The Honorverse is a military science fiction series created by David Weber and published by Baen Books. The series is set primarily after Honor Harrington's birth; although she is the protagonist in most of the stories, more recent entries make only passing references to Harrington.
Within the continuity of the series, Honor Harrington was born on October 1, 1859 (3961 ce) Post Diaspora, at Craggy Hollow (the Harrington family homestead), County Duvalier, in the Duchy of Shadow Vale, Sphinx. In general, one might say that she was born at the twilight of what had been a long, relatively stable and peaceful period of galactic history. Her native Star Kingdom of Manticore was widely respected as one of the wealthiest star nations in existence (probably the wealthiest, on a per capita basis), and its carrying trade dominated the interstellar freight lines outside the Solarian League itself. The galaxy had not seen a major war in over a century, although there were always places (like the Silesian Confederacy) where ongoing low-level conflicts were the norm rather than the exception. Aside from rumblings out of the economically devastated People's Republic of Haven, which had recently forcibly annexed a half dozen neighboring systems, there seemed little reason to expect that to change.
But by 1901 pd, (the time of On Basilisk Station) it had changed, and changed drastically. The PRH's steady economic collapse had driven its expansionism to heights unseen since pre-space days on Old Terra, and the Star Kingdom of Manticore lay squarely in the Peeps' path. The last century's "golden age" was coming to an end with the approach of an interstellar war which would, before it ended, see virtually the entire human-occupied galaxy choosing up sides, with military operations on a scale no one had ever previously contemplated.
This appendix sketches in some of the salient points of the galaxy into which Honor was born . . . and which she, willingly or not, was to play a major part in changing forever.
The first manned interstellar ship departed the Solar System on September 30, 2103. Although no other ship followed for almost fifty years, 2103 ce, became accepted as Year One of the Diaspora, and January 1 of that year became January 1, 01 pd for purposes of interstellar dating.
For over seven centuries after the Prometheus became the first manned starship, FTL movement remained impossible, leaving generation ships (followed in the fourth century pd by the development of practical cryogenic hibernation vessels) as the only means of long-distance interstellar expansion. The original starships used fairly straightforward reaction drives with hydrogen catcher fields to sustain boost after the initial onboard reaction mass was exhausted. Later generations attempted more esoteric propulsion systems, but though they graduated to fusion and photon drives, they remained locked into the sublight reaction principle until 725 pd, when the first crude hyper drive was tested in the Solar System.
The interface between normal and hyper-space was speed-critical, for if velocity at hyper translation exceeded .3 c, the translating starship was destroyed. In addition, a hypership had to reach the hyper limit of a star's gravity well before it could enter hyper, and the hyper limit varies with the spectral class of the star.
The original hyper drive was a man-killer. The casualty figures over the first fifty years of hyper travel were daunting. Worse, vessels which were destroyed were lost with all hands, which left no record of their fates and thus offered no clue as to the causes of their destruction. Eventually, however, it was determined that most had probably been lost to one of two phenomena, which became known as "grav shear" and "dimensional shear" (violent energy turbulence separating hyper bands from one another). Once this was recognized and the higher hyper bands were declared off limits, losses due to dimensional shear ended, but grav shear remained a highly dangerous and essentially unpredictable phenomenon for the next five centuries. Despite that unpredictability and continuing (though lower) loss rates, hyperships' FTL capabilities made them the vessel of choice for survey duties and other low-manpower requirement tasks. Crews of highly paid specialists willing to accept risky employment conditions were enlisted for survey work and for the early mail packets, but the loss rate continued to make any sort of interstellar bulk commerce impractical and insured that most colonists still moved aboard the much slower but more survivable cryogenic ships. As a consequence, the rate of advance of colonization did not increase terribly significantly during the period 725-1273 pd, although the ability to pick suitable targets for colonization (courtesy of the FTL survey crews) improved enormously.
The best speed possible in hyper prior to 1273 pd was about fifty times light-speed, a major plus over light-speed vessels but still too slow to tie distant stars together into any sort of interstellar community. It was sufficient to allow establishment of the oldest of the currently existing interstellar polities, the Solarian League, consisting of the oldest colony worlds within approximately ninety light-years of Sol.
