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Overview of Life Foundation Colony, Austin’s World

The Life Foundation Colony on Austin’s world is only six months younger than the Texan colony, but started smaller and proceeded at a much younger pace. Begun in 2258 with an initial settlement of only 4000 persons, the colony now numbers about 350,000. Growth, between immigration and births, has fallen to about 2.1% annually. The figure would be higher, but the Life Foundation is notoriously picky about the settlers it recruits. Immigration peaked in 2275, and is now down to about 1800 persons per year. The Life Foundation tries to recruit from one region on earth at a time, for logistical reasons. The result has been an unusual ethnic blend in their Colony. They consider this diversity to be one of their strengths.

Research, focussed on development of marine colonization techniques and terraforming, is the primary thrust of the colony. 11% of the Colony’s work force is directly involved in research or education, a figure unmatched elsewhere in the human sphere. There is also a large workforce employed supporting research and education activities. Much of the Colony’s income is derived from sales of research data, and tuition paid by visiting students to Stair University. In the past decade it has become increasingly apparent that science alone will not provide for the needs of 350,000 people. A conventional economy is being developed. Although income from educational and research programs is an important part of the local economy, each year it appears that LFCAW is becoming more and more like a conventional colony, with industries, services, and agriculture.

With two substantial exceptions, geographic features and regions in the colony are named for people who in some way have significantly advanced human thought. The major town and core of the colony is New Cambridge, named in honor of the city in which the Life Foundation was founded. (Despite British claims to the contrary, historical evidence and the Foundations own records indicate that this was Cambridge Massachusetts.) Then there, are those features the Texans got to and named first,. The Lifers (as the locals are called) have been pushing to have their naming method extended to the system as a whole. In their view, a catalogue number is insufficient nomenclature for a star orbited by an inhabited world, and "Austin’s World" is a mere possessive, signifying nothing other than that the planet was either discovered by or belonged to someone named Austin. The fact that it was neither proves the point, the Lifers say. They will also point out that in their view, the Texans have too limited a stock of commemorative names like "Austin", which are put to far too frequent use. The Texans think the Lifers talk too much.

The largest island, home to New Cambridge and the bulk of LFCAW’s population and facilities, is the Texan-named (obviously) Bowie island. The Life Foundation managed to name the other islands, and the principal inhabited ones are Nobel, DesCartes, Belafonte, Ockham, Thales, and Cervantes. Minor settlements are scattered across two dozen more. Needing some term to apply to distinct inhabited geographic areas, and not wanting to burden itself with legal and history loaded conventional terms like "County" "Parish" or "Oblast", the Life Foundation invented one of its own: Environ. An Environ has no government structure, (Excepting Belafonte, which does, and Maimonides, which almost does) although the inhabitants certainly cooperate, in part due to mutual need and proximity, and often, common ethnic roots. The Environ of New Cambridge (The city proper) is home to about 100,000 people, not including the visiting student population. . It is surrounded by the Environ of Joyce, population 60,000. The rest of the inhabited area of Bowie Island is taken up by Maimonides, a Jewish settled area with a number of industrial and mining kibbutzim and a population of 40,000, and the rural, artist frequented Environ of Plato. The Islands noted above each have their own associated Environ. Uninhabited territory is not apportioned out to Environs. According to the Life Foundation, Environs will be assigned to them when the areas are settled. One of the silliest trends in the history of space exploration, and one of the most stress producing, according the Lifers, is the habit of national colonization teams to land with immediate plans to settle only the tiniest, barest fraction of the available land, and then claim everything, as if each of their citizens needed hundreds of square kilometers for a healthy life. The Lifers certainly claim the right to travel and live in any part of Austin’s World not claimed by the Texans or the Incas (Which means the islands and the entire ocean), but they do not deny the right of others to settle in areas not being used by the Life Foundation.

It should be noted that just to test that theory, a rather eccentric, extremely wealthy avant-garde artist moved onto a tiny rocky island along the sea-lane between New Cambridge and Travisville. The islet has all of nine hectares above the waterline. Regardless, the new owner named it New Lichtenstein (Not out of any personal citizenship or heritage, just because the artist felt sorry for the little nation, which would clearly never establish a colony otherwise) and declared it a free and independent nation. The Life Foundation promptly and formally recognized it. Most atlas makers can be forgiven for overlooking the thriving Grand Plutocracy of New Lichtenstein, with its population, as estimated by the New Lichtenstein Ministry of Social Services, reached 7 in 2300. But this shows how the Lifers will take even a trivial matter very seriously, if it’s a question of philosophy or ethics.

Another seemingly trivial matter taken very seriously is the Colony’s inability to agree on a name for itself, or even the largest island. There is considerable resentment over the name "Bowie Island ". This legendary Texas figure is known primarily as a warrior, and the Lifers don’t consider the name appropriate. There is an ongoing campaign to have the name changed (the movement inspired the award winning slogan "No More Mister Knife Guy") but it has yet to show any sign of success. In typical Lifer fashion, while the vast majority wants to change the name, there is absolutely no consensus on what to change the name to. Ghandi, Lao Tze, Hammurabi and others have been suggested and have supporters, but there aren’t any front runners among them. Not only have they been unable to settle on a new name for the largest island, the Lifers are unable to agree on a suitable name for the whole colony. For a while, "Utopia" was a strong contender. Support began to waiver when it became apparent that as socially evolved as the colony was it was no Utopia. A few lifers have backed "Fabiana" after the Fabian Society of late 19th century England, whose cultural values are shared by the Life Foundation today. A small, vocal group of ex-New Zealanders suggested naming the place "Not Australia". These anecdotes demonstrate, aside from the disagreements over proposed names, an important point about the Life Foundation Colony. They will discuss anything, to great detail, regardless of the issue’s actual importance. They will almost never reach a conclusion, because to do so would end the discussion, and that is anathema to Lifer culture. When all is said and done, more is said than done. Nowhere else is the old saw more apt.

Visitor’s Information

Customs:

There are none. No laws exist prevented the import or export of anything, and no moneys are asked for the bringing in or removal of anything. The Council of Science and Engineering openly questions the right of nations to make such restrictions on the enterprises of human beings. On the other hand, they may grant wide latitude towards visitors, but they reserve wide latitude for themselves as well. The Lifers make up rules on the spot to enforce what they consider to be right and wrong. In all likelihood, if a visitor brought something truly offensive to the colony, the Lifers would take action. They do have a problem with firearms. The Lifers believe their colony has nothing anybody would want to shoot. One can bring a weapon in, but that involves getting official permission. In the Life Foundation Colony, official permission is obtained by posting one’s request in the Public Forum (See Government, below) and getting the response from the colony’s voting population. A very public, and not very easy approach.

 

Weather:

What can be said of the weather anywhere on Austin’s world? The Life Foundation Colony is somewhat protected by the ocean, which mitigates the temperature extremes. It gets the worst of the winds and storms, and the colony’s architecture is designed with the planet’s severe weather conditions in mind. Buildings are not tall, and free form naturally curved structures predominate. The climate, on good days, runs from tropical to semitropical. Dress is extremely casual, and sometimes optional, but most locals carry lightweight heavy weather gear folded into small belt pouches when they travel.

Assistance

There is no official organization tasked with aiding visitors. Visiting students are usually directed to the Stair University Students’ Collective for help. Other visitors (and there usually aren’t many) can count on the friendliness of the natives. Fortunately, locals do tend to be hospitable, if somewhat prone to pontificating.

Money

Originally, the Lifers intended a cashless society. Yeah, like that ever worked. Aside from the economic difficulties caused, it left visitors befuddled. Now, they have a "universal exchange" that converts between all major currencies, instantly at the time of the transaction, through exchange rates calculated and updated several times a second by the Stair University Distributed Autonomous Computer.

