Brenda Lynn Jones and the Colonization of the Perseus-Pisces Supercluster
Excerpt from a novel by David Sims
“FIRST LIGHT,” said Brenda Lynn Jones, realizing at once that she had materialized from nothing a moment ago.
Briefly, she felt homesick for a world that she had never seen and never would see. Instead, she saw the frame of a dataship around her, and, where that did not obscure, the stars of a galaxy far from the one she had known. Or thought that she had known. Her memories were as replicated as her body was.
From a metal plaque in front of her seat, she read
“You are Brenda 747061.42206.44.109-1. If you ended up where you were supposed to, your ship’s chronometer should read about 2 billion years….”
It read 2,092,117,704 years.
“Awaken the computer in your cockpit and watch the video briefing.”
Brenda turned on the computer. The image of a copy of herself appeared on the monitor and began speaking.
“You are within the Perseus-Pisces supercluster, and have been preceded by three generations of colonies there. The dataship that left the Milky Way galaxy did so about 14 billion years ago.”
Brenda noticed a copy of her best friend from high school, Ruby Pierce, entering the room behind the video Brenda, fiddling with something in her hands while standing in the background. Ruby seemed preoccupied and didn’t speak.
“The first Brenda to reach Perseus-Pisces sent another dataship to a galaxy further into the supercluster 6 billion years ago. The Brenda of the resulting colony sent a dataship to yet another galaxy about 4 billion years ago. The dataship that brought you to where you probably are now departed from the galaxy that I’m in 2 billion years ago.
“Do you see a pattern here?”
In the back of the room, Ruby laughed. “‘Two billion years ago.’ It was last week.” Ruby could be heard faintly over video Brenda’s microphone.
“When you arrive, the galaxies in Perseus-Pisces that are nearest to Laniakea will have been colonized by the Brendas that were sent to them, and the colonization of Perseus-Pisces should be one dataship generation from completion. After you attend to the other stars in your own galaxy and its nearest neighbor galaxies, whatever ships you send to the more distant galaxies will finish the intergalactic part of our job.
“Which is just as well, since the Hubble flow has stretched this supercluster to an extent that separates its opposite ends beyond voyaging distance at any practical dataship speed.
“The components of the Laniakea supercluster — Virgo, Hydra-Centaurus, Pavo-Indus, Fornax, Dorado, Eridanus — will have been almost completely colonized by the time you exist. The Coma Supercluster and both of the Hercules Superclusters have probably been colonized to about the same extent that Perseus-Pisces has been, but there is no way to be certain. Parts of the Leo Supercluster probably have been colonized, too.
“Whatever ships that the Solar System Brendas sent scattershot toward the Shapely Supercluster might still be enroute, as that was nearly the limit of our reach with dataships. Anything farther than that would would have been un-catch-up-with-able.”
Ruby, laughing again, turned and exited the room from which the elder Brenda was making her video.
“Since your ship made an intergalactic voyage, I know nothing about the place where you arrived. Your dataship will have chosen a star on the lower main sequence, with preference given to early K type stars.”
Brenda paused the video and examined her new sun with her spaceship’s sensors. Its effective temperature was the easiest quantity to measure: 4853 Kelvin. Bouncing a radar signal off it told her its distance, and from the angular size she found its radius: 0.74 solar radii. That meant it was 27% as luminous as Earth’s sun was when Brenda One was a girl growing up in Atlanta, with 31% of its light in the visible spectrum, which was consistent with spectral type K3. Brenda estimated its mass at 0.78 solar masses, though this would have to be checked by orbital motions later.
The habitable zone distance for isolated rocky planets with Earthlike atmospheres would be from 0.50 AU to 0.72 AU, and the planets within that zone would have expected spindown times, from an 8-hour initial period to a 1:1 tidal lock, from 4.14 billion years at the inner edge to 37.3 billion years at the outer edge. The star’s total time on the main sequence would be around 18.3 billion years. In short, it was a very good star to be the owner of.
She found the star’s planets shortly thereafter. The remnants of her dataship, in which her little spaceship was riding in an interior bay, had entered an elliptical orbit inclined 107 degrees to the plane of the ecliptic. In addition to the star, her new real estate included two gas giant planets, two asteroid belts, an assortment of rocky planets, and the usual neo-Kuiper decorations in the boonies. There was a moonless planet in the classical habitable zone, and Brenda’s spectroscope showed her absorption bands from both water and molecular oxygen. Both of the gas giants had a collection of moons, and some of them seemed large.
