Beyond the Black
Station Type: O’Neill Cylinder, Venus
Primary Languages: Cantonese, English, Polish
Gerlach is a typical cylindrical O’Neill habitat. It is 1 kilometer in diameter, 4 kilometers long, and has a total population of almost 120,000. It is the major Venusian spaceport and also the oldest inhabited location on or in orbit around Venus. Initially smaller, the focus of its construction was to establish a base to conduct research on the Venusian atmosphere, construct more habitats and aerostats, and eventually terraform Venus. The station’s interior was occupied by several enormous and roughly pyramidal arcologies, each 250 meters high and almost 900 meters across as the base. Studded between these huge arcologies were dozens of small bioreserves that between them contained a huge diversity of Earth life living in a close approximation of its natural habitat. These reserves served as a symbol for the proposed terraforming effort—the builders vowed that the descendants of the plants and animals on Gerlach would eventually live on the Venusian surface.
Gerlach’s focus was drastically affected by the Fall, however, when the station was inundated by refugees. At the height of the emergency, Gerlach held a population of 750,000—far more than it was designed to support. Emergency measures were undertaken to expand the cylinder’s length, construct more arcologies, and redesign Gerlach as a haven for refugees. In the decades since, Gerlach’s population declined to manageable levels, with most of the inhabitants departing for the aerostats or elsewhere in the solar system. The Planetary Consortium’s hope of maintaining Gerlach as a show place for Venusian terraforming was doomed to failure, however, when Gerlach’s inhabitants asserted their independence while also supporting the Constellation’s formation and the planned Aerial Terraforming Initiative. The habitat remains a major center for manufacturing and research, with a reputation for being one of the strangest, most liberal, and most innovative places in the inner system. The nine large arcologies remain, each devoted to living quarters, large manufacturing facilities, and research labs, but the bioreserves have also been enlarged so that pyramids now rise out of a mass of verdant greenery. As a result, Gerlach is considered one of the most comfortable and desirable orbital stations in the inner system and researchers and technicians work hard to win an appointment there.
Gerlach is in many ways the gateway to Venus. Here, visitors can adapt to living in this world’s higher gravity as Gerlach maintains a rotation speed that gives it a gravity equal to half that of Venus. Gerlach is the only station in the solar system to use this particular gravity, which was specifically chosen because it has proven to be the best intermediary between Martian or Lunar gravity and full Venusian gravity. In addition, the cylinder that makes up the vast majority of Gerlach is connected to a rotating torus that is 1.5 kilometers in diameter and 100 meters wide that rotates to produce full Venusian gravity. This secondary station is primarily a hotel for visitors from low gravity worlds who want to venture down to the surface, capable of accommodating up to 5,000 travelers at a time. Gerlach is a major base for Venusian radicals who favor closer ties with the outer system. In many of Gerlach’s arcologies, residents push the limits of the Venusian version of the transitional economy. Personal devices and augmentations incorporating active nanotechnology are especially popular. Some of the residents of these arcologies belong to clubs and groups where the members study and emulate the culture and society of outer system autonomists. Restaurants serving distinctive Extropian cuisine and shops selling the latest fashions from Titan are especially popular on Gerlach. These radicals are also the reason for Gerlach’s unique status. The populace of Gerlach voted to secede from the Planetary Consortium, but they did not initially sign the Morningstar constitution. Following the collapse of talks between Morningstar and the Autonomist Alliance, the populace of Gerlach voted to remain an independent state allied with both the Morningstar Constellation and Extropia. Gerlach is now the largest independent station in the inner system.
Gerlach’s independence also changed the balance of power inside the habitat. Several Consortium hypercorps opted to relocate their facilities to more supportive locales. Fa Jing, one of the major leaseholders, opted not to renew given the Consortium’s original terraforming plan is now on hold. This opened up an entire arcology, now held by the argonauts as one of their major inner system bases. The remaining arcologies and hypercorps here continue to produce excellent results in numerous fields, from terraforming research and atmospheric observation to morph design and materials engineering. Many of the leading research firms here have a reputation that guarantees that they will attract some of the finest minds from across the solar system. Other, smaller and newer research teams offer bonuses to attract sufficiently skilled researchers from off-world.