The Science Of Planets: Of Turns, Colonists, And Colonist Growth
Some of you are doubtless wondering, “How long is a ‘Turn’?” It does seem an arbitrary unit of time, especially considering the wide variety of choices we have available to us: cycles, quelnars, microns, months, et cetera.
Those few of you familiar with celestial mathematics and temporal relativity may be able to pose an educated guess as to the reason, that given the interactions between time, hyperspace, and warp drive during travel over interstellar distances, any chosen time interval might just as well be arbitrary. And, from a strict scientific standpoint, this is quite true for a crewmember on a moving vessel.
Which you are not.
You are a commander, in constant contact with your command staff from the nerve center of the sector under your control. The relationship between the duration of a Turn and what the unenlightened might term ‘real time’ is immaterial. The Turn is all that matters; it is the only unit of time you will ever need from this day forward. And all you need to know about it is that one Turn is the amount of time it takes for a starship traveling at Warp 9 to travel 81 light-years, for a starbase to proceed from raw materials to fully functioning, and for a colonist population to increase itself by five percent given optimum growth conditions.
A word about colonist growth: I know some of you hail from celestial backwaters and may not be aware of this, but sexual reproduction is unnecessary for the purposes of increasing colonist populations. In point of fact, due to time considerations, that alone would be far too slow a method. Not only would individuals need to be brought to adulthood, they would also require military training and indoctrination before being useful.
Which is why we use insta-clones, generated by transporter technology from a stored matrix. To save time further, all training is imprinted during the process, likewise from a stored matrix. The restriction on population growth is the amount of time required to indoctrinate them societally, to educate the new generation in deportment, and above all for them to develop a personal identity. Early experiments without this last step led to instability and violent behavior (See Dick, “Electric Sheep”, Cherryh, “Cyteen”).
The Cyborg, which during assimilation more than doubles its number each turn, has the advantage of a common shared intelligence. This completely overwhelms the original personality of the new individual, imprinting around its unique attributes in (presumably) unused portions of its cerebellum. New biological creations with the fulltime attention of their hosts are indoctrinated using classical methods, since forced imprinting within the shared system would induce disharmony, an insanity to a collective consciousness.
Despite what one may think, the Robots are actually incredibly similar to biologicals in terms of reproduction. Both assembly and materials can require painstaking manufacture, but it’s the brain that’s the difficult part for a Robot factory to produce. It takes a great deal of time to properly imprint a positronic matrix, and once it’s running it takes even more time to bring it up to speed — individual one-on-one training, for the most part; Robots are far more than mere computers. They have personalities, and personalities require growth, no matter what the Fascists say.
And, to pre-emptively answer the question that I know some of you would ask were I to permit it: Hostile climates require more attention from extant colonists, which reduces the time they have available for training the next generation.
Speaking of hostile climates, two of your recent papers have drawn attention to the disparity between supply necessity and supply consumption required for the survival of excess colonists. It seems reasonable that, if one would be consumed for survival, survival would require only the presence of that one and no more.
What you’re failing to consider is that a ‘supply’ is not just a simple brick of food massing one kiloton. It is, instead, a store of trade goods which may well be adaptable for survival but which is designed primarily for its ease of conversion into cash via the civilian market. The removal of blankets and thermal units in no wise decreases its saleability, but–
*sigh* Yes, there are civilians. No, you don’t need to know about them. No, you cannot ask questions about them. Assigned reading: “The Forever War”, by Haldeman, and “The Eternity Brigade”, by Goldin. Class dismissed!