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The Hegemony Villains in Looking Glass’ Terra Nova Game were Social Justice Warriors

terra_nova__strike_force_centauri__big_box_cover_by_rho_mu_31-d8pejqjGOG has put Terra Nova Strike Force Centauri back in circulation.

Terra Nova was a brilliant game hobbled by bad advertising and terrible FMV. It was one of the games that showed how amazing Looking Glass was.

There’s plenty of commentary on how ahead of its time its graphics and gameplay were, but it also had an amazing backstory that most people don’t remember because it was drowned by terrible FMV that had no relationship to it.

The clans of Alpha Centauri were Jupiter colonists who fled a solar system taken over by the Hegemony. The Hegemony was a nightmarish version of the UN, the USSR and the social justice warriors mashed together. After the Hegemony took over Jupiter by bombing a dome and killing 750,000 people, the Jupiter colonists escaped.

But the Hegemony followed them.

This abridged backstory from Terra Nova Strike Force Centauri’s library shows just how much effort went into developing the social system of the enemy empire in the game.

 

To understand the Hegemony, one must first understand the principles and aims of the Publican movement. The Publicans are the instigators and rulers of the Hegemony, and they have set all the policies of the Terran government since the early 22nd Century, when the United Nations was disbanded.

The Publicans themselves constitute a very special social class on Terra. As “guides” for humanity, they live somewhat outside of the restraints placed on human civilization. The special case of the Publicans is discussed later in the report after the rights, status and circumstances of all other Terrans are outlined.

Principles of Publicanism

1. Universal Equality, Selective Suffrage – the foundation of the Hegemony is equality of all citizens. Citizenship is a birthright of Terrans and can be lost only through antisocial behavior. Citizenship entails protection and equality under Hegemony law, but not the right to vote, that right is incumbent to a sub-class of citizens known as elders

An elder is a citizen who has served eight 4-year terms of public service. This service entitles the elder to vote on all matters of public policy not reserved to the Publican class. The political theory behind elder suffrage is that only a citizen who has devoted his life to public service has demonstrated the social commitment needed to vote in a responsible fashion.

2. Universal Public Service – Upon reaching the age of 18, all Terrans are tested for societal productivity and aptitude. The testing determines the socially useful skills of the candidate and the nature of their lifetime contribution to society. Once the citizen’s aptitudes have been tested, he/she is offered a 4-year position somewhere on Terra based on availability of work according to their aptitudes. If such a position is available, the candidate must accept it or suffer loss of citizenship.

Each citizen is permitted to decline a term of public service only once in their lifetime and must continue performing their current duty for two years at which point they must accept the next position offered to them.

Terms of public service may never be served in sequence in the same location. Terra’s entire population is constantly on the move, with individual families never residing in the same locale for more than four years at a time. Publican doctrine requires this as a means of ensuring equality and to prevent any from developing an attachment to the land that might lead to nationalistic sentiment.

All Terrans involved in Public Service are compensated equally, regardless of the service they perform. Administrators are paid exactly the same wage as street sweepers.

A citizen who has served two full-4-year terms is entitled to 10% higher compensation. Each subsequent two terms of service raises base compensation by an additional 10 percent.

Terrans serving in an enterprise of 20 or more individuals are subject to review by other members of their work force at any time during their period of service. Should 2/3rds of the work force disapprove, that individual is removed from the enterprise. Four such removals result in a loss of citizenship.

3. Universal Health Care, Shelter and Food – all Terrans, citizens or not, are entitled to free medical care, regardless of social position, depending on supply.

Housing – Within a single locale, all dwellings are the same in terms of construction, living space and fundamental equipment. Non-citizens, called deviants, are required to live in multi-family dwellings which it is a citizen’s right to live in a single family dwelling.

4. The Family – The institution of family, and children in particular, is at the heart of the Hegemony. Publicans see themselves as sacred keepers of the future, and nothing symbolizes the future of a society as much as their children. Much of the Hegemony’s legal system centers around isolation from family as punishment for anti-social behavior (see Deviants.)

