Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Overview (read this first)

I’m tying my design and design process to a science fiction narrative. While I am interested in telling a ‘story,’ I’d like for the characters to be spaces, rather than people. So I start with a space ship, made up of four cylinders arranged end to end, interspersed and bracketed by five spheres. The cylinders rotate giving their interior surfaces an artificial ‘gravity’ through centripetal acceleration. These will be the primary occupied/living spaces. The sphere are fixed and so will only have the minimal ‘gravity’ given by the linear acceleration of the ship, which will be less than 5% of that experienced on the surface of the earth. They will serve as industrial spaces and low gravity amusement parks. Imagine being able to fly under your own power with a simple wing-type device, or just being able to jump 4 or 5 meters at a time. Of course science fiction has the primary target audience of adolescent males with poor social skills so no end of energy has been spent hypothesizing about the possibilities of zero gravity sex.
Now that the basic physical framework of the ship exists, the fourth dimension enters the project. I’ve proposed a ‘future history,’ that moves along the following progression: At the beginning of the voyage the community will be egalitarian and utopian. With little to no hierarchy, the general populace will be firmly supported by a base ‘labor’ force of robots (thanks Čapek!) With the passage of time the population will grow and become self-indulgent and decadent. After a time and perhaps triggered by some kind of disastrous event (which is easy in space) there will be a strong conservative backlash, resulting in a coup or mutiny and giving rise to a strongly hierarchal fascist state, with an anti-tech ethic. Robots will be destroyed or decommissioned and the previously leisurely populace will now be put to work, and encouraged to reproduce, in order to increase labor resources. Naturally the coup will not pass unobstructed. There will be a brief ‘hot’ war, followed by a long ‘cool’ underground resistance. Then upon arrival at the Sirius system there will be the discovery of a massive alien artifact with technology far out of our reach. This will lead to the founding/building of a station and a possible resolution to the long simmering tension on the ship.
The spaces that reflect these conditions will be different but will co-exist or layer on top of one another in places. In others one will obliterate that which went before.

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