On the Geopolitics of the Manifold Sky

"The Manifold Sky has only a limited amount of space and material, especially where living space, arable land, fresh water are concerned. Furthermore, certain resources can only be reliably gathered within certain cubes, meaning that they can only be acquired by other factions through trade, raiding, or conquest. As a result of these considerations, almost all geopolitical struggle within the Manifold can be traced back to some form of territorial dispute. Adjacent factions which hate one another or share almost no ideological stances in common - as with Craterhold and the Commonwealth of C - can get along if doing so means that both factions will get to keep their territories safe from a hostile third party. Alternatively, distant factions with no directly shared border and essentially no cultural conflicts - as with Voxelia and the Free Faces League - can easily come to blows over coveted farmland between them. In the Manifold, individuals may be swayed by shared sentiment, but nations with populations to feed do not have such a luxury..."   "Great pains are taken by all civilized states to encourage reuse, repair, recycling, and reprocessing to prevent the next famine or shortage of industrial materials. A man's car and home, farm and rifle, and other implements of work and living can often have their origins traced back two or three generations, with every part eventually replaced and the cast-offs smelted down for useful metals before ever tasting a scrapheap, until the original machine is no longer present under jawbreaker-like layers of upgrades. Organic materials, from food scraps to whole human bodies, are digested under heat and cyanobacterial assault in huge vats, becoming fertilizer and biodiesel to feed the continuation of society. Some things are simply buried, when no longer useful, in the hopes that the Gods of Irony have laid some system into nature itself to take care of the recycling process when humans cannot..."   "Even in modern times, however, some materials lack a known, practical method of recycling. Many industrial chemical compounds will only ever break down under long-term environmental forces, such as synthetic rubbers. Other goods (such as textiles) might be recyclable, but lack a reliable local source of production capacity. For example, a tree which produces a unique and useful wood, as in the case of Ovinex-tended ironwood, might only grow under specific environmental conditions. Others still, such as rare metals, require specialized training or equipment to produce which a state will be unlikely to share as a form of leverage..."   "Trade is typically the preferred mode of acquiring these foreign goods, as this costs less in terms of war materiel and personnel to achieve. Sometimes, however, a trade deal cannot be negotiated, or an opposing state has already laid claim to the best deals. In these cases, states within the Manifold might be tempted to engage in a spot of conquest solely to acquire the means to produce these goods anew - but only if the targeted opponent is close enough to reliably hold onto with military assets. Supply lines that cross an inflection layer are notoriously difficult to maintain. Frontier banditry and air piracy leech off the wealth of the trade lanes, sometimes covertly sanctioned by states looking to put crimps in the economies of their competitors. Battlefield salvage is a profession unto itself, with practitioners sifting the very bullet shards from the cold soil, and can become a flash point for conflict in and of itself..."   "When states in the Manifold are not trading or competing for resources, they are exploring - trying to discover new regions of the Manifold and, hopefully, planting a productive colony there before a competitor state can put it's own roots down on the alien soil. Expeditionary missions are equal parts scientific, industrial, and military endeavors, with many pitched aerial battles taking place in unknown skies solely to press a claim over land that no faction involved can ultimately hope to hold for the long term. This is how the Humans of the Medial Tesseract came to encounter the Rostran, Ovinex, and Verdials - all of whom remain largely independent from Human states due in part to the sheer difficulty of holding terrain in even adjacent tesseracts. The Verdial city-states possess a special exploratory advantage due to their unusual lichen symbiosis, being able to live in cubes where no Human or Rostran could safely go..."   "...nevertheless, the general understanding among the non-Human species of the Manifold is that a landed suit of dieseltech auto-armor means that trouble is just around the corner. What is less well understood by the general public is that other forms of soft power are available to states in the Manifold, such as economic ties, the slow encroach of culture from other states, espionage, and ideological subversion. Voxelia is a good example of a state that relies on espionage and cultural contagion to spread their geopolitical sphere of influence, while the Rostran Archipelago Confederacy, being patient, perceptive, long-lived, and difficult to read by outsiders, are the archetypal subversives and resource-based hegemons. Non-state actors, such as the Navigator's Guild, keep themselves fed based on unique and necessary talents..."
Excerpts from The Ixaba of Tenuous Friends by Arxid Sagan.

In the context of the title of this work, the term "Ixaba" is used in a descriptive sense to denote 'a text of secret knowledge arrived at by experience,' not in the literal sense of the Ixaba of Rostran Esotericism .

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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