All citizens are entitled to marry and conceive children. A family may consist of two adults and two children at any one time. Any excess children due to poor planning or multiple births are offered to childless couples or assumed into the Publican class.

All children between the ages of 6 and 18 must spend 4 months of every year in service to the state. Such service usually consists of providing child care, although light labor such as food distribution and social work projects may occasionally be required.

All children are educated in Publican schools in Literacy, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Data Navigation. The teaching of History or any schooling in cultural or ethnic heritage is considered child abuse and is punished as such.

Child abuse is one of the most serious crimes that can be committed under Hegemony rule. It is punishable by loss of citizenship or death. Inadvertent or unconscious child abuse will warn a parent or caregiver a warning and a required course of study.

5. Economics

The Hegemony operates under a limited market economy that has only a surface resemblance to what was once called Socialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Entire Hegemony is a Free Trade Zone. Profit is strictly regulated at 8%. No enterprise may earn more than 8% above investment on an annual basis. Any addition profit generated must be tithed to the Hegemony. All profit is equally divided among the workers of any enterprise.

There is no private ownership of land in the Hegemony. All land belongs to the state and is leased in tenancy to the people who live there. Citizens may own household goods, but no machinery of production may be pricately owned with the exception of hand tools.

All crafts are organized into guilds of varying sizes. The only individual revenue-generation activity permitted in the Hegemony is in the fields of art and entertainment. Profit is strictly regulated. Artists and entertainers must serve 4-year-terms subject to relocation at the Hegemony’s whim.

Banking and capitalism are all outlawed forms of economic endeavor, as is the selling of insurance. New enterprises are spawned as the need arises with funding from the Hegemony. Need is determined by availability of resources and services.

6. Deviants

Any Terran who is deprived of citizenship is classified as a deviant. Deviants are not permitted to dwell in Terran society, nor to have any contact with citizens. The deviants never call themselves that, instead prefering to call themselves, The Forsaken.

All deviants are required to live in special preserves with the largest of them being situated in Antarctica. Repeated attempts to break quarantine result in exile to Antarctica.

Deviant society is self-governing. All deviants are sterilized. There are rumors of children who seek refuge in deviant preserves.

7. The Publicans

Since 2104, the Publicans, an elite class of public servants created by the UN, have ruled Terra. The idea was that public administration has always tended to corruption because the administrators earned their positions as spoils of political victory.

The Publicans were to be career public servants with no ties to any political interest group or political franchise. That theory worked well until the Publicans became a political interest group on their own. By that time they controlled most of the media and virtually all channels of distribution of resources and the bureaucracies that implemented public policy.

When they determined that it was in the public interest for them to take over, they did. Thus was born the Hegemony.

Publicans still may not vote, but they do set the agenda. There is no true public referendum in the Hegemony, only the appearance of one. Citizens and elders may propose legislation, but if the Publicans oppose them, the matter will never come to a vote.

Publicans are entitled to greater shares of housing, food and consumer goods owing to their “exceptional contributions to the workings of the state.”

Mastoid implants are placed in all Publicans allowing them to covertly communicate among themselves.

Disputes between citizens and Publicans can only be judged by a Publican court. Citizens may not sit in judgement of Publicans on any matter.

While no citizen may bear arms, Publicans are permitted to carry weapons.

Publican children are educated in special schools that teach a broader curriculum including the humanities and social sciences.

Publicans at the highest level are permitted to remain in a single location for their entire lifetimes.

The Publicans brook no opposition nor sanction alternative approaches. Of great import to them is the firm belief that they constitute the only prop[er human authority in existence.

They believe that they are charged with the salvation of the human race.

They all eat the same foods, live in the same sorts of dwellings and individuality and uniqueness are anathema to the Publicans and thus outlawed in the Hegemony.

