The vast reach of the solar system enables groups with their own particular ideology or agenda to establish their own isolated society far from the rest of transhumanity. Commonly referred to as brinkers, these habitats extend the gamut of the imagination. Social or political experiments, gender-based societies (or lack thereof), political extremists, religious groups, exiles, secret criminal/hypercorp operations, extended families, cults, or simply people who prefer to live in the system’s backwater areas—all are possible. Many of these are self-isolated and will refuse to interact with outsiders, while others are happy to have occasional visitors.
Solarchive Search: Out'sters
Linked only by their remote locations in the Oort Cloud rather than a common social construct or political system, the out’sters are a loose association of habitats, clusters, and swarms. Little is known about them, as they avoid communication and interaction even with the handful of scientific outposts and research stations in the Oort Cloud. The remoteness of their location and their self-imposed isolationist behavior fuels paranoid rumors regarding the group’s purpose and agenda.
Transhumans have established themselves in the most desolate corners of the solar system, often speciﬁcally for the isolation. While these people span the gamut of experience and motivation, a few of the dominant factions are listed below.
Conservatives and Retrogressives
Isolation, especially in Earth-like habitats and exoplanets, is favorable to bioconservatives, neo-primitives, and retrogressives. Any place with constant life support, gravity, and protection from radiation can support a low-tech lifestyle. Most of these colonies are forced to be exclusive, else they risk being overrun by custom-designed neighbors with superior equipment. Some individuals have found themselves living a retrogressive lifestyle as a career choice. Out on the fringe, materials are too rare and precious for equipment to just be replaced as needed. Specialists in older technology and methods can expect plenty of business servicing antiquated equipment, assuming they can get there.
Cultural Groups and Unusual Memes
Solitude offers the opportunity to fully immerse oneself in one’s creativity or obsessions, be it creating a “neural map” of the solar system or living as a pet cat served by an army of robotic butlers. These habitats fully explore the particular fetishes, interests, beliefs, or lifestyles of their group, sometimes to the point of ejecting anyone who breaks paradigm. Artists, inventors, and fashion houses also beneﬁt from the brinker life, as prohibitive distances and secret stations make it difﬁcult for rivals to steal designs and well-to-do clients are charmed by the romantic ideal of life in the seclusion of the abyss. The best known cultural brinker group is Carnivale, before it went mainstream, but other examples are Qo’noS, the invitation-only virtual Star Trek environment hosted in Olympus, and House of Hedgehogs, asteroid sculpture gallery of the industrial artist CB-04.
Explorers and Scientists
The fringe is a frontier, and it has attracted its share of explorers and scientists, working diligently to prepare the way. As civilization follows the trailblazers, so they continue out into the black. Research stations are scattered throughout the system; some pursuing wild hypotheses and studying natural phenomena, others evading competitors, law enforcement, or lynch mobs. Most gatecrashing missions prioritize establishing a scientiﬁc outpost, and habitats experimenting with highly destructive experiments are necessarily isolated in case of an accident. Isolation obscures many brinkers pursuing questionable ends, and Firewall has a long database of black-budget labs, many with high-level sponsoring, engaging in all manners of unethical and dangerous research.
Religious Colonies and Cults
Spiritual beliefs and moral living are sometimes stiﬂed under the culture and laws of heathens. Isolation permits the persecuted and spiritually inclined to live in closer harmony with their creator or spiritual guide, whatever form he, she, it, or they may have. Unfortunately, isolation also creates unhealthy feedback loops, sometimes guiding even upstanding groups into strange and destructive rituals. A few spiritually guided groups have sought out locations especially close to their source of inspiration, commonly the sun, Factor ships, alien artifacts, and deep space. Some temples and cult habitats actively lure new members to their ranks.
Disliking their government or cultural restrictions, many brinkers have opted to establish colonies to practice things their way. Some of these are proof-of-concept experiments, like rotating leaderships where every resident serves a term or all-lesbian stations with no men. Others are enclaves for groups that suffered persecution or prejudice, such as AGIs and uplifts. Brinkers suffer from a poor reputation in part due to the number of these isolated outposts that have become corrupted or twisted. These include instances of brinkers purchasing thousands of infugee egos and destroying those with undesirable racial or religious backgrounds, forced-breeding programs, and uplift experimentation, all allegedly in pursuit of the ideal society.
Having learned a sharp lesson from the Fall, survivalists seek to remove themselves from the risks of system-wide disaster, attack, or infection. As individuals, they range from the prudent to the crackpot and are uniﬁed only by their readiness, self-sufﬁciency, and healthy distrust of outsiders. A few have taken it upon themselves to warn the “Pollyannas” in the rest of the system about the dangers of nanotech, hypercorps, alien threats, and so on. It is suspected a number of the hyper-elites keep forks and supplies in survivalist enclaves. For Firewall agents, a survivalist habitat can sometimes be the best refuge against danger.
Few cherish their privacy like the hyper-elites. While rarely brinkers themselves, they are long-term planners and cautious about their options, in the manner of survivalists. Others simply maintain private and secret residences where they can engage in unpopular or illegal business, indulge in a hedonistic or harmful lifestyle, or simply relax.
“Out’ster” is a broad category applied to all those in the extreme outer rim that are “unknown.” They have thrown themselves into the abyss and left transhumanity behind. They aren’t overtly threatening enough to be considered exhuman (yet). As a rule, they shun transhuman contact, though it is unknown if this is out of fear or lack of interest. We’ve asked, but none have answered. Many out’ster colonies are well on their way to shedding transhumanity like an old skin; not to become something better, just something very different. Perhaps due to the shroud of mystery around them, (likely groundless) rumors hint that they’ve learned to communicate across the vast emptiness of space, have developed cultural groups of their own, and are pursuing goals outside of our understanding.