Gaia (Lambda Aurigae IV)


Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.
- Francis Bacon, Novum Organum

Do no dishonor to the earth lest you dishonor the spirit of man.
- Henry Beston, The Outermost House

"And the Pioneers left the dying world, bringing their wisdom the technicals had scorned to Gaia. And Gaia accepted them, for She saw that their hearts were ec. They cleansed themselves and locked away the remnants of tox they had brought with them into the Vault, and settled down to live a truly ec life. To preserve their wisdom they built the libraries, describing everything they knew about the world and life for coming generations. And so they joined the great cycle, having overcome tox with ec". The Mother is a compelling storyteller, despite the occasional sharp looks she sends me. Each time parts of the audience also looks at me, seeing the weird technical from the worlds that somehow avoided the ecocalypse. But she doesn’t address me directly, just uses me as a warning example.
- Jonathan Ellis-Khayama, Interstellar Diary


Gaia was colonised by the Green Alliance, an environmentalist movement seeking to escape the rape of nature that occurred on Earth (and in their opinion, in the space habitats). Just like the UCA they believed the solar system and colonies were doomed – by removing themselves from true nature they were cutting off their roots and would eventually perish. The Alliance instead wanted to create a more natural society, to live in harmony with nature so that a healthy mankind could evolve and survive.

The colony ships Root and Seed were launched in 2045, arriving at Lambda Aurigae IV in 2165. The colonisation plan had been meticulously designed. While most of the colonists remained frozen, a number of pioneers explored the planet and set up three experimental farms. The purpose was to find out just how much necessities indigenous life could provide, and what absolutely had to be supplemented by the bioarchives onboard the ships. After two local years enough had been learned, and the colonisation began in the earnest. At first all available high technology was used – shuttles, robotic building, expert systems and biotech. Then as the colony (divided into three regions around the original farms) began to produce its own necessities the technology was largely abandoned. Instead of scrapping it was sealed into the Vault – a large concrete structure that was finally sealed permanently in 2175. It could only be opened by a code sequence distributed between the three sub-colony councils. Some advanced technology such as radios and medical equipment was left, it was appropriate but must in the end be replaced by local products.

Everything went well until 2180, when an epidemic attacked the Swan colony. The local council demanded help and opening of the Vault, but the other colonies were reluctant. Eventually the crisis subsided, but it was clear that a problem had to involve all colonies before the Vault would be opened. There was also lingering resentment from the decimated Swans against the others; from now on they would not cooperate overly with them.

The young generation tended to react differently to their society. While some questioned the self-imposed limitations, many became more radical than their parents did. Some demanded (together with the hard-liners among the colonists) that the Vault should be destroyed – it was a temptation they could do well without. In 2187 a small team almost managed to blow up the entrance to the Vault with explosives, but were hindered by locals.

However, the hardships of agricultural life made politics less and less interesting. The slowly failing remaining technology was never replaced, as the infrastructure to make replacements was never constructed. Old knowledge was meticulously passed on (libraries were built at many places to retain a selected heritage of mankind) but lacking important details, and the plans for the infrastructure remained politically hard to implement. In Swan hard-liners even destroyed the plans to ensure that society would remain pristine.

Gaia became an agricultural society just as planned, but at a much lower technological level than the original program had intended. The old ecological ideas also drifted. The ideas of living in harmony with nature became a kind of religion, where certain things were seen as "ec" and others as "tox". The libraries were carefully tended, but the contents not well understood – they were the wise words of the pioneers. At the same time they never lost their knowledge of how the world worked, it just became inhabited with spiritual meaning. Complex living systems became forces of ec, while entropy, negative emotions and the mysterious worlds of the un-gaians were tox. Certain animals, such as the parasite block that attacked humans, livestock and many other species, were also seen as tox – Gaia had actually not intended them, and removing them was actually an ec act. The Vault was the Pandora’s box of ec and tox, not to be touched by the unworthy. Today the founders would likely disagree with much of the ecology taught on Gaia; especially the farming which was originally intended to be optimally low-impact has, due to the lower technological level, a significant ecological impact.


The different colonies developed in different ways. Swan, always the most radical, promoted a strict agricultural society run by the Mothers, the priestess/librarians interpreting the word of the pioneers and Gaia. Dolphin remained more open, a loose democracy centred on the densely inhabited Watson valley. In the eastern part of the Purple Sea the Pine colony retreated from the coast, which was plagued by regular floods and storms. It became isolated from the others, and slowly dwindled over the span of a century. Eventually the last colonists left for the west and disappeared into the other colonies.

