|New Galactic Encyclopedia
Author: Jave Harron PM
Step right up and read all about the hard science fiction pulp future! A companion piece explaining the setting of "Science Detectives" in greater detail.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi - Chapters: 5 - Words: 7,424 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 08-12-10 - Published: 07-03-10 - id: 2824508
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New Galactic Encyclopedia: The Terran Compact
Welcome, reader! Welcome to the interactive encyclopedia of the Terran Compact. Your copy of the Invisible College's New Galactic Encyclopedia is now installed into your neural aux-link interface. This work is available to all under the latest version of the Creative Commons license. Please select an article for more information.
Symbol: A light blue sphere with a grid-like pattern on it, and a dark blue "C" emblazoned to the left side.
Motto: "Strength through choice and diversity."
Government Type: Adhocratic Republic (Highly decentralized representative republic)
It has been said that the Terran Compact is both the strongest and weakest political entity in history. The Compact itself may trace its founding principles back before the Singularity, but the first organizations behind it were formed in the aftermath. After the singularity, the Memetic-Clade became the dominant social unit. Ideologies began to organize their own communities and former large organizations space, even across national borders. While nation-states and a few nationalist and cultural clades formed, alliances of different ideologies eventually formed into the superpowers of the era. It was not mere military power, but also economic, creative, technical, and memetic strength that determined the dominant ones.
A neutral forum between the dominant mega-clades was proposed, and the organization that would become the Compact was formed. Many new sorts of sapient entities emerged after the Singularity. Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs), uploaded minds, infomorphs, uplifted animals, self-aware robots, and countless types of transhumans and cyborgs all populated the new world. One of the first acts of the more democratic clades was the drafting of the Pan-Sapient Rights Accord. The PSR Accord granted many innate rights to all sapients, such as freedom of speech, assembly, belief, and right to self-defense. Chief among these was "choice."
The right to choose what sort of environment a sapient resided in was the arguable keystone of the Compact. All communities must grant inhabitants the right to leave if desired. So long as even a strict dictatorship allowed and adhered to these rules, they would be considered members. If not, they would be deliberately isolated and left to fend for themselves. Even the more authoritarian clades allowed a person convicted of political subversion the choice between "exile" or "death." A military was formed to enforce the Compact and its related PSR Accord, formed of volunteers. Due to new technologies, volunteers could create several copies of their minds, and download each into a new body. So in that way, a handful of volunteers would become the strongest military force in Terran space. It is of interest to note that not all Compact members adhere to the PSR Accord. In such clades, even entities deemed non-citizens or property are offered the opportunity to relocate elsewhere. However, those who had been accused of committing serious crimes were generally kept in prison while the Compact could perform an independent investigation to determine innocence or guilt. Dangerous individuals are kept locked up, rather than being allowed to escape.
The Compact retained this agreement while colonizing the Solar System and other systems. A few backwards regions lack effective enforcement of the Compact, and a few clades have withdrawn from the Compact entirely. These clades are considered "Rogue Clades" and travel to them is not recommended to Compact citizens. While able to project power to any portion of Terran space, the Compact interferes very little in the running of each clade's affairs. The only concern is that members adhere to the Compact. Sanctions to a clade's reputation and economic standing make it in the self-interest of all parties to adhere to it.
The Compact's military also act as peacekeepers between feuding clades and a defense against any external threat. As of now, these "external threats" represent primarily the actions of the Rogue Clades. While no extant self-aware alien species have yet been discovered, the Compact remains, in theory, transhumanity's defense against a hostile extraterrestrial intelligence. When a clade withdraws from the Compact, they loose the benefits of a collective defense. The Compact ensures its military is more advanced than all member clades and Rogue Clades, to reduce the possibility of civil war. The Terran Compact military has several primary branches, although the strongest is the Compact Navy. The Navy performs patrols, exploration, combat sorties, and deployment of marine forces rapidly. Able to operate on almost any sort of world, planetoid, or almost any region of space, the Navy is the spear-point of the Compact. The Compact conducts their own internal research and development, taking the best from every member clade and improving upon it. The Compact military is all volunteer, professional, and fearful to anyone staring down its barrels. Their official policy of PSR means their members range from humans and transhumans to informorphs of all sorts.
