"Spiovente was first contacted by the League over ten years ago. It had been isolated since the Breakdown and had thousands of years to go bad. It is the sort of place that gives crime a bad name--since the criminals are in charge here. The madhouse has been taken over by the madmen. Anarchy rules--no, not true--Spiovente makes anarchy look like a Boy Sprout’s picnic. I have made a particular study of this planet’s system of government, while working out the stickier bits of my personal philosophy. Here we have something that belongs in the lost dark ages of mankind’s rise. It is thoroughly despicable in every way--and there is nothing that the League can do about it, short of launching an invasion. Which would be completely against League philosophy. The strength of the League is also its weakness. No planet or planets can physically attack another planet. Any one that did would face instant destruction by all the others since war has now been declared illegal. The League can only help newly discovered planets, offer advice and aid. It is rumored that there are covert League organizations that work to subvert repulsive societies like this one--but of course this has never been revealed in public. So what we have here is trouble, bad trouble. For Spiovente is a warped mirror image of the civilized worlds. There is no rule of law here--just might. Criminal gangs are led by Capos, the swordman in the fancy uniform, Capo Doccia, he’s one of them. Each Capo controls as large a capote as he can. His followers are rewarded with a portion of the loot extracted from the peasantry or from the spoils of war. At the very bottom of this pyramid of crime are the slaves. Us.”
The technology of Spiovente is a cross between the early Industrial Revolution and the Middle Ages. When Jim is surprised by the appearance of an archaic mechanical cart, the Bishop explains it to him.
"It was a machine of some kind, that much was obvious. It was advancing slowly towards us, rattling and clanking and emitting fumes. The operator swivelled it about in front of the cart as his assistant jumped down and joined the two together. There was a jolt and we slowly got underway.
“Look closely, Jim, and remember,” he said. “You are seeing something from the dawn of technology, long forgotten and lost in the midst of time. That landcar is powered by steam. It is a steamcar, as I live and breathe. You know, I am beginning to think that I will enjoy it here.” Alas, the Bishop did not long survive this world.