Athena Grayson

The Star Empire: Social Stock

Social Media was one of the big inspirations that lived in my creative space when I started dreaming up the stories in the Scions of the Star Empire. When I was writing the story, it felt like the height of social media’s influence on us (heavens, did I underestimate, or what?). Turns out my imagination couldn’t keep up with reality and I’m still not sure we’re hitting “peak social media.”

On the overcrowded city-planet of Landfall, careers rise and fall via social media, same as can be said for here on planet Earth. But Landfall culture takes it one step further–fortunes are won and lost as well, with the Social Capital markets, where a person’s worth is banked upon not by their credit score, but by their “SoCap” score. SoCap scores even affect the alliances of noble house couples, determining beforehand who has the upper hand in a marriage before either party says, “I do.”

The higher up the social ladder you climb, the less an alliance is about a couple, and the more it becomes the union of two entire households, so determining who’s got the advantage holds a lot more at stake than just who gets to ban stewbeets from the household menu (the answer to that is “everyone,” because everyone hates stewbeets. Unfortunately, they form the basis for a LOT of food served to all social classes on this over-burdened world).

You would think that a meteoric rise and “stickiness” at the highest level of SoCap would be the path to greatness, right? But that’s not always the case. Peaking before your time can have disastrous consequences, even for a princess. As the emperor’s daughter, Ione has to make the most advantageous match, but not until her family is ready (because she will never be personally ready to give up her freedom). Timing is even more critical for her boyfriend, Den. If they rise too fast, too soon as a couple, he’ll never be able to escape his domineering father’s will.

Outside of marriage alliances, there are all sorts of business contracts that are made or broken based on the balance of social capital held by the participants. The privileged young people like the students at the Landfall Cultural Academy can use their social capital to influence trends in culture, fashion, and entertainment…but by the same token, their popularity is traded like a commodity for others to profit like stocks on a market exchange. With all eyes on them, all the time, managing their reputations is a matter of survival.

Read more about the world of Landfall in the Star Empire’s system of the Torch in the Scions of the Star Empire series.


They have everything they want…except a future

The heirs of Landfall’s powerful nobility have all the wealth and privilege of their family status, but there’s only one thing that will give them true freedom–the title of Scion. The only way to earn it is by carefully managing the social influence markets that rank them according to their accomplishments. At the exclusive Landfall Cultural Academy, the heirs compete to elevate their status high enough for the Cultural Trust to grant them the title and the freedom to make their own way, and scandal is as good as scholarship.



Athena Grayson Written by:

Space Opera with Sizzle | Sorcery with Spice | Fun Fantasy with Feels