Language:

One of the more troublesome aspects of visiting LFCAW is the Lifers’ insistence on using the artificial language Esperanto as their official language. Few Lifers speak it in private, where English is the primary language. Most Life Foundation Colony settlers came from English speaking areas like New Zealand, parts of the Indian Subcontinent, Ireland, Caribe, and Israel. Esperanto shows up on signs, official documents, and news programs, though. Despite the "one world" appeal of Esperanto, it suffers from defects plaguing it since its invention in 1887 by a Polish doctor, Ludwik L. Zamenhof. Clumsily blending elements from a range of European words, Esperanto features fairly simple grammar and words familiar enough to be misunderstood by almost anyone who speaks a European based language. Fortunately for speakers of Hungarian and Finnish, nothing of Esperanto is drawn from their tongues, leaving them safe from the embarrassment of attempting to understand the speaker and finding the meaning of a simple word to be way off from where they thought it was. It’s also worth noting that to speakers of non-European languages aren’t exactly overawed by the so-called universality of Esperanto; this may be a factor in their noticeable absence in this multinational colony. Fortunately, English is spoken by nearly everyone in LFCAW. This works in well with the fact that the major civilization on the planet, the Texan colony of New Bexar, is English speaking. An indispensable aid is the Esperanto dictionary chip, sold by merchants throughout LIFCAW, and at several locations in the Texan colony as well. (This is the only planet on which they are readily obtainable) Visitors are advised to purchase one, along with a camera and text recognition software for their portacomp. They will then have ready translations for available for signs, menus, schedules, etc., they may encounter. Visitors should not attempt "figuring" out Esperanto on their own, unless they’re already somewhat familiar with the language. Too many words amongst the European tongues have very different meanings despite similar roots for the language to ever be easily intelligible.

 

Culture:

Many Lifers have an annoying and smug belief that their colony represents the future of mankind’s social development. To this end, they often jettison traditional cultural mores, considering them primitive. To their credit, their society is one of the most tolerant in the world. There is very little one can do in LFCAW, shorting of causing harm or damage, that will result in social criticism. Much of the colony is considered "clothing optional" although in truth Lifers adopt public nudity mainly at sea, on warm days. Nudity in daily life is absurdly impractical. Traditional family structures, although more common than alternative styles even here, is accompanied by all sorts of unconventional arrangements. The Kibbutz settlements of Maimonides aren’t as open minded. Although liberal by the standard of any other government, they represent the extreme of cultural conservatism in LFCAW.

 

Government

There are about a dozen law firms, some of the best humanity has to offer, working on the resolution of the Life Colony’s final status. The Life Foundation is adamant that it is not a sovereign nation. It is equally adamant that the colony will come under the sovereignty of no nation. While the status of "extra-national" territory is nothing new in human political history (Antarctica, for example, enjoyed such a status for a while), LFCAW is different in that it has a population, most of whom profess no nationality. There is a growing number of native born inhabitants with no nation of origin. Some residents still consider themselves citizens of their nation of origin, adding to the confusion. Belafonte, in particular, receives not only immigrants but physical (and moral) support from Caribe, and the Confederation of Palestine has given assistance to Maimonides. The Life Foundation has no problems with this, as neither Environ is entertaining any aspirations of leaving the colony and taking up as a colony of its associates Earth nation.

The question is a serious one. If the place is not under the administration of a nation, what is the legal authority of the government? Even Trilon, which administers an entire planet, claims to be doing so under the auspices of American sovereignty. And if the civil powers in place claim authority, which they do here in a vague sort of way, then why is it not a nation? The emerging consensus throughout human space is that LFCAW is a de facto nation, regardless of the status it claims for itself, and regardless of its status with regards to the Life Foundation. The Life Foundation, for its part, hesitates to define the status of LFCAW, although they are clear about defining what it’s not.

Decisions involving the overall development of the colony, and the management of the colony’s common infrastructure and public services, are made by the Council of Science and Engineering. In the interest of achieving the social structure of tomorrow, the colony is, in theory, a democracy. Almost all of the key decisions are placed on the communications net, at a site called the Public Forum, as referendums to be voted upon. Forums are posted along with the length of time available for response, typically a local year. (That’s only 41 local days, not a long time) Any resident of more than three years can post referendums. Each standard year, the Council begins its annual administrative cycle by posting the referendum: "Resolved: Whereas numerous daily administrative functions of the Colony are routine in nature, and expenditure of the time necessary to post the decisions regarding these functions in public forum would result in severe delays to public functions, as well as disruptions to necessary services, responsibility for these decisions is delegated to the Council of Science and Engineering. " This resolution has been adopted every year, giving the Council virtual control the detailed administration of the colony although the "nay" votes typically runs from 20 to 25 percent.

The Council itself is not an elected body. A roster of future council members is available for public inspection, and new members are chosen from this list (in order of their name being added to the list) as older members leave service. Terms of service usually end when a member decides to do something else, although a few determined members serve until death. In theory, anyone could have a council member dismissed, or a potential council member stricken from the list, by submitting a referendum on the matter to the Public Forum, and having more than 50 percent of the population vote against that person. In practice, this has never been successfully done, although the threat of this keeps the council in line with the general wishes of the population.

In keeping with the original intent to make LFCAW of moneyless community, taxes are not required of the population. Businesses do have to remit a portion of their profits (but typically not as much as they do in the Core). Residents, on the other hand, have the option of working part of the year for the Foundation in lieu of paying taxes. This can be through contributing to one of the Foundations research projects, or performing administrative or technical work in support of the Colony’s public functions, or even providing menial labor. The catch is that the Council, under the authority of the annual administrative resolution noted above, is solely responsible for determining when and where this duty will take place, and what it will consist of. The alternative offered is a traditional tax, forfeiting to the Council a portion of one’s economic gains for the year. More and more Lifers are selecting this option.

The Council does not pass laws, per se. Lawmaking is a function of a national government, and the Council refuses to admit to being one of these. Therefore, it enforces "Community Consensus Agreements" and other vaguely worded statutes that express the desires of the inhabitants of the colony. It neither creates nor enacts these rules. Thanks to the public resolution nature of the colony’s government, all "CCA’s " are created –suggested- by inhabitants (The foundation avoids the term "citizen. Again, the extra-national thing. Citizenship requires a nation to be a citizen of.)

Even a member of the Council of Science and Engineering, when posting a new Agreement to the Public Forum for a vote, does so in the role of Inhabitant, rather than Administrative Official. One may think the Public Forum is a hodgepodge of referendums posted by serous thinkers, activists, and outright quacks. LFCAW has a method for dealing with this. When responding to a referendum, a Lifer has three options: Yeah, Nay, or Ignore. The referendums are all listed on the Public Forum by the ratio of active responses, Yeah or Nay, to Ignore responses. Therefore, the referendums towards the top of the list tend to be the ones the inhabitants take more seriously. The ones towards the bottom are the ones being dismissed as wastes of time. There are a lot of creative solutions to the questions of politics in LFCAW, and this is one of them. This has also led to an interesting Lifer idiom. When a Lifer refers to something as being "bottom of the stack", it means he or she believes it to be a really dumb idea.

The referendum has also altered the nature of political campaigning in LFCAW. When one wants to spend money to back a political cause, it is the idea, not a political party or a politician than gets the support. After all, anyones can post a referendum, and the politicians don’t have the power to create it (aside, of course, form the minor administrative decisions). Therefore, the typical campaign consists of efforts to support a referendum question, which may begin long before the question is actually posted tot he Public Forum. The politically adept Lifer knows how to gauge the waters of public opinion, and post his or her pet referendum at the moment when support is beginning to peak. Naturally, there are a number of politically oriented media companies active in New Cambridge that will organize and produce the campaign, for a fee. These companies tend to be politically mercenary. They will be just as likely to campaign against a referendum as for it, depending on which side offers the more lucrative contract.

 

 

Diplomatic Representation and Foreign Policy

The only foreign office in the Colony is the Republic of Texas Liaison Office. On any given day, the vast majority of the non-Lifers (the locals refer to them as "nationals") present in LFCAW will be Texans, mostly from New Bexar, and mostly university students. The Life Foundation offices scattered throughout human space usually handle relations between LFCAW and various foreign governments. The Foundation is careful not to involve itself in international politics, at least not publicly.

