Cuisine

“The only well-known foodstuff to come out of the Hope Hegemony is a salty but otherwise tasteless algal nutrient sludge grown in massive, floating offshore farms.

“That citizens of the Hegemony at home universally praise the efficiency and nutritive value of this sludge – while former citizens of the Hegemony abroad tend to rapidly double their mass from eating literally every other available foodstuff to excess – is a one-act summation, dissection, and condemnation of Hegemonic cultural values.

“And a warning that you, if you are unlucky enough to have business there, should always be the one to buy lunch.”

– Vhúfkarr Rúägh, Around the Worlds in Dodeciad Dinners

 

No Hope in the Hegemony

“I don’t know why I’ve been connected to you, but could you kindly redirect me to Kejor Nreslin?”

“He’s not available. He’s been – reallocated.”

“Then let me talk to whoever has replaced him.”

“Dammit. That’s me. But I can’t talk to you.”

“What?”

“I can’t talk to you. The Planner doesn’t value what you were working on with Kejor, and the damn fool believed that would change if he finished the deal right up until he lost enough karma to be reallocated. Now I’m bleeding karma from this conversation, and my life-debt’s not secure enough to cover it. So goodbye.”

“Wait! Reallocated where? Can you -”

“Live transplant donation. Goodbye, sir!

“You -”

<line cleared by destination>

– recorded at the Hegemony Karmic Virtue Monitoring Center, Spirath V

So.

While they haven’t yet taken much of a part on stage, this little by-request piece illustrates some of the joy that is the Hope Hegemony.

Their governance is an outgrowth of what you might call some of the perversions of scarcity. Spirath V itself was a harsh world, scarce in even basic resources, to which their society adapted through, shall we say, even harsher measures. Even if you might consider that forgivable under the circumstances (even though they are a terrible way to address the problem), it’s certainly somewhat less forgivable now that they’re no longer limited to the resources of said planet.

These measures come in two chief parts:

First, the life-debt, which is similar to the life-debt you may acquire on a primitive habitat – except in the Hegemony, you get a fairly large one when you’re born, for the liabilities against those scarce resources which you’re imposing on the Hegemony by existing, like the need to raise and educate and feed you, and which only continues to climb due to such inconsiderate things you might do like “become ill” (or even worse, “infect others”), “breathe the Hegemony’s oxygen”, and “exude waste products into the Hegemonic biosphere”. Until that life-debt is not only paid down but paid off and kept paid off, the Hegemony owns your ass in a very real and legally-binding way. You must obey and you don’t get to (legally) emigrate.

What it does with said owned ass is determined by the second part of the measures, the karma system, in which work on projects beneficial to the Hegemony and success in them gains you karma, as do things the Hegemony deems to be of social benefit, and just about everything else loses it. Your current karma determines the work options you must choose from allocation to. Which would only be typically totalitarian, except that at the bottom end, your options start becoming things like “recreational services provider” (of the kind you really don’t want to ask about), “toxic waste cleanup”, “life-fire exercise target drone”, “disassembled for spare parts”, or “the protein vats”.

Even Hegemony patriots – and they exist, ’cause there are plenty of people who have firmly convinced themselves that all this is necessary to their survival and prosperity, such as it is, and if a few [which it isn’t] of the underclasses [which it is by no means limited to] end up recycled as Soylent Green, that’s just the way it has to be – are renowned throughout the Worlds as being both very hard-working and utterly terrified.

 

Trope-a-Day: People’s Republic of Tyranny

People’s Republic of Tyranny: Mostly averted, if only because the Associated Worlds, unlike Earth, has no consensus that democracy is the awesomest, shiniest form of government ever, and so there’s no particular urge to genuflect in its direction by way of obfuscating your actual government type.

(There is the People’s State of Bantral, but you’ll note that it doesn’t claim any kind of democratic/republican credentials.  It is a brutal oligarchic tyranny, but the only justification it feels the need to make is that it’s acting in the name of the People – not that the people get a say, necessarily.  Others – say, the Equality Concord and Hope Hegemony – go similarly, but more honest and less self-conscious brutal tyrannies like, say, the Gazkas Autocracy don’t bother with even that fig leaf.)

Trope-a-Day: Culture Clash

Culture Clash: All.  The.  Time.

The really big ones, like between the Imperials and the Hope Hegemony or the Equality Concord at one end of the spectrum, and between them and the Rim Free Zone at the other, and between the Photonic Network and all meat intelligences everywhere, etc., are just the most obvious, but when you wander away from the rough consensus of the CSP, CEP, and trade protocols of the Accord, well, these are cultures which may not be completely alien to each other, folks, but they can get pretty close.  What were you expecting?