The thing is, creating cultures is hard. Creating cultures with which human players and readers can identify is even harder.

In over fifty years of reading fiction I've seen it tried many times. Usually it fails miserably. Sometimes it doesn't kill the story. I've seen C. J. Cherryh do it well. Once.


Because humans understand one societal arrangememt and anything else is just confusing.

Don't believe me? Watch someone interact with their dog. Invariably they will treat it like a human child. Dog trainers will tell you this is a mistake, and everyone will say they know, but almost everyone does it anyway.

Culture is programmed at a very early stage of development and the unconscious assumptions we make hundreds of times a day happen at such a basic level of our consciousness that most of us never examine them.

A writer of a new culture would have to spend enormous effort explaining the culture or the reader wil make assumptions and the entire effort will have been wasted. Not only that, but it risks losing the reader.

So, what do the masters of new fictional cultures do? Mostly they go: "They are just like humans, (or a romanticized human subculture,) except..."

Example: every creature in Tolkien's work was a version of one or another class of Englishman.

Counterexample: Heinlein's Martians were never developed as a culture except through the lens of Smith learning to be human.