Independent Human Baseline world

Image from Steve Bowers

Tylansia is a relatively small, independent baseline planetary colony in the Hinteregions, near the borders of the Keter Dominion and the Archosaurian Empire.. The planet has been essentially frozen at a late Information Age tech level for thousands of years, despite an endless cycle of cultural revolutions (powerful overthrowing powerful) that prove to be more destructive than constructive. Today, even ordinary turingrade AIs are owned only by the government, military, major corporations and wealthy individuals. What little nanotech it has acquired through trade is used exclusively by the military.

Tylansia has become a source of endless fascination for anthropologists throughout the Terragen, for four glaringly obvious reasons:

1. Tylansia has become a perfect textbook example of why Ludd economies have a tendency to collapse.
2. Tylansia has become a perfect textbook example of what happens when sapient authoritarianism is taken too far.
3. Tylansia has become a perfect textbook example of how incomprehensibly strange even a human baseline culture could become if it is cut off from the "outside world" for millennia.
4. Tylansia has become a classic textbook example of a culture imprisoned by its own language.

The origins of Tylansia are tragically ironic. It was originally named after one of the utopian virches of the early Information Era, which had since branched into innumerable separate virches. Kyratius Luminatus (2998 - 3089 AT), one of the Founding Fathers of the Tylansia Colony, wanted to establish a utopian colony where baseline humans could live in freedom, peace and prosperity with minimal (if any) transapient intervention. Unfortunately, Luminatus's utopian vision would last no more than a few centuries.

For thousands of years, the dominant philosophy of Tylansia has been Volderism (named after Lucius Volder, Tylansian philosopher 3504 - 3582), whose vision was to prevent Tylansia from becoming a stagnant utopia by any means necessary; even by induced, unnecessary oppression of the majority. Evidently Volder drew upon extreme, distorted interpretations of Information Age ludd manifestos for his inspiration.

Apart from being an extreme form of sapient authoritarianism, Volderism is also a curious combination of social conformity and self reliance. While a do-it-yourself ethic is almost mandatory, originality and creative freedom are generally discouraged and sometimes even penalized. Tylansians below a certain social standing are forced to work in groups - not to help each other (for to do so would be encouraging laziness in the person being helped), but to watch each other for possible transgressions. Great rewards - in the form of currency, perks or even promotion - are given to workers who report evidence of incompetence or fraud in their co-workers. This has led to a business culture of back-stabbing, deceit, fabrication and outright lies.

The reasons for this sorry state of affairs can be understood by studying some of the idiosyncrasies of the Tylansian language (a barely recognisable branch of the Middle Anglic root).

The Tylansian term for "truth teller" is "zhillawa hokopoko". Unfortunately, this is also the Tylansian term for "complaining child". In Tylansian, "zhillawa" = "truth" or "complaint" or "subversive exposure". Evidently, Tylansians see all truth telling as a form of complaint or subversion. "Hokopoko" = "child", "newcomer", "lowly servant" or "messenger". The superlative of this term is "beezhillawa hokopoko", which means either "excessive truth teller", "crying baby", "traitor", "slanderer", or "artist". In the context of "artist", "beezhillawa hokopoko" means "maker (speaker/messenger) of useless things (words/truths)".

The antonym of this term is "jalikana kiampona", which could either mean "liar" or "successful man". "Jalikana" = "lie/untruth", "convenient information", "command/order" or "policy". "Kiampona" = "mature man", "masculinity", "victory", "dominance", "rape" or "violence". The superlative of this term is "tiajalikana kiampona", which means "employer", "chief executive officer", "politician", "ruler" or "god". "Tiajalikana" = "convenient untruths fabricated for control of the disposable masses".

In a culture that says "truth teller" with a frown and "liar" with a smile, it is no surprise that the ruling class should keep the lower classes in line generation after generation.

In light of this system of inequality, it is another irony that the planet's official motto, when translated, says "We are all the same".

Even during its shortlived tourist boom during the early 10300's AT, Tylansia remained a notoriously xenophobic culture. While the major cities were relatively tolerant of nonhuman sapients (citizens would merely cross the street to avoid them), the smaller communities were cesspools of paranoia.

