Diverse origins of the colonies

We'll build a world of our own
That no one else can share.
All our sorrows we'll leave far behind us there.
And I know you will find
There'll be peace of mind
When we live in a world of our own.

Tom Springfield A World of Our Own, 1965

The means of interstellar travel that were available during the Age of Emigration had economies of scope and diseconomies of scale that encouraged colonists to scatter more widely than they would have done with a more convenient means of transport. Before a single colony world was anything like “full” there were half a dozen worlds populous and urbane enough to attract unadventurous mainstream migrants. Worlds near Earth were settled soonest because they were scouted first. Cheap transport to even distant destinations encouraged the foundation of utopist and separatist colonies on over six hundred worlds in less than three centuries. When Earth was destroyed that left people isolated, on, or on their way to, 650 colonies on diverse worlds, mostly with interesting plans for establishing ideal societies.

Modern interstellar ships have re-opened the frontier to such colonies as have become crowded, but they have made new colonies much less daring and less isolated than the primary colonies were. The upshot is a shell of secondary colonies surrounding the sphere of primary colonies, much younger, and with very different characteristics.

Diverse origins have combined with diverse environments to produce diverse societies.

Technology of interstellar colonisation

Emigration from Earth: the Ramotswe warp encapsulator

Emigration from Earth throughout the Emigration Period (AD 2091 — 2353) was effected using devices known technically as “Ramotswe warp encapsulators” and colloquially as “flingers”. A warp encapsulator was a very large piece of equipment — even in their highest refinement they were still hundreds of kilometres in extent — and rather delicate. They would function only when they were at least 1.6 astronomical units from Sol, and were easier to operate further out. Operating costs were low, and the cost of construction (which was significant) could be amortised over very long operating lifetimes. Flingers were built in orbit between Mars and the asteroid belt, with periods of two to three years. The orbit could be altered after construction, but the procedure was tricky, and flingers did not function while suspended in powered orbits etc.

The function of a flinger was that you put a spaceship or a bundle of supplies into it, and then over a span of several days the flinger wove a warp capsule around its contents. On its completion the warp capsule would fly off at the speed of light, carrying its contents with it. The direction could be set very precisely, but only within a restricted field close to “directly away from the Sun”. The upshot of that is that each flinger could only launch warp capsules towards destinations close to the plane of its orbit, and towards each of those only a few times in a narrow launch window that recurred every two to three years.

The first Ramotswe warp encapsulator was Flinger #1, which was built as a research project in physics and astronomy, and funded through an international consortium of universities with enormous financial contributions from the science budgets of several wealthy countries. The first flinger used for interstellar migration was Bifrost, which was built by the Interplanetary Society for the purpose of establishing the colony Avalon on Tau Ceti. The Interplanetary Society collected grants from governments and NGOs, gathered donations from philanthropists and enthusiasts rich and poor, ran lotteries and fundraising events, sold merch, and crowdfunded sub-projects over more than a decade to build the road by which Humanity could march to the stars.

To make the most of their flingers, the builders built them in orbits that allowed each one to service two or if possible more popular destinations, and access to those destinations amortised the investments. This meant that the operators of flingers could provide transport to any other destinations that happened to lie in the plane of their flingers’ orbit at small additional cost. They were usually eager to sell these opportunities to independent colony ventures, usually much cheaper than the price of travel to a highly-desirable destination. This technico-economic feature of Ramotswe warp encapsulators encouraged emigrants to spread out to many more star systems than they might otherwise have done.

Warp capsules travelled at the speed of light, and no time passed within them. Thus the cost and perceived duration of travelling in one was independent of the distance travelled. The early ones continued until they reached a point where the gravity distorted them beyond the limits of their stability. Then they tore open, dissolving into a flash of gravity waves and intense radiation that was, fortunately, all directed outwards from the contents. In the last century of emigration for Earth improved flingers were devised that could produce controlled instability in the warp capsules, so that they would oscillate gently for a determined time and catastrophically fail at a determined distance. This feature was used as a backstop to aiming inaccuracies and to ease the difficulty of hitting such small targets as low-mass stars at large distances.

Flingers delivered ships and cargoes to places in orbit around stars, not directly to planets. Functional spaceships were required in the destination systems to collect cargo and passenger deliveries from deep space and deliver them to the habitable planets. Early deliveries of pioneers and pioneering supplies also included reusable ships and surface-to-orbit lighters. Later settlers travelled in passenger containers, which doubled as supplies of recyclable high-tech materials. They thus saved the cost of a spaceship for a one-way journey.

