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Fridge Horror

  • The nerve-staple function in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri can lead to this fairly easily. From a gameplay perspective, you click the button, and drone riots go away. You get trade sanctions on you, but you weren't making that much off trade anyway, and besides, it's just for a few turns. It really doesn't amount to much worse than a Strongly Worded Letter. Then you turn around and think: "Nerve-stapling?" What could that mean. And then it hits you: it means exactly what it sounds like. And you just did that to thousands of people.
    • Don't forget that some of the material implies it has rather nasty lasting side effects, too. E.g. the book title "How to raise a nerve-stapled child".
    • Michael Ely's book Dragon Sun shows exactly what nerve-stapling is in a Body Horror fashion. Once everyone knows that Yang does this to his people and any prisoner they capture in battle, everyone turns against him, ever Deirdre, his former ally.
    • It should be noted that if you nerve-staple the population of another faction's base that you capture, they will hate you and stay at war with you FOREVER.

Fridge Brilliance

  • The factions do represent traditional civilizations, and the leaders are a blatant tell.
    • The Human Hive = China. Communism, Confucianism and Buddhism all uphold selflessness and unity. Yang took it to extreme by neglecting everything else. With a people that is being held back my the lack of political freedom, but that is counter balanced with a hard-working and fast growing population.
    • UN Peacekeepers = India. Largest democracy in the world comprised of unified states, home to many religions and languages, favors mental pursuits. But with an infamously sluggish civilian bureaucracy.
    • University of planet = Russia. Advanced science, powerful technology, human rights optional.
    • Lord's Believers = USA. Obvious, considering mega churches, creationist museums and Jesus camp.
    • Gaia's Stepdaughters = EU. Has more sustainable policies than anyone else, has plenty women leaders and has a history of wartime atrocities.
    • Morgan industries = African Union. Who would be more focused on wealth than the recently poor? Blood Diamond writ large.
    • Spartan federation = Latin American Union. Juntas, revolutionaries, cartels, gangsters, police, kidnapers and private security - everyone is armed.
      • The same goes for the human factions introduced in the Alien Crossfire expansion pack, but instead of established nations, they represent vocal ideological groups that have yet to take power in real life.
        • Free Drones = Social Democrats. Believe in the idea of eventually achieving a functional workers paradise by working towards a Eudaimonic society. But unlike Stalinism (or the Human Hive), they have not problem with getting power though democratic means or by employing free market economies. Lack the funding or backing compared to other political groups (slow research), but can level the playing field by easily rallying popular support.
        • Data Angels = Minarchist Libertarians. See government as something that is necessary but only in a very limited manner (democracy as the closest equivalent to their ideals), which makes some people mistake them for being outright anarchists. Look down upon the idea of a large military spending for national defense, but encourage individual initiative in taking action. Also, expand their influence by spreading their propaganda and reaching out to others via the Internet (the planetary network).
        • Cybernetic Consciousness = Utilitarians. The greatest amount of benefit to the largest amount of people, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome. Therefore the sacrifice of individuality and emotions is justified by all the resulting benefits of a cybernetic society.
        • Nautilus Pirates = Anarchists. Svensgaard "leads" them in the sense that he's got the most individual power, but the pirates are intent upon gaining as much wealth and power for as much of their faction as possible. Otherwise, anything goes. Are able to exist as an entity because of the extreme advantage they have over other factions concerning Planet's oceans.
        • Cult of Planet = Combines Transhumanism with Voluntary Extinctionism. The Cult seeks to remove humanity as an entity one way or another, and it's implied that if they can't Transcend after destroying the other factions that they'll wipe themselves out in order to let Planet exist free of human influence. However, as Planet is doomed to an endless cycle of awakening and withering without humanity's help; it follows that the option of Transcending to save both Humanity and Planet is the preferred outcome.
  • It's true that much of SMAC is Civilization Recycled in Space, but the sci-fi setting does lead to one important thematic difference: in a sci-fi setting, many willing suspensions of disbelief in Civilization are justified in SMAC. Leaders that just don't die? Kind of hokey at any other point in history - but here it's justified on account of new techniques for extending one's lifespan. Instant communication with one's unit and with rival faction leaders? Not likely in 600 BC - but expected in 2100 AD. Natives that attack without any due cause or strategic planning? Only partly inspired by real history - but on an alien planet that sees you as an infestation, it makes sense.
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