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The Federation Grading System
by Nicola Mody

We are told that Federation society is separated into Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta grades. There could possibly be a lower Eta grade, but given that the system was borrowed from that in ‘Brave New World’, I would say there are only four major grades of citizens, and the highest level individuals in each grade could achieve could be roughly as follows:

Alpha       5%      Top management, top academics, research, top command

Beta        15%     Middle management, academics, professional, technical, officers

Gamma   30%     Lower management / supervisors, clerical, security, NCOs

Delta       50%     Service, labour, farm workers, construction, troopers

We know for certain that Blake was an Alpha, Vila came from the Delta service grades, and Coser was a Beta-grade technician. Jenna was a 'superior grade' which almost certainly meant Alpha. Labour, construction and security grades are also mentioned. I’d say that labour would be definitely Delta, but am not sure about construction and security, though I’ve placed them in Delta and Gamma.

Below these grades, and probably not regarded as citizens or even people are the bond slaves and mutoids. Rashel, a bond slave, refers to the ‘free grades’.

I do not think each citizen would be graded directly into one of the above four grades. There would have to be some stabilising inertia as there would be chaos if each child in a family were graded differently and separated, and the Federation strikes me as quite conservative and stable. So in my universe I have it that at 11 or 12, all children sit grading exams (Vila mentions the testing centre), but only the upper and lower 2% or 3% get promoted or demoted. This gives a relatively stable structure, and upbringing, environment, and education (or lack thereof) would usually ensure that the rest of the citizens would fit their grades well enough.

Avon calls Vila a grade 4 or 5 ignorant, which some people equate to Delta. I think the testing centres would be used for more than the small amount of regrading I've described. Either at the same time or later, when old enough to work, citizens would be rated within their grade for their education and ability to do different sorts of work.

Blake is described by Vila as an Alpha, a ‘highly privileged group’. As Blake was an engineer who worked on the Federation’s matter transmission project, but seemed not to have much practical experience that we see, I’d say he was in research or design.

Vila was born into and brought up in the Delta service grades, but of course never worked as such, being a talented thief and thus probably self-employed and fairly independent. He certainly starts off with considerable confidence and self-esteem. Many people think that Vila saying he grew up as a Delta and bought his ignorance rating is inconsistent, as they assume 'grade 4 ignorant' is synonymous with 'Delta grade'. I disagree. I would say that within each broad grade people are rated on education and ability, so for example the brighter Deltas would be in charge of others and would be chosen for more demanding work, including no doubt conscription into the Space Fleet or other military arms. Vila is clearly very intelligent, and is described by the sarcophagus alien as a genius masquerading as a fool. Whether or not he was tested and could have been re-graded as Beta or Alpha (as I have him in my universe) it’s quite believable that he would buy the lowest ignorance rating within the Delta grade to get out of being conscripted into the Space Fleet or into any other unpleasant work (and all work is unpleasant to our Vila).

Jenna is described by Servalan as a ‘superior grade citizen’, so she’d be Alpha as it is unlikely Servalan would have been so complementary about a Beta. Whatever her background, she rebelled against it to become a free-trader (or smuggler as Vila would have it).

Avon is usually assumed to be an Alpha grade, though it is not specified, because of his intelligence, accent, and manner. He too worked on the Federation’s matter transmission project, but did not meet Blake, and unlike Blake is good at the practical side. His profession is computer technician. However he is brilliant at design (as with the shielding device, the artificial Sopron, and the Scorpio teleport system), so he’s obviously at least Blake’s equal intellectually. I'd say he was Alpha. However, Avon also says that Vila had the same chances he did, and that implies that Avon could have been promoted from Beta due to his brilliance, which would also explain his prickly defensiveness, his pride in his status, and his needling of Vila about his.

Gan has no grade or occupation specified, and BBC pre-publicity and consequently fan legend has him coming from the planet Zephron, which may or may not have been part of the Federation. Some people have Gan as a farmer because of his size, strength, and slow deliberate way of thinking. Others have him as a hospital aide or similar as he knows how to use the Liberator’s medical equipment on Jenna in ‘Time Squad’ (which incidentally shows he was definitely not stupid). I have him from a farming background but working for an agricultural equipment company as a rep (explaining why he’s on Earth), making him Gamma clerical or similar. That still places him in the top half of Federation society.

Cally is from the planet Auron, outside the Federation and as such has no grade.

Dayna grew up outside the Federation, but her father Hal Mellanby, who once led a revolt on Earth, designed and built weapons and defence systems. He would be an Alpha (by analogy with Blake), which would make Dayna an Alpha by inheritance and certainly brought up as one, educated by her father and various private tutors.

Tarrant was a captain in the Space Fleet before he deserted and became a mercenary, and I might put him as Beta simply because that’s where the officers are in my scheme. However he could very well be an Alpha on his way up the system to higher ranks, as he certainly got his first command very young (15 years previously), and had an excellent education—he did a course at the Space Research Institute not long after Egrorian disappeared, about 9 years previously, so he was obviously both very bright and valued by the Space Fleet.

Soolin probably has no grade. Her family were farmers, early settlers on Gauda Prime, possibly from Darlon 4. Gauda Prime was not part of the Federation at the time as they were about to take it over at the end of the series.

Servalan is an Alpha on the evidence of Kasabi who taught her when she was a cadet and described her as ‘a credit to [her] background—spoilt, idle, vicious’ and ‘well-connected’. As an aside, Kasabi’s confidential assessment also listed Servalan as ‘unfit for command’.

Travis is probably an Alpha or Beta during the series, being a Space Commander which is a high rank. In season 1 he appears to be born into one of those higher grades by his accent and manner, but in season 2 he has a lower grade accent, so could possible have been promoted on merit from Gamma or even Delta, which could explain some of his attitude, as life would not be easy for someone who rose from a low grade.

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