Thursday, 3 October 2013

Future Historical Writing

In The Snows Of Ganymede (New York, 1958), Poul Anderson writes a narrative that is not only fascinating in itself but also is set within an already established fictitious history. The viewpoint character's superior remarks:

"'The Mars and Venus projects were already well under way when the old corps was founded.'" (pp. 26-27)

The Chronology in another volume confirms this. Colonization of Mars and Venus began in the 1970's whereas the Planetary Engineering Corps was not founded until 2055 and did not go independent as the Order of Planetary Engineers until 2080. An earlier story was set on Venus.

When exogenesis from a single cell is mentioned, another character elucidates:

"'It was used a good two hundred years ago by the old U. N. Inspectorate to create a corps of gifted secret service men...Identical heredity, identical training - the psychological effects are curious, for you get a completely devoted band of brothers.'" (p. 28)

Indeed. These "UN-men" - one in many and many in one - had their own story earlier in the History.

We learn considerably more about planetary colonization projects -

Venus
Chemical treatment removed poisons from the atmosphere;
special bacteria strains released oxygen from its compounds;
hydrogen explosions brought water to the surface;
deserts are being reclaimed;
plants were developed for the new conditions;
animal cells from Earth were grown by exogenesis;
Hilsch tubes and wind power were used for energy.

Mars
Oxygen obtained by bacterial process;
water by drilling;
also, ice from Saturn's rings redirected to fall on Mars;
large scale electrolysis;
atomic energy;
the physics of low potential;
hopefully, solar energy to be beamed from Mercury;
genetically engineered plants, animals and human strains;
need to replenish air that leaks into space.

Mercury and the Moon
No attempt to create an atmosphere;
solar power used directly or stored;
efficient airlocks;
large underground installations.

Uranus
No attempt at colonization;
no energy sources or useful minerals;
too far for energy beamed from Mercury.

Ganymede
Buildings of ice, a good moldable insulator;
most of the city underground;
but, for terraforming, are there ore deposits for structural metal, enough water, compounds, usable oxygen, internal heat?;
maybe sink shafts and start hydrogen-lithium fires to warm the globe, using some of the energy for out-door lighting?;
how to remove the methane and ammonia?;
molar potential barriers to eliminate airlocks;
improved efficiency in food synthesis reactions. 

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