President Pandora Shrinabara
President of the Landfall Republic on Nova. She was elected on the platforms of the Communitarian and Liberal Urbanist Parties, but has (like most presidents) found her own style. Pandora represents the “Open Kitchen Government” idea of intimate, open and everyday politics. Her council meetings are broadcast as “President Pandora’s Box” and have achieved remarkable ratings. She even demands that her ministers attend physically, something that has not been done for over a century.
Futurologist AI owned by the Futurism & Trends Department of Landfall University. For the last 5 years it has been developing various forecasts and scenarios using its heavy-duty simulators; in many ways Essen is the user interface to the simulators. It is completely directed towards learning more about the past and present, so that it can compare its predictions with the future; it is literally interested in learning everything about what is going on. It reads/watches widely, participates in many net discussions and have developed friendships with many people. It has, despite repeated requests from the university, not sought citizenship. For an AI it is unusually lacking in manners towards humans, preferring to live and be visited in its virtual reality where it builds futures.
Professor Wladimir Ezrahali
Professor in game theory and applied metamathematics at Landfall University. One of the few human experts on Nomic, respected even among the nomes. Generally regarded as one of the smartest and hippest academics around, a fine example of the “Open Ivory Tower” approach of Landfall University. His main interest is open games, that is games or systems where the rules can be changed or there are no fixed rules at all (such as Nomic, law, economics or warfare).
Se-quo-yi the Diva
One of the few Eternals of Nova. Se-quo-yi is mysterious, elegant and always fresh. Experts agree that her song is sublime, but her personality is the real magnetism. Unlike most Nova celebrities she keeps out of the spotlight most of the time, only to briefly appear to whet everybody’s appetite for her appearances even more. She guards her private life well, so far none of the net-papers have managed to get close to her: a counter-intelligence achievement of the first rank from her employees.
Timone is Nova’s richest AI, at least among the top ten richest most of the time. It is a “second generation” AI created by an independent elemental calling itself E547 (known to have created several other independent AIs). After achieving citizenship Timone began to work in finance, set up an investment firm directed towards AIs, and managed to make a tidy profit. Using the publicity Timone Investments later diversified to humans, and continued expanding. Over the years the firm has become a fixture in Landfall economics, a solid, slightly conservative firm very good at handling fast stock movements. Timone seems to like playing the billionaire, often mingling with the hoi polloi using android bodies or virtual personas. It is known to sponsor much of the AI rights movement.
The most prominent anti-AI rights person on Nova, since 2349 a member of the parliament (on the Liberal Urbanist platform). He began as a political scientist, but has branched out to become a typical media representative for a point of view. Buzsaki's main argument is that giving AI rights undermines human rights and democracy; either all AI is given rights, and then humans will become an insignificant minority in their own nation, or partial rights are given. But partial rights threaten to spread to human rights: if AIs have to be tested to get citizenship, why not humans? Why can citizenship be denied due to one's mental state? In addition, if we acknowledge that some AI have rights but continue to use equivalent programs as things we are setting a dangerous precedent for slavery and treating humans as things. Buzsaki is articulate and skilled in media manipulation, and especially infuriates the AI rights movement by using their arguments against them.
Warbuggy driver, thrice the champion of the trans-continental warbuggy race and generally regarded as one of the greatest stars of the sport. Originally from an unremarkable town in the Alliance, his driving has made him a Nova celebrity. Races with warbuggies, high-powered light vehicles, in the Upback are a popular and dangerous sport – the challenge comes not just from competition (in many variants offensive driving is allowed) but from the harsh environment. The trans-continental is generally regarded the hardest race: from Landfall in the west to Brilliance Bay in the east, 18,650 kilometres of desert, mountains, volcanoes and canyons. Petri is a driven sportsman with a deceptively detached style; many regard him as a virtuoso with the warbuggy.
Xerxes van HaldenAdvertising guru and overall celebrity. Xerxes is just one of the famous van Haldens (the family has been involved in business and politics since the 2090's), but he is acknowledged as one of the greatest media manipulators of Nova ever. His firm van Halden Image is one of the most expensive and well renowned marketing studios, with major megacorps, several leading politicians (including the current president), Unity and a long list of celebrities as customers. Xerxes is an impeccably stylish man, who never appears to do anything wrong.
Lead singer of the AI rock band Solid State (consisting of Jason, Robert, Zillah and Nicky). Most AI has no interest in music (since it depends on the right-hemisphere analogue of the speech centre in the human brain, which is often not implemented in AI speech and meaning recognition software), but Neville started as an experiment in music perception and production at the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Landfall University in 2333. As a joke/project some of the students copied the program and added personality modules to create a rock band, which became an instant success first on the virtual campus and later in external media. The band was granted citizenship (the university is entitled a percentage of the earnings due to a settlement) and has since then had a successful music career (unlike many other AI bands). While the Solid State has experimented with styles from string quartets to Charithon, its greatest popularity comes from their modern take on Atteindre Rock (the Nova-French rock style popular during the early colony era in the 2090’s), which also suits the rather old-fashioned band structure well. Jason is known to be fond of playing the exhibitionist rock star, often taking on an android body and making outrageous statements. As he put it, “You humans have your evolutionary past as an excuse for your behaviour. I haven’t got any excuse. Who cares?”
CEO and owner of Prime Point Salvage Inc, a major salvage and repair firm. Kazon began his career as a software antiquarian, decoding obsolete data formats and hunting down information enough to write emulators. He ran a quite successful company doing software rediscovery, maintenance and restoration. Over time his interests broadened to encompass old technology, and he started PPS. PPS salvages and repairs obsolete technology, selling it to collectors or keeping ancient legacy systems running because they are too expensive to replace. He was very lucky to get into the business at the time he did; when Contact occured suddenly the oldest systems were the only common denomiator when spaceships tried to dock or software needed to be interfaced. PPS is doing a brisk business, and has been involved in some high-profile ventures such as the revival of the Turnbull crew. Kazon is a true antiquarian, lovingly caring for oxidized electronics, obscure code and obsolete fusion plants. The older, the more weird and the rarer, the better. In his home he has one of the biggest collections of pre-colonial technology, ranging from antique chemical cameras to holographic CDs.
Actor, famous for his portrayal of Jahn van Halden, the rough colonist-turned-politician in the long running pseudo-historical drama “Stormy 90’s”. The role, loosely based on the real person, has made him the darling of the histdrama viewer segment. While he has been so typecast into the genre that he might need to vanish to the Alliance a few years to become fresh again, he is riding his current popularity and using it to earn piles of money from merchandise, promote his views on society (essentially a back-to-the-basics microcommunitarian view) and play in various virtuals.
Louis “Michelangelo” Parriaux
Virtual designer. Ever since graduating from the Backup Academy of Media Arts he has been building elaborate realities both for public consumption, private use or corporate presentation. His skill lies not in the detailed graphics and sense data (that can be filled in by assistants and AIs), but in setting up the overall logic and flow of the virtual – the life of it. He has achieved several awards, including the Lanier and the Golden Glove. Louis regards himself as a creator of worlds, and can at times be slightly overbearing. How much of his delusions of divinity are real and how much is just acting the part is unclear. He currently lives in an ultra-fashionable villa overhanging the cliff in Wladimirograd, with massive net links to the various visualisation systems of his firm and rooms equipped with holographic wall displays making “reality” rather relative inside the building.
Expedition leader of the Democracy, one of Landfall’s exploration starships. Originally a team leader for the Administration Space Rescue Force, she was selected to head the first Nova expedition to the stars. She proved to be a competent leader, well adjusted to the complications of spaceflight and handling unexpected situations far from home; the Democracy has become “her” starship. She is a cheerful and perceptive person, often able to notice minor problems and quietly fixing them well in advance of them becoming larger. Unlike most Landfall people she has not the least desire to be seen in the media, and gladly diverts journalists and newsbugs to her staff. This has of course inadvertently given her an aura of mystique in the media, making her even more famous.
Professor Tom Milford
Professor in linguistics at Landfall University. His original speciality was linguistic evolution, a rather recondite subject in a world where English and translator software were ubiquitious. But when FTL appeared, suddenly his insights into the way languages changed over time became very useful and he was cast into the limelight. He has been working on a mammoth study of the evolution of languages in the colonial era, not just English but also all other available language remnants.
Professor Chloe Andrews
History professor at Landfall University, specialising in pre-colonial history. She has been deeply involved in the rehabilitation of the frozen people from the Turnbull expedition. She is a calm, likeable person who enjoys finding out new things about the past through all the new possibilities these days. She is the founder of the Interstellar Historical Association. Privately she spends her time writing historical virtuality dramas under a pseudonym; so far they have been modestly successful.
Jai-alai player, photomodel and hypzoid. Currently Faroukh is a mega-star, although nobody expects it to last long. His combination of physical agility, good looks (only partially enhanced) and charisma has made him the darling of many Novas (and amusingly, a small following has managed to spring up on Arcadia). The sales of Faroukh-look alike androids has soared, and he is making a tidy profit. Personally he is a very mild and peaceful character, who however enjoys participating in combat sims or Upback laser-tag to train his body and reflexes. Much of his daily life is influenced by his “mentors”, three AI programs he has grown up with.