Transport by flinger and warp capsule is most unpromising for trade, because of the time delays involved. The construction of flingers was justified entirely by emigration and not at all by commerce. No colony world built its own flinger during the Emigration period, and no flingers were shipped in part to the colonies until after the destruction of Earth. Between 2353 and about 2568 some of the survivors in the Solar System disassembled modern flingers and shipped the parts to Aeneas, Iter, Mayflower, Simanta, and Tau Ceti, along with much other salvage, as part of their evacuation. Only Tau Ceti and Simanta re-assembled any of their flingers, and they did not put them to any significant use.

Because warp capsules to a colony and signals from it to Earth travelled alike at the speed of light, any person embarking for a colonies would do so with information about conditions at his or her destination at least eleven or twelve years out of date and perhaps as much as 146 years old. When the migrant arrived a similar period would have elapsed, and proportionate developments have occurred within it. If an unanticipated need arose there was no prospect of sending to Earth for special equipment or emergency replacements: decades, generations, or even centuries would pass before an order could be filled.

Secondary colonisation: the Eichberger device

During the Age of Piracy and since 557 ATD new colonies have been established using interstellar spaceships that travel at about one thousand times the speed of light, by using Eichberger devices. Frontier worlds receiving pioneers and immigrants are about forty to ninety light-years from the rich and populous worlds that produce numerous emigrants, so the journeys take fifteen to 33 days. Return is possible. Trade is feasible. Up-to-date information about conditions at the destination is available before embarkation. Unexpected developments can be met by sending for suitable replacements and special supplies.

Pioneering is much less daring now.

Flinger #1 and the Search for Habitable Extrasolar Planets

The first Ramotswe warp encapsulator was built in the 2050s, by an international research consortium, with grants from the science budgets of multiple countries. It came into operation in AD 2059, launching a probe to Alpha Centauri. The intended purpose of Flinger #1 was to explore a few dozen stars that were either nearby or especially scientifically interesting, but its built characteristics incidentally offered the opportunity to send probes to a great many other stars for little more than the cost of the probes. The Flinger #1 consortium did not have funding to undertake a systematic search for habitable planets, but its staff informally co-ordinated the [i]Search for Habitable Extrasolar Planets[/i] (SHEP program), in which participating parties paid the Flinger #1 Consortium to despatch robot probes — not to destinations of great scientific interest but to systems where telescopic astronomy suggested the existence of a habitable planet, and to other systems that seemed promising but where the astronomy was inconclusive.

Flinger #1 remained in service for seventy years, and despatched SHEP probes to several thousand systems. Many of the probes were built to standard designs with off-the shelf components; they were within the means even of many universities. Each probe belonged, not to any centralised authority but to whatever institution paid for it. When later a principle was established that the colonisation rights to any inhabited planet belonged to the owner of the probe that discovered it (or their successors, assigns, or heirs), such rights were in the hands of hundred of owners and readily available to be bought, even on speculation.

Besides an orbital platform with cameras and so forth, packages of sensors to be dropped onto the planet's surface, every SHEP probe necessarily included a microwave phased array emitter or (later) signal laser with which to return information to Earth. SHEP probes went out at light-speed and their reports returned at light-speed. Later, when pioneers arrived in those systems when the SHEP found habitable worlds, they typically recommissioned the SHEP probe for reporting their arrival &c.

Emigration projects on Old Earth

Each of the primary colonies was created by an enterprise of some sort on Old Earth, which held the colonisation rights and determined who went to the colony and to some extent what they took with them. The fate of the colonies depended to a great extent on the longevity and constancy of the institutions on Earth that recruited and vetted a continual stream of colonists for them, and on what happened if those institutions changed their character or failed.

Tau Ceti

Tau Ceti III was the first extrasolar planet confirmed as habitable by a probe. It was the first destination to which a colony was despatched, the first from which the pioneers reported a safe arrival, the first to establish a university, the first to reach a population of one million, and the quickest to report reaching its milestones. For 25 years it was the only available destination for emigration, then for 49 years the only world where the success of the first pioneers was definitely known, then for thirty years the only colony confirmed to have reached 100,000 population and built a university, and then for seventy years the only colony confirmed to have a population of a million and a thriving economy. For 175 years Tau Ceti III was the first choice of destination for prudent emigrants who had no separatist or utopist plans. Tau Ceti III attracted migrants from all over Earth and the greatest diversity of backgrounds. Throughout the Emigration Period it was the most cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and urbane of the colonies.