The Terran Compact currently stretches across most of known space. Their power is primarily concentrated on the Core Systems of Sol, Alpha Centauri, and Tau Ceti. They are able to literally project power almost anywhere in an instant due to wormholes. All of known Terran space is a spherical region of several thousand light-years. The heavily colonized regions are those dozens of light years from Sol. The further one gets away from Earth, the smaller the population density gets. The Compact helps to organize colonization efforts, to ensure new communities receive the support they need. However, there are plenty of Rogue Clades constantly seeking to drive away any trace of Compact influence. The urges to this may range from simple paranoia to deep cultural aversions towards allowing people to leave at will. Many Rogue Clades know that if given the chance, the vast majority of their captive populations would head straight for the proverbial door.
The dominant economy of most Compact clades is the post-scarcity model. This economy depends upon a device known as a fabber. A fabber is small automated factory able to produce any item it has the raw materials and digital schematic for. While not truly past material scarcity, nanotech and microtech fabbers allow for the rapid production of almost any desired good. From toys to guns to drugs to machine parts to cybernetics to more fabbers, most can be produced by any standard-model fabber. Many clades have safeguards against dangerous items, such as weapons, hazardous chemicals, and explosives, that are literally built into the device. Running a 'hot fabber' is a crime in many clades, whether Compact or Rogue. With such a device, most common consumer goods can be produced cheaply. Feedstock for a fabber is easy to come by, as garbage may be shredded down to a molecular level into raw feedstock.
Due to the ease of the means of production, individual homes could produce the items they needed, as well as fabbers for all their neighbors. Schematics for many items could be traded freely online. Many open source schematics were made, and users would often barter schematics. Different individuals with different areas of expertise began to exchange fabber schematics with each other.
A fabber schematic by an electrical engineer might be exchanged for a fabber schematic made by a chemist. Schematics were also exchanged for physical deeds, such as labor or protection. Swapped expertise, as well as other items, began to form a strange economy based upon one's reputation. Due ubiquitous ways to watch one's fellow citizens, one could see what another was doing at most times. One's conduct in public could be easily posted online in countless places. A new metric, a combination of reputation, credit score, and actions, were formed. Sticking to deals honestly and fairly made one's credit rise. Cheating and committing crimes caused credit to sink. This reputation economy became a cornerstone of Compact economics, displacing currency as the primary method of exchange. Many locations have public fabbers or charity-run fabbers, able to provide necessities to outsiders or the poor. It is a de facto standard to have such a 'safety net' in the Compact, and many private charities and non-profit groups ensure almost all clades have such a safety net. The reputation economy combines elements of capitalism and socialism, surpassing both in efficiency. It is of note many member clades retain capitalist or socialist economies, although both have safeguards in place for those at the bottom.
The Terran Compact has countless sorts of sapient members, to say nothing of the countless clades within. Baseline humans, near-baseline humans (those with small amounts of genetic and cybernetic tweaking), uplifted animals, infomorphs (AGIs, uploaded minds, virch-world dwellers), robots, cyborgs, nanocolonies (self-aware clusters of nanomachines), and countless combinations all inhabit the Compact. Compact members range from democracies to republics to anarcho-capitalist groups to anarcho-socialist communes to monarchies to technocracies to theocracies to dictatorships to corporate microstates to stranger. Most humans have some degree of ethnic blending, especially in more cosmopolitan regions. Many types of settlements and population centers also exist, from virtual worlds to terraformed planets to space colonies to megastructures. Many noteworthy mega-clades exist within the Compact, each with their own customs and traditions. From the neo-Victorian mechanophile Butlerians, to the Bioarchs of the Grand Symbiotry, to the distributed super-intelligences of the Online Dynasty, the complete list of groups cannot be described in this summary. The total registered number of clades is in the hundreds of millions, and the population is at least two trillion sapients of all sorts.
Calling the Terran Compact a republic is a very loose term. Each member clade sends a representative to a council known as the Wired. The Wired communicate via faster than light quantum-entanglement communications, and have virtually no physical presence. The Wired elect a formal "executive" known as the Consul. The Consul can have any number of advisors appointed by different clades. Technocracies may send their most brilliant scientists, militias may send high ranking officers, democracies may send elected officials, theocracies may send high-ranking religious officials, and monarchies may send a relative of the monarch. Most of the actions of the Wired are less about legislation and enforcing it as much as hearing debates between member-clades.
