Imagine a universe like Star Wars, a very advanced civilization where technology is woven into the very fabric of life.
Now, how "backwater" can a world be while still maintaining the plausibility of a universe being hyper-advanced? I have a new idea for my sci-fi universe, where I'd like to set it up in kind of an idyllic, semi-Luddite setting contrasting with the prevalent technology abound on neighboring worlds, but I don't want to overdo it and blow away plausibility (and if nothing else I'm very anal about scientific accuracy and plausibility )
Well is this planet in contact with this technological universe then, I take it? If so maybe they're preferred lifestyle (for religious reasons or cultural preferences) they migh voluntarily enjoy a simple lifestyle.
Or else perhaps for economic reasons, they might lack the resources to trade in order to acquire a lot of advanced technology. Maybe they lack iron ore, for instance, and have little worth trading, or they refuse to trade, therefore they're especially restricted on how far they can advance, with respect to the rest of the universe.
You want them to be peaceful? To keep from warring amongst themselves and others, they'd need to be able to instantly communicate without error. Communication and language barriers are one of the biggest causes of war...
Oooh! Go twisty!
They reject the technology that surrounds them because of its bad effects. This has been done to death. What if they think they are, but they're actually not? What if some small, powerful, secret group within their system realizes that what they want is completely intractable, and smuggles nanotechnology in and implants it everywhere they need it?
There are groups who choose to live that way in this world. What motivates them? If the motivation is plausible then you can make the intended world into anything you wish it to be.
What if, let's say, the civilisation was spiritually motivated. It does not have to be in any way that we 21st century earthlings would recognise. The colony/planet may live according to their conscience and be free from interference by virtue of the protection and patronage of a benevolent inter-planetary administration so long as colony/planet abided by certain minimum principles that this administration considered safe, fair and sustainable. Like, for instance, minimum standards in transport, communication etc
Point is: if the 'why' is strong enough... 2cents
BTW: Put out the word and see if there are any active hatrackers who are also Amish?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited October 07, 2007).]
Several authors have explored colonial homogeneity. It is very plausible you could have planets colonized by very focused and like minded groups.
So a planet of Hamish might not be far fetched, though they would have to come to grips with the technology used to transplant them to their new home. Or many buddhist temples coming together to relocate to their own world. Same could be said for some monkish sects in the Christian religion. Having technology available could also help them circumvent their issues regarding carnal relations by providing artificial substitutes for procreation.
Peter F Hamilton deals with this very well in his Pandora Star and Judas Unchained novels.
It also provides the opportunity to challenge some of the nature/nurture arguments that abound.
If you haven't read them, the Hamilton novels deftly illustrate the up and downsides to these societal variables in a technological advanced universe.
It can be just as backwater as you wish, you could even have cavemen running around. Just because the rest of the universe is up and hopping doesn't mean every single planet has to be on the same page. So perhaps these people are in contact and even have the ships to travel between worlds, but that doesn't mean that they have to be advanced enough to have developed the stuff, just advanced enough to be able to use it.
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There's no reason at all that you cannot have a technologically-simple culture that exists surrounded by higher-tech groups. As others have pointed out, we have those here on Earth. But there has to be a socio-economic reason why the higher-tech folks haven't forced their way in.
For instance, there are peoples in South America who have no technology to speak of, and still live as hunter-gatherer tribes. They've been left alone as much as they have mostly because where they live is difficult to get to, and their home has little in the way of valuable resources that would make it worthwhile for someone to move in with an ore-processing plant.
So don't make your backwards folks live on the only planet in the universe that has deposits of unobtanium, which is necessary for all interstellar commerce to proceed (Think Herbert's Dune).
Perhaps add an impediment to make casual visits by high-tech travelers more difficult? A region of space that is too densely-packed with debris for FTL travel to be safe? Basically a reason for advanced folks to travel to Backwardia only at need.