Gibson
Technology: +2 Slipstream use
Environment: -2 Hostile environment (gravity but dangerous atmosphere)
Resources: -2 Needs imports

Aspects:

  • System-wide ecological rescue mission
  • "We're here to help"
  • Glass House or Gilded Cage?
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Gibson, as a system, was on its last legs. For centuries the Syndicates and their puppet governments had squandered planetary resources, and the bulk of the population had ignored the warning signs. By the time the people woke to the danger, and overthrew the syndicates in a violent upheaval, it was already too late to reverse the damage.

The oceans bloomed red with algae, the air turned thick and poisonous, and the forests died. The planet was trapped in a death spiral. Resources were diverted from the few off-world stations as part of a massive re-terraforming effort, but while Gibson was once blessed with a rich and fertile mainworld the outer system has never had much to offer. There simply was not enough to go around, and it was too little too late. The last generation of Gibsonians drew together in their planetside Sconces, tending the few trees they had saved in their houses of glass, and waited for the end.

Then the ships from Haldeman arrived, offering Gibson access to the stars and a chance to rebuild their world using the vast resources of their neighbor Brin…at a price.

Gibson scientists were given the rudiments of slipstream technology, but further research is discouraged by diplomatic pressure from Haldeman. In addition, Gibson ships are not normally allowed any further down-cluster than the Verne trade station. Indeed, the average Gibsonite has little or no knowledge of the conditions on Haldeman or any other worlds on that side of the cluster. As Gibson prides itself on their tradition or preserving civil liberties and human dignity in the face of adverse conditions, it is likely the average citizen's reaction would be one of disbelief or shock. Higher-level diplomats are better informed, but choose to turn a blind eye out of pragmatism.

Gibson trades high-tech finished goods to Brin in exchange for access to their vast system resources. Most incoming resources are diverted to the reclamation effort, sustaining the planetside community as they work tirelessly to both cleanse the planet of pollution and build up a new ecosystem.

Despite strict immigration quotas, there is a growing stream of immigrants from Gibson to the Brin worlds. However, despite their reverence for nature most Gibsonians cannot fend for themselves outside of their highly automated and orderly society and have difficulty fitting in on Brin. May illegal immigrants fall prey to unscrupulous elements on Brin and end up as indentured servants - slaves in paradise.

There has been a particular brain-drain in the Gibson artistic community. Anything more contrived than folk music, community dances, and inspirational mural painting has always been looked down on as frivolous by Gibsonians, and the more creative members of the artist community have found welcome patronage in the decadent and entertainment-starved households on Brin. There is, however, a reverse flow in this regard, as reclamation efforts on the planet proceed and conditions improve the Gibsonians are again finding time to lighten up a bit, and Brindi music is experiencing a quiet boom amongst Gibson's youth.

Gibson's government is complex, made up of a coalition of a dozen different political parties. They all honor the Charter, which is based on respect for the environment and the freedom and dignity of the individual, but their similarities end there. Current points of vigorous political debate revolve around immigration and exploitation on Brin, living conditions on Orwell, the finer points of the planetary reclamation effort, and the coalition's relationship with Haldeman. No one party has the upper hand…for now.

Most of Gibson's old sprawling cities are in ruins - left to nature or the salvage teams to reclaim. The population live primarily in fortified arcologies called "sconces". Each sconce is different, but they are invariably built around a large central greenhouse structure, be it a dome or a tower. While sconces provide protection from the toxic environment outside and have highly advanced life-support systems - Gibson ships have the best life-support modules in the cluster - they are neither totally enclosed or self-sufficient. Each sconce relies on other sconces - connected by long-distance rail or sub-orbital transport - and offworld imports to survive.

Gibsonian society is built on the tension between personal freedom and societal obligation. People are members of clades, loose associations that are half-family, half-business. People are free to shift clades, provided they can find a new one to take them in, and indeed most adults will have shifted clades at least once in their lives. A Gibsonian without a clade is either an extreme individualist, a criminal, or an outcast. Regardless, with no sconce to call home their life expectancy is low. Most criminals will accept assignment to a work clade on Orwell rather than choose exile.

A healthy movement of population between sconces has allowed the small planetary population to avoid inbreeding, but mutations and deformity due to teratogens in the environment are a fact of life for most Gibsonians. There are no eugenics laws and a strong stigma against denying children a chance at a normal life, so barring truly crippling physical or mental conditions most pregnancies are brought to term. Prosthetic limbs, corrective exoskeletons, and cybernetic eyes are common sights in a sconce, and even a relatively healthy Gibsonian will be likely be taking meds for one condition or another. Albinism and heterochromia are visible in a high percentage of the population. Gibsonians take all this in stride, and they pride themselves on finding work for anyone who has the will to do it.

The average Gibsonian is frugal, responsible, and serious, with a strong commitment to protecting the environment and a broad humanitarian streak. While admirable qualities, their pride in these same qualities can make them somewhat insufferable to their neighbors in the cluster. Brindi see them as humorless and stuffy, while Orwellians see them as patronizing and smarmy.

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