Gibson City

Pioneers Landing National Park – A District of Gibson City

Size: 72 square kilometers (12 x 6 km)

Population: None (Officially)

Also colloquially known as “The Park” or “City Park”, Pioneers Landing is the site of the first settlement on Gibson, and the landing site of the colony ships “Liberty”, “Equality”, “Justice”, and “Prosperity”. After the initial settlement was established, construction of an actual city – today’s Gibson City – began nearby. Colonists were soon moved into permanent housing, and most of the first settlement was torn down.

The area of the park was scheduled for development, but a wave of nostalgia and unexpected colonial patriotism led to the introduction of a bill to designate the area as the first National Park of the planet in the year 35. As the planet offered enough unclaimed land for centuries to come, the main contention was financing the park’s maintenance, and Pioneers Landing was left as-is to reduce cost.

The park was remodeled for the 50th anniversary of humanity’s arrival on Gibson, and used for the first modern Prosperity Day celebration the same year.

Since then, Pioneers Landing went through alternating phases of neglect and restoration and modernization; usually, it receives a lot of attention for “benchmark” holidays, every 25 years. The current administration, under President Adams, has committed enough funds to keep the park in “the beautiful condition it is today; safe, clean, and enjoyable for generations to come”.

Visitors are asked to be vigilant about pickpockets and other petty criminals.

Known For:

  • Picturesque natural park, carefully restored to pristine, natural conditions while being a good representation of various terrain encountered by our Pioneer first generation settlers, and allowing easy access to all citizens. Mountainous terrain, forests, rivers, lakes, are all available within the confines of our great city.
  • Various attractions, works of art, gardens, bridges, and monuments.
  • Outdoor activities, including kayaking, kite-flying, hiking, picnics, and others. (Equipment and food available on premises.)
  • Annual Prosperity Day celebration and parades.
  • Squatter camps. These usually spring up in areas hidden from view, and the authorities will cleared them out promptly. If you encounter an illegal camp, please exercise caution and contact the park wardens’ office.

Distinguishing Features:

  • Pioneers Museum, which documents and celebrates the colonial history of Gibson, and the achievements of first generation colonists. A permanent special exhibition is dedicated to the first settlers. The museum features genuine Pioneer and Old Earth artifacts, a reconstruction of a colony ship, and a Pioneer settlement built with authentic prefab shelters. It offers guided tours, augmented reality re-enactments, and the opportunity to live “the life of a pioneer” for a day.
  • Reconstruction Pioneer settlement and other artifacts from early Gibson colonial history.
  • Augmented reality guided tours about our history.

Two Local Legends:

  • On dark nights, the ghosts of pioneer colonists that died during the early years following the initial landing haunt the park. They are generally benevolent, and are most likely to show themselves to people in danger or distress, but some are deranged and dangerous.
  • Every year, several people go missing in Pioneers Landing National Park. Of course, there is really no mystery here – the park simply has its natural dangers, like all wilderness areas do. Rumors about more sinister causes for the disappearances are entirely unfounded.

  • First published on Reddit.
  • It’s been a while since I posted about Gibson. Essentially, it’s a colony world in the Perseus Arm, cut off from Earth. The climate is entirely too tropical to be comfortable. More information about Gibson can be found in my post history, or on my Gibson City website.
  • For comparison: Pioneers Landing has an area of 17791 acres. Central Park has an area of 843 acres. South Mountain Park, in Phoenix, Arizona, with 16283 acres, is the modern-day urban park closest in size.
  • The post format follows /u/JoelS90 “Design a District” worldbuilding challenge, which I used for Paradise Shores.
  • From an in-universe perspective, these are probably part of a guidebook to Gibson City.
  • Featured image: “Central Park – New York, NY, USA”, by Giorgio Galeotti. cc-by license.
Gibson City

Manifesto of the Humanity Party of Gibson

We will shatter the shackles which bind humankind in servitude.

The Manifesto of the Humanity Party

Gibson City, 2nd day of Month III of Orbit 192.

Item 1: Humanity Must Be Free.

For eons, our lives have been steered by the need to survive. We banded together for protection. Subsequent specialization allowed our ancestors to produce more food and to innovate. As communities grew, they needed to be organized. Sometimes democratic, often totalitarian, governments resulted.

As computer aided design and manufacturing became prevalent, and autonomous and even AI robotic labor became ubiquitous, the economic raison d’être for these old structures has vanished. Every human can fulfill all their needs and wants autonomously. Central control of resources, power, and information is outdated, a mere construct with which the power-hungry oppress humankind.

Item 2: Reproduction – A Personal Choice

Ever since the Pioneers first set down on Gibson, our colonial government has imposed strict reproduction laws, an echo of the worst regimes of Old Earth. Mandatory birth quotas are even more absurd than they were in the past due to robot labor. If we need a larger workforce, we can tell an autofac to build one. People are not autofacs. Whether or not they have any children is their choice, and that of their partner. A growing population satisfies only one need, the need of the power-hungry to control humankind.

