Anatomy of a Town
Crops and Animals
Farming occurs in all the atrium habs. The very large ones that were built late in the town’s development – North and South Farm Atriums and Teacup Crater – are semi-isolated from the rest of the town by double sets of revolving doors. That allows a different climate to be maintained within them, and for insects to be farmed there. The insects are present both for tasks like pollination and soil improvement, and as protein and fat crops.
Some crops are grown either fully or partially hydroponically. Most require soil, which is laboriously manufactured or imported from Earth. Cultivation of micro-organisms needed for fertile soil is vital, and they are also considered a form of crop with an entire system devoted to their development. To make best use of soil, and do the most to ensure its quality is maintained, plants are grown in metal or glass beds that are often moved around, either to optimize factors like light or temperature, or so special procedures can be better done, like planting or harvesting.
There are experiments in the cultivation of fish and chickens. These crops are not efficient, the work is done to plan for the future. It is complicated to create an environment where a complete life cycle is possible for these animals, and to provide for their food needs. With the high-volume transport system connecting the town to Earth, it’s cheaper to import things like chicken, fish, and eggs.
The first true medical clinic was created around the base of a health centrifuge (discussed below under Anatomy of a neighborhood). People needed to be in an artificial gravity environment when healing from certain illnesses or injuries. A possible example is that bones may not knit properly after fractures unless regularly subjected to larger perceived gravity than that of the moon. Conditions of compromised circulation or widespread inflammation may need perceived gravity near Earth levels in order for the body’s circulatory system to work adequately to clear it up. The health centrifuge was used to keep patients who benefited from it under one gravity, or close to it, either most or all of the time.
That clinic also had a suite for remote surgery, either by a local surgeon, or a specialist on Earth. The town was connected to several hospitals on Earth so that specialists there could do remote examination, testing, diagnosis, and treatment together with the local medical staff.
Supplies of medicines need to come in from Earth regularly. Or from orbital stations – some pharmaceuticals may have been developed that are best manufactured in a low gravity or vacuum environment. The moon may even produce a few. Shelf life of some is extended by storing them in vacuum.
The first true hospital had to wait for the completion of Long Dome Park, the town’s final hab. It was built at one end of the park, where radiation protection was complete. There was space there to build wide, multi-level health centrifuges so that patients could be in artificial gravity longer and with greater comfort. That centrifuge was so large that part of it could be dedicated to research into pregnancy, birth, and development of mammals in partial gravities. Access to the park was also useful for convalescence and physiotherapy programs.
All residents have radiation monitor wristbands that they wear at all times. For a long time, this was for research. It allowed a database to be created that could correlate symptoms or health conditions to exposure to different types and degrees of radiation. Once there was enough data, the wristbands had chimes and screens installed that started advising residents when, for instance, maybe they had been standing in front of a tube hab’s panoramic windows enough for today.
Quarantine is ordered more often and is more complete. Control of air-borne pathogens is difficult so isolation of the source is always attempted if it is at all likely one is about to be introduced. A section of the spaceport terminal building is set aside for this. People aren’t even allowed to exit their spaceship until they have been checked for such illness, and if indications are found, they are delivered straight to the quarantine area via an isolated transport chamber.
Guns are categorically forbidden. The risk of a bullet hitting glazing and cracking it is too great. Fires are allowed only at certain times in specific areas, in which case the only permitted fuel is ethanol, used in special devices.
There is a very high density of sensors scattered through the habs, of different kinds. Some of that is for safety, some for research. Almost all the data and software of the town is open source, also for the sake of safety, research, and for transparency. Only personal and proprietary data is private. Many public areas have cameras.
Emergency procedures usually involve robots. First aid kits are essentially a set of accessories that allow any general purpose robot to perform procedures like giving needles, clearing an airway, performing artificial respiration, applying suture glue or tourniquets, or setting and splinting bones. Most transport in the town is self-driven. If emergency transport is needed, the nearest suitable vehicle is alerted and comes and gets you.
