The TranzCon Series

Click here to edit subtitle


When you’re creating a “world” (or a “galaxy”) to set your story in, as an author you have to know more about it than you actually tell the readers in what you write. Well, that’s exactly how it was when I worked out the details of the colonisations which created the setting for the TranzCon novels.

At one time I’d hoped to include more about the colonisation in the original book, but as anyone who’s read the book I published in 2013 (or the version before that which only ever appeared as a draft print) will know, TranzCon has always been too long anyway. There was never the chance to put in anything more than a vestigial amount about the colonisation.

So I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a little more about it here.

The original home planet was highly advanced in astronomy and radio astronomy and its scientists discovered three adjacent solar systems, each having at least one planet that showed promised of being habitable. The problem was, even with the advanced, but pre-FTL, space-going science of the day, the new worlds were still 250 years distant. But the people wanted to have a go at colonisation so they built an arkship. In fact they went ahead with the bigger plan and built three in a phased programme, moving on from one to the next as stages of work were completed. Within the space of just 18 years they’d built and launched all three.

The idea behind sending out three missions was to attempt to colonise all three planets, but if it was found that one of them was not able to support human life, the arkship would spend a few more years travelling to the next (hopefully) habitable world, so all would not be lost. Of course, if all three turned out to be uninhabitable they’d be in a bit of a fix, but then I wouldn’t have had a story, so that isn’t what happened.

The missions to colonise Vissan, Temenco and Miranda were planned to be carried out as two pronged ventures. One, the true colonisation, the other a support mission to help it through bad times. I got the idea for this from a British colonisation attempt in Virginia. In its early days the colony was still dependent on supplies coming from Britain, and for political reasons the support ship was delayed for many months. When it finally reached America it found they’d arrived too late and the whole of the colony had died out.

Obviously, with a journey time of 250 years, it’s simply not practical to provide any effective level of support from the home planet, so the idea was to make a support mission an integral part of the programme.

The true colonists would be the children of the pioneers who made the 250 year journey in cryostasis. The pioneers themselves were all volunteers and included a mix of three to one females to males. Each of the pioneer females was pre-impregnated with two non-genetically related racially harmonised children (which explains why Union people are brown-skinned). The accompanying males were men specially selected for their skill-sets and their genes. After the births of the pre-impregnated children, the pioneers would then be free to produce naturally conceived children.

It should be fairly obvious that this colonisation was going to include quite a lot of children. In fact they weren’t all born at the same time. The mothers were lifted from cryostasis over a period of 25 years, so the first of the children were well into adulthood by the time the last of the pre-impregnated children were born. Even so, it made for a society with a high proportion of children.

The society into which the children were born was designed to be 300 years behind the technology of the mid 20th century. This was for a number of reasons. In so many sci-fi post-apocalyptical stories the survivors are left in an unsustainable world where they’ve descended into little more than stone-age conditions, except that they still have access to the last remnants of technology left behind by the “old ones”. Their problem is, they’re unable to reproduce the kind of product the “old ones” made. The reason is obvious, in our technologically advanced society we have a vast amount of scientific knowledge together with highly specialised people and machines to turn the knowledge into real products. Each worker is a tiny cog in a vast machine.

Compare that with the “technology” of the Middle Ages. Most of the residents of a village or small town were involved in the process of growing food and between them they supported the activities of a small number of specialised men such as blacksmiths who created and repaired the tools the workers used as part of their farming activities.

Technology advanced (slowly) as more and more people were released from food production to take up increasingly specialised roles designing machines and building the parts needed to build them. But still, only a matter of a few dozen specialisations were needed to create even the most complex machines of one to two hundred years ago. This is the level of technology that could be reproduced by the pioneers of a colonisation mission.

And here comes a cheat compared to how the industrial age progressed on our world. The knowledge that took us centuries to develop was already known to the pioneers. Of course, it couldn’t just be dumped onto the descendants of the pioneers in a single hit. Knowing too much too soon would have shown the people a glimpse of a rich, glorious and technologically advanced future they would not in their own lifetime be able to create. So the knowledge was drip-fed, little by little, as the skills and specialisations of the colonists advanced. The next “breakthrough” could be brought forward many years compared to how it happened in real life. The end result was that the colonisation missions took just two hundred years to progress from wind-mills and flintlock muskets, to jet engines and nuclear reactors.

The important point is that by the time they’d reached this technologically advanced level, they’d developed the highly specialised industrial machine we have today. With minimal guidance they were then able to make the leap to the technological level of the “old ones” who’d sent them.

And that’s how it was done. Taking a small step back on the technological timescale resulted in a society that re-advanced in a more solid way than if the pioneers had immediately attempted to recreate the technology of the society that had sent the colonisation mission.

The Support Colonisation

I’ve made a good case for taking a step back and slowly re-advancing. The problem is that in it’s early days, any colonisation mission is vulnerable to all sorts of setbacks that could finish it off in a hard winter.

So a technologically advanced support missions went hand in hand with each of the pioneer missions. Using modern machines brought down from the arkships they surveyed the land available, the climatic conditions, and natural resources and decided on the best locations for the pioneer missions. Then they chose alternative locations a few hundred miles away and set up modern farming ventures to produce and store food. If the pioneer colonisation was keeping itself supplied with food and progressing well, the support mission would not intervene. But if there were problems with the pioneer mission, if it was in danger of starving out of existence, or if not enough people could be spared from food production and technological progress was being held back, the support mission would drip-feed supplies of food. The amount provided would be enough to keep it going, but not enough that it felt able to relax its own food production activities.

Of course, the support mission would be unable to go on forever. With no children of its own, the day would dawn when the pioneers grew old and were no longer able to work in the way they once had done. After an effective period of approximately 50 years the support colonisation would cease its activities. If the pioneer colonisation wasn’t fully self-sufficient by then it probably never would be.

So, the last efforts of the support mission would be to destroy most of the evidence that it had ever existed, spend a few years in comfortable retirement until the numbers of able bodied workers fell below the critical level, and then, knowing they’d completed their life’s work, the remaining people would terminate their lives artificially.

The Situation “Today”

Fortunately for the TranzCon series, all three colonisation missions were successful. For reasons too complex to go into here, it happened that the colony on Vissan was the fastest to progress. When they built their first space-going vessels they were given the knowledge of the other two colonisations and set the task of venturing forth to discover whether those missions had also been successful.

As technology advanced the three communities grew closer together, and when the so-called “light-barrier” was broken and journey times between the planets dropped from years to just a matter of weeks, so the dream of forming a political and economic union became reality.

Another Story

Many sci-fi authors develop “worlds” in which to set their stories and then “progress backwards” to writing prequels about how their “world” came into existence. Well, the prequel to the TranzCon series is there just waiting to be written. I probably won’t take on the task myself, but if someone else would like to, please do so.