Brian Rapp

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GORAN is governed by a military junta that has promulgated a thoroughly depressing ideology.  There is no Gorannic science whatsoever, because any search for truth would be superfluous.  The truth is whatever the Army of Goran says it is.  Outsiders might remark that the planet is heavily polluted, but that would conflict with the official definition of those "pollutants" as
beneficial nutrients essential to a healthy life.  What is "health", anyway?  It's most evident when one is covered with weeping sores that keep the body's fluids exposed to the fine fresh air of Goran's superlative atmosphere.  Surely people from across the galaxy are clamoring to immigrate, but impenetrable border defenses serve to keep Goran Gorannish.

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11/20
 

UJJAIN is comprised of fertile high mesas surrounded by even more lush jungles in the valleys below.  Populations are well-established in the uplands, but the jungles are unfortunately dominated by thorny vegetation called "dardbelen".  This plant secretes an oily substance that is intensely painful to touch, and potentially lethal if enough is absorbed into the bloodstream.  There are no heavy industries on Ujjain, and efforts to clear away the dardbelen with tools or fire have proven counterproductive.  Dardbelen is always the first thing that grows back, usually in thicker concentrations without other competition.  Ujjani have unanimously agreed not to attempt poisoning the land, for fear of causing an even worse catastrophe.  So they live in their safe high settlements where the dardbelen does not reach, and communication between mesas is uncommon.  Once in a great while someone will make the arduous journey, though.  They are invariably treated as brave heroes by their new homelands, for none ever choose to return to their place of origin.

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“Dardbelen” is my new socially acceptable curse word.
 

HENSEKISHIKI is a world that has completely specialized in advertising.  Very little is actually manufactured there, but Hensekishikians travel throughout the galaxy to sell the products and services of other planets.   They take advantage of the rarity of inter-ship communication to make unexpected contact whenever possible.  None would stoop so low as to broadcast a false distress beacon, but it violates no spacer's code to transmit greetings on open channels.  A typical conversation might start with "Hello?  Can anyone hear me?" and proceed to "Thank the Star Maker!  It's been so long since I've spoken to anyone!  The only thing that's kept me sane throughout this long voyage is this great new game called Meditations on Orla.  It starts out with simple pattern matching, but as you level up..."  The heavily-indentured Hensekishikians are mostly pitied rather than disliked, and their efforts
are profitable enough to keep the home planet's enterprise a going concern.

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Hustlers of Catan
 

ARTEMISIA is a wealthy outer rim democracy with contractual ties to the Takatsuki sector.  Under its constitution, all citizens are entitled to vote and to share in the profits of the planet's nationalized industries.  The definition of a citizen expansively includes any native-born organic lifeform capable of completing the registration forms, and assistive technology is permitted.  It was understood that young children and even some intelligent non-humans would hence be eligible, but this was forseen as admirable.  What was not forseen was the scheme by a certain genetic engineer to uplift local bacteria and equip them with robotic bodies.  By working in secret and then sending his creations to multiple government centers, he was able to get many of them recognized as citizens by clerks both credulous and skeptical.  An emergency constitutional convention was convened before these bacteria-robots actually outnumbered the rest of the Artemisians, but by law it was not permitted to remove their citizenship ex post facto.  So the government was preserved, but this world will likely be plagued for a long time by effectively-immortal bacteria colonies that wander around taunting people with disgusting jokes and obnoxious braggadocio.  The scientist himself fled Artemisia and his prior honors were all expunged as a damnatio memoriae.

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At least they didn't put the cats in charge.
 

OVALAU is tidally locked with its primary, with one hemisphere always facing the star.  Its ecosphere hence consists of a narrow band between the too-hot sunny side and the too-cold dark side.  Overlauers are very resourceful in dealing with this constant climatological balancing act, but a history of dangerous epidemics has left scars on their collective psyche.  Whenever an outbreak (or even a rumor of one) occurs, everyone hurries away from the presumed-infected zone, clogging the congested paths along Ovalau's prime meridian.  Some even opt for a life-threatening journey across the uninhabited wastes, desperately seeking the antipodes of disease.  After an awkward interval waiting for the plague to dissipate, they all eventually go back home to what's left of the rest of their lives.

