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Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far Future
Major Race (Humaniti)
Their most important difference is the acceptance and use of psionics. Zhodani society is divided into three classes: nobles, intendants, and proles. Nobles are the enfranchised ruling class, and receive psionic training from childhood. Intendants are managers and administrators of society, and also receive early training. Proles constitute the masses, are forbidden the use of psionics, and do not receive training. Within this rigid class system, there are two opportunities for promotion to a higher class. All prole children are tested for psionic potential, and those showing high scores are taken from their families and adopted into the intendant class. Intendants are rewarded for great diligence, service to the state, or victory in the psionic games through the granting of noble titles.
The presence of psionics in the hands of those in power means that many aspects of society work at high efficiency. Psychology, behavioural science, communications science, and education are more refined and exact than in other societies. Educational methods are finely tuned, and capable of teaching concepts rapidly and accurately. Mental deviance or criminal tendencies can be detected early and corrected with facility.
Zhodani society is generally a happy one. Individuals are members of a functioning whole, with each making a contribution to its success. The relative lack of upward mobility for the proles is offset by the possibility for their children to move upwards if they have the proper potential. The burden of responsibility imposed on the intendants is lightened by the ever-present possibility of reward through elevation to the noble classes. The nobles themselves temper their burden of authority with comfort derived from their station in life.
The Zhodani date their empire from the traditional date of the first organized use of psionics on Zhodane, -6731 Imperial, the year of the first Olympiad.
They achieved jump drive about 1300 years later, in -5415 Imperial.
The expansion of the Zhodani was gradual and uneventful. Although some states on the fringe resisted absorption into the Consulate, most were annexed peacefully. The Zhodani first came into conflict with the expanding Third Imperium in the 500's, starting the First Frontier War in a dispute over present and future limits to settlement in the Spinward Marches area. Continuing frontier wars over the next five hundred years have failed to resolve the basic differences between the two empires.
The Zhodani have a general distaste for other human races which do not practice psionics. Effective indoctrination and ever-present possibility that one's mind is being read have removed dishonesty and deviance as common features of society. Disagreements still occur, competition thrives, passions flare. But all takes place in an atmosphere of honesty and truth. Individuals can express their feelings without fear and problems are openly dealt with. In non-psionic societies, much is kept secret within the mind. A Zhodani visiting the Imperium would be appalled by the deviousness and dishonesty that pervades society.
Imperial distaste for the Zhodani is based on two facts. First, the Zhodani practice psionics, and an Imperial cannot be sure that a Zhodani is not invading his mental privacy at any time. Imperials feel exposed and uncomfortable in the presence of Zhodani. Second, because of their psionic abilities, the Zhodani have the most effective authoritarian rule in history. Imperial citizens, used to a great degree of local autonomy, fear Zhodani conquest because of the loss of freedom it would entail.
The Zhodani consulate is a participatory democracy in which only nobles are allowed to vote. Executive and judicial functions are the responsibility of a series of councils of varying sizes. Each council elects one of its number as executive officer, and a number of its members as delegates to the next higher council. A city, for example, will elect several of its council members to be representatives to the world council. The process continues upward through several layers of councils to the overall Grand Council of the Zhodani. Nominally, each member of a council serves for one Olympiad (three Zhodani years), but in practice, each councillor serves until his replacement arrives and replaces him officially, or until word of his re-election to another term is received. Often times, the district from which a councilor is elected will have only his relatives as voters, and his re-election is virtually assured.
Standard practice (when possible) calls for Zhodani councils to submit important questions to a plebiscite of those affected. The principle can be suspended where immediate action is required, but the official ordering the action stands responsible to the voters and must justify his actions as soon as possible.
Supreme executive power is vested in three consuls, one elected each year for a term of one Olympiad by and from the members of the Grand Council. No consul may be elected twice in succession, and retired consuls become life members of the Grand Council.