The Worlds of Surrogate: Gno’



Oh, the joys of world building! (well, I like it, anyway) If you’re going to write Sci-Fi, specifically about alien worlds, world building is an absolute must. Atmosphere, climate, landscape, culture–it all has to be there.

You must create a sufficient backdrop (setting) for the story to be believable. Not an easy task, but in the Surrogate series, I have, at this point, created four distinct worlds. Three of these worlds are detailed in the first novel, Surrogate, and none of them are Earth.

Yes, I’ve completely lost my mind attempting this, but thus-far, it works.

Surrogate details the worlds Gno’, Takran, and Safe Harbor. This blog post concentrates on Gno’.

Note: these posts give an overall view of the worlds in the Surrogate series alone. They’re my concepts, my babies with all their flaws.

That said, here’s Gno’ in a nutshell.

Gno’ [noh] is protagonist Etain Ixtii’s home world. It’s a rocky, fringe world for the Alyward species. (more about them in another post) Originally established as a penal colony, Gno’, at the beginning of Surrogate, has developed into a trade world. Most Alyward trade worlds are overseen by several usurers who work together to ensure profit, but Gno’ has only one usurer, a woman named Serria who fills her need for power and wealth by subjugating the workers whose creations she facilitates.


Gno’ lies within a double yellow star system over three hundred light years from Earth.


Gno’ is a semi-arid world with an average temperature of 110°F/44°C. The days are 25 hours long, and a year equates 1.25 Earth years. Because there are two suns and very little tilt to Gno’s axis, there are no discernible seasons. It’s hot all the time and having two suns means Gno’ residents live in varying light levels much like the summer in Earth’s artic regions. Simply put, night never comes to Gno’.

Alyward Social Structure on Gno’

There are three distinct Alyward social castes on Gno’: Workers, Randoms, and Bosses.

Workers, genetically modified Alywards grown in artificial wombs, are the most common group on Gno’. They fall into five categories: dock worker, field worker, tasker, general worker, and specialized worker. Etain Ixtii has been raised as a dock worker.

The idea of genetic design certainly isn’t a new one, but on Gno’ it has become twisted. Workers are indebted to their usurer for their lab conception, their fetal development, their childhood, their foster mothers, and their training, which leaves them with lifelong debt they can’t repay.

Randoms, freeborn Alywards not genetically designed for specific tasks, are relatively new to Gno’ at the beginning of Surrogate. They have been allowed to settle on Gno’ only because the bosses have refused to further assist Serria’s financial endeavors unless she allows the settlement. Serria is actually a Random, but she fears that Random ideas, specifically their concepts of freedom, individuality, and choice, will undermine Gno’s debt-and-profit-based culture.

Bosses, pure-bred Alywards, are trained as scientists from birth. Bosses fund their research through working for the richest usurers—Serria included. Gno’s bosses are primarily geneticists, engineers, agricultural scientists, and physicians specializing in worker health. Bosses are highly intelligent but socially awkward outside their own caste and would probably be diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome by current human medical standards.

Gno’ Species

Surrogate details two species native to Gno’: Daol bugs and the Panpobal.

Daols are a familiar concept—roly polys or pill bugs, but they, like pill bugs, aren’t really insects. Rather, they are an arid-world crustacean which subsists on Gno’s grasses and shrubs.

The Panpobal are an insectoid species. To humans they would seem like ants but larger. Their social structure is similar to ants as well, but the Panpobal in Surrogate are being trained and modified by bosses researching their intellectual capabilities. The Panpobal also have a venomous bite. And yes, like moose and deer, Panpobal is written the same way whether singular or plural. Panpobal subsist on eating grass seed and Daols before Alywards settled Gno’ and thrive on grain once agriculture is established.

Gno’s Most Unique Feature

Gno’s most unique feature is easily the trade portals (artificial worm holes that Workers commonly call beasts) surrounding it. There are three, all Boss designed and controlled. The bosses maintain a careful balance between Gno’s three beasts. There are small quakes when the timing is off, and Etain Ixtii remembers two large quakes that killed thousands.


So now you have the outline of one world in the Surrogate series. My next post will discuss Takran, including its moon Safe Harbor.

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