A problem that we might have is the importance of food. There are certain things that I’m quite certain will be constant from culture to culture, and, barring the possibility of aliens taking control of their evolution in such a way that they no longer need to eat, I think food would be one of them.
People would be careful in the beginning, but eventually some people would break more and more quarantine and contraband laws, resulting in unusual fusion which we might not be able to predict.
“What’s this apple-looking thing I’m eating?”
“It’s actually an animal that sucks sap out of trees. Think of it as a vegetarian tick.”
“What is that?”
“It’s called chocolate, want some?”
***Two Hours Later***
“I see colors!”
“Chocolate is space cocaine. Got it.”
“Human, I have made gumbo using ingredients from my planet. Would you like some?”
“Isn’t your biome arsenic-based?”
“Want some chips?”
“Are you insane human!? That has SALT in it! Are you trying to kill me!?”
You’re on a massive spaceship with what’s left of humanity. It’s the only ship, what’s on the ship is all you have. There are no humans left except for the few thousand people on board.
There are a few Star Trek-style replicators throughout the ship. These produce food, clothing, medicine – all material needs. In order to produce enough for everyone to live comfortably, they require a few hundred people to use stationary bikes for a few hours each week to generate the required energy.
Paradise, right? Enough people are more than happy to spend some time helping the community meet its needs, and many just enjoy the exercise, so there shouldn’t be any problem getting those replicators running!
The trouble is, immediately after boarding the ship, a few people camped out by the replicators and claimed them as their own. Using the resources from the replicators, they have bribed some people to guard them and “their” replicator and beat up anyone who tries to use them.
Now that these people have total access to the replicators, they have total power over who gets food, water, medicine, etc. They demand that everyone on the ship use the bikes every day, all day, or they will not be allowed to eat or drink. (The exception is their enforcers, who are rewarded with more resources for keeping the population in line in a variety of ways.)
Overworking everyone else produces enough energy for the replicator-hoggers to live like kings. They order up luxuries for themselves from the replicators, and eat and drink when and whatever they want. They order up food and throw it away when they decide they don’t want it. Huge piles of objects go unused in their quarters.
They make rules for how everyone else on the ship has to live, under threat of violence from their enforcers. People who can’t or won’t spend all day using the bikes are deliberately allowed to die from hunger and thirst, and the resource-hoarders say it’s because life must be earned.
The resource-hoarders allow the ship to fall into disrepair, and even throw wild parties and break things. Engineers beg to be allowed to effect repairs, but the resource-hoarders refuse, even when warned that in a few years the ship will break down completely and no one will survive. They call the engineers liars and conspirators.
And people just… sort of get used to it. They rationalize it, they say that the resource hoarders work hardest of all because they decide who gets what and when. Even though there are thousands more being forced to work than there are resource hoarders or their enforcers, people are afraid, or don’t want to think about it, or they justify it, or they dream of the day when they can work their way up the ranks of the enforcers and hog resources too.
And, I mean, it’s not human nature to hoard resources. Most people share their rations and help each other survive as best they can. It’s literally like eight jerks just camping out by the replicators surrounded by guards they bribe with the fruits of everyone else’s work.
But we let them do it. And the idea that we shouldn’t is considered wacky and fringe.
I was thinking about how Earth is probably one of the rare planets with seasonal climates, due to its wonky tilted axis. So Earth has a crazy variety of climates and weather patterns, and humans have just learned how to deal, much to the confusion of everybody else.
This was turning into a headcanon about how humans are bizarrely prepared for anything, and then I had a thought- Space Cruises.