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Altairians are weird.

This is due to demographics than something in the water, and stems from the disproportionate number of scientists on the planet. By this, I do not mean that everyone on world has a higher degree[1], but everyone is a scientist, and by outlook and not education. Altairians will take more risks, for example, come up with more innovative solutions, do things because they are interesting or unusual and be generally more curious and easily distracted.[2]

Anyway, this creates some odd attitudes on Altair and is commonly thought to be paramount to insanity by the other worlds. Decisions will be taken based on the coolness of the solution, or complexity of the device, or simply how interesting something is to use. This leads to some rather odd technologies cropping up around Altair. Windows briefly went out of style for example, and many just replaced their glass with mini-screens and displayed whatever view they felt like for a while. The train network uses a highly advanced magnetic cushion technique which provides incredibly smooth motion without the need for grav’ panels, but will wipe any hard drive placed too close to the carriage floor. Likewise, latter in the setting they build grav’ assisted roads right down the sides of the tower, only to realise that every time someone tries to enter one from regular gravity they go flying as the car can’t cope with the sudden change of direction[3].

As you can probably tell, the application of technology is rather hit and miss on Altair but every so often they will come across something amazing[4]. This leads to a slightly odd development pattern, where the colony will freewheel for a few years, throwing out a few random ideas which generally could have been implemented in a much simpler and cheaper way, but then come up with something groundbreaking and race forward until stagnating again.

Altair also possesses a phenomenal healthcare and education system, mostly due to the extremely high levels of education already present in the population. This creates a situation almost unique to Altair where the educated public sector jobs are actually in short supply, and so only the best workers actually get the jobs. In addition to quality Altair also possess a quantity of positions[5], with, for example, each hospital possessing a specialist in any disease you would care to contract. This will probably decrease over time, as economic pressures cause the career imbalance to correct itself, but for a while at least Altair can enjoy some of the best public services in the galaxy. They even offer free genetic augmentation.

As a culture, the Altairians are fairly unique, running off their own set of values that are heavily inspired by western life, but a lot of the religious undertones are actually from the subcontinent. This has resulted from the mix of demographics when the Altairians deregulated, the initial population was largely Indian, relatively uneducated and devoutly Hindu. The later influx of scientists were generally Westerners or Westernised and had a much larger say in the setting of policies, but were relatively relaxed on the subject of religion. So, this gives a melting pot where the surface is Western but the people are far more familiar with Hinduism than Christianity[6]. In more subjective terms this means that there is a strong emphasis on personal liberty and personal responsibility, with a good side helping of personal accountability in the legal system. This does have a tendency to conflict with the state which has a few ‘nanny’ tendencies, but opinion is slowly shifting it to one that prizes individual liberty.


[1] Though at one point about sixty percent of the population had a degree in biology, and even in 2100 this figure is still much higher than any other planet, including Earth. (Never ask if there is a doctor in the house on Altair. There will be one, but it is unlikely they’ll have studied the disease you have.)

[2] I think this xkcd basically sums them up.

[3] Curiously, they just invented another solution to this problem, magnetic traction control. Everyone else just made the curve less sharp.

[4] Take running roads down the sides of the arcologies for example. A brilliant way of saving space but driving in an artificial gravity well held ninety degrees to the normal field is pretty much the definition of insanity and only the Altairians would invent such a thing. However, once they had proven it was safe most of the arcology worlds took it up.

[5] Mostly because, with the economic bloom the Altairian government has more money than it really knows what to do with.

[6] This is not to say that there aren’t other religions present, but Hinduism is the major one. Actually, this isn’t such an achievement as Altair is the only planet in which Jediism is followed by seventy percent of the population. Most statisticians assume this is a backlash from them not including a ‘mind your own business’ option.

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