Ballybran

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Ballybran is a fictional planet created by science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey within her Federated Sentient Planets universe. The story originated as series of short stories, which were later expanded into the novels Crystal Singer.[1] The storyline was further expanded with two more novels: Killashandra[2] and Crystal Line.[3] McCaffrey places the planet Ballybran in orbit around the also-fictitious star Scoria.

Historical synopsis[edit]

Exploration and Colonization: Crystal Singer[edit]

The Exploration and Evaluation Corps team assessed the planet. They recorded geographical, geological, botanical, ecological and zoological information in a variety of locations, some of which are recognizable as areas of interest in other Crystal Singer stories.

Barry Milekey, a member of the original EEC team, was the first among the crew to experience a painless adaptation to the as yet undiscovered spore that made humans able to live on Ballybran. It took some time for Milekey to realize that the urge to keep returning to the planet was not because he loved it, or found it fascinating; it was because the spore could not adapt to life away from Ballybran, and had to be rejuvenated on the planet.

As more people came to Ballybran, the term "Milekey transition" was brought into use when other adaptations that caused little to no trouble were observed. Plus, people who experienced the Milekey transition were often among the most talented crystal Singers. Perfect and absolute pitch is required for entrance into the Heptite Guild.

Current Status: Crystal Line[edit]

As of the time of the Crystal Line narrative, significant progress is being made on the memory loss associated with the spore adaptation.

Planetary system data[edit]

Primary[edit]

Ballybran is the fifth planet of the star Scoria, which is in the Regulus sector.

Moons[edit]

Shankill[edit]

Shankill hosts a moonbase which hosts all of the interplanetary traffic with Ballybran, which prohibits unauthorized planetary landings.

Shillmore[edit]

Shanganaugh[edit]

Silicon Ecology[edit]

While the planet is near earth-normal in temperature, pressure, atmosphere, etc., the ecology of Ballybran is silicon- rather than carbon- based. This makes the indigenous plants inedible, but allows for carbon-based foods to be locally grown, provided the right environmental resources.

The Spore[edit]

The Spore, as it is referred to, is a microbe which can form a symbiotic "bridge" between carbon based life forms and the silicon based life forms of Ballybran. The formation of the bridge is usually metabolically traumatic: a "Transition Sickness," as it is called. Occasionally after passing through the adaptation, one or more senses may be attenuated -or outright ended, such as hearing or speech-, but others may be greatly amplified.

Every year, an event known as "Passover" occurs, in which singers, and therefore the spore, consume mass quantities of food, followed by a week-long coma-like state.[4]

The spore also grants long life (Ree is 215 years old at the end of Crystal Line[5]) and the appearance of youth.

Meteorology[edit]

Large sunspot activity on Scoria and the effects of three moons combine to make both the tides and weather of Ballybran titanic in scale, including winds referred to as "Mach Storms."

Social/Guild Structure[edit]

Because all people on Ballybran are members of the Heptite Guild, the guild is the de facto social structure of Ballybran. The guild regulates the production, sale, and distribution of the crystals found on the planet. Because of the irreversible nature of joining, the FSP has taken the extraordinary step of banning the Heptite Guild from active recruitment of members.

Guild Administration[edit]

The head of the Heptite Guild is the Guildmaster. Reporting to him are several chiefs, including Chief of Control, Chief of Research, and Chief of Marketing. From what little is known, the org chart appears to be relatively flat.

Crystal Singers[edit]

Known technically within the guild as Crystal Cutters, people who make a sufficiently successful adaptation to the spore are known colloquially throughout the galaxy as Crystal Singers.

Support Staff[edit]

Those people who do not have a wholly successful adaptation, or those who do but do not care to cut crystal, are considered support staff, and handle all other planet-side tasks, including repair and maintenance of the facilities and tools required for crystal cutting, as well as the care of the cutters themselves.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McCaffrey, Anne Crystal Singer, 1982
  2. ^ McCaffrey, Anne Killashandra, 1985
  3. ^ McCaffrey, Anne Crystal Line, 1992
  4. ^ Crystal Line, p. 26
  5. ^ Crystal Line, p. 300