Onyxrising (onyxrising) wrote,

Sven and I were having a hypothetical discussion on terraforming.
We're operating on the assumption that communication between planets will be a lot easier than transporting good between them. There's been at least one interesting-looking economics paper written on this lately; sadly, it requires paying money to read.
At any rate, though, we're assuming that at the point we got to terraforming other planets and colonizing them, it'd still be easier for them to have communication than actual material goods shipped in from other planets. Ordering any goods shipments would have to be done way in advance, and take a very substantial ammount of time to get there.
We're also assuming that humanity couldn't be too choosy about what planets it got. The ones we did get would probably be less than ideal. Assuming we could change atmospheres to ones like Earth's, and get the planet ready for flora and fauna from earth, it's not going to be perfect. For one, it'd probably be way too difficult to change where a planet was in terms of distance from its sun- so let's assume that planets would either be too hot, or too cold. Too cold is generally preferable to too hot, so let's assume colonists will go with colder planets. (Okay, that, and we both know more about surviving in a really cold place, so that's where our minds went in said hypothetical conversation.)
We're assuming most people wouldn't settle anywhere as cold as, say, Point Barrow, where -50 farenheit is a pretty standard winter day that the locals take in stride. It just wouldn't be economically viable. Settlers would need to be able to produce their own food, rather than having it shipped in, and that's just not easy to do with that little vegetation. You have to depend on reindeer and other animals which can turn lichen into human-consumable calories. The problem with that is that not everyone's biology can handle eating a diet as meat and fat intensive as the Inupiat diet used to be. This was tried with European-descended settlers to Alaska. Needless to say, it didn't end so well. (On a side note, I did know a half Inupiat girl whose doctor moved her off her vegetarian diet, after it became really apparent that her body just couldn't take it.)
So we're assuming that our hypothetical colonizable planet would be somewhere warm enough to handle boreal forest ecology. We're assuming anyone settling this new planet would bring crops and as much livestock as they could feasably transport with them. At least with earth, the crops and livestock of the cold regions tend to be a lot more universal than those of warmer regions. There's a lot more biodiversity around the equator. The crops and livestock grown in Russia often enough match those mentioned as brought over by Viking settlers in longboats to Iceland, and also happen to be those which were grown in my home town in Alaska. They just work for the temperature and ecology.
We're assuming that the group of people who'd want to to settle a planet with those conditions would be ones already accustomed to subarctic and arctic environments. People raised in Alaska would be well suited, and probably more comfortable with the idea of homesteading a piece of barren land than most modern folks. The Scandinavian and Russian settlers who moved to Alaska seemed to have adapted quickly, building houses like they knew from their villages in Russia, or along a particular housing plan that I think must be Norwegian. (Or at least, I'm assuming it must be, looking at what ethnic group had applied it to their homesteads.) They already knew how to build houses that'd work in the climate, keep livestock from dying of exposure, etc. Said planet probably wouldn't, at least at first, get people who were transferred there by the company for messing up. It probably wouldn't have the "natural" feel that would attract hippies. I suppose you might have a few of the "mighty adventurer" type who'd try to pioneer a new, virgin land- but Darwinism and the other settlers probably wouldn't tolerate their existance for long.
At this point, Sven pointed out that our hypothetical planet was largely subarctic or arctic, and settled by people already used to colder climates, using the same plants, animals, and architecture that had been used in cold weather settlements since time immemorial. His eyes lit up. "Space Vikings." he informed me. "This needs to be an RPG setting."
"You did not just turn that into an RPG setting."
"I bet you could do it in GURPs."
I hate to say it, but after discussing it further with him, I think he could make an amazing Space Opera Vikings setting. And this scares me.

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