by Max Barry

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by Earth orbit. . 53 reads.

The Man on the Other End of the Fiber (OOC)

Name: James
  • High school student

  • Employed part-time in retail

Nationality: United States of America
Ethnicity: White European
DoB: 08/23/03
Age: 16
Gender: Male
Blood Type: A- (?)
M-B Personality Type: INTJ-A
Siblings: Eldest of 2 brothers and 2 sisters

Ideology: Neo-Conservatism
Party: They all suck
Political Wing: Right

Religion: Greek Orthodox

Likes: Science fiction, Fall and Spring
Dislikes: Stupid people, Summer and Winter
Hobbies: Reading, videogames, NationStates

Hey! This is James, hailing from the great cornfields and meager cities of Central Indiana. I'm the teen at the end of the fiber-optic cable that controls the nation of Earth orbit, your resident space-based, asteroid-slinging, neo-conservative state! This dispatch is here to (hopefully) explain my personal views, ideological standing and who I am as a person. If you have any questions, wire me a telegram, although it might take me a bit to respond.

The Story and Inspiration behind the Federation

I stumbled upon NS one day when I was looking around for new browser-based games to play, since my laptop isn't that great and has a tendency to die after just 45 minutes of playing an executable-based game. I decided to try it out and create a nation, and after answering the quiz, I stared at the details screen for a good half hour trying to come up with a name. I eventually settled on "Orbital Space," but began hating that name as soon as I started - it sounded too generic. So I redid the quiz and attempted to found the nation of Earth Orbit, with the vague idea of a nation consisting of orbiting megastations already floating around my head. Amazingly, it went through, unlike the dozens of other futuristic names I had tried.

So I got to work slowly worldbuilding up the nascent Federation, and look at where we are today. Roughly 20,000 words and counting! But where did I get the inspiration for all this detail?

The basic concept of a purely orbital state is entirely a random product of my own imagination, and appears to be wholly unique. I spent several minutes Googling far and wide, and couldn't find mentions of orbital nations in any other work of science fiction. However, beyond the basics, I drew on several sources for material.

The Federation's strict adherence to real-life physics comes largely from my obsession with The Expanse, a modern space opera book series featuring human civilization spread across the Solar System, but not to the stars. In that universe, space travel follows the known laws of physics, with ships using the "Epstein Drive" (an ultraefficient fusion engine) to accelerate halfway to their destination before flipping around and decelerating. This acceleration is also the only source of "gravity" on ships, as the ships are built in a skyscraper configuration, with the drive at the bottom. The laws of physics also apply to space combat, but I won't delve into that.

For the Federation, I took the Epstein Drive and downgraded it slightly to create the Hydrogen Drive - an engine capable of speedy, efficient transit near Earth, but not so much outside of that. My intention was to create the "late morning" of a space-borne humanity - we've spread to out to the Moon, but the grand scope of interplanetary or interstellar expansion remains unexecuted, allowing me to logically pack a lot more action and development into a smaller space.

I also drew on the Expanse's political and human realism; unlike many other space operas, the Expanse does not feature pervasive post-scarcity utopias, a unified humanity, or a plethora of alien life. Instead, the Expanse is gritty and real - remains deeply divided (with all the tenson and warfare that entails), the economy is still based on scarcity, and we are alone in the universe. The Federation is a lighter, more optimistic version of this sort of future; quality of life has improved, and peace is prevalent, but the third world still exists, bad things still happen, and the world is generally imperfect.

On a higher-level note, the Orbis and Coriolis stations are ripped straight from the game Elite: Dangerous, with several modifications made by my own imagination. (The Orbis stations in Elite, for example, have one ring and are significantly smaller, while my Orbis have eight rings and are significantly larger.)

As for the politics of the Federation - these are largely my own, with a few tweaks to fit it to the unique situation of a space-borne state. See more below.