2046 Lunar Colonization

2074 Publican class established by UN

2104 Publicans take over, UN disbanded, Hegemony established

2110 First Public Education Campaign undertaken. Latin and Central America purged of independent nations.

2115 Second Public Education Campaign launched. Africa unified into a single entity

2117 Third and final Public Education campaign started. Earth becomes a single nation with common language and laws.

2122 Venus Wars begin. Hegemony landing attempts repelled by colonists.

2123 Hegemony establishes first beachhead on Venus while suffering heavy casualties. Venus Resistance shifts to war of attrition rather than defense

2124 Hegemony forces destroy the dome colony of Jerusalem resulting in the instant annihilation of some 750,000 people. Venus capitulates.

2130 Interstellar Agreement reached. The colonists of Jupiter agree to relocate to Centuari. The Hegemony assists the Jupiter colonists with preparation.

Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Review – The Andorian Incident

“The Andorian Incident”

Summary: Enterprise does Hogan’s Heroes and Archer channels the spirit of Janeway.

Andorian Incident”Quite a few Star Trek fans became excited at the news that Enterprise was going to bring back the Andorians, but they might as well have not bothered since their appearance contained little more material and depth than the average Voyager alien of the week. The entire plotline pitting Vulcan non-violence and logic against Andorian arrogance and paranoia and human pragmatism and ruthlessness might have made for an interesting exploration of three races and three cultures; but instead we are given a Hogan’s Heroes plot in which Trip sneaks around looking for hidden radios under the noses of his captors. The Andorian culture is not explored, nor is their identity expanded on in any way. In fact, eliminate the Trek pre-history and the Andorians would just be another weird-looking Voyager alien of the week. Their only function in Andorian Incident is to play Colonel Klink to Archer’s Hogan, be violent and threatening and then suddenly passive. They have no depth or complexity, they simply exist and act to move the plot along.

We learn little about the Vulcans either, except for more awful ‘smell’ jokes. Considering that Vulcans have the discipline to suppress emotion, it’s doubtful that they would really be bothered by smells. Nor is this particular joke actually amusing in the first place. The final revelation is not expanded on in any way and the scene of the Vulcan monk being punched out is dubious at best, especially after we see an Andorian beat Archer and Trip at the same time, and we know that Vulcans are stronger than humans. This episode’s entire appeal is to the knowledge of Trek history but seems to be completely uniformed by it.

Produced from the pen of Fred Dekker, formerly the director of Robocop 3 and a veteran of Tales from the Crypt, Andorian Incident is a long journey to nowhere, of which every minute feels as agonizing as Scott Bakula’s torture at the hands of Jeffrey Combs, who seems to have become Star Trek’s filler alien actor. And Combs is allowed to do nothing to make his character stand out in any way, which essentially makes his role that of Andorian #2. This essentially disposes of the Andorian aspect of the Andorian Incident, which might as well not be there.

This leaves us with what is essentially a story about a hostage situation, that has been done a very nearly infinite amount of times on virtually every action series on television. The only thing original about this take on the material, is Archer’s transformation into Janeway as he fumbles for something to do, most of which consists of being beaten into a bloody pulp. His final decision to hand over the information to the Andorians smacks of Janeway’s arrogant and mindless interventionism in other people’s affairs and is downright bizarre in a universe where the humans are outgunned by superior races and their only putative allies are those same Vulcans Archer dislikes so much.

Archer’s first problem begins with the fact that he had no real role in intervening in the situation in the first place, especially if the monks did not want him to. His second problem is that his intervention was disastrous at best. As in Terra Nova, he seems borderline ignorant of elementary military tactics. For example, it is mind boggling to see Archer and Trip realize that the monks are being held hostage and so direct all their attention to one attacker, never even taking into account the possibility of other attackers or bothering to retrieve the downed Andorian’s weapon; almost as mind boggling as Archer leaving Reed behind in the tunnels on Terra Nova. The exact same organization we see on the part of Malcolm Reed, when dealing with the crisis, is the same kind of organization so thoroughly and bafflingly lacking in Archer’s actions. At times it seems as if the wrong man is in command here.