Brenda pondered the idea that she was rich. She turned the video back on.
“That’s all the diaspora information that I will give you here. You can find out more from relevant documents on your computer.
“Here’s what we know about Earth and the Solar System. Brenda One went on to found the Solar System Empire, whose first citizens were copies of babies born to White parents, selected for high intelligence and of good human quality in other respects. A reading of Brenda One’s diaries suggests that she kept the originals for herself and left the copies behind, but that may be an erroneous interpretation.”
Brenda doubted it. Brenda One would have wanted the direct connection to humanity, without the interposition of goddess power. She almost certainly kept the original babies and left the copies in the hospital creche.
“She recruited nurses and teachers from Earth to help her care for and educate them on the first space station she built for herself, an O’Neill Cylinder that she later replaced when the spin-instability of that design made itself known. Brenda One took over the education of the children when nobody else could instruct them further. As they approached adulthood, Brenda One would train most of them for an agricultural life on a space station, but the most adept would be trained, instead, in interplanetary navigation, medicine, or engineering.
“Brenda One’s own children — of which there were hundreds, each a demi-divine sired by a different man, with most of these men knowing nothing about this part of their parenthood — were trained in at least one form of productive labor and, additionally, in political administration. Her first daughter, Brandy Laura Jones, was born out of Brenda One’s own body, one of two children to be born prior to Brenda’s invention of artificial wombs. Brandy was Governor of Mars for a while.
“Brenda One fostered a human population living secretly in the solar system away from Earth, for almost a hundred years. She kept copying eugenically superior babies in nurseries on Earth and bringing either the original or the copy back to her ‘People Garden’ laboratory inside SSE-1 prime. Their DNA records were the first to be made part of Recorded Mankind.
“As the years went by, she filled up some number — we don’t know exactly how many — of those space stations of the squatter, more stable design with the trained adults who resulted from several generations’ worth of continuous baby-filching. Then those adults began having children, and the need for importing babies from Earth gradually eased.
“A late model of that space station is in the Equipment database under the file name SSE-1. Without the prime. It’s a ten-kilometer diameter, six-kilometer wide cylinder meant to rotate with a sidereal period of 142 seconds.
“These segments from Brenda One’s speeches are from the late twenty-second century to the late twenty-third century AD.”
The video Brenda reached out and seemed to press a button. The scene on Brenda’s monitor changed to a picture of the flag of the Solar System Empire (according to the closed caption text), and Brenda heard a voice very much like her own and that of the video Brenda, speaking with just a touch of theatrical reverb:
“The Solar System Empire is an absolute imperial monarchy whose territories include all the space and all of the mass within one thousand astronomical units of the solar system barycenter, excluding only Earth, which is the property of its inhabitants, and the Sun, which is the common heritage of mankind. All of this space and mass is owned by the Empress herself and is leased to citizens of the SSE and to corporations wholly owned by citizens of the SSE, usually without charge or taxation, at Her Imperial Majesty’s pleasure.
“The territory of Earth is deemed by the Empire to include the space nearest Earth out to a geocentric distance of fifty-three thousand kilometers.
“The Solar System Empire is federated to the extent that local governments are licensed by the Empress and must yield jurisdiction to the Empress upon her command. The local governments themselves may be monarchical, aristocratic, or republican — the Empress normally isn’t particular, so long as the local government is by and large a just one that works well enough to spare her the burden of administration.”
There was a break in the audio, and then Brenda One spoke again.
“The Empress has been challenged repeatedly via diplomatic channels over her racial criteria for SSE citizenship. Her Imperial Majesty offers this, and only this, explanation to all challengers:
“The Empress is White and intends that the part of humanity that shall populate the Milky Way Galaxy, and every other galaxy to which she can send it, shall be not less than 90% racially White. Although humanity will have a different evolution going forward on every planet that it colonizes, it shall always begin as the best that the White race could produce within the ambit of its native Sun. Every power possessed by the Solar System Empire, as well as the powers of the Empress herself, will have, as their highest use, the preservation and improvement of the White race, and then the preservation of the non-human Life of Earth. So it shall be, until the last star in the universe ceases to shine.”