The overall assumption among the gaians was that the solar system and other colonies had failed – how could they thrive in a non-natural way? The appearance of other people was a major blow to their worldview. The Mothers are extremely critical of outworlders, and have pronounced them as bringers of tox. Dolphin is wary but interested.

Gaian technology is not very advanced, roughly equivalent to pre-industrial Earth, around 18th century at most. Energy is provided by windmills, farming is done manually and using work animals. A wide variety of plants (both terrestrial and Gaian) are used for making everything from medicine to glue. Originally the intention had been to exploit the advanced technology of the 2040’s to set up a sustainable society harmonious with nature, but as the plans were never fully implemented the technological level became much lower (and more disruptive to the environment, ironic enough).

In the absence of computers, mental techniques were developed. At first they were mainly memory techniques used by the Mothers, but later other mental exercises such as emotion management, daimons and body control developed. In the fairly leisurely pace of gaian society most techniques were used just as utilities.


The Mothers are the most powerful group on the planet, since they control religion, education and the libraries. They run the libraries and temples, where they also act as teachers. Access is strictly through their admittance, and they also hold strict reins on social life. Their most important function is to explain how different acts are ec and tox, and suggest what the Mother wants. They are also well trained in psychology, and adept at using hypnosis and suggestions to treat illnesses and personal problems. Mothers are divided into four ranks: apprentices, maidens, mothers and crones. The apprentices do menial tasks and are taught the basics of ecology, reading, writing and gaianism; when they have reached full understanding they are initiated to become maidens. At their first childbirth they become mothers, and at 50 they become crones. The crones usually reside at a temple or library which they govern. Each Mother is expected to obey those of higher ranks.

There are several guilds, guarding various important skills. Of special note are the herbalists, who keep the old knowledge of pharmacology and biochemistry; they not only produce healing drugs, but other practical and ec substances from the plants and animals Gaia supplies them with. Another important guild is the engineers, who build windmills, pumps and othe rsimple technology. They are closely watched by the Mothers, so that their thoughts are not polluted by tox.

Adonis is a semi-secret group of male rights activists, working against the Mothers. They claim that men and women are equal, and that Gaia never intended the women to be her sole spokespeople.

The Pines are descendants from the Pine colony. The colony failed, and they were forced to move west. They form a somewhat distinctive group, with shared family ties and a feeling of kinship; towards others they are a bit clannish and suspicious. They are among the most liberal gaians, having decided that overzealousness is more damaging than technology. This has led to several run-ins with the mothers, and at least in Dolphin the Pines live apart.

The Cybelists were a militant group of first-generation colonists, seeking to return even closer to nature than the Pioneers. They centred around the charismatic Cybele Kekkonen, the first human born on Gaia. She grew up to become a fanatic gaianist, regarding herself (and regarded by her followers) as an avatar of the planet. Her cult tried to sabotage plans for low-impact industries, agriculture, the Vault and agitated fiercely that the only proper life was as a hunter-gatherer. Since the Cybelists had trained themselves to survive well in the wild they were hard to restrain, and their surprise attacks was a serious drain to the early colony. In 2199 Cybele committed suicide with her closest followers when they were surrounded by the colony militia at Tidegap; she proclaimed that she would incarnate again and to this day the remaining Cybelists revere the place. The Cybelist movement has nearly died out, but some of the memes remain among radical Mothers, who train themselves to survive only by hunting and gathering and revere Cybele as at least someone deeply inspired by Gaia.


Gaians dress very colourfully, mostly thanks to the abundant plant dyes that can be used to dye the felt fibres after they have been treated with potash and the digestive juices of felthogs (especially the green from the Garthonberries is popular). A popular custom in both Swan and Dolphin is to have bright ribbons that flap in the winds; the Swans sometimes include tiny whistles too.

Gaian buildings tend to be built from stone due to the lack of wood; parts are often covered by fabric to shield against the winds. Tents are sometimes used for temporary buildings, but the wind makes them troublesome to maintain.



Air plankton. The term often used for drifting, lazy people.


When the goddesses line up. Grand conjunctions, where all three move together, occurs approximately every 41 years. Diaselene occurs every month, Dianisis around once a year and Selenisis every 4 years.


A militant form of Gaia worship, rare these days.


Something ecological/good.


The end of technical society.


Mother Earth, the personified life-force of everything.


Priesthood in Swan maintaining the tradition and guarding the libraries.


Somebody descended from the Pine refugees.

Purple storm

Storms blowing in water from the purple sea over land.


The quills of felthogs, used for writing, sewing and a variety of applications. Also used to refer to something useful.


To die.


