Vir's Archive

Monday, August 19, 2013

Defining Corporate Greed for the 22nd Century (Musings, Collaboration)

I need a bit of help. 

My corporations are painfully boring.  

I’ve been putting off diving into the most blatant omission in the TDE setting – the Sovereign Corporate Enterprises (SCEs).  Part of the reason I have been reluctant to define them is the simple fact that I cant really think of anything new to do with them.  SCEs right now are a little too recognizable and tread upon a very well-worn path that models the hyper-zaibatsu/chaebol popularized in cyberpunk fiction.  SCEs are big and diversified – though with a specialization that makes them stand out from their competitors.  

From interesting movie background element,
to all encompassing corporate evil.
As it stands, the System is host to about 15 SCEs that all have official representation in the UN as observers.  There are another 10 or so wannabe SCEs that don't have the last bit of power to push them past their own political inertia to take their seat at the UN's rarefied table.  BR/BP Distribution is known for energy production and delivery (growing from 20th C. oil and mining corporations).  IntraSys is known for interplanetary transport (and made its fortune shuttling Earth refugees to Mars after the eco-crash).  Orbital Inc. makes its living mostly through operation and expansion of skyhooks and beanstalks.  The Access Group does banking and futures.  ViaAgro LLC is all about the agriculture (as are a number of other wealthy SCEs).  Caliban Systems is known for its military wares.  They are all rich, powerful, extraterritorial, and complete bastards when it comes to the bottom line. 

And all that?  Its been done before.  Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Battletech, Eclipse Phase… the worlds I respect because of their depth and detail all seem to have the same conclusions – giant multinationals that rival the traditional nation-state in power, influence, and legality.  Cinema has done it to death as well; Weyland-Yutani, Tyrell, Umbrella (okay, not originally cinema, but still…) – again, this isn’t new territory at all. 


Dammit Ash - we are gonna get screwed again, arent we?

I look back at Mars and Mercury and even Earth and I like what I see.  Earth, in particular, stands as a nicely complicated political entity.  Likewise the UN.  Having been away for a bit, there was time to reflect on TDE and decide if I liked where it was going.  Happily, I see where TDE is going and smile.  But the SCEs wipe that smug smile off my face.  

Its 150 years in the future and follows a major humanitarian and ecolo

\gical disaster of nearly unimaginable scale.  These two facts about the setting along make me think that the nature of corporations, with their parochial demands on intellectual property rights and data control, would likely be a thing of the past.  There would be something new, something just as powerful as the MegaCorps of Shadowrun, and just as influential as Weyland-Yutani of the ALIENS franchise – but that would operate in a fundamentally different way.

So, in my head I have point A and I know I want to get to point B – but that necessary straight line connecting the two is damned elusive. 

So, anyone out there seen an approach to sci-fi corporations that you felt was compelling or particularly interesting?