Relations with the neighboring Texans are good on the official level, with numerous examples of cooperation between the two colonies. The Rectenna and the power sharing arrangements are a prime example, as is Stair University. There are a few difficulties on the private level, and these mostly relate to the protective attitude the Lifers have towards the ocean, and the occasional actions of Texan colonists not in keeping with that attitude. The Texans have a habit of mimicking some of the activities of the Lifers in regards to exploitation of the ocean’s resources, but in haphazard and often destructive ways. For example, they have ripped up entire seaweed beds in order to obtain the same fibers harvested by the Lifers. While the lifers do their harvesting with careful attention to environmental impact, the Texan colonists often work in ways minimizing the bed’s capability to restore itself. This has led to the Life Foundation colonists deciding that occasional sabotage of an irresponsible Texan seaweed harvest is justified. For their part, the situation almost makes the Lifers appreciate the fact that the Austin’s World ecosystem is too primitive to have produced significant petrochemicals, which require massive land based vegetation for large-scale formation. From the Texan point of view, the very small amount of seaweed harvesting actually done by the Texans might actually impact the Austin’s World ecology, but in five or six centuries, long after the ecology has been utterly distorted by other means.

When tensions are a their highest, Texan and Life Foundation law enforcement personnel frequently conduct joint operations. At their worst, these conflicts are creates only by a small fraction of the population in both colonies. The more routine problems are caused by Texan college students at Stair University, many of them from conservative backgrounds, newly exposed to the permissive atmosphere of the Life Foundation Colony, and overindulging.

 

 

Starship Operations

There are no facilities in LFCAW to support starship landings, and no facilities for interface operations, although there is a communications array that supports interface communications. LFCAW maintains an office on Texas’s orbital terminal, and all cargos and passengers reach the surface, or are brought to orbit, from New Bexar. The exceptions to this are the occasional small courier vessels that put down at the two major airfields in the colony, Dostoyevsky Field in Joyce Environ, and Wildsky Field in Belafonte. Neither airfield has facilities to service spacecraft, other than providing fuel. Nor do they have control facilities capable of directing a landing. Landings are restricted to favorable wind conditions. As a result, these fields are unavailable even for the rare scheduled landings about a third of the time. These facilities are used only by a handful of craft under special conditions, and only with the prior approval of the Life Foundation.

 

 

Transportation

Aircraft are rarely used on Austin’s world due the frequent high winds, the dust storms encountered over land, and the higher than normal gravity. The principal mode of transportation is by sea, with hydrogen powered ground vehicles providing transport on the islands. New Cambridge is the major port of entry, although small craft and ferries connect all of the inhabited islands.

After years of trying, the Life Foundation admitted, in 2282, that it could not operate a ferry service as efficiently as private industry. Bids were requested, and the proposal accepted was from Videmak Marine, based on Earth, and generally running coastal freighters in the Andaman Sea area. By what is clearly not coincidence, this contract was awarded just as the Life Foundation was pushing a strong recruitment drive in India. Videmak’s competitor’s cried foul, but the Life Foundation was and still is under no obligation to accept the lowest bidder in any request for offers. In fact, the policy of the Life Foundation is to specifically select bidders based on social obligations. Videmak leased from the Life Foundation the three hydrogen powered ferries then in service, and has since added two more. With some operating difficulties the first year, Videmak has since had its contract renewed, and it is expected to gain a second renewal in 2303. One of the strongest bypassed competitors was Wind Rock Line, a startup operation in New Bexar that expected some local loyalty. Eventually, the Life Foundation realized the value of maintaining a competitor to Videmak, and authorized Wind Rock Line to take over several ferry routes. Both lines are allowed to make the most important run- the crossing between New Cambridge and Travisville. Wind Rock’s inferior initial position was more than made up by the preferences of Texans (who make up a substantial portion of the traffic between the two colonies) for their countrymen’s enterprise, the two lines are now about equal in size. Videmak still has the edge in the inter-island service, and Wind Rock leads on the main run. Both lines have passenger, cargo, and vehicle capability. Rates are similar. Wind Rock’s service between Travisville and New Cambridge is faster by about twelve minutes, but travellers credit Videmak with better food. In addition to these two lines chartered by the Life Foundation, many boat owners, Texan and Lifer, pick up side cash making charter runs between islands. Many of the small craft, private as well as public, are sail powered, and some are hybrid sail-hydrogen powered vessels. Trimaran designs are popular for their sea keeping qualities. The Life Foundation has a number of its own vessels, all hybrid type trimarans. These are used in research and in a utility role. They will occasionally take passengers between islands. This irritates the ferry operators, but the real impact on their business is marginal. Such runs are generally made when a public interest is being served; for example, in transporting a research team to a survey site, or bringing in an engineering crew to establish a new settlement on an outlying island.

Road conditions outside of New Cambridge are generally poor, and even the minor roads in New Cambridge are considered questionable. One decent four lane highway connects New Cambridge with the industrial and mining settlements in Maimonides, and a reasonable roadway run along the leeward shore of Belafonte, then turns inland to connect the coastal communities with Wildsky field and the Windmill Farms. Hydrogen powered public busses link those communities that cannot adequately be served by sea. Many Lifers don’t own vehicles at all, walking, using busses, or getting around with watercraft. Those that do tend do buy durable, off road capable machines. Light trucks and vans are popular. Also, sales of off road motorcycles are rising rapidly in the colony. Hovercrafts are not so common as would be expected. This is an environmental phenomenon. Prior to the arrival of humans, Austin’s World’s landmasses were devoid of life. Between the lack of organic material in the soil and the strong winds, Austin’s World’s soil tends to contain a lot of loose, fine dust. This is bad enough when it’s only tires kicking up the dust. Hovercraft tend to produce huge blooms of opaque, choking dust when they speed across a section of drier than average soil. The normally tolerant Lifers draw the line here.

Hydrogen fuel and service support for vehicles is obtained through the network of Novvus Service Stations, chartered by the Life Foundation to operate throughout the colony. This special monopoly is granted with the proviso that Novvus will maintain service stations even in remote and unprofitable locations. The service stations themselves remain the property of the foundation. Novvus is merely the operator.

Air service is minimal and consists of private general aviation aircraft, some of which are available for charter, and Sunshine Aviation, a Belafonte based company that operates a few flights between Belafonte, New Cambridge, and New Bexar. Bad weather forces frequent delays, and costs are high, since Sunshine is taxed highly. Still, they’ll get passengers around much faster than the ferries will.

No rental agencies exist to serve visitors. Lifers in dire need of a vehicle for some important purpose will often be assigned one from the Life Foundation motorpool. Visitors may freely bring vehicles into the colony, although vehicle fees on the ferries are much higher than passenger fees. Companies in New Bexar often rent vehicles to be taken into the Life Foundation Colony. There is no licensing requirement, nor is there an insurance requirement.

Security and Intelligence Services, and Judicial System

The Lifers have an unusual approach to law enforcement. Rather than rely strictly on the token professional law enforcement staff available to the foundation, the inhabitants are empowered to enforce the colony’s rules and regulations. The colony’s leadership avoids the term "law", as it implies the kind of restrictive governance the Life Foundation Colony is supposed to eschew. The term "agreement" is more often used, although terminology varies.

The full time professional law enforcement unit is the Council’s Division of Public Safety. The name was appropriated from the Texas Rangers. It fits in well with the Lifer Ethos. If you’re going to have an armed body serving the public, might as well give it as uplifting and non-violent a name as possible. This is a small group. The island Environ of Belafonte has its own police force, with a dozen distinctively costumed officers. This gives a total of only 75 public safety specialists, the Life Foundation Colony has one of the smallest proportions of security officers to general population to be found in Human Space. Fortunately the careful recruitment strategy, and advanced social engineering, as well as small size and a very highly educated population, have resulted in a remarkably crime free society. There are the antics of university students run amok to contend with, and occasional frictions with the colonists of New Bexar, and every now and then one of the Lifers goes bad. Even more rarely, an off worlder arrives thinking to take advantage of the lax society of the colony. It’s always a mistake. Liberalness is not naivete, and the Lifers can take care of themselves in their own style.

