CURRENT STATE OF DEVELOPMENT
Brobdingnag’s population of approximately 9.7 million inhabits four of the eight major continents. The majority lives on Horus, the first continent settled. The balance is divided among Alabuka, Dionaea, and Moa, with Alabuka by far the second most populous. The planet boasts six major metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000, plus numerous smaller cities and towns not shown on the global map. The largest city, New Houston, serves as the center of government, industry, and finance for the planet and has 1.5 million people living in and around it. Nearly 80 percent of the colony’s population depends on industries located in and around cities, but statisticians classify only 60 percent of the population as urban dwellers. The balance commute from outlying rural regions. In addition, most of the urban population maintains vacation homes in the country.
Industry and Technology
Although Brobdingnag’s industry lacks the diversity of Earth’s, all its people enjoy a high standard of living. Because the planet’s population measures less than 0.1 percent of Earth’s, a more limited industrial base is unavoidable; yet much of Earth’s industry exists to solve problems created by its enormous population. In the absence of such a population and with abundant natural resources, all Borbdingnites have a healthy diet, comfortable housing, medical care, and a variety of personal services and conveniences. Though approximately one million of Brobdingnag’s inhabitants are immigrants, little difference can be detected between their incomes and living standards and those of native-born residents. More than 90 percent of the adult population owns land for residential, recreational or commercial purposes. It is hard to weigh the advantages of this wealth against the wealth of Earth people, for though the latter have more diversions and consumer goods, only 5 percent own real property.
Unlike most colonies, Brobdingnag has been blessed with a surplus of food from its beginnings, although farmers cultivate a narrower assortment of crops than Earth’s. Most food is produced by natural rather than synthetic methods, because, although these methods require much land (which is cheap), they require less machinery (the most expensive item for a new economy to produce). Because the cost of machinery and chemical preservatives is high, foods tend to be fresher and less refined. Whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables can be found at most tables on the planet. Brobdingnites still produce some dairy products from the stock of cattle imported long ago from Earth. These tend to be expensive because most cattle do not thrive in the planet’s hot climate and require special care. Most of the milk output goes into the manufacture of gourmet cheese.
Dragons provide the major source of meat protein in the pioneers’ diet. These great beasts graze healthily on native vegetation which grows naturally and quickly. They require little care or supervision, and each animal produces an enormous amount of food. Brobdingnites tan dragon hide into leather that looks attractive and competes in price with the cheapest synthetics. Even the blood of dragons, sold fresh in stores, finds its way into a variety of native delicacies that even first-day immigrants find enjoyable. Unfortunately, the dragons bear their young alive and therefore provide no eggs. Imported chickens do lay eggs for Brobdingnag’s tables, but their cost is high, relative to meat.
As on all colonies, housing manufacture comprises one of the oldest and best-developed industries. Most homes are preassembled in modular sections which are carried whole to the field, but over one-third of Brobdingnag’s existing houses were sold in kit form and erected by their owners. In the major cities, large, high-rise living units predominate. These structures erected from standardized modules assume a wide variety of forms. All Brobdingnag’s living spaces must be protected from the dragons by ultrasonic fields. Native engineers have designed a number of rugged, low-cost, field generators that repel the beasts effectively. On remote living sites, pioneers mount these units to form a protected compound. On foot, people pass under the field unhampered, and when in their cars, the field deactivates automatically for the instant it takes to cross it.
Transportation of people and goods depends primarily on antigravity-supported, air-jet-propelled levicars and trucks. These vehicles come in a variety of sizes and types. Small low, and intermediate speed vehicles lie within reach of every family, while high speed, fully-automated trucks and transports whisk people and cargo between continents. Brobdingnites have deliberately designed these vehicles out of their cities, recognizing that they serve as effective transportation only in areas of low population density. All vehicles unload their cargo at the “gates” of the major cities.
