’t resist revealing them to the players. I had a Mage: The Ascension campaign where one of the storylines involves a classic wuxia film about five Chinese people with superhuman abilities who became involved in combatting the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, “Princess Ch’an and the Invaders”; eventually I told my players that “ch’an” was the Classical Chinese pronunciation of the Sanskrit “dhyana”. . . .

If I hadn’t known of the novel I might have supposed that Todos Santos was an African diaspora colony, perhaps based on Santéria.

It might yet be so, Watsonially.

In the first Survey campaign (which I think was the third campaign I ran in Flat Black) I inserted an NPC named “Dr Astor Monterrey”, who combined the roles of ship’s doctor and epidemiologist in the Survey party. I made him the Flat Black equivalent of one of Frank Herbert’s “Suk doctors” to illustrate the uses of advanced developmental psychology in Flat Black. His homeworld obviously had to be the place where people had their professional (and sexual, and social) ethics installed and certified by professionals, the place where you can’t get hired, married, or laid without the right psychiatric certificate. The idea was actually inspired by the Penfield Mood Organ in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. As one of my most effective repugnant utopias, Todos Santos has been a constant of the setting through several major revisions. Such places as Lambda Aurigae and Esbouvier have disappeared or changed their names, but Tau Ceti, Aeneas, Todos Santos, and Mayflower survive like xenoliths in granite.

Todos Santos probably started out (about AD 2171) as a secular utopist venture based on the idea of making everyone happy by raising them to develop happy minds rather than fussing about their circumstances, and then developed unexpectedly into the place it is, but so far, despite its 28-year antiquity I have never committed to an explanation of how it came to be.

Heh. I make jokes like that, too, though sometimes I can’t resist revealing them to the players.

I generally manage to resist doing so. I put a feature (the Sword With No Name) into the first campaign in my fantasy setting Gehennum that was eventually worked out years later by a player who wasn’t even involved in the first three campaigns.

Back in my second year at UC San Diego, I sat in on a friend’s political science lecture, where the instructor was talking about utopian and dystopian visions. And a young woman in the class raised her hand and asked why we should talk about laws and rights and freedom; why couldn’t we simply be free in our own minds no matter what our external circumstances? That was 1970, so that sort of thing has been around in California for a long, long time. . . .

I just assumed Todos Santos was most probably a Niven/Pournelle reference, especially when you talked about the conditioning.

At the Doylist level it was. But few of my players if any have read Oath of Fealty. Whether it’s a Niven & Pournelle reference at the Watsonian level is something that I’ve never really committed myself about. There’s no reason that it should be: Todos Santos is the name of several towns and villages in Spanish-speaking countries and, I imagine, any number of churches in Spanish-speaking and Portuguese-speaking countries.

i suppose I ought to re-read Oath of Fealty. I don’t recall mind alteration being a big thing in it.

No, but one of the major themes is that They Are Not Like Us; insiders have increasing difficulty understanding outsiders, and vice versa. (“No, of course those kids who seemed to be throwing a rope over the high-speed slidewalk weren’t really doing anything dangerous. Security wouldn’t let them do that. So you ducked and I didn’t.”)

Tau Ceti system summary page

Stellar data

spectral type: G8.5 V position Equatorial co-ords
mass: 0.92 M☉ R.A: 01:44 hours X: 5.0 LY
luminosity: 0.50 L☉ dec: -16° Y: -3.3 LY
age: 5.8 Ga dist: 11.9 LY Z: 10.3 LY
diameter: 0.008 A.U. constellation: Cetus