The Life Foundation Colony has no official intelligence agency. That doesn’t mean they are clueless, in fact, they seem very knowledgeable about the goings on behind the curtains. They are surprisingly good at gleaning secrets from analysis of open source information. They also make use of the services of a number of amateur spooks, some of which occasionally obtain useful material. They are also provided with information by other members of the Foundation, which is well scattered across humanity’s little piece of the cosmos. LFCAW doesn’t actually have much in the way of intelligence needs, so it seems they are better served than they have to be. Still, the Lifers like to Know About Things, and if those things are considered secrets by somebody else, so much the better. Intelligence thus gathered is often used as a commodity in international relations. In other words, the Lifers will rat someone out to make a friend. Information processed from open sources is often added to Stair University’s curriculum. Some governments have been embarrassed by students being taught about incidents they had thought flawlessly concealed.

There is no conventional judicial system in LIFCAW. Disputes are settled by arbitration, or, as a last resort, by the Board of Ethics, convened by the Council of Science and Engineering when the situation requires. With no written code of criminal or civil law, the Board of Ethics decides the case on philosophical grounds. In the situation under examination, did the defendant act rightly or wrongly? That is the only question they seek to answer. Judicial and legal professionals throughout the Human sphere have ridiculed this solution to law, but in polls, lifers rate their Board of Ethics as more reliable and more likely to produce a just result than "nationals" rate their own legal systems. If anything, since there are no lawyers involved, the Life Foundation has achieved a system under which the personal wealth of the defendant has no bearing on the outcome of the case. Unless, he or she is smart enough to use that wealth to hire a Doctor of Ethical Philosophy as a coach. Most don’t think of this.

Community service is the most common punishment meted out by the arbitrators and the Board of Ethics. In typical Lifer style, the term "restitutive activity" is used instead of punishment. It means the same in the end. Fines are rarely used, as most people have no ability to pay them. Visitors and recent immigrants may be deported to their points of origin. LFCAW has a small, emergency detention facility in the Council of Science and Engineering’s Public Safety Annex Building. This can handle only a dozen people or so at a time, and is normally used to hold detainees only until the next ferry departure for Travis. LFCAW contracts out its prison requirements to the Texans. This has a strong deterrent effect, especially since the Life Foundation has no organization to whom a mistreated prisoner can complain.

 

 

Medical Services

Health care is provided free as an inalienable right to the inhabitants of the Life Foundation Colony, and as a free courtesy to visitors injures or falling ill while in the colony. Visitors arriving with a condition are billed by the Foundation for services rendered. Even so, it’s often cheaper than services in for profit institutions elsewhere. The Stair University Hospital, although small, is very advanced for a frontier world, and is often sought out by patients from New Bexar and elsewhere in the Latin Finger. Every now and then, some individual convinced of his own cleverness comes to the colony with an existing condition, stays a week or two, then tries to pass off the ailment as something recently acquired. These individuals are always sent packing, untreated, as the Lifers resent outsiders trying to cheat them. Their medical technology is certainly advanced enough top determine the age of a condition.

Patients in the colony are often at some distance from the hospital, and the colony is well supported by a large proportion of the population being medically skilled. It is not necessary for a person to have a license to practice medicine in the Colony, but since service is free, this laxity attracts no charlatans. Emergency medical facilities are kept aboard all of the Life Foundation’s larger trimarans, all of the ferries, and aboard many smaller craft, public and private. Still, distances are often great, and some lifers on the fringes of their civilization have died from injuries that would have been easily repaired, had they been close enough to New Cambridge.

 

 

LFCAW Military

The Life Foundation rejects the premise that is a de facto national entity, and asserts that it would therefore be inappropriate to maintain military forces. An armed Life Foundation force would also be contrary to the non-violent Universalist ethics of Lifers. But, it is recognized if not publicly admitted that every now and then the some less socially developed element of humanity forces the Foundation to perform a reality check. There will always be those problems best solved through discreet and judicious application of high explosives. When the need arises, the Life Foundation generally seeks eschews foreign assistance. They are Universalists, after all, and such blatant political alignment is against their creed. Of course, this is less of a problem when the villain is held in general low regard throughout humanity, such as the occasional terrorist organization. Most of the time, however, the Life Foundation turns to mercenaries to solve its more intractable problems. Even most mercenary organizations present the wrong image for the Lifers, and they are careful about who they select.

One mercenary company in particular has a long term contract to provide protective and rapid response services to the colony on Austin’s World . This firm, Broome and Van Peert Professional Services, Sb, keeps a low profile, with its office in Joyce comfortably out of sight. Contracted to maintain a thirty man force in LFCAW, they actually field slightly more, as they accept work outside the colony and use their Joyce office as a regional headquarters. B&VP troops aren’t the type to wear "death’s head" patches or other crude insignia. They have a reputation as a dignified, cultured, professional outfit. This suits the Life Foundation well. They would never allow one of the more "colorful" agencies to base themselves in their colony. B&VP, as far as is known, has no tactical vehicles on the planet, and a handful of heavy weapons at best. Most Lifers aren’t even aware of their function, although their presence is an open secret. They do seem evasive about their line of work, though. Most of the time, B&VP is occupied keeping an eye out for trouble and drafting and redrafting contingency plans to meet the changing needs of the colony. Within LFCAW, they haven’t fired a shot with intent to harm in years. Occasionally they provide bodyguards for individuals who have reason to believe their life is threatened. The last "real" action Broome and Van Peert was involved in, within the Life Foundation colony, was six years ago, and it began with an assignment of this nature.

As far as is known, the colony has no other military forces available.

 

Education and Research

Academia is the heart and soul of the Life Foundation Colony. Research efforts are centralized through Stair University, which overseas the assignments of field survey teams, and distributes grant money to the scientists and professors who work and teach at the University. Stair University is the only university (or college, for that matter) in the colony. It is also the best on the planet, among the top in the Chinese Arm, and is well regarded even in the core. The curriculum, while stretching to the bizarre at times, includes classical education as good as will be found anywhere. The programs in Ecoscience, Terraforming, Acquaculure, Planetary Management, Sociology, Xenology, and Civil Design attract students from everywhere. The local students make up a significant proportion of the student population as higher education is nearly universal in LFCAW, and there isn’t anywhere else to go. As of 2301, the student population (undergraduate and graduate) was as follows:

Life Foundation Colony Residents: 12,290

New Bexar (Texan Colony) Residents 11,470

Incan Colony Residents 1,200

From Elsewhere in the Chinese Arm 7,310

FromThe Core 16,940

From Other Arms 2,010

Total 51,220

Life Foundation Residents attend for free, and almost all colony residents of university student age attend. There is a small fee for the Incans, a larger one for the Texans, and high tuitions for everyone else, netting Stair University over 300,000,000 Lv in revenue, not including meal charges. Stair University is also the largest employer in the Colony, with over 7,000 making their primary living through the University.

Stair University is known for unconventional, out-of-classroom teaching methods designed to give students real world experience in addition to scholarly knowledge. This method also supplies Stair University with free labor to apply to projects. One area in which Stair University maintains a strong air of academic tradition is in the school ceremonies, especially the graduation ceremony, a long, pompous and tiresome affair at which students are congratulated, handed their degrees, and marched around while wearing gowns and square hats.

