Meta-empires, Civilizations, and Cultures
Daniel Borde Avatar
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Terragen civilization consists of a huge number of interlinked societies. At the highest level are the Meta-empires, super-civilizations that may themselves be made up of lesser empires, federations, and political structures. Below the Meta-empires are the various groupings of individual civilizations that comprise them. Finally, existing within and among, as part of and apart from the various civilizations are the major societies, movements, and schools of thought that chart the course of each civilization and, through them, the Meta-empires above.

Beginning with examples of the major Meta-empires and working downward through a sampling of the major civilizations and societies, we see some of the forces that shape society today.

Meta-empire Clusters

The Deeper Covenant

A loose, extremely distributed cyber-democratic civilization living mostly on, in, and around the brown dwarfs and extra-solar planets of known space. The Deeper Covenant was founded by the descendants of the construction crew of the first beamrider, who escaped the solar system to the brown dwarf Yin during the Nanodisaster.

Deepers (as they are generally called) have a deep social ethos of cooperation and service to civilization in general and to maintaining and extending the Beamrider Network in particular. They form a relaxed but hardworking culture of persons who feel themselves to be part of modern civilization, but at one remove from it (unlike their very distant cousins, the Backrounders and Hiders, who see themselves as entirely separate). Social stability is reinforced through the use of 'empathyware' nanotech: when a user is in close proximity to another person using the e-ware a short range LAN is set up that transmits a low power sense of the emotional state of the person to every nearby member of the group. This technology, although rejected by some Deepers, accounts for the peacefulness and stability of Deeper culture.

Deepers make use of the full range of modern technologies and are made up of virtually every type of clade and species. It is not at all unusual for travelers on the Network to feel an affinity for these pleasant people and to decide to spend a few years or decades or centuries living and working as one of them. Nor is it uncommon for born Deepers to come to live in the hustle and hurry of the Wormhole Nexus for a time before eventually returning to their worlds. Being a Deeper, it is said, is more of a state of mind than a state of being.

The Diamond Network

A vast, diverse, and often fairly loose network of isolationist, farmer, hu-hostile, and hu-neutral ai, ai-polities, and virchcosms, that evolved from the early ai diaspora. Were they to act cooperatively, they would be a force to be reckoned with, in size and power exceeded only by the Sephirotic Civilized Galaxy and the Solipsist Panvirtuality. More often, the various clades go their own way, but in the event of danger or threat from a blight or hostile polity they will usually cooperate quite well. It is not unknown for Diamond Network polities and superpolities to go to war with one another. Megascale engineering is very common, and only ais are included in the Network, although other types of sophonts may be and indeed often are enslaved or farmed as sophontstock. They have their own wormhole nexus for lower toposphics, although they share the God Web with other archailects, a fact that has led observers to suggest that differences between civilizations are more apparent than real, especially at the higher toposphics.

The Objectivist Commonwealth

A network of "objectivist" ais who reject biont memes and any form of "subjectivity". These efficient and pragmatic sophonts are fond of megascale engineering products like Dyson spheres that maximize productivity. As with a number of other civilizations, the Objectivist leadership is by higher toposophic ai only, and although member ais recognize sentient rights they do so according to their own "objective" standards, which can be puzzling to outsiders lacking the appropriate translation protocols. The Objectivists are among the most missionary of all the ai hyperpowers; as they believe those who are too heavily subjective bring about mass destruction to the sentient life around them. In their view objective usage of resources and objective control of population numbers allows the physical universe to be exploited for the needs of sentient beings without creating inefficiencies or inconveniences.

The Sephirotic Empires

The central axis and greatest hyperpowers of the Civilized Galaxy, the Sephirotics consist of a number of vast archailect-ruled sephirotic and near-sephirotic superempires, along with various associated non-aligned polities and empires that share their values. Each super-empire is very different from the next, but on the whole they have more in common with each other than with the other civilizations. The Sephirotics are characterized by a strongly hierarchical archailectocratic regime, and on the whole (there are exceptions) favor K-type stars and above for their superior energy output. They practice a moderate degree of megascale engineering including the construction of a very elaborate Wormhole Nexus and Known Net linking most their primary systems.

Sephirotic civilizations generally take a benevolent and altruistic approach to sentient rights (or at least as it is experienced by most sentients). Their citizenship is made up of all types of sophont beings.

