Six months ago I was sat in my car, waiting for a meeting to end. I had my lap-top with me and had an hour to kill. I was also testing Tree Sheets and I needed something straightforward to test it on; I sketched a standard science fiction scenario.
Occasionally, a path suggests itself to you, and you follow. In this case, I decided to do a little homage to Philip K Dick and Andre Norton.
Why that pairing? Phil had a great way with words that sounded meaningless (and yet entirely science-fictiony). He built amazing stories around them. That was part of his talent and I loved it. Andre Norton compiled a great overlapping scheme of space. In her space, humanity pretty much ruled the roost but there was plenty of interaction with other aliens. I got that. She worked out what to add to give her stories interest: lost civilisations, galactic war, characters living on the edge, whether explorers, traders, refugees, ex-military / survivalists.
You take bits, process them and then say what you were going to say anyway 🙂 I came up with:
It’s been clear for some time that our relationship with the P’Nong was going south. We first came across the P’Nong when we were out laying guide markers in the asteroids. Asteroids. That takes me back. Puttering about in the inner waste belt of the solar system was about the extent of man’s exploration of space.
We came. We saw. We barely made it back home. That was the extent of US space missioning.
Anyway, I’m wool-gathering. I’m Lory Gato, commissioning agent for CEAD Core-Earth Azimuth Developments. This involves a stressful life of star-hopping while I look for trade. What that actually means is I get the high-life tour, going from planet to planet, seeking out ever more piquant luxuries. That’s in between recovering from whatever potent brew each place has to offer.
I was on T’negi 36. In case you’re wondering, thirty six isn’t the planetary position; it’s part of the id-ing system employed by the P’Nong. The P’Nong are the local Panocracy. Panocracy? Boy have you got a lot to learn. No-one wants to administer this sector of space. Why? Well unlike planetary based administration, there’s no gain in it – that’s because the individual star-faring races won’t agree on common governance; because they won’t agree, there’s no funding for bureaucracy. Except in space it’s called a Panocracy. Why? For precisely that reason.
So why do the P’Nong do it? Well they were the first race locally to discover and explore; etc. etc. They knew where things were, who was developing and where the no-go areas were. They kind of drifted into the role.
In fact that’s how we were discovered. We weren’t actually discovered – although Earth news – and even the down-market alien sector stuff, portrayed it like that. What actually went on was that the local P’Nong panocrat, zheer-futchi (their names are a mine-field to pronounce, let alone spell), decided to gamble that we humans would be good galactic citizens.
Big do’s and little do’s, we have. Albeit, we had to set up Oversight Boards in areas like Technology, Sensory Loading and Belief Systems.
In practise that means learn the rules well enough to keep a low profile.
[how do I know all this? it’s my job]
Anyway, back to T’negi 36. The T’negi (they call themselves a term that means floaters) have been around on the space-faring list for several millennia and have trading off to a fine art. Trace elements on T’negi 36 add a certain zing to their carbon based exports. They – like many other intelligences – have moved on from their evolutionary chemistry. In case you’re interested, they were a novel mix of silicate (chlorate group); early on they developed alternate bio-chemical models on the presumption that it was pointless mastering star-drive technology when the biospheres of many planets would prove inimical to their legacy biology. The P’Nong, for their own reasons, didn’t give the T’negi a leg up (unlike humanity, whom the P’Nong basically saved). So the T’negi, sorted out alternate bio-chemical models, and then went ahead and developed star-drive technology. When they finally mastered it they discovered that the only planets not already inhabited were off-limits.
[Of course they spread their wings onto marginally viable worlds, but that’s not the same as expand, explore and exploit. Heigh-ho that’s the way it goes – anyway, how were they supposed to know …]
So there I was…
Postscript. At this point I ran out of time. It looks unfinished (all 570 words of it) because it was. Three weeks ago, I picked up the pieces.
I’m 7,000 words in.