Chapter 1 - argia is great butFor the most part, being born on Argia colony is a winning ticket in the lottery of life. The place certainly has its quirks, but it is a mild-mannered little planet, whose primitive life forms had left plenty of oxygen in the atmosphere and plenty of organics in the soil, but which had posed no obstacle to terra-forming. It was often said that Argia was more favorable to terran eco-systems that Earth itself, with little in the way of mountains or deserts but plenty of fertile plains and shallow seas that made it easy to harvest huge amounts of food. Granted the planet is low on accessible minerals, but its solar system did sport a mineral rich asteroid belt to compensate for that, and more to the point that abundance of food and the ease of harvesting it allowed the colony to reach degrees of education and urbanization seldom seen off of Earth itself.
Now, I did mention quirks. The most obvious is that gravity is only about 80% of what it is on Earth, which turns out to be about the lower edge of what humans can tolerate in good health. The oxygen level, on the other hand, is near the upper edge of what Earth animals (humans included) can tolerate, while the carbon-dioxide is about as low as Earth plants can tolerate (and are low enough that despite its brighter sunshine the planet stays comfortable). Quirks these are, but comfortable quirks for humans, making us lighter, letting us burn less energy to move around, making breathing easier.
Its biggest quirks are cultural, however. For starters, while the main thrust of off-earth colonization came from Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Brazil, Argia was colonized almost totally by Americans. Granted they came on an Indonesian ship, and half the crew of course stayed--since more than three hyper-space voyages greatly increases the risk of cancer, half of every outward-bound crew are rookies learning how to run the ship, while the veterans who are training them stay with the new colony. Whereas most colonies were largely founded by people trying to escape overpopulation and poverty, Argia was largely founded by idealists, adventurers, and opportunists. The level of education was far higher than most founding populations, as was the amount of sophisticated gear they brought with themselves for the task.
The other cultural quirk derived purely from an accident. The part of the Indonesian crew who was handling the cold-sleep of the colonists was not especially fluent in English nor familiar with America's cultural quirks. Perhaps a couple of centuries earlier, during America's imperial phase, they would have known that their American passengers did not use the otherwise universal SI measuring system, and instead used the archaic mish-mash of inches, gallons, and pounds. They also had to fifty-thousand people settled into their cold sleep cradles where they'd sleep during the three year trip, their systems slowed to the point that they'd only age by a few months. It takes time to get people to the right cradle and to hook up the various tubes for nutrition and waste, so the crew was very busy, and they never looked at the data files that came with the colonists, they just dumped it into the system, so they didn't notice that the masses looked suspiciously high.
If the life support computers for the cold sleep chambers had been programmed with a greater degree of paranoia, they might have flagged that something didn't register correctly. But instead it just noticed that each passenger was lighter than they were supposed to be, and did its best to rectify the issue. Given that bodies respond to cold-sleep in various ways, it had very broad parameters of what nutrition, hormones, and drugs it could supply to keep everyone in their targeted zone. It just didn't understand that its data was the passengers' weights under earth gravity, measured in pounds, rather than their mass measured in kilograms, and that this is why each and every passenger started off at 45.4% of their targeted mass. The computer just knew that each passenger was too light, by a very large margin, and it had to take all allowed measures to bring their weight up to where it should be.
Granted, in only a few months of biological time, the task was hopeless, it could never more than double their mass in so little time. Still, it did manage an average increase of 65% for the women and 50% for the men. Few of the colonists were thin to begin with, between America's long history of fatness and colonists deliberately putting on some weight to prepare themselves for initial lean years. The result, as they woke up, was a lot of very upset, very fat, colonists. There might have been riots, were it not that they had not developed muscles appropriate to their new mass so tended to simply find walking around a challenge on its own.
The result might have been a disaster on most colony worlds, where hard physical labour was the only way to survive the early years. However the terraforming had already led to plains full of edible plants and seas teeming with terran fish species, the colonists did come with a lot of sophisticated machinery to start harvesting food, and the gravity was low enough that most didn't have much trouble in getting around. Of course, there was physical work to be done, and most of the colonists vowed to lose their new weight, so most did get somewhat thinner. However the human brain is a funny thing, it tends to take whatever it sees commonly as 'normal,' and it tends to look at 'normal' as where it should be. Losing weight is hard and takes time, and long before most of the colonists had lost much, what they began to see as normal, even as desirable, was much heavier than what they had started at in terms of weight.
Perhaps it was this excess weight that led them to embrace even more automation, letting people focus on more mentally based activities. Their arts and culture flourished, as did their scientific research. Indeed, it was Argia that took the experiments in artificial worm-holes that had been abandoned on Earth, and got them to work and to turn into a feasible way to travel much more quickly and safely than through the old hyper-space systems. It was travellers from Argia that re-discovered the other colony worlds and re-knit the human diaspora into a larger community.
Of course, as artificial worm-hole travel was developed and travel between colony worlds became feasible, it became obvious just how unusual Argia was. But by this point Argia had five generations of considering fat to be attractive, and their response to other worlds, with other esthetics, was to embrace their own views with pride. After all, were they not the ones with the more advance technology, science, culture and all--surely everything of Argia was better than everything from elsewhere. The result being that fatness became even more desirable over the next couple of generations, and average masses climbed even higher--to the point that even with Argia's low gravity, many people turned to mechanical assistance to help them stay mobile.
As I said at the start, being born on Argia really is winning in the lottery of life. A stable, peaceful, prosperous planet, with great education, and an advanced economy that lets people indulge time and resources in frivolous activities like being fat. Now, like most people born and raised on Argia, I grew up believing that fat people were attractive. But gradually I realized something; I didn't just like fat people, I liked the fattest people. Later I realized that specifically I was turned on by people much fatter than those around them, that it was their relative size that was the heart of the appeal.
This is where being born on Argia was perhaps not so lucky-- when the average person on Argia was already twice the size of people on other planets, and people three times the size of those on other planets were a common sight, what does it take to stand out as being remarkably fat compared to everyone around you?
3 chapters, created 10 years , updated 2 years
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