Ideology & Politics

"his political philosophy is literally conservative space manifest destiny, and it's f___ing great"
- A friend on Discord

"If a literal angel descended from heaven and told me that Karl Marx was a direct manifestation of Satan himself, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest."
- Me

Pro: Conservative values, free-market/capitalism, nationalism, common sense, anthropocentrism, the exploration/colonization/exploitation of space, nuclear energy, Trump, national exceptionalism, genetic engineering (not on humans yet), technological progress, vaccines, the spread of Christianity, the expulsion of Islam from the West, autarky, mixed government, limitation of the franchise, deportation, capital punishment (in the most extreme cases), cultural superiority, secularism, tariffs/protectionism
Neutral: International trade and interaction, transhumanism, fossil fuel power, climate change as a natural phenomena...
Anti: Anything even remotely based off Karl Marx, anarchy, multiculturalism, Islam, totalitarianism, leftism, theocracy, the UN and EU, playing nice with China, renewable useless energy, abortion, large-scale direct democracy, fighting wars that don't benefit us in irrelevant countries, anthropogenic climate change/climate hysteria/that warming is bad for the planet, corporatism


The exploration/colonization/exploitation of space: Assuming we don't go extinct or regress to the point where we can't progress again, humanity will eventually spread out into space. We're a naturally curious, expansionist species, and the allure of the Solar System's mineral wealth just further adds to the draw. Short-term, getting out into space will win us extreme material and scientific benefits. Long-term, it will provide humanity insurance against catastrophic events. Virus wipes out Earth's population? Extraplanetary colonies would be key to repopulating the Earth. Asteroid makes the Earth just straight unliveable? Humanity will live on outside of it. In the even longer term, it will likely give us the opportunity to haul our asses out to the stars in some fashion, be it sublight brute force or superluminal bending of the rules. Again, further insurance and wealth.

Side note: I believe humanity is alone in the universe. The sheer evolutionary chance required to develop a species capable of comprehending the base concepts of the universe itself (see: Relativity, quantum mechanics) is so astronomically tiny it's unlikely to have repeated anywhere else. While complex life may have developed elsewhere - which is still up for debate, but not impossible - we will never meet Vulcans. Just weird alien animals and plants, at best.

Technological Progress: While I may be conservative politically and socially, I am extremely progressive in terms of scientific and technological advancement. This sort of goes hand in hand with my belief in human expansion out into space, but I think that it is imperative that we maintain our upwards technological curve to its physical limits. Higher technology allows us unlock previously unreachable frontiers and solve the formerly unsolveable. We are seeing the start of this today with genetic engineering - plastic waste eating bacteria, improved crops, and eventually edited humans. We're also seeing the tail end of the same course in computing - we started with giant room-size pocket calculators, and now we're fast approaching the theoretical limit of processing power and miniaturization. Simple extrapolation dictates that we'll eventually see the same in many, many other fields - something I'm excited to see. There's no reason to hold humanity back in terms of our technological prowess.

Anthropocentrism: Anthropocentrism is defined as the belief that mankind is uniquely special and superior in the universe, and that the interests and safety of humanity come first. Note that preserving the environment is in the interest of our safety; anthropocentrism does not translate to the destruction of the natural world.

I believe anthropocentrism is especially important in light of the current popular attitude that humans aren't special, or even that the world is better off without humans. People often point to the posited intelligence of animals like chimps and dolphins as proof that human intelligence is nothing special. This is not only false, it is dangerous. It degrades the sanctity of humanity and creates an apathetic attitude towards the future of our species.

Humanity is special, from both a logical and (for me) theological standpoint. We've evolved from brainless single-cell organisms into a globe-spanning dominant species capable of amazing, indeed almost magical, things.

Our observation and interaction with the world and the cosmos creates meaning, beauty, history, culture... If humanity dies, that is lost. The universe would be effectively empty and meaningless forever. We can't trust in the nigh-impossible chance of alien races or a new intelligent species on Earth to take up our mantle. Rather, we must preserve and enrich ourselves at any cost.

National exceptionalism: The best way to fade into historical obscurity is to be a nation that brings itself down to the level of everyone else and joins an undifferentiated, samey, boring mass. I don't want to be that. I want to be part of and contribute to a nation that puts itself before and above others, creating a better, brighter future for its citizens and eventually the whole world.

Genetic engineering: Not on humans yet (tech needs refining), but we should definitely apply it in plenty of other fields. Better crops and livestock? Already doing that. Engineer bacteriophages to finally corner dangerous bacteria between them and antibiotics? Hell yes. Literal blue grass? Sure, why not. This doesn't mean I support the unethical practices of corporations like Monsanto, however.

