Source: Orientation Class for Re-instantiated Egos, Titanian Commonwealth [Link]
Even in the dome habitats on Mars and the settled moons of the solar system, living space comes at a premium. Every cubic centimeter that requires environmental control and life support processing is an expense in energy and resources. Though conditions vary widely, this is an inescapable fact. With the backlog in infomorphs after the Fall, every settlement, station, and colony is trying to ﬁt as many people in as small a space as possible. Some, of course, do this more comfortably than others.
Smaller and Microgravity Habitats
Cluster and micrograv tin can habitats have the beneﬁt of a virtually unlimited internal arrangement. Unfortunately, they are the most limited in internal volume and often comprised of relatively small modules. A standard dedicated habitation module comfortably holds individual cabins for up to 40 humanoid morphs. Each cabin typically has a sleeping sack, storage locker, and in some cases an ecto. This number can be doubled if cabins are eschewed in favor of open sleeping racks.
There is no amount of usable area or volume that goes to waste in a tin can or cluster habitat because there simply isn’t any to spare. A central volume is reserved for transit and kept clear of protrusions, but the module working spaces are ﬁlled with cargo lockers, removable and repairable systems racks, mesh node hardware, spacesuit lockers, laboratory modules, and everything else essential to the operations of the station.
The first permanent space stations actually found storage and logistics to be one of the hardest problems to solve. Keeping track of every package of bolts, every tool, every syringe, and every canister across multiple years and multiple crew rotations was almost impossible until mesh tracking became a possibility. Most items are automatically tagged with a spime and e-tag and then logged with logistics control software so that anyone who has access can look up what they need, precisely locate where it is, and even keep track of how often it has been used. This is important for consumable items that need to be replenished over time.
Larger Spin-Gravity Habitats
As the habitats get larger and spun for gravity, more room is available. Much of this extra space is used for open air and sculpted “natural” environments, as well as large urban areas. The population density of cities is comparable to any megacity on Earth before the Fall.
On a torus or cylinder habitat, most people will have a small apartment indistinguishable from those planetside, except for the noticeable wall curvature on the smaller stations or those fortunate enough to have a window looking out to space. A bed, washroom, kitchenette, folding desk, in-wall drawers, and a small closet are standard accommodations. The widespread availability of augmented reality features, virtually inexhaustible data storage in the cloud, and simulspace access tends to reduce the need for large media storage and appliances. Instead, many people choose to personalize their residences through unique arrangements of the internal architecture, AR enhancements, artwork designed to showcase the person’s personal style, and individual pieces of furniture. This has proven to be a popular cultural practice, regardless of a habitat’s dominant political philosophy, because it encourages resident commitment to their home and measurably improves morale.
These are not the only options available. Though synthmorphs are considered socially uncouth in some circles and outright discriminated against in others, they have the ability to reside in areas completely uninhabitable by biomorphs—including hard vacuum. The biggest danger for these individuals is radiation exposure, so habitats that cater to synthmorphs typically provide solar storm shelters built from water tanks and composite materials. Hardened mesh access points allow them the same virtual amenities as in the pressurized sections.
Studies from the beginning of spaceﬂight consistently show the positive psychological beneﬁts of natural sunlight, greenery, and soil. The majority of morphs report decreased environmental and personal stress proportional to the presence of these environmental factors. Sunlight is very easy to come by in the inner system, even for habitats without the massive windows and mirror arrays on torus and cylindrical colonies. Suntubes collect the ambient light, transmit it by ﬁberoptic cable with virtually no loss, and illuminate the ﬁnal location directly. These are a popular lighting system on microgravity habitats because they require no additional power and the collectors can be mounted adjacent to solar panels. Concentrators are required, though, as one moves further out in the solar system. Shadow also renders suntubes useless, so LED lights approximating the spectrum of sunlight are just as common.
Plant life and soil are what connect much of transhumanity back to the Earth that was lost. Even most tin can cabins have enough volume and water supply for a resident to grow an aloe or spider plant in a small hydroponics bulb. Free soil is simply too much of a hazard for microgravity habitats, though some have recreational areas designed to resemble a terrestrial location, such as a rock wall with plants growing from the cracks or a rainforest canopy with tree limbs also include kelp forests that grow in the direction of whatever light sources are available.