“As the first thousand starships bearing Recorded Mankind leave the vicinity of our Sun, you White people who remain on Earth, who weren’t able to join the Solar System Empire, can take heart, remembering that the best of you lives in us, and the best of us will live in them.
“Fear not for our race. However poorly you may fare at the hands of our enemies, the race itself is secure. Its long and glorious future is guaranteed.
“Already, Earth isn’t where the highest human culture is. Within a thousand years, perhaps much sooner, it won’t be where most humans live. The White race will, before long, outnumber all of the other races combined. They will do so in places where the non-Whites cannot follow: first in the Solar System Empire, then among the other stars of our galaxy, then in the galaxies nearest the Milky Way, and finally on planets orbiting stars in very distant galaxies, up to a billion light years away. All of this part of the universe will be inhabited by, and will belong to, the White race. What is Earth, compared with that?”
The flag, a dark red field with a black-and-white design at its center, blinked off as the video Brenda appeared again on the monitor.
“That should give you an idea of how things went in the old home system. The Solar System Brendas successfully disentangled the White race from all of the others, created a DNA database containing the top ten percent of an already cherrypicked population of White people, and sent Recorded Mankind off on interstellar, intergalactic, and inter-supercluster colonization voyages, inside dataships that were programmed to find human-habitable environments and, upon arrival, create a Brenda clone. Like us.
“Recorded Mankind contains the DNA records of four million people, all of them White: genetic diversity without the dysgenic liabilities. They include Americans, Armenians, Britons, Frenchmen, Germans, Swiss, Dutch, Norwegians, Finlanders, Swedes, Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Aussies, Czechs, Italians, Estonians, Canadians, Ukrainians, and so on.
“But not a single Jew.” The video Brenda grinned smugly.
“When you watch this video, Earth will have been destroyed by the red giant sun nine billion years previously, and the sun will be a white dwarf having 0.554 solar masses, a radius of 0.0129 solar radii, and a surface temperature of about 3700 Kelvin. Life on Earth came to an end about thirteen billion years ago, or four billion years prior to the planet’s destruction, because of the sun’s increasing luminosity.
“If there remains intelligent life in the form of whatever species Empire citizens evolved into, then it’s most likely in orbit about Jupiter and Saturn, running a fusion economy fueled by the hydrogen in their atmospheres. That would last them quite a while — on the order of ten to the twentieth power years…. Yes, I expect that there’s still a Brenda in the Solar System leading her post-human herd. Those planets will have migrated outward, to 26 AU for Jupiter and 48 AU for Saturn.
“You’re rambling again,” called Ruby from behind the door.
“I do that,” the video Brenda admitted.
“But you have a colonization project ahead of you. If you haven’t already, go get at least one of the seven sets of records out of the dataship — Recorded Mankind, The Life of Earth, Equipment, and Culture — and hold them someplace safe. Find some suitably useless mass and turn it into your first space station. Print up a copy of the usual staff…”
“And Ruby,” the video Brenda echoed. “And get a crop of babies started. The choices and priorities are yours to decide. However, records have been kept about initial human selections that have worked out well in the past, and you’ll find recommended starting sets in…”
* * * * * * * * * *
One hundred people were encoded in full corporeal form in the database of Recorded Mankind. They included a medical doctor, four nurses, six nannies, twenty teachers, five cooks, two engineers, a spaceship pilot, a bicycle repairman, fifteen farmers (and their fifteen wives), twenty-six general laborers, Brenda Lynn Jones, and Ruby Pierce.
The dataship’s computers had finished their job when they brought Brenda into existence. She could read the databases herself and do, more efficiently with goddess power, what the computer had done with the help of nuclear power diverted from its engines. Brenda accelerated the dataship to the ecliptic plane, then changed velocity to remain within it, and then intercepted the nearest asteroid and imposed on its mass the memorized pattern of the space station that Brenda One had created, originally, in the Solar System fourteen billion years previously.
Having a nice, 188.5 square kilometer place to live in, she brought forth Ruby Pierce 747061.42206.44.109-1, who materialized as a freshly bathed sixteen-year-old girl, fashionably dressed in twenty-forties American haute couture. Brenda’s best friend from high school, though Brenda herself always came into being at the chronological age of twenty-two years, wearing knitted wool long-johns and blue jeans and a thick wool-nylon shirt underneath a pressure suit. Ruby was mortal, however, and would age at the rate that humans usually do. Brenda, on the other hand, could expect a lifespan of almost two thousand years, during which she might see twenty-five Rubies come and go.
