Fads and Fashions

Image from Bernd Helfert

Civilization and Empire can only function through communication and commerce. And therein lies the risk. For with all the stargate links, the ever-pervasive known net, the great fleets of ships transporting produce and templates throughout the terragen bubble, there is the danger of ossification, of creeping uniformity. Thus the AI Gods in their wisdom are careful to encourage and nurture diversity. They know that uniformity means stasis, lack of competitiveness, and vulnerability to subversion by dangerous new blights and heterodox outer volume empires. Thus the Gods ensure that the vaster Terragen civilization becomes, the more multifaceted.

Throughout the great capitals and regional centers, the densely populated orbital bands, the arcologies, the asteroid habitats and deep space biospheres, sentient beings enjoy the choice of literally trillions of different pastimes, hobbies, lifestyles, adventures, professions, associations, indulgences, entertainments, dialects, consumables, memetics, and toposophic states. So vast, so mind numbing in its infinity of choices, is this diversity that many sapients are forced to withdraw into simpler options, forming clades, subcultures, and collectives and special interest groups closer to their own span of comprehension. Many sapients are happy to devote their entire life to a single sub-culture, a single clade, a single virtual or real world. Some become fusties, suffering from information overload and reacting in irrational or dysfunctional ways. Others again rejoice in it all, frolicking in the surf of infinite choices, rejoicing in each new fad that flitters throughout the trade routes and stargate nexi.

Even so Terragen Society is like a hungry animal that is never satisfied. The more fads it eats up, the more it wants. Entrepreneurs and dreamers scour the provinces and free zones, trawl the vastnesses between the settled star-systems, always looking for the next big thrill, the next transcend relic, alien artifact, xeno civilization, hider or subversive or neumann or visionary or fashionogenist, hero or anti-hero. And those lucky few who find the Next Big Thing become rich and famous beyond their wildest dreams...until the fad dulls or is supplanted or subverted by a new fad. And that in turn by another.

And this is how it has always been, since the dawn of the mass-media.
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Graphics by Bernd Helfert
Initially published on 10 September 2001.