A special case of this is notice of an incoming solar flare. When an alert comes in there will always be advance notice of at least an hour, usually several, before the storm hits. For people out on the surface – and there might be a couple of hundred – all of them must reach safety before it arrives. If the flare is close enough that a rover calculates time to reach safety is getting tight, it won’t take no for an answer. It will drive you to safety. If you are outside it, it will pick you up and carry you. There should be plenty of time to reach an airlock and get everyone inside. Rovers are fast, there are lots of airlocks, and there should be time to cycle several loads of people through them before the storm arrives. If the storm is especially fast moving and there isn’t enough time, there are a few places a rover can hide out, and its on-board air recyclers and emergency supplies should get you by. Possible hide-outs: inside the flame trenches of the spaceport launch pads, under the overhang protecting the tube hab windows. or in a mining tunnel.
Inside the habs, much must be done before the storm, and all available robots are automatically sent orders to do it. The inner radiation blind arches will close over all the atriums. This may not be enough to protect all the plants and insects in the atriums, especially if the storm is intense, so the robots will assist people in moving anything vulnerable into more sheltered areas. If the storm happens at the right time of day, anything in the tube habs is also vulnerable and will need to be moved. Long Dome Park is a special case. It is set up as parkland, it doesn’t have separate, raised beds like the atriums do. But its plants are still mostly in beds, they just sit in the ground. They are ripped up in an emergency and moved to shelter. The grass and the large trees just have to bear the storm. Barrels of water are placed around the trunks of trees to protect the roots, and at least part of a tree is always in the shadow of an arch, which protects at least that area. They might be badly injured, but they will survive. The grass? It’ll grow back. The soil might need a lot of special nurturing for a while.
At this stage in lunar development, the population is composed entirely of highly skilled people who were either specially chosen to be there or who paid handsomely for the privilege. All of them are financially comfortable. They are a pretty orderly lot. But, there are some regulations and occasionally they need to be enforced.
Noise bounces around a lot in enclosed spaces. Plant growth is used to damp echoes, but it’s still an issue. Public stereo use may make you unpopular unless you keep it down, and brief, and choose the time carefully.
Parkour is very popular. It’s just so easy and the opportunities are so many and so tempting. The lack of gravity actually means that unless you simply never run, you will have to learn to use fancy moves quite unlike on Earth to turn or brake. So, people tend to acquire the skills for everyday parkour despite themselves. But, it’s very easy for this to become disruptive or for poor calculations to lead to unpleasant or even injurious collisions. There is actual signage about it, places where it is restricted, and for safety reasons this is pretty strictly enforced.
Everyone in town is there on a program of one kind or another. Most are sponsored by a nation or an institution, some are employees of a company developing the moon, a few are investors in or owners of such companies. Food is included in all such programs. You might pay to have some extras delivered, but there is no need. Cargo runs come in from Earth quite regularly and a decent amount of fresh food is produced on site. Still, don’t raid the fridge. As food production, storage, and preparation is handled almost completely by robot, what is allotted to each neighborhood is quite well documented. Discrepancies are noticed, in particular when it involves a favorite food not in great supply. Don’t hog the beer. This is a matter that is handled by neighborhoods, as food supplies are distributed at the neighborhood level (with a few exceptions such as cafeterias in work sections, but those are run restaurant style, without free access to the larder by clients).
A lot of issues are handled at the neighborhood level. Interpersonal conflicts that come to blows or misbehavior such as public drunkenness is, though it is quite rare. Polluting, which is considered a serious matter, is referred to the neighborhood or the company facility involved. Depending on its seriousness, they may be fined outright, or fined only if it happens again. The whole entity is fined when this happens. Theft of any kind is pretty impractical, beyond petty things on the order of fridge raiding. This would also be considered a neighborhood matter if it happened.
Most violations are handled by fines. As all currency is electronic and accounts go through town administration one way or another, payment is impossible to avoid. Occasionally neighborhoods have used other penalties or compensation in matters handled internally. Expulsion back to Earth is the penalty for serious crimes, but it has never come to that yet.
Many spaces are less private than on Earth. The sorts of practical separations that exist here largely don’t exist in Moon Town. For instance, in the habs, there are paths marked out as being for vehicles, but all vehicles are self-driving or have automated avoidance software, don’t really move that fast anyhow, and people mostly travel on foot. So, the divisions created by roads on Earth aren’t present. People walk around as if they don’t exist. The habs are all one giant climate controlled space and there is no reason to put in any more walls within the exterior ones, except to define some form of privacy or restricted access. Dwellings are enclosed, offices and shops might be enclosed but often have the option of folding away roofs or walls at the press of a button. Commercial or institutional spaces shared by many tend to not bother with walls, not even to define their outer boundaries. There is a general sense of esprit de corps in Moon Town. The divisions between those who are there to do research, or mining, or robotics, or transport, or construction, or energy, or many other things, tend to be fuzzy. Most activities impact each other and must share the same resources so much, lack of a sense of common purpose is unusual. For this reason, many spaces that are considered private on Earth are much more public in Moon Town. Private space tends to be created when needed by temporarily closing the walls of spaces that are so equipped, or setting up an enclosure as needed and removing it afterwards.