Technically there were eight colonies on Tau Ceti III, each occupying an octant of the planet sold to it by the government of the European Union. But they did not long maintain separate characters nor appeal to different kinds of migrants. Satellite communications and high-tech vehicles united the populations and cultures of the eight colonies, so that migrants did not strongly distinguish which colony they were technically migrating to. It was all just “Tau Ceti” to the person in the street.

The eight colonies on Tau Ceti III were (and, constitutionally, still are) as follows.

  • Avalon, launched in 2091 by the Interplanetary Society, for daring enthusiasts of Humanity's destiny to spread among the stars.
  • New Sunrise, launched in 2117 by a Japanese investment firm, for general migrants encouraged by the success of Avalon.
  • San Pietro, launched in 2117 by the Society of Saint Peter (a Catholic confraternity, not an official branch of the Church), to provide pious Catholics with a communal life sanctified by unselfish endeavour in the face of risks and hardship.
  • Ys, launched in 2118 by unscrupulous promoters, ostensibly for libertarians seeking an open range, tacitly as a back door to Avalon.
  • Zinfandel, launched in 2147, as a commercial development marketed towards North Americans.
  • Gogmagog, launched in 2148, as a commercial development heavily promoted in South-East Asia and the West Pacific.
  • Hell, launched in 2148, as a commercial development marketed to southern Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific.
  • Alcuin, launched in 2191 by the government of the European Union, for European citizens wishing to emigrate and willing to pay, with a declared purpose of establishing a posterity for European culture.

National official colonies

Following on the proof-of-concept by Avalon, four great powers of the early 22nd century established official colonies on habitable planets that they happened to own. The purposes of these programs were to secure the nations’ destiny among the stars, and to augment national prestige on Earth. The destinies turned out to be convoluted. As for the national prestige, it never accrued. From the point of view of Earth, the colony ventures amounted to putting highly-skilled volunteers and lavish endowments of equipment into flingers and then making them disappear, at considerable expense. No news from the colonies could possibly arrive for fifty to sixty years. The public soon lost interest in the announcements, and it became difficult to maintain funding. China, India and the USA phased out public funding for their colonies fifteen to twenty years after launching them. Mercosur disintegrated into separate countries before its pioneers arrived at Paraíso.


Mayflower was founded by the United States of America, being launched in 2117 to Chi Draconis V. In 2135, after years of diminishing budgets and loosening criteria, the government declared that the colony had been established and was now open for all Americans to move to at their own expense. Demand was thin (and passage cheap) until 2169, the American flinger supporting its maintenance by selling transit to Tau Ceti. Emigration to Mayflower picked up dramatically in 2170, after news reached Earth of the pioneers’ safe arrival. Until 2202 the USA officially considered Mayflower to be an incorporated territory and its people US residents; migrants from other countries required a visa from the US State Department and had to take an oath of allegiance. In October 2202 Earth received news that Mayflower had declared its independence on the 4th of July 2176. The US Congress ratified this change of status promptly and with acclamation. From 1 January 2203 migration to Mayflower was open to all at their own risk and expense. By the end of the 23rd century it was a prime destination, seen as the place to go to for liberal democracy and Common-Law traditions.


First of the government colonies, Navabharata was founded by the Republic of India, launched in 2117 towards Beta Hydri VI. Political support for public funding was exhausted by 2132. Unsubsidised migrants were permitted until 2141, when the entire enterprise was “privatised” by sale to a business tycoon named Dewan Daresingh. Daresingh liquidated an immense fortune in subsidising migration to Navabharata, a task that became easier after 2145, when news arrived at Earth of the pioneers’ safe arrival on Navabharata. In 2157 Daresingh migrated to Navabharata himself, with his family. He left his business empire bankrupt, a mountain of net debt that caused a financial crisis in the Indian economy. Investigation into the scandal discovered that Daresingh's companions on his trip to Navabharata had been a regiment of mercenaries, fully equipped to stage a coup on their arrival.

