Project Concordia: Space Station Concordia

The first inkling of a potential sci-fi project came to me a couple weeks before the ideas for the story started developing. A picture of a spaceship I saw got me thinking about the kind of giant ships of sci-fi that seem to support whole cities worth of people, and the fact that ships and stations in the near future at least would not be able to be built like that.

No one’s going to have the capital, resources, power, desire, to create a city in space all at once. Real cities don’t get built like that — they start as towns or forts, grow up around them, add layers and layers and expand and expand. Why would a space city be any different, at least in a time before humanity has united to the point where we can embark on giant construction projects like the USS Enterprise?

Think of the International Space Station — built tiny piece by tiny piece, expanded over time. What if we kept building it up, adding more and more to that base structure?

So I had this idea for a setting, a city-like space station, built like a true city — bit by bit, slowly expanded as expansions were necessary — and could be afforded. And then as it was built out and out, growing to accommodate new inhabitants, new technologies, new generations, the parts in the middle, the original modules that served as a foundation, would fall into disuse.

Like the abandoned subway tunnels of New York or the layers of ruins under Rome or London, over time these parts would be abandoned, forgotten.

And thus you could have this great space station city, inhabited by thousands of people, with a city underbelly of abandoned modules taken over by squatters, criminals, fugitives, gangs. And deeper still, lost ruins, knowledge, old technology — and what secrets might that hold?

So this is the foundation of my setting. A city station. Somewhere around a few hundred years in the future. With all the twists and turns of a city, the power structures, the rich and poor, the secrets and the unknowns.

The space station Concordia.

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  1. mikem

    I like the idea. Your modular system will need to accommodate immutable services – waste disposal, power supply, air supply etc. All of these are pretty static in an ever changing city. (London is still using the same sewers, water pumping stations etc.) This could provide you with your link between old and new and a reason to go back into the deserted spaces.

    • One of my concerns was, why would they still be providing water and air to those lower levels if no one respectable lived there? Your suggestion could certainly be part of the answer — those levels are the ones *providing* the water and air services, mostly autonomously, so it would be impossible to shut off access to them (at least without significant military force or the like).

      Though another aspect to the city will be that some parts of it are completely self-sustaining and thus don’t really need the other parts to survive, and *can* shut off access to them completely. But a bulk of the main areas could still rely on those lower-level utilities.

      Thanks for the comments, Mike!

      • mikem

        Years ago when I was messing with 3D software I designed a space station that was constructed like an ammonite. Spiralling out from a central hub getting wider in diameter as it “grew”.

        • Fibonacci for the win! That’s awesome. That central hub would need to be providing, like, exponentially more power/etc. for each addition.

          • mikem

            Unless every X segment is a services segment. Each new one more advanced than the last – each providing some autonomy to the subsequent N segments. The beauty of an ammonite structure (beside the mathematical) is you can travel steadily back in time around the spiral seeing small decremental changes – or you can brutally drill right into the core and go back to dark ages. (Equally someone in the core could travel directly out)

            I can see the camera panning back to see space populated by ammonites – and trilobites flying between them. The permian era in space – divergance of evolution on a macro scale.

  2. Nick

    An important thing to remember, which it seems like you’re already well aware of, is that this is a city first, space station second. The space stuff is important, more or less so depending on how hard you’re going with the sci-fi, but the key word in city station is CITY.

    My initial feeling is that you’re kinda going for the mass effect citadel (which is basically from Babylon 5), built up like the Sprawl.

    • Mass Effect and Neuromancer are two of the three influences for what I’m thinking right now as a matter of fact (the third being Eberron). So yes, absolutely. Sprawl-like city station. But I also want to have it be only a couple hundred years in the future, with reasonable technology and relatively hard science, so I at least want it to make sense as being in space as well. How is it formed/laid out, how do they get utilities, etc. =)

      • Nick

        Have you ever read China Mieville’s “The Scar”? The Scar takes place on a thousand-yea- old floating city, modularly composed of ships and boats. Thousands of years of boats attaching moving about, with the city growing upward and outward in that same manner you described for the station. Social status separated through decks and sections, specific ships for specific tasks.

        While the culture is more piratical, the city planning side of things is fairly identical, floating on the sea rather than in the great ocean of space.

        Pretty shoddy Wikipedia article:

        • That sounds amazing and I’d like to read it.

          Course, some definite differences. Food and water would be less problematic. Air of course. But definitely sounds worth checking out. Thanks!

  3. Regarding above comments, there’s also an exploration of the politics of civil classes in properties like Battlestar Galactica, and heck even Total Recall :) (the value of air in the lesser residential areas of Mars, eg)

    Definitely an interesting setting with endless issues and ethics to explore, I think! Nice :)

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