Freelance journalist and media manipulator. Dnavo was a child during the Film at 11 War, and saw the enormous power of media to both reveal and obscure the truth. It made him decide to become a journalist in order to find out at least for himself what really is happening. He has a fairly cynical view of media, but a great passion in investigating stuff that interests him. Over time he has turned away from investigative reporting towards other fields, but his company Get Uno employs other investigators and finds or produces a regular stream of interesting news to irritate the Powers That Be and earn fine royalties. He has instead taken an interest in interstellar politics, trade and contact, and have done his best to insinuate himself into starship and diplomatic circles. Dnavo is an extremely friendly and pleasant person, a mask he has developed to get close to people. Actually he is a rational planner who sees most people as newssources in an almost Atlantean way. He has a small vice he indulges in: collecting robotic companions. His “harem” is quite extensive, and he exhibits a jealousy for his robots that many of his friends poke fun at.
Arranging a party or other event is an art, and Zwane is one of the masters. For over 60 years he has been the name in Landfall when it comes to organizing parties, even if his style (and what his clients demands) has changed. He is definitely aiming for eternalhood. He knows everybody who is somebody and has a gut feel for what kind of people mix well with what style, and a broad network of contacts that makes it possible for him to arrange both the outrageously exotic and the sublimely classic.
San Michel Mbuto
Cardinal of Nova, the leader of the Catholic church in the Tau Ceti system. A charming and witty man, well able to handle the media to get maximal goodwill for his church. His background is highly academic, and he has had some resistance from the parts of the church demanding a more “down to Earth” approach, but overall his leadership has been successful. Especially the contact with other Catholics on New America and Traha has revitalised the church, even if it also causes doctrinal problems. San Michel is not afraid of dealing with tough philosophical problems such as the AI soul problem. His view (which is fairly close to the currently accepted doctrine) is that AI, being human constructions, does not per se have souls, but God is fully able to ensoul an AI: if an AI experiences spiritual yearnings then it must be given the benefit of doubt and could in principle be accepted into the Church. The matter of original sin still applies to AI, since they have been tainted by the human original sin.
Lisa Gregor Ramirez
Presidential media manager, the person behind president Shrinabara’s media presence. Graduated magna cum laude from Landfall University with a degree in Image Design. She started up her own firm, Option Interest, and quickly made herself a name. What really made her truly famous was when she orchestrated the campaign for president Shrinabara. She is now extremely busy, managing the presidential media presence and broadcasting her show. When the president is out of the limelight, she will likely continue her career in politics. A driven, intelligent woman who knows exactly what she wants and will achieve it. She is always the centre of a whirlpool of busy assistants, experts, media people and AIs, being alone is never an option. Her friends often warn her that she is bound to burn herself out, but she shrugs it off.
Owner of the small space transport firm Avatari, which runs transport ships between Nova, Zeus and some other outposts. It is a minor operation, but takes extra loads of He3, goods to and from Unity, planetary delivery etc. Karsten is not that interested in legality, and occasionally smuggles things in or out from Unity or the Alliance. The interstellar possibilities appeal strongly to him, and he has been doing his outmost to find a way to trade interstellarly. Given his minor budget this does not seem likely, but Karsten will not give up.
Turnbull colonist and celebrity. Inga was born in 1999, and participated in the ill-fated Turnbull colony project. When the epidemic destroyed the colony, she froze herself and was reanimated and cured of the disease more than two centuries later by a Nova-Arcadia expedition. She came to Nova, where she became a celebrity and her book Leaving Earth became a bestseller. Since then she has been part-time celebrity, part time technoarchologist.
American (that is, Earth-America) astronaut, visionary and colonist. He was one of the major visionaries and enthusiasts behind the Terranova effort, personally convincing many sponsors and the public about the project. He managed to be one of the three pathbreakers that first landed on the planet at Landing Point. A charismatic and energetic person, He got highly involved in setting up and running the colony. Over time he got disillusioned by politics, and retired from the colonial administration. Eventually he froze himself with the stipulation of being reanimated every 50 years; he is currently one of the oldest and most famous time-jumpers in history.
CEO of the Brain Scanning Network, an organisation devoted to the scanning and emulation of human brains. The founder, Seth Knill, sought this as a way of achieving immortality, and created Laflamme to help him. Laflamme shares Seths convictions and much of his driven, enthusiastic and ambitious personality, and as Seth had to freeze himself due to old age, Laflamme continues his work. BSN is not a very large research organisation but has achieved notable successes with its freeze-scanning of nematode worms and the successful demonstration that they could create emulations of trained nematodes. Current work involves brain scanning and emulation of fruit flies and rats; progress is slow but certain, and Laflamme believes the influx of nanotech from Atlantis (which has already enabled much more detailed scanning) will be the key leading to full human uploading within a few years. That will provide immortality far beyond merely biological longevity.
Lorraine Quentin Sarah Eric Hondo Emmanuel Rich
One of Unity’s main marketing unities. The unity is quite old, dating back to the original unities around Nova, with only two original members (Lorraine and Quentin, both elderly people with bionic life support) remaining. Over time it has become known for being reasonable, effective and having a good feel for how to interact with sometimes suspicious outsiders. Currently it is mainly involved with marketing the starship program, and seeking off-world contacts. Privately it is a kind of extended family: Sarah and Eric are the biological children of earlier members, in turn paired with Hondo and Emmanuel respectively. Rich, the youngest member, is the son of Eric and Emmanuel. There is some concern that the unity will not hold together when Lorraine and Quentin die, but Rich is apparently taking on much of their necessary personality and coordination style.
Dr. Eduardo Miranda Jörg Li Ralf Marie
A young (groupwise) six member anthropologist/diplomat from Unity. Eduardo, Jörg and Maria were originally from Landfall (Eduardo and Maria were fairly high-ranking diplomats), while Li, Ralf and Marie are Unity-born. The doctor is most well known for its success in dealing with the Mothers, and has written several influential papers about Mother civilisation. It has a fairly well-known (and to others amusing) scientific vendetta against the famous Ridgewell sociologist Martin Highglade Paul Stevens on the exact interpretations of the role of the Mother clans.
The voice of Unity, a meta-individual consisting of the unities of the original habitat and the democratic IAI subsystems. Being a meta-unity rather than a real individual/group Unity One is rather impersonal and mostly used for diplomacy and media presence.
An engineering unity, or rather multiplicity: Habit consists of totally 41 people, divided into three main unities and a few loosely bound singletons. Habit emerged during the construction of the Matterhorn habitat, when three closely working unities partially merged. Since then it has consolidated, and now regularly achieves enough unity to be called a real unity; it is heavily encumbered, but functions well while working. The name is a pun on habit and habitat, since the engineering unity is specialised on building orbital habitats. The sub-unities are specialized on space engineering and systems design, with complementary skills and views. Together they can construct at least small habitats on their own.
An investigative journalist dyad from Unity Media Inc. Both Baptiste and Chen are Unity-born, and grew up together on Unity 6. They merged at an early age and form a true group mind most of the time, with very deep access. Being inquisitive it took up journalism, and travelled to Landfall as a correspondent. It quickly found many unexpected uses of being a groupmind journalist among the gases, and rose to prominence after uncovering the OmikronTech-Seminalist corruption scandal in 2337. The dyad is irrepressibly curious and cheerful, using wit and sheer chutzpah to get in anywhere where it shouldn’t. Many unities find it too individualistic; it doesn’t mesh well with other unities despite the firm bonding, but it fits in perfectly well among the individual humans.
Coordinator Robert McCairns-Kendell
NASA Ex-Coordinator, currently coordinator of the Arcadian starship program on Chloe. McCairns-Kendell was coordinator for the NASA, one of the driving forces behind the FTL project. Despite his successful leadership he was forced to resign when it was revealed that someone had leaked the designs to the Arcadians. Eventually they invited him over, and instated him in their program instead (something that in the eyes of many Americans prove his guilt). He is a visionary and enthusiast, making others equally ambitious. His dream is to enable mankind to reach the whole of the galaxy, to explore everything. In many ways he is the soul of the Arcadian exploration program.
Head Ecologist Maravilla Ringley
Maravilla is the head ecologist of Arcadia, a position of tremendous importance. It is her department that has the final say on releasing any neogene into the environment, defines ecological goals as well as advising on the ecological consequences or possibilities of various courses of action (they are sometimes called the anorak eminencies). Maravilla got to her position through hard work. Ecology department traditions demand that the office of head ecologist only go to people who have proven their skills practically, which means they must spend many years out in the field and in the lab. This has the effect of scaring away politicians and getting practical bosses. Maravilla’s speciality is forestation processes, although she is remarkably at home everywhere in the ecosystem. She is a fairly conservative ecologist, more in favour for the Naturalists than Terrestrialists and quite stern in judging proposed neogenes. Privately Maravilla is a stay-at-home person, who prefers to play with her family and its ecology rather than attend to outside events; this has given her the epithet “The Big Lichtmuschel”.
