#101 December 1996
Section 220.127.116.11.101.of the Artemis Data Book
by Peter Kokh
[Continuing last month's discussions on "the Lure of the Moon's Hidden Covered Valleys" - the Lavatubes]
That we can predict a substantial and marked difference in the maturing cultures of those Lunan settlers who live on the surface, snuggling up under their protective regolith blanket, from that of those who build their townsites within ready-to-occupy lavatubes, should be clear from the length of the list of their respective "transcendental worries".
Coddled by a womb world in which all these basic things are already provided, freeing us to concentrate all our worry-power on lesser if analogous concerns (weather, harvests, economics), it is not hard to see how much more squarely Lunans might feel themselves "behind the 8-ball" than Earth folk. It should also be clear that lavatube dwellers have a substantially reduced worry burden.
Shelter one can count on and take for granted against micrometeorites, against decompression accidents from meteorite debris, against cosmic rays, against the raw naked ultraviolet heat of the Sun, against Solar Flare temper tantrums -- this bequest of the lavatube is bound to make its havened citizens a noticeably more carefree lot -- even if only in a relative sense. To be sure, the two remaining "transcendental worries" will still provide a strong bond between these two "branches" of Lunan culture.
Hopefully more in friendly jest than in contempt, those of either persuasion may take jabs at those of the other. Surface dwellers may call their cousins "tube toads", "cozies", "womb-retentives". In counterplay, lavatubers may call their surface relatives "mound moles", "dust eaters", and the like. One side or the other may retranslate the long litany of ethnic jokes, translated oft before (the very same jokes some tell of Poles, Poles tell of Russians, etc.). We can hope such jibes will be more a symptom of friendly rivalry than a hint of unjust contempt.
On the other hand, in describing themselves, surface folk might call themselves "blanketeers" or "the star-sighted" or some other name which heralds the compensating glories of a life on or just under the surface. By the same token, tube folk might call themselves "down insiders" or "the sanctuaried" or by some other term that highlights the advantages they enjoy and appreciate.
Settlers who live much of their lives within the lavatube environments may exhibit as a group, relatively speaking, a more "laid back" personality. They must still be much more alert to individual and communal danger and potential catastrophe than most terrestrials. (Granted, many of us Earthlubbers relish in the nature-daring risks of living on active faults, or on the slopes of active volcanoes, or in the paths of hurricanes....)
In addition to this somewhat more relaxed mien, tubers will employ different set of architectural solutions in building their homes and settlements [see last issue, pages 7-9 "Settling into a Lavatube"]. They will look out their windows on radically different underworld "moonscapes". They will tend to establish and preferentially use their own distinct "networks" with other outposts, settlements, industrial parks, farms, resorts, etc., "up" or "down" the line in the same tube, or in intersecting neighboring tubes (in comparison to the mainly overland connections between in-surface outposts).
Tubers, doing all the ordinary things to earn their individual and communal living as settlements elsewhere, will be further boosted in their sense of fulfillment by the unique-to-their-situation communal "vocation" of "archiving" [see below]. And, finally, they may feel a certain affinity with settlers in the geologically analogous lavatubes we expect to find on Mars and elsewhere. All of these strongly distinguishing characteristics should work to give tubers a sense of special identity and fellowship.
Will they in fact identify themselves as "tubers", refer to their communities as "tubetowns", and to their collective realm as "Tubedom"? Or will they call themselves lunar netherworlders, or under-worlders, or selenospeles, or find some other set of words? That's up to them.
Surely they will publish their own magazines (Lunar Tubes & Trails , Lunar Tubeways , Hidden Lavascapes, or whatever.) These publications will share information about new tube-appropriate architectural and construction methods, about new lavatube developments and recreations, about the developing culture and arts and crafts of netherworlders, and promote continued lavatube exploration in adjoining areas, lower levels, and new areas.
It will be the tubers who keep publishing ever new editions of lunar maps. The surface having been well mapped for a long time, new selenographical discoveries will be predominantly those coming from discovery, surveying, and exploration of new lavatubes, of lavatube extensions and connections, of lower level tubes, etc.
Nor will this be information relevant only to scholars. The expansion of the Terra Habitabilis Cognita (known habitable [pre-shielded] land) on the Moon, the identification of natural metropolitan complexes, the growing square mile count of known usable tubes reserves -- this will all have considerable economic significance.
