David Louis Edelman
'Infoquake' mass market paperback cover

On the Pharisees

The area of the globe known as the Principalities of Spiritual Enlightenment to its residents (and the Pharisee Territories to outsiders) is home to tens of millions of unconnectibles who claim no fealty to the centralized government. A large percentage of these residents continue to maintain the world’s ancient religions, which have for the most part been abandoned in connectible lands.

The Pilgrimages of the Three Jesuses

The devastation of the Autonomous Revolt led humanity to seek new extremes of both science and religion. Sheldon Surina and Henry Osterman’s pioneering work in bio/logics caused an eventual resurgence in humanity’s faith in technology. But for a long time, the fanatical religiosity of New Alamo and its subsequent splinter governments held sway over most of the globe.

As the Texan governments began to disintegrate to make way for a new secular order, the world’s religious impulses found expression in the personage of Jesus Joshua Smith. Smith rose to prominence as an itinerant Texan preacher and soon tapped into the zeitgeist of discontent with the rising secularism. He proclaimed himself to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and exhorted all of his numerous followers to cast aside the material world and join him in establishing a paradise in the holy city of Jerusalem.

Smith’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem quickly became an excuse for a murderous rampage by virulent antitechnologists. Thousands died in these struggles around the globe, which Smith only fueled through his charismatic (if rambling) sermons. As a result, governments around the globe began harshly restricting the activities of religious groups — even those who had not participated in Smith’s rampages. The expression of religion in public, already on the wane, became taboo, and many of the old religions’ adherents fled to the Middle East as well. Jesus Joshua Smith died of sudden heart failure, leaving the entire region in chaos.

The second of the so-called “Three Jesuses,” Jesus Cortez, also advocated a mass exodus of the faithful of all religious persuasions to Jerusalem a generation later. Though Cortez did not explicitly call for violent resistance, many of his devotees followed the example of his predecessor and looted and pillaged on their way to the holy city.

The last of the Three Jesuses, Jesus Elijah Muhammad, did not lead an exodus to Jerusalem, but rather to a new orbital colony called 49th Heaven. Though 49th Heaven was to prove unsuccessful as a religious retreat, its founding and prominence in the late first century YOR proved to be the death knell for the old religions in connectible lands.

Life in the Pharisee Territories

Unlike the Islanders, who until recently have maintained a civil and principled opposition to the Prime Committee and the other entities of the centralized government, the tribes of the Pharisees generally have no contact with the outside world. Indeed, many have attempted to physically wall out the connectibles. As a result, contact between the two civilizations is limited. The centralized government has made no real attempt to encroach on the Pharisee Territories.

There is no centralized Pharisee authority. Instead there is a patchwork of local and municipal governments, as well as a number of small theocracies. The various tribes often have little contact with one another, preferring to remain isolated in their own communities.

Bio/logic technology is banned many places inside the Territories — though considering that the vast majority of the Pharisees do not have OCHREs in their systems, they are incapable of running bio/logic programs anyway. The use of non-bio/logic technology varies widely from place to place and tribe to tribe. Some Pharisee cities are said to resemble those of antiquity before the Autonomous Revolt, with motorized transport, treepaper books and even communication networks through wire and silicon-powered machinery. Other areas shun even those forms of technology and maintain an extreme Luddite existence.

Despite the stereotype among the connectibles that the Pharisees are violent, the (admittedly unreliable) statistics indicate that the residents of the Territories are fairly peaceful. It is thought by some that the impression of violence comes from the fact that without bio/logics, death and injury are much quicker to arise from disagreements among unconnectibles than connectibles.

Doubtless such statistics are also skewed by the presence of a number of fringe groups who foment violence against connectibles and even study the art of black code in an attempt to cause mayhem and apocalypse.