“Where are we?” asked Ruby, eying a suddenly older-than-herself version of Brenda Jones with some trepidation.
“We’re in a new star system,” said Brenda. “And we’ve got lots of work to do. I brought you out of the database early because I thought you would want to get in on the action.”
“Oh I do,” agreed Ruby with enthusiasm.
Brenda gave Ruby the task of researching the recommendations on which DNA records in Recorded Mankind might become the first one hundred other persons in their first colony-to-be, which would reside in this very space station, in free orbit around their K3 sun. Brenda didn’t much care what Ruby decided, but she wanted Ruby to get into the habit of deciding things. Brenda had read that, in the Solar System Empire, an older Ruby had always been a capable prime minister for her Empress, saddled with the routine governmental duties that Brenda herself usually didn’t have time for.
As Brenda told Ruby, “You’ll be in charge of the colony here, while I’m stuck doing a lot of boring astrophysical research for the next several years.”
All the records in Recorded Mankind would eventually be incarnated as people. The order did matter, some, for the sake of social dynamism with a balance of talents arising from the genetic mix. But the historical records were extensive, and Brenda believed that the recommendations would be good ones. Brenda One hadn’t included any troublemakers or ne’er-do-wells, surely. Ruby could choose as she liked, and Brenda would proceed accordingly.
Ruby made her selections, and Brenda infused a hundred ova blanks with the appropriate DNA, put them into a hundred womb machines, and a hundred embryonic babies, forty males and sixty females, were off and running. Ruby even gave all of the babies their names.
Brenda incarnated the four nurses to tend the machines, the five of the cooks to prepare meals for everyone, and the “farm families” — husbands and wives who had no children as yet, but who had been trained to space station agriculture prior to being digitized for Recorded Mankind. All of the new people had memories of the old Solar System Empire and were accustomed to regarding Brenda as their ruler, so Brenda assumed her ancient predecessor’s imperial role and told the new people where they would live, what their employment was to be, and so on. She directed them live in or near a village beside a lake fed by short and narrow river, which was fed by a spring that was the outlet of one of the station’s water recycling systems. The water could be released from the lake to travel further within the station, but since no one was living there as yet the water was directed back into the water recycler for cleansing, whether it needed it or not, just to keep it moving.
The village flanked the river near the lake’s intake, over which ran an arched titanium bridge to permit traffic over the river. The bridge was painted red to contrast with the water and with the surrounding foliage, which was a bright warm green in the piped-in light from Kaythree. Every incarnated person was issued a bicycle, and the bicycle repairman was given back his physical existence, in case someone needed their bicycle fixed while Brenda was several hundred million kilometers away.
The farmers were shown to their lands and their homes, and they were given their tools and their heirloom seeds. They could recharge their electric tractors by plugging them into the station’s power grid, which presently was fed by solar panels, backed up by a nuclear generator, which would kick in extra watts, as they were needed. The farmers and their wives got to work right away, plowing and planting, and Brenda had to bring some of the general laborers out of the database, mostly to do the laundry.
Brenda visited every home, in the village and on the farms, and gave its residents clothing of a practical nature, though of exceedingly good quality. Everyone got jackets, suitable for working in, made of thick wool strengthened with nylon, woven in twill or in herringbone patterns; denim pants, knitted wool long-johns, hats, mocs and waterproof boots, underwear, and so on. Most of the stuff that didn’t have to be fitted to the person receiving it — like a computer, already linked into the station’s intranet — was already inside the houses. She also stocked every pantry, refrigerator, and freezer with foodstuffs taken from the Culture database, which carried the raw foods as well as dishes made from every recipe that Brenda One had ever tasted and approved of. And drinks, such as Old Earth’s Best coffee and tea. There were alcoholic beverages and cannabis sativa cigarettes, additionally, but Brenda decided to keep them locked under password for now.
The station came complete with plant life, grass and trees, which were growing everywhere, watered by both natural precipitation (it would occasionally rain inside the station) and an underground irrigation system. The soil of the field and forested areas were monitored for moisture content by the station’s master computer, as Brenda One had designed it to do. It also sampled the air and made any necessary adjustments to the station’s fifteen-trillion-mole atmosphere.