Regardless of the type of issue that comes up, a Consul may form a literal ad hoc committee faster than the speed of light itself. Some clades can claim more influence than others, especially those who advocate and enforce PSR, such as the Singulartech Foundation and Invisible College. Almost all proceedings of the Wired are transparent and able to be seen in real time upon request, although dictator-clades often try to limit what comes in. It is important to note that while the Compact occupies the vast majority of space and sapients in the Core systems, Rogue Clades formally control small bits and pieces of these.
These Rogue Clades generally pose little strategic threat, although many have enough power to stir up trouble if pushed too far. An example of this is on Earth itself, where the polluted state of Neo Jersey is occupied by a Rogue megacorporate clade, Timeless Technologies. Clades in the Compact have their own credit ratings, which can raise or fall based on their adherence to the Compact and its core principles. Those who try to force citizens to stay and make war on neighbors have lower credit ratings than those that do not.
Items of Note
-Neo Art Deco: The dominant aesthetic in the Compact. Interestingly, the majority of the Compact's clades prefer the Compact-dominant aesthetics of Neo Art Deco, from robot design to fashion to architecture. Based on the Old Terran style of Art Deco, the style focuses on sleek lines and streamlined bodies. The fact that many standardized schematics are based on Neo Art Deco may have something to do with this. This fashion extends to weapons as well, with many historic firearms (especially from the early 20th and late 19th century) rechambered and modified to fire modern caseless rounds. Even energy weapons often assume the familiar shapes of vintage firearms. Fashions often resemble trenchcoats and vintage outfits, although they often are "smart clothing" able to change colors or even shape based on the wearer's preference.
-New Chicago: One of the most interesting historic cities in the Compact is New Chicago. Before the Singularity, there was the Great Midwestern Earthquake that had its epicenter near the city of Chicago. As many of the buildings were unprepared for seismic activity, the city ended up flooded and partially destroyed. During the Singularity, the city was rebuilt with modern materials. A new, modernized city was assembled in and around the ruins of the old. It went from a flooded ruin to a city based around a thriving aerospace port. The Singulartech Foundation maintains a significant presence within the city, as well as a Compact military garrison to protect one of Earth's busiest aerospace ports. The city itself is a perfect example (arguably the first) of Neo Art Deco architecture, and many of its older buildings have been restored to their former glory, and even improved upon. Visitors are warned, however, to stay away from certain areas of the city, as gangs and even some Rogue Clades have sway in the less reputable parts of town. Guests are advised to avoid the Yinfu Nightclub, which is frequented by members of the notorious White Dawn Triad.
-Singulartech Foundation: The Singulartech Foundation is a non-profit group dedicated to the advancement of technology and survive of transhumanity. They are an extremely pro-PSR organization, helping further acceptance of it across the Compact. A special division of the Singulartech Foundation is devoted to avoiding existential risks, or potential civilization and species killers. The Foundation's paramilitary arm, the Science Corps, is often deployed alongside Compact military forces in more dangerous cases. They have many exotic technologies at their disposal, such as basement universes, synthetic universes that can be used as prisons, for raw computing materials, or 'escape hatches' from our own universe. The current leader of the Foundation's X-Risk Reduction Division is an AGI known as the Red Queen. The Singulartech Foundation helped design many of the most commonly used fabber schematics, essentially being indirectly (or directly) responsible for the commonplace aesthetic of Neo Art Deco. Their slogan is "We put the future in your hands," and their symbol is a twisted double helix of DNA that resembles an "S" in shape. The Sci-Corps has a stylized atomic nucleus with crossed M1911A1 pistols beneath it, as well as the Latin phrase, "Cum Scientia Defendimus."
-Invisible College: The Invisible College was the first virtual reality college to become truly successful. Ironically, they have opened some "real life" campuses in places without proper mesh and augmented reality wireless networks up. Many older Earth colleges were assimilated into them. Even baseline humans can attend using 'smart goggles' other augmented and virtual reality gear. They often coordinate closely with the Compact and Singulartech Foundation to ensure their technology is higher than Rogue Clades. Together with the Singulartech Foundation, the IC helps identify potential X-Risks. They also have a very well respected xeno-archeology program, the Fermi-Sylveste Memorial Institute or FSMI. Due to the hazardous nature of many of their expeditions, the members of the FSMI are all expected to be physically capable, come prepared, and martially trained. The famous archaeologist adventurer Professor Max Savage works with this department. The IC also produces this reference. The symbol of the school is an oil lamp on an ancient computer monitor, with the motto, "Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est" beneath it.