From there, high density guideways and freight tubes shuttle people and goods to their destinations with greater safety and convenience than could be achieved by allowing thousands of individually operated vehicles to jam the city’s skies and to consume its space with landing pads. Although individually programmed automatic or semiautomatic guidance systems control vehicles in the open countryside, all vehicles fall under the control of a master traffic computer as they approach within 100 kilometers of the city gates. The computer directs the vehicle to an offloading point, and from there to a parking space where it awaits its operator’s return.
Cities on Brobdingnag serve one major function, social centers. In an age of rapid transportation, no one need live near his job. Factories can locate in remote areas, with plenty of land to spread over and where they don’t create eyesores. No one needs to leave their home to shop or transact business. Modern televiewers can bring any two people on the planet face to face in seconds. Any piece of merchandise can be examined on a holographic display and, if desired, ordered on the spot for home delivery. Many workers whose tasks are primarily mental can do their jobs from home.
A designer, for example, can make a drawing on his home screen, then with the push of a button, transmit it to the screens of any other designers or engineers he wishes to see it. Yet Human beings desire physical contact with each other. They wish to talk face to face without the filtering medium of the viewer. They wish to touch each other, to smell each other’s scents, to gather in familiar groups and to meet new people. Often they wish to examine the things they want to buy personally, trying on new clothes or checking out the latest features of a new appliance.
To do these things, people still go to cities. The cities of Brobdingnag have become nuclei for large industrial regions and great numbers of homes, though like the nucleus of an atom, the city itself occupies but a tiny region within these giant systems shown as dots on the planet’s map (figure 3.8). For hundreds of kilometers in every direction farms, factories and settlements sprinkle the landscape, interspersed with open countryside. Beyond these areas lie thousands of kilometers of virgin wilderness where only the dragons roam.
Families tend to be larger on Brobdingnag than on Earth. Every two adults produces an average of 3.4 children. Nuclear family organization, consisting of one man and woman, predominates, although unmarried men and women raising one or more children comprise 26 percent of the adult population. Only 8 percent of all families can be classified as extended or communal.
Communities of pioneers serve important social functions, including the organizing and funding of local schools and the care of young children. Education for children and adults remains a purchased service, and no government-operated schools exist. A compulsory education law requiring all parents to purchase education for their children through age 19 has been enacted on Horus. Today 40 percent of the population continues their education beyond this level, with 15 percent entering universities and the rest attending trade schools.
Brobdingnag, like the two older colonies, has achieved material self-sufficiency. The planet imports no physical goods, although it still places heavy dependence on a steady stream of scientific and technical information received from Earth. A system of free enterprise forms the basis of the planetary economy. Few rules govern trade or business activity, and the absence of a labor class has precluded the development of an economic system in which workers and investors vie in open conflict. On Brobdingnag, more than 75 percent of all workers own an interest in the businesses where they work. The government does not sanction corporate forms of investment, but investors create pools of capital to finance industrial projects by a variety of ingenious, voluntary contracts.
Research and Development
The level of basic scientific research sustained by Earth cannot be equaled by a young economy such as Brobdingnag’s. Nevertheless, the colony’s practically oriented research and development efforts have led to discoveries of considerable value to Earth. The most notable of these include: selfexciting guideway bearings; a process for cryogenic preservation of foods that freezes fruits and vegetables in the fields by direct energy transfer; an integrated information coding circuit that greatly reduces the cost of data terminals; low-wattage, optical-frequency power distribution for residential structures; the optimal transarch, and crystalline-filled structural resin. GAILE derives substantial revenues from all of these patents, under license to the people of Earth.
As Brobdingnag measures nearly the same size as Earth, study of its geological differences has given Earth’s scientists a better understanding of the basic forces that shaped the two planets. Brobdingnag is a younger planet than Earth, perhaps by as much as half a billion years. The study of its geophysical characteristics and life gives a look into Earth’s past that has deciphered many of the enigmas of Earth’s early development.