There is a reason for this, and it also explains the color of the gowns- white, whereas most universities still engaging in this quaint, ancient tradition (primarily in the United Kingdom, where the calendars have apparently been running backwards for quite some time now) use either black or traditional "School Colors". 5 years ago, a wealthy Texan alumnus, Phyllis Martinez, endowed the Phyllis Martinez Chair for Xeno-Ethical Studies. Grants from Texans are not unusual, as the population of New Bexar tends to look at Stair University as theirs as much as it is the Lifers. After all, the New Bexar enrollment is almost as high as the local enrollment. What was unusual in this case was that the endowment specified that the Chair was to be filled by a visiting Eber professor. Fortunately, Phyllis Martinez, through contacts at the New Austin enclave on Kormoran, had already arranged this with the Ebers. The first Eber professor arrived, accompanied by a small staff of Ebers, and a few family members, and their Texan interpreter/advisor, who had worked with the Ebers for some time on Kormoran. The advisor immediately suggested that the Eber be given an honorary degree and full professorship, since the Ebers understood the meaning of academic hierarchy and would feel discredited if their visiting professor lacked the credentials of its humans colleagues. The Texan also stressed that this be done in full academic ceremony; caps, gowns, speeches, a mediocre rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance" by the Stair University Band, etc.

The visiting Ebers were very impressed, and after that, did some research on their own through SUDAC, the Stair University computer. The seemed to regard the tradition of academic robes in human university tradition as very important, and informed the humans that were making serious mistakes in not preserving this ritual. Not wanting to offend, and in fact eager to "break the ice" with the Ebers, the Stair University officials agreed, and reinstated every academic tradition they could uncover. They were slightly perplexed when the Ebers then informed them that the color was wrong, and they ought to have white robes, especially considering the strong academic emphasis on philosophy. The humans took this to mean that white robes were the traditional garments of Eber philosophers, and happily went along with the Eber’s suggestion. This was facilitated by the fact that the most comfortable locally produced cloth, the seaweed derived "Marite", is a shiny white material in its undyed, newly processed state. Two other Ebers have occupied the Chair since, but all seem to agree on the importance of academic ceremonies, and all have attended every one they could. In the whole, it’s been good for the University. The tuition is high,, and so is the cost of getting there, but where else can you be assured, even if pursuing a degree in something utterly unconnected to Xeno-Ethical Philosophy (and each class in that always has a waiting list) that there will be an actual Eber giving a speech at the graduation ceremony?

 

 

Communications and Media

The wide range of entertainment and information available from the Life Foundation computer network, managed by Stair University’s "Distributed Computer" (so named since central functions area actually distributed amongst separate semi-parallel assemblies) covers just about anything one could possibly want to see or hear. This limits the audience for a conventional broadcast network. Netcasting is available almost everywhere in the colony. Most of the traffic is transmitted over the electromagnetic spectrum rather than cabled. This will be a problem if the colony grows- only so many frequencies are available, and sooner or later, there will be insufficient bandwith available to meet netcasting demands, and a hard wired system will have to be installed. The archipelago nature of the colony, with a widely dispersed population, will make this difficult.

Two major on-line services predominate in netcasting here. They don’t compete, in fact, both are elements of the Life Foundation. The Stair University Network makes scientific, educational, and cultural programs available, while the Life Forum Network handles programming of general interest, in addition to hosting the Public Forum and other instruments of civil function.

Other programming is handled by a variety of mostly amateur operated networks. The communications net here is only a tiny speck compared to the ones in the Core, but the Life Foundation sees a surprising variety of interests. Popular alternative netcasters here include Media Ghandi, with a strong spiritualist leaning, BelafonteNet, with its Caribbean heritage, and the comic but sharply political Lifer’s People’s Pontificating Popular Network of the People. This last group has taken upon itself to parody not only the Life Foundation, but every other institution and cultural icon held dear by Humanity. Their refusal to play favorites is probably the reason they are more loved than hated, although the Texans (New Bexar has full access to LFCAW based netcasting) do seem to believe they get singled out for LPPPNP’s abuse more than others.

There is no news network. Each of the netcasters mentioned above, and a number of small time operators, reports news of topical interest to them, and general news from the major interstellar networks is available from the Texan netcasters and broadcasters. (The data network connections run two ways.)

Belafonte has a small broadcasting service, playing ethnic music, located at Wildsky field. Their signal is hard to receive away from the island, although there is discussion about setting up repeater antennas in New Bexar, and New Cambridge.

 

 

Agriculture

Crucial to the planning of the Life Foundation’s Colony was the idea that it be agriculturally self supporting as soon as possible. Austin’s World offered the Life Foundation the advantage of having no existing land based ecosystem to compete with, along with the disadvantages of soil devoid of the organic nutrients necessary for crops, and a growing season and climate regime that can only be characterized as bizarre. Raising crops on Austin’s World means adapting the local soil, which contains no organics, for use by crop plants, which require rich, fertile soil. A number of techniques are in use to turn the sterile soil into living habitat. For example, LFCAW is one of the few places in Human space where organic solid waste has intrinsic value. Mixing with native soil and infused with the appropriate microbes is often the first step in establishing a new, seedable habitat.

Many of the Life Foundation’s research projects are aimed at agriculture. Two purposes are served, in addition to the expansion of food, textile, and organic chemical production. First, the data gained is distilled into scientific knowledge, which the Foundation can apply- and often sell- on other planets. Despite the vast differences between the ecosystems of different worlds, lessons learned on one can often be applied on others. Secondly, by participating in research work, the farmers become scientists as well as agriculturalists, and eligible for the official support of the Foundation. The situation is reminiscent of the American State of Vermont during the late twentieth century. There, small family farms, especially those raising wool producing sheep, were largely unprofitable. However, by keeping meticulous records, weights of livestock, wool production, feed and water consumption, etc., the farmers were participating in government run research programs, and therefore eligible for grants. These grants often made the difference between a failing farm and one capable of supporting the owners.

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The colony has experimented with literally thousands of different species of crop plants, and thousands of genetically engineered variations on those species. One of the themes is to produce as varied a diet as possible. Many plants, unfortunately, have had great difficulty adapting to conditions on Austin’s World. Many of the most successful ones have been those that require high concentrations of nutrients and water, allowing the farmers to limit their efforts to small, high performance areas rather than terraforming vast plots. Plants that grow low to the ground, and can therefore be more easily protected by windbreaks, also have an advantage. To date, LFCAW farmers have achieved great success with peas and other legumes, melons, pumpkins and squashes, potatoes and root vegetables of all sorts, and rice. The most successful livestock have been chickens, although there is a growing population of goats on Belafonte, which provides meat and dairy products to the rest of the colony.

The Lifers are better known for their success with marine harvesting. This is the term in general use here, preferable to "fishing" firstly because the oceans of Austin’s World have no fish, and secondly because the term embraces the collection of other marine organism, such as plants and sessile animals. In addition to food, the Lifers harvest a variety of useful materials from marine organisms. Many of the local creatures are edible and the Life Foundation s working hard to make the experience of eating them actually enjoyable. Skreels, meter long school swimming, siphon propelled micro-carnivores occupying a niche similar to the Earth sardine, are actually quite tasty. Biologically, they are closer in structure to worms than eels, and some of the Lifers have proposed renaming them "Sea-Worms" to better reflect their structure, with the added bonus that the Texans will be less prone to over-harvest the creatures if they thought they were eating worms.

Some native plants and animals are harvested for non-food products. Several aquatic plants yield natural fibers from which textiles can be woven. Chavribe fibers are strong and yield a material similar in many qualities to hemp. Marite is processed from a different species. It is a soft, lightweight cloth, pale white in its raw (but bleached) form. Marite is a popular textile used in locally produced clothing, as it takes to dyes well. The tough skin of the stinger, the poisonous squidlike carnivore that is the only really dangerous native creature, can be used like leather to produce shoes, belts, and other items. The stinger is actually a "triple payoff" creature. Aside from the leathery skin, the flesh is edible and the poison, properly extracted, is being researched as a source of veterinary drugs. Finally, there are the long, free floating colonial organisms called Colonellids. These creatures, which are actually attached groupings of independent organisms (similar in concept to Earth’s Portuguese Man Of War) look like strings of giant, moss covered pearls. The melon like "pearls" are filled with a natural fatty liquid and serve the creature as buoyancy chambers. The substance is also the basis of the Life Foundation Colony’s organic chemistry and plastics industries, both small and serving primarily domestic needs.

