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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Right Wing Critique of the Week - Split Infinity

It's been years since I read the series, but this isn't *really* a book review.

Split Infinity and its sequels take place on a planet where it's fairly easy for some people to cross into an alternate dimension by poking around. One side is a planet (Proton) that exports energy-dense minerals- "Protonite."

The fun part is that Proton is a meritocracy/plutocracy. The mineral rights are collectively owned by the Citizens, who form a rich and powerful elite. They get annual dividends that amount to... um.... 400 times the wages of the serfs. Maybe 2000. At any rate, the Serfs are all immigrants that come, work as slaves for 20 years, and then leave with a nice retirement nest egg.

There are annual all-around competitions that grant the winning Serf citizenship. The losers are deported.

The competitions are head-to-head, agreed upon by the two contestants via a game of chance and bluffing ability. They can range from football to poetry to ice climbing to fencing.

So the Citizens are all intelligent, athletic, renaissance men/women. Even so, the vast mineral wealth makes them rather inefficient, petty and corrupt, sorta like the Saudis. Besides the dividend income, they rent Serfs from their collective and use them to run businesses. Some Citizens do the actual mining, some build robots, some run pony ranches, casinos, etc. They gamble vast sums on daily events, political outcomes, the color of the eyes of the next person to walk by.

A quorum of Citizens has absolute power, and votes are apportioned based on wealth. 1 gram of Protonite equals one vote, and the votes are tallied by throwing chips into a giant balancing pan.

I think the system is slightly more rational than ours, but it would be unethical if there were any natives being oppressed. Remember that everyone on the planet came (or stayed) voluntarily.


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