Worldbuilding for Carson and Ship (Sixteen Tons of Light)

There is only very basic communication between ships. They’ve found ways to push ships faster then light, but not transmissions, those are all still sublight. Thus for long distance communication the ships fire tiny message torpedoes at each other, called Pigeons after homing pigeons.

The pigeons have miniAIs and basically fly themselves from point to point. They are sent to either an exact point or to a general point with a ‘Find X’ assignment. They keep in contact with the Scouts and the Company ships by having designated checking pigeons as well as set locations where the ships should be at a certain date/time.

Pigeons move twelve times as fast as ships since they don’t have to worry about collisions (they are very small) or braking in a way that doesn’t harm the humans

Ship is basically a one bedroom apartment in space. The bed is a bunk (although Carson has argued for years that he should be allowed to turn off the gravity and just sleep in midair) and the bedroom has a small bathroom (recycled shower) and the living room doubles as an office and a impromptu medical center.

Most of the furniture is retractable to save space, and there is somewhat the feeling of living in the Macross when Ship starts moving stuff around. Carson has a few knickknacks, which technically are against Company policy, but since he’s a rim worker, they very rarely check-in with corporate.

Rim workers service the colony worlds, the frontier of space exploration. Since the fastest travel is only X times Light (need to figure out a good scale) there has only been X of expansion (assuming drive is discovered and expansion begins 2100). In theory the rim is spherical, but it’s actually more of a lumpy snowflake.

Terraforming works on an asteroid up to earth scale, but takes several hundred years. Thus planets that are closest to earth norm are chosen for colonization. It’s much easier to change an atmosphere than to add one.

Carson has Snowball the Wonder Rat, which is actually a cloned rat that he uses for tests. Snowball rarely lasts long, as he’s used as the canary in the mine.

Carson is a genetic xenobiologst and deals with the manipulation of the local flora and fauna to make it non-hostile to earth life. He went to college, then grad school, then apprenticed for three years before he got his own ship. He’s been with Ship for four years, and has good marks with the Company.

He’s not that much of a Company man, but none of the rim workers are, everyone out there is somewhat of a loner. After all, he spends most of his time on a ship by himself, or out in the field on a colony planet. Communication is slow (and expensive!) so he’s sort of a hermit.

Thus he takes advantage of his downtime, not quite as much a playboy as Kirk, he’s certainly not a monk in any sense of the word. However, the folks he’s having flings with are well aware that he most likely will never return, which adds to the allure for some folks.

Humans live longer now, plus with relativity kicking in, Carson is a lot older than he looks. Even though most of his hops are only a few days, it adds up in the long run. (He’s been on ships for seven years now, traveling 30% of the time)

Ship has no backup systems for travel. The (opposite of sub)light drives simply move too fast for a human to be able to control them, only AIs can fly ships. There are backups for all critical systems, so she basically just turns into a life raft.

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