The presence of artiﬁcial gravity (or a planetary settlement) enables environmental designers to perform true landscaping, though. Torus habitats are often arranged to resemble a valley, with terraces on the upcurved side walls and streams and ponds at the bottom of the curve. Cylindrical habs have a tendency for rolling plains with rocky outcroppings at the poles. Because the gravity is the same along any point on the inner wall of a cylinder, the terrain and features—such as farm plots, small lakes, dense woods, wild grass, or, even, desert—can be as varied as resources and the internal area allow. Overcrowding in hypercorp, Martian, and Jovian habitats minimizes the amount of open land available to those residents, though. These often resemble pre-Fall megacities and suburbs, with the habitable area covered in apartments and buildings that stretch down into the primary structure. Some sarcophagus habs even build right on top of fused rock, with no soil to act as a buffer. Unless residents make the effort to maintain community gardens or press for public parks, there are only token efforts at keeping trees in planters and swathes of genengineered grass designed to ﬁlter surface runoff.
Augmented reality and simulspace provide alternatives in these and other circumstances where the positive stimulus is not available by natural means, such as a workers’ hab in a permanently shadowed crater. Some morphs prefer to decorate their homes with AR plants and entoptic or holographic environments because they are inﬁnitely customizable and require no actual upkeep, though virtual plant life does not provide the environmental health beneﬁts of the real thing. For these people, seeing is believing… and that’s enough. Simulspace environments are indistinguishable in sensation and experience for infomorphs, so this is how many habitat residents and spaceship crews on long tours avoid cabin fever.
Toilets and Hygiene
On average, there are zero-g toilets and a hygiene station for every ten morphs. Everyone has their own molded funnel for the urine vacuum, towels and waterless shampoo for bathing, and saliva-activated toothpaste for oral hygiene. Free-ﬂoating water is a hazard for both breathing and electronics, so microgravity habitats ﬁnd ways to avoid using water unless absolutely necessary. Most tin cans don’t actually have showers. It is difﬁcult to safely form a lather in microgravity and even more challenging to rinse, though some systems use fans to direct water ﬂow. Instead, saunas are popular because they give the sensation of water while being much easier to use. These aren’t open rooms with wooden benches, though. A microgravity sauna is a collapsible plastic cylinder with a seal around the user’s neck. The “top” ring of plastic is usually transparent so the user can see inside the sauna and operate its small heater. Wet towels can be placed on the heater to form a small amount of steam or wiped on the body to make a cooling effect in the dry, warm air circulating through a fan and out a suction tube near the feet.
Pets and Wildlife
Companionship is another important part of adapting to life in space. Transhumanity didn’t just bring uplifted animals to the habitats, we also brought pets and beasts of burden. It is not uncommon for people to choose an anthropomorphized dog, cat, or other small animal for their muse. A real dog or a real cat is often taken as a sign of wealth, though, because it indicates that person can afford to cover the cost of the pet’s food, air, and water. The difﬁculties of their upkeep tend to limit the presence of pets on microgravity habs. No one really wants to clean up the freeﬂoating remains of wet cat food and even smart dogs don’t take to suction urinals well.
So-called “fur coats” are popular in habitats with specialized environments that require functional clothing and amongst social groups that adapt the physiological responses of the coats (such as, prickling fur or spines or twitching of ear-like folds) into their exchanges. Their relatively low cost and simplicity make the fur coats attractive to people who cannot afford more extensive mods to their morph, though the derision from morphs who can adapt themselves to resemble the animal of their choice is palpable.
Various smart mammals—particularly dogs, cats, and rats—are common because of the thousands of years of the development of civilization in parallel with these animals. Dogs and cats also have natural senses of smell orders of magnitude more evolved. With very simple bioengineered mods, these animals make excellent and unobtrusive sentries. If there are no cybernetics, the only way to tell the difference from a baseline or feral animal would be to do a genetic scan. Because these pets represent an investment, many owners prevent runaways by including bioware that give the animal a strong afﬁnity for the owner(s) particular pheromones.
Habitats with enough gravity and surface area for parks and open land will often include wildlife with similar mods that prevent them from attacking the residents. For example, roe deer, sheep, goats, and alpaca can serve as natural methods of keeping plant growth under control and can be raised for their ﬁber and meat. Alpaca textiles are particularly favored amongst those who prefer non-synthetic ﬁbers and the wares of craftsmen because it comes in a variety of natural colors, has excellent thermal properties, and is hypo-allergenic. Alpaca instinctively keep their feeding and waste areas separate and are a hardy breed, originally from the Andes Mountains of South America, so they are becoming increasingly popular.
Beneﬁcial insects are found in agricultural modules and larger habitats with food growth areas. These are commonly genetically modiﬁed for easier control and containment. Bees are particularly useful for pollination, for example, though they are sometimes replaced with pollinator nanoswarms. Ant colonies controlled by pheromones are sometimes used for debris cleaning. Some habitats, particularly older ones or those that had a large inﬂux of physical refugees during the Fall, still have occasional or ongoing issues with vermin and pest control. These often deploy pest control nanoswarms or other insects that excel at eating other bugs.
