Friday, March 1, 2013

Swords & Celebrity

The red-skinned humanoids of Zyanthion are known throughout the galaxy for their pursuit of pleasure and their peculiar, anarchic society. Popular media depicts them as passionate to a fault; as likely to be heedlessly pursuing a new romantic conquest as to be fighting a duel with archaic (but deadly) graphene-edged rapiers--and they do either in a very public way.

To visitors from other cultures, Zyann seem obsessed with status and celebrity. Virtually all their activities are public recorded in their noosphere [planet-wide internet and grid]. They live or die socially by the praise or disapproval they receive for their actions. Zyanthion operates on a reputation economy. There is no money; goods and services are given to others in hopes of enhancing one’s own prestige. This “currency” (awarded and tracked in the noosphere) is known as éclat. Zyann who have accumulated high éclat (whether from artistry, craftsmanship, bravery, or skill as a lover) can become a powerful in their society, able to occupy manors and estates, and assume self-chosen titles of nobility--as long as their éclat remains sufficiently high.

Current fashion is important to Zyann in all facets of their society. Religions and belief systems appear, flourish, and fall from favor almost as quickly as clothing fads. Only a few Zyann have cultivated the “right” sort of name to avoid having to chase styles to maintain their position.

Because of the supremacy of reputation, Zyann honor is easily offended. Off-world visitors can easily find themselves challenged to a duel. Consultation of a lawyer of at least moderate éclat is advised in such situations, as there are face-saving ways of avoiding the deadly art of Zyann swordsmanship in many cases.  Of course, visitors have to be mindful of their own graciously gifted éclat in such situations.


Jim Shelley said...

I'm digging these sci-fi entries. I would love to see a Space Adventures companion to Weird Adventures.

Chris C. said...

The reputation/éclat base for the social structure is a really cool idea.

Trey said...

Thanks guys!

@Jim - You're not the first to ask for that. :)

@Bard - I can't back credit for the basic idea. While it's of more interest today, the earliest place that a short of reputation economy shows up that I'm aware of is Jack Vance's 1961 story "The Moon Moth." Of course, Vance didn't know about social media and how that might be leveraged to make this sort of thing work.

Ben L. said...

This whole series of pulp space entries has been fantastic. Zyanthion just oozes with possibilities for adventure.

Trey said...

Glad you're enjoying them, Ben. More to come!

Brutorz Bill said...

Ditto what everyone else said, I'm quite enjoying these posts!

Malcadon said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the Whuffie concept. I have seen Reputation Points used in PRGs as an abstract means to note fame/infamy, with the ability to pull special favors (or as placeholder for XP, with superhero games), but I never seen it used as outright currency. Its like the thumbs up/down feature seen on many websites, but made into an economic system. I may find use with it on my sci-fi games.

I also like your Barsoomian-like race. Such a race -- regardless of incarnation -- are as iconic to pulp sci-fi/fantasy, as elves, dwarves and orcs are to high fantasy. Its always good to see peoples' take on them, and what they bring to such an archetype. Good work!

Trey said...

@Bill - Thanks.

@Malcadon - You're welcome, and thanks. I guess my sort of goal with this series of posts is to bring some newer science fiction/futurist ideas to old pulp tropes and see what can be made of them.