The first habs built contain the most important institutional facilities – First Atrium, and the adjoining Arcade to the south, and Center Atrium. A great deal of what happens outside is controlled or monitored from there. There are many interfaces for remote control of robots, including android robots that are used to substitute for a person going outside themselves. It is done with VR interfaces, usually a helmet and gloves, sometimes also a footpad. There are lots of large screens for any kind of computerized or visual work, and they can be controlled by a traditional keyboard, or by gesture and voice. This equipment can be easily moved around. Computers themselves are rarely separate objects, at least not in work environments. They are part of the walls, or mainframes somewhere else handle all such needs. So, organization of these spaces is fluid, changing according to need. Activity in First Atrium tends to be more about administration and research, that of Center Atrium tends more towards commercial ventures.
The farming atriums and Teacup Crater is where all life sciences are done, in addition to the actual farming. Offices for that are tucked in the lower corners of these spaces, lab sections are set up low on the walls. People often stroll or exercise in these spaces to enjoy the sun and the plants, despite the constant clambering of robotic equipment among the plant beds.
It’s when the gallery habs start to fill in that urban planning truly becomes complex. The first neighborhoods are set up there, starting at the top of First Gallery. That’s when it starts to really feel like a town. A market space is set among those first neighborhoods, including an area for live events and a gallery space. The first true permanent clinic is on the foundation floor (which is like the ground floor, except it’s at the bottom of the shaft excavated out to create the hab). When the first tube hab is completed, it is set aside for recreation and sports, and becomes known as RecHab, and later RecHab 1, because the tube habs added on later as the galleries extend further down the slope of the crater are also mostly used for recreation. Sometimes that use is combined with related things such as crafts, theater, formal competitions, and classes.
It is very common for people to work at home at least part of the time. Only a minority of the residents have jobs with a physical aspect that they actually do themselves more than occasionally – jobs in farming, food preparation and management, facility maintenance, and a few in new luxuries like professional athletes and artists. Other jobs are done through a computer interface, though that might be used to control robots that are doing physical jobs. That can be done anywhere you can set up an interface, meaning pretty much anywhere. It’s part of what keeps the feel of Moon Town so open, fluid, and relaxed.
After the initial phase of Moon Town that is handled by the International Space Agency completely, business concerns start to lease sections of Moon Town long term. They have parts of the spaceport, the factories, and the habs. The distinction between space that is theirs and everything else is only subtle. As mentioned above, so much of what is done in Moon Town involves multiple companies, institutions, and agencies, that hard distinctions aren’t often made. That said, corporate tenants have big plans and are very active. Their influence is widely felt. They promote themselves confidently.
In Moon Town, rocket companies morph into solar system transport companies, partnered with mining companies that become a lot like robotics companies, while robotics companies sometimes seem like logistics companies. Their staff is increasingly composed of freelancers on contract for particular projects where their skills are the best fit. Collaboration is widespread.
Anchor tenants are most visible in Center Atrium, where most of them have their formal offices. A few have farm and ecosystem interests and are based in the farm atriums. Much of the economy flows through them.
There are also numerous small tenants who may employ a number of residents, or whose presence may involve no more than a contract for part of the time of one or a few residents, time on robotic or research equipment that is operated from Earth, or the presence of their experiments in labs that are part of Moon Town. Although the connection of such tenants to Moon Town can be very tenuous, all the same, sometimes when they meet success their influence is strongly felt. Moon Town shifts priorities and plans as technology shifts around them, something that happens a lot.
While many of these tenants compete with each other commercially, the nature of Moon Town as a tiny and remote island of life in a very hostile environment makes collaborators of everyone. In most situations, expanding Moon Town together allows everyone to grow more than they could by working on their own. Making decisions on the best way forward is pretty complex, though. Many decisions are highly technical, or involve new research, or both. Many parties have a stake.
The Board makes decisions on how Moon Town will expand.