What A Piece Of Junk: Subverted. While there are lots of near-obsolete or actually obsolete ships plying the spacelanes, the state of modern technology especially in the nano-self-repair field means that the Worlds’ equivalents to the Firefly-class tramp freighter, for example – which are every bit as cheap and now-antiquated as their analog – are still a bunch of Shiny Looking Spaceships that could’ve just rolled off the production line, if they’ve got mechanics even half as awake as Kaylee Frye. (If they have one that’s actually as good, they fly like it, but they can’t help looking like they should, too.)
Honestly, you should be more worried about all the prototypes out there, including all the prototype modifications made by engineers who are almost as clever as they think they are.
“Of course social problems have technological solutions. All problems have technological solutions.
“Social problems, specifically, are problems arising directly from flaws in the interacting sophont entities that make up society. Imperfect actors generate imperfect acts. Corruption, bigotry, xenophobia, cognitive bias, irrational emotivations… whatever you care to name, these are merely the emergent consequences of broken machines, the sludge of meat-instincts accumulated from a million years of design by random kluging. And machines can be repaired – redesigned, even. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, at best, an adherent to the naturalistic fallacy and archaic morality, and at worst a purveyor of ulath-urlar self-deception that cannot bear to see itself as anything but the capstone of creation.
“All you need to solve these problems forever is the courage to, first, admit your flaws and weaknesses, and then second, to take up reason-forged technology’s scalpel and cut yourself free.”
– Polygnostic Ianthe Claves-ith-Claves Elinaeth
& Academician Excellence Seledíë Cíëlle,
“Against the Ghost in the Machine: A Techneprax Approach to Sophont-Centered Solutions”,
Worlds’ Journal of Sociodynamics, 4801
Ragnarok Proofing: Played straight. Apart from being better built in the first place (after all, when you can expect to live for something on the far side of a thousand years, you don’t go around building houses that will only last mere decades or centuries – and much the same goes for other durable goods – but these days, much of the infrastructure is automated and most things come with extensive self-repair and mutual-repair systems. If everyone left or dropped dead tomorrow, sure, things wouldn’t be perfect, but the material side of Imperial civilization would still be in astonishingly good repair thousands of years, maybe even tens of thousands of years or more, later. (Leaving aside, for this example, the Civilization-Backup Ships and any automated-emergency mind-state instantiations running on Proceed Unless Cancelled, Else Iterate orders.)
Also, of course, bloody dangerous. The automated defense systems are included in that automated/self-repairing paradigm. It might not be in such good shape, it is fair to say, after you’ve fought your way in to look at it and subdued the local autoconstabulary.