Advances in medical technology have greatly extended the human lifespan, making serious threats of
overpopulation and resource shortages. Every major human city in the galaxy regulates its population
carefully. Non-human citizens of the GFH are subject to the same procedures as humans, adapted for
their maturity rates and physical and psychological needs.

Reproduction is managed by the government, and natural (or “feral”) birth is illegal. A sophisticated
computer system, known as Mother, monitors the population and decides how many births the city
needs to sustain its population at optimal levels. Mother reviews her detailed records of the city’s
genetic landscape and selects donors likely to pass on traits that will benefit the next generation.
The donors are summoned to a reproduction facility and given a thorough examination. If they prove
physically and psychologically stable (by Mother’s standards) they will enjoy a brief holiday together and
produce a child through technological means. This does not make them parents. The experts behind
the system believe that people allowed to raise their genetic children will favor their own offspring,
weakening their dedication to the population as a whole. Each infant spends its first month in the
care of anonymous nurses and undergoes genetic testing before being handed off to its first set of
government-selected parents.

Not everyone is eligible for parenthood. Parents are chosen through a careful review process and
graded after receiving training. The grade dictates which stages of a child’s development particular
parents are allowed to nurture. Very few qualify to raise a child from infancy through maturity, and
most children are handed from couple to couple as they grow. If no qualified parents are available, an
infant is supplied with virtual parents based on the brainwave patterns and recorded history of an Alpha
Class parent from Mother’s archives. These virtual parents are provided with robotic assistance and
modified to fit the particular needs and racial specifications of the child.

Children receive extensive physical and psychological testing at each stage of development. Upon
reaching maturity a child is presented with a list of occupations. The list is compiled from the child’s
own aptitude test results and a catalogue of occupations currently in demand, in order from most to
least appropriate. The new adult may choose any occupation on the list, but will be strongly encouraged
to choose the one at the top. Any occupation not listed is considered inappropriate for the child’s
character and abilities, and those who go off-list forgo any hope of career advancement. The exceptions
are military and colonial positions, which anyone may choose.

A city is divided into Societies, and nearly everyone is a member of one. Some rebels refuse to join one,
but doing so means relinquishing the support and training a Society provides and becoming an outcast
with no place in the city. No one chooses a Society; upon coming of age each citizen is assigned to the
Society expected to best meet his psychological and social needs. The experts believe that individuals do
best when surrounded by like-minded people, and most of a person’s training and social interaction will
come from his or her Society.