The major problem limiting hyper speeds was that simply getting into hyper did not create a propulsive effect. Indeed, the initial translation into hyper was a complex energy transfer which reduced a starship's velocity by "bleeding off" momentum. In effect, a translating hypership lost approximately 92% of its normal-space velocity when entering hyper. This had unfortunate consequences in terms of reaction mass requirements, particularly since the fact that hydrogen catcher fields were inoperable in hyper meant one could not replenish one's reaction mass underway. On the other hand, the velocity bleed effect applied equally regardless of the direction of the translation (that is, one lost 92% of one's velocity whether one was entering hyper-space from normal-space or normal-space from hyper-space), which meant that leaving hyper automatically decelerated one's vessel to a normal-space velocity only 08% of whatever its velocity had been in hyper-space. This tremendously reduced the amount of deceleration required at the far end of a hyper voyage and so made reaction drives at least workable.
Since .3 c (approx. 89,907.6 km./sec.) was the maximum velocity at which an "upward" translation into hyper-space could be made, the maximum initial velocity in hyper-space was .024 c (or 7,192.6 km./sec.). Making translation at speeds as high as .3 c was a rough experience and not particularly safe. The loss rate at .3 c was over 10%; dropping translation velocity to .23 c virtually eliminated ship losses in initial translation, and, since the difference in initial hyper velocity was less than 1,700 KPS, most captains routinely made translation at the lower speed. Even today, only military commanders in emergency conditions will make upward translation at .3 c. There is no safe upper speed on "downward" translations. That is, a ship may translate from hyper-space to normal-space at any hyper-space velocity without risking destruction. (Which is not to say that the crews enjoy the experience or that it does not impose enormous wear and tear on hyper generators.) Further, translation from one hyper band to a higher band (see below) may be made at any velocity up to and including .6 c. No vessel may exceed .6 c in hyper (.8 in normal-space) because radiation and particle shields cannot protect them or their passengers at higher velocities.
Once a vessel enters hyper, it is placed in what might be considered a compressed dimension which corresponds on a point-by-point basis to "normal-space" but places those points in much closer congruity. Hyper-space consists of multiple regions or layers—called "bands"—of associated but discrete dimensions. Dr. Radhakrishnan (who, after Adrienne Warshawski, is considered to have been humanity's greatest hyper-physicist) called the hyper bands "the back-flash of creation," for they might be considered echoes of normal-space, the consequence of the ultimate convergence of the mass of an entire normal-space universe. Or, as Dr. Warshawski once put it, "Gravity folds normal-space everywhere, by however small an amount, and hyper-space may be considered the 'inside' of all those little folds."
In practical terms, this meant that for a ship in hyper, the distance between normal-space points was "shorter," which allowed the vessel to move between them using a standard reaction drive at sublight speeds to attain an effective FTL capability. Even in hyper, ships were not capable of true faster-than-light movement; the relatively closer proximity of points in normal-space simply gave the appearance of FTL travel, which meant that as long as a vessel was dependent on its reaction drive and could not reach the higher hyper bands, its maximum apparent speed was limited to approximately sixty-two times that which the same vessel could have attained in normal-space.
Navigation, communication, and observation all are rendered difficult by the nature of hyper-space. Formed by gravitational distortion, hyper-space itself acts as a focusing glass, producing a cascade effect of ever more tightly warped space. The laws of relativistic physics apply at any given point in that space, but as a hypothetical observer looks "outward" in hyper-space, his instruments show a rapidly increasing distortion. At ranges above about 20 LM (359,751,000 km.) that distortion becomes so pronounced that accurate observations are impossible. One says "about 20 LM" because, depending on local conditions, that range may vary up or down by as much as 12%—that is, from 17.6 LM (316,580,880 km.) to 22.4 LM (or 402,921,120 km.). A hypership thus travels at the center of a bubble of observation from 633,161,760 to 805,842,240 km. in diameter. Even within that sphere, observations and measurements can be highly suspect; in effect, the "bubble" may be thought of as the region in which an observer can tell something is out there and very roughly where. Exact, precise observations and measurements are all but impossible above ranges of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000 km., which would make navigational fixes impossible even if there were anything to take fixes on.
This seemed to rule out any practical use of hyper-space until the development of the first "hyper log" (known as the "HL" by spacers) in 731 pd. The HL is analogous to the inertial guidance units first developed on Old Earth in the 20th century ce. By combining the input from extremely acute sensor systems with known power inputs to a vessel's own propulsive systems and running a continuous back plot of gravity gradients passed through, the HL maintains a real-time "dead reckoning" position. Early HLs were accurate to within no more than 10 LS per light-month, which meant that, in a voyage of 60 light-years, the HL position might be out by as much as two light-hours. Early hyper-space navigators thus had to be extremely cautious and make generous allowances for error in plotting their voyages, but current (1900 pd) HLs are accurate to within .4 light-second per light-month (that is, the HL position at the end of a 60 light-year voyage would be off by no more than 288 light-seconds or less than 5 light-minutes).
