This post is written in character. Feel free to pitch topics through twitter, or by commenting on this entry.
Hello again dear readers. One topic I feel deserves more discussion is some of the differences found between the lifestyles of Landers and Spacers. We’re all familiar with these terms, and they are concepts that more or less divide any of our cultures into somewhat competing sides. I do not necessarily feel comfortable diving right into this nest of Gordraks, so I feel like this issue needs to be prefaced with relevant information to kind of lead into the discussion. As such, one of the major areas of strife between Landers and Spacers seems to revolve around transit.
Silver Spiral Field Notes: #006 Getting Around
Our society is one of constant motion, and the vast majority of that time motion is carried out by riding around on a variety of vehicles. There are vehicles that allow us to move around a colony, transit across a planet, or even voyage between solar systems and beyond. While society has made great strides toward making transit affordable for all, there are unfortunate realities that make that nearly impossible. The basic divide of transit is between planetary and interplanetary travel. Planetary travel is generally considered to be more or less equal for all, as many forms of individual and mass transit exist on the vast majority of colonized worlds. Regrettably, interplanetary travel is another story entirely.
The vast majority of transit in major population centers uses mass transit vehicles. One of the most common forms of mass transit on a colonized world is a rail system. These mag-lev systems often feature incalculable miles of track that weave between stations and rail yards. Often these mag-lev trains feature a variety of cars ranging from cargo to various levels of cabins that cater to a range of budgets and needs. Typically these trains touch the outermost points of major cities, but often times these cities have internal rail systems, generally revolving around single-car trains for travel in the city. Rail transit makes up the vast majority of transit on Teslovia, for example, though not in the way most would suspect. Teslovia’s nature as a super-city necessitates a great deal of single-cars, numbering in the thousands, whose rail lines mark the majority of all rail systems on the planet. Only three mag-lev train lines actually exist on Teslovia but these are mostly used for researching and shipping purposes outside of the city itself.
The second most common form of public transportation seems to be the taxi and ferry services. Depending on the needs of the populace these can range from wheeled cars, hover cars, air shuttles, or even boats. Federation City on Ocia works as a solid base-line city for understanding these transit options. Within the city rail cars exist, but private transport such as cars are also present, but even then wheeled and hover cars are subject to one’s economic status. Air shuttles are key are also widely used for transit between islands as well as transit from the city and the military base. Boats make up a major portion of mass transit on Ocia however, as the aquatic moon is dotted with various islands.
Rarely seen on more civilized worlds, but far more present in the colonies are mount-based transportation. While vehicles exist, they may be cost prohibitive between regular supply runs, and as such beasts of burden are a popular choice for getting around. Avabia is one such planet that uses animals in such a manner. The vast desert can cause great strain to vehicles, and outposts are few and far between outside of Mon Hareesh. So while vehicles may be common in the city, the further out one goes the more likely they are to see skiffs drawn by animals, or even simple mounted travel. Two beasts are particularly popular on Avabia; these beasts are Taals, spindly desert reptiles, and Goaps, short-furred genetic cousins to Loaps.
There are many of options for getting around while on a planet. Of course this can vary depending on the planet, population, or design of cities, but for the most part any planet will provide a way for citizens to traverse major distances. It is the traversing of distances between worlds that can be problematic. Space travel in any form is expensive.
While mass transit space travel does exist it is subject to intense regulations and often seems more of a hassle than it is worth. Beyond this, these voyages can be expensive, usually thousands of credits per seat within a solar system. If one wishes to travel any further and does not generally have access to a jump gate within their system then someone must spring for a cabin in a larger liner. So for the general public there are system liners and multi-system liners. These are the more affordable of the options. For those who have the credits, personal starships are an option. However those too are subject to inter-factional regulations, and are frequently expensive to maintain. What is important to remember is that even at sub-lightspeed, most travel between solar systems can take weeks. If you wish to travel any further your only choice is usage of a jump-gate. While jump-gates are essentially a transfactional public service, they assuredly have their issues which we would need to cover seperately.
For anyone who wishes to head off-world, there are really only three possible options. The first option involves joining the military. The Empire, Federation, and the various security forces of the Neutrality actively recruit new forces by appealing to the desire to travel off world. Military service offers many benefits, but also presents a great deal of danger. For many who join though, the appeal of traveling to other worlds is well worth the risk implied in military service. While military forces try to swap out between space duty and land duty, it is not unheard of for soldiers spending months in transit with few if any relief trips. One advantage of military service is that large fleets have access to jump-engines, allowing vast travelling distances without the need of a jump-gate.
The second option is to get work with a business or corporation that engages in frequent space travel. Cargo companies, research firms, maintenance crews… these are some of the careers that can give a person the opportunity to travel between worlds. Unfortunately these careers often spend a lot of time in transit, and generally only stay on planets for as long as they need to. So yes, they often lead to being able to visit other worlds, but a participant is often only able to engage the briefest stop over. One unfortunate reality is that there were, for a period, workers who would join up with a crew and immediately quit or desert the minute they arrived on a new world. These days employees are required to sign contracts to avoid similar situations. With these changes, it seems that contracts are a common theme in space travel.
A typical third option for offworld travel is to join a colonizing effort. Most colonizing efforts fall into either private or factional colonial efforts. Colonial efforts tend to be the more flexible arrangement with minimal terms on colonial contracts, but they also suffer from slow resupply and logistics issues. A private colonial contracts is generally on behalf of an entity, such as a corporation and is often relatively efficient with the exception of the terms of the contract which can sometimes be extremely strict.
When it comes to private space ships and their costs, the single largest contributor to their financial weight comes from the universal fuel known as Formacyte. Formacyte is what allows for such extreme colonial sprawl, and regrettably also serves as the primary barrier for truly egalitarian space transit. Formacyte itself merits further exploration for another time. Until synthetic formacyte-based fuels becomes as efficient as the real material, it seems that anyone’s interplanetary travel options are at the mercy of these small, energy-filled crystals. Thankfully getting around on any civilized world is much less headache-inducing.