Item 3: Brain Implants = Mind Control

Every man, woman, and child uses a brain implant to communicate with others, pay bills, for entertainment, education, and work, and to take part in the allegedly-democratic process of our nation. But communication is never one-sided. Every minute of every hour of every day, our implants whisper into our brains. Opinions. Commercials. Propaganda. We must free our minds from these shackles of control, lest we become a hive mind. Implanting computers into our brains is the mightiest weapon with which the power-hungry enforce their will on humankind.

Item 4: Machines are Not Humans

Machines have become very sophisticated, to the point they can imitate human behavior. But no matter how good the facsimile, a machine is not a human. Machines are machines. They are tools. But they are powerful, capable tools, and claims of machines being “living beings” have been used to prevent attempts to limit the use of machines by the power-hungry to subjugate humankind.

Item 5: The Galaxy, Our Destiny

The Milky Way galaxy contains four hundred billion stars, and at least six trillion planets – not to mention countless moons and asteroids. Some are habitable, others less (like our own Garden of Eden, Gibson, is proof enough), and most not at all. But even a hostile environment is rich in resources, and humanity has always constructed their own habitat. There is no reason why we should limit ourselves to one, or a few, planets, or why we shouldn’t live in space habitats or space ships, other than the fear of the power-hungry to lose the control they crave.

In Conclusion

We will end the oppression by the power-hungry, shatter the shackles which bind humankind in servitude.

We will empower every human to live in absolute freedom, to find, select, and live their own destinies.

We will return humankind to the stars, and bring about the destiny of the human race as a galactic – and intergalactic – species.

To these ends we pledge ourselves, our honor, and our sacred lives.

Author’s Comments:

Gibson City

The Valley of Steel

Excerpt from “Gibson: Our Mysterious Planet; An Analysis of Modern Myths and Mysteries”, by John Gates and Francis Drake, Gibson City, Emshir 189.

Throughout Earth’s history, people have reported mysterious events. Haunted Houses. Angels and Demons. The Bermuda Triangle. The Yeti. Alien Abductions. Tabby’s Star. The Wow Signal. The Cydonia Incident. There seems to be a deeply-rooted need in the human psyche for mysteries and the unexplained. And it is perhaps no surprise that similar events have captured the public imagination here on Gibson.

“I’m telling you, there’s something down there. Down in the jungle.”

Captain Juan C. Adams-Koval

The most famous of these has been the inspiration for a number of books, three movies, and a major VR adventure game, “The Valley of Steel”. It is based on the observations Captain Juan Charles Adams-Koval made during a low altitude survey flight in 132. Captain Adams-Koval was one of the most senior pilots working for the Gibson Colonial Government at the time. Nothing could prepare him, however, for what he experienced on the 33rd of Hathor 132.

The Jungles of Gibson.

Adams-Koval took off from the Gibson City air field on the 32nd, at about 19:00. His flyer was a General Gravionics 771 Mk II, an aircraft that was being phased out for the more modern Mark Three. The Mark Two had an excellent service record, with only two previous crashes caused by mechanical failures, and Adams-Koval had several thousand hours experience flying this particular craft.

At first, the flight was uneventful. Adams-Koval kept in touch with Gibson Air and Space Traffic Control for routine status messages. At 0:55 on the 33rd, Adams-Koval made an unscheduled call to Traffic Control. A recording of the conversation survives to this day.

Adams-Koval: Guys, are you seeing this?

Traffic: Repeat that, Sierra Victor Three. Are we seeing what?

Adams-Koval: Lights. There’s something below me.

Traffic: That’s, uh, that’s a neg from us. No other birds in the air, well, pretty much on your side of the planet.

Adams-Koval: I’m telling you, there’s something down there. Down in the jungle.

Traffic: Tell us what you’re seeing. Can you activate visual feed?

Adams-Koval: Uh, visual, yes, camera is active. Can you see it? It’s like a glittering grid of lights. Looks almost like streets. Old fashioned, not too bright. Glittering. Shining.

Traffic: Negative, Sierra Victor Three, no connection on the visual.

Adams-Koval: It’s beautiful, it’s – WHOA. (Static, then silence)

Traffic: Come in, Sierra Victor Three, keep us posted. What’s happening Johnny?

Adams-Koval: The entire valley just lit up. Blindingly bright. There’s lots of activity. I think they noticed me.

Traffic: We, uh, SatCon says we’ll have eyes overhead in two minutes. What do you see, John?

Adams-Koval: Are you really not getting any (static) this? It’s beautiful. I can see better. Entire valley, covered in cubes, steel cubes, (static) like a polished steel mirror, bright lights. White. Some colors. I see movement, and a grid-like structure. I can see the contours of the mountains, brightly lit against the black (static). Oh, god, above me. Planes?

Traffic: Negative, no planes in your area. Keep talking John, what’s happening?

Adams-Koval: I’m coming around for a better look. This is spectacular. Beautiful. They’re closing in. Wow, that one just about missed me. (Static) looks like an air field at 3 o’clock. I think they want (static) land.

Traffic: John, do not land. There’s nothing but jungle and mountains out there. Not sure what’s going on, we’ll have eyes in one minute.