From the beginning of hyper travel, it was known that there were multiple hyper bands and that the "higher" the band, the closer the congruity between points in normal-space and thus the higher the apparent FTL speed, but their use was impractical for two major reasons. First, translation from band to band bleeds off velocity much as the initial translation. The bleed-off for each higher band is approximately 92% of the bleed-off for the next lowest one (that is, the alpha band translation reduces velocity by 92%; the beta band bleed-off is 84.64%; the velocity loss for the gamma band is 77.87%, etc.), but it still had to be made up again after each translation, and this posed an insurmountable mass requirement for any reaction drive.
The second problem was that the interfaces between any two hyper bands are regions of highly unstable and powerful energy flows, creating the "dimensional shear" which had destroyed so many early hyperships, and dimensional shear becomes more violent as band levels increase. Moreover, even the relatively "safe" lower bands which could be reliably reached were characterized by powerful energy surges and flows—currents, almost—of highly-charged particles and warped gravity waves. Adequate shielding could hold the radiation effects in check, but a grav shear within any band could rip the strongest ship to pieces.
Hyper-space grav waves take the form of wide, deep volumes of space, as much as fifty light-years across and averaging half their width in depth, of focused gravitational stress "moving" through hyper-space. Actually, the wave itself might be thought of as stationary, but energy and charged particles trapped in its influence are driven along it at light- or near-light-speed. In that sense, the grav wave serves as a carrier for other energies and remains motionless but for a (relatively) slow side-slipping or drifting. In large part, it is this grav wave drift which makes them so dangerous; survey ships with modern sensors can plot them quite accurately, but they may not be in the same place when the next ship happens along. The major waves in the more heavily traveled portions of the galaxy have been charted with reasonable accuracy, for sufficient observational data has been amassed to predict their usual drift patterns. In addition, most waves are considered "locked," meaning that their rate of shift is low and that they maintain effectively fixed relationships with other "locked" waves. But there are also waves which are not locked—whose patterns (if, in fact, they have patterns at all) are not only not understood but can change with blinding speed. One of the most famous of these is the Selkir Shear between the Andermani Empire and the Silesian Confederacy, but there are many others, and those in less well-traveled (and thus less well-surveyed) areas, especially, can be extremely treacherous.
The heart of any grav wave is far more powerful than its fringes, or, put another way, a "grav wave" consists of many layers of "grav eddies." For the most part, all aspects of the wave have the same basic orientation, but it is possible for a wave to include counter-layers of reverse "flow" at unpredictable vertical levels. Despite the size of a grav wave, most of hyper-space is free of them; the real monsters that are more than ten or fifteen light-years wide are rare, and even in hyper the distances between them are vast, though the average interval between grav waves becomes progressively shorter as one translates higher into the hyper bands. The great danger of grav waves to early-generation hyperships lay in the phenomenon known as "grav shear." This is experienced as a vessel moves into the area of influence of a grav wave and, even more strongly, in areas in which two or more grav waves impact upon one another. At those points, the gravitational force exerted on one portion of the vessel's structure might be hundreds or even thousands of times as great as that exerted on the remainder of its fabric, with catastrophic consequences for any ship ever built.
In theory, a ship could so align itself as to "slide" into the grav wave at an extremely gradual angle, avoiding the sudden, cataclysmic shear which would otherwise tear it apart. In practice, the only way to avoid the destructive shearing effect was to avoid grav waves altogether, yet that was well nigh impossible. Grav waves might be widely spaced, but it was impossible to detect them at all until a ship was directly on top of one, and with no way to see one coming, there was no way to plot a course to avoid it. It was possible to recognize when one actually entered the periphery of a grav wave, and if one were on exactly the right vector, prompt emergency evasion gave one a chance (though not a good one) of surviving the encounter, but the grav wave remained the most feared and fearsome peril of hyper travel.