Arcadia's most famous genetic designer, or as he prefers to call himself, conductor. His group, the Cynthia Synthesisers, have developed revolutionary new techniques for euthenics and morphological change. Mughetto is a social, clever man whose apparent youth is deceptive: he is over 180 years old. He often jokes that he is a complete patchwork of gene therapy, cloned organs and artificial tissues – not a good design, but a fine catalogue. One of his biggest quirks is that he can’t stand being indoors more than necessary; during the cold periods he uses gene therapy to produce a limited Yeti-Yeti effect and live in a topside tower. Recently he has begun to look at the possibilities of offworld work, he is itching to experiment with alien ecologies.
Arcadian genetic designer. She is interstellarly known for her vocal stand against Penglaiese terraforming efforts, instead promoting Cladism and further human adaptation. She and her group of ecologists have been trying to convince the PCA about changing its policies, with little official success. Rumours and some accusations suggest that they have instead been in contact with dissidents and underground organisations like the hsien, something that has been categorically denied.
Space engineer and starship pilot. Unlike most Arcadians Heidi has grown up in space, on Chloe and the orbitals (her parents were space biologists, working on the Martian Potato project). She has a fondness for both radical biotechnology and hard space tech, she sees no reason why they can’t be combined. When the Arcadian space program began in earnest she got involved right from the start and ended up as navigator on the Pioneer, the first higgsram-capable craft built by Arcadians. Since then she has piloted it and other ships to many other planets. She is well connected and on friendly terms with coordinator McCairns-Kendell (despite his taste in music). As she sees it, it is up to the arcadian space program to spread the word about the expansion towards the stars to every planet (including Mary and other closed societies – they can’t ignore reality forever).
Leader of the Porrima Aquatic Partnership, an attempt to create a permanent underwater hive. It is located off the Chiron coast, in association with the major hive Pythagoras. Ziven grew up as a young aquarian underwater with his parents during the last Cold. When the Warmth came and the family moved to land, the young Ziven rebelled. He disliked the dry world intensely, preferring to live underwater. He decided to live as a perm aquarian, building himself a house on the Chiron coast. He later found similar minded people, and together they founded the Porrima Partnership. Ziven is a somewhat abrasive personality, at least when he is on land. However, this is outweighed by his planning skills and coordination ability.
Council representative of Laco Nessus, one of the major Flora hives. A likeable and jovial man, he has managed to convince his hive to invest its energy in the Outreach Program, an attempt to forge closer economic and political bonds with offworld groups. He is one of the oldest hive members, with a physical age stabilized at 60; this has earned him the nickname “grayback”.
Hive politician. He was one of the first stags (as his name suggests, his parents wanted to have a real leader as a child), and the personality modifications may have been a bit cruder than the ones used today; compared to younger stags he is too competitive to really work well, but thanks to his time in politics and experience he can manage himself well. Arthur grew up in Ergasto, a hive on Chiron. There he at an early age showed his leadership skills and became very influential in organising consensus in hive meetings. He began to network with other Chiron Hives, and together they founded the Chiron Tribe for a major mutual genetics project. The tribe has since then disbanded partially, but Arthur went on to Flora politics and is currently deeply involved in several major cross-Hive projects. He has been on the Council a few times, but seems to prefer organising these days before consensus-building.
Coordinator for the space life project. A distinguished biodesigner with a long career in the project, Vilhelm is well liked and respected on Chloe. Progress has been slow, but under his leadership it has at least been unambigious. As he sees it, the importance of the project isn’t just spreading life in space or making biotechnology for space use, but to find the outermost limits of what life can achieve: he wants to see if life can be adapted to *anything*. So far he has not been disappointed. Personally he is a traditionalist Arcadian, spending much of his spare time tending his home ecosystem and training his prize-winning workers.
Diplomat and xenobiologist from the hive Silvia Montes. He was sent to New America to both deal with the americans and their local life, but especially to study the Filigree. Despite the cooling relationship between NA and Arcadia he has become a respected character, often consulted by americans in matters of xenobiology. Unfortunately the real goal, an understanding of the filigree, eludes him and his colleagues.
Air and space traffic controller for Arcadia. The traffic of the entire system is handled from an office in Flora by three people and a few expert systems; there is currently not much of it. There are some local traffic control on Chloe, but Monelda is the overall controller. She is a relaxed lady who enjoys planning and thinking in 3D, unfortunately her current job isn’t that stimulating. She has for a long time supported the expansionists in the hope of more things to do.
Major organiser from the Acis hive. Known to be a strong naturalist and conservationist, gathering the support from similar minded across Arcadia. She is behind the metatech movement, which demands stricter controls not just on neos but also all new technology on Arcadia, making sure the impacts are positive. The metatechs borrow many ideas from the Trahan technology assessors, and Mariella is sometimes called "the little Trahan".
One of Arcadias most famed stags: through his excellence in just about any form of competitive activity he has managed to rise to a position as official spokesperson of the Council at a very young age. However, his competitiveness (despite the therapy expert systems he use) often brings him into conflicts with others, and he feels he have to expand his reach outside Arcadia to get some real challenges. He strongly supports interstellar contact and the expansionist program.
2nd medical controller of Flora Hospital. The medical establishment has much influence in Arcadian society, since it (just like the ecologists for neos) gives permissions for new human genetic changes. Greg is a quite, very professional medical manager who supervises the hospital and its activities. He is currently trying to recruit off- world medical expertise to broaden Arcadian medicine and genetic composition.
Professor Yi Koto
Professor in sociology at the university of Hung-Ching. Originally from the poor Leng, he showed so much promise he was given a special PCA grant to enter the university. He began a blazing career leading towards politics, but at 24 he had a sudden “revelation” and quit. Instead he began to seriously study sociology, a relatively ignored area. This truly suited his talents, and he spent the following decade travelling all over Penglai exploring how the different societies had developed and were developing. Back at the university he eventually managed to gain a professorship, despite his status as a somewhat suspect character.
Commander Shih May-Ying
Commander of the PCA Airforce. A driven, strict woman originally from Daoling. She set out to prove to everyone that she could do anything, and she has succeeded beyond all expectations. Thanks to her excellent piloting skills she saved the freighter Guanyin from crashing into Hung-Ching, which made her a national hero. Some rumours say that she is allied with the hsien, but there have been absolutely no evidence and she is trusted by the PCA.
Chairman Ping Cho
Chairman of the PCA Board. An old, ambitious and cynical man whose guanxi has a huge influence on everything. So big in fact that Chairman Cho is starting to ignore decorum to an extent that horrifies the rest of the Board. They fear he will do something rash in public that would dishonour the PCA. In fact he might be testing them to see how much they can stand, a practice not unheard of. Among the population he is jokingly called the Jade Emperor for his autocratic style.
Head of the Penglaiese criminal enterprise. A mysterious character, whose name suggests an academic background (which might be completely fictions). The underworld is dominated by guanxis just like ordinary society, and Tann Wenn rules the most widespread guanxi, the Dragons of the West. Under his leadership it has expanded, profiting from the disorder in Hao Chen and even attempted infiltration into the PCA.
Brother Moy Da
Neo-Taoist monk from Hao Chen, known as one of the fiercest critics of the terraforming projects. While he does not condone sabotage, he has several times spoken out against the PCA and suggested that the “natural flow is towards an ungoverned Penglai”. He has been accused of being bought by the Arcadians and Atlanteans, but there is no real evidence for that (although he clearly admire their societies very much).
President Yep Dodo
President of Hsu Hsi. A quiet technocrat that has risen mainly due to his patron Ping Cho. Known to be more interested in architecture and art than administration; most of his duties are done by assistants. Public discontent is growing, being rallied by his rival Hong Ao.
Secretary Hong Ao
A traditionalist populist politician, very fond on alluding to millennia of glorious Chinese history and ancient myths (perhaps in the hope of gaining the favour of neo-Taoists). Originally from Hao Chen, but has made a career as administrator and businessman in Hsu Hsi. His speciality is fusion power (he owns Lung Fusion, the largest Penglaiese energy corporation), and he is quite interested in selling it to offworlders. He is also moving against President Yep Dodo, gambling that the PCA will not interfere.
Infamous terrorist and saboteur. She was responsible for the breakdown of the Chun-ping Atmospheric Converter in 2343 and likely the Guanyin crash. In 2349 she escaped from the high security prison she was incarcerated in and now likely resides in Hao Chen. While she claims to be loyal to the neo-Taoist and Hsien cause, it appears that she is actually more of a traditional anarchist and eco-terrorist. Her “trademark” is to exploit the instabilities inherent in complex synergetic structures to make them crash; it is believed that she has the help of at least a group of engineers or system analysts to plan her attacks. She is currently hunted by the PCA and local intelligence agencies in an unprecedented manhunt.
Head of the PCA Intelligence service. “The Storm from the East”, a hyperactive, efficient but somewhat politically weak person. His career has been a roller-coaster ride depending on the shifting PCA alliances, but the last three years he has managed to reach the relative safety of the PCAI. Under his leadership it has begun a series of investigations into outside influence on Penglai, trying to find the Hsien and terrorists like Bao Xiong. Critics have claimed he is overextending the PCAI into areas local agencies could handle, but he dismisses that as overly cautious. Privately he is a philanthrope, who enjoys sponsoring the arts and sciences.