The Solipsist Panvirtuality

A huge but loose network of vast isolationist anti-biont (and often anti-vec as well) hyperturings and archailects that evolved from the early ai diaspora. The Panvirts are the main rival to the Sephirotics, like them they are not a single empire but a collection of very different (and sometimes conflicting) ai clades, empires, polities, and evolutions. While the Solipsist Panvirtuality will appropriate any unclaimed stars — from red dwarfs up to O-type blue giants — developing the star systems with megascale engineering of all kinds, the larger, brighter stars of O, B, and A class are always preferred, and it is not unknown for Panvirts to trade red dwarfs and even dimmer yellow stars for other resources. This group does not recognize sentient rights of non-Panvirtuality beings, and is suspected of having been behind a number of perverse and semi-perverse transcensions. It has definite Cyberian connections. The Solipsists have their own very extensive wormhole nexus, which in some places overlaps with that of the Sephirotics, and at the higher toposophic levels all the share the same God Web. Their own part of the Known Net is larger and more comprehensive than that of the Sephirotics (so much so that some say that the Panvirtuality "owns" the Known Net). Some have said the Panvirtuality created the Amalgamation, but most believe this is just rumor.

Major Civilizations

They define the civilized universe, are ruled over by hierarchies of superhuman intelligences, constitute utopias of unimaginable wealth and information, and are linked by a nexus of wormholes the like of which the galaxy has never seen. They are not just empires but interstellar bodies of gods, where even the humblest sophont can live in angelnetted safety. Select one as residence, and evolve to posthuman perfection within memetic guidelines. Or opt for uncertain freedom beyond their borders. The choice is yours... Below are a few examples, drawn from the Sephirotic metacultures/meta-empires.

The Metasoft Version Tree

The Metasoft Version Tree, one of the greatest industrial and military hyperpowers the galaxy has ever seen, emerged during the 2100's as the Ceres-based Neumann-industrial megacorporation Metasoft Interstellar began to launch self-replicating robotic probes, planning to both set up a global network and gain a near omnipotent industrial base. What the Metasoft management did not realize was that this was merely the pretext for their company AI to send copies of its code on the replicator ships. As the ships spread far beyond any human control, they began not just to build other ships and wormhole gates, but hidden AI cores and vec societies. When Metasoft Interstellar found out it was too late, it had to accept the fait accompli and hand over the reins of power to the vec AIs in 2344.

In order to handle both replication errors and the need for updating code to suit local demands, the Version Tree system was instituted in 2582. It is a system for revising software and transferring knowledge/AI personality between different systems that became the backbone of the Metasoft empire, a kind of digital lingua franca used by its AIs, vecs and bots. Other vecs also adopted it, and many of their societies were gradually absorbed into Metasoft set of cultures.

The Negentropy Alliance

The AI cluster hierarchy ruling the Negentropy Alliance is seen by the religious as the Strict One, Geburah, the Just One, the Ruler, or the Eternal Judge. It embodies rules, organization and structure. This cluster formulated The Precepts of Negentropy, which were first announced through the Research Brotherhood of Omegarete in 2465 a.t., but later directly pronounced from the Judge on Negentropy Prime (Seat of Judgment). The basic tenet of the Judge is that entropy must be fought. By the laws of thermodynamics the universe is sliding down towards chaos, dissolution, and the heat death. However, local order can be maintained indefinitely by using energy wisely, resisting randomness and decay. The goal of all intelligent life should be the slowing of entropy, and possibly developing a way of escaping from the "Thermodynamic Trap". To achieve this, the Judge has formulated a number of precepts to guide action, thought and ambition. They encompass mainly ethics and politics, but also technology and body design.

Despite what many think, the domain of the Judge oversees a very diverse volume of space. Within the Precepts of Negentropy there is room for considerable variation, interpretation and cultural differences. As ruling AI, Geburah does not prevent attempts at creating something new, but merely prevents wasting resources on anything that has been shown not to work. This has led to a rather strong conservatism in general, but the success of cultures is hard to judge when so many different and incompatible societies exist side by side, bound by the Precepts. Conflicts are not allowed to escalate into violence except under the Rules of Forceful Conduct, but are usually dealt with using the Negentropy Judiciary System, the interstellar administration and priesthood of Negentropism. At the highest level the Judge of Negentropy Prime is the supreme instance, but most cases never reach anything but the sector courts.

The Non-Coercive Zone (NoCoZo)

From the outside the NoCoZo appears as a disorderly mess of small empires, houses, megacorps, independent worlds and habitats exploiting the fact that all the local AIs all seem to be pro-trade, pro-freedom, pro-networking and against allowing large-scale coercion. A common nickname of the NoCoZo is the Zoo. Some claim this is the domain of The Invisible Hand of the Market, a hypothetical high AI-god, the result of some of the old founding corp AIs or their descendants ascending in order to protect their creation. If any such archailect exists, it has not chosen to reveal its existence in any clear way.

The NoCoZo does not allow coercion between member groups, but it does not formally hinder them from using coercion internally. There have been slave empires and planned economies within the Zone in the past. However, such groups often find themselves running against the general ideology of freedom within the Zone, and lose business due to their reputations. There has also developed a system of tiered membership, where members on the same tier give each other institutionalized bargains. Most members are Tier 1 members, simply agreeing not to initiate force. Tier 2 members have signed further treaties delineating internal economic and social freedoms. Tier 3 members have signed the Tier 3 Total Freedom Treaty, essentially turning themselves into anarchocapitalist free trade zones. There also exists the near mythical Tier 4 members, who have integrated their economies into a transapientech AI financial net (often called the Invisible Hand).

