Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Small Population Of An Extra-Solar Colony

Merely from the fact that an extra-Solar colony will have a very small population, Poul Anderson, in Is There Life On Other Worlds? (New York, 1963), is able to deduce several features of its society. In order to prevent genetic drift, there might be:

(i) teen-age marriage as the norm;
(ii) high social status for mothers of many children;
(iii) a family-centred culture;
(iv) strict exogamy, e. g., marriage of cousins forbidden;
(v) sexual permissiveness;
(vi) no stigma on illegitimacy;
(vii) encouragement of married women to have children with different men;
(viii) large clans instead of small families;
(ix) artificial insemination;
(x) exogenesis;
(xi) a legal requirement for each family or clan to adopt one exogene;
(xii) genetic manipulation.

Coupling (ii) with "...the desirabilty of independent pioneering outside the original settlement...", Anderson thinks that the family-centred culture (iii) might also be "...patriarchal..." (p. 184). Sexual permissiveness (v) is presented as an alternative to the patriarchal (iii). However, different approaches might be tried in various settlements or alternatively a colonial society might combine features that would have seemed incompatible to the Terrestrial ancestors.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

We see some of the characteristics Anderson thought might arise in early extra solar colonies in his book ORBIT UNLIMITED, about the colony on Rustum. I don't think v, vi, and vii very likely, esp. if the colonists are Christians or Jews, but it might happen with some of the more eccentric colonies.

I suggest as a real world, historical analogy, the small Norse colony which settled Iceland. From what I recall of its history, vi, vii, ix, x and xii from the list above are the only ones which doesn't apply. And most of these only because of technological reasons.