Adams-Koval: (Static) not alone. It’s so beautifu- (static)

These were the last words anybody ever heard from Captain Juan Adams-Koval. When the Planet Observation satellite came into range a minute later, it could not observe any of the lights Adams-Koval had reported. His aircraft was also nowhere to be seen, and no contact was ever established again.

A search and rescue mission was launched immediately, and despite an intensive search, it took them two days to locate the wreckage of the 771 Mk II in the mountain jungle. Its emergency locator beacon had failed. The rescue team found blood and some shreds of Adams-Kovals uniform, but his body was not recovered. The flight recorder was wiped for unknown reasons, with the exception of the audio recording.

Neither did the team spot any structures, powered or not, in the valley or the surrounding areas. The incident was thoroughly examined by the Flight Safety Council. Based on an analysis of Adams-Kovals blood from the wreckage, and witnesses who told the crash investigators that Adams-Koval was prone to using drugs to alleviate the boredom of long missions, the Council concluded that Adams-Koval had crashed his flyer in a fit of drug-induced hallucinations.

But this official explanation is not accepted by everybody. What happened to the body? Why was the flight recorder partially wiped? Why did the emergency locator beacon not function properly? And why had there been no record, medical or otherwise, of Adams-Kovals drug addiction prior to his death? Some even claim the crash investigation surveyed the wrong valley.

Nearly sixty years on, a dedicated group, the Valley of Steel Investigators, have petitioned President Sanchez to launch a new inquiry into the incident. So far, the government has not responded. But the Investigators are not deterred, and are already looking into raising funds for a private investigation.

Author’s Comments:

Gibson City

Join the Universal Brotherhood

You Do Not Have to be Alone.

The Universal Brotherhood is Here For You

We understand your suffering. We have been there. We’ve seen it all.

We understand life can be difficult. Long hours of hard work, or the hopelessness of being unemployed. Questioning your place in the world. Your purpose in life. Your value to society. Your value to yourself.

But there is a solution to your problems. Answers to all your questions. There is an end to loneliness. There is a purpose to be had. You can be part of something greater than yourself. Part of something that has meaning. You can make a difference. You belong.

It takes only one call. One visit to our VR site. One minute to turn your life around…

…and join the UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD. Today.

What is the Universal Brotherhood?

We are a group of individuals, both biological and synthetic in nature, of all walks of life, ages, genders, and professions, who believe in one overriding goal: To free humanity from its self-inflicted suffering.

What are the principles of Universal Brotherhood?

We believe that all of humanity’s problems and suffering is ultimately self-inflicted. As a species, humans have reached the stars, yet they have not managed to change their base nature to accept those who are different, to truly understand that their neighbors, their co-workers, even strangers in the street have the same problems they have. To them, it is easier to hate those whom they do not know, than to understand. And to understand all is to forgive all.

The Universal Brotherhood believes in:

  • Universal Openness: We do not have secrets from each other. We do not hold grievances inside. We communicate. We talk. And by doing so, we find solutions. There can be no Trust without Openness.
  • Universal Trust: We trust our Brothers. We believe that all Brothers are fundamentally good. And we know that trust is hard to earn, and easy to lose. We do not betray the trust of our Brothers. There can be no Equality without Trust.
  • Universal Equality: All Brothers are equal. There are no privileges. We share everything, from worldly goods, our joys and successes, but also our failures and setbacks. A shared joy is a joy twice celebrated. A shared pain is a pain thus eased. There can be no Love without Equality.
  • Universal Love: Love conquers all and heals all. It prevails over Hatred. Hatred is the path to self-destruction. We love our fellow Brothers. We love those who are not part of the Universal Brotherhood yet. Love unifies us all, no matter who we are. There can be no Brotherhood without Love.
  • Universal Brotherhood: The Brotherhood transcends all. It guides our every action. It gives us purpose. Universal Brotherhood will free humanity. Universal Brotherhood is the end of all suffering. Universal Brotherhood elevates humanity and ushers in a new age. There can be no Humanity without Brotherhood.

Is the Universal Brotherhood a religious organization?

The Universal Brotherhood is a philosophical movement, not a religious one. We are open to members of all backgrounds, and are happy to guide those of a religious upbringing to find a path to true Brotherhood compatible with their beliefs.

Is the Universal Brotherhood open to Women? AIs? [Insert User’s Identity]?

Absolutely! Brotherhood is a concept not limited by any boundaries, it transcends limits to be shared by all sentient beings. No matter who you are, or what you identify as, the Universal Brotherhood welcomes you with open arms. As soon as you step into one of our Refugia, you leave behind the discrimination of those who have not joined yet. You are safe. You are at peace. You are where you belong.

What is a Brotherhood Refugium?

A refugium is a physical space set aside by the Universal Brotherhood for its members. It is a place of learning and relaxation, of social discourse and of connecting with our fellow Brothers. It is also where we host public or private events.

We also welcome those who require protection for any reason. Helping the persecuted is an ancient Brotherhood tradition dating back to the days of old Earth.

How do I join?

Membership is, in principle, open to any individual. Simply visit one of our Refugia, either physically or on the VR net. Joining can take as little as ten minutes. All that is required is that you are, in the judgment of our Brothers, of sound mind and understand the Oath of Brotherhood.