In one of its medium-sized seaside towns in 10306 AT, the presence of a small group of saurian Toh Chi tourists generated mass hysteria, where thousands of people rushed in one direction to evacuate the town, and thousands more (spurred on by the rapidly spreading news of the scaly visitors) rushed in the other direction to seek solace in the central church. One hundred and twenty-nine men, women and children were killed in the stampede, and a further fifty-seven drowned while trying to escape the town by swimming to a nearby island 24 km away. One man shot dead his wife and three children to spare them the horror of being eaten alive. The four Toh Chi tourists were detained for three days (after being repeatedly tasered and tranquilized despite their civil co-operation) and charged with involuntary manslaughter for their "inconsiderate appearance". The saurians were promptly released and deported when the Archosaurian Empire threatened Tylansia with "possible military action", while transmitting vivid holofootage of their warships melting huge asteroids for the purposes of habitat construction.

Five years later, a family of seven Narslian lion splices - a male, two females and four cubs - were slaughtered by failed businessman Kapioma Tyslora. Tyslora had wielded a 15mm Slytrantic rapid fire automatic rifle - and fired over 200 bullets - to ensure the execution of the physically imposing Narslians. The man was charged with "disorderly conduct", but was released after three days after it was decided that the appearance of the felines led to Tyslora's "temporary insanity", and that his military background and business success (ten years earlier) was evidence of "good character". He was deemed not a threat to other Tylansians.

As with the Archosaurian Empire only a few years before, the outraged Narslia polity - spearheaded by their high transapient guardian Mufasiah, and morally supported by the Utopia Sphere - demanded justice from the Tylansian government. While the Tylansian government and Tiajalikanamin (the planet's wealthiest freelance judicial corporation) refused to budge, Narslia did eventually receive a "letter of apology" from Kakagobo Schmakarona, the Tylansian Minister for Foreign Affairs. The letter was directed at the Narslian "pridemaster" (prime sapient facilitator), for Tylansians never communicated with true transapients - thus would acknowledge the existence of beings higher than the Tylansian ruling class. Unfortunately, this only caused further outrage among Narslians and their guardian.

In 10,331, a small group of splice and rianth honor warriors, mercenaries, and other assorted adventurers launched a relativistic invasion (arriving long after the original event had been conveniently wiped from Tylansian historical documents), and with their superior nanotechnology captured the Tylansian spaceport and various essential services. They were only persuaded to leave after the perpetrator, his family and supporters, Kakagobo Schmakarona himself, and various judiciary responsible for the miscarriage of justice were handed over to their tender mercies, and a hundred year lease on mining rights to several nearby asteroids was provided. The resulting outcry by the Tylansians reinforced their xenophobia, but also brought down the local government and their rival (identical in everything but name and minor points of polity) was elected instead.

Today, an alarmingly large portion of Tylansian regional hotels still feature the infamous "No Beast-Heads" sign above their entrances.

Nowhere is the Volderist ethic of conformist self-reliance more strikingly visible than in Tylansia's notorious "letterbox toilets". The toilets - to be used for defecation - are simply slots in the vertical walls, usually 5cm high by 15cm wide, and 75cm above the floor (Tylansians of short stature are forced to buy customized stools for the price of ten meals; shortness, along with other physical oddities, are evidence of the "mother's shame", just as physical prowess and strength is evidence of the "father's pride"). Using these toilets is a cumbersome task for any biont, let alone humans. However, many human tourists have sworn that they are much easier to use after consuming the right combination and proportion of Tylansian food and beverage. Failure to use the facilities properly (as captured by a network of "cultural compliance cameras") could lead to some truly humiliating punishments, such as being forced to wear diapers in public for a set amount of time. Repeat offenders are given forehead tattoos, which force them to use only the gutters of designated busy streets for the rest of their lives. There has been no attempt to provide alternative facilities for tourists - all requests to do so have been dismissed as "Sephirotic techno-cultural imperialism".

For reasons that only the Tylansian government could not fathom, Tylansia has failed to maintain a healthy tourist industry, despite regularly spending 1% of its planetary budget on tourist advertising throughout the Known Net.

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Text by Darren Ryding

Initially published on 09 March 2003.