The EARTHBOUND Series
Planet Floran At-a-Glance
Planet Floran's single continent stretches from equator to a latitude of approximately 50 degrees north, and is roughly the size of Australia. The nortwestern quarter is dominated by Quinn Mons, an extinct volcano extending more than 80 kilometres into the Floran stratosphere. East of the mons is a rain-shadow desert now the site of Floran City. The western coast is covered by a dense rain forest.
South of Floran City the terrain becomes flat. The temperate climate becomes semi-tropical as one moves south. Rainfall is abundant south of the desert, and the southern zone frequently experiences violent tropical storms.
Floran's planetary population is approximately 1.5 billion. Florans prefer to live in cities. The largest, Floran City (pop. 750 million) is both the planetary capital and the seat of the High Legislature, the governing body of the Floran Hegemony. Other important cities are Vebinad (pop. 200 million) located in the uplands on the slope of the Mons. Sudal (pop. 100,000) on the southeastern coast and Tinam (50,000) in the temperate zone are considered small towns.
Ethnically, Florans are a blend of the original Centauri mission settlers. Thousands of years of artificial selection has resulted in a people with uniform physical characteristics: medium complexion, light brown to dark blond hair, blue to grey eyes, and sparse beard. Florans speak a language known as Lingwafloran, which evolved from Esperanto.
Planet Floran is a member of the Floran Hegemony, a federation of a dozen colony planets. The total population of the hegemony is approximately 24 billion. The High Legislature is the governing body of the hegemony. This is a representational body comprising delegates from each of the colony planets, with the size of the delegation proportional to the planetary population. Planet Floran frequently finds itself a minority voice, as several colonies boast populations exceeding that of the homeworld. The High Legislature has the power to preempt planetary law, but does so infrequently, due to the diverse needs of the various colonies.
The individual colonies are free to form whatever government they choose, and these run the gamut from true democracies (Myataxya) to benevolent dictatorships (Lexal). Floran's government is a representational democracy, with a popularly elected legislature known as the Planetary House, a bureaucratic executive (Central Admin), and an appointed judiciary. A figurehead chancellor is elected by the Planetary House and serves a life term.
Floran's economy is centrally-planned and, for the most part, self-sufficient. Food and fibre crops of Earth origin are grown in massive agridomes -- covered, hydroponic planting beds constructed to emulate Earth climatic conditions. Abundant minerals are mined in the uplands of the Mons.
Floran has no currency -- in fact, Lingwafloran lacks a word for money. Individuals earn living and housing credits which are tracked by Central Admin. Each Floran receives a personal identification microchip, implanted in the right wrist at birth. This ID chip is used to intiate transactions to purchase food, clothing and other essentials.
There is no private ownership of land or buildings on Floran. Individuals may own rights to property, and these rights may be traded and inherited. The Floran culture is non-materialistic. This, combined with the top-heavy bureaucracy and centrally planned economy tends to be a braking force on progress. Floran's civilization may be advanced, compared to Earth's -- but not so advanced.
Florans have evolved in an idyllic environment. Food is plentiful, though bland and monotonous. The climate is mild. Their world poses no physical threats and they have no enemies. In better than four thousand years of space exploration, the Florans have yet to encounter another intelligent life form, although the extent of their explorations is only about two billion cubic lightyears of the galaxy.
At birth, a Floran's DNA is sequenced and stored in a database containing such records extending back nearly three thousand Floran years. The infant also receives a microchip, implanted in the metacarpal bone of the right wrist. Day-to-day life is impossible without this chip, as it is required to initiate communications and transportation, open doors, and purchase food, clothing or their meager personal belongings. Crime is nearly non-existant on Planet Floran proper, although it is a problem on some of the colonies.
If she's a female, she will receive at age fifteen a contraceptive implant capsule, keyed to her personal ID code and managed by Central Admin. This capsule delivers a lifetime supply of synthetic hormones. In addition to preventing pregnancy, the hormones act as protection against breast and ovarian cancers. Floran women do not experience menopause, as their bodies are bathed from puberty to death in a benevolent mix of synthetic hormones.
Birth licenses are granted only to married couples. All husbands and wives can expect to have one birth license granted without question. Subsequent children require petitioning Central Admin and are permitted only after review hearings. Once a birth license is issued, Central Admin deactivates the contraceptive implant and the woman becomes fertile. No time limit for conceiving a child is imposed. Once the child is born, the implant is reactivated.
Because of the limits on the number of children, most Floran couples plan families with great care. The majority of children are conceived in-vitro with the aid of genetic counsellors. The use of sperm and egg donors is also widespread. Of course, a child may be conceived the old-fashioned way. These are called naturiden, or natural children. A naturida is considered the ultimate testimony to love between a husband and wife, as they must accept what is born. Infanticide is not tolerated on Floran. Abortions are performed, but are rare and generally only in the event of a mal-formed fetus or complicatons threatening the life of the mother. Abortions are encouraged in the event of an illigitimate pregnancy (one without benefit of birth license, due to a malfunction of a contraceptive implant); however they cannot be imposed. Illigitimate children suffer the stigma of a broken family line. This stigma can haunt such a child's progeny for generations to come.
Children attend school from age five. Though more efficient training mechanisms (such as subliminal induction) exist, schools are the principal educational mechanism. The institution is as much social as educational, and the children are trained to be productive members of Floran society. At age fifteen, each child is evaluated and further education programs planned. At age twenty, Florans are tested again for secondary education eligibility.
Twenty (approximately sixteen Earth years) is the age of consent, although most youths are sexually active prior to this. Twenty-five is the age of majority at which a Floran may enter into binding agreements.
The institution of marriage is primarily intended for aligning families and tracking lineage. Divorce exists on Floran, although it's more a permanent, binding separation. There is no remarriage. Family ties are exceptionally strong; nonetheless extramarital sexual relationships are very common. The society recognizes the institution of amfinen: live-in lovers similar to the institution of concubinage on Earth. Once invited into a household, an amfin has special legal status, and most are regarded as members of the family