Cheng Ti Lao
Head of the PCA Interstellar Diplomatic Department (also jokingly called the “Department of Barbarian Affairs” by the Penglaiese). An intelligent, forward thinking man with impeccable merits and high connections – just the kind of person no boss wants to have as an underling. When he was promoted to office many of his competitors were secretly relieved that he was out of the way. However, during his brief time of office he has managed to make the previously obscure Department more and more powerful and important within the PCA Diplomatic Corps; it is vital for every contact with off-worlders and the other departments have to act merely as liaisons when they travel around Penglai. He personally meets with all arriving starships, creating strategic friendships that worry many in the upper echelons of the PCA. Nobody knows if he is going to be a nova or a falling star.
Daonin alife designer, famous for his massively successful simulation/model “World of Falling Light”. A child prodigy, he mastered controlling the behavior of cellular automata and genetic algorithms as a very small child. As he grew up he turned to the problem of controlled open-ended evolution, something that is impossible but possible to approximate if one gives up part of the control or part of the open-endedness. Guo-liang found a new solution by making a different compromise; his intuitive solution amazed the alife researchers and opened up new vistas of very complex potential realities. He is nearly regarded as a saint by some simulationist schools of neo-Taoists. Personally he is a extrovert, social person who clearly enjoys the attention his worlds get He is definitely a part of the Electric City crowd.
Planner Song Ang-ning
Head terraforming planner for Penglai. He is responsible for planning
the changes wrought by the projects, making sure they are beneficial and
the dangers under control. To help him he has a major administration,
several research teams at his disposal and a network of sensors and devices
spread across the entire planet. Ang- ning is a practical man, who grew
up in a strongly neo-Taoist home. He retained many of the practically
useful ideas of neo-Taoism, like managed synergies, self-organisation
and flow manipulation, discarding the metaphysics and philosophical side.
After graduating from the geoengineering school he worked for a terraforming
engineering firm, where his talents were quickly discovered. Over the
following decades he has risen in the terraforming establishment, finally
becoming head planner. He lives simply and practically, quite often sleeping
over at various off-shore platforms or continental heater stations. His
wife and children live in Hung-Ching.
Colonel Henry F. Adams
Colonel Adams works for the New America Department of Security, in the xenological section (NADS-X). Originally from the eastern islands, he joined the New America Colonial Militia at an early age. He was trained in zero-g assault, and participated as a security officer on one of the expeditions to watch Franklin. There he met his first filigree, an eerie experience. Over time he amassed a certain experience in dealing with the enigmatic aliens, and when he was taken out of active duty due to a minor wound he applied for a position at the NADS-X. Since then he has been working with others to keep track of what the filigrees are up to, what they are and what can be done about them. He is doing his outmost to act responsibly with his sensitive job and the sometimes disturbing information he has to deal with. When on-planet he loves to sail, regardless of the weather (“The best thing about the subtropics are the hurricanes”). It helps to take his mind off the filigree.
Representative Curben Teyler
Representative of Floating California, often called “The Disloyal Opposition”. Teyler is doing his best to make politics fun, absurd and profitable for the Equatorials. He has won grudging respect as a brilliant politician hiding some quite serious ideas under the guise of foolishness, the problem is of course that cooperating with him is nearly impossible. Privately Teyler is one of the leaders of the RIBES cult and frequently away on some adventurous and dangerous trip.
Coordinator William E. Strong
The current NASA coordinator. Strong was elected as a compromise after the McCairns-Kendell resignation; on one hand public opinion wanted somebody loyal to Congress, on the other hand the project required somebody with good ties with the technorats. Strong, being an orbital administrator at Rembrandt, was the best compromise. He isn’t happy about being forced into the high-profile, high-stakes job, but knows better than quarrelling with the President. Under his leadership NASA has begun serious consolidation of its starship production, setting up semi-regular flights to other planets and overall preparing for the President’s Columbus Project. That he has succeeded despite the opposition from the McCairns loyalists and breaks with the Arcadians is impressive; he might not be a visionary, but a very good administrator.
President Cordelia J. Oxham
The young (45) and ambitious Federalist president of New America. She rose to power through the breakdown of the Unionist Party; she managed to convince a number of Unionist senators to join her Mainstream-Federalist approach, and played out the FC, fundies and technorat fractions against each other. She is actually quite popular due to this, as many have tired of seeing good old America being plagued by lunatics in Congress. Her own line is expansionist and nationalistic: America has a destiny in space, and it is her duty to jumpstart interstellar trade and contact (the Columbus Project).
Dr. Bernard T. Sagan
A young sociologist from Armstrong University. While he originally was majoring on the social dynamics of the equatorials, he switched to general and comparative sociology after meeting the famous Ridgewell sociologist Martin Highglade Paul Stevens. His career has taken a marked turn upwards thanks to the support, and he is currently trying to use his new-found influence to lobby for another Negsoa expedition.
Simon D. Jones
Radical, controversial artist from Liberty. He is a fierce critic of the “complacent, decadent and narcissistic” society on New America, and he has tried to awaken people from their slumber. This has mostly been done using shocking or outrageous installations (such as his very graphic “Invitation to the Filigree” (2323) which invited the Filigree to come and slaughter the humans) as well as a number of multimedia books. Senator
Oliver E. Thurber
Federalist senator, of the fundie fraction of the party. A deeply conservative and religious man, Senator Thurber is known to dislike just about everything: moral laxity in the Mainstream, the life of Floating California and especially the Deal with the filigree. The senator is xenophobic, and has always been firmly against any contact with the filigree – to him, the Deal was a massive sell-out to demonic aliens that New America will pay dearly for in the future. He is also opposed to the policies of the President, and has repeatedly tried to cut funding to the Columbus Project and NASA.
Sebastiann Frank Luanne Helga Rau
Rouge unity. The unity emerged as a split from a large coordination unity 2334; the split appears to have been caused by some of the rebellious ideas from the sub-unity. The pentad quickly asserted itself as a strongly integrated but disruptive unity, demanding reforms of the traditional consensus politics and even arguing that Unity should give “aid” to primitive groups (then it was the Alliance, now it is Negsoa, Mary and Gaia). When the rest of Unity didn’t agree, the unity left for Landfall. Apparently it managed to get a passage on a New America starship back to New America, where it became somewhat of a media sensation. It’s expansionistic views (even if expressed in a rather alien view) found resonance with many of the ideas of President Oxham, and it became part of the Interstellar Diplomatic Advisory Board. It is a skilled manipulator, ranging from the oratory skills of Sebastiann to the friendliness of Helga; when it wants something it makes it so.
Professor Palmyra Humbolt
The leading expert on Higgsfields and higgsram technology of New America. A strict, brilliant woman with a strong fundie bent; despite her background on Bell islands she gets along well with the rest of NASA as long as it deals with her work, which is impeccable. She was in the first team that cracked the Filigree information on how to build a higgsram, and she has continued refining the understanding of the device since then. She is less interested in interstellar travel as in spacetime itself, and she is working on devices that will help probe the Planck soup. She is very suspicious of the motivations of the Filigree, and refuses to link her computers to the net. Currently she is planning to leave New America to study at Atlantis and Nova.
An absurdly wealthy, absurdly spoiled girl who happens to be the majority shareholder of Leland Ecotechnologies, the largest soil production company of New America. The company was founded in the early days by Etienne Leland, her great-grandfather. The breakthrough came when the company was hired to seed the Hoyle Islands by the government, and since then it has lived from lucrative government contracts for ecology and biomass. Over the years it prospered and grew into a megacorp combining technorat technology with mainstream economics and fundie work ethic. When Dominique’s parents died in a shipwreck, she inhereted the company. To the relief of everyone she is completely uninterested in it, and leaves the running of it to her very trustworthy lawyers. Instead she spends her days doing whatever catches her fancy, supporting random causes with money and energy as long as they interest her.
Jean Travis-Quentin Jr.
Coordinator of NADS. A third-generation politician, with family connections all over the place. Unlike his relatives he had an interest in law enforcement, security and intelligence and managed to become NADS director just at the right moment – when interstellar contact began, and NADS suddenly was very needed. He has been riding high on his agency since then, and is a serious influence in much of American politics. Personally he is a smooth, charming person that has turned small talk into an artform and whose cocktail parties are the gathering place for the real movers and shakers. His influence is questioned and disliked in many quarters, but his position appears to be secure.
CEO for Heinlein Networks Inc, the major Atlantean space engineering and aerospace firm. It is an aggressive, ambitious firm with a loose structure, just like most Atlantean corporations. Kepler is a firm believer in Zen management – do as little as possible, and the few things that have to be done should be done perfectly. Most of his work consists of setting up things so that they will develop well on their own without his personal involvement. The Kepler family has extensive ties in the industrial-academic world, something Hakon gladly use. Otherwise he is a boisterous, adventuresome person fond of misquoting neo-Taoist slogans, throwing big parties at Magritte’s Revenge (his antigravity villa) and long treks across Atlantis.