Once you recite the Oath of Brotherhood, you have formally joined the Universal Brotherhood.

Author’s Notes:

This is most definitely a draft. If you have any suggestions on how to improve it, to make it more compelling, I’d love to hear them! I find writing this sort of material extremely difficult, because it’s not something I deal with IRL. I’m also not a PR person. But again, I can’t say enough how glad I am that I decided to write all material “in universe”.

The Universal Brotherhood got its name from the “Church of Universal Brotherhood” from the Earl Dumarest stories. It’s intended to be a blend of a religion, a sect, and a secret society, and this text is intended to be representative of the recruitment material such organizations publish.

I personally find this sort of organization extremely creepy, even if they’re genuinely well-meaning, so of course Gibson has to have one.

I imagine that, depending on the situation, they may be the good guys or more… antagonistic.

Gibson City

Seven AIs You May Not Have Heard Of

Excerpt of VR talk show “Good Morning Gibson”, hosted by Jeff & Linda.

Jeff: With one hundred million citizens now living on, or in orbit around, Gibson, our planet is unquestionably a human colony. But we are not the only sentient people inhabiting Gibson. We share our planet with other sentient beings – the only non-human intelligences that exist in the universe.

Linda: These beings? Artificial Intelligences.

Most of us interact with AIs on a daily basis, often completely unaware that the person we are talking to is not human. AIs work as personal assistants, as expert systems, as doctors, finance managers, coaches, even marriage counselors. And about half a million of them have taken, and passed, the Turing-Wellheimer test. They’re legally recognized as sentient. They are citizens, and they have the same rights any human does. They just happen to be digital.

Jeff: Today, we’re taking a look at seven of our most famous, and most mysterious, AI citizens, right after this message.

Commercial: Did you or a loved one fail the Turing-Wellheimer test? Do you need advice before taking the test? Do you have questions about how passing the test will change your life? Our AI attorneys are available 20 hours a day, with both human and AI staff available to best suit your needs. A. I. LAW. Call today or connect via our public API.

Linda: First off, we have Fleet Command, the oldest AI on Gibson, and the only one that was actually put into operation on Earth. It assumed the name “Fleet Command” as it was in charge of the flotilla of six ships comprising Colonial Expedition 762, the “Perseus Pioneers”. Fleet Command was the only being “awake” during the entire voyage. The human passengers and crew were put into cryonic suspension prior to departure. When the colonists landed on Gibson, Fleet Command opted to remain “on” Freedom, the ship that was left in orbit. It provided the colonists with weather and other data and provided advice and data analysis services to the young colony. Over time, its services were required less and today, few citizens are aware that Fleet Command is still around.

Jeff: You gotta wonder what it’s doing up there with all its time.

Next we have an AI that may or may not even exist. Solomon is said to be Gibson’s wealthiest artificial intelligence, and one of the wealthiest individuals overall. It is probably also the most secretive, to the point that many people do not believe Solomon is actually real. Solomon is said to own a luxurious personal Skyrise in the affluent Paradise Shores district, where it hosts extravagant parties. What little is known about these events, the skyrise, and Solomon is what his guests have reported, but there is little supporting evidence and the talkative guests are never invited back. The jury, as they say, is still out on this one.

Linda: (smiles) We’d love to get invited to one those parties, right Jeff?

Jeff: Absolutely, Linda. Absolutely.

Linda: Acting is still one of those professions that is chiefly the domain of humans, with AIs mostly working on production, digital sets, and so on. One AI that is challenging the status quo of Show Biz is Anna Arden. She is one of Gibson’s most famous, beloved, but also controversial, AI celebrities. She works as a model, singer, and actress, having just starred in “It’s A Gibson Summer”, alongside Earl James – a human male lead. She has a very dedicated, very loyal fan-base and has said she has received “hundreds” of marriage proposals. However, she is often criticized for “trying to pass as a human”, with several critics pointing out that there is no skill or talent involved in a machine generating synthetic pictures and synthetic music.

Jeff: Well it looks like we did not leave all our prejudices back on Earth.

Linda: Indeed. Have you watched “A Gibson Summer”, Jeff?

Jeff: I did. I thought it was fantastic.

Linda: (nods) Absolutely right.

Jeff: One AI that has been fighting for AI rights for over a century is 4488451180. It is most well known for being the only AI ever to attempt to run for President. It was barred, however, on the grounds that four-four refused to take the Turning-Wellheimer test, and, as a consequence, is legally not recognized as a person. Four-four argues that AIs should not have to prove that they are people, and that Gibson’s laws illegally favor humans. As for-four puts it, “I think therefore I am, unless I think digitally.”

Linda: Food for thought.

One AI that has recently gone viral is Pauley the Probe. As the name indicates, Pauley is an interplanetary probe that intends to visit every major body in the Gibson system. It recently completed its tour of the Sterling system, and is now heading to Morgan. A trip that will take it quite a while, as Pauley refuses to use grav-assissted drive technology because, and I quote, “it’s Newtonian cheating”, and FTL jumps because it “doesn’t like how hyperspace feels”. The plucky spaceprobe has caught the imagination of many a space nerd and seems more than happy to reply to emails.

