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Speculative Evolution Project

Anyone else absolutely LOVE speculative evolution? I love it so much that I've started working on an ambitious speculative evolution worldbuilding project. It will take me a long time to finish, and I will eventually need to find an artist, but I'm not going anywhere for a while so...

I call it the Terran Travel Guide. A guide to worlds within human space, both in fauna and in human presence. Human space is ruled by a vast, though largely decentralized government known as The Terran Colonial Authority. As of this time, the TCA holds jurisdiction over 40 worlds, not including Earth and a terraformed Mars, which makes 42. Each world has an independent government that operates as a largely independent state, paying taxes to the central government for protection and trade and following a galactic charter of humanity to ensure their chosen governments do not become tyrannical, corrupt, or otherwise parasitic.

The travel guide will visit each world and give an overview of both the biosphere and the human presence on the world. I've gotten some work done on my first world. The following is a general overview of the world, and the attached file contains the first few rough species drafts of the first chosen environment. Because I like to give myself impossible tasks, I've made the first world as inhospitable and alien as I could possibly imagine.

Knossos - A harsh and rocky world, thanks to a weak magnetosphere, there are many areas on the planet that are completely uninhabited and indeed uninhabitable. Almost all life is confined to a wide ring around the northern and southern polar regions, the only regions of the planet with suitably low radioactivity and liquid water, though not a lot of it. Because of this, the organisms that appear on this planet are incredibly bizarre.
For one, the unbridgeable impasse between north and south means that life forms found around the north or south poles of Knossos are entirely unique to their respective environments. The incredibly scarce water available around both is also highly salinated thanks to the planet's dense deposits of both heavy metals and minerals. This extreme environment is quite unsuitable for most life forms as we know them, but even here, complex life, somehow finds a way.
Photosynthesis on Knossos exists, though not in nearly the same capacity as the Earth. Harsh weather and inconsistent sunlight often means photosynthetic organisms are less viable. Instead, the active and metal rich planet supplies a wide variety of nutrients both in and outside the ocean to sustain a variety of chemosynthetic plants. Since chemosynthesis produces sulfur, the atmosphere of Knossos, particularly around the poles, is high in sulfur and slightly acidic.
In order to compensate for this, the biosphere of Knossos is partially sulfuric, and incorporates silicon as its base chain instead of carbon, due to both its abundance on the surface and its more resilient nature. Plants and animals that have evolved here are almost all either well-armored or otherwise coated in a waxy silicon-based substance called Silisulful, for simplicity's sake.
Most plants choose to incorporate tougher skin or armor into their body plans, especially on land, as to both fend from the harsh environment and potential herbivores. Some, particularly in the spotty salt lakes and murky seas of this world, do incorporate silisulful into their body plans instead so as to maximize flexibility within the currents.
Interestingly enough, the evolution of the silisulful substance evolved both in the north and the south completely independently of one another, with no real chemical difference between samples. As such, the major families of both botanical and animal species on this planet can be divided between not just north and south, but also those who choose to specialize into more motile builds by evolving silisulful carapaces, and those who specialize into tanking for maximum defense against the environment and predators.

Humans, though unable to live within the strange and alien environment of this world, have also found ways to conquer its daunting prospects. Within the irradiated zone of the world, where nothing thrives, you will ironically find the only human settlements on this world, though there are many. Knossos is a hub of shipbuilding activity, both for civilian craft and warships of every sort. The easily accessed heavy metals within the planet's crust are a valuable asset in their construction, and so the world is surrounded at its equator now by a vast equatorial shipyard.
As shielded mining colonies on the planet's irradiated surface dig for metals, they send the raw material into orbit, where shipbuilders melt it down and refine it into crucial components and even construct entire starships. And because this activity is restricted to the inhospitable irradiated zones, it has a minimal effect on the unique polar life of this strange world.
The government of Knossos, or what can be gleaned of one, is really made up of several incredibly wealthy mining and shipbuilding conglomerates divvying the land resources up between themselves, often forming and breaking partnerships as the situation calls for it. Despite the intense competition and even the odd corporate sabotage incident, things remain surprisingly peaceful on planet.
The settlements on Knossos are entirely populated by transitory work forces and their families. These workers sign contracts with one respective conglomerate or another to work a set number of years on contract within the mines. Their families are completely cared for by the corporation for a hefty garnish of each wage. Children are educated here, homes and public streets are maintained, healthcare is provided, and food is plentiful. Some may call this a form of 'corporate communism', but the contract is voluntary after all.
Zohan Shipbuilding is by far the largest shipbuilding corp on world and is both the constructor and primary stakeholder of the world's equatorial shipyard. Some might say they're really the ONLY shipbuilding corp allowed to operate here, as they have a nasty habit of either buying out their competition or driving them off-world outright. As such, they wield a worrying amount of influence not just on planet, but within the halls of the powerful Terran navy as well.
As such, the mining conglomerates in charge of raw material extraction act almost as corporate subsidiaries to Zohan, unable to muster the authority to challenge any overarching edicts the company employs.

(As a final note, I understand a planet rich in heavy metals might have a stronger magnetic field, but I only realized this a second too late and now I love the idea too much to forsake it. I'll find my workaround, I usually do.)


  • knossoswildlife.txt
    15.8 KB · Views: 8
A good resource is "Habitable Planets for Man" by Dr. Isaac Asimov and Stephen H. Dole (1964). Chapter 4 details the environmental needs of a habitable planet, while chapter 5 gives the calculations for probabilities based on those environmental needs.

Another is the original "Cosmos" by Dr. Carl Sagan (1980). Chapter XII, entitled "Encyclopaedia Galactica" gives the description of three civilizations in a format that would make sense for the galactic traveler.

Speaking of Traveller, the RPG has an excellent world and star system generating procedure that has stood the test of time since the early 1980s. From this, I was able to develop my own simulation procedure that disregarded the Bode-Titius "law" completely.

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