Wednesday, May 27, 2015

You can't take it with you (maybe)

Thinking about booking passage on a space Mayflower to a new world? There are a few things you should be aware of.
You can’t bring it with you. Weight restrictions are stringent; you’ll barely be able to bring more than some clothes and a few other items.
Bring tools.
Electronics are useless. There isn’t any electrical infrastructure. We’re talking colonial America-level of technology. If even that, it is quite a primitive place.
You see the level of technology that can be supported is directly proportional to the population.
Now if there were an advanced civilization right next door, this would be a big benefit of course. But the distance between solar systems is vast and the expense of traveling between them is enormous. There will not be any trade of corn or wheat between them; it would make no economic sense. The fact is, unless the colony could produce something very unique and valuable all “trade” would pretty much be the importation of people and tools, one way.
So the fact is, if Planet Cochrane had a population of 100,000 it would pretty much resemble rural agricultural colonial America. The colonists would make their own homes, carve their own tables, stuff feathers into beds, make their own candles, ground their own wheat and churn their own butter.
In the beginning they might have some more advanced technology but the economy does not support mining and processing ore into needed products. It barely supports anything. Those solar powered HAM radio sets can work until a vacuum tube bursts or a wire shorts, then what?
So leave your laptop at home and learn to produce some basic items and bring the tools with you, that is a key to success in the distant colonies. At least until someone develops warp technology and makes it easier and cheap to travel between the stars.
Like the Plymouth colonies life will be very rough, especially for the very first colonists.
Any science fiction story about distant, tough to reach colony worlds will need to take the link between population and technology into account.

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