Special legend maps will be color-coded to indicate the relative density or paucity of the subsurface maze. The latest maps, with their "upwards revisions" of the real expanse of "Terra Habitabilis Cognita", will be on hand in quantity at space frontier development trade shows on Earth or elsewhere, to acquaint would-be developers, investors, and settlers, with the ever expanding opportunities.
In the last issue [page 11 "Naming Lavatube Settlements"], we mentioned some of the especially romantic names available from Earth's literature and mythology that would seem specially appropriate. While choosing such names might have a welcome initial morale-boosting effect on the settlers (after a time, a name becomes just a name), the naming of a new or proposed settlement or of its host lavatube, will be a very conscious and deliberate part of "packaging" aimed at prospective new settlers, developers, and investors -- in a mostly friendly but ever serious rivalry for the most and the best. After all, any community is a virtual "team", and some teams are quite frankly better and more successful economically than others.
Together, rival lavatube settlements can chose language, phrases, conjure up images, etc., that will predispose would-be settlers to choose one of them over a surface settlement. The safety angle of given all-but-invulnerable shielding ("Realm of the [Inner] Firmament [Down Under]") will be played up. Brochures will invite: "Come to the Moon's Inner Sanctum", "Visit the Inner Worlds of Luna", "Experience the Mystique of the Moon's "Hidden Valleys."
To reinforce the general impression, some developers will specialize, not in settlements per se, but in "Utopia for a Moment" resorts: Lunar Hidden Valley recreations of mythological utopias: Camelot, Shangri La, Walden, Briggadoon, and so on. Tongue-in-cheek, a legend of lavatube formation, not as relic dry subterranean lava wadis or arroyos, but as "lavaworm holes" will catch the attention of the overimaginative fantasy-loving.
And something too for the all important market segment: the risk-it-all for adventure types. Ads will hype the possibility of finding more than just empty wall-fused vacutoria -- of finding special treasure troves of inestimable market value. If we find just one lavatube in which a penetrating-but-not-collapsing comet has vaporized to freeze out as a mineable coating of ice on the tube's walls, a new "49er" or "Klondike" rush will be on. And there may be unsupportable and unconscionable talk of lavatubes full of gems, or of easy-to-imagine alien-left troves of high technology craft and equipment.
The primary asset offered by the lavatube environment is "protection: protection with a multi-billion year warranty". Any intact lavatube on the Moon has already survived nearly four billion years and will loooong outlast any feature, surface or subsurface on the geologically active Earth.
These are sanctuaries from bombardment -- the vast bulk of tube-collapsing impacts occurring in the 500 million year epoch early in Solar System history, when there was still a lot of planet-forming debris to sweep up. Team that up with the "ideal" designer combination of radiation-free, ultraviolet-free, solar flare-free, fixed temperature ultra-dry "lee" (shielded) vacuum. What we have, in great abundance, is a place in which to archive, store, and preserve humanity's treasures, not just for the current age, not just for millennia, not just for millions of years, but for billions of years to come, for as long as humanity will be able to inhabit the Inner Solar System.
And Beyond. Long after we have vanished from the stage, what we have preserved in lunar lavatube archives will remain a well-preserved, degradation free reliquary for the examination of any other intelligent folk who come our way. Eons-stable lavatubes are the very first place, indeed the only place, any visitors would think to look for preserved ancient relics of a native but now-extinct or just-vanished space-faring species. Such visitors might indeed be our own distant progeny, making a pilgrimage to legendary Earth Space in search of their roots.
The establishment of some Grand Archives of All Humanity in a lunar lavatube site is potentially the greatest gift (after an environmentally rescued and preserved home planet, of course) we can bequeath successor human generations to come. So what might we store and preserve therein?
Only a small number of lavatube settlers may be involved in this special industry tailor-made for tube towns. Yet that the Lunan lavatube community as a whole serves this special unique added function of inestimable economic impact long term and a vocation of unfathomable cultural, psychological, and spiritual impact, is likely to insert itself in the general communal consciousness at large. It will be a point both of pride, and duly prideful self-identity. In archiving, Lunan lavatube dwellers will serve a need no other pocket of humanity, not even (especially not) any of the bulk of humanity still on Earth can!
This Service will quickly become a tradition. It may in time even take on trappings that are quite "sacerdotal" (priestly) in nature. Special technologies will be developed precisely to better preserve, index and catalog, access, and display all of these priceless, timeless treasures. There are sure to be college courses and degree programs (in the various Lunan universities at least) in "Lavatube Archival Science".
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto