The country songs of distant Earth
I flew into Nashville on the weekend for the Breaking Development conference, which is proving to be excellent so far.
The event is taking place within the Gaylord Opryland (stop sniggering). It’s a very unusual environment. At one point it was a theme park. Now it’s a complex of hotel buildings, parks and restaurants all contained under a glass and metal ceiling. The whole place feels like it’s hermetically sealed—the ideal place to hole up during a zombie apocalypse.
I’ve been inside this world since Saturday evening. I have memories of the outside world. I remember the feeling of a breeze on my face, the sun on my skin. I remember the cash-based monetary system used by the surface dwellers; so inefficient compared to the unique identifier contained in my room key.
I began to realise that, in the absence of any evidence that I was in fact still in Tennessee, it was entirely possible that this self-contained ecosystem was not necessarily earthbound. What if I’m in an orbital habitat? Or a generation starship?
I’ve been surreptitiously attempting to explore the shape of the complex—without drawing too much attention to myself (I think they’re watching)—trying to figure out if I’m in a Stanford torus or, more likely, a Bernal sphere.
The builders have created a near-flawless illusion of the homeworld. The climate control has been consistent and the gravity is a perfect Earth 1. I’m a little nervous about the possibility of a meteor penetrating the shell and causing decompression problems, but I think they must have a phalanx of automated lasers on the outside hull to take care of that eventuality.
There are plenty of plants under the glass dome, which should ensure a renewable supply of food. Strangely, I haven’t seen any animals (apart from fish) but most of the food available in the restaurant appears to be meat-based.
I don’t know how long the voyage will last. I don’t even know where our destination lies. But so far there are no hardships to endure. Our hosts are ensuring our psychological wellbeing with a plentiful supply of piped music …though why it is exclusively country music remains a mystery to me. We are, after all, a long, long way from Nashville.