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What about the denialists? Well there were some, but the gene has been weeded out as they keep denying the dangers of the bright side.
 

JERZY has an exceedingly dry climate, but high-tech weather control systems are able to make it rain in very localized areas with high efficiency.  The controller of these systems, who is indeed the Controller of the planet, is able to sell rainfall to the highest bidder.  A cartel of wealthy landowners keeps prices reasonable, however, by clandestine agreements as to who will win the bid and by how much.  Further complicating the efforts to collude are the numerous impoverished gangs willing to intimidate competitors for a very reasonable price.  Because water is so expensive, the members of these gangs rarely if ever bathe.  On Jerzy, dirty deeds are done dirt cheap.

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CHENAQRUD was first located by the famed explorer Safi-al-Manit, who was presumed lost when he never returned from his expedition.  His wife Bibi set out in search of him, but also never returned.  When the planet was finally rediscovered decades later by the Atropines, they were shocked to find that both Safi and Bibi had survived, and had passed on the inheritance of Chenaqrud to their son Sadr.  This monarchy continues with the cooperation of the regime on Atropine, who find it convenient to support a legitimate government that supports them in turn.  The core of Chenaqrud is very active both geologically and chemically.  New molecular forms are constantly being created and churned to the surface, where they erupt onto glistening steppes.  Chenaqruders race to gather these flows, often while they are still hot.  When doing so, they usually wear a local vegetable called "qārā" on their feet.  These bulbous roots are quite heat-resistant, and so readily available as to easily serve as disposable footwear.

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11/14
 

VÎLCEANU is moderately radioactive, which has caused its population to be affected by numerous mutations.  Those that are not deleterious (and some are even beneficial) have been passed down through the generations by various branches of its people.  The Vîlceanuvians have then sorted themselves into various camps based on their outward appearances.  There is no prejudice behind this practice, as all peoples are considered equal.  Those who bear closest resemblance simply live in the same place and are ruled by the same elected Chief.  Mating is strictly exogamous, taking place only between members of different camps.  When children are born, they are closely examined and are usually judged to belong to one or the other of their parents.  In rare cases a child is deemed to obviously belong in some other camp, and this is not taken as a sign of infidelity or dishonor.  The child must, however, go off to live with an adoptive parent of the appropriate phenotype.  There are elaborate and oft-told Vîlceanuvian myths which explain the origin of their various subtypes, and which are performed theatrically in immense amphitheatres.  Those afflicted by lethal mutations are granted the great honor of participating in the finale of these plays.  Tourism is politely discouraged.

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11/13
 

TIBRO is home to a busily competitive society of humans who are proud of their science and engineering.  The nearly indestructible architecture of their cities seems inhuman, however.  Low-ceilinged sleeping areas, ramped entrances, and sloping tunnels between buildings give every indication that they were built for another species entirely.  It seems highly probable
that the descendants of the city builders still live on the planet.  Called "Slinkers" by the human Tibrohs, the shy creatures show no evidence of tool use or advanced organization but do well match the probable anatomy of the missing architects.  They live a nomadic lifestyle, slowly migrating around the planet to avoid what can only be described as "Ghosts".  Resembling the
"Slinkers" in every respect except for their intangibility, the second mystery of Tibro is even greater than the first.  Brave and/or intoxicated Tibrohs have risked physical contact with the "Ghosts" and suffered no ill effects whatsoever.  The "Slinkers" flee from them as if in fear for their lives, though, and legend states that if a "Slinker" ever touches a "Ghost", it turns into one.  No such transformation has ever been recorded on video.

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❤️
 

ATROPINE was the first outer rim system to be colonized, which seems unlikely because it is so cold and marginally habitable.  But being out-of-the-way and inconspicuous is an advantage in certain occupations, and Atropinians have been moderately successful in taking advantage.  They are a high-technology society, and they are known to provide free use of their advanced tools to those are willing to cut them in on their profits.  One particular region is known for its abandoned settlements, which are used for weapons tests and anything else too dangerous to do within populated areas.  The ruins could tell a story or two, if anything on Atropine was amenable to talking about what happens there.

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11/11