Then, in 1246 pd, the first phased array gravity drive, or impeller, was designed on Beowulf, the colonized world of the Sigma Draconis System. This was a reactionless sublight drive which artificially replicated the grav waves which had been observed in hyper-space for centuries. The impeller drive used a series of nodal generators to create a pair of stressed bands in normal-space, one "above" and one "below" the mounting ship. Inclined towards one another, these produced a sort of wedge-shaped quasi-hyper-space in those regions, having no direct effect upon the generating vessel but creating what might be called a "tame grav wave" which was capable of attaining near-light speeds very quickly. Because of the angle at which the bands were generated relative to one another, the vessel rode a small pocket of normal-space (open ahead of the vessel and closing in astern) trapped between the grav waves, much as a surfboard rides the crest or curl of a wave, which was driven along between the stress bands. Since the stress bands were waves and not particles, the "impeller wedge" was able, theoretically, at least, to attain an instantaneous light-speed velocity. Unfortunately, the normal-space "pocket" had to deal with the conservation of inertia, which meant that the effective acceleration of a manned ship was limited to that which produced a g force the crew could survive. Nonetheless, these higher rates of acceleration could be maintained indefinitely, and no reaction mass was required; so long as the generators had power, the drive's endurance was effectively unlimited.
In terms of interstellar flight, however, the impeller drive was afflicted by one enormous drawback which was not at first appreciated. In essence, it enormously increased the danger grav shear had always presented to reactor drive vessels, for the interference between the immense strength of a grav wave and the artificially produced gravitic stress of an impeller wedge will vaporize a starship almost instantly.
In the military sphere, it was soon discovered that although the bow (or "throat") and stern aspects of an impeller wedge must remain open, additional "sidewall" grav waves could be generated to close its open sides and serve as shields against hostile fire, as not even an energy beam (generated using then-current technology) could penetrate a wave front in which effective local gravity went from zero to several hundred thousand gravities. The problem of generating an energy beam powerful enough to "burn through" even at pointblank ranges was not to be solved for centuries, but within fifty years grav penetrators had been designed for missile weapons, which could also make full use of the incredible acceleration potential of the impeller drive. Since that time, there has been a constant race between defensive designers working new wrinkles in manipulation of the gravity wave to defeat new penetrators and offensive designers adapting their penetrators to defeat the new counters.
The interstellar drawbacks of impeller drive became quickly and disastrously clear to Beowulf's shipbuilders, and for several decades it seemed likely that the new drive would be limited solely to interplanetary traffic. In 1273 pd, however, the scientist Adrienne Warshawski of Old Terra recognized a previously unsuspected FTL implication of the new technology. Prior to her Fleetwing tests in that year, all efforts to employ it in hyper-space had ended in unmitigated disaster, but Dr. Warshawski found a way around the problem. She had already invented a new device capable of scanning hyper-space for grav waves and wave shifts within five light-seconds of a starship (to this day, all grav scanners are known as "warshawskis" by starship crews), which made it possible to use impeller drive between hyper-space grav waves, since they could now be seen and avoided.
That, alone, would have been sufficient to earn Warshawski undying renown, but beneficial as it was, its significance paled beside her next leap forward, for in working out her detector, Dr. Warshawski had penetrated far more deeply into the nature of the grav wave phenomenon than any of her predecessors, and she suddenly realized that it would be possible to build an impeller drive which could be reconfigured at will to project its grav waves at right angles to the generating vessel. There was no converging effect to move a pocket of normal-space, but these perpendicular grav fields could be brought into phase with the grav wave, thus eliminating the interference effect between impellers and the wave. More, the new fields would stabilize a vessel relative to the grav wave, allowing a transition into it which eliminated the traditional dangers grav shear presented to the ship's physical structure. In effect, the alterations she made to Fleetwing to produce her "alpha nodes" provided the ship with gigantic, immaterial sails: circular, plate-like gravity bands over two hundred kilometers in diameter. Coupled with her grav wave detector to plot and "read" grav waves, they would permit a starship to literally "set her sails" and use the focused radiation hurtling along hyper-space's naturally occurring grav waves to derive incredible accelerations.
Not only that, but the interface between sail and natural grav wave produced an eddy of preposterously high energy levels which could be "siphoned off" to power the starship. Effectively, once a starship "set sail" it drew sufficient power to maintain and trim its sails and also for every other energy requirement and could thus shut down its onboard power plants until the time came to leave hyper-space. A Warshawski Sail hypership thus had no need for reaction mass, required very little fuel mass, and could sustain high rates of acceleration indefinitely, which meant that the velocity loss associated with "cracking the wall" between hyper bands could be regained and that use of the upper bands was no longer impractical.