Migration to Navabharata halted. Then it resumed in 2206, when news reached Earth that Daresingh's coup had failed. Then it diminished drastically about 2260, on the strength of discouraging news about the economic development of the colony. From then on until the destruction of Earth Navabharata attracted a swelling stream of migrants who saw the prospect of being industrial pioneers on underdeveloped-but-prosperous Navabharata as an appealing alternative.

Paraíso en los Cielos del Sur (Paraíso, Paradise I)

Paraíso, or Paradise I, was founded by Mercosur, a short-lived union of countries in South America. The pioneers set forth in 2117, but Mercosur disintegrated acrimoniously in 2132. Rights to the colony, which were not considered very valuable at the time, ended up the property of a firm of Panamanian attorneys. The planet, Zeta Tucanae IV, was unusually attractive, and the owners made transit rights available free to refugees travelling at their own expense and risk. Paraíso attracted a steady stream of migrants to the end of the 22nd century, about half of them cosmopolitan and about half identifying strongly with certain troubled or persecuted communities. By the end of the 22nd century substantially more migrants had left for Paraíso than for any other destination except Tau Ceti.

After about 2200 Paraíso was known as a very attractive planet with a thriving multicultural society on which distinct minorities could live distinctive lifestyles in their own communities. It therefore attracted a multitude of separatist and even utopist ventures that were either not numerous enough, not ambitious enough, or not bold enough to demand their own whole world. The price of tickets to Paraíso climbed to respectable heights. But from 2250 this reputation began to fade: the utopias were failing, the separatists’ children were intermarrying, Paraíso was developing its own global culture. After about 2300 Paraíso was a premier destination for emigrants, but no longer considered a place for founding separate little colonies.

Xin Tian Di

Xin Tian Di was founded by the government of China, which launched colonists to 61 Virginis IV in 2117. The government continued to send well-supplied teams of elite pioneers to the colony until 2136, and then abruptly switched to sending troublemakers, suspected dissidents, and the losers of bureaucratic power struggles instead, with rather basic equipment. No change of policy was announced, but Xin Tian Di became known as a place of exile. In 2145 the government announced that the pioneering project was complete, and the colony was accepting general migrants, but there were few genuine volunteers and the exiling continued.

In 2150 there was a regime change in China. The new government sent the old rulers and their families to Xin Tian Di, ostensibly to take up commissions in the colonial administration. Migration to Xin Tian Di dwindled to almost nothing until 2173, when the news arrived that the original pioneers had rejected their authoritarian government and established a democracy promptly upon arrival. Voluntary (but unsubsidised) migration began in 2175, but Xin Tian Di attracted only migrants who spoke Chinese. It functioned as a Chinese ethnic and cultural separatist colony until the late 23rd century, and then migration dropped off as a distinctly Chinese identity dissolved into Earth’s global culture.


In 2115 the fabulously wealthy industrialist Anchises Inangulo bought the SHEP probe that was in transit towards Beta Coma Berenices. Astronomers had already determined that this system very probably contained a habitable planet, and Inangulo reckoned from insider information that it would shortly become accessible by way of a flinger that was being built to serve Navabharata, Paraíso, and Tau Ceti. The planet, Beta Coma Berenices IV, proved indeed to be habitable (though not especially salubrious), and Inangulo despatched pioneers in 2125 to found the colony Aeneas.

Inangulo’s pioneers were carefully selected and heavily subsidised. He had them chosen not only for youth, health, and appropriate technical training, but also for evidence of artistic and musical ability, sporting prowess, social engagement, and philanthropic attitudes. He avoided volunteers with inclinations to religious proselytisation. And he took pains to include the widest possible ethnic and genetic diversity. While China, India, Mercosur, and the USA were sending their own citizens to their national colonies, Inangulo provided subsidised emigration to the cream of the cream from everywhere else. His project continued after the great powers had abandoned their official colonies. Inangulo was assassinated in 2148, but his will established a trust that continued his program. In 2185 reports reached Earth that the first pioneers had arrived at Aeneas and found conditions good. The number of applicants for trips to Aeneas increases dramatically, but the trust continued to send the migrants favoured by Inangulo and not those offering the most assets. In 2189 Inangulo’s will was successfully appealed by his surviving grandchildren — such of them as had not emigrated to the stars — the trust was dissolved, and the colony was sold to a commercial developer.

