Friday, May 21, 2021

Microstory 1630: Virtual Exclusion

Here is another story about a world that avoided a run-in with the Ochivari and the Darning Wars. It’s also not about a version of Earth. Here, humans evolved on a planet called Olankaran. It was tidally locked with its host star, meaning one side of it was stuck in perpetual brightness, and the other, perpetually nighttime. They could only survive in the terminator zone, which was a thin strip of temperate vegetation that went all around the surface. Despite this wildly different solar dynamic, they developed about as any other civilization does. They fought with each other, and formed bonds, and progressed science, and were held back by religion. It took them about as long to figure out that some habitable worlds weren’t tidal-locked as it will take a non-tidally-locked planet to hypothesize about them. One thing they had on their side was a deeper appreciation for how precious life was. So much of their planet could not support complex life, so they understood how important it was to protect what little managed to come into existence. They didn’t ever burn fossil fuels, instead moving directly to renewables. It might have taken them longer to start harnessing electricity, but whatever, who cares? Solar was, of course, their number one form of power generation, as there were places where they could install panels that worked throughout the entire day. It was very windy on the nightside, though, so that was useful to them as well. They flourished on this world, and why they were just as curious about outer space as anyone, the majority of them chose to stay right where they were. And that was because they knew, from there, they could go anywhere.

They developed virtually reality constructs, which was a completely normal and natural progression for any civilization. These people took it to an extreme. Once they were ready, just about everyone chose to upload their consciousnesses to the virtual worlds, and live there permanently. To keep them cool, their processors were placed on the far side of the planet, and kept them running using highly advanced solar power on the day side. Robots maintained them from the outside. The temperate zones where their physical bodies once took up excessive space were returned to nature. Within a century, it was nearly impossible to tell that people had ever lived there before. Anyone still using a body was exploring interstellar space. The uploaded people were exploring space too, they just weren’t doing it with their own bodies. They dispatched probes to map the galaxy, and one day reach out to other galaxies. As more data came in from these unmanned exploratory missions, the virtual equivalent world was updated to reflect the new information. They just thought it was a lot safer, because it was impossible to die in the construct unless the servers were damaged, and of course, they came up with safeguards to prevent that from happening. The people here were so good at hiding that the Ochivari weren’t even aware that they existed. When they came to this universe to find out whether any sufficiently evolved life was here in need of being destroyed, they didn’t detect anything, and marked it down as empty. They lived happily ever after. Literally. Because when the universe finally came to a close on its own, they simply transferred all of their servers to a younger one, and just kept going on forever.

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