Long shot

last updated 2021-06-03

Humans successfully expanded planetary presence, first building a base on the moon, then building a base on Mars, and finally expanding outwards to the belt and beyond. Planetary expansion began first as a persuit of science, driven by curiosity and human ingenuity. It then became a persuit of resources, as expansion beget expansion. The world economy was thrown into paradoxical turmoil as it struggled to account for both scarcities of materials to pursue this new gold rush as well as the intermittent abundance that it produced.

Longs were the importers of this new age, outfitting cargo ships for long and lucrative journeys to mine and trade resources. Every year, a long broke the record ("max", they called it) for furthest from Earth travelled, with some longs organizing hauls at destinations that traded economics for prestige of a new max. Longs originally relied on sophisticated technology, artificial intelligences, complex computer hardware, and massive sensor arrays. But as longs pushed new max, a counter culture of low tech became the norm. Longs at that distance had no one to rely on when components malfunctioned or operated outside of system parameters. Longs needed to be self-sufficient (as much as one could be in a rocket ship), and fix things that went wrong. In the gold rush, longs perished, especially those with an overreliance of technology. As decades passed, this became a dogma of successful longs.

Chief among these {low-techs}, especially due to its crucial role in extreme long-range communication, was radio. In order to boost decaying signal strengths, longs deployed buoys - radio transmitter and repeater satellites, which over time wove a net of coverage that stretched across the solar system. Time delays were still a major factor, but given the long, dark journeys longs pursued, the radio network was sometimes the only way to kill time as well as the only lifeline. In some cases, the buoys became lighthouses, stations crafted from multiple long ships or a combination of salvaged wreckage, assumed by outsiders to be the result of ill fortune, but treated by the lighthouse keepers as home, and by longs across the system as beacons of humanity - providing "local" news, music, the ramblings of solitary keepers, and updates on the latest max attempts.