Bonanza
Table of Contents

Bonanza

History

Bonanza is a very nice planet: top 2% in physical niceness. It's about 98 light-years from where Earth was, in the constellation Delphinus. That puts it well out into the periphery, near the area where Cygnus, Pegasus, Capricornus, Sagittarius, and Hercules sectors meet.

The system (Hip 101916) was scouted by a robot probe, and when it was shown to have an extremely salubrious planet in it the colonisation rights sold for a good price. Pioneers departed Earth in AD 2266 and arrived in 2364. Bonanza was a settled by a quasi-commercial emigration co-operative, and even though there were a lot of rivals by that time its attractive planet and isocratic charter kept punters coming and kept the co-operative in the black until Earth was destroyed. Population reached 100,000 in AD 2440. The news of Earth's destruction arrived shortly after the last immigrants, in 2501.

Easy conditions and robust institutions allowed Bonanza to develop faster than the consensus prediction of the rating agencies, and immigrants tended to find their trade goods less valuable than they had hoped. An informal plutocratic aristocracy developed behind the republican institutions, and a society with marked social stratification. Population reached one million in 2519 and is now 355 million.

A the nadir of its 'technological collapse', Bonanza was still able to manufacture jet engines, transistors, and fission piles. By the time pirates arrived Bonanza was much too formidable to be in serious danger. The first extortionist got away with a hold full of industrial metals and relicts of Old Earth. The next was crippled by orbital defences and captured: thus Bonanza discovered the workings of the Eichberger Drive.

On the other hand Bonanza was 90 light-years from the nearest planet with an FTL industry (Xin Tian Di), so there wasn't much opportunity for trade with higher-tech economies. Traders from Bonanza visited nearby worlds such as Delphinus, and even as far afield as Garuda. The merchants became rich, but the volume of trade was not high enough to transform the economy. Transfers of living materials caused little trouble on Bonanza, and only mild problems on its trading partners.

Bonanza's chief value in the Eichberger Period was as a highly attractive destination for migration. The world was very pleasant and the government and society appealing, development was adequate to provide modern conveniences, and it was by no means crowded. On the other hand, it was a long way from the overpopulated core. Bonanza attracted mostly very rich exiles: ex-pirates, fugitives from justice, deposed tyrants and wealthy opposition figures. Politics became rather turbulent, with some immigrant figures of great wealth trying to force their way into the aristocracy or to seize power from the ruling class by making populist appeals. There was political violence, ending with the traditional aristrocrats on top and a number of turbulent immigrants dangling from lamp-posts.

Bonanza was an initial supporter of the Eichberger Foundation, it's traders having been more ethical than most. But it broke with the Foundation when the Foundation claimed a monopoly on the Eichberger drive. Hostilities commenced with a Bonanzan armed merchant destroyed by Eichberger Foundation ships in the Garuda system. An Eichberger task-force then came to Bonanza, destroyed the system defences, and seized orbital assets. Bonanza was besieged, and tacitly joined the boycott of the Foundation's interests but, cut off from communications with the core it was induced to restore trade in 451 PDT. Bonanza was an important source of high-tech components during the last stages of the Formation Wars,

Bonanza was represented at the Lunar Conference, and was an original signatory of the Treaty of Luna.

Politics

Bonanza's government is an aristocracy, which is to say an oligarchy justified by respect. The ruling class assume tacitly that they are superior to the ruck of mankind because of their inherited excellences, their upbringing, and their education, but they are never so gauche as to explain this. Their fitness to rule is "obvious", and survives because it is unquestioned. Subordinates obey without question because the aristocrat never doubts that he is in charge.

Bonanza has a written constitution, which receives the respect only of lip service. Constitutionally, the planet is divided into primacies, which are divided into provinces, which are divided into sees, which are divided into deaneries, which are divided into parishes.

Each parish is nominally run by a mayor and council, but the council is generally overawed by the "justices of the peace" who head the local families of aristocrats. These can empanel themselves as a court and issue warrants and other writs, but in general they don't have to, they just write notes to or have chats with parish officials and other local functionaries and their opinions are respected. Formally speaking, it takes two JPs acting in concert to act as a magistrate, so ratbag JPs are powerless if their peers boycott them.

Deaneries are run by deans, and by the constitution these are elected. But in fact a retiring dean nominates a successor acceptable to the local justices of the peace "sitting as the court of returns", and this person's name is usually the only one printed on the ballots. The new dean pays for a few kegs of rum and a whole spit-roast something and then the election is held. Upsets are rare.

Sees are run by bishops. A retiring bishop nominates a successor acceptable to the deans. This person then pays for a public carnival and is "elected" by the acclamation of the crowd. It is the bishop who formally appoints justices of the peace.

Similarly, provinces are run by provinciarchs approved by the bishops, and primacies by primates approved by the provinciarchs, and the whole colony by a president approved by the primates. As you go up the ladder it becomes less and less common for a retiring official to appoint one of his family members to succeed him directly: there is more lobbying and scheming with the subordinates who will have to approve the nomination. Each of these elective offices has various under-offices below them, which are appointed outright.

Once a person on Bonanza has a public office he tends to remain in it for a very long time. Not life entirely: most officials retire before they reach 140. Otherwise, the main limit to terms is that there is a very strong tradition that compels public officials to resign if they have a failure or a scandal. If their peers are generally sympathetic their choice of successor will go through. If their failure or scandal is seen as shameful, or if their rivals have established a solid majority of the "canvassing committee" they may retire in disgrace, and the canvassing committee will choose their successor.

In such a system there are alliances rather than parties. Succession to office is based on personality and record of achievement rather than on policy. There is effectively no competition between rival policies to put their proponents into office, and basically everyone shares the same policy that "the government must be carried out by suitable people".

Conventional education for aristocrats is a generalist tertiary course with a major in law, finance, economics, or something else realted to government, Higher studies are rare,

Most aristocrats are only semi-professional rulers, allowing official duties to distract them for perhaps twentyto thirty hours a week, though of course politics is pursued at social functions.

Bonanza tends to vote Jackal.


Copyright © 2008, by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.