This last point was a crucial factor in attaining higher interstellar transit times. The maximum safe velocity in any hyper band remained .6 c, but the higher bands, with their closer point-to-point congruencies, added a significant multiplier to the FTL equivalent of that velocity. Prior to the Warshawski Sail, not only had dimension shear made translating into the upper bands dangerous, but the successive velocity losses had made it highly uneconomical for any reaction drive ship. Now the lost velocity could be rapidly regained and the higher, "faster" bands could be used to sustain a much higher average velocity. As a result, the dreaded grav wave became the path to ever more efficient hyper travel, and captains who had previously avoided them in terror now used their new instrumentation to find them and cruised on standard impeller drive between them.
Of course, there wasn't always a grav wave going the direction a starship needed, but with the grav detector to keep a ship clear of naturally occurring grav waves impeller drive could, at last, be used in hyper-space. In addition, it was possible for a Warshawski Sail ship to "reach" across a wave (which might be thought of as sailing with a "quartering breeze") at angles of up to about 60° before the sails began losing drive and up to approximately 85° before all drive was lost. By the same token, a hypership could sail "close-hauled," or into a grav wave, at approach angles of 45°. At angles above 45°, it was necessary to "tack into the wave," which naturally meant that return passages would be slower than outgoing passages through the same region of prevailing grav waves. Thus the old "windjammer" technology of Earth's seas had reemerged in the interstellar age, transmuted into the intricacies of hyper-space and FTL travel. By 1750 pd, however, sail tuners had been upgraded to a point which permitted the "grab factor" of a sail to be manipulated with far more sophistication than Dr. Warshawski's original technology had permitted. Indeed, it became possible to create a negative grab factor which, in effect, permitted a starship to sail directly "into the wind," although with a marginally greater danger of sail failure.
The Warshawski Sail also made it possible to "crack the wall" between hyper bands with much greater impunity. Breaking into a higher hyper band was (and is) still no bed of roses, and ships occasionally come to grief in the transition even today, but a Warshawski Sail ship inserts itself into a grav wave going in the right direction and rides it through, rather like an aircraft riding an updraft. This access to the higher bands meant the first generation Warshawski Sail could move a starship at an apparent velocity of just over 800 c, but an upper limit on velocity remained, created by the range capability of the vessel's grav wave detectors. In the higher bands, the grav waves were both more powerful and tightly-spaced due to the increasingly stressed nature of hyper-space in those regions. This meant that the five-light-second detection range of the original Warshawski offered insufficient warning time to venture much above the gamma bands, thus imposing the absolute speed limitation. In addition, the problems of acceleration remained. The Warshawski Sail could be adjusted by decreasing the strength of the field, thus allowing a greater proportion of the grav wave's power to "leak" through it, to hold acceleration down to something a human body could tolerate, but the old bugaboo of "g forces" remained a problem for the next century or so.
Then, in 1384 pd, a physicist by the name of Shigematsu Radhakrishnan added another major breakthrough in the form of the inertial compensator. The compensator turned the grav wave (natural or artificial) associated with a vessel into a sort of "inertial sump," dumping the inertial forces of acceleration into the grav wave and thus exempting the vessel's crew from the g forces associated with acceleration. Within the limits of its efficiency, it completely eliminated g force, placing an accelerating vessel in a permanent state of internal zero-gee, but its capacity to damp inertia was directly proportional to the power of the grav wave around it and inversely proportional to both the volume of the field and the mass of the vessel about which it was generated. The first factor meant that it was far more effective for starships than for sublight ships, as the former drew upon the greater energy of the naturally occurring grav waves of hyper-space, and the second meant it was more effective for smaller ships than for larger ones. The natural grav waves of hyper-space, with their incomparably greater power, offered a much "deeper" sump than the artificial stress bands of the impeller drive, which meant that a Warshawski Sail ship could deflect vastly more g force from its passengers than one under impeller drive. In general terms, the compensator permitted humans to endure acceleration rates approaching 550 g under impeller drive and 4-5,000 g under sail, which allows hyperships to make up "bleed-off" velocity very quickly after translation. These numbers are for military compensators, which tend to be more massive, more energy and maintenance intensive, and much more expensive than those used in most merchant construction. Military compensators allow higher acceleration—and warships cannot afford to be less maneuverable than their foes—but only at the cost of penalties merchant ships as a whole cannot afford.