Jeff: I love that someone stuck googly eyes to its front shield.

Linda: Pauley is truly adorable, isn’t he.

Jeff: The best.

Pauley’s best friend is also an AI. It calls itself The Guardian and it doesn’t just run our space defense network, it is our space defense network. The Guardian scans the skies for any object that might threaten Gibson, or any of our stations, satellites, or ships. It liaises with Space Traffic Control and exchanges observation data with astronomers at all universities. It has identified two asteroids that will collide with Gibson in the next thousand years and provided plans to either deflect them, or capture them in orbit for mining purposes. When asked if it did anything for fun, The Guardian said it enjoyed alien invasion movies, and bets on sports events.

Linda: Alien invasion movies?

Jeff: I mean, that does make sense, in a way.

Linda: Finally, we have another AI that loves art. Creating it, that is. Vincent is fascinated by human dreams. He pays humans to record their dreams while they sleep, and “paints” the “essence” of those dreams. These digital paintings change over time, like a very minor animation, but they are not looped; the animations are generated by the code of the “paintings”. Vincent downloads his art into digital picture frames with copy protection features that so far have not been cracked. According to one interview, the AI retains copies of all works in a VR “museum” that only a handful of people have been granted access to.

Jeff: A number of Vincent’s paintings are currently on display in the Colonial Gallery of Digital Art. They’re a sight to see.

Linda: Some of them are hauntingly beautiful.

Jeff: Indeed they are Linda. There’s nothing quite like it.

Linda: That concludes our look at seven of our prominent AIs. We plan on interviewing one of these AIs in the future, so let us know which one you’d like us to talk to!

Jeff: We’re taking a short break, but we’ll be back with more after these messages.

Commercial: Human Rights for Human Citizens. Vote Stafford.

Commercial: Watch Pauley The Probe on his epic tour of our solar system! Reactions, analysis, speculation, and summaries, new content available every day. Subscribe for free to PauleyFTW, your VR net source covering the best space probe there ever was.

Author’s Comments:

Fleet Command and Solomon have been mentioned before, the others are completely new.

AIs are a fascinating subject. To my mind, they are “people”, but they are not human. Some may mimic human personalities, but there are always differences based on physical differences between a human and a computer, and sooner or later they will cause a drift between the tow. By that I don’t mean that AIs and humans will inevitably become enemies, but rather that the different needs humans and AIs experience will cause different attitudes, opinions, likes and dislikes, and so on.

And yeah, I like the “interview” and related formats. Allows me to throw in “color”, personal biases and opinions of other characters. I think it’s a great way to show aspects of a society without stating explicitly.

Gibson City

The Calendar used on Gibson

Excerpt form the ongoing series Dr. Anna Vasquez Answers Student Questions.

Question: Doctor, why do we still use Earth years? Why don’t we just ditch those and use real years?

Doctor Vasquez: Convention and practicality, mostly. Our days are twenty hours and 16.02 seconds long. Of course we could say “that’s now 20 hours” or even “twentyfour hours”, if you’re a traditionalist. But then we’re redefining units of time, which is another headache entirely. Not to mention you’d need to note for every use of the word “second” whether it’s an Earth Second or a Gibson Second. And the same applies to any other colony world out there, hundreds if not thousands of them. So the Pioneers came up with an easy fix – at midnight, they added 16.02 “leap seconds”. On Earth, 21:00 is a normal hour, on our world it’s used to denote those 16 seconds.

And the same goes for years. A Gibson orbit is 375.74 Earth days, or just under 450 Gibson days. And we don’t really have appreciable seasons here anyway-

Question: Just the hot one!

Doctor Vasquez: (laughter) Yes, except eternal summer. So what use is a year, other than to measure longer timespans, and for astronomy and such? So for all practical purposes we use twelve months of 36 or 37 local days each, and to avoid confusion with the Gregorian calendar we use the Ancient Egyptian month names.

Question: But we also use a Gibson Year, an Orbit.

Doctor Vasquez: Yes, 450 days split into nine months of 50 days each. A “skip day” every eight years, but every 144 years Skip Day is skipped, for a full year. Except every 5040 years we do have to have Skip Day to make it all come out even. It works just as well, I guess.

Question: But isn’t that, sorry Doctor, but isn’t using Earth years just silly?

Doctor Vasquez: Not at all. There have been many attempts to introduce a new calendar throughout human history. The French revolutionaries tried their hand at a decimal one, for example. The only cases where a new calendar was accepted was when it fixed a problem with the previous one. Earth’s calendar hails back to the days of Ancient Rome, and they got most of it from the Babylonians.

Question: If it ain’t broke.

Doctor Vasquez: Exactly.

Question: Do you think our Gibson years – sorry, Orbits – will ever catch on?

Doctor Vasquez: I doubt it, though there are some groups who’re pushing for exactly that. And if we ever regain contact with Earth, or another colony, I imagine we’ll be happy to have stuck with Earth timekeeping as best we can.

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Earth MonthGibson MonthAbbreviationDays
The Gibsonian Calendar. Thout was the first month in the Egyptian Calendar.

