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Experimental Book Post: The Under Jurisdiction Series


Clephas

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First, I should note that this is a series that is right up the alley of people like Dergonu... it were a VN.  This series, Under Jurisdiction by Susan R Matthews, mostly follows Andrej Koscuisko, a Drakonij Prince and would-be (though not by his own will) Inquisitor. 

Setting

The Under Jurisdiction series is based in a sci-fi future where humanity, at some point, diversified so greatly that sub-specification has occurred (though most aren't quite separate species entirely.  In this future, humanity (such as it is) is ruled by the judiciary, in the form of the Bench.  All humans are subject to the law as proclaimed by the judicial forces, and punishments are mostly corporal... horribly so in some cases. 

In this setting, torture is not only allowed, it is actually carried out by licensed medical professionals trained to inflict the maximum amount of pain to gain confessions of crimes (regardless of how heavy the evidence is), and, where it is justified, to torture them to death in the most horrible of fashions.  This legal use of torture as a deterrent to criminals has led to a gradual decay in the morale of the planets ruled by the Judges on the Bench, and rebellions have begun to occur on a regular basis by the time the protagonist, Andrej, takes his first steps into the world of the Fleet.

Andrej Koscuisko

Andrej is an extremely complex man... a man raised in a noble family of oligarchs who believe intensely and with absolute conviction in the duties of noblesse oblige and the duties to those under a lord's protection.  He is also a young medical professional, a genius surgeon and chemist with a the kind of skill in actual surgical procedures that is seen so rarely as to be unheard of.  He understands the human body (all races) to a degree that is often terrifying, and this is part of what becomes his plague... for when he begins his training, he discovers that, to his horror, the process of Inquisition brings out an intense, sick hunger to inflict pain upon and dominate the subjects that come under his hands.  Coupled with his natural understanding of the body and human psychology, he comes out of his training as the most horrifyingly skilled Inquisitor in Bench history, an artist of pain eternally on the verge of madness due to the conflicting imperatives within him.  He is only held back from the edge of the cliff by the efforts of his Bond Involuntaries, former criminals implanted with behavioral governors that force them to absolute obedience, so they can serve as his aides, and they are thus under his protection.  Their care for him, for his sanity, for his health, and for his honor, is all that keeps the sadistic madness at bay as it fights with his honor and inherent compassion...

The Story

The story follows Andrej from his training as an Inquisitor and first encounter with a Bond Involuntary, to his first duty as a Fleet Inquisitor and beyond... His fight with madness as he tries to glean mercy and justice from the horrors he is forced to perform on others, his fight to keep his honor, to protect his Bond Involuntaries from others who would use them poorly, and his fight with his own, culturally-ingrained sense of filial duty are intense to read.  For all the foreignness of his culture, Andrej's journeys through life leave behind an impact far out of proportion for the actual deeds he performs. 

Unfortunately, if you have a weak stomach, I can't recommend this story at all.  The galaxy Under Jurisdiction is one of the most horrifying dystopian sci-fi systems I've ever seen... all the worse when you realize that it all began out of a desire for justice and fair play in a universe where human racism has, if anything, gotten worse thousands of years after leaving Earth.

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"it is actually carried out by licensed medical professionals trained to inflict the maximum amount of pain to gain confessions of crimes (regardless of how heavy the evidence is)"

I'm not sure I understand this.

@ClephasAre you saying, that suspects are tortured to get confessions regardless of how heavy the evidence is? Which means if you have low pain tolerance you will most likely be found guilty regardless of innocence.  Which means you can accuse any one you don't like of a random crime and he will be tortured until he confesses?

Edited by Akshay
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On 7/3/2018 at 2:51 PM, Akshay said:

"it is actually carried out by licensed medical professionals trained to inflict the maximum amount of pain to gain confessions of crimes (regardless of how heavy the evidence is)"

I'm not sure I understand this.

@ClephasAre you saying, that suspects are tortured to get confessions regardless of how heavy the evidence is? Which means if you have low pain tolerance you will most likely be found guilty regardless of innocence.  Which means you can accuse any one you don't like of a random crime and he will be tortured until he confesses?

If the appropriate authorities determine that there is a possibility of criminality based on even the slightest of circumstantial or physical evidence.  However, it is always an individual with rank in the military or the judiciary that determines that a crime has been committed and sends the criminal to the Inquisitor.  Lower crimes can be limited to the first few levels, such as flogging and the use of confession drugs (the flogging/whipping usually a convenient part of the punishment) but the higher the crime, the higher the level of torture the Inquisitor is required to undertake.  Confessions are expected long before they reach the fifth or sixth level (very few people can deny Koscuisko anything past the fourth level), so the rest is usually punishment, save for a few individuals with stronger wills.

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19 minutes ago, Clephas said:

If the appropriate authorities determine that there is a possibility of criminality based on even the slightest of circumstantial or physical evidence.  However, it is always an individual with rank in the military or the judiciary that determines that a crime has been committed and sends the criminal to the Inquisitor.  Lower crimes can be limited to the first few levels, such as flogging and the use of confession drugs (the flogging/whipping usually a convenient part of the punishment) but the higher the crime, the higher the level of torture the Inquisitor is required to undertake.  Confessions are expected long before they reach the fifth or sixth level (very few people can deny Koscuisko anything past the fourth level), so the rest is usually punishment, save for a few individuals with stronger wills.

the point was, does this mean that they will keep getting tortured until they confess, meaning they are basically predetermined guilty. 

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10 hours ago, Akshay said:

the point was, does this mean that they will keep getting tortured until they confess, meaning they are basically predetermined guilty. 

Yes and no.  For victimless crimes (drug use or ownership of an illegal weapon, for instance) it usually doesn't even go to the level of asking for an Inquisitor (Inquisitors are rare, so mostly they are called out for violent crimes, rebellion, sedition, collaboration, smuggling, conspiracy, etc).  Guilt is assumed if one has been taken to an Inquisitor, so yes, torture (at the level authorized or ordered) goes on until the individual in question has confessed.  Once that has occurred, if the crime requires a Level Seven or above, the criminal in question is tortured until they die, though in this case no effort is made to keep them alive except for ones that require a Level Nine or Ten (Ten being the most horrific), in which case they are kept alive through medical intervention until all levels of the punishment have been inflicted.  In the case of rebels, information is also sought, so it is desirable to keep them in a state where they can respond until the information is extracted. 

A lot of discretion is given to the Inquisitor, when it comes to this.  Most Inquisitors are washouts or borderline as surgeons, so the accused often die at lower levels as a result...but the system has rotted so much at this point that few care.  The protagonist, being a surgical master and genius at interrogation, is scarily good at getting what he's after without destroying his victims outright... though he often ends up doing so as part of the punishment, in any case.  Commanding officers can often order specific levels of interrogation, and an Inquisitor can do so as well, if he finds evidence of a crime requiring it during a low-level interrogation or when interrogating another.

Edit: It should be noted that one of the most dystopian aspects of this series' setting is that so many people have the authority to order the use of an Inquisitor with relatively little cause.  The Inquisitor himself (in possession of the Writ), a Judge, a military officer of Captain or above, etc...

 

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