Robin de Voh
writer, developer, nerd

Nanoprep 2016 Day 11: the Ring

By Robin de Voh on 2016-10-21

Nornax looked out the window and was pleased. This was the best project they'd ever done.

The project was a ring-shaped habitat orbiting a sun. It wasn't the first one they'd built, but it was by far the largest and most advanced. Unlike with the last one, they had made sure there were stability thrusters to keep the ring from wobbling out of line over time. Additionally, they had upgraded the material and structure of the outer hull so that even IF a giant meteor were to crash into it, it wouldn't be able to puncture it. The odds were against that happening again anyway.

"When do you think we can send down the humans?" Nornax asked Leron.
"Couple of days, probably. We're still finishing filling the oceans. After that we're pretty much done."

Nornax nodded. These rings were his pride and joy. He'd come up with a way to actually construct them, whereas others had only been able to theorize. The available land area was over 400 times their home planet and with a tight control over weather, it was always the nicest of weather. There would eventually be seasons, but right now the weather was just set to 'nice'. Seasons would become more relevant once the humans were lowered in. No reason to have winter while you're still building the damn thing.

The ring was a concave structure, like a car or bike tire. The open end was aimed towards the sun, with the spin and the high sides holding in the atmosphere in. Closer to the sun was a smaller-sized structure that consisted of massive plates connected with thin beams. That structure spins at a different speed, blocking the sun out for a day/night cycle on the habitat itself. It was ingenious.

The only blemish on his otherwise great track record was the previous project. There had been unexpected structural problems like the meteor impact that struck so hard it created a mountain on the inside of the ring. It had then punctured the ring's material, causing a hole that siphoned off the top layer of the atmosphere. Bad press. Really bad press.

Another had been that the ring wasn't stable. Even though it remained in orbit for a very long time, it eventually deviated enough that it ran the risk of breaking apart due to gravitational stress. More bad press, and another headache Nornax didn't need.

After a lot of great debates in the highest of political circles, they had decided to abandon that project. Repairing it would have cost almost as much as building a new one, so that's what they did. With all the lessons learned from the previous attempt, surely they could get it right this time?

And here it was, in all its splendid glory. Nornax was convinced they had gotten it right this time.

It could hold an almost uncountable amount of life and was to bring a new age of prosperity to his people.

With beautifully sculpted nature, all the different elements one might need to build a thriving ecosystem, he was convinced this could only be what the last ring was supposed to be.

"Sir?" Leron said, holding up a communicator, "it's the minister."
"Oh. Okay," Nornax said while he walked over to his office, "I'll take it in there."

He walked over to his desk and sat down. He took a deep breath and pushed the button.

"Hello, sir. Good to hear from you."
"Nornax? Good. How are things progressing?" the minister said with a stern voice.
"They're progressing well, sir. Construction is almost completed, we're planning on sending the humans down this week."
"Good. I don't need to remind you that we do not need more bad press. This is your last chance."
"I know, sir. There won't be any. It'll be exactly what we need."

Nornax wiped some sweat off his brow. He wasn't afraid of many people, but the Minister of Agriculture was top of that list.

"Sir, the ring will be operational soon. Food production should resume soon after. We'll be supplying humans for the food stores again as soon as they're mature enough."
"That's good to hear. Our food stores are running out faster than expected."
"I understand."

The connection was terminated. Nornax sighed and leaned back in his chair. It was all or nothing, he thought to himself, and this would either salvage or ruin his reputation. The human farm must be completed and without disaster this time. He got up and walked to his office entrance.

"Leron! Make sure we can get the animals set up as quickly as possible! We need to start production as soon as possible."
"Yes, sir!"

This story is in reference to Ringworld, by Larry Niven, who is by far my favorite sci-fi author all-time. For those of you having trouble visualizing a 'ring world', here's a link to an image showing the cover of Ringworld.