I’ve pulled out maps of Lyndir and Port Oswin lately as I’ve had to make reference to locations where characters find themselves in Splintegrate. Presently I’m dealing with a set of folks holed up in a tourist hostel in Old Town.
You’ll see by this district map inset that Port Oswin consists of a series of sprawling domes, many nested into each other like soap bubbles that have merged. The city as a whole is about 20 x 25 miles in our measurements. The Old Town dome in question (lower left center) is 2 miles across. Because of the harsh planetary environment, Lynidiri have built more up than out, so the urban mass is dense and compact. Port Oswin has a density and population size similar to that of Tokyo on our planet. It is one of the most populous cities in the sector, and leads Cassian worlds in urban density.
Old Town is not simply an idyllic scene of resurrected pioneer buildings and chotchke shops as it is on many worlds. On Lyndir, this place is memorialized as the location where the generation ship Oswin crashed. A majority of stranded and unintentional colonists from this and several other companion vessels died here in the early months of settlement due to the harsh environment. Two-thirds of the colonists would perish before they could construct shelters adequate to protect them from environmental extremes. Then they staggered on to learn not only how to survive, but how to thrive in Lyndir’s brutal climate.
The Vansin Polymer
Port Oswin scientists and engineers eventually developed a unique tensile polymer that made contained city domes a viable and protective habitat for colonists. The first of these was the Old Town dome, built with a substance pioneered by Tam Vansin and born of survival-driven necessity. Not incidently, this gave impetus to the first of Lyndir’s many “economic miracles”, distinguished by intensive production and capacity development cycles.
Vansin, as it came to be called, is a “smart” polymer whose long molecular chains bend readily in one direction; when pressured in the opposite direction, they lock somewhat flexibly but very tightly in place. Given an initial shape instruction in the fractal code of its creation, all chains in a related mass share the same shape and form characteristic. Thus the material becomes self-bracing against a directional force, and is stronger in larger masses than in smaller ones. Extensions and repairs take on the same shape and tensile properties of the orignal.
Better Living Through Plastics
The vansin substrate allows the soap-bubble-like plas domes of Port Oswin to be incredibly light and flexible, yet self-bracing against atmospheric pressure differentials. Vansin allowed habitat domes to be maintained at human norms without the bulky and elaborate construction needed in earlier shelters. Capable of being extended in large hemispheres, this tailored plas opened up the countryside to development and made possible the more complex multi-bubble dome construction of later years.
When Lyndir connected with neighboring worlds, the local polymer industries provided their first leading export. When vansin eventually reached markets in the far-flung Sa’adani Empire, that trade launched this planet to unique wealth and economic positioning in the region. Today vansin is used in things as varied as Imperial Navy space habitats, deep-sea domes such as those on Selmun III, and construction elements in cyberonic body enhancements.
The World Inside – and Out
From time to time I’ll post more about the dynamics of life both inside and outside the domes of Lyndir. How this system was created and how it is maintained is of interest to me, hopefully also to you, and at least gives additional context for the bits and pieces of it you will see in my books.
Port Oswin is unsual in the same sense that Tokyo is: it is an intense mega-cluster of people, services, culture, politics and everything associated with dense humanity living in the fast lane. Most other dome cities on Lyndir are less cram-full of people (“less exciting to live in”, an Oswinian would say), but the self-contained, self-sufficient, and self-absorbed nature of dome life has set its hallmark on the personality of Lyndir inhabitants no matter where they hail from.
So, stay tuned for more glimpses inside the domes, including more maps and related content as I get into these subject areas. When the book’s out of the way I may also do some podcasts on these subjects. And speaking of which -
Interested in podcasts? Let me know in the comments, or if there are some other subjects you’d like to hear me talk about. Thanks!
Originally posted 2009-01-29 12:49:17.