[LMB] Cetaganda: Twin Empires and the Occupation

Tel teluekh at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 7 03:35:11 BST 2010

--- On Sun, 6/6/10, M. Haller Yamada <thefabmadamem at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Space Amish? (-: I can't even begin
> to wrap my head around it, but the idea would make a
> fantastic book.

It's not that out there. If I was trying to colonize a new planet, I'd look there or at similar groups first, because they have farming/craft skills and a sustained high population growth rate even in modernized societies. 

> It's really hard to say what the non-ghem, non-haut classes
> are like. Maybe they are given a whole lot of freedom, and
> the low tax rate may be historical. 

The ones that aren't slaves, anyway. The ghem-lords are playing "clone your own servitors", and the ba are actually explicitly slaves. I've heard arguments they're more like palace eunuchs, which would be more plausible if we ever saw them doing anything more important than running errands, cleaning labs, waiting on people, and basic lab tech work, or if the haut treated them like more than furniture.  

> If the people are tended
> like flowers, Cetaganda might have been a very attractive
> place for settlers . . . but a billion settlers 800 years
> ago? Hmmm, I can't see that either. 
> Why would people have moved? Borderline colonies near
> Cetaganda (I think Cetaganda has a lot of good wormhole
> jumps, if I remember right). Generous social policy, and
> perhaps Cetaganda encourages more than two kids per couple
> (which would be attractive to *some* people, but not all, I
> grant). Bountiful, beautiful land that's compatible with
> Earth botany? Wonderful tech opportunities, or energy
> resources? If Cetaganda is covered with glittering cities
> (see Miles' descent into Cetaganda), I think it must be some
> sort of great energy resource that powers all these places.

Mmm... but that could be misleading. As we know, Barrayar doesn't really believe in rural electrification (and it seems like it's mostly ocean too?). South Korea only has about twice the population as North Korea, but it's a lot more than twice as bright. 

The thing is, Barrayar's set-up is perfect for a massive, sustained population boom, and Eta Ceta's isn't. A population where raising kids doesn't cost much more than what it takes to feed and clothe them and they contribute economically to the family will pretty much always have more kids in the first place than one where raising children to productive adults is expensive (however subsidized it might be). And when you give the first kind of population access to modern tech, growth initially rockets off the charts. Religious groups like the Amish who live in a deliberately simple manner can enjoy high population growth and (some of) the benefits of modern tech at the same time, but the one phrase that doesn't describe the Cetas is "deliberately simple". 

I feel the Cetas must have been much less crazy once upon a time. Their present culture does not seem to be the least bit welcoming to or respectful of outsiders. I certainly wouldn't voluntarily move there. Definitely don't think the haut-empire is older than the uterine replicator. An empire, maybe.

Energy resources - maybe. Saudi Arabia's pretty urbanized these days, with cities. But not well-designed cities, note. Government systems based on clannishness, nepotism, and the absolute right to rule of a small number of people at the top tend not to work too well in practice, however much they may be idolized in fiction. 

I'm running the discussion of Ethan of Athos next. This is a book in which the dark side of Cetaganda is very much on display. 


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