Trope-a-Day: Older is Better / Lost Technology

Older is Better/Lost Technology: Subverted in that while there are some awfully nice bits of leftover Precursor and/or elder race technology around, and piles of interesting things buried in the archives (assuming that some leftover perversion doesn’t eat your soul when you go looking for it), it’s more or less absolutely averted within the lifespan of any given civilization.  Things get better, not worse, the more so for those people who are appropriately obsessive about not losing stuff along the way.

And in any case, in many areas, modern civilization has beaten the best (extinct) elder-race tech that’s been found.  After all, it became the starting point for development.

Trope-a-Day: Proud Warrior Race Guy

Proud Warrior Race Guy: Some people think of the kaeth, the draconic pseudosaurians with the heavy-metal biology among the Imperials, as this, but while they are certainly violent (er, kinesthetic) enough, their sense of honor also is comfortable matching the Empire’s general Combat Pragmatism and eschewing of Martyrdom Culture, and it ignores their technological development and their artistic and spiritual side – really, they more closely resemble a cross between a Proud Soldier Race (see original trope) and Warrior Poet.

And also, same disclaimer: while there are a lot of them in the Legions and finding work with security companies and mercenary outfits, they are also to be found in the many assorted other roles that society requires.  (Even though they can still probably kick your ass.)

More likely candidates include the heavy-world linobir, who play it much straighter, and the kaliatar, who would like to think they play it straight, but are far too sneaky and devious.

Trope-a-Day: Martyrdom Culture

Martyrdom Culture: Strongly averted by the Empire, who as firm devotees of Living Forever is Awesome consider this sort of thing absolutely, completely, utterly idiotic. It may be better to die for your beliefs than to die in bed for nothing, but whenever not absolutely impossible, it’s a damn sight better to live for your beliefs, not to mention whatever else you may enjoy and wouldn’t be able to post mortem.

“I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country,” “Today Is A Good Day For Someone Else To Die,” and all that.

Not, of course, universally averted – but smarter societies trend this way, especially if they come into conflict with the Imperials, who despite regretting the occasional necessity of this sort of thing, love their own lives rather more than yours should the two come into conflict.

And so, upon being told that so-and-so “love death more than you love life”, etc., and so they’ll win, or some similar damn silly notion, are more than happy to deliver their request in the form of a horde of warbots or simple old-fashioned saturation antimatter bombardment from a few hundred miles up. Thus denying the Martyrdom Culture’s members whatever satisfaction they might have gotten from their hypothetical glorious deaths, and providing one more exemplary demonstration of superior military philosophy.

So it goes.

Trope-a-Day: Fisher Kingdom

Fisher Kingdom: The Empire is a moderate example of the first type; while not involving any actual mental modification, or other self-integrity violations (unlike the mind-warpers of the Equality Concord or various pharmacrats, for example), it is a fully mature information society (much more information-dense than the high end of ours), and – as hinted at under Emotion Bomb – isn’t particularly afraid to reinforce its social attitudes through applied memetics in architecture, decoration, etc., etc.

While it’s not forced upon you, or even readily noticeable if you’re not looking for it, it is appallingly easy to find yourself picking up some of the local attitudes.  Or so some visitors say.  Others just find things like the insistent regularity of the traffic flow and the polished cleanliness of the city streets frankly disturbing.

Refuge Cities

In today’s random postage, something I just wrote on the worldbuilding mailing list, in response to the following:

Do your worlds have a Peace town [city of refuge], where people can go in order to avoid the law?

Not as such, or at least not officially. (Certainly people, like, say, the Imperial State Security Fourth Directorate – whose explicit mission is tracking down anyone who flees the law and introducing them to the stealth gyroc bullet of justice – wouldn’t bother complying with any such requirement even if there was one.)

If you need to flee from the law in the Worlds, your best chance of doing so is change your name, change your body, and head at once via a suitably circuitous route – changing them another couple of times on the way – to some appropriate wretched hive of scum and villainy like, say, Nepscia, where the locals all have enough dark secrets and dodgy business going on that they tend to look askance at anyone wandering around carrying alethiometers or mindprinting equipment even if they don’t actually look like The Law. Of course, while this can be fairly effective in hiding from even rather competent law enforcers (such as the aforementioned Fourth Directorate), the drawback to fleeing to Nepscia is that you subsequently have to live on Nepscia for the rest of your personal ever, which in many ways is its own punishment.

Depending on if you might have pleased or annoyed the right people, you might be able to find refuge somewhere else, too. If you got into trouble helping their fellows escape, for example, the liberated AIs of the Silicate Tree will offer you sanctuary, because they don’t give a bit for meat intelligences in general, but they do understand gratitude. Or if you can find some way of making yourself more useful to them than any trouble you might bring with you is troublesome, of course, although then you should understand clearly that your sanctuary will last precisely as long as your utility.

The Empire, of course, provides a comfortable retirement for all manner of smugglers, free-thinkers, authors, scientists, philosophers, and transsophontists who got into trouble with assorted restrictionist laws, and even some of the right kind of revolutionary (“the People’s Extropian Front”, “Technicians Against Unnecessary Work”, “Citizens United for Liberty and Immortality! Down with DEATH AND TAXES!”, that sort of thing), because of (a) their steadfast refusal to ever extradite anyone for something that isn’t against Imperial law, and (b) because the modal Imperial citizen-shareholder thinks annoying the sort of people responsible for the laws they got in trouble with is downright hilarious.

The Rim Free Zone also serves in this role quite a bit – after all, they’re actual anarchists, and so there’s no-one there you could ask to extradite someone even if you wanted to. Of course, since there’s also no-one who’s paid to prevent anyone else from turning up and dragging you off in chains, etc., you’d better be able to afford PPL coverage suitable to defend you against whoever wants you if you exercise this option, or at least to make yourself too expensive to come get. This should be unavailable to actual criminals, inasmuch as the Free Zone does hold to a sort of rough-and-ready version of natural rights that PPLs won’t defend you against other people if you violate ’em, but if you have enough money, you can probably find a slash-trading PPL that’s willing to do it anyway.

And, equally of course, you’d better be careful that you don’t commit your special crimes against people in the Free Zone once you get there. To steal a perfectly apposite quotation from Buck Godot – just because there is no law in the Rim Free Zone, that doesn’t mean there are no rules.