From the WIP

Allow me to present you with these notes from my current work-in-progress. They’re written in the perspective of a fairly recent colonist from the planet St. Lucie. This was originally written for me, not for you, so there may be spelling and grammar errors.

The Republic began as the gradual unification of individual superpowers on Old Earth, with the addition of various extra-planetary organizations in the early 22nd century. When Humans discovered the system jump technology, the Republic was formally institutionalized to pose a united front against the Others that Humans found as they explored.

Of course, in the first century of the Republic (a period commonly referred to as the First Diaspora), the aliens that Humans contacted were far below them in technology, if indeed they had technology at all. These races were uplifted and unified as equal members in the Republic.

The period of Pax Republica is under debate, but it’s usually considered to begin with either the founding of the first colony in Gliese (that is, Gliese 876) or first contact with the Chani twelve years thereafter. It’s universally agreed to span the entire Second Diaspora, which puts its minimum length at ~100 years. It’s ending is more contentious still (with some pundits insisting that it has never ended) but most academics agree that the Pax came to an end after first contact with the Alkani or with the ending of normalized relations with that species less than two decades later. All but the most conservative Republic citizens agree that the Pax ended with first contact with the Unamuni and the subsequent destruction/assimilation of the contact fleet.

That first contact is nearly sixty years past, and only two things have kept the Republic from total collapse: the fact that the Alkani, avaricious as they are, hate the Unamuni as much as the Republic does, and the fact that the Unamuni appear not the value territory for its own sake. When they expand they’re almost impossible to stop, but when they stop they don’t start again for months or years.

Even without the Alkani and the Unamuni, the Republic would be under strain. Few will dispute the benefit of the First and Second Diasporas, but the ongoing Third Diaspora is more contentious. Given the effort the Republic expends merely maintaining its borders with the Unamuni and Alkani, and the extreme distance between the densely populated Central Worlds and the newest colonies, the amount of control the Republic can maintain over its outlying regions is on the decline. And where the Republic’s power has waned, pirates, smugglers, and criminals of all sorts step in.

A more insidious but still very real problem is growing xenophobia in the Republic, especially in Congress. The earliest explorers and the Republic founders granted any aliens they contacted complete equality, regardless of technological advancement. However, as the years went on, it became clear that, whatever their good intentions, rapid uplifting of technological primitives caused considerable social pressure. Every species reacts differently to this pressure, but it often results in high crime rates and lower social accomplishment. This has led many Humans, especially from the wealthy systems, to view all aliens with disdain. Contact with malign alien civilizations has not helped the increasingly suppressed aliens within the Republic.

The Third Diaspora was in fact started to address concerns stemming from the Republic’s stalled expansion after the end of the Second Diaspora. It was also the only Diaspora referred to by that name officially, and the only one that was jump-started from above rather than below, with an official government program: the “Program of Diaspora,” administered by the Planets Bureau. This government program, not an efficient one to begin with, has incurred massive costs because of the distance of the new colony worlds, the increased instability throughout the Republic’s outer reaches, and difficulties with aliens, particularly the Unamuni.

As a result, the colonies aren’t providing a windfall like those of the first two Diasporas; most of their income goes toward maintaining them. This maintenance is mired in politics and bureaucracy, which is ironic considering the colonies wouldn’t even exist without an official “Program of Diaspora.” Without subsidies, dozens of nascent colonies would simply collapse—nothing is keeping their people tied to their new worlds but government stipends. Sadly, chest-beating in the Republic Congress about the glory days of Pax Republica prevent any real conversation about these problems at any level.

In this, St. Lucie is an exception, one of the few Third Diaspora worlds to succeed on its own merits. It’s people are happy, the world is productive, and its far enough off normal trade routes to be safe from most predation. Unfortunately, because it is so successful, it’s often ignored in favor of its less successful cousins. With so little contact with the rest of the galaxy, St. Lucie more often than not considers itself a nation unto itself, rather than part of the greater Republic. Time will tell if this causes them problems.

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One response to “From the WIP

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