“Old Bob” is the current chairman of the Atlantis Foundation, a role he has held for over 43 years. Among Atlanteans he is regarded as an ancient relic: he was born in 2034 and grew up during the early days of the colony. His original field was bio-prospecting, but he later went into law. Several times he froze himself, and eventually he had his age stabilised. Physically he is around 70, an extremely advanced physical age for an Atlantean. His stated goal is to be around forever to see how the planet develops. He is a kindly, slightly eccentric but quite effective man who doesn’t like being stressed. He lives on the Mayflower, sometimes playing tourist guide when he has nothing else to do.
Igor is the chairman of the board of Mulligan Capital & Investment (and several other major corporations). He is likely the richest man on Atlantis, although it is hard to tell. He is an extremely discreet and quiet person, often called Mr. Nobody (something he doesn’t care about the least). Managing finances is his life, he lives for the art of investment to an extent that even make Atlanteans start to wonder if it is healthy. He holds guest professor chairs at both GGU and TRI.
Chief editor of Big ‘uns. Tommy has always been a media character, and even as a child managed to set up a profitable net channel enabling him to buy insurances to gain independence at the record age of 9. Since then he has been aiming at the top. He is known to be a brilliant sociopath, which makes people wary (but at least not on Atlantis it is not regarded as a severe handicap – just watch yourself around him, and make binding legal deals). As a chief editor he is a success, his charm, ambition and ruthlessness is the right combination for Atlantean media. Tommy lives in a zep moving around the world, and is known to deliberately cause incidents with PPL and insurance organisations just for the hell of it. Francesca Kasper-Solberg A traditional gun-toting libertarian dean of Galt’s Gulch University (it is almost expected for GGU; at TRI the joke is that the appointment is made based on the hit-to-miss ratio on the university shooting range). Beside her marksman and debating skills she is a reasonably successful administrator. Her earlier work includes running a small PPL on northern Heinlein and the New Carthage Opera.
Owner of Amalgamated Justice, the largest PPL firm on Atlantis. Nanny is a cheerful lady that has been in the force business for as long as anybody can remember. She has made a career by always knowing and adapting to the shifting demands of the market; she was first with the idea of fluid insurance zones, automated response drones and the Allegro System. She is the darling of the insurance firms, while her competitors find her insufferable. Privately she lives in a simple log cabin on northernmost Luxembourg together with her husband (incidentally one of the main owners of Trillicom Arms) where she collects rare minerals.
Leader of the TC Ricardians, perhaps best described as a nomadic labour firm. As an advertising/group cohesion thing they have adopted a style based on the historical Romany, although it is seriously romanticised to suit the modern age. Dolly have redesigned herself to a magnificent gypsy woman, ever ready to bring up her crystal ball laptop to make a deal. Being a survivor from the Dronamraju Republic, she is extremely harsh towards all statics.
The best head-hunter on Atlantis – both according to himself/herself and independent observers. Avrion belongs to the group of people finding identity change irresistible, always trying out new enhancements, body modifications and genders. A very flexible mind, perfect social memory and an unmatched skill in profile matching makes him/her a brilliant head-hunter. In fact, being a head-hunter is probably the only constant thing about Avrion.
Current head of the McDaggart family and McDaggart Transplanetary (as well as on the board of the Beanstalk Project). A traditionally anarchistic and anti-authoritarian businesswoman, well known in Atlantean business as a hard but fair bargainer and financial visionary. She has a marriage contract with Erich Karibidis, director of marketing at Trillicon Arms. Currently she is strongly involved in efforts to set up interstellar commerce.
Grand Profiteer of the Cult of Profit. A cynical, greedy man encompassing all the virtues of the Cult. He grew up among the boring academics of TRI, wanting out. He took an internship at the Cult, and got hooked – he liked the philosophy, and he had a natural skill for expressive economical ranting. He rose through the ranks, becoming Usurer and later Capitalist. Eventually, after an inspired money-making campaign he managed to buy the Grand Profiteer title. Unlike many members he takes it almost seriously, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of true worship: getting more money. Privately he is a creative, energetic man who likes old media like painting and rock videos to express his ideas, although he rarely sells his work. He also owns the Nationalökonomische Kampfgruppe museum, dedicated to the early colony band.
President of Geodesic Systems (internally the title is “Lighter of a thousand suns”, a half-joking reference to the old days of Higgs technology and even further back to the nuclear era). She is the granddaughter of the founding family of GS. She has inherited a major scientific problem from her predecessors that leaves her no rest: how to control confused matter. The fact that GS is making big bucks on higgsram systems and antigravity is nice, but her real drive is to control confused matter. That would make fusion power obsolete (and with it reliance on He3 mining) and make GS not just the premier higgstechnology corporation but also the premier power corporation. Generally she is regarded as an obsessive woman, but widely respected inside and outside GS for her scientific work and strategic planning. As a person she is however an insufferable bore (unless you enjoy the obscure properties of semi-confused plasmas and insurance management for research that could potentially blow up planets). Her contract wives and husbands act as a kind of social insulation, being charming and social in place of her.
Rebecca de Barechi
Atlantis' currently most famous artist; she has remained on top for more than 30 years despite fierce competition. Rebecca debuted with a series of murals for GGU, and has since then been highly sought after. Her style is photorealistic symbolism, extremely clear images hiding layer after layer of often obscure but powerful symbolism. While most Atlanteans views tend to differ greatly, she has managed to strike a chord in the Atlantean soul; her “The Three Liberties” has been reproduced almost as much as the Mona Lisa (earning her a small fortune). Currently she is experimenting with frescoes containing nanodevices, making the image able to change and react to the environment. Her personal life is rather obscure, she enjoys spreading out more or less bizarre rumors to cover her tracks: everything from that she lives in a cave system on Terminal over that she is an apostate Rand monk to that she is building an underground army of warrior-artists.
Graduate from TRI in quantum gravity physics. Originally he had planned to work for Geodesic Systems, but when he was approached with an offer to pilot starships he eagerly accepted – this was his chance to really get in touch with the cutting edge. Paul is a young, enthusiastic man who deeply loves spacetime itself – the way it folds, curls and twists due to mass, gravity waves and Higgs fields. To his deep regret most other people don’t see the beauty of spacetime, he is starting to think that the only people that really get it are the Quais.
Rigel “Leviathan” Friedman
Controversial TRI historian, specialising in the effects of states. Her main thesis (which to her great delight has made her hotly debated within and outside academia) is that the general Atlantean view of the nature and effects of states is wrong. According to her, states can have positive effects under certain circumstances, and the lack of state on Atlantis has slowed its economic and technological development significantly. She loves controversy, and while many claim she does not even believe in her theories herself nobody can deny that she is good at causing contention. Even for an Atlantean she is assertive. Her nickname was given to her by some unnamed GGU debater, based on Hobbes’ concept of the king/state as Leviathan.
Xenosociologist at GGU. Originally a theoretician running computer models, he found his esoteric theories relevant when the stars became reachable. He is a very theoretical person, prefering to study reality from the comfort of his own wearable rather than go there; he gathers information and then tries to find the overall patterns in it.
Ssla and Haum-Rress, The Imperial Couple
The rulers of the Trahan Empire, the latest Couple of the 89th dynasty. They have ruled successfully since 2344 when they were elected by the Central Council. Empress Ssla comes from a long line of librarian-philosophy management experts, with a personal background in cultural management. Emperor Haum-Rress Inheritor- General of the Capital OTEC Plant, something in the middle between corporate CEO and (formal) leader of a small religion; his speciality is memetic administration. The Couple has strong political support both from the administration of the empire, the public and the humans on Victoria. Their involvement in negotiating a Resslan deal for the ecological development of northern Nantt and the providement clause for the Permanent Xenological Commission are in many ways historic.
The previous empress. Originally a technocrat from the gardening projects of Na, she worked her way up through the hierarchies and eventually became empress despite strong objections from the more academic party of the Council. During their reign they did fairly well until one of the regular economic consolidations, where a number of embarrassing mismanagement stories emerged. This lost them their Council support, and when she didn’t re-marry or commit suicide after her husband died she had to resign from the imperial throne and the current Couple ascended. She has mainly ceremonial duties at present.
Three-Three Coordinator Haa-Rall-Lah
The leader of the most militant anti-humanists on Traha. Originally from a rather unassuming background, but has managed to rise quickly despite her somewhat weak marriage thanks to support from conservatives and traditionalists; currently the couple has become Three-Three Coordinators of Naal (a rather politically insignificant position but a great way of Haa-Rall-Lah to get into the media). She dislikes humans with passion, and claims they are responsible for many of the problems of modern Trahan society. Interstellar contact would pollute Traha, and the only proper thing to do would be to cut off all interstellar contact or either isolate or re- educate the humans on Traha. Despite the ferocity of the attacks (which puts off many mainstream Trahans) Haa-Rall-Lah can be rational and reasonable in all other questions; it is just humans and especially the spread of human ideas that angers her.
President Dario Escartin
President of Victoria. After a long and distinguished diplomatic career Dario was elected president, a natural continuation in Trahan terms (and a significant demonstration of how far Trahan political and social ideas have penetrated Victoria). Dario is a conservative man, trying to keep Victoria human and acting against unplanned cultural mixing. He is very fond of the idea of further contact with other colonies, as he hopes it will broaden the human perspective on Traha.
