Dropped Colonies derive their name from their arrival. The ship arrives, the ship lands, the ship unloads the colony, the ship waits for a day at most, and the ship leaves. The people are left to their own devices.
Proper colonies require some planning, the bringing of supplies, and some careful selection of people.
Dropped Colonies don't. Well, that is not completely true.
Someone had to look over some survey data and choose the best drop spots. So instead of hours and days of planning, someone checked a topographical map (which included resources) with a computer's help for a few minutes.
Supplies do come with the people. But only a month or three's worth of food, some camping equipment straight out of the 1800s, and a couple of tools for the community. There will be some seeds, and if the colony is lucky, some animals. Figure about 100kgs per person, of a standardized load. And the colonists are probably allowed 10Kgs for personal effects or equipment.
As for the selection of people. After a quick background check to avoid deserters, known psychopaths, those with genetic disorders, and so on, anyone who signs up is taken in.
Now a dropped colony is usually an all volunteer colony, but that is not always the case. Some people are given the choice to colonize or go to jail/ debtor's prison/ and so on. Still if nobody checks on the colony for 100 years, nobody will know if they were just scooped up off the street and dumped there.
So it is a fairly random selection of people. They may or may not have any training or understanding of what a "rough and wild" lifestyle is like, or what living on the frontier is really like (despite what the videos show). They hopefully have a useful skill or understand farming. Volunteers usually have some clue about them, but many do not.
The most important thing for a colony to retain its technology is its ability to generate power. If they are lucky, they are sent with a generator or two. If it does not break, they can utilize some of the technology they brought with them (which isn't much because the generators are known to break). Everything is lower tech because it is both cheaper and potentially replacable with resources on the planet. (We need to develop a copper mine so we can repair the generator's brushes when they break).
So if these people manage to keep a lower tech world going, one with technology circa 1800s because they don't have the power and the resources to do much more, they can survive quite nicely. Eventually they will develop some resources of their own and some offworld trade might develop. Then they are on their way to being "someplace".
However, for every someplace, there are several failed "no wheres".
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? Responses (6)-6
It shouldn't be forgotten, that the spaceship doesn't have to leave, it can stay as well. Given the problems with fuel and so on, pretty much ever "Dropped colony" will take the ship apart, and make good use of the key parts (like the generators, computers, etc). The high-grade metals and other materials are very suitable as well. Dismantling their means of arrival is also of psychological significance: there is no way back anymore, and this is their home for now.
And a colony of this kind comes close to another type: Crashed Colonies. :)
Then it would not be a dropped colony. A ship that can be salvaged for various parts would be an incredible boon to the colonists. If the Firefly colonists had this kind of headstart (and a starship power supply) they would be less likey to have 1800s level tech.
Dropped colonies are fast and cheap, relatively speaking. A ship is expensive, thus contrary to the drop concept.
Once the power supply runs out, it is not much of a difference, they may have quite a bit of extra materials (raw materials), and anything they can make out of it.
Modern technology in the backward world
Of course, the average life in a fresh colony will be quite primitive. The people will probably spread out in the beginning to gain maximum coverage of food resources; later, depending on their numbers (dozens/hundreds/thousands), they would slowly form smaller and larger settlements. Still there are a few areas where advanced technology is probably usable (while it lasts, barring luck and exceptionally fine quality surely not more than a few decades):
- generators - as mentioned, while those won't run forever, they can keep a colony in a completely different age, and hence increase their manufacturing power
-- solar panels could in theory last longer, having no movable parts
- computers - not much use for their computational power, the encyclopedic knowledge coming from them can be a huge asset to a fledgling colony; the encyclopedias could be small, standalone products, easy to recharge, not so easy to break; before they do, important data should be recorded somewhere (most likely on a physical medium, paper, cave wall paintings, whatever)
-- geography, as far as it is known
-- local flora and fauna, as far as it is known
-- all the modern knowledge on agriculture, medicine, geology, mining, smelting etc., dumbed down for primitive conditions
-- and the rest of humanity's wisdom, probably to be forgotten
- walkie-talkies - efficient communication is important, and for a short time will these primitive short-range communicators serve their role
- basic mechanisms and utensils: pumps, water purifiers, heaters
- other advanced materials, like reflective mylar blankets, and much more...
...too bad they can't probably take much for the trip.
Generator or two, an engine that will power the generator with an alcohol fuel source, water pumps, water purifiers, communication units (walkietalkies), heaters, the computer/ laptop with everything you need would be nice. I would also think it would include a ton of seeds and some farm tools.
If I was really extravagant, I would send a few horses and some farm animals.
Well, this was about the 'advanced' items, and seeds and tools are self-evident, indisposable even.