During the early 23rd Century Aeneas attracted a significant share of migrants, but it was gradually overtaken by younger colonies on more salubrious worlds. Word that it had reached a population of one million reached Earth in 2305, and from then on it was technically a prime destination for general migrants, though not one of the top dozen.

Colonies of the world religions

In the 22nd Century traditional religions were declining under the combined onslaught of cultural globalisation and scientific progress into realms where religion had once made confident claims, particularly neurology and artificial intelligence. Nevertheless the former great world religions still had such numbers that even the tiny minorities who were enthusiastic to found religious colonies were large enough to raise sufficient volunteers. When the Society of Saint Peter announced its colony San Pietro on Tau Ceti III the other great world religions — or at least enthusiasts among them — were excited either to emulation or to prevent Catholicism from staking out an unrivalled share of Humanity's future among the stars. Activists within various denominations — seldom the official hierarchies — formed colonisation societies, which formed umbrella organisations, which raised money and made plans. The European Union declined to sell any more licences for religious colonies on Tau Ceti. Neither would the owners of Aeneas, Mayflower, Navabharata, Paraíso, or Xin Tian Di cede a territory on their planets for an independent religious colony. At this point some religious colonisation societies contented themselves to migrate to Avalon, Ys, Paraíso, and Mayflower as general migrants with the plan of founding unofficial religious-separatist communities within the colonies there. Others formed alliances, bought worlds, built flingers, recruited pioneers, and despatched colonies.

These first religious colonies were partly separatist in character — their pioneers wished to live and raise children away from the overpowering influence of global secular culture on Earth. They were also partly utopist — to a greater or lesser extent the pioneers expected to establish perfect societies in conformity with the social and legal prescriptions in holy text. One of the advantages of the religious colonies in the early days is that they were able to concentrate zakat and other donations from a wide population of prudent and timid believers onto a small number of intrepid pioneers, not so lavishly as the great powers at first, but they tended to keep it up longer.

Through the 23rd century the traditional religions dwindled into numerical insignificance on Earth. “Charitable” subsidies dried up, the separatist and utopist volunteers dwindled away. Eventually, no-one who had any enthusiasm for the religious impulses of the original colonists was left to control the colonisation rights. Such colonies as were on unattractive planets or as had acquired reputations for theocratic harshness were abandoned. In other cases the institutions that owned the colonisation rights grew steadily less fervent and exclusive, or they died out or went broke and the colonisation rights were sold by liquidators; either way the attractive planets believed to have mild colonies became destinations for secular mainstream migrants. Close to Sol and with established populations they attracted more migrants than they had pioneers, so that the late influence of the cultural mainstream was substantial.

Note that in the crucial period Hindu separatists were content to go to Navabharata, Catholics to San Pietro, and pious Chinese to Xin Tian Di. Catholicism ended up founding a second colony (Agnusdei) only because San Pietro was close and early, so that news of its degeneration into the secular mainstream reached Earth before the Catholic separatist impulse died out.

The nine colonies of traditional religions were:

