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One of the things that comes up a lot in far future fiction is the question of why live on a planet? They aren’t actually very nice places, the temperature fluctuates, bacteria run rife, they are incredibly high maintenance (if you want a developed society) and they are pretty difficult to get anywhere near Earth standard.

Contrast with living in space where you:

  • Have access to plentiful raw materials (in the form of asteroids, comets, maybe even moons and planets after a while)
  • Have access to large amounts of solar energy without that nasty atmosphere getting in the way.
  • Can reach anywhere in the solar system with an ion drive and a solar panel.
  • Have a theoretically infinite area to expand into.
  • Have perfect control over your environment.

Now, in Vast Worlds people live on planets, and most are actively terraforming them, so why is it logical?

Well, partly it isn’t, living in space would theoretically be better than living on planets, in the long term, but there are several key facets of the Vast Worlds universe that make gravity bound living desirable.

First, we have Null panels, or rather the energy efficiency they can bring. Basically, the power generation technology of the universe is a hundred years ahead of its time and this changes the economics quite significantly. Power to refine materials, power to light homes, power to terraform planets and travel interstellar distances is not only available, but in surplus, and this means that there is no reason to be in space for power and material reasons, only living area and environmental control are important, and that brings me onto my second point.

Populations in Vast Worlds are not huge; it is only a hundred years hence after all, and the amount of interstellar travel means that humanity is fairly diffuse. On average there are about 50-100 million people per solar system[1], which even my modern densities is only about a small country. A planet of roughly Earth area can support many times that, and have room to grow for millennia.

Then, we have environmental control, which is actually common between space and terrestrial living in this incidence. The humans of Vast Worlds have found no naturally habitable planets at this time. There have been those that technically possessed liquid water, or could support life if the greenhouse effect wasn’t quite so bad, but so far life hasn’t been found outside of the prokaryote stage. So producing oxygen, water and food in gravity is fairly similar to producing it out of gravity, and thanks to Grav’ panels it’s almost identical.

This leads to the final reason for terrestrial living. The humans have no experience with living in space but plenty for living on and terraforming planets. In the end the picked planets and lived with the gravity, plus got a whole new biosphere out of it just in case anything destroyed Earth.

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[1] Quite a lot are around Sol, though not necessarily on Earth.


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