Archer’s final problem is the notion that he has any right to tell either side what to do. It’s not clear why he thinks this, but it seems a legacy of Janeway’s Voyager-era rampages in which she ordered around people on alien worlds, e.g. Natural Law. Except that Janeway at least had a powerful starship while Archer’s is vastly out-of-date. Nevertheless, Archer has insisted on involving himself in situations where he’s vastly outgunned. In Broken Bow and Fight or Flight, he at least took the right side and had some justification for his actions. In Unexpected however, he unnecessarily annoys the Klingons and squanders their debt to him and in Andorian Incident, he intervenes in the conflict of two races, either of whom could crush Earth without barely trying.

Indeed, Andorian Incident could easily have been a Voyager episode. It offers no insight into the races it depicts; its plot and the actions of its characters make little sense and the only joy in it comes from seeing Reed take command and nearly take care of business. Not only has Enterprise’s take on the Vulcans grown tiresome after a handful of episodes, but the series really needs to inject a certain amount of competence into the portrayal of its Captain and look for episodes based on material more original, than Hogan’s heroes.

Next week: Revenge is a dish best served cold and it’s very cold on an ice comet.

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – The Andorian Incident

Summary: Enterprise does Hogan’s Heroes and Archer channels the spirit of Janeway.

star trek enterprise the andorian incidentQuite a few Star Trek fans became excited at the news that Enterprise was going to bring back the Andorians, but they might as well have not bothered since their appearance contained little more material and depth than the average Voyager alien of the week. The entire plotline pitting Vulcan non-violence and logic against Andorian arrogance and paranoia and human pragmatism and ruthlessness might have made for an interesting exploration of three races and three cultures; but instead we are given a Hogan’s Heroes plot in which Trip sneaks around looking for hidden radios under the noses of his captors. The Andorian culture is not explored, nor is their identity expanded on in any way. In fact, eliminate the Trek pre-history and the Andorians would just be another weird-looking Voyager alien of the week. Their only function in Andorian Incident is to play Colonel Klink to Archer’s Hogan, be violent and threatening and then suddenly passive. They have no depth or complexity, they simply exist and act to move the plot along.

We learn little about the Vulcans either, except for more awful ‘smell’ jokes. Considering that Vulcans have the discipline to suppress emotion, it’s doubtful that they would really be bothered by smells. Nor is this particular joke actually amusing in the first place. The final revelation is not expanded on in any way and the scene of the Vulcan monk being punched out is dubious at best, especially after we see an Andorian beat Archer and Trip at the same time, and we know that Vulcans are stronger than humans. This episode’s entire appeal is to the knowledge of Trek history but seems to be completely uniformed by it.

Produced from the pen of Fred Dekker, formerly the director of Robocop 3 and a veteran of Tales from the Crypt, Andorian Incident is a long journey to nowhere, of which every minute feels as agonizing as Scott Bakula’s torture at the hands of Jeffrey Combs, who seems to have become Star Trek’s filler alien actor. And Combs is allowed to do nothing to make his character stand out in any way, which essentially makes his role that of Andorian #2. This essentially disposes of the Andorian aspect of the Andorian Incident, which might as well not be there.

This leaves us with what is essentially a story about a hostage situation, that has been done a very nearly infinite amount of times on virtually every action series on television. The only thing original about this take on the material, is Archer’s transformation into Janeway as he fumbles for something to do, most of which consists of being beaten into a bloody pulp. His final decision to hand over the information to the Andorians smacks of Janeway’s arrogant and mindless interventionism in other people’s affairs and is downright bizarre in a universe where the humans are outgunned by superior races and their only putative allies are those same Vulcans Archer dislikes so much.

Archer’s first problem begins with the fact that he had no real role in intervening in the situation in the first place, especially if the monks did not want him to. His second problem is that his intervention was disastrous at best. As in Terra Nova, he seems borderline ignorant of elementary military tactics. For example, it is mind boggling to see Archer and Trip realize that the monks are being held hostage and so direct all their attention to one attacker, never even taking into account the possibility of other attackers or bothering to retrieve the downed Andorian’s weapon; almost as mind boggling as Archer leaving Reed behind in the tunnels on Terra Nova. The exact same organization we see on the part of Malcolm Reed, when dealing with the crisis, is the same kind of organization so thoroughly and bafflingly lacking in Archer’s actions. At times it seems as if the wrong man is in command here.