Alhurr, on Lambda Aurigae IV
Originally a colony for Shia Muslims, it was never excessively strict and developed into a popular destination for migrants with Iranian and central Asian affilations before being bought out by the Neo-Achaemenid Society, a social separatist venture.
Agnusdei, on Gliese 113 IV
A second Catholic colony, founded late — after news from Tau Ceti showed that San Pietro had not maintained its religious character — as a last gasp of traditional religion. After bankruptcy it was bought by the Company of Rugged Collectivists, a utopist venture.
Ashok, on Gliese 25 V
Ashok was founded to be a Buddhist colony, but it was never very successful. Buddhism lacked the numbers and the utopist social prescription, and was less threatened by the global secular mainstream than the theistic religions. Also, the planet was rather cold. Ashok attracted a thin stream of migrants, and Earth was destroyed before the news arrived that Ashok had reached 100,000 population.
Covenant on Delta Trianguli III
Founded to be a Jewish colony, it combined a religious separatist character with a cultural and ethnic one, but struggled to recruit sufficient recruits even when opened to Noahides, and eventually anyone who cared to go. By 2525 Covenant was known to have a million people and a developing economy, but it still failed to attract numerous general migrants.
Emmaus, on Iota Persei V
Founded as a composite colony by an alliance of liberal Protestant groups, it succumbed fairly early to the general decline of traditional religion on Earth. It became a prime destination for general migrants after about 2250.
Fureidis, on Alpha Mensae IV
A colony for the progressive Sunnis of the mid-22nd Century, which eschewed compulsion in religion, and attracted first pious-but-progressive, then culturally-observant but not pious Muslims, then minimally-observant adherents to Islam, with especially strong flows from South-East Asia, then secular migrants with family and cultural connections. After about 2300 it was a prime destination for migrants concerned only with its delightful environment and thriving population.
Hijra, on p Eridani III
A colony for conservative Sunnis, Hijra benefited at first from presenting migration as a form of jihad, and from substantial donations of zakat. But by 2250 the migrants and subsidies had dwindled with the decline of religion on Earth. The planet was not an attractive one, and irreligious migrants were deterred by the prospect of harsh and barbaric shariah law on Hijra. Migration ceased a hundred years before the destruction of Earth.
Oikos Kyriou, on 54 Piscium IV
Settled by an umbrella organisation of Orthodox, Anglican, Episcopalian, and Neo-Episcopalian religious groups, which soon lost its religious fervour. After 2275 Oikos Kyriou accepted migrants without discrimination, but the world was not very attractive — it was rather cold — and despite genial social conditions it never attracted numerous migrants.
Pentecost, on Chara V
A colony for conservative Protestant Christians. Like Hijra it acquired a reputation for theocratic strictness, so its appeal to potential migrants dwindled as traditional religions died out on Earth. It was effectively abandoned after the middle of the 23rd Century.

Old-fashioned utopias

After about AD 2140 there were multiple examples of successful colonies and none yet of failures. A variety of groups with very different ideas of the ideal society were encouraged to buy planets and found utopias between 2141 and about 2170. In these years setting forth for another star to found a colony on an uninhabited planet was still something that only an intrepid and enthusiastic minority of any social movement would dare, and there were only a few dozen planets available. So only large and well-supported movements — or coalitions of medium-sized ones — could take on the purchase and terraformation of a world of their own. In this period smaller utopist groups (and less daring members of the large ones) quietly migrated together to Paraíso, Mayflower, Xin Tian Di, and even Tau Ceti, with the plan of moving into the outback, staking out a province, and establishing a utopian state on a merely national scale. Also, idealistic social democrats migrated to Avalon and idealist liberal democrats to Mayflower, believing that these colonies were close enough to their moderate ideals.

These old-fashioned traditional utopias did could not collect donations as effectively as the religious colonies did. But they tended to last longer. The 19th-Century — or older — economics and sociology they were founded on indeed quailed eventually before 22nd-Century advances, but social science was not categorically discredited in the way that deistic religion was. Social and economic pseudo-science survived better than explicit religion did because its errors were matters of detail. Besides, some of the traditional utopias plausibly rehabilitated in revised forms, and their movements gave rise to successors that considered themselves continuations compatible with what had gone before. Traditional utopias died out on the same grounds that the traditional religious ones did: if the planet was unsalubrious or the colony acquired a reputation for miserable economic or social conditions. But if they survived they usually did not attract ‘general’ migrants in the way of secularising religious colonies. Some did, but most widened their appeal to less daring adherents of related or successor utopian movements.

The colonies founded in the mid 22nd century by good old-fashioned secular utopist movements were:

Bakunin, on Tau Boötis IV
Founded by left-wing anarchists and libertarian socialists.
Egalité, on Psi Capricorni V
Founded by democratic (planned economy) socialists.
Iter, on Zeta-2 Reticuli IV
Founded by technocratic corporatists.
Khemet, on 58 Eridani IV
Founded by socially conservative distributivists.
Liberty, on Gliese 758 IV
Founded by individualist anarchists, Objectivists, and anarcho-capitalists.
Persatuan Gliese 370 II
Founded by mutualists and communitarian anarchists.
Cockaigne, on Alderamin VI
Founded by liberal corporatists.
Simanta, on Gliese 853 A IV
Founded as a benevolent aristocracy by “Cohesionist” admirers of Plato, Pareto, and Durkheim, it enjoyed a sympathetic take-over in 2199 by the Social Organism, which intended to apply advances in biological technology to humanity.
Terranova, on Lambda Serpenti
Founded by Market socialists.
Xindalu, on Gliese 706 II
Founded by technocratic (command economy) socialists (Communists).

