Fortuna, as the opening cutscene tells you, is a debt internment camp. Sure, there’s some nice singing and everyone seems to be working and all that, but everyone working there is deep in debt. So deep in fact that they’re forced to work in Fortuna, one of the harshest, coldest places on Venus, until they repay their debt.
Of course, working in these harsh conditions would instantly kill the normal human body. So you have to get augmentations. Which cost a fortune, meaning you go into extra debt. But you have no choice but to get the augments. Either you work to repay your debts or you die and your family has to repay your debts, meaning they have to buy augments.
The debts are pretty basic as well. it’s all normal debt. Training debt is most likely college debt or similar. Shelter debt is clearly related to housing and mortgages. Medical debt is obvious too. Familial debt is passed down from parents to children.
The atmosphere though isn’t friendly either. Everything is freezing cold and trying to kill you. One slip and that’s it, you’re dead and your family takes your debt. Even when you ignore the horrible toxic gases and all the thermal sludge and all that, the workers of Solaris are bombarded with advertisements, from predatory payday loans with infinitely high interest to Corpus spies everywhere to Nef Anyo’s constant announcements, lying to people and saying that they could be like him if they forgo all charity and kindness and work themselves to death.
That’s on top of the fact that, for most of the workers of Solaris, their debts are unpayable. Wages constantly go down, while interest constantly goes up. Even for small debts, most workers spend their lives paying off interest.
But it gets even worse.
Frankly it’s awful. But it gets so much worse.
You know everyone has those big grills on their chests? Mechanical stuff, right? What do you think is in there? My guess was vital organs. The chest pieces provide easy access to one’s vital organs, all stuffed up together so they can easily be replaced by mechanical organs, or repossessed by angry Corpus grunts due to not paying off your debt in time.
Nope. It contains the poor victim’s head.
Credit to u/6ArtemisFowl9 for scarring people with the above image.
What does this all mean? I don’t know. I assume that a lot of the people we see on Fortuna have had this forced upon them, and that the next stage is having your head ripped from your body and stuck on a shelf somewhere. Clearly these NPCs haven’t been brain-shelved yet, but this system makes it incredibly easy for Nef’s goons to come along and snatch your head.
They don’t seem to have any organs either. These were most likely the very first things the poor Solaris workforce had to sell off to repay some debts. They probably used some organs as a down-payment on their augment costs. They’ve probably sold off so many parts that they only own their heads now.
The most horrific thing is that this is the fate of every kid in Fortuna as well. You had a good look at the Vent Kids? Their necks are awfully thin. As soon as they come of age, they risk going into debt, having to sell off their organs and having to get augments themselves.
Sure, this is all very futuristic, a sci-fi example of extreme capitalism and all that. That won’t happen to us, right?
Well, no. The chopping off heads and replacing parts thing is a little too far off, even though prosthetic technology has come a long way. But debt internment camps? Debt slaves? Horrible working conditions that can easily kill? Those things all exist today, across the planet. And even in more developed countries, we teeter towards these things, with predatory loans and people going into the red to get educated, or even poor folks declaring bankruptcy because they can’t pay off their medical debts.
We could laugh off Fortuna as a dark science fiction world, but like most science fiction, it has a firm base in reality.
Look after each other.