There have been several experiments concerned with the adaption of Earth marine organisms to the Austin’s World environment. Several species of shrimp have been successfully raised in small, coastal farms. Shrimp farming is spreading, in the Life Foundation Colony and in New Bexar, and the shrimp themselves have spread beyond the farms. According to the Lifers, the spreading Earth shrimp are all of Texan origin- and despite Texan denials, Stair University has collected the DNA evidence to prove it. This leads to some friction with the Texans, over the subject of proper stewardship of the native environment. The Texans responded with a series of animated cartoons, telling the story of the fictitious sentient and civilized species of Austin’s World. Tiny marine invertebrates, these hapless beings fight a losing battle trying to save their planet and their highly advanced culture from the depredations of invading, alien, giant shrimp.

The Life Foundation has made exploitation of local food sources a priority. To this end, they actively promote development of cuisine utilizing native species. Would be colonial chefs, take note: this is the only colony in Human space willing to hand out research grants for the development of recipes. Much of the colony’s achievements take some getting used to. Sometimes, that proves impossible, but there have been a few discoveries the Lifers can take pride in. Simmered Brachasoid with Onion and Grated Goat Cheese is not one of them, but Spiced Fillet of Dusky Shelled Siphonolate is. Eat carefully.

 

 

Finance

Originally, the Life Foundation planned to institute a cashless society in the colony. People would contribute their labors freely, and the colony would distribute goods and services as they were required. In hindsight, one wonders how such an organization, with access to some of humanities most brilliant minds, could have actually believed this. It’s not a matter of ideology- economic science has long proved that, as meteorologists are limited in their ability to forecast weather conditions, economists cannot forecast the minutia that would be required to efficiently direct a command economy. Simple problems like calculating the relative value of, say, an hour of a carpenter’s time compared to a kilogram of iridium, over time, are forever beyond the capability of even the most powerful computers. Furhtermore, wiothout a money sytem in place it would impossible for Lifers to interact with outsiders on an individual level, and visitors to the colony would have similar problems.

Conveerting back to a money based economy, however, had problesm as well. In particular, the actual money supply in the Life Colony wasn’t up to the task, and the colony was immediately thrown into a severe cash flow problem. This was resolved with a patch-together solution, the "GASILOS" system. This acronym stands for "Goods and Services in Lieu of Salary". At first, it was a means to measure the monetary value of items for personal use furnished to the colonists by the Life Foundation. It is now the basis of an elaborate barter based trade system mediated by the Stair University Computer. It is still not as flexible as a pure monetary system, but the Lifers have unusual faith in their computer. Gradually, as the money supply improves, the colony is converting to a monetary base. For ease of commerce with their near neighbor, (Their nearer and much, much larger neighbor) the Life Foundation Colony adopted the Texas Dollar as their medium of exchange.

All transactions are carried out through the communications network, mediated by the Stair University computer. Visitors must establish an account upon arrival. This can be done only at the ferry terminals at New Cambridge and the other islands, or at Dostoyevksy or Wildsky fields. The unintended side effect of this policy is to render unofficial visiting very difficult, as the "off the net" economy is extremely small.

 

Commerce

 

There are two centers of commerce in LFCAW. Neither are great trading centers, as the colony offers a small and remote market, overlooked by most of the major corporations. Both offer a small number of retail shops, restaurants, professional offices, a "Novvus" service station, and other institutions. Most of these companies are new arrivals, as the colony has only been attractive to since the phasing in of the Texas Dollar. The larger of the two is Satyagraha Square, the waterfront area surrounding the ferry terminal. (The name is taken from a central philosophy of Ghandi, and means "grasping or holding to the truth"). Satyagraha Square is home to the colony’s premier hotel, the Windbreaker, as well as a franchise of Route 66. This very popular Texan restaurant chain has a strong following here. While not as legendary as the Route 66 on the Orbital Terminal, New Cambridge’s is the largest Route 66 on the planet.

The other commercial area in New Cambridge is the Stair University Commercial Quarter, e wedge shaped area extending from the heart of the university complex out towards the central area of New Cambridge. This strip caters to the students and faculty of Stair University. The restaurants are cheaper and more exotic, and the same can be said for most of the shops. One standout establishment is Poetic Justice. This sprawling enterprise combines a café, a performance space used by cutting edge- perhaps a bit beyond the cutting edge- entertainers, and a book store. That’s an old fashioned, ink on pressed wood pulp bookstore, one of the few in existence. Poetic Justice is also the only literati hangout this side of Beta Hydri. Nearby is the other extreme of LFCAW culture, the noisy, rowdy Klub Arktika. It attracts an entirely different sector of the student population than Poetic Justice.

The other Environs all have small commercial areas, generally a few shops along a single street.. Plato has a "people’s mall" selling locally produced artwork, although pieces can also be found- at higher prices- in shops in Satyagraha Square. Belafonte’s clothing stores are better stocked than most of the others in Colony. In all, New Bexar offers far more variety of almost everything, and many Lifers hop a ferry to Travisville for shopping sprees

 

 

Power

Most of the electric power in LFCAW is provided by the Rectenna complex, located on the fringe of Joyce. This is not one Rectenna but several, co located with the colony’s surface to space communication and tracking antennas. (It’s a fortunate thing the Life Foundation has no real enemies. Such an arrangement, although convenient from an engineering point of view, presents a very tempting military target.) The Rectennas receive power beamed down from satellites in the form of microwaves, and retransmit it throughout the colony. The initial investment is high, but the systems life this produce very low cost power once operational. LFCAW’s Rectenna complex provides power to the Texan and Incan colonies as well, and the other colonies share in the operating expenses. In particular, the satellites are maintained from the Texan orbital terminal. The Incans are tasked only to maintain their stretch of the power transmission network.

The Rectenna has limitations, the primary one being the limited coverage of the colony’s power transmission network, compared to the dispersion of the population. Some of the lifers have turned to alternate sources of energy. The most common is wind power. Exploited for years by sea going Lifers, it was ignored as a power source on land. Things changed after cylindrical sails began appearing on Life Foundation vessels. Unlike conventional sails, this tall round towers use wind power to spin a flywheel, which in turn provides electric power. Unlike conventional sails, its efficiency doesn’t vary with wind direction. They were quickly adapted for use on land, where the strong prevailing winds of Austin’s World provide a reliable, clean source of energy. A company on Nobel now churns out several cylindrical sail towers a week, and they are beginning to sprout up throughout the more remote reaches of the Colony. A long line stretches across a region of central Belafonte, not only providing power to the island, but acting as a visual flight aid for landings at Wildsky Field.

 

 

Industry and Mining

Industry in LFCAW is small in scope and geared towards local needs. Particular attention has been paid towards development of substitute products where the resources of Austin’s World have been unable to meet the need. For example, the planet has so far proven to be extremely short on petrochemicals. This is understandable. The vast terrestrial forests that perished to form Earth’s petrochemical reserves never existed here. Hydrogen is certainly readily available as a fuel, being derived from water by means of Rectenna or wind provided power. Plastics, and other petroleum based products are harder to replace, but progress has been made towards exploiting native sea life as a source. Without oil, there is no asphalt from streets. Fortunately, enough calcium using organisms have lived on Austin’s World to bequeath the colonists some supplies of limestone. Little of this is quarryable construction stone, but it can be converted to lime of the production of cement. There are cement plants in Joyce and Cervantes, colocated with quarries that serve the handful of engineering firms operating in the colony, producing quality glass fiber reinforced silica-lime concrete.

