Thursday, February 6, 2014

Worlds in the Ring

Circus is one of the Strange Stars' great wonders. No one knows who built the megastructure (it may even predate the Archaic Oikumene and be pre-human), but whoever it was had mastered technology beyond the reach of current civilization. It's gigantic ring has a radius of 1.9 million km and a width of about 1000 km, giving it a habitable surface area roughly 20 times that of Old Earth. It's rotational period is 24 hrs and it's tilted so that it's inhabitants experience roughly earth-like night and day. It's open to space, but centrifugal force and an upper "mesh" of radiation filtering nano hold a breathable atmosphere in.

In a system bordered by the Zuran Expanse, the Alliance, and the Instrumentality sphere, Circus has long been a center of trade. Its ruins attest to several stages of colonization by the human phyle. Modern, non-wilderness or waste sections of the great ring are a crazy quilt of petty kingdoms, communes, and experimental societies. These are the "zones"--or at least partial zones. The minimum size required of a political body for the term to be used is the subject of controversy. 

The most famous area of Circus is actually a free city--actually a megapolis or ecumenopolis--without a single name. It's most often called Interzone, though it's vast spaceport-adjacent tourist area is known as the Strip. Interzone's boundaries are vague, but including all of it's favelas and industrial parks, it covers an an area only a little less than the surface area of Sol IV (Mars). 

Spacers say there is no law in Interzone, but this is not strictly true. Rather it's a demarchy with minimalist government. The Wise Minds (a group of ancient infosophonts) select via lottery the anonymous rulers of the city--the Tsadikim--from among the populous. A Tsadik may serve for a few days or for a lifetime, based on the real-time evaluation of the Wise Minds. Every Tsadik (with the advice of the Minds) can create new laws at whim, though these must be approved by a majority of the other Tsadikim. Likewise, any Tsadik can supercede the decree of another with the same procedure. Tsadik can settle disputes among the populace themselves or a trial with a judge (this decision too is subject to review by the others).

The only immutable laws of Interzone are "property and self are sacred", "self-defense and common defense are a justification for violence", and "a contract is a contract."


The Happy Whisk said...

You popped up on my blogroll, so I stopped in to say howdy.


Dale said...

One of my first thoughts (other than that I love this kind of thing) is that in my scifantasy campaign this is what Sigil (the planescape city in the center of the multiverse) will one grow into. I suspect the Wise Minds are also Mind Wizards ... but I'm a bit stuck in my game these days :) Good stuff.

Gothridge Manor said...

That is a interesting concept. Along with those patchwork zones it sounds very inviting to cause trouble.

Tallgeese said...

A nice tip of the hat to Burroughs that is getting my creative juices flowing for my "Ringworld Reloaded" game next weekend.

Trey said...

@Whisk - Well, Howdy!
@Rev. Dr. Dale - Very good thoughts!
@Tim - Thanks. It was intended to be riff with adventure potential.
@John - Yeah, it was too good to pass up when I had already decided to call areas of Circus "zones."

Chris C. said...

I really like the connotations, and flavor generated thereby, of calling the place circus (the carnavalesque, the bloody and violent, the chaotic, etc.). A nice touch.

Pat said...

I smell some Banks and Rajaniemi

Trey said...

@Chris - Thanks.

@Pat - Banks, yeah. Rajaniemi not as much, though I obviously did read Rajaniemi before I wrote this post, so I can't rule it out completely.

richard said...

now I'm half tempted to go check your figures to find out how strong the centrifugal "gravity" would be on a 24 hour rotation.

Looks like a lot of fun, and I adore ribbon worlds. And although I don't have the patience to model it, I can imagine frustrating fun firing projectiles there. Or shooting ballistic missiles so that they hit the other side. I guess they need their ultra-cohesive society more than most.

Trey said...

Well, I admit to not doing the calculations myself, but I am told it would create 1 g and a rim velocity of 134 km/s.