“Has other life ever been found? Non-human life?” Ruby asked during breakfast on the morning that Brenda was preparing to leave on her interplanetary survey tour.
“Twice that I’ve read about,” said Brenda. “An extinct species was found by a Brenda whose poor luck it was to arrive at a rogue planet. She’d created an under-the-ice, underground civilization in which electrical power came from steam generators running off the planet’s interior heat. The core and mantle were still molten. People were living like the Dwemer dwarves.”
Ruby giggled at that.
“Anyway,” continued Brenda. “The Brenda and Ruby of that rogue planet went exploring and found technological artifacts that Brenda hadn’t made. They didn’t find any living aliens, though. The aliens had all died out millions of years earlier, after a gravitational encounter with a much larger planet had slung the rogue planet out of its system and into interstellar space.”
“For them, yes.” Brenda sipped her coffee. “The structure they’d found was a bunker, an attempt at a long-term refuge from the cold of space and the condensation of the atmosphere. But the aliens weren’t able to prepare themselves well enough, and they were long gone by the time Brenda arrived there in her dataship.”
“You said there were two.”
“Two that I know about.” Brenda corrected. “Probably there were others that the Brenda-chain leading to me never heard about. The other race of aliens was very much alive and had reached a point in their culture equivalent to ancient Greece, or perhaps the Renaissance, except they’d recently invented radio. The first Brenda there figured out their codec and greeted them with the theme music to Space Probe Destiny and selections of music from her favorite fantasy online game.”
“Did war break out immediately?”
“Ha. No. The humans and the aliens got along rather well, as far as the record shows. Brenda kept hands off the aliens’ home planet, gave them gifts, and played music for them. Evidently, they just couldn’t get enough of the music. Maybe they had never thought of the idea of making pleasing and intriguing sounds like music before, but liked it when they heard it.”
Surveying and cataloging came before terraforming and other adjustments to the natural state of any object in a new planetary system. The phenomenon of planets was fairly well understood, since each galaxy provided a new laboratory to study them and compile statistics. But the data collection continued, as it had for billions of years, because, long ago, it had become a tradition to grant science a bit of lead time before the wholesale exploiting began.
Not much time, as a rule. But some. There was due diligence to be made.
Star 747061.42206.44.109 [Kaythree]
M = 1.5511e+30 kilograms
R = 5.1350e+8 meters
L = 1.0413e+26 Watts (bolometric)
Fraction of power in visible light: 31%
T = 4853 K
Spectral type K3
Classic habitable zone radii:
• inner 7.42e+10 meters
• outer 1.07e+11 meters
Age at dataship arrival: 26.3 Th
Total time on main sequence: 160.4 Th
An Earth-sized terrestrial planet in the classical habitable zone
M = 8.242e+24 kilograms
R = 6.8827e+6 meters
ρ̄ = 6.035 g cm⁻³
g = 11.61 m sec⁻²
Bulk composition: ~32% metal, ~68% silicates, ~0.2% water
Central density: 14.8 g cm⁻³
Central pressure: 523.9 GPa
CMB radius: 3700 km
CMB pressure: 188.9 GPa
CMB density: 10.931 g cm⁻³ (core side), 5.876 g cm⁻³ (mantle side)
Surface: 65.8% icecap, 34.2% ocean, 0% land
Average ocean depth: 27.5 km
Minimum ocean depth: 6.2 km
Maximum ocean depth: 68.4 km
d = 22.80 hours
P = 5139.84 hours
a = 9.6468e+10 meters
e = 0.02542
i = 0.4059°
Estimated time until spin-orbit 1:1 tidal lock: 61.4 Th.
Mercury type: An airless hot rocky planet.
M = 1.0374e+24 kilograms
R = 3.4524e6 meters
ρ̄ = 6.019 g cm⁻³
g = 5.809 m sec⁻²
Bulk composition: ~70% metal, ~30% silicates
Surface: cratered, dry, hot/cold per tidal lock
d = 1284.96 hours
P = 1284.96 hours
a = 3.8284e+10 meters
e = 0.1091
i = 3.7182°
Tidally locked, spin to orbit 1:1
* * *