Fission power: I'm the pragmatic type. In my view, nuclear power is the only logical solution to the power draw of our increasingly technological civilization. Fossil fuels have their place, but will become obsolete eventually. Renewables (solar and wind, NOT hydro or geothermal) sound nice and fuzzy, but they're utterly impractical as a grid source - too much space needed, and no practical way to store sufficient energy long-term for when the sun is obscured or the wind has died. Raw data indicates that nuclear provides the greatest return on investment, and has the least deaths per unit of power generated of any power source. Modern reactors and upcoming 4th generation designs - such as pebble bed reactors - have also advanced to the point where catastrophic meltdown is not possible. Thorium fuel will make the waste far less toxic, and frankly it's not a challenge to just dig a hole in the desert and drop the spent fuel in there. I do have hope that fission will eventually be replaced by fusion, but rather than holding out hope for a technology that is always a few decades away, we should focus on fission first.

Limitation of the franchise: 7% of Americans are stupid enough to think that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. That's almost 23 million people who are members of the same species as you. Should they really be allowed to vote? I don't think so. A good starting point would be requiring people to own land or property in order to vote, and preventing those on any sort of welfare from voting. This would probably be expanded somewhat - like encouraging children by giving more votes (and tax cuts) to those who have many kids, and giving business owners votes even if they rent their location or don't have a physical location.

International Trade/Interaction: When done for the mutual bettering of both nations, trade is great! It's a keystone of sedentary human civilization, after all. The problem arises when, through some means, the relation becomes parasitic rather than symbiotic.

Transhumanism: Oh boy. Transhumanism is a pretty nebulous topic, and I'm not quite sure of my beliefs on it. On one hand, I believe in the sanctity of humanity - would we remain human when we augment ourselves, or would we reach a point where we become something else entirely? Who knows the consequences of losing whatever makes us human? Could we become apathetic machines? Rogue gods? It's a gamble at best.

On the other hand, I think that some augmentation of the human body and species is inevitable, thanks to slippery slopes. Let's take genetic engineering as an example. Right now, most proposed applications of genetic engineering on humans focus on the curing of genetic diseases and defects - think curing Down Syndrome in the womb or eradicating Huntington's disease from a family line. But once the first modified baby is carried to term, a door is open that can't be closed. Once disposing of genetic problems becomes the standard, the concept of genetic enhancement will inevitably follow. If a kid can be cured of sickle cell anemia, why not also give them a stronger immune system or better metabolism? What about enhanced intelligence or strength? Even if such procedures are outlawed, they would likely still occur - the ridiculous cheapness of editing tools like CRISPR mean that someone could hypothetically edit their unborn child in the garage.

If I had to pick, I'd state that the augmentation of humanity is for the most part alright by me... except for in the brain. People can have cyborg arms, artificial lenses with computers, and even enhanced general intelligence, but adding ancillary capabilities to the brain - i.e. a two-way permanent interface between the brain and a computer - should be a no-go. I'd deem it far too risky to add the external influence like that to the brain, which we frankly still understand very little about. Sure, we know its basic mechanics, but we have zero clue how all those mechanics combine to make an intelligent human consciousness.

Marxism: Do I really have to write a multi-paragraph essay explaining why I think Marxist ideologies are a recipe for disaster? All one has to do is look back at the 20th century and see the hundreds of millions killed by totalitarian states that inevitably emerged from attempts at Marxism. I don't want that, and neither should you.

Corporatism: The true source of most problems people attribute to capitalism. Capitalism is not at fault; rather, big corporations lobbying the government to worm around regulations is. For example, healthcare in the US is so expensive because companies lobbied the government to get around regulations on price-fixing, allowing them to unjustly price an Epipen that costs around a buck to make at 400 bucks, or for hospitals to charge 50 bucks for a dose of Tylenol. These companies should be tied to the same regulations as everyone else, and probably some additional ones against price-fixing.

Islam: Islam is a fake religion that is utterly incompatible with Western ideals. That's all I have to say, and I'm not arguing it with anyone.

Trivia & Facts

Favourite Food: Seafood
Favourite Book Series: The Expanse by James S.A. Corey, The Getaway Special Duology by Jerry Oltion
Favourite Video Game: Rimworld, Elite: Dangerous, Kerbal Space Program
Favourite VG Genres: Strategy, RPG, Simulation, lots of stuff. All very sci-fi.

Original template by The brytish isles. Template is found here.

Earth orbit