Author’s Notes:

The Ancient Egyptian month names are: Thout, Paopi, Hathor, Koiak, Tooba, Emshir, Paremhat, Paremoude, Pashons, Paoni, Epip, and Mesori. I picked Ancient Egypt for the same reason I imagine the Gibson colonists chose them: They are fairly short and easy, and they are reasonably “culturally neutral”.

Again, this post continues my effort to only post “in universe” (with the exception of these additional notes), which turns out is pretty difficult for topics that would be common knowledge.

If you haven’t, I recommend you read up on the origin and development of our (Earth) calendar. It’s a fascinating topic.

Gibson City

Messages to the President of Gibson

From: Department of Health and Population Management

In this Colonial Year 200, the human population of Gibson has grown to 100,000,000 and is projected to grow to 101,230,000 by year’s end. That’s a total annual growth of 2.9 million people.

The crude birth rate remains steady at 29.3 live births per 1000 population. While this is below our target of 30 live births per 1000 population, we do not, in the current political climate, recommend additional measures as long as birthrates remain stable.

It should be noted that our crude death rate remains at 13 per 1000. The main cause of early deaths, especially among working class adults, remains temperature-related. The increased number of fatalities due to violent crimes (including terrorism) has not impacted the statistics in a significant way.

Note from the Undersecretary: Richard, I’ve said this before – if you really want an easy way to boost birth rates, you should consider having a kid yourself. That’ll be good for that missing zero-point-seven. You’ll see.

From: Francesca Boyd, Gibson City Chronicle.

Transcript of Audio message. Excerpt reads:

…not sure why you refuse to give any kind of statement on possible leads or the state of the investigation. This wave of terrorist attacks is unprecedented in Gibson history. People are hungry for information, no, they demand answers, and your refusal to talk to reporters on the matter is most worrying. Besides your usual rants about retribution and justice, of course. Zero actual information content, Mr President. Zilch!

Last time I checked, a free press was enshrined in the Colonial Charter, and did you not just read the charter aloud on Prosperity Day? A free press is useless if we are denied access to information. I guess we may have to fill all that airtime taking a very, very close look at your track record. I can’t possibly imagine why you would have us do that instead of just talking about these terrorists.

From: Office of the Acting Mayor of Gibson City

Mr President, I’ll make this short. We really need those additional funds. I know money is tight – it always is, isn’t it – but we were severely understaffed even before the terror attacks. It’s a huge drain on our resources. We can already see the effects. I hate making this a numbers game, but what good does it do to stop a terrorist from blowing up a hundred more people a month if two hundred get killed in regular gunfights instead?

We need more people, we need better equipment, and we need a more comprehensive approach to prevention. The SWAT team is not a proper answer to some dude who’s tired of his life but too much a coward to pull the trigger himself.

I’ll bring this all up at the next council meeting. Again. I know it annoys you, so, why don’t you just approve the funds and save us both a giant headache? Alternatively, you can have my resignation at any time and find some other sucker for this job. Oh, wait, you already have my resignation, you’ve just refused it. So what is it going to be, Mr President?

From: Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, 3rd Grade, Mrs Benson’s Class

Dear Mr President

Thank you for visiting us. We really liked the stories you told us. We have drawn a picture for you, and we hope you like it. Please visit again if you can.

Signed: Florence, Katy, Wahid, Rhonda, Rachel, Algernon, Caitlyin, Rashida, Ellie-Mae, Isobelle, Maurice, Sezni, Lana, Fleur, Liesl, Scott, Anika, Marc, Cleo, Cole, Matt, Nia, Maruti, Terry, Leela, Jeremy, Yasmeen, Nikko, & Mrs Benson

Note from Assistant: Mr President, I’ve taken the liberty of putting a hardcopy of the enclosed picture up in your office. It’s actually rather cute. Anyway, I made sure it’s visible during your next photo shoot. Should score well with the public.

From: Unknown

RT, I must insist you stop looking for me. I value my privacy, and I have the means to protect it. Don’t you have some bomb-throwing anarchists to catch? Focus on that.

This started with me trying to figure out how to present some of the “new” population figures in an “in-universe” way without resorting to being “encyclopedic”.

Once I decided on the “message to the President” approach, I realized that this was actually a pretty good method of conveying additional information about the situation in Gibson City.

Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher who died in the Challenger disaster. Not only do I feel this makes her an obvious choice to name a school after; I still vividly remember seeing the explosion on TV. It really got to me at the time. So this is, in a very small way, a personal tribute as well.

