Nature Future Conditional

The story behind the story: The archive personality protocol

Keeping control of a fleet of Earth colonists proves to be a bit of a struggle in this week’s Futures tale. Written by Brian Trent, The archive personality protocol tackles the big questions of space exploration. Here, Brian explains what it was that took him on this journey. As ever, it is best to the read the story first.

Writing The archive personality protocol

Human expansion into the galaxy will cast our species onto a Galapagos of the stars. Cruising at sub-light speeds, each ship will become a standalone island among an expanding archipelago. In fact, fragmentation is not only inevitable, but perhaps advisable, as no one knows what kind of socio-cultural system will best ensure long-term survival.

I wrote The archive personality protocol as an exploration of this idea while watching a meteor shower above my hometown. Lying out on a picnic table, gazing up at the streaks of light, I thought of how a mobile humanity would probably dissolve into competing systems of social, political and cultural theory. Like a whispering game passing through centuries of travel, what exactly would emerge at the other end of the journey? Maybe the diverse alien societies we like to imagine will, on a long enough timeline, be ourselves.

And of course, the notion also allowed for a playful skewering of foible and folly, from the basic interpersonal unit of Cynthia and Liza to the sprawling battle royal of the seedship fleet.


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