These accelerations are with inertial compensator safety margins cut to zero. Normally, warships operate with a 20% safety margin, while MS safety margins run as high as 35%. Note also that the cargo carried by a starship is less important than the table above might suggest. Mass is used as the determining factor, but the size of the field is of very nearly equal importance. A 7.5 million-ton freighter with empty cargo holds would require the same size field as one with full holds, and so would have the same effective acceleration capability.
Note also that in 1900 pd, 8,500,000 tons represented the edge of a plateau in inertial compensator capability. Above 8,500,000 tons, warship accelerations fell off by approximately 1 g per 2,500 tons, so that a warship of 8,502,500 tons would have a maximum acceleration of 419 g and a warship of 9,547,500 tons would have a maximum acceleration of 1 g. The same basic curves were followed for merchant vessels.
In 1502 pd, the first practical countergravity generator was developed by the Anderson Shipbuilding Corporation of New Glasgow. This had only limited applications for space travel (though it did mean cargoes could be lifted into orbit for negligible energy costs), but incalculable ones for planetary transport industries, rendering rail, road, and oceanic transport of bulk cargoes obsolete overnight. In 1581 pd, however, Dr. Ignatius Peterson, building on the work of the Anderson Corporation, Dr. Warshawski, and Dr. Radhakrishnan, mated countergrav technology with that of the impeller drive and created the first generator with sufficiently precise incremental control to produce an internal gravity field for a ship, thus permitting vessels with inertial compensators to be designed with a permanent up/down orientation. This proved a tremendous boon to long-haul starships, for it had always been difficult to design centrifugal spin sections into Warshawski Sail hyperships. Now that was no longer necessary. In addition, the decreased energy costs to transfer cargo in and out of a gravity well, coupled with the low energy and mass costs of the Warshawski sail itself and the greatly decreased risks of dimensional and grav shear, interstellar shipment of bulk cargo became a practical reality. In point of fact, on a per-ton basis, interstellar freight can be moved more cheaply than by any other form of transport in history.
By 1790 pd, the latest generation Warshawskis could detect grav wave fronts at ranges of up to just over twenty light-seconds. A hundred years later (the time of our story) the range is up to eight light-minutes for grav wave detection and 240 light-seconds (4 light-minutes) for turbulence detection. As a result, 20th Century pd military starships routinely operate as high as the theta band of hyper-space. This translates an actual velocity of .6 c to an apparent velocity of something like 3,000 c.
In addition to his inertial compensator, Dr. Radhakrishnan also enjoys the credit for being the first to develop the math to predict and detect wormhole junctions, although the first was not actually detected until 1447 pd, many years after his death. The mechanism of the junction is still imperfectly understood, but for all intents and purposes a junction is a "gravity fault," or a gravitic distortion so powerful as to fold hyper-space and breach the interface between it and normal-space. The result is a direct point-to-point congruence between points in normal-space which are seldom separated by less than 100 light-years and may be separated by several thousand. A hyper drive is required to utilize them, and ships cannot maintain stability or course control through a wormhole junction without Warshawski Sails. Nonetheless, the movement from normal-space to normal-space is effectively instantaneous, regardless of the distance traversed, and the energy cost is negligible.
The use of the junctions required the evolution of a new six-dimensional math, but the effort was well worthwhile, particularly since a single wormhole junction may have several different termini. Wormholes remain extremely rare phenomena, and astrophysicists continue to debate many aspects of the theories which describe them. No one has yet proposed a technique to mathematically predict the destinations of any given wormhole with reliable accuracy, but work on better models continues. At the present, mathematics can generally predict the total number of termini a wormhole will possess, but the locations of those termini cannot be ascertained without a surveying transit, and such first transits remain very tricky and dangerous.
There are other ambiguities in the current understanding of wormholes, as well. In theory, for example, one should be able to go from any terminus of a wormhole junction directly to any other. In fact, one may go from the central nexus of the junction to any of its other termini and vice versa but cannot reach any secondary terminus from another secondary. That is, one might go from point A to points B, C, or D but could not go from B to C or D without returning to A and reorienting one's vessel.
Despite their incompletely understood nature, the junctions opened a whole new aspect of FTL travel and became focusing points or funnels for trade. There were not many of them, and one certainly could not use them to travel directly to any star not connected to them, but one could move from any star within a few dozen light years of a wormhole terminus to the terminus then jump instantly three or four hundred light-years in the direction of one's final destination with a tremendous overall savings in transit time.