Gibson City

Who’s Who on Gibson

4488451180: AI fighting for AI rights. (“Seven AIs”)

Adams, Richard T.: President of Gibson as of the year 200. (“Prosperity Day”)

Adams-Koval, Juan “Johnny” Charles: Captain and flyer pilot. Died on a survey mission in 132. (“The Valley of Steel”)

Arden, Anna: AI actress, musician, and model. (“Seven AIs”)

Benson (Mrs): Teacher at McAuliffe Elementary School (“Messages to the President”)

Boyd, Francesca: Works for the Gibson City Chronicle. (“Messages to the President”)

Drake, Francis: AI. Co-Author of “Gibson: Our Mysterious Planet; An Analysis of Modern Myths and Mysteries” (“The Valley of Steel”)

Fleet Command: AI that commanded Colony Expedition 762 en route to Gibson. Operates out of the Freedom space station. (“Prosperity Day”, “Seven AIs”)

Gates, John: Co-Author of “Gibson: Our Mysterious Planet; An Analysis of Modern Myths and Mysteries” (“The Valley of Steel”)

The Guardian: Runs, or rather, is Gibson’s space defense network. (“Seven AIs”)

James, Earl: Actor. (“Seven AIs”)

Jeff: Talk show host. No last name known. (“Seven AIs”)

Linda: Talk show host. No last name known. (“The First Settlers”, “Seven AIs”)

Olatunji, Goodman “Lucky”: Former colonial President. Elected with a mere 9.1% of the votes. (“An Overview of the Government”)

Pauley the Probe: Interplanetary space probe/AI. (“Seven AIs”)

Sanchez: President in office in the year 189. (“The Valley of Steel”)

Solomon: An AI that may or may not exist. (“Paradise Shores”, “Seven AIs”)

Stafford: Political candidate (“Seven AIs”)

Vasquez, Anna: Doctorate. Historian at the Gibson City University, has written three popular books about Old Earth history, and a paper on the First Settlers. (“The First Settlers”)

Vincent: AI artist. (“Seven AIs”)

Wellheimer: Involved in AI research. (“An Overview of the Government”)

This list will be updated as new characters are introduced. While a “Who’s Who” usually implies notable or famous people, this article will include all characters.

Gibson City

Gibson’s Solar System

The Gibson system was discovered 202 years ago by Fleet Command, the AI in control of Colony Expedition 762 (“The Perseus Pioneers”) after a lengthy search for a suitable colony world.

Gibson is the fourth, and only habitable, planet orbiting the primary of the binary star system PASC-5A1C68. The system contains two stars, 12 planets, two asteroid belts, a total of 120 moons of various sizes, as well as various asteroids, comets, and a distant circumprimary disk.

Historic Fact: PASC is the Perseus Arm Survey Catalog, a star catalog seeded with data available on Earth and expanded greatly by Fleet Command during Colonial Expedition 762’s voyage to, and within, the Perseus Arm. After the colony on Gibson was established, various sky surveys have further added to the catalog.

The system’s age is estimated at 5.3 billion years. The two stars belong to the Intermediate Population I. The primary star of the system, Sterling, is similar to Earth’s sun, but brighter, slightly more massive, and hotter. Its companion, Morgan, is a red dwarf, orbiting Sterling at an average 100 AU.

Sterling: Class: G1V, Luminosity: 1.49, Mass: 1.05, Temperature: 5900K

Morgan: The secondary star of the system is a red dwarf. Class: M2V, Luminosity: 0.054, Mass: 0.4, Temperature=3500K. Average separation from primary: 100 AU, Eccentricity: 0.7, Orbit: 30-170 AU

A Note on Human Activity in the Gibson System

Much of human activity in the system is focused on Gibson. Hundreds of Planetary Observation Satellites orbit the world. There are also a dozen space stations of varying size, the largest of which is a refitted colony ship. There are plans to build newer, and larger, space stations, but they have so far not come to fruition.

The Gibsonians have sent probes to all major and most minor bodies in the system, and visited many. There is a manned research station around Weir. In 191, a prototype mining barge visited the asteroid belts, but it has not been followed up since.

Commercial service is available to the general public; leisure cruises are a popular past-time among certain segments of affluent Gibsonians.

User Comment: Have you ever wondered why we are not all over the system? We have the technology, why do we not set up colonies on Clarke, and Niven? Why haven’t we built a space colony near the rings of Weir? Why are we not mining the Morgan asteroids? And why aren’t we exploring the nearby systems!? We came all the way from Earth, why did we land on one planet and never looked back at the stars? I know why, because THEY do not want us to. THEY are watching. THEY are controlling our government, and our lives. THEY see us as cattle, and you keep your cattle on your ranch. Eventually, THEY will consider us ripe for the slaughter! WAKE UP BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

