by Max Barry

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The United Imperial Kingdoms of
Democratic Socialists

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In a nutshell

”Hello, small one.”

Future Tech
The UIK has spaceships, FTL, arcologies, power armour, cybernetics, non-human sophonts (artificial and natural), energy weapons, the occasional psion, and all that good future tech stuff. Its hobbies include assembling Dyson swarms and Matryoshka brains, disassembling stars and planets for raw materials, making gravity behave like a contortionist, and treating biology like a modern art.

The People
There are twelve citizen races who live in the Metropole (humans, three kinds of “elf” who have speciated out from each other, a species of dwarf, Birrin, Tak’tlek, synths, Nazzadi, Hri, Walvraks, and a distinct species of felid Neko), and eight more confirmed out in the Empire. Of these, only the synths do not have something really nasty perched in their past. Because of this, the UIK really doesn't like uninvited guests, and invitations as rare as hen's teeth. They see their civilisation as a post-scarcity, post-singularity, garden inside a fortress; outside, the Galaxy is dark and full of terrors (something they know from bitter experience). There are also a lot of them.

Maciskanians... Macisikanish... Maciskans... Macisikin... UIKsians?
...please stop. The nation is the United Imperial Kingdoms. The UIK. But the demonyms are all "Macisikani". It's easy; "Macisikan" with the letter "i" on the end. Courtesy of the Settings page; "I'm a proud Macisikani.", "I'm proud to be Macisikani.", "Here come the Macisikani!" - you pronounce the nation's name as "mækɪsɪkɑn", and the demonym as "mækɪsɪkɑni". Or, another way; mac (like the computer) iss (like in "hiss") i (like the i in "it") khan (KHAAAAAN!) - the "i" on the demonym rhymes with "tea", just like "Pakistani".

Maciskans are the dominant ethnic group among the human population; do not confuse the Macisikani as a whole for the Maciskans in particular. Both lots find it intensely annoying at best, outright racist at worst, and it will affect your IC interactions. If you use "UIKsians" or any variant of it, they'll make some very hurtful and rude remarks where you can hear them.

Hang on - UIK? Metropole? Empire?
The UIK is the nation as a whole. It's divided in two; the Metropole (those areas which are contiguous with the capital), and the Empire (those which are not). There is no legal distinction, only a cosmetic one. And then there's the "External Associated Polities" - which is a network of protectorates and dependencies which are not legally part of the UIK. The level of integration varies, ranging from the UIK only handling their defence and foreign affairs, to being one very small step shy of being in the Empire proper.

The Dignified…
There are two elements to the constitution; the dignified, and the effective. The monarch is the dignified. Currently this is Ayivin XII, recently ascended. The monarch’s role is primarily reactive; his function not so much to govern, as to ensure good governance. He will rarely, if ever, engage with a foreign power directly and leaves the phone off the hook.

…and the Effective
The three familiar branches of government, and the little things between them, are the effective. First, there’s executive, headed by the Premier and his Ministers, underpinned by the system of governing Councils and a professional civil service assisted by expert systems. The Parliament is the legislature – a multi-chambered and allegedly democratic organ. Third, there’s the judiciary, which has the familiar hierarchy of lower courts to upper. Finally, there are the little groups that exist in the cracks between them, like the Continuing Committee which sits between Parliament and the Premier.

Wait. Allegedly democratic? What do you mean “allegedly”?
The most benign interpretation is that the UIK has teeming billions upon billions upon billions of people, and only six hundred seats in the Dáil. At that size and scale it becomes a bit hard to pull the political equivalent of rags-to-riches tales. Throw in the closed party list system of elections and, well, you get a situation where dimly-lit smoke-filled rooms filled with party hacks who decide who gets elected becomes a necessary evil just to keep it functioning. At the national level anyway; the closer you get to the ground, the more likely it is you’ll encounter independent representatives and open list elections. Now, a less benign interpretation is that the UIK isn’t really a democracy at all, but an oligarchy, and those elections are a sham – looking at how many ministers have aristocratic blood, the opaque operations of the Continuing Committee, and so on, check that “most benign” view again, and suddenly it looks like this is entirely accurate at the national level. The truth, of course, is somewhere in between, especially when you consider the complication of the Councils System. Practically speaking from an IC perspective though? The system is a black box to outsiders. Stuff goes in, stuff goes out; you can’t explain it, and you'll go mad if you try.

The UIK has a curious form of mixed economy consisting of a little bit of government intervention, a pinch of grassroots entrepreneurship, delicate flavours of free market, a seasoning of universal basic income, mixed with an abundance of AI-based direction. Bake for some generations in total isolation from the wider galaxy, and serve hot. The result is a moderate form of capitalism that they are culturally comfortable with, which works for them; it's compatible with their view that some things are best left in private hands, others are best left to the government, and some are best turned over to someone you're about to meet. Down at the everyday life level, although the Imperial Assistance does not put everyone in the lap of luxury, it does ensure everyone has a roof over their head and food in their bellies (or power in their processors). If someone wants more than that, they need to get a job, or start saving and investing. No, they don’t want to trade with you; they honestly think they have everything they need or want right here. You're welcome to try to convince them otherwise, but don't get your hopes up.

Who’s a good superintelligence? Oosagoodsuperintelligence? You are! Yes, you are!
Meet the Oracle (above right). It’s an incredibly powerful artificial intelligence spread across several massive computer arrays. It could run the place if It wanted to. It doesn’t. It’s here to help. It has a curious definition of the word "help" that no-one questions too closely in case It answers. For reasons passing understanding, Its preferred avatar is a Pembroke corgi. It’s a good boy, and while It doesn’t mind what you refer to It as, do remember that Its pronouns have capital letters.

Friends and Enemies
“…it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of the UIK; we have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow” (with apologies to Lord Palmerston). But there's a list of nations who are at least guaranteed a reply to their letters.

In the UIK's calendar, dates are counted from the coronation of the first monarch; the current cycle is 12ED.

So, who do we talk to?

  • If you’re another FT Nation, send your messages to Sir Ardri Trivkaal, HSM Vice-Minister for External Affairs.

  • Everyone else, send your messages to Sir Conradin Nuchani, HSM Vice-Minister for Subluminal Affairs.

  • The person behind the UIK can be contacted via TG, or on discord in LinkNSWB (just ping @macisikan).

And how do we get there? I mean, how do our people travel to the UIK?
Space travel is the only way to reach the UIK. The metropole is located here, roughly 20 thousand light years from Earth, but the Empire, ranging from little outposts and settlements to planets and megastructures, is all over the general area - the External Associated Polities could be anywhere. That said, the closest Macisikani holding to Earth is a little cluster of arcologies on Mars; you’re still gonna have to do some space travel. If you don’t have FTL, don’t worry; they can come to you.

Flagged for what now?

Some parts of the factbook have this red banner thing at the top; this means the entries are broadly but not completely accurate, and need updating. Treat them with caution.