The Perse Hollows:
Depths of Sele
Part 4: Population and Development Trends
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Welcome back for Part 4 of my miniseries on the Perse Hollows, the vast cavern system beneath the Galan capital of Sele.
This week we're finally going inside the Perse Hollows to look at some of the general patterns therein. For as much as the Hollows are contextualized as the underworld of Sele, they also have a lot of their own character and are quite distinct from Sele—the Tacoma to Gala's Seattle, as it were: part of the same metropolis, but with a different heartbeat, economy, and culture.
Without further ado, let's delve into the greatest spelunk!
General Population and Development Patterns
With a few exceptions, the physically largest caverns in the Perse Hollows are those nearest the upper and lower entrances. These larger caverns are much more efficient to develop in, because the infrastructure for the provision of utilities and transportation is a lot more economical. In the case of the cavern districts closest to the upper entrance, like Astoria, Benezar, and Merak, there are additional efficiencies from being closest to Sele and most of the Galan population.
So this is where most of the population tends to be. The population of the Perse Hollows as distinguished from the rest of Sele depends on the counting used, as Galan culture is such that many people don't have just one workplace or (in some cases) just one home place, but, going from an average "at any given time" measurement, we find that roughly 10 percent of the population of Sele as a whole is in the Perse Hollows, and, among that population, roughly 70 percent live in the districts closest to Crawler's Mouth.
In these districts we find significant decentralization of planning and diversification of aedes and economics activities, as compared to the deeper reaches of the Hollows, which become progressively dominated by specific individuals and enterprises. In other words, these upper reaches of the Perse Hollows look and feel like a city, with lots of variety and coexistence, whereas, deeper down, it starts to look more and more like planned communities and large facilities, institutions, and installations, set against a backdrop of a sparsely populated rural hinterland.
(In fact, on that point, one of Sele's four solitary neighborhoods or "solihoods" is down in the Perse Hollows. Those who wish to live alone and free of intrusion and urban bustle may do so in the solihoods.)
Overall, the Perse Hollows are self-sustaining enough to be able to offer everything a person might need. There are therefore some residents who scarcely ever leave. Others commute on a daily or even hourly basis.
All caverns in the Perse Hollows can be traversed by foot (albeit sometimes by way of ladder-rungs or crawling on the belly). However, for long-distance travel, over 80 percent of the population in the Hollows is connected to the underground transit system. This clever mÃ©lange of subways, escalades, elevators, moving sidewalks, chutes, and mobile platforms is designed to, first and foremost, ease the difficulty of vertical travel through the Hollows, and, second, to aid the movement of large quantities of materials and large objects.
This is quite distinct from the above-ground areas of Sele, where automated transportation, though present in a few areas where it can offer exceptional convenience, is quite uncommon, with most people getting around on foot most of the time, and most freight moving on drawn carts.
What we would call the far more "futuristic" look of the Perse Hollows by comparison is actually perceived by the Galans quite differently, not as futuristic but as natural for the needs imposed by the environment and the vision of its designers and key influences. This topic (of progressively more advanced technology not being regarded on Relance as "futuristic) deserves its own article, but alas today is not that day.
Anyhow, it was this sophisticated transportation system that made it possible for the Galan army to move down all the way through the Perse Hollows in a single night, to be loaded onto sandships and set out for war.
Home of Mining, Industry, and Agriculture
Sele, though not an "industrialized" society as we would define it, contains two nevertheless major heavy industrial zones, where raw materials are extracted, processed, and refined. One of these is in the Perse Hollows, where mines, factories, and refineries are situated close by each other for efficient production. This zone is extensive, spanning several cavern systems, and much of it is quite a distance from either of the Hollows' two entrances.
Most of Sele's agriculture is also located in the Perse Hollows, as growing conditions above ground are extremely difficult. Numerous ranches and farms exist in the Hollows, some of them some well-developed that the cavern surfaces have been insulated and the temperature closely regulated for more optimal growing conditions. Almost a quarter of the Galan food supply comes from these viutari-raised sources—part of an overarching food independence initiative by Silence Terlais.
I've discussed it in previous installments of the miniseries, so there's not a ton to say here, but I will summarize it: Silence made the Perse Hollows as a whole one of her grand projects, one of her domains. (Not in ownership per se, but in influence.) It was here in the Hollows that she established many of her ventures, from the construction of her sandships to the aforementioned spurring of agricultural development, and it was she who spearheaded the realization of the Perse Hollows as an economic resource and the provision of infrastructure—including air, light, and water—far beyond what would otherwise have been made of the Hollows in such a short period of time. By the start of ATH she had only been in Gala roughly fourteen Terran years (roughly nineteen Relancii years), yet she pursued her many projects here with relentless zeal, paving a way (in some respects literally) for others to follow, and by all rights most people living or working in the Hollows farther than Astoria are only there because of the new paradigm Silence brought into being. Sele had many luminaries during this time, but, in whatever she touched, none ever rivaled her. Many of the major points of attraction we'll be looking at next week have her stamp on them.
The canon on this actually runs pretty deep. I don't recall if I've ever discussed it, but I figured out at least a few of these details well over a decade ago. It was never my intention to portray her as an "underworld" figure by putting so much of her activity here; it simply worked out that this underground world was a natural place for her to develop her secret project (which we'll get to), and from there the notion expanded of having a place for Silence to work independently of Galavar, which was not so feasible in Galadrim, Galavar's personal demesne.
Not So Different, Really
And that's a little bit about the big picture in the big Perse Hollows. Not so different from above ground, really. Next week is the one you'll all been waiting for, the "Enough context already! What's actually in there?!" installment and grand finale of this miniseries. Join me then to look at specific major points of attraction in the Perse Hollows.
Until then, may you too see more than just a hole in the ground.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!