Table of planets and moons

ID# orbital radius world type size mass g. atmosphere oceans mean surface temperature climate solar day habitability
(A.U.) (10,000 km) (D♁) (M♁) (g♁) (°C) (hours)
I 0.21 large chthonian planet 1.7 5.3 1.9 none 226 infernal infinite
II 0.36 standard greenhouse planet 0.98 0.82 0.85 superdense corrosive 736 infernal infinite
III 0.68 standard garden planet 0.87 0.60 0.79 thin breathable 84% water 9 cool 42.6 74%
IV 1.1 small rock planet 0.47 0.07 0.33 none -62 frozen 21.7
2 moonlets -60 frozen
V 1.9 standard ice planet 0.51 0.14 0.53 thin suffocating -81 frozen 17.3
1 moonlet -106 frozen
VI 2.7 tiny rock planet 0.23 0.01 0.17 none -135 frozen 20.8
VII 4.1 medium gas giant 10 250 2.3 superdense corrosive 13.2
7 moonlets -161 frozen
VIIa 96 tiny sulfur moon 0.25 0.01 0.08 none -184 frozen 164.6
VIIb 123 tiny ice moon 0.20 0.00 0.08 none -174 frozen 240.4
VIIc 154 small ice moon 0.43 0.03 0.16 very dense mildly toxic 68% hydrocarbons -151 frozen 337.4
4 moonlets -161 frozen
VIII 7.5 medium gas giant 8.2 100 1.5 superdense corrosive 55.5
7 moonlets -190 frozen
VIIIa 63 tiny ice moon 0.10 0.00 0.06 none -200 frozen 138.4
VIIIb 69 small ice moon 0.33 0.02 0.17 very dense mildly toxic 41% hydrocarbons -185 frozen 160.0
VIIIc 79 small ice moon 0.35 0.02 0.16 very dense mildly toxic 42% hydrocarbons -183 frozen 194.5
VIIId 88 tiny ice moon 0.29 0.01 0.12 none -200 frozen 229.6
VIIIe 99 tiny ice moon 0.26 0.01 0.11 none -200 frozen 273.9
VIIIf 108 small ice moon 0.32 0.02 0.16 very dense mildly toxic 31% hydrocarbons -184 frozen 313.0
5 moonlets -190 frozen
IX 22 small gas giant 2.9 10 1.2 superdense corrosive 70.7
8 moonlets -225 frozen
IXa 19 standard hadean moon 0.49 0.05 0.20 none -240 frozen 70.7
IXb 21 tiny ice moon 0.15 0.00 0.05 none -230 frozen 82.7
IXc 23 small hadean moon 0.27 0.01 0.15 none -240 frozen 98.5
IXd 27 standard hadean moon 0.55 0.09 0.29 none -240 frozen 121.9
IXe 30 tiny ice moon 0.16 0.00 0.07 none -230 frozen 143.1
3 moonlets -225 frozen
X 35 small gas giant 2.9 10 1.2 superdense corrosive 72.6
11 moonlets -235 frozen
Xa 15 small hadean moon 0.35 0.01 0.09 none -246 frozen 51.7
Xb 17 small hadean moon 0.28 0.01 0.11 none -246 frozen 62.4
Xc 19 standard hadean moon 0.58 0.08 0.25 none -246 frozen 72.6
Xd 21 tiny ice moon 0.11 0.00 0.06 none -239 frozen 84.4
Xe 23 standard hadean moon 0.47 0.05 0.21 none -246 frozen 94.5
Xf 25 tiny ice moon 0.07 0.00 0.04 none -239 frozen 107.3
2 moonlets -235 frozen

Tau Ceti III “Tau Ceti

class of star G8.5 V
mean distance 0.68 A.U.
perihelion 0.67 A.U.
aphelion 0.69 A.U.
obliquity 26°
local year 0.583 a.
120.1 local days
local day 42.6 hours
standard garden planet
diameter 0.87 D♁
11,112 km
density 0.91 × Earth’s
5.0 g/cm²
gravity 0.79 g₀
7.8 m/s²
escape velocity 9.3 km/s
period of low orbit 89 minutes
volcanism none
tectonics none
Climate cool
mean temp. 9 °C
perihelion temp. 11 °C
aphelion temp 8 °C
illumination 100% × Earth’s
coverage 84 %
composition water
tidal range 1.7 m
main gases N₂, O₂
traces &c.
class breathable
pressure 0.64 bar