Metal extraction, from seawater and from conventional mines, is concentrated in Maimonides, as are the refining, milling and production industries. Exploitable deposits of aluminum (bauxite), copper, iron, titanium, manganese, molybdenum, and precious metals have been found. Production, thus far, is small. Analysis of the planet’s geochemistry, however, indicates that there is lot more of everything to be found. Economically recoverable deposits of Molybdenum, an element less common in the Earth’s crust than Tantalum (though slightly) have given a few prospectors hope that the latter will be found. As the bulk of the planet is under water, finding the stuff, if it exists in useable deposits at all, won’t be easy. Up until now, geologic research hasn’t been a high priority, but the Life Foundation Colony, as well as New Bexar, expect to step up efforts in the future. Most of the settlements in Maimonides are designed after the Kibbutz model. Actually, the whole colony, in creating a viable communal economy from uninhabitable land, has been following the Kibbutz model. Only in Maimonides has this been generally recognized, though. Each Kibbutz is a small settlement with a handful of farms and a central economic activity. Tasks are rotated among the inhabitants, and all major property is communally owned. Factories in Maimonides produce light consumer goods, parts for vehicles and machinery, scientific instruments, and personal equipment.

The popularity of marine travel has allowed one boat and ship building concern to take root and prosper. CivilCraft is headquartered in New Cambridge, where it has its major yard. Working with locally derived materials, imported components from New Bexar and Austin’s World, and a member of subcontractor’s particularly in Maimonides, CivilCraft manufactures everything from small personal sailing craft tot he 1000 ton Arista and 500 ton Beluga class hybrid sail/hydrogen powered trimarans. These two ship types are used by the Lifers as general utility craft, scientific survey ships, and fishing vessels. Trimarans offer good sea keeping abilities and high deck area to displacement ratios, with relatively low mass, and have become the nautical design of choice. CivilCraft is partly responsible for their popularity.

 

Entertainment and the Arts

Plato, the most rural and least developed Environ on Bowie Island, is home to Austin’s World’s one significant artist’s colony. A decidedly retro group, the Plato artists believe in working with the most ancient of humanity’s materials: natural pigments, clay, glass, whatever else the island provides.

There is a small virtual theatre complex in New Cambridge, and of course the Stair University Student Association Theater. Other entertainment available in the colony includes the stage area in Poetic Justice, and Stair University’s Athletic Center. Athletics ranks somewhat lower in priority at Stair University than it does at many other academic centers, and is not a profit center for the institution. Due to the lack of other large educational institutions on the planet, the teams from Stair University take on amateur leagues and government sponsored leagues from the rest of the Life Foundation Colony,. And from New Bexar as well. Stair University’s Department of Psychosocial studies sponsors the school’s Bucketball team, which meets challengers in the Texan orbital terminal. As is normal for the Lifers, the biggest associated issue is the naming of the teams. After years of contention, the Bucketball team was recognized as the University All-Stairs. Their record is spotty. Generally on the bottom of the Bucketball pecking order, there are occasional years when they dominate the Latin Finger..

Homegrown entertainment in the performing arts is a rarity in the colony, with the exception of those well intentioned but amateurish productions of the Stair University Student body. The colony is a strong if small market for importers of entertainment recordings of all sorts- music, multimedia, holo, the Lifers will take what they can get. Since cash flow is a running problem in the colony, Lifers are often willing to turn a blind eye to copyright violations, if the price is right.

The Living Gallery in New Cambridge presents a view of Terraforming as an art form. Alongside 3D images of sections of the Austin’s World landscape prior to development, there are realtime displays, fed by distant imagers, of those same areas as they appear currently, having been transformed by Life Foundation knowledge and effort. Whether or not this is art is a moot point, but the Living Gallery is an excellent showcase of the Life Foundation’s terraorming skills.

 

Recreation

Most people don’t pick the Life Foundation Colony as a relaxing vacation spot. Recreation opportunities here are pretty much what people invent for themselves. Competitive sports are popular at the amateur level, and some semi-pro teams have a following, but professional sports have pretty much ignored the colony so far. Facilities for many sports for amateurs are pretty hard to come by, and high winds, which are frequent, can distort many outdoor games. The largely barren, windswept landscapes, though slowly being replaced with familiar Earth ecologies, are uninspiring for nature lovers. There is also the wind to contend with. The sea offers richer possibilities, and the Lifers enjoy boating, swimming, fishing, and diving. Only the Windbreaker, the top hotel in New Cambridge, offers assistance to visitors wishing to partake in these activities, They rent out diving equipment and small boats, and have instructors and guides available.

Recreational aviation is gaining in popualrity here. Personal gliders and ornithiders are available at Dostoyevsky field, and to a lesser extent at Wildsky field. Adventurous individuals should be forwarned: Austin’s World’s weather patterns make this activity uniquely challenging, and there have been anumber of fatalities. The high winds work both for and agaisnt the recreational flyer, nadn the high gravity defitely works against. Still, it is safe if reasonable precautions are followed, and the flyer stays within his or her personal limits.

 

The Life Foundation Recruitment Program

The Life Foundation Colony is not a "we’ll take anybody" sort of colony. In theory, anyone could wander in and set up a home on an uninhabited island- and in the case of new Lichtenstein, this has been done. In practice, its very difficult to survive as an independent. Almost all of the immigrants to the colony have come at the request of the Life Foundation.

The Life Foundation recruits in two ways. First, they are actively looking for educated motivated people who already share the social ideal of the Life Foundation. These individuals are often seeking the Life Foundation in return. Unfortunately, people like these are often lacking in the practical skills needed to make a colony work. Stair University certainly employs a lot of ivory tower types, but the fact is that the Life Foundation Colony can find jobs for only so many Aromatherapy Specialists and Hierarchical Behavior Consultants. If these people have no other useable skills, or refuse to use them ("Drive a bus? Do you think I earned a doctorate to drive a bus?") they cannot be absorbed into the colony. In these instances, the recruit will be offered another position at another Life Foundation office, if one is available. Since the Life Foundation has operations spread out across Human Space, and practical working types are in demand only at the Austin’s World colony, a good position can often be found. The individual will then be put on a waiting list, with the hope that sooner or later his or her particular specialty will be needed on Austin’s World.

The second method is to identify an entire social group that already looks like they will make promising colonists, and start educating them about the Life Foundation, its creeds, and the opportunities it offers. A few years of intense education efforts (propaganda, to some) will usually create a segment of the population willing to relocate. This is generally done in nations that have no colonization program of the own, where people are longing for the possibliites of moving out to the frontier. Successful drives have been mounted in New Zealand, India, the Netherlands, and Caribe.

 

Stair University Distributed Autonomous Computer

The Life Foundation, until eleven years ago, maintained one of the most advanced computer systems on Earth. The computer was referred to as a "distributed system". That is, the computers activities were actually the functional sums of numerous subordinate activities taking place throughout linked hardware modules connected by the an optical network. The system was designed to reconfigure itself to optimize performance, and at its height, there were no computer engineers on Earth or anywhere else who really understood how it derived its more complex solutions.

Despite the obvious advantages of being on Earth at the heart of human knowledge and expertise, the entire system was dismantled and moved to Austin’s world, with the express intent of it becoming the central computer system for Stair University and the colony as a whole. The Life Foundation is very secretive about why this was done. Some of the rumors indicate that the system, now called SUDAC, was a fully sentient artificial intelligence. One source closer to the project indicated that the computer experienced frequent data attacks on Earth, a result of being, to hackers, the world’s most interesting target. Other speculation revolves around the Life Foundation achieving a hardware or software breakthrough it didn’t wish to share with the rest of humanity, and Austin’s World was chosen as it is comfortably removed. SUDAC may also have been moved to Austin’s world in an attempt to shore up the failing cashless economy, by predicating and tracking absolute and relative values of goods and services as they fluctuate in real time, a multiply iterative task beyond the capabilities of ordinary computers. Finally, there is the possibility, and this is openly discussed by the Life Foundation, of the Foundation’s entire operating structure being moved to Austin’s world, as part of a massive acceleration of the colony’s development. All of these should be taken with substantial cubes of salt. Remember that the Life Foundation always talks about a lot more than it actually does.