Colony ventures in the heyday of emigration, 2200–2353

From AD 2150 onwards, and with gathering pace after 2200, new habitable planets were steadily confirmed by SHEP probe, they came within the gamut of one or other of the increasing number of flingers, and they were bought and colonised each by some venture. It is important to understand that this occurred after at least a century and a half, and mostly after two and a half centuries of global communications, cultural exchange, easy travel, intermarriage, progress in technology and the social sciences, continued loss of languages and cultures, and a decline in credibility of traditional norms and beliefs. Humanity did not blend to a uniform beige, but it did become uniformly diverse: there were no longer distinct races. Beliefs and customs did not become uniform, but the variety was global: distinct aesthetic, ethical, and customary tribes or phyles did form within the eclectic profusion of norms and customs, but they were very seldom anything like nations, races, or ethnicities. Rather, they spanned the globe as sub-cultures of the globalised eclectic culture. After 2200 precious few of the national, ethnic, and cultural groups of today survived to found isolationist colonies. After 2200 the religions, utopist movements, and cultural phyles or neo-tribes that founded new colonies were post-racial, post-religious, and spoke International Standard. Any resemblance that any of them bore to a culture of the past was a deliberate revival, or rather, a reconstruction. There were no genuine Russians left to found Noviy Rossiya in 2245 nor genuine Tuscans to found New Tuscany in 2346, any more than there were genuine Spartans to found a colony called “Sparta” in 2266, or Kushans to found Gondhara in 2245.

By no means did every colony venture preserve its nature until 2353. In many cases the religions, utopian philosophies, and social movements that produced the colony ventures underwent development and change, especially in reaction to new technology. In others they died out. Sometimes the movement survived but lost the legal rights to control the colony, through bankruptcy, managerial fraud, or infiltration of the controlling entity. Thus established colonies — or at least the right to migrate to them — could pass from one utopist or separatist group to another, or to a commercial developer. Similarly, colonies belonging to companies, private owners, or migration co-operatives were sometimes bought out by utopist or separatist ventures. The problem was always that once anyone set forth in a flinger they had no further control of who followed them to colony. They could retain ownership, sign contracts, or make covenants, but having no access to the courts they always had to rely on others to enforce the rights. They depended always on someone remaining on Earth, or rather on an indefinite succession of such someones. Even if the funds to pay them did not dry up, the trustees could not be controlled, advised, or discipled by someone who would not be heard of again for 150 years or more.

Every colony venture had to begin by sending a cohort of biologists, climatologists, ecologists, and biological and ecological engineers to begin the process of terraformation, with skilled workers to support them and effect their plans. Migrants with appropriate skills and daring, who were off to put decades of work to the common purpose, could usually attract subsidies from less suitably skilled migrants. At very least, their human capital was counted as a contribution to the capital fund of the venture. In the case of a commercial colony venture equipping and subsidising pioneers was part of the capital start-up cost: only the later migrants could be charged for transit or shares in the colony world. Some ventures, particularly the wackier utopist ones, found it difficult to recruit sufficient technical personnel. So it was a valuable asset to a colony owner that well-trained and well-equipped terraformers had already set forth. Established colonies attracted higher prices than habitable but uninhabited worlds. For this reason a colony venture that failed (on Earth, that is: went broke or stopped attracting migrants) was very often followed up by a second, third, or even fourth venture, unless the planet was not very attractive, or unless the character of some previous colonists who had gone there was such as to deter successors.

Colonies on planets close to Sol were settled early, often by movements that are recognisable now, and sometimes by groups with regional bases before the erasure of racial and linguistic diversity. But they had long histories and numerous opportunities for a change in the character of their migrants. Unless their planets were marginally attractive or their social character fearsome, they attracted continual streams of increasingly numerous and cosmopolitan migrants, who brought cultural and genetic influences from Earth. Younger colonies had shorter histories and fewer changes of character, but in being established late they were populated from the beginning by 24th-Century Earth-people. Nearly all the colonies are the genetic, linguistic, and cultural descendants of the post-racial, monoglot, culturally globalised Earth of the early 24th Century. The exceptions are older colonies close to Earth that are either on unsalubrious planets that did not attract subsequent migrations (like Covenant) or that were founded by, or early taken over by, obvious tyrants (as happened with Navabharata) or utopist groups that seemed repellent to later migrants (as with Pentecost and Hijra).