In addition, of course, the discovery of wormhole junctions and a technique for their use imposed an entirely new pattern on the ongoing Diaspora. Theretofore, expansion had been roughly spherical, spreading out from the center in an irregular but recognizable globular pattern. Thereafter, expansion became far more ragged as wormhole junctions gave virtually instantaneous access to far distant reaches of space. Moreover, wormhole junctions are primarily associated with mid-range main sequence stars (F, G, and K), which gives a high probability of finding habitable planets in relatively close proximity to their far termini.
Once initial access to the far end of a wormhole junction had been attained, the habitable world at the far end (if there was one) tended to act as the central focus for its own "mini-Diaspora," creating globular quadrants of explored space which might be light-centuries away from the next closest explored star system.
Warshawski Sail Logistics
By their very natures, the impeller drive and Warshawski Sail had a tremendous impact on the size of spacecraft. With the advent of the impeller drive, mass as such ceased to be a major consideration for sublight travel. With the introduction of the Warshawski Sail, the same became true for starships, as well. In consequence, bulk cargo carriers are entirely practical. Transport of interplanetary or interstellar cargoes is actually cheaper than surface or atmospheric transportation (even with countergrav transporters), though even at 1,200 c (the speed of an average bulk carrier) hauling a cargo 300 light-years takes 2.4 months. It is thus possible to transport even such bulk items as raw ore or food stuffs profitably over interstellar distances.
By the same token, this mass-carrying capability means interstellar military operations, including planetary invasions and occupations, are entirely practical. A starship represents a prodigious initial investment (more because of its size than any other factor), but it will last almost forever, its operational costs are low, and a ship which can be configured to carry livestock and farm equipment can also be configured to carry assault troops and armored vehicles.
Hyperships come in three basic categories: the low-speed bulk carrier; the high-speed personnel carrier; and warships.
The maximum acceleration and responsiveness of a Warshawski Sail starship is dependent upon the power or "grab value" of its sails and the efficiency of its inertial compensator. The more powerful (and massive) the sail generator, the greater the efficiency with which it can utilize the power of the grav wave; the more efficient the compensator, the higher the acceleration its crew can endure. Moreover, it requires an extraordinarily powerful sail, relative to the mass of the mounting ship, to endure the violent conditions of the upper hyper bands. This means that larger ships, with the hull volume to devote to really powerful sails, have greater inherent power and maximum theoretical average velocities (transit times) because they ought to be able to pull more acceleration from a given grav wave (thus reaching their optimum velocity of .6 c more rapidly) and to access the higher hyper bands (where the "shorter" distances effectively multiply their .6 c constant velocity by a quite preposterous factor).
There are, however, offsetting factors. The more powerful a Warshawski Sail, the slower its response time in realigning to a shift in the grav wave. This is potentially disastrous, but is, once more, offset to some extent by the ability of the more powerful sail to withstand greater stress. That is, it isn't as necessary to the starship's survival that it be able to reset or trim a sail to survive fluctuations in the grav wave about it. Put another way, a bigger ship with more powerful generators can "carry more sail" under given grav wave conditions than a smaller vessel and, all other things being equal, run the smaller vessel down.
But, of course, things aren't quite that simple. For starters, a smaller, less massive vessel gains more drive from the same sail strength. Because it is less massive, it accelerates more quickly for the same power. And the inertial compensator, marvelous as it may be, becomes more effective as its field area grows smaller and the mounting vessel's mass decreases, which means that a smaller ship can take advantage of its acceleration advantage over a larger vessel riding the same grav wave (and hence having access to the same "inertia sump") without killing its crew. If the smaller vessel can accelerate to .6 c (the highest survivable speed in hyper-space) before the larger ship, the larger ship's theoretical speed advantage is meaningless, as it can never overhaul. Under extreme grav wave conditions, the larger ship can maintain a greater effective acceleration, compensator or no, because the smaller ship's lighter sails are forced to "reef" (reduce their "grab factor") lest their generators burn out. This is particularly true in and above the zeta band, and few merchant ships ever venture that high. Even fairly small warships tend to have extremely powerful sails for their displacement, so that they can reach those higher bands, but smaller ships are simply unable to match the mass of a large ship's sail generators. This means that in some circumstances the larger ship can climb higher in the hyper bands and/or derive sufficiently more usable drive from a grav wave to offset its lower compensator efficiency.