One of the major persons of the New Tree. Reseda grew up in a mixed Trahan-Human home in Slarsll-Trran, a small village on northern Victoria. She became convinced that Trahan and human ideas complemented each other in such a harmonious way that it was imperative to combine them. After going to a Trahan university she returned to Victoria to set up a trading firm and discussion network, which later joined with the New Tree. She is aware that the Victoria administration and Empire are not too fond of her work, but still persists. She is regarded as a good talker both among humans and especially among Trahans, and her writings are spreading. She is a dynamic, slightly impulsive but very well educated lady that can stand her own in philosophical debates; rumour has it that she once bested empress Ssla (then a cultural manager in the Capital Historical-Architectural Commission) in debate.
Isabella Esmeralda Lopez CalaveraXenocreole diplomat working for the New Tree. Isabella grew up in the xenocreole networks, and after her studies in philosophy, inter-species diplomacy and social enhancement at Capital university she began working for the New Tree. She has gained many influential contacts, and is currently busy setting up daughter "twigs" on other colonies.
Ambassador Nunia Vila
Official ambassador to the Imperial Court. She is still too junior to get access to the inner workings (as Dario Escartin had), but her perception and ability to notice subtle Trahan nuances have served her well. She is on good terms with some of the Councillors, and have tried to make contact with the widow/widower networks.
Trahan sociologist, studying how society really works and comparing it to the ideals in the overall philosophy. He has done some well-received work on human societies, and when interstellar contact occured he was placed in the Interstellar Imperial Academic Analysis Force.
The leader of the imperial armed forces. Schnaraht-Rran comes from a clan/network of military or police, The Splash Quaternity, with extensive connections within the imperial forces, police and security services. Overall it is regarded as arch-conservative and loyal to the imperial couple, and Schnaraht-Rran is regarded as loyal to the point of idiocy – she would do anything ordered by the emperor and empress, no matter what. However, what many people do not realise is that her loyalty lies more to the system of the current dynasty than any individual rulers; any ideas about changing dynasty will likely be resisted fiercely. Schnaraht-Rran is married to an influential information-manager at the Imperial Council, giving her a noticeable pull in politics.
The Council continental representative of Snrr and husband of the Nass-Trss Chairperson Ssn-Reenah. Ssn- Trehashsch-Saa has an extremely pivotal position in politics, and is a true kingmaker. While officially a Loyalist, he is more interested in getting his will through and does not like the current dynamical Imperial Couple; when he helped them to power he had not planned on their independence. Through his dual contacts in continental administration and major agricultural associations he is extremely well informed of what is going on, but has problems with dealing with the Capital Reformists associated with the academic nobility. The real reason for his ambitions is religion: he is a follower of Renetsch-Schnaa-Traha, a religion seeking to make the imperial administration more unified in its ethics.
Director Tash Haanss
Leader of one of the major media concerns, Capital Information Season. Ve (ve is a hermaphrodite) is the focal point of the Rising Net, something ve doesn’t relish but cannot back down from. Thanks to the humans, it would be possible to set up a fantastic global information network that would empower Trahan culture a thousandfold. Done in the right way, it could even still keep the Nasstschsch safe – at least that is the official line. In practice the Rising Net are Far Reformists, and have heavy political enemies. Ve has many friends and contacts among human information and technology companies, as well as among the Trahan media, but getting the ideas of the Rising Net through is hard. Many would like to remove ver and the leadership of Capital Information Season since they are loose cannons, but some tricky deals with the Metalibrary Associations keeps ver safe for the moment.
Doctor Julia Esperanza
Vice-manager of the Biodiversity Restoration Program, working directly for the Biodiversity Coordinator Pair Nassth Nahah-Ss and Rash-Trasn. She is a graduate from Victoria University in Traha genetics and bioarcheology, and have a long string of successful appointments in various biotechnological projects. Currently she is managing the restoration of the lost bay ecosystems of Na and the micropredators of the Snrr-interface biome. She is not particularly fond of Trahans, seeing them as people who unthinkingly nearly destroyed their biosphere out of ignorance, conservatism and sheer population. What she respects is competence and vision; she is constantly extrasperated by her superiors who can spend weeks arguing about trivialities. In her opinion the Trahans should leave technology and biology to humans, who at least know how to handle them.
Truelord Tanah Haarschsch-Ssnan
The undisputed leader together with her husband of the Danger Repair Fog, one of the major criminal syndicates. While the syndicate is mainly directed towards social crimes such as marriage manipulation, branch pressurising, blackmail and information warfare, it also has many direct ties to smuggling, drug trade, tax evasion and gambling. The pair’s rise through the ranks has been ruthless; anybody standing in the way of the pair has died in more or less awful circumstances; there are rumours that both are in a long-range passionate ambition state. The current goals of the pair seem to be to exploit the new opportunities provided by the humans in smuggling, theft of technology and other lucrative businesses. In order to achieve this the Fog is moving against the local criminals on Victoria, trying to absorb or subjugate them.
Primary Imperial Xenodiplomat Rash Tanhss
The leading Trahan xenodiplomat. Rash is a bright, flexible person with impeccable merits. He has studied diplomatic philosophy and humanism at Capital university, and his long experience in dealing with the Victorians prepared him for going to space and to deal with the other human colonies. He is unfazed even with the strangest human quirks, and quite able to get his point across nicely despite species barriers. He is quite fascinated by humans, and think that despite all their problems humanity can contribute something very valuable to the empire. He has unfortunately some problems convincing his wife about this, and she is less than happy about going to space. This isn’t necessarily the image problem it would be for a diplomat to Trahans, since humans are quite used to dealing with individuals rather than couples, but Rash feels the split deeply.
Binding Xenohistorian Shasha-Arrh
Generally regarded as one of the most brilliant trahan scientists alive, having laid the foundations of the discipline of comparative xenohistory - the study of how intelligent species develop. She belongs to the ranks of the terminus scholarly networks, the jumble of small institutes and colleges surrounding the Capital University, something that does not endear her to the academic nobility. But few dare voice any disagreement with her; together with her husband (an xenoevolutionist) she is a skilled debater and well known for making devastatingly precise philosophical dissections of issues even when she has no preparation. Her current work involves an extension of the trahan philosophical system to encompass all possible alien philosophies; to support her she has a branch of xenohistorians and xenophilosophers (involving several humans) working with her at her institute.
Retainer Transh Nrr-Schaa
The Retainer of the Conourse of the Dead-to-be, the Ledge of the dead on Victoria. She is the formal Retainer, although her husband Trasch Ssn do most of the practical administrative work; her role is setting policy and philosophy. Nrr-Schaa is a liberal character, and has not only agreed but encouraged the introduction of human funerals and religious serviced at the Ledge. She is not xenocreole herself, but has cordial terms to the Xenocreoles, the Eruditorium and other liberal Victoria groups.
Billy Toner, PM4
Mr. Toner is the public representative of PM. His work involves the duty to deal with contact with outsiders, something he clearly finds regrettable but necessary.
Organiser Beatrice Lindstrom, PM5
Head of the PM central planning comittee. A dedicated, efficient but rather inflexible woman who has risen to the position largely due to her lack of ambition – she has never overstepped her bounds in any ways. She has no intentions whatsoever to do so in the future either, and will not allow anything to break the routines of PM.
Oscar Gentle, SM5
Head of SM, responsible for the total security of Mary. An utterly honest and ruthless person who managed to become dutyfree at an early age – he works at SM because he believes in it and because he is good at ferreting out corruption, mistakes and laziness. His favorite game is to scan through the monitoring cameras of the entire asteroid, picking up unusual or criminal activities. Few others can keep up with him.
Yvette Jekell, BM2
Officially an unimportant biomass maintainer in sector 4, but actually the feared "Wildfire", leader of one of the major underworld gangs. She runs her criminal enterprise mainly through the net, setting up meetings and codes through games and shared virtualities, carefully making sure she always has an alibi when somebody has an accident or something expensive gets "mislaid". She is intelligent and ruthless, gladly exploiting everybody to get what she wants.
Trader, spy and diplomat; Vivionic has many talents. He is one of the richest traders in the mountains, earning well from selling steel to Aldennia and the sea people and getting rice and methane back. He has firm personal ties with Lord Volada (he has reasonably married the Lord’s third daughter) and his caravans are protected by some of the Aldennia nobles. Vivionic is a fat, ageing man always surrounded by his heavy bodyguards. He likes to show his power and influence, sometimes to the extent of accidentally revealing or promising too much. However, he usually manages to come up with a clever way out. After meeting with the Offworlders he has developed almost an obsession in getting his hands on offworld goods.
One of the major nobles of Aldennia, direct descendant of Pieter Steck, Aldenn’s feared Chief of Staff. The Steck family has a well fortified mansion in central Aldennia, controlling its part of the city strictly. Khaya reached his position as Big Papa through a combination of dumb luck and ruthlessness. In a major city-wide fire several of his competitors died – even without his help. Some of his relatives on the other hand met very sticky ends at the hands of him and his bodyguards, something that has earned him a reputation of utter ruthlessness (most of the nobles, cruel as they may be, would never even consider killing their own family members except for extreme reasons). He isn’t very smart, but so brutal that few dares challenge him.