Some nature park habitats are speciﬁcally designed to replicate the original territory of animals in the wild, without accommodations for transhuman civilization. These arks serve a useful purpose in preserving Earth’s biological and genetic heritage, but their management practices and styles can vary widely. Some are true research outposts and wildlife refuges dedicated to maintaining the highest scientiﬁc and ethical standards of care. On the opposite end are the “entertainment parks” that allow egos to temporarily inhabit an animal’s body and do as they please until their time runs out or the animal is destroyed. Habitats that host this kind of bloodsport are frequently targets for uplifted animal-rights groups.
Diversions are how most people deal with the emotional and physiological stress of life in an enclosed space. In rep economies, hobbies and craftwork easily take on lives of their own because they add to the distinctiveness of a particular habitat. While fabbers have made everyday items of almost inconsequential value, the subjective value of wearing an item of clothing or piece of jewelry made by a notable artisan or projecting an entoptic display designed by a well-regarded AR engineer cannot be underestimated. It is the style, design, and effort represented by the product that are valued, more so than the product itself. This is also true in the old economies of the inner system, but to a more limited extent because of the lack of upward mobility.
Sports and physical activities that take advantage of a habitat’s characteristics also serve as effective stress relief by both the release of endorphins and the positive mental associations between the habitat and the activity. In microgravity or low-grav habs, wingsuits and microlight aircraft—such as personal ornithopters powered by high-density artiﬁcial myomers and pedal-powered propellers—allow personal ﬂight with minimal risk. Some habitats maintain airﬂow for the environmental control system with the use of strategically placed heaters that generate thermals. Air endurance races challenge the participants to see who can stay aloft the longest by riding the thermals and the currents coming off them.
“Tether jumping” is a dangerous sport that is slowly increasing in participation and viewing amongst microgravity habs. The “jumper” attaches a line to their release point and deliberately ﬁres maneuvering jets up to a velocity such that the kinetic energy of the ﬂight exceeds the tensile strength of the taut cable. The goal of the jumper is to ﬁre retro-jets at the last possible moment to keep the cable from breaking. In competitions, scoring is based on minimizing the duration of the retro burn, coming the closest to the maximum load on the cable, and style points from acrobatics performed during the free ﬂight. The most lucrative competition leagues do this without emergency lines or capture nets. Disqualification by tether break can be fatal if rescue shuttles are unable to catch up.
While cross-country running is an option for cylindrical, torus, and dome habs with open land area, freerunning is the most widespread sport in the solar system because it can literally be done anywhere there is sufficient room to build up speed. Only small tin cans or cluster habs lack the space, though some creative individuals with too much time on their hands have circumvented this problem by developing micro-scale synthmorphs and designing freerunning tracks appropriate for their size.
The largest aerostat on Venus, the Shack, holds an annual freerunning festival that snakes its way through the immense construction platforms and the warrens of the main city. While the freerunning competitions on Octavia and Aphrodite Prime are noted for their pomp and beautiful scenery, the Shack is regarded by enthusiasts as the greatest challenge because of its industrial focus and the real danger of falling. The tourism industries on the other aerostats strongly discourage courses with a real risk of permanent death. Up to two thousand die-hards will show up at the Shack for the festival, without fail. There is no better view of the Venusian skyline, so long as a runner doesn’t lose their footing.
Freerunning in O’Neill cylinders allows for a variety of terrain and interweaving paths. The bridges across the windows form natural chokepoints for endurance runs across the districts. Cross-training elements can be introduced on paths through the agricultural districts and parks. There are also triathlons and “summer” biathlons that substitute freerunning through the urban structures for street running. The swimming portions are done in the habitat’s open freshwater lakes or in lane pools.
Obstacle courses that interrupt running segments with rope climbs, barrier jumps, balance tests, crawls, mud or ball pits, climbing walls, obstructing columns, strength challenges, and other barricades or physical tests challenge an individual’s strength, agility, endurance, and mental will. Assault courses increase the difficulty by adding either hand-to-hand or ranged combat evaluations. The Digi-athlon competitions also include obstacles that require cyber attacks or problem-solving to defeat, such as gates locked with mechanical puzzles and pathways that only open up when an encryption key is broken.
Though most habitats do everything possible to minimize the sense of isolation and simulspace can take off the edge for the majority of morphs, there are some people who just have to get away from it all. Only the cities of Mars and Titan even begin to approach the splendor and diversity of Earth before the Fall. Many orbital habitats cluster around Lagrange points or concentrations of natural resources, which helps alleviate this problem. A short inter-habitat shuttle trip within the same constellation can literally transport a morph to an entirely different world than the one they just left. Those with the means can use egocasting to do the same if they are looking for something different than what their physical locales can provide. Gerlach in Venus orbit and Paradise at the Earth-Sun L1 are popular “getaways” because of their comforts and amenities.