Wandering people, doing odd jobs or stealing. Regarded as a tox abberation of the social system


People using technology.

The Three Goddesses

The moons.


Something toxic/evil.


A weblike harness used for riding the tritti.


Outsiders. Negative term.


To stay indoors to avoid the weather. "The harvest is in, now we can wellington".

The Wild

A disease caused by a throat and lung infection of gaian bacteria that produce an adrenaline-analogue. The victims become stressed, agitated and in severe cases violent.


Total: 1,217,175. Swan: 748,562. Dolphin: 468,613. Life expectancy at birth: 68.3 Earth-years.


Barter. Money are regarded as extremely tox.


The gaians divide the day and night into six hours each – exact time is regarded as very tox. The years are divided into twelve months, each approximately 90 days long. One year is 2.5 Earth years, or 1095 days. Time is often counted from the latest conjunction (called Diaselene, Dianisis, Selenisis and grand).


A simple picture of a leaf-haired woman embracing the planet.

Dolphin and Swan use their namesakes as symbols, despite the fact that the animals were never introduced on the planet.


Gaia is 11,830 km in diameter, 0.8 times Earth density. Gravity is 0.758 g, the day is just 20 hours. The mean distance to Helios is 1.82 AU, producing a 1.86 earth-year long year (813 Gaia-days). The orbit is somewhat eccentric, currently producing a milder climate but over time precession makes the climate shift periodically towards stronger heat and cold over the span of thousands of years. The axial tilt is 14 degrees.

The air is relatively thin, and humans often feel the need to rest. The quick rotation often produces strong winds, but the thinner air makes them less devastating.

60% of the surface is sea. There are four main continents, Dolphin, Swan, Pine and Cloud. Dolphin, Swan and Pine surround the Purple Sea (coloured by micro-organisms; originally it was called the Demeter Sea). The three sub-colonies were located on their respective shore a few thousand kilometers apart. Between Dolphin and northern Swan the Waters of Eos form a Mediterranean-like sea.

The three moons are Diana, Selene and Isis (4408, 320, 3175 km in diameter respectively); all three are too far away to cause any major tides, but their conjunctions are used to measure time. When Diana and Selene align, it is called Diaselene; the other conjunctions are called Dianisis and Selenisis.

There are 16 other planets, all named after important environmentalists but of little relevance to the Gaians. The innermost world is a barren rock named Malthus. Outside lies Rosseau and Muir, two hot desert worlds with intense storm systems. Outside Gaia lies a superterrestrial planet named Muir, followed by the three gas giants Nader, Leopold and Carson. Outside lies a series of minor gas planets and iceballs named Wilson, Hui, Kessler, Chinoba, Janosch, Sabadir, Rifkin, Winter and Rhodin.


Gaian life is quite unlike terran life. The basis for the land ecosystems is the felt, a thick homogenous undergrowth of fine plant fibres that covers almost everything in the lowlands. Instead of traditional soil there are layers of old felt; each year the felt grows a new layer, absorbing parts of the underlying material. Other plants coexist with the felt or grow through it. Most are thin fibres or tendrils extending into the air, some individually, others in bundles or braids. There are very few larger plants, except for the braid-bushes and braid-trees; this makes winds and storms much more severe. Wood does not exist, all plants are supple and easily bent. Instead of wood weaves or plaits are used, sometimes treated with minerals to become hard.

Many animals live in or beneath the felt, such as the flatbugs or twee. The most common grazers are the blowers, small round creatures with soft bodies, not unlike decimetre-sized aphids. They are in turn preyed upon by the felthogs, spiny starlike creatures that are also used as livestock by humans (their quills are extremely useful for all sorts of applications, from knitting to gluing together into beams). Larger animals also exist, such as the feltshark (hides beneath the felt and pounces; it can be dangerous to humans), the pyralopes and tritti (jumping, large herbivores named for their sound, often used as steeds). The air is filled graceful air plankton and their accompanying flying ecology, including the colourful bubblekites that are often used as insulation and decoration (their dried bodies are filled with air cavities).

The biggest problem with a diet of Gaian foods is the high content of selenium. While an essential trace element for humans, the levels in ordinary gaian life are so high that they can cause poisoning: pallor, garlicky breath, irritation of the nose, conjunctivitis, skin problems and drowsiness. The pioneers solved this - after much searching for a local solution - by genetically modifying the tea bush so that the leaves would contain a chelating agent that bound selenium and other metals found in gaian food. These tea bushes are found at every gaian household. Drinking the tea (known as Pioneer tea) has become a part of daily ritual, linked to a short meditation of thankfulness to the wise Pioneers.