An up-and-coming noble in Aldennia. Unlike the traditionalist Khaya Steck, Med Calateba has gained his position through planning and intelligence. Since his youth, he has embarked on a carefully orchestrated demonstration of his skills, beneficience and honor to his family, propelling him to the top. He was also one of the first nobles to seize the opportunity to exploit the offworlders to boost his prestige, and he made himself the “official” guide and patron of several of their tours of the land.
Keeper of the howtos of the Moefi family. Due to an accident in his youth damaging his legs he couldn't become a good knight, but his family found a place for him at the old howtokeeper. Over time he learned his way in the family library, and eventually replaced the old man. He has become genuinely interested in the old knowledge, spending much time trying to understand the files, devicing elaborate plans for how to implement the gradual building of a technological infrastructure. Unfortunately politics, economics and practical problems prevent his visions. He is a bit of a diplomat for his family when dealing with the Seapeople and lately, the Outworlders.
Raft leader of the Ginindza family of the Seapeople. His great-grandfather led the family away from Aldennia, his grandfather organized the sabotages that kept the nobles from building their own fleet, his father discovered the methane geysers of Hoto. Mabandala feels a duty to continue the family tradition of being a leading sea family; he does not yet know what his personal achievement will be, but he is confident that his ancestors will guide him to his destiny.
Tania Canyonstreet Brenda Stevens
Geneticist and gerontologist, regarded as Ridgewell’s foremost expert on ageing and gene therapy. In 2211 she and her household (the famous multi-clone Canyonstreet collective in Swift) finally succeeded in completely treating the causes of ageing by a combination of gene therapy and metabolic adjustment. By giving the treatment during in vitro gestation it can be made more efficient. Brenda is a major overachiever even for her clone, who has singlehandedly found cures and treatments to many of the remaining diseases on Ridgwell. The last years she has begun to become bored with the limited Ridgewell society, and several times had political run- ins about the desirability of radical genetic modifications. After contact with the outworlders, she has instead become set on exploring their worlds; she has left with a few of her clones to see what they can learn and teach about medicine.
William Springshield Simon Stevens
Member and spokesperson of the household that originally started the fierce debates about insex. In 2207 it was discovered that the Sprinshield household (a brood of five Simons) had intimate relations. Instead of hiding, William instead loudly and clearly argued their case at a series of family meetings. The debates were fierce, and at several points violence nearly broke out. While the conservatives in the end were forced to accept intra-clone relationships, it took several decades of hard work for the Springshields to overcome the prejudice and conflicts that wracked the family. Today, William is in many ways the grand old man of the liberals, always ready to defend their views and to debate against the conservatives. He is especially outspoken against the Pauls, who he regards as a nepotistic block in family politics.
Victor Mudflat Kilroy Stevens
Minister of health on Ridgewell. Originally a doctor and hospital manager in Swift, he later turned to politics and eventually managed to become minister of health. His main interest is keeping people healthy and happy, and is a strong supporter for the development of more automated hospitals in remote villages, building up an even stronger medical research base and aquiring all possible medical knowledge from the offworlders. Regarded as a bit of an obsessive character, but widely liked. Victor and Tania Canyonstreet have long since worked together, both trying to eradicate illness for their own reasons, but Victor (like most others) are firmly against her more radical genetic proposals.
One of the two still living zeros. She is an old (199 years), quiet woman living in a large villa in central Swift, looked after by her doting clonesisters. Most of her days she just watch the news or tend her garden, taking a keen interest in what is happening but not interfering with it. Her views carry tremendous weight these days, and she knows it. She has for a long time taken a stand for tolerance and freedom, even if she isn’t as radical as many of the liberals. The encounter with outsiders has sparked her interest, and she eagerly reads everything she can about the outside world. Her views on it she keeps to herself.
Walter Sunpeak Carl Stevens
Ridgewell satiricist and politician. Originally a first generation teacher (he is currently 154 years old), he later became a writer for the Stevens Journal (the main daily paper). A sharp-witted and intelligent man (like most of the Carls) he became a loved and feared satiricist, attacking everything from misplaced pride in one’s clone over being too reliant on robots to silly family policies. When Contact occurred he wrote a series of scatching editorials against the outdated breeding policies, suggesting that marriage with outsiders was OK. He became the leader of the relatively small but vocal “marriage party”. As a politician he is witty and eloquent, even if his views are too radical for many. His hobby is writing the ultimate (and likely unpublishable) family history, at least history as he saw it.
Sebastian Sommermeadow Paul Stevens
The closest thing to a Mafia don on Ridgewell. There is organised crime, mostly theft and gambling, and the syndicate is currently run by Sebastian. By offworld measures the syndicate is extremely soft (after all, everybody’s family, even the outsiders), and Sebastian is doing his best to boost it before any offworld crime arrives. The family police has so far never managed to arrest him for anything.
Frederick Highglade Paul Stevens
Owner of a major Ridgewell trade corporation, Orchid Products Inc. He is very keen on interstellar contact, doing his best to lobby for more contacts. He is also looking for founding to either buy his own starship or set up a shipyard. Many regard him as a megalomaniac, and the gigantic household he is building (Flarepeak manse) definitely reinforces the idea. Frederick is fond of stylish, grand gestures – especially if they can catch people off guard.
Professor Martin Highglade Paul StevensRidgewell anthropologist and sociologist, interstellarly famous for his work on Mother culture and society. One of the most well-travelled researchers, he has written a long string of papers on the various cultures among the colonies. He is known to be a reserved and conservative man, usually quite dry but with a flaming academic feud with Dr. Eduardo Miranda Jörg Marie Li of Unity (the other major Mother expert among the colonies).
Ambassador Leonard Highglade Paul Stevens
Chief diplomat for offworld contacts. Originally a lawyer by training, but when the offworlders contacted the planet he was chosen to be part of the diplomatic committee. Over time he has become the official ambassador of Ridgewell, travelling almost as widely as his sociologist clonebrother Martin. Leonard is an exceptionally curious person, constantly collecting information and strange souvenirs. His travelogues and books have been best-sellers on Ridgewell.
Minister Julian Sommermeadow Paul Stevens
Interior minister of Ridgewell. He has found himself at the focus of an intense and nasty debate; the contact with the offworlders re-ignited the insex quarrel and got his department trapped in questions of isolationism contra trade. Most of all he would like to get rid of the whole problem, and he has publicly stated that he want to let the Family Meeting decide. This haven’t helped, and there have been notable rumours about ties with his broodmate Sebastian and general Paul corruption.
Orianna Pillar Amanda Stevens
Grew up in the Pillar Household on top of Pillar Rock, a settlement climbing on a natural rock spike 320 kilometres north of Swift. At an early age she decided on a political career, and began to regularly attend family meetings across Ridgewell. He views were radical liberal, and she fought the conservative views on sex, education, politics, even clothing wherever she could. When Contact was achieved she suddenly changed her mind – to her, this changed everything. The prospect of outoutsex was frightening, it would totally undermine the Family. Overnight she became a firm isolationist, seeking to rally support for limiting outside influence. She is regarded as a bit unstable by her family, but it is hard to dispute her convictions.
Chief Timothy Hearthville Bernard Stevens
Chief of police on Ridgewell. Like most of the Bernards he became a policeman (the Bernards are generally regarded as excellent policemen). He has a long and distinguished record of service, and his becoming Chief of police as his predecessor switched jobs was very natural. Timothy is well liked (except possibly by Sebastian Sommermeadow Paul Stevens) and doing his best to watch over the family (he is often called “Big Big Brother” for that). He is also fascinated by robotics, and working on setting up an auxiliary robot rescue force.
Otto Westville Thomas Stevens
Otto began his career as a space engineer, known for his odd but visionary ideas and strong promotion for space activities. When contact occurred it was felt that it would be natural that he would accompany ambassador Leonard Highglade Paul on his interstellar trip as a kind of technical attaché. Otto was amazed by the marvels he found in other systems, but became convinced that the Family should be able to do something that would outshine them all. Currently he is back on Ridgewell, trying to gather support for his vision: the Atlas project, lifting Humpty using self-replicating robots and massive antigravity installations so that the moon will never be a threat to the Ridgewell biosphere as well provide an enormous industrial capacity.
Mother Carlotte Fuentes
One of the most vocal isolationists on Swan. Carlotte inherited her role as librarian and teacher from her mother, who in turn had inherited it from hers. At an early age she learned the old stories and later read about them in the libraries. She was delighted and awed by the complexity of the universe they described, and the tiny role of humans in it. When the technicals appeared she was shocked like many others, but instead of just feeling doubt or try to reason away the challenge she rose to the occasion and began resisting their incursions. She has rallied support to keep the technicals away from Gaia, not just in her native Swan but also in the less orthodox Dolphin. She is a forceful lady with definite views on how Gaia intended society to work; even by Gaian standards she can be a bit sexist about the subordinate role of men.
Master Herbalist George Ten Boom
George is the Master Herbalist of the Watson Valley, a very important position he has earned through a lifetime of study, patience and determination. Most herbalists on Gaia are women, and males are often regarded as unsuitable for a serious profession like herbalism. But George was not deterred, already at an early age he had decided he wanted to know every plant on the planet and what Gaia had intended it for. He is a firm believer in the order of nature and a devout Gaianist. That has not prevented him from acquiring his knowledge by bribing some librarians and mothers into revealing secrets to him, or undertaking secret experiments that would have branded him as a technical. Despite his ambitions he is a liked man, essential for many functions in the valley. His wife and students help him with collecting, drying, brewing and cooking his substances.
Paulia “Moonflower” Suzuki
Village elder of Windfall Lake, one of the largest settlements in the
Watson valley. She got her extra name as she became elder, given to her
by a visiting Mother. A reasonable woman with forethought, she has done
a good work in the settlements. She is however also something of a freethinker,
and far less negative towards outside contact than many gaians.
Head of the Dionysian psych police. After graduating as a psychodesigner she worked for the ethical commission of the Orphic Society, later joining the psych police and eventually reaching the office of Chief of Police. Unlike most Dionysians she tends to avoid modifying her mind unnecessarily, staying in standard states like Objective 1 or balanced peace. Most Dionysians find her a bit dull, but think that maybe it is the right style for the psych police. Exarete is a very responsible woman, doing her best to minimise the negative effects of psychodesign, drugs and other mental changes. Recently she has begun to worry about interstellar contact: there is nothing preventing psychodesigners from leaving for Nova or Atlantis, but their societies might not be able to handle the effects. She is therefore lobbying the Dionysian council to suggest the other colonies to start up something similar to the psych police.
High Priestess Joie Salinas
High Priestess of the Dionysian cult. Together with the High Priest she is the religious leader among the conservative Dionysians, representing fertility and love. Unlike many of her predecessors she is not content to just lead the rites and perform the hieros gamos, she has larger ambitions. The new-found contact with the offworlders have given her the drive to expand the cult, both on Dionysos and elsewhere. She has instituted a mission program to send out acolytes to teach the poor spirits elsewhere to truly enjoy the gifts of Dionysos.
David the Apostate
Dionysian playwright and performance artist. Originally born in the Sinai valley as David Bradbury, but as a teenager he ran away from his community after a quarrel with his family about his outspokenness. He joined Dionysos, and quickly found his forte as debater, playwright and performance planner. His first major play, “The Ascension of Sodom and Gomorrah” in 2320 put him on the map, and since then he has been a popular if controversial artist. Some of his most highly regarded works are “Dreams of Seven”, “Theory of Milk and Honey” and “The Sons of God”. Most of his strongly antireligious plays involve the use of drugs and psychodesign to not just modify the actors (otherwise a common way of acting on Dionysos) but also the audience; it is temporarily suggested new personality traits, views and reactions through various clever means. David was not first to use this (it was originally invented by Zara Dillard in the 2280’s) but he took it to new heights. The fact that many of his changes are not temporary has produced several run-ins with the psych police: David claims they are infringing on his artistic freedom and the freedom of consciousness of the audience. Recently he has begun to plan for an interstellar tour with his troupe.
One of the highest paid hedonicists of Dionysos. On a world where giving and receiving pleasure is a way of life, she is a pro. After graduating in applied psychology she undertook a lengthy apprenticeship, finally becoming a world-class hedonicist. She knows everything worth knowing about enjoyable experiences, from the lightest touch of dawn sunlight to orgies that would make the Romans blush. She and her husband run a consultancy firm, Williams Stimulation, a kind of design house for pleasures. Her work ranges from helping bakeries to design the right drug mixtures and flavours to produce desirable emotional states over organising parties and events to personal hedonic engineering. Her main skill is her encyclopedic knowledge of pleasures, and her good eye for judging just what people will enjoy the most. While she tends to shift personality to suit whatever her current job is privately she tends to be a very relaxed, nearly sloppy, person deliberately not designing her life to be perfect. As a non-psychodesigner Salome feels a bit left outside; she would like to get access to some of the tools the Orphic Society reserves for itself, but so far with little success.
Reverend Martin Kahn
The religious leader of the Sinai Valley communities. A deeply religious man, who even as a small boy knew it was his destiny to become a preacher. Now, over 60 years old, he is the most respected man in the valley. He is a fantastic speaker, both in the pulpit and in everyday life. While he can be hard and condemning, most of the time he is a fatherly leader. He received the news of contact with the other colonies calmly, pointing out that even if the news were true there was nothing unexpected in that Satan would help the heathens to get to Jerusalem. Over time he has however begun to realise that the outside world is not completely lost, he has heard about other righteous people on the remote New America. Together with the other Elders and proctors he has begun planning to send a delegation.
Council politician and proponent for a “mental crusade” against limited thinking, fundamentalism and other blocking attractor states – including saving the other colonies from themselves. His views are controversial, the matter for endless discussion on parties and among ethicists. While many disagree with his formulations, some of his views (like the need for an interstellar psych police) are gaining ground. He has the support (sometimes) of the tixotroph fraction.
President of the Orphic Society. A widely respected and influential man, always with impeccable dressing and personality. He is a moderate, trying to balance the quickly flowing sides of Dionysian mental politics against each other to produce something workable. Without him the Council would likely dissolve into chaos, like it has done many times in the past. He is mainly trying to keep the psychodesigners under some control, he is taking a firm stand against misuse and irresponsible use of psychodesign. This has put him in a slightly awkward position relating to the possibility of psychodesigners moving offworld; he is trying to discourage it, pointing out that if the psychodesigners stay at Dionysos people will come to Dionysos to modify their minds rather than the reverse, and that will profit Dionysos. However, his opponents point out that it is the experiences of the emigrant psychodesigners that truly matter, not the economy of Dionysos.
Economist at Dionysos University. A pleasant, academic man most of the time (occasionally he shifts over to an adventurous personality calling himself Cedric and spends his vacations exploring the wilderness) who has specialised in planetary economy. He is likely the best oriented economist on the planet, and his quarterly analysis of current trends is very influential. Recently he has become enamoured with outworld economics, becoming more and more interested in how to integrate it in his theoretical framework.
Drug designer and majority owner of Soma Inc, the major Dionysian drug manufacturer. Generally regarded as very trustworthy and dedicated, despite his occasional explorations into chemistry and wild psychodesign to come up with new effects, new fragrances of experience. He is a driven person even without special psychodesign to enhance ambition, always seeking out new trips of power, wealth, knowledge and historical influence. He is enthusiastic about interstellar contact, and is gearing up for interstellar expansion of his firm. The Atlanteans are easy customers, and by using them as retailers he thinks he will be able to penetrate even the anti-drug markets – especially since he is hiring a great deal of Nova expertise in marketing and political manipulation. His advisors have pointed out that to the governments of “repressive” planets he will become a public enemy, something he finds utterly delightful.
Dionysian poet and explorer. She got the idea to create an epic poem
to describe and celebrate every colony in human space, and has since 2348
travelled around to gather material and compose. She often acts as an
informal Dionysian ambassador to other worlds as well as a travelling
reporter for Dionysian media. She is extremely social and curious, never
saying no to new experiences - which tends to get her into trouble from
time to time.
Janus is the “doorman” of the Cocoon, an entity sent to deal with arriving
primitives. He seems to be a kind of committee construct, representing
many administrative and anthropological institutions as well as being
composed of/being helped by a number of individual humans, posthumans
and AIs. He acts as a guide and diplomat, explaining things and generally
trying to cushion the impact of the solar system. Each expedition to it
has been greeted by Janus, sometimes in several bodies or copies. Personality-wise,
Janus is a calm, cheerful, slightly humorist character, but he quickly
adapts to the expectations and culture of the visitors. His appearance
is similarly adaptable. .
A diplomat of the Shining Engineer Vector clan, specialising in xenodiplomacy with humans. She is fairly young and agile, well able to keep up with the quick humans. Her family has been diplomat-interactionists since time immemorial, and they are good at it; dealing with aliens is not that different from dealing with other clans. She is an adaptable mother, and has done much for the Mother understanding of humans.
Balanced Mediator mother, running her own trade/diplomacy/transport ship in the volume around human space (a fairly small ship for the Mothers, just 700 meter in diameter). She manages some trading deals between the Shinging Engineers Vector, the Balanced Mediator and the Circularly Polarized Light clans, as well as doing independent trading. She has decorated her shell with natural diamonds, giving her her human name. By human standards she seems to be an independent, quite individualistic Mother, but it is not obvious if this is how she is regarded within her clan. She seems to enjoy dealing with humans, buying weird stuff from them and selling back Mother technology.
The Grandmother of the Grandmothers at Adobe, the current matriarch of the local clan. A huge, immobile being in constant connection with her daughters who in term acts as grandmothers for the rest of the clan. She resides in a huge orbital habitat, employing the most advanced Mother information technology to monitor the terraforming project and her family. While her genetic family isn’t the only one at Adobe, it acts as coordinators with the other families. The Great-Grandmother seems to regard humans as interesting beings, well worth taking the time to understand (she has directed a diplomatic family to deal with them, but also herself sometimes meets with humans to hear their views).