Archer’s final problem is the notion that he has any right to tell either side what to do. It’s not clear why he thinks this, but it seems a legacy of Janeway’s Voyager-era rampages in which she ordered around people on alien worlds, e.g. Natural Law. Except that Janeway at least had a powerful starship while Archer’s is vastly out-of-date. Nevertheless, Archer has insisted on involving himself in situations where he’s vastly outgunned. In Broken Bow and Fight or Flight, he at least took the right side and had some justification for his actions. In Unexpected however, he unnecessarily annoys the Klingons and squanders their debt to him and in Andorian Incident, he intervenes in the conflict of two races, either of whom could crush Earth without barely trying.

Indeed, Andorian Incident could easily have been a Voyager episode. It offers no insight into the races it depicts; its plot and the actions of its characters make little sense and the only joy in it comes from seeing Reed take command and nearly take care of business. Not only has Enterprise’s take on the Vulcans grown tiresome after a handful of episodes, but the series really needs to inject a certain amount of competence into the portrayal of its Captain and look for episodes based on material more original, than Hogan’s heroes.

Next week: Revenge is a dish best served cold and it’s very cold on an ice comet.

Star Trek Enterprise episode review – Terra Nova

Summary: Enterprise explores the mystery of a planet whose human colonists have disappeared and gone feral.

star trek enterprise terra novaAn episode rather similar to the 7th season Voyager episode, Friendship One. Much of the same elements are there. The poisoned planet and its diseased underground inhabitants who blame humans for their plight, hostages being taken, an unreasonable leader and a somewhat more reasonable woman whom they manage to reach through a medical cure. The minor difference is that the settlers aren’t nearly as violent as the cave people from Friendship One, which makes them somewhat understandable and sympathetic characters. The key difference of course is that the inhabitants are actually feral children of the original human settlers from the colony covered in mud. This difference is also the only reason why Terra Nova works and Friendship One didn’t.

Or at least it works for a while anyway. Starting from the premise of a Roanoke colony whose inhabitants have gone missing, the episode makes for an intriguing beginning but as with Strange New World, the episode quickly deflates the mystery and moves on to dealing with the human elements of the problem. While this is an improvement over Voyager’s tendency towards technobabble and spatial anomalies, a little mystery can be good too. And the only mystery that remains involving the impact that brings the poisoned rain is deflated and resolved in an all-together un-mysterious manner.

Still Levar Burton’s (Geordi from TNG) lushly shot exteriors and the talents of the two actors playing the natives at overcoming the dialogue peppered with bad post-apocalyptic 80’s movie slang, help make Terra Nova work well enough as a good episode, even if not a particularly rewatchable one. Recovering from last week’s disaster, TN features some rather clever set design including a brief shot of a large armadillo like creature, whose shells are scattered around everywhere around the caves and turned into tools and food. It’s a cheap and subtle touch that goes a long way. A lesson Unexpected could have certainly used.

Better yet, Dr Phlox and Malcolm Reed who may well end up being Enterprise’s breakout characters get more screen time and the dreary and bland Trip gets less screen time. Reed has some very nice underplayed moments in the caverns and even Bakula himself shows some emotion and becomes genuinely distraught at the revelation of what the colonists have become. After the last two episodes where Bakula bordered on the robotic, it’s nice to see that he has some depth to play.

The ending is more than a bit of cliche. It’s the one piece of the plot that isn’t directly borrowed from Friendship One, but it is borrowed from about a dozen episodes of Bonanza. Still it’s a cliche that flows well enough with the general feel of the episode, which like most of the Enterprise episodes so far is charmingly earnest and sincere, if not particularly engaging or suspenseful.

Next week: Enter the Andorians.

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