HD 205286 IV: "Swanmays"


Star HD 205286 K2 V 94.0 LY from Sol in Cygnus
(Andromeda Sector)
Planet IV
Diameter 12 092 km 0.95 D♁
Gravity 9.4 m/s² 0.96 g♁
Day 30.1 hours
Year 179.0 local days 0.615 a♁
Atmosphere 0.63 bar Oxygen 0.14 bar
Scale height 9.1 km
Oceans 77% water Tidal range 1.5 m
Climate 23 °C
Obliquity 25°
Illuminance 127 klx 119% as bright as Earth
Spaceport scale 3 ground facilities
Escape speed 11.0 km/s
Low orbit 156 km Period 87 minutes
Population 5.41 billion Density 52 /km²
Urban conglomerations
Households gerontocratic extended families
Social unit “Planning unit”
(local congregation)
Social quirks Established religion (Recovery)
Values • Pious devotion to Recovery
• Loyalty to family, filial obedience
• Hard work
• Athletic prowess & skill at games
Taboos • Nudity (waist to knees)
• Adultery, incest
• Homosexuality or sexual “deviance”
• “Withholding” from family or Recovery
Economy crony capitalism
Development 5.0 (Electronics Age)
Inequality Drastic Gini 48%
Currency chilo kS 1 = SVU 1.0
(1,000 stivers) 0.29
Government federal parliamentary republic (aristocratic features)
Head of state Supreme Chief Planner
Chief exec Principal Advisor
Capital Lohengrin
Legal quirks • Trial by “planners”, who receive the fines
• Death penalty for rape and murder, indentured servitude for lesser felonies, fines for misdemeanours
• Adultery, fornication, sodomy, poly marriage, pornography, and public indecency banned
• Innumerable licence requirements and public order offences.

HD 205286 IV is an Earth-like planet with a warm climate. Despite the effect of ample oceans in moderating the heat of the tropics, a broad equatorial belt is too hot for permanent settlement. 23% of the surface is covered by land, mostly consisting of an isolated continent in the southern temperate zone and a gaggle of connected land masses sprawling from the arctic to the southern tropic. The colony, Swanmays, has spread throughout the cultivable land; it is urbanising rapidly, and both metropolises and regional cities are encroaching on their agricultural surroundings.

The best land of Swanmays is covered by family plantations, which have mostly been converted to modern high-biotech crops but still use labour-intensive artisanal methods. Manufacturing in the cities struggles to achieve an efficient scale owing to inadequate infrastructure, feeble institutions, and the privileges of inefficient locally-integrated firms. After two generations of progress, economic development has stalled at the printed-circuit stage. Swanmays’ economy has suffered a “lost decade” that has lasted twenty local years, and is beset by inflation and unemployment.

Swanmays is nominally governed by a hierarchy of technocratic “planning boards”, each of which elects a “chief planner”, who in turn makes appointments to the board. In practice planner-ships are reserved to a theocratic aristocracy with no real expertise, and are more or less hereditary. Chief planners are obliged by convention to act at the direction of an “advisory committee” drawn from the majority of the (elected) legislative council.

When they lost their control of policy and public funds the planning boards retained their judicial functions, their right to the revenue of fines, and a range of licensing fees reminiscent of feudal reliefs, such as marriage and inheritance fees, stamp duties, etc. When felons are condemned to a term of servitude the relevant planning board (which is to say, the court that tries them) generally sells the indenture for profit.

The usual households in Swanmays are extended families, each enjoying inalienable tenure of a homestead that might, in the country, include a sizeable farm. Traditionally, the formation and organisation of households was at the direction of the local chief planner, whose permission was required for marriages, and who assigned newlyweds to the bride’s or the groom’s household, or approved a new family. In conservative areas the chief planner’s assent and blessing is still required for such matters, but mostly their role is reduced to performing a ceremony, registering the arrangement, and charging a fee. Where the planners have lost control of marriages and household formation a custom is emerging for a couple to join the man’s household, and for younger sons to found new households at marriage or when their fathers die.

Social values are strongly family oriented. Members are expected to obey the head of their household and to support the family with their efforts, earnings, and any privileges they obtain. Any Swanmaysian in a position of trust or authority is expected to use it nepotistically; to refuse would be viewed not as virtuous but as callous. To be head of a household, or at least the spouse of the head, is pleasant and socially prestigious. Persons of all sexes dream of, and may intrigue for, the status.

Society on Swanmays is intensely prudish. A strict exposure taboo covers everything from the waist to the knees, besides which women generally cover their breasts and men wear a kilt or skirted coat to conceal the form of their genitals, buttocks, and thighs. Adultery. “sodomy”, and prostitution are crimes even with consent, “sodomy” including oral and anal sex besides all homosexual contact. Other non-marital sex is “fornication”, disreputable and technically a misdemeanour, but not prosecuted unless blatant. Pornography, sometimes construed to include “indecent” art, is banned, and works may be summarily destroyed.

Workers on Swanmays work two five-hour shifts in each (30.1-hour) day, one before and one after lunch and siesta, four days in each five-day week. The fifth day is set aside for “planning”, when the people of each neighbourhood “planning unit” congregate in the morning to hear a sermon about current events, the utopian condition of “Old Earth”, and the program of “Recovery” that will restore it by and by. They perform a series of ceremonial drills, which may develop into ecstatic dancing. Some participants experience trance states; a few people may be possessed by spirits from Old Earth to deliver exhortations, messages, and prophecies. After Planning there are communal banquets, and (after siesta) an afternoon of sport and recreation. Even people who believe in Recovery neither as a spiritual exercise nor as an economic program attend Planning for the sake of the social events that follow.

Access to network information services has only lately become widespread; it has enabled the spread of several radicalising conspiracy theories. Old Earth Denialism holds that Recovery is superstitious mumbo-jumbo used by Planners to justify their inordinate wealth; it calls for revolution. Renewal asserts that the ceremonies performed at Plannings have effectually restored the supply of high-tech goods from Old Earth, but that the cargo is being misappropriated by a conspiracy in the government; it calls for a purge.


Monsalvat Palace in Lohengrin is a collection of ceremonial spaces, administrative offices, residences for global planners and their staffs, auditoriums, galleries, and gardens, on which supreme chief planners have lavished money and the work of the greatest architects, sculptors, and painters of a world for more than two centuries. It includes the Global Planning Centre , a ceremonial hall of vast size and staggering magnificence, notable for a masonry dome 45 metres wide. People undertake pilgrimages to Monsalvat to perform planning in the Global Planning Centre.

Bodiam is a large port city on the Gulf of Golf. famous because the city planning board (a) will impose a fine for any lifestyle crime only once per culprit per year and (b) has not indexed its penalties for sodomy, fornication, or prostitution since 5,000 stivers was a significant sum of money. The annual plannings after which gay and lesbian couples, prostitutes, and libertines parade in fancy costume to court to pay their fines have developed into a famous carnival and demonstration of pride.

A resonance in Parzifal Sound produce tides with a range of twenty metres, which make racing currents, maelstroms, and colossal tidal bores that allow surfers marathon rides. At one point on the shore the current through a narrow gorge produces a so-called “Horizontal Waterfall” with a drop of six metres, which thrill-seekers traverse power-boats.

A Swanmaysian family epic

A rambling series of seven long novels follows the Alexandra family through four generations and a maze of vicissitudes. First the widow Anna holds the family together through the turmoil of the 540s, sacrificing her children’s loves and ambitions for the good of the family, only to be revealed before her death as having treated the whole family as her possession. Her children disperse, leaving the household to her gentle, weak eldest son Eggar, while the selfish and acquisitive Athol goes into trade and the spiritual Lele trains to become a planner. Eggar bungles his finances, gets embroiled in a financial scandal, and is reduced to indentures as a common criminal. In the third novel Athol rises to wealth as an unscrupulous banker, and inveigles the well-born Jocindi Jaiz into an elopement; their marriage however is miserable. In the fourth Athol buys Eggar’s indenture (saving him from a term of servitude) and restores the family’s fortunes, but he usurps Athol’s place at the head of the family. Lele gives up her true love to marry into a family of planners. Athol’s and Eggar’s children enter into a rivalry that spirals down into madness, rape, and suicide. Lele’s grandson, a regional planner, spoils his prospects in a torrid love affair with Eggar’s and Athol’s grand-daughter. And so on.

Imperial presence

First contact with Swanmays by Survey in 538 ATD shook the doctrine of Recovery and the credibility of the planners, who were forced by protests and threat of revolution to submit their government to the elected legislatures. Elements of the population are hostile to the Empire, wherefore the garrison on Swanmays is two companies of Imperial marines, with a cruiser, two destroyers, and eight monitors in orbit, and a captain IN as senior naval officer.

Imperial Spaceways operates four busy ground-ports, and the Eichberger Trust bases chalcophile mining operation on a moon of the gas giant Zamie (planet VII) here. The Economic Advisory Service, Technology Transfer Assistance Service, and Public Information Service have hundreds of staff, and ILEA has 24 badged investigators led by a chief inspector. The Imperial resident holds the rank of minister plenipotentiary.

Has the news of Earth’s destruction been suppressed, or disbelieved?

News of the destruction of Earth has been interpreted as a metaphor or spiritual truth, like the expulsion from Eden. “With careful planning and diligent effort we can recover our supplies of goods from Old Earth.” “We have worked diligently, and look at the neat kit the corrupt elites have ‘imported’ from ‘off world’. They must have intercepted and stolen the fruit of our efforts!” And then the spiritual assertion has been disbelieved. When people on Swanmays talk about “Old Earth” they aren’t actually talking about the historical planet, any more than voudu believers who talk about “Africa” or “Dahomey” are talking about the continent or the historical kingdom.

1 Like

All right you gain many points from me for working in a cargo cult.

The foreign stereotype of the Swanmaysian traveller is surely that they head straight for the nearest brothel to the dock.

I assume that a futuristic society which bans pornography (or anything else that’s widely-used) does so in the knowledge that this ban will be ignored by those with the ability to do so - and therefore it wants either sexual frustration among the young (perhaps so that it can be sublimated in public works) or a steady stream of fines. Or both.

The “Planners” on Swanmays love themselves some revenue from fines and licences.