Sansterre: People & Culture
Sansterre has never gone through a deprived low-tech period. Its society is thoroughly modern and well adjusted. Sansterrians pride themselves upon being the most sophisticated people of the Clusters.
Women are afforded full equality with men. There is virtually no difference between treatment of the sexes. Only in tourist areas does one find separate male and female toilets, and even there most Sansterrians use the closest rather that the most appropriate facility.
Although nominally Catholic Christian, most Sansterrians are avowed atheists. There are very few churches. Religion is considered to be a personal pursuit, not something to be discussed in public.
Some young Sansterrians, disillusioned with their planets secular culture, have been turning to the Wheel of Life in increasing numbers in recent years. It is not uncommon to see saffron robed monks dancing and singing through the streets. There have been unpleasant clashes between the Wheelies and skin-heads. Even some police forces have been reportedly victimising Wheelies, although this is denied by government sources.
Sansterrians tend to wear bright and well decorated clothes. Elaborate headdresses and jewellery are popular with both sexes. Male fashion can appear effeminate to people from other cultures. Elaborate beards are popular, as is brightly dyed hair.
Whilst many Sansterrians may affect disdain for technology and advancement, they certainly care passionately about their sport. Rollerball remains hugely popular. The enormous Saint Maria stadium near the Starport can seat 500,000 spectators. It is by far the largest stadium in the Clusters. Enormous sums are bet on the outcome of every game. Watersports of all kinds are also immensely popular, with locals as well as tourists.
Café culture is hugely popular. every settlement of any size has a café which serves aloe and a variety of liquors. Aloe is a seaweed-based stimulant, usually served hot like coffee. In large dome-cities entire districts are set aside for cafés and street entertainment of all kinds.
Sansterrians are proud of their long unbroken history. The water-world has always been a high-tech, sophisticated world. Few would admit that it has fallen behind its neighbours in recent times. History lessons paint a picture of ancient Sansterrians listening to the Crew-ships radio reports of pathetic conditions on the other colony worlds.
It is perhaps this long history of ease that has lead to todays complacency. Other worlds had to fight to regain high levels of technology. This has given them the scientific impetus to develop entirely new technologies. Sansterre lags behind, purchasing the new technologies from its more dynamic neighbours.
Sansterrian society is heavily stratified. Even in the most republican areas aristocrats are afforded a level of influence and respect not often found in the Clusters. The hereditary nobility frequently wields real political power.
The centre of aristocratic power in the Palais des Cinq-Milles, a huge space habitat that was constructed in orbit about Sansterre between 5402-5425AD. The Palais was built entirely at the personal expense of a coalition of nobles from Dominica, Solaria and Avalon. In 5572AD it was dedicated at the meeting place of the Assembly of La M¸re, a grouping of the 5000 most powerful aristocrats in the La M¸re solar system.
Today the Palais is a retreat for the wealthiest and most influential aristocrats and their guests. It has a semi-permanent population of 50,000 staff and retainers, It is guarded by a flight of three Viper class police frigates.
Organised crime is a big problem on Sansterre. Originating in the close nomad clans, it has grown into a huge business as the water-world has developed into an interstellar power. There are two competing criminal organisations; Les Équires de Hermes and La Fraternitie. Their principal businesses are protection, corruption, slave running, extortion and smuggling.