death-equivalent existence: It is a cliché, at least among Imperials, that “there are no fates worse than death”. A living sophont, after all, possesses the capacity for choice and action, and thus to better their situation – or, failing that, at least the capacity to be acted upon, in ways that open up further options.
Death, however, terminates your worldline, thus foreclosing all futures.
The term “death-equivalent existence” refers to alternate scenarios which also foreclose all futures. Almost all of these are hypothetical, as it is exceptionally difficult to construct a scenario that is as effective as foreclosing futures as nonexistence, with the accepted candidates being irreversible p-zombification, event horizon suspension, and terminal cases of fulfilled automatomania (q.v.).
The informal term “delta-death scenarios” has arisen to describe those cases which, while not meeting death-equivalency criteria, nonetheless skim very close to them.
– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary
Fate Worse Than Death: Played essentially straight, rape and torture-wise, given cultural attitudes to slaving and All Things Connected With It. This, of course, became even more the case when death became really hard to inflict (see Final Death); the brain-mounted suicide-switch, often with emergency bug-out transmitter, and a restore from backup has become the standard solution – and essential accessory for everyone traveling to those backward areas which such things are statistically present – to all such Fates Worse Than Death.
(Of course, a related aspect of those cultural attitudes and the generous nature of Imperial self-defense laws – not to mention cultural attitudes towards other people’s oft-ungenerous self-defense laws – mean that a lot of those emergency bug-out transmitters don’t contain just enough antiprotons to power the transmitter; they contain enough to ensure that anyone unwise enough to attempt to rape, kidnap, torture, etc., an Imperial citizen-shareholder has a good chance of being at ground zero of their very own miniature – collateral damage would, after all, be rude – Nuclear Incident.
It sure is nice to have built-in grenades, don’t you think?)