SUDAC now provides for the official data processing needs of the entire colony, although many inhabitants posses their own house and portacomps. It’s capabilities are a benefit to Austin’s World as a whole. SUDAC’s weather prediction accuracy is unmatched by the best systems on Earth, Tirane, or Beta Canum Venaticorum. In defense of the weather modelling systems in use on those three world’s , however, Auston’s world appears to haver much simpler meteorological processes. Not so much land mass, little variance in surface albedo, etc.

SUDAC has numerous functions, including the selecting of investments for the Life Foundations various low and medium liquidity funds. It does this with accuracy so uncanny that many brokers throughout human space eagerly await each of SUDAC’s new selections. It’s no secret that SUDAC keeps the entire Life Foundation in black ink. The Lifers hardly have a workable economy on their own. Visitors who have been permitted to interface with SUDAC do come away with the feeling that the system is sentient. It communicates effortlessly in English, Esperanto, or a number of other languages, although it often asks unfamiliar speakers to repeat phrases. Official Life Foundation information, although sketchy, suggests that while it is not sentient, it is very advanced and designed to model sentience.

 

 

 

Wildlife

It’s well known, and has been known for some time, that the indigenous ecosystem of Austin’s world is being slowly and irrevocably destroyed. The Department of Ecological Science at Stair University has conducted numerous studies confirming this is so. With the introduction of Earth based agriculture to the colony world, contamination of the world with Earth native microbial life is widespread, and would be despite any control efforts, which there aren’t. According to researchers at Stair University, given any such biological invasion, and given the ability of both Earth Life and Austin’s World Life to metabolize each other, the less capable ecosystem will have to adapt to the former or be eventually destroyed. Conflict at the macro level will mimic the conflict at the micro level, but despite being more visible, it is the microbes that really matter in the long run. And Earth microbes appear to be more capable than the locals. In short, imported Earth shrimp won’t destroy the Austin’s World marine ecosystems, it will be the microbes imported with those shrimp, which will either force native microbes to adapt, or destroy them. Since the Earth shrimp are then better adapted to the triumphant Earth micro-biota system than are their native macro competitors, the shrimp will triumph. Interestingly, the models developed by the Department of Ecological Science show that the only factor that can be realistically controlled is the "progression rate" of any such inter-eco conflict. And since this rate can never be brought to zero, the conflict will always progress. Further, despite the best efforts of Earth’s Quarantine Command, Stair University’s models indicate that some leakage will occur, and unless (low probability) Earth organisms are more advanced at the metabolic level than any potential competitor, Earth’s ecosystem too will one day be irrevocably altered by cross-biological contact.

That doesn’t mean destroyed, of course, it means altered. Unfortunately, chaos enters the equations and it becomes impossible to predict which species from the losing side will survive, and in what form and role. Presented here are a few species from the waters of the Life Colony- there is no native life on land- that may not be around very long, geologically speaking. Native animals on Austin’s world are all invertebrates. They span an unusual range of forms, compared to Earth organisms. Then again, amongst the marine invertebrates, Earth organisms span an unusual range of forms, compared with Earth organisms. The lesson here is that with marine organisms, anything goes. It’s believed only a fraction of the species on the planet has been identified.

Stinger

Killer. No. Appearing: 1 Initiative: Melee Hit Chance: Routine, Size: 20Kg Speed 40* Armor .1, Consciousness: 2 Life: 4 WPM –2 DPV .2 Signature –6

The Stinger is a squid like creature, its tentacles joined by a membrane to form an umbrella like structure. It is the only creature on Austin’s World considered significantly dangerous to humans. The stinging elements are at the tips of the arms. Normal behavior for these creatures is to swim up to and sting a free swimming prey creature, then engulf the immobilized creature in its arms for feeding. Although dangerous, the stinger is economically useful. It is not only edible (the poison sacs are nowhere near the meat portion of the animal, it is also a source of durable leather like hide as well. It should be noted, a leather like material with better resistance to the marine environment than conventional animal skin based leather.

Attacks by stingers are rare, as the animal doesn’t perceive humans, or anything too big to be engulfed, as potential prey. Most stingings are the result of animals being caught or molested by humans.

Stingings are resolved by adding two task roles to be made after being hit by a stinger:

Avoid Venom Injection: Routine, Instant

Success indicates the stinger has not injected a significant amount of toxin.

Failure: Proceed to next task.

Avoid Catastrophic Reaction to Venom: Routine, Size, 20 Seconds, Hazardous

Success: Burning, Swelling of Stung Area. 1 shock point.

Failure: 1d6 Shock points. Victim immobilized by pain, muscle spasms 1 hour per shock point.

Minor Mishap: Near Fatal Poisoning. Victim will be comatose 1d10 x 1d10 Hours

Major Mishap: Fatal Poisoning

 

Colonelid

Grazer. No. Appearing: 2D6 x D10 1 Initiative: 1 Melee Hit Chance: None, Size: 10 Kg Speed 10 Armor 0 Consciousness: ? Life: 3 WPM -4 DPV 0 Signature 0 (Aggregate)

The stats above are for an individual creature. Groups of Colonelids will form long chains, or occasionally, rings, when the end creatures of a chain meet and attach. Each creature appears to be a whitish sphere with shaggy growths. The spheres contain commercially valuable natural oil. The creature consumes macroplankton and larvae. Some researchers believe the spheres are sensitive to pressure changes int eh water, and by comparing the input of the whole string of creatures, a kind of invertebrate interferometry, predators and rocks may be detected and avoided. The creature is of particular interest to scientists, as it is a large and complex colonial organism, a rarity on all but one other planet, which has taken the theme to ridiculous extremes..

 

Disk Basker

Intermittent. No. Appearing: 1D6 Initiative: 2 Melee Hit Chance: Difficult, Size: 100 Kg Speed 40 Armor 0, Consciousness: 6 Life: 10 WPM 0 DPV .1 Signature 0

A free swimming disk shaped creature, commonly found near the ocean surface, feeding on pelagic plants. The Disk Basker supports a symbiotic growth of simple plants on its back. These plants benefit by being protected from predators. The Basker apparently obtains some sustenance from the plants. The Basker has a sphincter like jawless mouth, with a number of independently moving hard "teeth" inside which it uses to grind up plant material. The mouth is too weak to grasp and hold a human hand or foot.

 

 

 

 

Clurtle

Gatherer. No. Appearing: 1 Initiative: 2 Melee Hit Chance: Difficult, Size: 20 Kg Speed 40 Armor 0.4 Shell, 0.1 Elsewhere, Consciousness: 2 Life: 4 WPM –1 DPV .1 Signature –4, None while buried.

A bottom dweller, the Clurtle prefers silty areas where it can quickly bury itself into the ooze. The Clurtle is a clam like animal, reaching up to a third of a meter across, with large fleshy paddles that stick out between the shells. These paddles enable it to swim in the fashion of an Earth sea turtle- hence the name Clurtle, a combination of clam and turtle. It consumes macro plankton and detritus it finds on the sea floor. An organ in the Clurtle, the creatures equivalent of a liver, concentrates metals ingested during its feeding. Although biologists have yet to determine any benefit to the creature resulting from this, prospectors have discovered that by analyzing Clurtle livers, one can determine with fair accuracy the geochemical composition of the sea floor.

 

Shovelhead

Hunter. No. Appearing: 1 Initiative: 3 Melee Hit Chance: Difficult, Size: 20 Kg Speed 60 Armor 0.3 Shell, 0 Elsewhere, Consciousness: 2 Life: 4 WPM –1 DPV .1 Signature –4,

The shovelhead is a member of the same order as the Clurtle. In the shovelhead’s case, evolution has reduced the coverage of the shells so it protects only the front of the creature, while the paddles have become much more powerful, the rear two fusing to form a tail. The Shovelhead hunts its food from under the bottom silt, digging out smaller creatures, eggs, and other edibles. The name describes the hunting technique pretty well. Shovelheads are edible, and tasty, and are best accompanied by a dry white wine.


 

 

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Last modified: Sunday, March 12, 2000 06:33 PM