Planetary type: Earth-like world.
Natural satellites: two moons.
Age: 7.8 billion years
Parent star: single F-class star.
Surface gravity: 0.85 gees.
Atmosphere: 0.9 atmospheres, human-breathable.
Average temperature: 14°C
Climate range: Tropical to cold arid.
Ecosystem classification: Carbon-based, with a predominance of symbiotic life forms.
Solar revolution length: 1.5 Earth years.
Day length: 22 hours.
Settlement Type: Planetary civilisation
Settlement age: 65 years.
Population: 150 million.
Allegiance: Eloran Ekumen.
Distance to Earth: 500 lightyears
Starports: Elora Station, Space Elevator Terminal, Ecumene Orbital.
Related article: pseudotrees.
You are still dizzy from planetary descent. The gravity is lower than what you're used to. The atmosphere is thick, the air carries a sweet, almost sugary scent. A vast forest expands from one end of the horizon to the other. Massive arcologies rise from the forest, surging towards a night sky that is full of ships and stations like moving stars above the snowy mountains. Their lines are smooth and well-defined at the same time - they follow a gentle arc that is reminiscent of deep space ships. Their lights gleam in the night.
Welcome to Elora.
1 - The Ecumene planet
Elora's landmasses are old and eroded, with most of the continents below sea level
Elora is an old world, on many levels. In stellar terms, as it orbits a star that is significantly older than the sun. In geological terms, as it has lost a large part of its internal heat, leading to very limited volcanic activity and a relatively low temperature for a world that is located at the inner edge of the system's habitable zone. And most importantly, in natural terms. Elora's carbon-based ecosystems are older, more complex and more resilient than Earth's, with most species having coalesced into vast "meta-species" created through symbiotic association. When the first human travellers set foot on Elora a century ago they found a world whose biomes had an eerie resemblance to Terran environments. Elora's forests seem to be made of trees and bushes. Its oceans seem to be populated by familiar jellyfish and algae. Its terrestrial animals seem to have fur, feather and skin. But it is all an illusion. Elora's "trees" are incredibly complex tripartite symbioses of fungi, lichen and algae that form continent-sized networks capable of sentient thought. Its jellyfish are amoeba and lichen colonies that can be the size of small islands. Even the most familiar-looking animals are in fact symbiotes of smaller unicellular creatures. The guiding principle of Eloran evolution seems to have been cooperation and symbiosis, and even if this ecosystem is far from being completely understood, it led human settlers to qualify Elora as an "Ecumene Planet". This geographical-biological notion hints at the idea that Elora can be considered as a single, vast, interconnected system created by the succession of symbiotic creatures covering its surface. This notion is at the centre of our attempt at establishing a permanent, sustainable human civilisation on the planetary surface. In many ways, Elora is an application of the Gaia Hypothesis.
2 - Vertical cities
Elora's cities have a characteristic reddish glow at night, created by the use of bioluminescent bacteria as light sources.
Elora stands at the heart of the Traverse, a small cluster of about five hundred metal-rich stars that are speculated to have formed together. Located some five hundred lightyears away from the Earth (about three months of travel for modern geometry drives), the Traverse was the first "island in the sky", that is to say, an isolated human settlement separated from Communal Space by vast swathes of uncharted stars. Elora itself was the first Traverse colony, settled by Migrant-class ship "Look At What We Have Here" after its long, gruelling journey from Tau Ceti seven decades ago.
In the present day, Elora is the second most-populated world in human space, with about one hundred and fifty million inhabitants. The very welcoming conditions on the Eloran surface are part of the reason why the planet is so populated for a relatively recent settlement: in truth, some people even consider Elora as a "super-habitable world", with better and more stable conditions than on Earth. The other reason for this recent development is a self-conscious, well-elaborated policy of urban development. Elora is probably the only world where the ambition to establish a true, sustainable, developed planetary civilisation is actively pursued with adequate means by local polities. The main kind of Eloran settlements are arcologies: towering, semi-submerged structures that expand several hundred to several thousand meters above the ocean floor. The arcology system was originally envisioned to limit the environmental and geological pressure created by urban settlements on Elora itself, with the assumption that vertical concentration was a good way to prevent unsustainable ground footprints. In truth, this approach has proven to create more problems than anticipated, especially considering how arcologies interfere with wind and rainfall patterns, and Eloran urbanism is now slowly shifting towards a more integrated approach involving lower arcologies connected with bridge networks. If arcologies are eminently debated in Eloran politics, the overall logic of "rising up" works at all scales on the planet. For instance, a non negligible fraction of its energy-producing systems are located in orbit under the shape of solar stations capable of sending energy to the ground via microwave emissions. If one hundred and fifty million people can exist on Elora without putting too much pressure on its ecosystems, it is mostly due to this development principle. Where the Earth was built from the bottom-up, Eloran urbanism quite literally descends from space.
Lakshmi's continent and the Ekumene's Expanse, both visible here, are the homelands of qith Miramar and qith Saïmour. The southern polar region shows the maximal extent of the ice caps during a stellar winter.
Elora is a vibrant world, reflecting the exceedingly diverse nature and origins of the initial migrant population. So far away from Communal Space, with limited available resources and no way to enforce Communal laws, Elora developed its own political and economic ideology: qithism.
Qithism is somewhat close to Communal ideology in that it assumes that the best way of managing a complex, interconnected society is through cooperative systems. However, where Communes are standardized structures defined by Communal Laws, the Eloran equivalent is all but harmonized. Eloran communes are called qiths, which is a catch-all term for the cooperative, democratic entities that rule Elora's planetary districts. All of them are distinct, with their own political system, their own culture and more importantly, their own role in Eloran society. Much like the Eloran ecosystem, Elora itself is a symbiotic polity: qith Masani handles agriculture, qith Saïmour manufactures ships, qith Sahaak mans the military, qith Eletharna explores the Traverse, qith Miramar represents the planet on the diplomatic scene...Elora has sometimes been described as a planet of "cooperative castes", even though qith choice is free and can be revoked at all times, much like commune membership in Communal Space. In truth there isn't an easy way to describe the political system of Elora: it truly is a unique experiment.
4 - Additional data : ground map of Elora
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Image credits: own work. Custom height map and textures with Grand Designer.
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