Friday, August 03, 2012

Designing the Baron's Summer Estate

whoops...this was supposed to go up yesterday, but I hit a wrong button somewhere. Oh well, worked out for the best, have been distracted the last couple of days by some issues with Arnold, so I won't have the next one ready 'til Monday or Tuesday.

Max scowled, clearing the screen he'd been sweating over for an hour, he needed a clean start. The pressure was getting to him. This assignment, if he pulled it off, could really make his career – a custom terraform for a client with an odd nostalgia for a bygone era. At least twice a day he almost returned the advance, the Baron could find another architect (read: sucker). Only ambition and ego (and mounting gambling debt) kept him at it.

Corsicon 7 had recently been cleared by the Council of Sirius B for development, and Baron Glau had staked a pretty substantial claim on it. If he didn't at least begin development within the year his stake could be challenged. So the Baron and his fixation on early 21st century Earth had come to Max to make his continent to reflect both the look and feel of that time.

He'd done projects like this before, on a smaller scale – an island, a fjord, an inhabitable meteor – nothing like a major continent, though. One complete with carried contractual penalties for historic, geologic, or bio-genetic errors. While holoscans and simulations were fine enough for a rough draft, Max couldn't depend on them. So he'd spent most of his remaining credits on booking a stay at a historical preserve on Earth to get hands-on. Who knew if the historians had got their details right when they did the retrofit/restoration, but the Baron had probably read the same texts they did, and would accept their conclusions. At least that's what Max was betting on.

The preserve couldn't match the majesty of the Towers of Markab Prime, or the Anin Forest on Sihnon, but it had a quaint charm. He found himself unwinding at the same spot near a river each day. The rhythms and whispers of the river trickling over the smoothed stones and occasional bit of flora soothed him – it reminded him of recordings of the lullabies of the Q'in, and he wondered if that feathered species had their roots on Earth, or if that was just another of those galactic coincidences that kept life interesting.

He wasn't unwinding this time, he was here to work. The trees had to set the mood, your eyes are drawn to them first. The geno-techs would be able to slice and dice the DNA to reproduce the various trees, weeds and wildflowers, but an artist's touch was needed to approximate their visual cacophony. It was the things the techs couldn't reproduce that were always the most difficult, like where the rough texture randomly becomes smooth and then grows coarser. Or the almost complete lack of straight lines anywhere – they may look straight, but there was a hint of curve to every thing. Or the skewed angles and intertwining branches –almost impossible to trace back to the tree they grew from. In short, the sorts of things that happened as trees grew naturally – rather than the things he had to impose to make them appear to be natural.

He couldn't even begin to guess how many variations of green he saw – thankfully his computer could. The river shared the predominant green – until you got close, or it grew shallow, and then it was clear. A stark contrast to the vivid yellow of the Essential Nutrient Liquid now standard throughout the galaxy – the yellow was said to fight depression and increase productivity – Max doubted that now, the clarity he had in front of him seemed much more refreshing and energizing.

Soundless (least within the audio range of most sentient species), but plainly visible and at times mesmerizing were insects like ants busily moving along – shiny black or dull red. Yet another thing to research – did he need both? Did they serve separate functions (what functions did they serve)? What about the airborne bugs? He'd hate to lose a million on something like this.

His chrono beeped. Bother, it was almost time for his morning VidConference. He took a deep breath as he started to walk back to his hotel. The olfactory scanner would be able to give a detailed analysis of the various scents he took in – and those he didn't realize he breathed in – but it couldn't capture the texture. He wondered if the atmo would be a good way to introduce the Vitamin D supplement every person on Corsicon 7 would need to make up for what that particular sun didn't provide, but worried that would affect the crispness, the freshness that seemed to grown stronger the nearer the river's edge.