Middle Tech Societies

Middle Tech (loading bay)
Image from Kentsuku CG World used with permission

Left to themselves, Middle Tech cultures and societies are highly unstable. Middle Tech technologies typically support large numbers of people and a rapid rate of technological advance; this typically leads to a High Tech civilization, if the inefficiencies characteristic of this tech level do not first lead to pollution, resource exhaustion, and a collapse to a lower tech level. Rare though they are, the Middle Tech societies and clades that do exist in Terragen space are very diverse. These include:

Original Middle Level Tech Civilizations: These are indigenous sophont civilizations in which technology has developed to industrial levels. They typically evolve into High Tech civilizations, as happened on Old Earth and some xeno civilizations or else self-destruct through a combination of ecological mismanagement, war, overpopulation, economic collapse, an other hazards associated with this level of technology. The species may survive at a lower tech level, or may become extinct as in the case of the Doreens and Thyresta.

Middle Level Tech Reserves: These incredibly inefficient and high maintenance societums are usually cultivated by transapients, either as a memetic lesson to ordinary sophonts ("see what it was like in the bad old days"), or as historical experiments, or (in the NoCoZo) as theme parks and real-life immersive settings. Because they are so difficult to keep without constant supervision and tweaking, they are usually recycled after a period of time.

Hybrid Middle Level Techs: A very common Middle Level Tech category, these incorporate High Tech elements into a fundamentally Middle Tech set of traditions. As with other technologically disadvantaged civilizations, few of these tend to last long. Within a few decades or centuries they progress naturally to High Tech, or are assimilated or conquered by more technologically advanced civilizations, fall prey to nanoswarms or transapient factors, or self-destruct. Most can be found as isolated subcultures in habitats and niches in transapient-regulated habitat swarms, orwoods, and other habitable megastructures. Industry, economics and biospherics are often inefficient, and for this reason the orwood or megastructure itself will recycle them when they become an irritant. A few on self-sustaining habitats survive through foreign aid and assistance from more technologically advanced societies, and many others depend on patronage or protection of a higher toposophic mind. Some are spacefaring (interplanetary only); usually using old ships or templates provided by friendly neighbours. The Konisham Republic is a good example of this sort of sociotype.

Mid Tek Lo Teks: (more commonly Midds) These are Lo Teks that use some typical Middle Tech technology, including machined parts (usually using desktop lathes and sometimes limited high tech manufacturing, assuming they can procure the technology). Unlike traditional Middle Level Techs, they choose reasonably efficient and sustainable technology, including wind and pedal power, plant-derived hydrocarbons, and so on. They are widespread, and typically live in large, lightly populated habitats and megastructures, on the borders or around the refuse piles of more advanced civilizations, or in commensal or symbiotic god dweller roles, although parawild and wildhu forms on the frontier, some of them even planet-dwelling, are also known.

Industrial-level Lo Teks: (more commonly Indies Indielowies) - these are Lo Teks that prefer heavier machinery. They are among the few Lo Tek groups that set up factories, foundries, and other trappings of larger civilization. Even so, careful management of resources, and rigorous population control means that they are able to survive far longer than traditional Middle Tech civilizations. However, their love of junk and need for specialized parts means they may be found living in proximity to other civilizations, or even as ruderals utilizing the refuse of a past disaster. They generally live in small clans, which are sometimes structured along the lines of larger historical civilizations - e.g. the head sophont may be called the "President" or "General", and so on. Because they are easy to keep and maintain, and yet their forts and foundries are quite spectacular looking, with plumes of white smoke and so on, indies are popular among societum enthusiasts.

Mid Tech Ludds: If created by a human clade, Middle Tech Ludd societies may appeal to romantic notions of a Golden Age of Man, before the coming of ai. Middle Tech Ludd societies founded by nonhuman clades typically have similarly unorthodox views of history, and harken back to some equally fictionalized period during which the members of the clade were predominant. Such societies may be autocratic and unstable; as such they rarely last long if contacted by the rest of galactic society, or affected by by agents of a higher toposophic that do not take special measures to preserve them as they are. It is not uncommon for the leaders of such societies to form castes or subcastes in which they have benefit of forbidden higher tech. Alternatively, such societies may be formed for more balanced religious or philosophical reasons, and may be carefully designed to be pleasant and highly stable. Even these, though, like any Middle Tech society, are vulnerable to interference from those who possess higher technologies.

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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev; revised by Stephen Inniss
Image by Kentsuku CG World, used with permission
Initially published on 12 October 2003.