SFFaudio Readalong: a reminder

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SFFaudio MetaAs I mentioned last Thursday an upcoming SFFaudio podcast, scheduled for an April 26 release, will be on the topic of Robert Sheckley’s novel The Status Civilization.

If you’re like me, you like doing the homework you’ve assigned yourself, so you’re probably furiously riffling through the pages of any and all SF reference books that you can get your grubby mitts on.

The Dictionary Of Science Fiction Places by Brian StablefordHere’s a relevant passage from one of my reference books, a sketched briefing on the planet Omega, and the city of Tetrahyde. These are the setting of The Status Civilization:

OMEGA – An EARTH -clone prison planet patrolled by guardships armed with, beam-weapons, which were programmed to annihilate anything rising above an altitude of five hundred feet. Its only city was Tetrahyde, located on a narrow peninsula whose landward side was bounded by a high stone wall.

Tetrahyde’s largest building was the Arena, site of the annual gladiatorial games. The Mutant Quarter – which was nasty and dangerous even by Omegan standards – was virtually a city within the city.

Prisoners deported to Omega were stripped of their specific memories but left with the knowledge that they had somehow proved themselves incapable of following the rules of civilized society. In consequence, they established a society of their own whose customs and mores were formed in frank opposition to those whose violation had resulted in their condemnation.

This rigidly stratified society relegated new arrivals to the bottom rank, below established Residents, who were themselves inferior to Free Citizens and Privileged Classes. Order was strictly and sternly maintained by armed Free Citizens known as Quaestors but rapid social advancement was available to those who demonstrated their prowess as killers.

Omega’s established religion was Satanism and its legal establishment was the Kangaroo Court, which administered Trials by Ordeal as well as handing down arbitrary judgments. Pleasure-seekers, ever-careful to avoid prosecution for non-addiction to drugs patronised the Dream Shop, the Euphoriatorium and the vacation resort at the Lake of Clouds, whose Satyr’s Grotto hosted an orgy every Saturday night. Average life-expectancy in Tetrahyde was about three years- a figure whose low value was maintained by such institutions as Hunt Day as well as the Lottery and the Games- but remained in spite of all its best efforts merely a distorted mirror image of the society that had spawned it.

(The Status Civilization, Robert Sheckley. 1960; Omega was also one of the alternative names of COLMAR; other locations harboring calculatedly oppositional cultures include TRANAI, Satirev (see VERITAS) and WALPURGIS III.)

-From The Dictionary Of Science Fiction Places by Brian Stableford (page 222)

Posted by Jesse Willis

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