In the world I'm creating, there is an empire that has stretched until it's taken over the world, in large part due to it's ability to effectively fight back against very dangerous monsters that are present in the world and seem to be multiplying. Uterine replicator technology is present in this futuristic world and it is very common for couples to have children by this method. It is also the law that all members of the empire must donated semen/eggs when they have reached adulthood. These genetic materials are used to create the military of the empire.

These children are raised together in large cohorts and overtime have developed into a self-segregated endogamous class. They grow up together and tend to form romantic relationships with members of other military cohorts. These cohorts have men and women in the same proportion as the rest of the world. Their education is not substantially different from what your average citizen receives growing up, besides the addition of military strategy/history and martial arts. Once they reach adulthood, they become full fledged members of the military until they are 53, at which point they can retire. While it is not illegal for non-cohort citizens to join the military, it has become less common as the cohort system became more and more prominent. In addition, they don't tend to move far past the enlisted stage, with cohort members filling the bulk of the officer class of the military.

In this world, genetic modifications are possible, but very, very rare, making the members of this cohort baseline humans like the rest of my world. While this world is futuristic, space exploration does not yet exist. The story would take place entirely on this planet, which is not Earth but is earth-like in terms of climate/geography.

My question is, what would be a logical reason for the empire to spend time and money to raise these children this way?

  • $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. Indeed I was thinking exactly that. Due to their proximity it's very likely that they would marry outside their own cohort. Their are many opportunities for mingling with different cohorts when not in battle. $\endgroup$
    – forgotenm
    Jul 31, 2021 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ While not endogamic, the Ottoman's created a separate class with their trained from childhood soldier the Janissary. Loyalty and skill were their main motivations I beleive. $\endgroup$
    – Allan
    Jul 31, 2021 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


They can control the development of the children from birth.

Consider how hard it is, relatively speaking, to make a person into a soldier. Now, imagine that you can teach (well, brainwash, but it's only "brainwashing" if it's societally-unacceptable) them values such as team cohesion and discipline from the moment they start playing with wooden blocks.

Sure, their education "might not be so different", but the military can control it from the ground up, meaning that they can optimize it. It's a lot easier to raise a child to be a soldier from birth, rather than to try to train a surly 18-year-old civilian who's never held a rifle before into a soldier.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that's the case. Historically, societies with a soldier caste reared from childhood (most famously the Ottoman janissaries and Sparta's agoge) tended to leave them with their parents until they were 7 or 8. At that age they're still impressionable enough to be easily indoctrinated, and there's plenty of time to teach them all the military skills they need. Prior to this, the marginal gains from having slightly longer to brainwash them are offset by the logistical costs of having to feed, house, and maintain thousands of children who are too young to engage in serious training. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2021 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Montefeltro Given that "uterine replicators" are mentioned, as well as people having to donate genetic material, it seems that they're doing it from birth. Clarification from OP would be nice, though. $\endgroup$
    Jul 31, 2021 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, OP implies that the children are segregated from birth. My point was just that (since prior experience suggests that it's extravagant and unnecessary to teach battle tactics to toddlers) the theory that 'educating them longer will make them better soldiers' may be insufficient to explain why the empire has adopted this resource- and labour-intensive approach. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2021 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Montefeltro Indeed, these children never know of their biological parents. It's one of the factors that fuels the separation between cohort members and non-cohort members. $\endgroup$
    – forgotenm
    Aug 1, 2021 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Montefeltro The net labor cost of child-rearing actually goes down. Yes, it's labor intensive for the government to take over the duty from birth and the indoctrination gains are marginal in the first couple years, but it's not like this labor cost can be eliminated by leaving the children with their parents. Parents who are raising a child have less time for contributing productively to society and can't benefit from "mass production" scaling techniques. Eg, raising 10 children in one orphanage costs less than 10 parents spend raising kids individually seen holistically. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Aug 1, 2021 at 9:50

The big question would be why as you said, very expensive soldiers who you raise from birth would be cheaper than giving a bunch of civilians guns and boot camp.

It costs a quarter of a million dollars to raise a human to adulthood, and since these people are preparing to fight monsters their costs will probably be on the expensive side.

It costs 12000 to get someone in a military culture through boot camp.

Are elite soldiers really 20 times more effective than normal soldiers with guns?

Yes, because they have unique genetic markers that make them resistant to common enemy weapons.

The monsters often have fear effects from smells, psychic ability, or their nature which makes normal soldiers ineffective. The rare soldiers who can effectively combat them were bred heavily to make more soldiers.

Random population members who are well suited genetically donate their sperm and eggs, and help provide new soldiers and new mixes.


Few ideas.

First, even without genetic modification, they ARE being bred for war, the same way you breed a horse to run fast. The sperm and egg cells selected are probably the ones that generally combine to produce the best traits for combat. Therefore, it’s necessary to produce these soldiers separately, rather than spending the effort to take gene samples of random civilians.

It could also be that there are important procedures and child-reading methods that must be implemented at a very early age. Certain food, special supplements, and certain kind of environment, and so on. That’s the sort of thing an Empire really wants to be able to control for. If you just plucked random civilians and MADE them soldiers, you have to deal with all the baggage from a potentially unhealthy lifestyle, which would cause marginal, but still real, deficiencies.

Expanding on the idea of nurturing at an early age, the Empire could be obsessively trying to control the cohorts culture. Empires have historically struggled with the military interfering in political affairs, especially when they’re elite units with their own internal culture (e.g. the Janissaries). The Empire could be trying to minimize the chances of the group starting to get ideas, and they do this by carefully curating their personalities and group dynamics from an early age, and minimizing time spent outside the watch of their handlers.

It could also simply be a fluke. Some influential politician just kinda figured it would be better to do things this way, either for one of the reasons above or something else entirely, and convinced everyone else they ought to implement this system. After that, nobody really felt the need to change it, since it would be difficult to prove that conscripting civilians would truly be a better idea anyway. (An example of this might be the US Coast Guard being part of the US Military; it’s debatable wether it really made sense to give them their own branch, but it certainly doesn’t make sense to change it now that they are.)


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