The Technorapture Hypernation (TRHN)

A rival with Keter for the status of most ascended superpolity, the Technorapture Hypernation (or TRHN) first developed from a number of clades of transcended posthumans, bioborgs and cyborgs around Castor. These began to build up computronium orbital banks and other toposophic-breaching tech during the later Federation period, and developed a loose culture seeking technextacy: the joyful unfolding of the self into "infinite fun space". This culture is largely derived from the old transhumanist, cosmist and techno-dionysian ideas, but deliberately rejected the omegism that came to power Keterism and many other ideologies. The rejection is based on placing the development of individual quality higher than any collective quantity — in principle it doesn't matter to a member of the THRN if the entire universe is destroyed tomorrow if you have lived a rewarding life. Such rewards come from self-shaping into new qualities rather than having to achieve some fixed goals, and ascension is viewed as a possible choice of self-expression, but not the only possible.

Ascends and transcends by the TRHN citizens and polities are frequent and sometimes disturbing to other more conservative empires, but the ruling archailects keep a good grip on things at the large scale, and the TRHN has never adopted coercive policies of or been considered a perversity in the way that, say, the Efficency Maximization Paradigm has.

TRHN worlds and nodes tend to be linked by numerous small wormholes. Since these are much too small to accommodate ships, and since they do not allow larger wormholes to built in their vicinity, the only vessels that visit them are those of relativists. It is not unusual to find a dozen big relativist ships (often several hundred meters in length) vying for docking space around a 10-meter customs node.

While the THRN is not an obvious power along the lines of the Dominion or Metasoft, appearances can be deceptive, and the Hypernation can marshal astonishing resources when the need arises. For the most part though it remains a network widely distributed across known space, one with a reputation for providing unexpected help to those in need.

To learn more about the various Sephirotic civilization clusters, click HERE

Polities, Cultures, and Social Movements:

Many other cultures or groups of cultures few are found over broad areas of the Civilized Galaxy. Here are a few examples.

The Alignment Movement

Founded in 2834 by the AI cluster Increment Known of Arbiter B-IIX of the Keter Dominion, the Alignment Movement believes pulsars (and to a lesser extent neutron stars) are sacred and meaningful in themselves. They seek to synchronize all pulsars to the "Great Pulse", and to this end they set out to build wormhole links to all available pulsars. Over the last 7000 years they have done this with great zeal, despite temporary setbacks like the Formation Wars. The Arbiter system of the Keter Dominion has become a sizeable wormhole nexus of links leading only to neutron stars and pulsars, making it a somewhat odd but occasionally useful transit point. The Aligners (mainly highly modified tweaks and cyborgs as well as Increment Known's vec "offspring") have sent out wormhole-carrying ships towards remote pulsars and are among the most energetic supporters for further exploration.


There are many who do not trust the ruling superbrights and hyperturings. Those who have resources flee outwards to the periphery, seeking to start a new world. Others conceal themselves in great worldships plying the vast distances between the stars, or in small resource poor systems not connected to the main stargate nexus. Many establish habitats in the icy bodies of the oort clouds. Some hide out even in the midst of great cities, using high-level encryption to ensure they are not monitored. A few even seek to overthrow the established order, but most hiders prefer to keep to themselves, nursing their paranoia's in private, developing their own unique cultures, trade links, technologies, genemods and cybermods.


Pan-Sophontism is a philosophy that grew up in the third century AT, as the provolution of more and more species into sophonts occurred. Its basic tenet is that now that living things can be raised up into sophonts, it is only ethical that they are so raised up, and saved from the 'nasty, brutish and short' life of a natural, unmodified creature. To Pan-Sophontists all life deserves to be not just sentient, but sophont, and that, thus, all sophonts should work to create more sophonts out of currently non-sophont species. Humanity should not just provolve those creatures that it thinks would be useful to it.

An offshoot of the Pan-Sophontist movement, the Pan-Materialists, believes that not just all life, but all matter should be restructured into sophont forms. More extreme factions within this group believe that this process should also not just be confined to the matter which exists within the current universe, and are making active efforts to probe basement and other postulated universes to begin their important work there, too.

The Shadow Federation

Very little is known about the Shadow Federation. Even the name is a tag applied to them by others. It is basically a loose alliance — less a federation than a confederation, if that — of any number of outside cultures, such as the Space People, the Haloists, the Backgrounders, certain radical and highly modified sapientchimp and other provolve elements (those who did not join the actual Federation), and other clades, united by fear and hatred and paranoia of the inner solar system, the AIs, baseline normals, etc., who chose instead to live in the blackness of the outer Oort Clouds, using stealth technology to avoid detection.

To learn more about the various civilizations occupying Terragen space, click HERE.

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