It's been a while since I posted a snippet about Shayla's world, the setting for Ghosts of Innocence.
I started off with some of the deep history, then wide physical surroundings, and space travel. This time, I'll touch lightly on some more of the human aspects of the worldbuilding. I say "lightly" because this aspect is less well fleshed-out than some other areas.
When I talked about the inhabited star systems, I mentioned a number of distinct types of worlds and political arrangements: those under the rule of one of the six Grand Families, the independent Freeworlds, and the outworlds.
One thing these all have in common is that they are all oligarchies of one form or another. Some more benevolent than others, they are all still built on well-entrenched minority ruling groups. The concept of democracy, of rule by the people, died with Earth millennia ago.
The Grand Families are effectively hereditary monarchies, supported by some form of ruling class.
The vast empire of the Family Skamensis, for example, is controlled centrally by a sprawling bureaucracy backed up by a powerful military. The hierarchy of public servants and appointed officials govern all aspects of public affairs, with senior members of the hierarchy enjoying great prestige and privilege.
The other major Family in the story is the Family Firenzi. Their ruling structure consists of a looser arrangement of planetary governments which superficially have more local autonomy. Despotism is more subtle and benign in Firenzi space, but present nonetheless.
The Freeworlds enjoy independence from the Familys' rule, but that independence rarely extends to the general populace. Shayla's brother, Brandt, lived on the University Freeworld of Chevinta, which is ruled by an intellectual meritocracy. Brandt lived as a recluse, taking no part in the backstabbing world of University politics, and he would have rejected any suggestion of being a member of a ruling elite, but he hardly noticed the subservient underclass that kept him and his intellectual peers fed and clothed.
Then, there are the outworlds. Mostly ruled by brigands or feudal overlords.
The only ones truly free are too poor and remote to count.