The Oceans of Europa
The Oceans of Europa
Every other Friday After Moses will get updated with a new chapter. So where does that leave us on the long wait in between Fridays? Have no fear. I won’t leave you with absolutely nothing to read. On the off Fridays, I’ll update this news section with an article of some sort. Usually, it will be related to a previous chapter, so make sure you’re completely caught up before reading these things!
Make sure you’ve read Chapter 1: Europan Extraction before proceeding!
For this first entry, I wanted to give a bit of insight on how I write and create the world of After Moses. One of my goals from the moment I first started the planning stages of After Moses was to make the world feel grounded, as if the people and places I write about could someday happen. The approach I take to building a world is derivative from the central idea. IE I start with the basic premise, in this case the AI Moses, and derive the rest of the world from that idea. What would it look like a century after Moses? Where would these colonies be? What would be Earth’s state?
From there a broken and dwindling solar system started to form in my mind. After Moses’ western aesthetic (nothing new to science fiction) was a natural evolution from this. Frontier towns, gangs of outlaws, and people desperate to get by fit perfectly with what I wanted to write.
This same approach to world building applies everywhere in After Moses. I’ll give you a major example that relates to Chapter 1. So let’s talk about the solar system for a bit! Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a professional nerd and science buff. Once, when I was a kid, my mother borrowed a science book from the library, and my family had to listen to me quote atomic weights from the periodic table at the dinner table. (I was a weird kid) Needless to say, that hasn’t exactly been the most useful bit of knowledge for my current job at the church where I’m on staff, but I still love a good bit random science.
After Moses gave me the excuse to dive into our solar system in a way I’ve never really had a reason to until now. And let me tell you. Our back yard is amazing. We’ve got insanely volcanic moons like IO, dwarf planets with ice mantels like Ceres, underground oceans on Europa, and atmospheres so thick you could strap wings on and flap your wings to fly on Titan. If you can handle the liquid methane rain and -290 F (-170 C).
Like I said. Amazing stuff. So I let these places further shape how the world of After Moses developed. The first chapter takes place on Europa, one of the four moons of Jupiter discovered by Galileo in the 1600s. Like many of the moons in the outer solar system, it has a high percentage of ice in its interior. Europa is unique in that we think there’s an excellent chance that there it has a layer, 10-20 miles beneath the surface that is liquid. A saltwater ocean under a thin crust of ice.
If you’re interested in just why we think there is liquid beneath the ice, the internet can provide you with a wealth of information on the subject. Here’s one article by Nasa that talks a good deal about observation of the ice patterns on the surface and Europa’s pattern of disruption of Jupiter’s magnetic field being evidence of a large amount of electrically conductive fluid. Cool stuff if you’re into the technical aspects.
I took these things into account when writing. Easy access to water, (that isn’t frozen as hard as granite like the ice mantles of Jupiter’s other moons likely are) made me realize that Europa made sense for an agriculture center in the Jupiter system (referred to as the Jupiter Neighborhood by the characters in After Moses). Of course, the soil was probably brought in from elsewhere, the atmosphere has to be held in by a shield, that also thankfully protects the farms from Jupiter’s nasty radiation, and so on. Science Fiction always requires a fair amount of “cheating” in a sense. There are several very real difficulties in putting human life anywhere but Earth.
The presence of oceans on Europa started shaping it into a place and setting for my story. The next question is, what would an agricultural world look like as it slowly begins to lose its technology? The robotics that once tended the farms are failing. People are getting desperate. And men start to do what they always have. Abuse one another. Slavery arises on Europa to keep the farms running, to keep the food growing. Slavery has been a universal constant in the history of mankind, and while some civilizations have outlawed it and banned it from the public square, human trafficking continues to this day in every part of the world.
Sadly I see no reason that this will change. Not now and not in the future.
When Matthew Cole steps off a ship onto Europa, it’s a world that is both new and familiar, one choked by the sins of man’s past but dressed in a science fiction setting.
This is my hope for After Moses. To present a plausible vision of the future informed by science, cognizant of the past, and true to human nature.
I hope you enjoy it and stick around for the adventure.
Michael F Kane