The Sibylean Kingdom is a hereditary constitutional matriarchy laying claim to the entirety of Star Beta’s gravitational influence. All planets within the system are either gas giants or ice giants (“ice” referring to a variety of volatiles such as water, ammonia, and methane). However, these gaseous planets retain many moons. The gas giant Dowager is certainly the centerpiece of this stellar system, with twelve large moons over one thousand kilometers in diameter. The lunar settlement of Sibyl is the capital world and Tencair is by far the largest population center and seat of the queen.
Under basic climatographic assumptions, Sibyl would be quite cold at its surface given its position near the edge of Astrild’s habitable zone. Geothermal activity tidally induced by the parent gas giant Dowager keeps surface life productive. Even with fusion power available, geothermal wells provide the majority of Tencair’s power, as the power generation method is cheap, simple, and prized for its reliability.
Other moons of Dowager are uninhabitable at the surface but resource-rich, securing the Sibyleans’ every need except for agriculture. Surviving on what amounts to a volcanic tundra world has instilled the population with a sense of frugality and egalitarian tendencies among commoners, and an irenic monarchy, ensuring the Sibyleans rarely live far beyond their means.
The politics of the Kingdom have one familial component and one interest group component. An extended family unit is called a house (hus), and this is nominally the first of an individual’s two surnames, the second being a matronym or (rarely) patronym for disambiguation where necessary, such as in government bureaucracy and identification.
A political interest group is called a college (kolej), and a house can freely move between these at any time. A house must move between colleges as a whole. Therefore, house splits are possible and even likely over political differences or family feuds, and this has happened in the history of several greater houses and at least one royal house. The ruling government will typically be filled entirely by the college the queen’s house belongs to, or sometimes an alliance between two colleges.
The government itself is a modified form of curia regis, where the executive authority of the monarch is nearly supreme. The Kingdom today is ruled at any one time by one of eleven royal houses, thanks to a prudent power-sharing compromise brokered by the ruling women of the major clans after decades of resource warfare. Incremental reforms have been made over the centuries. Presently, commoners directly elect the queen every ten orbits, or upon the monarch’s death. The monarch must be a female heir of one of the royal houses; thus, this is hardly a properly democratic system. Colleges can see themselves locked out of any real political power for many decades.
The queen rules with the aid of her cabinet, called the Regning. She may freely empower these royal councilors to act on her behalf in any way she deems fit. The persons who serve at the pleasure of the queen are often aristocrats, but need not be: merit is valued over circumstance of birth. (A royal councilor must, however, be a naturalized citizen.) Chancellors hold the highest position in the council in charge of a particular area: economy, foreign affairs, defense, justice and legislation, etc., and lead sessions of councilors, who make up the bulk of the Regning.
Disputes are resolved and alliances formed at the Klatching, a formal assembly of houses and their colleges in the capital Tencair. The Klatching is the base of commoner political power during a queen’s reign. It performs both legislative and civil judicial functions, and all colleges can introduce proposals and exercise realpolitik here, although the final word on any alteration of law is had by the queen. The Klatching can technically dethrone the queen with a supermajority of political support, but this is an event which has never occurred.
The scientists of the Sibylean Kingdom are the best in The Bary. A series of meritocratic councils run daily bureaucracy and political errands for the queen in her name, and this form of enlightened monarchy has very few direct opponents.
Ashlee Rinn Jensdottir, the main character of the novel, is a citizen of the Kingdom.