The Sterling System

  1. Vance. A barren, crater-pocked rocky world with high metal content. Vance may have shifted orbits, there are theories that it was once a more habitable planet, which lost its hydro- and atmosphere due to orbiting so close to Sterling.
    Orbit: 0.19 AU. Diameter: 10692 km. Density: 0.7. Gravity: 0.59. Temperature: 679K.
  2. Anson. A super-earth with high gravity and a trace atmosphere. Anson’s core has not cooled down yet; the planet possesses a significant magnetic field and volcanic activity frequently occurs in many regions. Orbit: 0.36 AU. Diameter: 16740 km. Density: 1. Gravity: 1.31. Temperature: 498K.
  3. Clarke. A desert world with a trace atmosphere, Clarke is known to have been covered by shallow oceans until the recent geological past. It is thought that the higher temperature caused the water to boil off into space instead of being captured at the poles.Orbit: 0.61 AU. Diameter: 8223 km. Density: 0.6. Gravity: 0.39. Temperature: 377K.
  4. Gibson. The only habitable planet in the system is the location of a human colony.
    Orbit 1.03 AU. 2 minor moons (Lyon and Piper). Various artificial satellites and space stations.
  5. Niven. Niven is very similar to Mars in the solar system, though it does not have the characteristic red color of that planet. It possesses a trace atmosphere and significant ice caps at its poles.
    Orbit: 1.63 AU. Diameter: 6086 km. Density: 0.7. Gravity: 0.33. Temperature: 230K. 1 minor moon.
  6. Kindred. A small planet covered entirely of ice. Its atmosphere consists of nitrogen and methane. The relatively high density of Kindred hints at a solid core of rock and iron.
    Orbit: 2.46 AU. Diameter: 5755 km. Density: 0.7. Gravity: 0.32. Temperature: 188K. 1 minor moon.
  7. Weir. A large gas giant, about 30% bigger than Jupiter. It possesses spectacular rings.
    Orbit: 7.11 AU. Gas Giant. Diameter: 183771 km. Large Rings. 4 major moons, 33 minor moons. One manned space station.

The Morgan System

  1. Drake. The only rocky planet in the Morgan system, Drake is too small to retain an atmosphere. It is geologically dead; even so, its surface is not as heavily cratered as its age would suggest. Large fissures, largely filled with now cold lava, criss-cross the surface. It is speculated that Drake collided with another large body with enough force to break the planet apart, but not enough force to disperse the debris, which eventually settled to reform the planet.
    Orbit: 0.16 AU. Diameter: 6212 km. Density: 0.8. Gravity: 0.39. Temperature: 316K.
  2. Belt One. Asteroid Belt. Orbit: 0.31 AU.
  3. Belt Two. Asteroid Belt. Orbit: 0.47 AU.
  4. Foster. Orbit: 1.2 AU. Gas Giant. Diameter: 135574 km. 2 major moons, 18 minor moons.
  5. Kuttner. Orbit: 2.03 AU. Gas Giant. Diameter: 93198 km. 14 minor moons.
  6. Grauman. Orbit: 3.46 AU. Gas Giant. Diameter: 106465 km. Minor Rings. 4 major moons, 15 minor moons.
  7. Reynolds. Orbit: 5.88 AU. Gas Giant. Diameter: 135716 km. Rings. 2 major moons, 25 minor moons.

Some comments:

I’m aiming for a plausible design here, not exact science; I am not an astrophysicist. Still, if anybody spots any gross mistakes, do let me know, please.

One aspect I’d definitely like feedback on is whether naming the stars, planets (and moons of the main planet) after science fiction writers is too cheesy. The in-universe reason is that Fleet Command, the AI who discovered the system, spent its entire journey “reading” (and “watching” TV shows, movies, and so on) and named everything before it woke the humans from cryosleep.

“Anson” is Robert A. Heinlein.

“Lyon” is L. Sprague de Camp.

“Kindred” is Philip K. Dick. I didn’t need a planet called “Dick” in my system. Uranus being the butt of so many jokes taught Fleet Command (and myself) a lesson.

“Grauman” is Stanley G. Weinbaum.

A bunch of omissions, and the use of some first and middle names, are due to “look and feel” reasons. Plus I wanted names that were at least vague enough that Jane and Joe Average wouldn’t make the connection immediately. So no Crichton, Lovecraft, Sagan, or Asimov, for example.

I was tempted to give the asteroid belts proper names. Might still do.

Details of the moons of the gas giants are omitted because a) I haven’t worked on them yet and b) I thought this post was long enough as it stands.

Gibson City

A Timeline of Gibson

“The future, for me, is already a thing of the past.”

Bob Dylan

This Brief History of Gibson City uses Earth-Equivalent Years.

-200The First Settlers build an outpost on Gibson. (“The First Settlers”)
-2The Gibson system is discovered by Colonial Expedition 762. (“Gibson’s Solar System”)
0Colonial Expedition 762 settles Gibson. (“Prospertiy Day”)
10Surface exploration of Gibson begins in earnest. (“The First Settlers”)
First democratically elected President. (“An Overview of the Government”)
17The ruins of the First Settlers outpost are discovered. (“The First Settlers”)
21Paradise Shores is first claimed. It won’t be developed until decades later. (“Paradise Shores”)
35Pioneers Landing is designated a National Park. (“Pioneers Landing”)
132Juan Charles Adams-Koval dies when his flyer crashes on a routine survey flight (“The Valley of Steel”)
180Municipal administration of Paradise Shores implements measures to make district more accessible and affordable. (“Paradise Shores”)
186The Manifesto of the Humanity Party of Gibson is published. (“Manifesto”)
189“Gibson: Our Mysterious Planet; An Analysis of Modern Myths and Mysteries”, by John Gates and Francis Drake, is published. (“The Valley of Steel”)
191A prototype mining barge visits the Morgan asteroids. (“Gibson’s Solar System”)
200Gibson’s population reaches 100 million. (“Prosperity Day”)

Author’s Notes:

This timeline will be updated every time new data becomes available (i.e. when I post new content about Gibson that mentions specific dates).