praesidium is the Cosmic Era equivalent of the communes and bastions of
the Great Awakening in Pre-Petrol America. The praesidium is generally a
self supporting enclosed environment where new expressions of
psychology, spirituality, culture, and genetics can be explored and
refined. In the earlier waves of the Great Awakening, these communes and
collectives took the form of agricultural retreats, eschewing the
trappings of the then industrializing outer world. In the Cosmic Era,
praesidiums can be space stations, offworld aerostats, large spacecraft,
colonies on moons and other planets, demi-arcos, and even purely
virtual servers in the CogNet, where the adherents are visitors who on
occasion return to their bodies for sustenance and waste removal. The
key tenet of a praesidium is that it is both a place of strength, and a
self contained microcosm. The outside world isn't allowed in, while the
'walls' of the praesidium contain what is inside.
In the Great Awakening, many ideas and ideals were tested out in small communes and enclaves. The Petroleum Era moved in the opposite direction, pulling the world towards a massive moebian globalist vision. This forced homogenization lead to decades of strife before the onset of the Resource Wars and when those wars started in earnest, racial, ethnic, and cultural tensions exploded into genocide and atrocity.
With the wealth of technology and the ability of humanity to leave Earth granted the Cosmic Era the chance to expand, to find breathing room, and to explore new roads and old.
The CogNet Praesidium
The CogNet praesidium exists in the purely digital environment, and as such, is the most common form. The praesidium is functionally no different than any other immersive MMO. This allows for the praesidium to be cheap to operate, and can accommodate large numbers of users easily. The downside of this enclave is that it is entirely virtual, and there is no commitment among those who join it. They can leave almost any time.
The Retreat Praesidium
The retreat follows the path of the Great Awakening, with the denizens leaving the great cities behind to live in new rural communities. These communities survive in the manner of the Amish or the Quakers, with small numbers, and an eye towards living in the old ways, eschewing technology. These require a great commitment to join, and being detached from technology, they find recruiting difficult to impossible, and only gain numbers from their own reproduction and the irregular influx of wastelanders and exiles who pass their standards for admission. In the post apocalyptic vein, these communities have struck out on their own, and as such have gained freedom at the cost of protection. The nations and states that control the land they sit on have no obligation to police or protect these communities.
A demonstration of power and wealth, the demi-arco is an arco that has been dedicated to the ideal of the praesidium. Within it's walls and self contained system, the new social and technological model is explored and expanded. These praesidiums are typically owned and backed by megacorporations or entertainment conglomerates.
The Installation is a self contained structure, not connected to a city, that houses a praesidium. These are space stations, aerostats, colonies studded on the surface of alien moons or across the bottom of shallow oceans. These are typically created by collective efforts, with the installation being built from a starting charter and dues contributed by various members. Once completed, those members immigrate to the new installation and begin their new lives. Most of these structures will have some sort of sponsorship, or will have an economic outlet, so that they are financially stable. Installations that explore new phenoclades sell this information. Those that pioneer new modes of expression sell it as art or entertainment, and so forth.
Purpose of the Praesidium
The Praesidium serves three purposes in the Cosmic Era, as a component of the research and development cycle, as an exotic location, and as an expression of the macro/micro-cosm.
Along with the Research Accelerator and the Dream Tank, the Praesidium is a crucible for research and development. Inside such a closed location, gene strains, phenoclades, robots and operating systems, and so forth can be pioneered in a secure and contained environment. This is favorable for corporations who wish to protect their investments.
As a basis for exotic locations, the praesidiums can be found across the solar system, in the most exotic of locations. Under the seas of Europa, a ring around an asteroid, a satellite above Jupiter's eye, at the bottom of the arctic sea, floating the cloud of Venus, and so forth.
Finally, from a meta-story level, the praesidium functions as a microcosm. Thus, allegories and metaphors can be told in a smaller and tighter package. The folly of hubris demonstrated in a pocket kingdom, or the folly or lust shown in a floating palace of decadence.
Additional Ideas (1)
approx 75 years before the start of the currant Year( in CE terms) Trilloinaire Martin Cradock discovers records of the original Branson. Rather than build a theme park , he rebuilt on the original site not as a resort but as a secret retreat for himself and his sycophants. In order to make it as close to the original as he could he found the body of a songwriter from the Petroleum Era, cloned him and then imprinted his brain on the mainframe running the retreat. Unfortunately as records of that time are sparse, he cloned Charles Manson.
Having built in secrecy, no one was able to come to the rescue when things went south. What survives today is a mix of country music and the Manson Commune, with the cloning facilities constantly churning out entertainers, victims and psychopaths. Always in need of fresh material for the cloning banks , the surrounding wasteland is raided for fresh human flesh.