History – Mammon


Baq Husaini and the crew of the Xingu discovered Mammon in 2252. They spent three years studying this tiny world that appeared to be on the lower limits of Human habitability. During this period, they noted enormous deposits of valuable minerals, but in those days, no economic method for transporting these minerals across interstellar space existed. When Baq filed his report with the International Council for Space Exploration, the Council classified Mammon marginally desirable for colonization and indefinitely postponed its development.

The invention of the matter/antimatter reactor had tremendous implications for Mammon’s future for two reasons: first, it greatly reduced the cost of transporting payloads across interstellar space, and secondly, it greatly increased the demand for a particular class of minerals known as the “rare earths.”

Rare earths consist of a series of naturally occurring elements with very similar chemical properties. All occupy the third column of the periodic table. The control devices of matter/antimatter reactors require rare earths. They are not used as fuel themselves, but form an integral part of the matter/antimatter buffer in which matter and antimatter mix to produce pure energy. As the reactor is operated, the rare earths transform into other elements, rendering them unsuitable for further use. They must then be replaced with fresh rare earths. Human technology has been capable of transmuting one element into another for several centuries, but even today this process remains extremely costly. The early use of matter/antimatter reactors rapidly depleted the supply of rare earths on Earth; so more had to be obtained by transmutation of other metals. Unfortunately, this very expensive process produced large quantities of the wrong rare earth isotopes which had to be separated by even more costly processes.

In 2305, Jocelyn Hill, a 60-year-old independent operator of titanium and aluminum mines, persuaded the Intra Ocean Minerals Company and the World Wide Rare Metals Company to finance rare earth mining on Mammon. GAIL had just been formed, but the new organization still had no plans for developing the planet. The financial backers formed the Mammon Mining Company with Hill as president, and MMC began preparing at once to establish mining operations.

MMC obtained an option to lease the largest of GAIL’s starships, and began assembling the required equipment. The miners needed not only mining equipment, but also refining equipment to reduce the rare earths to pure form for transport. Everything required to sustain the workers, including housing, farm machinery, food, clothing, and personal conveniences, had to be purchased and shipped. Planning and preparation took eleven years from the time MMC secured GAIL’s approval. Midway through the preparation stage, MMC exhausted the allotted funds, and for a while it appeared that the project wouldn’t get off the ground. Yet Jocelyn Hill, always the enthusiastic salesman, secured additional financing from other mining and financial institutions, and in the process, solidified her control over MMC.

Hill didn’t plan to establish a permanent colony on Mammon. She originally induced employees to sign a five or ten year contract to work on the planet, then return to Earth and retire on their earnings. Almost from the beginning, this plan broke down. Most of the workers enjoyed life on Mammon so much that they stayed on permanently, using their wages to buy consumer goods from Earth. In fact, only 13 percent of the workers that have ever come to Mammon returned to their home planet!

In 2318, the first party of pioneers arrived on Mammon and established a base camp at a place called Hilltown. Of the 2,000 men and women in the group, only 200 engaged in actual mining operations. The balance worked at constructing shops, factories, and the refinery, or in providing essential services to the workers, such as food, power, and transportation. Every six months, another party of 2,000 arrived with more equipment and supplies. Mining of earths began in 2320. The miners stockpiled ore for a year until the refinery was complete. Export of rare earths began in 2321. Since that date, production and revenues have far exceeded expectations. The pioneers began food production in 2320 and importation of food ceased five years later.

Jocelyn Hill wisely realized that she could exercise little coercion over a group of people on another planet almost 40 light years away. She knew that to assure long term success of the venture, she had to motivate the workers on Mammon to be productive. She also realized that individual entrepreneurs worked harder and more efficiently than employees, and she therefore began very early to get MMC out of the business of providing domestic goods and services to Mammon’s residents. She did this by selling the means of production to individual Mammonites in exchange for promissory notes. In this way, she could get a farmer, for example, to purchase farm machinery and establish a farm. With his profits from farming, he would pay off the note in money which MMC could then use to pay its workers. Eventually MMC sold most of its mining operations on Mammon and became primarily a marketing agent for the exported elements. Mammon had evolved from a “company planet” to a fully independent, free enterprise colony.

During the course of this evolution, people on Mammon found it necessary to form a government to settle disputes, protect people’s rights and to enforce claims to property. They adopted a constitution similar to Wyzdom’s which strictly limits its power and authority.

As Mammon’s output of rare earths grew, other members of GAIL wished to obtain some. In 2348, the Ardotians began to barter for rare earths with MMC, offering completed starships suitable for Humans, in exchange for the precious commodity. Ardotian ships call regularly at Mammon to pick up the elements and transport them to their own manufacturing centers. Later, Chlorzi established a direct claim to certain clearly defined mineral deposits on Mammon. They did this by exchanging the right to colonize Athena, which they discovered but found unsuitable for their species. GAIL negotiated the transaction with the Chlorzi, then compensated MMC for the claim in the form of goods from Earth. Today, independent Human operators work the claim for the Chlorzi in exchange for a percentage of the output. Chlorzi supply all mining and refining equipment built to Human specifications.

Throughout Mammon’s history, Jocelyn Hill managed the affairs of Mammon Mining Company from Earth. In 60 years, she didn’t once visit Mammon because her doctors said she was medically unfit to withstand the “rigors of space travel.” In 2365, knowing she had little time to live, Jocelyn took her life in her hands and made the trip to Mammon. By this time, she had arranged for new management of MMC to succeed her, and she intended to live out her life on the planet she helped to found. When she arrived at Hilltown spaceport, she found a million people, virtually the entire population, waiting to greet her. More than any other single person, “The Old Lady,” as the pioneers affectionately called her, was responsible for establishing the Mammon colony. Her years of wise leadership had brought unparalleled prosperity to its residents, and their final tribute to her showed how much they appreciated what she had done.

Jocelyn Hill lived two years on Mammon, but didn’t participate in MMC operations or government politics during that time. Instead she spent it traveling over the planet, seeing its natural wonders and Human development, and talking with people about their lives and their plans for the future. She lies buried in a small crypt located in the Hilltown central square. It bears a quotation by her which epitomized her life, “Don’t tell me this job’s too big for one person; no job’s too big for one person! Behind every major achievement in history stands one individual with drive and a vision of what could be.”