Types of colony venture

With the exceptions of Tau Ceti, and the four national prestige colonies, Aeneas, and perhaps the colonies of the traditional religions (which combined separatist and utopist features), colony ventures can be considered as six distinct types.

Secular utopists

Secular utopias were founded to allow the participants to build new societies on radical plans, away from the vested interests that oppose reform on Earth. They weren't as popular as you might think, because there is a strong universalist streak in your basic utopists. Anarchists and socialists, feminists and libertarians not only want to escape tyranny themselves and secure their posterity from it; they also want to rescue all the other victims of oppression. Within revolutionary and reformist movements the utopists who fled to fresh fields and pastures new attracted some criticism as cowards and deserters. That is why the secular utopias were not able to fund themselves from the donations of sympathisers as well as religious utopias were.

The first ten secular utopias were based on old ideas, mostly 19th Century and earlier. They were also predominately ideas about economics, or at least socio-economic arrangements. As economics advanced, and as the awareness of its advances filtered through the intelligentsia, it became less controversial and less exciting to utopists. New economic utopias became uncommon, though colonists did continue to migrate to the old egalitarian colonies in the expectation that they would develop to combine modern economic management with a lower degree of established inequality and a refreshing freedom from or relaxing stability of social stratification.

Subsequent secular utopias tended to inspired more by anthropological, political, and sociological ideas than by economic ones, or at least they combined economic utopism with radical social and political innovation. Secular utopias featured usually several of the following, and were usually inspired by informed academic speculation about ideal conditions.

  • Plans to reform the family were common, as for example by instituting extended families or group marriages, or de-emphasising nuclear or matrifocal family and embedding it in a larger primary social unit such as a village, clan, or age society. Some ventures planned to abolish the family altogether, and socialise children through other institutions.
  • Many social structures were adopted that involved assigning people social groups on the basis of chance, birth, aptitude testing, achievement-based selection, co-optation and so forth. These usual involved systems of child-rearing and education that would prime initiates to form their [wikipedia: Social_identity_theory social identity] through self-categorisation, each group having a norm of behaviour designed by social engineers to suit it to a particular social or economic function.
  • Some schemes involved socially-engineered gender roles — patriarchal and matriarchal schemes were uncommon in secular utopias, but schemes that assigned different spheres of action to the genders while maintaining that they were equal in status were not unknown.
  • Different schemes of social stratification were intended, ranging from radical egalitarianism through age-staged gerontocracy, promotion through the achievement of specified accomplishments, meritocratic promotion, assignment on the basis of aptitude testing, to rearing children from infancy to fit particular places in the social structure.
  • Elaborate political constitutions were drawn up for all secular utopias, and in some cases the unprecedented administrative, legal, and political arrangements were the most salient utopian features of the ventures. Democratic schemes were common, including participatory democracy and randomly-selected assemblies; in the representative democracies there were often ingenious features to curb incumbency and populism, such as term limits, competency requirements for office, a course of honours, mandatory periods out of office, etc. Scheme to train or select benevolent and capable elites were the most common alternative to democracy. Some constitutions were centralised, some devolutionised; some were unitary, others had a tangled bank of independent but interlocking functionally-specialised hierarchies.

Since the secular utopias were usually associated with substantial academic and dilettantish schools of thought, rather than with individual charisma, they tended to survive quite well, and to produce lasting flows of migrants that swelled appropriately as the colonies became more firmly established. They were, however, somewhat prone to theoretical revision changing the character of the movement over time.

Religious utopists

Traditional religions involving belief in gods, spirits, souls and other supernatural intelligences were of course very uncommon on Earth after 2200. Though few people actually knew enough neurology to understand why souls are implausible, everyone accepted that they were. But that by no means prevented the emergence of ethical philosophies, meditative disciplines, counselling and mentoring relationships, and systems of ritual practice that satisfied the needs that religion had once served. These complexes were not called “religions”; their proponents claimed that they were founded (variously) on scientific principles (like psycho-analysis), the synthesis of ancient wisdom (like Theosophism), or revelation by benevolent aliens; but religions is effectively what they were.

Religious separatists

Cultural separatists

Solidarity co-operatives

Open access

Immigration and development of the primary colonies

Secondary settlement

During the Age of Piracy

From 557 ATD to the crisis of 580

After the compromise of 584

Copyright © 2015 by Brett Evill