WMG: Apprentice Adept

The purpose of the Tourney is to preserve the Citizens' monopoly on Protonite.

Let's start by acknowledging that for a wealthy ruling class, it's a rather strange policy to share the full privileges of membership with anyone who can win a certain game. It's on a level with things like hereditary monarchy, or making crowning Arthur just because some watery tart handed him a sword, or making a king out of the 47th person to walk through the city wall (as happens in one of L. Frank Baum 's books).

However, the whole point is to promote Citizen solidarity against off-world businessmen. Remember, the Citizens are monopolists, and if they acted like rational profit-maximizers, they would be likely to lose their monopoly. They aren't too worried about anyone discovering Protonite on another planet (although surely they have a plan for what to do if it happens). So all they need is a way to keep individual Citizens from making business alliances with off-world groups. But if they allowed themselves to think like businessmen instead of aristocrats, someone surely would make these alliances in no time flat.

So what they need is something rather like Plato's noble lie. Which, in the original dialogues, consisted of telling everyone that a certain lottery reveals who is a superior philosopher-king and who isn't. That's where the idea of the Tourney comes in, because really, anyone who wins the Tourney is more like The Ace than anyone we know.

So once the Tourney (and inheritance) are the only ways of becoming a Citizen, how do you prevent the case of the person who wins the Tourney and proceeds to undermine the system? Well, the best way to win the Tourney is to practice for many years. You let the residents of Proton, the serfs, practice all they want; no off-worlder has this advantage. The Citizens probably use disinformation to make sure that the off-worlders are rather ignorant about what would really be involved in winning the game. So the Tourney is won by people who have been living on Proton for twenty years, and so it's won by the kind of person who would rather be a serf on Proton than live anywhere else in the galaxy. This psychology of commitment is the reason fraternity hazing works to create loyalty to the group.

The books explain that there are a very small number (24 to 1000) of off-worlders in each Tourney. This is to make the rule against off-worlders becoming Citizens seem less like a taboo and more like just rules of a game. If you just told off-worlders, "You can never gain a share of our privileges, no matter what you do," then this would seem closed-minded and unfair, and might lead some off-worlders to do everything in their power to change that. But if you tell them that they can pay a huge fee for a tiny chance at winning the contest, then it will seem like just the rules. The books do explain that that's precisely the way the serfs are encouraged to think about it.

But off-worlders almost never win the Tourney, and neither do the people who become serfs and try to win the Tourney after just one year. With only one winner a year, there's never been any seriously disruptive individual who entered the ranks of Citizens.

Finally, very little of this rationale is understood by the Citizens alive today, many of whom are mere UpperClass Twits. No, it was all invented by the same people who put the Oracle in Phaze, with the help of the Oracle itself. And like the existence of Phaze and the Oracle, it was thought that the Citizens are better off not understanding this reasoning.
  • <slow claps>

Neysa isn't actually the color of a normal horse.
Rather, her black body is covered in awesome ultraviolet zebra-stripes. Sadly, nobody in Phaze ever realizes this, because none of the natives realize that UV light exists, or could construct a device to detect them in a frame where advanced technology is non-functional.

The robot doctor that extracted the bullet-amulet from Stile also shot him full of selective fertility drugs on the sly.
The Oracle needed to slant the odds in favor of him fathering a son on Lady Blue, not a daughter, so it could preserve its reputation for infallibility and thus, its credibility once it set about coordinating Proton's economic transition. It contacted the self-willed machines on the sly, via its link to the West Pole, and arranged to have Stile's X-chromosome sperm eliminated and his Y-sperm enhanced, whenever he next sought medical care from Sheen's friends. Had he not been shot, they'd have similarly dosed him through food, drink, or a breather-mask they provided.

Nepe's mechanical components were assembled from parts taken from Mach's old robot-child bodies.
Blue and Sheen wouldn't have had the heart to just recycle those parts of young Mach which had to be replaced as he "grew" up, so would have kept them in storage, like human parents keeping a box full of old infant clothes their child has long outgrown. When Bane and Agape set out to produce a cyborg daughter, Agape contributed the organic component, but Bane would've wanted their child to partake of his (formerly Mach's) robot-body also. If there's one reason why sentimental parents would give up that box of old baby clothes, it's so their grandchild can wear them, so Blue and Sheen willingly agreed to let Mach's former baby-parts be re-purposed. This turned out for the best, as Nepe had to physically be part of Blue's family to develop her own connection to the link between frames: a generic cyborg body, built from scratch without any of the Mach-body's parts, would have only made her Agape's child and Bane's stepchild, not the "daughter" of Mach's body.