In addition, smaller ships with less powerful sails can trim them much more rapidly and with greater precision. In wet-navy terms, smaller ships tend to be "quicker in the stays," able to adjust course with much greater rapidity and to take the maximum advantage of the power available to them from a given sail force. This means that a smaller ship with an aggressive sail handler for a captain can actually turn in a faster passage time over most hyper voyages than a bigger ship. There are, however, some passages (known to starship crews as "the Roaring Deeps") where exceptionally powerful, exceptionally steady grav waves operate. In these regions, the bigger ship, with its more powerful sails, is able to make full use of its theoretical advantages and will routinely run down smaller vessels.
In sublight movement, the larger vessel's more powerful sails (which equate to a more powerful impeller drive, as well) do not give it a speed advantage because of the nature of the inertial compensator. The curve of the compensator's most efficient operation means that a smaller vessel (with a smaller area to enclose in its compensator field) can pull substantially higher accelerations, and no amount of brute impeller power can create an artificial grav wave with a sufficiently deep inertial sump to overcome this fundamental disadvantage of a large ship. Capital ships thus are as fast as lighter warships in sustained flight but tend to be slower to accelerate or decelerate.
The tuning or trimming components of a Warshawski Sail generator are its most expensive and quickest wearing parts, and they wear out much more rapidly on more powerful generators with their higher designed power loads. Because of this, bulk carriers tend to use relatively low-powered sails and the lower hyper bands, which limits their practical speeds to perhaps 1,000-1,500 c. Passenger ships and those vessels specializing in transport of critical cargoes accept the higher overhead cost associated with more powerful sails and run in the range of 1,500-2,000 c. For the most part (though there are exceptions) only warships are designed around the most powerful sails and compensators their displacement will permit, giving speeds of up to 3,000 c. A bulk carrier's tuning components may last as long as fifty years between replacements and those of a passenger ship up to twenty years, but a warship is likely to require complete tuner overhaul and replacement as frequently as once every eight to ten years. On the other hand, a warship may spend decades "laid up" in orbit, making no demands at all upon its sails, so the actual life span of a given set of tuners may vary widely between ships of the same class, depending upon their employment history.
The Mechanics of the Diaspora
It was discovered early in the Diaspora that the maximum practical safe speed for a sublight ship was approximately .8 c, as radiation and particle shields can not protect the vessel above that velocity.
The generation ships were built as complete, life-sustaining habitats oriented around the smallest practical self-sustaining population and designed to boost to that velocity at one gravity. In the long term, onboard gravity was provided through centrifugal force. In addition to their human passengers, the generation ships also had to provide for all terrestrial livestock and plants which would be required to terraform the colonists' new home for their survival. Even aboard these huge ships, space was severely limited, and many early colonial expeditions reached their destinations only to come to grief through the lack of some essential commodity the settlers had not known to bring along. This sort of disaster became less common after about 800 pd, when the original, crude hyperships made it possible to conduct extensive surveys of potential colony sites before the slower colony ships departed, but by that time the generation ships were a thing of the past, anyway.
In 305 pd, cryogenic hibernation finally became practical. It had long been possible to cryogenically preserve limbs and organs, though even the best anti-crystallization procedures then available were unable to prevent some damage to the preserved tissues. But where minor damage to an arm or a liver was acceptable, damage to a brain was not, and the early cryogenic pioneers' enthusiastic predictions about indefinite suspension of the life processes had proven chimerical.
It was Doctor Cadwaller Pineau of Tulane University who, in 305, finally cut the Gordian knot of cryogenic hibernation by going around the crystallization problem. He found that by lowering the hibernator's temperature to just barely above the freezing point he could maintain the physiological processes indefinitely at about a 1:100 time ratio. In other words, a hibernating human would age approximately one year for every century of hibernation, and his nutritional and oxygen requirements were reduced proportionately. Over the next several decades, Pineau and his associates further refined his process, working to overcome the problem of muscular atrophy and other physiological difficulties associated with long comatose periods, and eventually determined that optimum results required a hibernating individual to rouse and exercise for approximately one month in every sixty years (ie., after six physiological months), which remained a fixed requirement throughout the cryogenic colonization era.
What this meant was that the life support capabilities of a cryo ship could be vastly reduced in comparison to those of a generation ship. Moving at .8 c, the colonists experienced a 60% time dilation effect; in other words, each sixty-year period of hibernation used up one century of voyage time by the standards of the remainder of the universe. Thus an entire one-century voyage could be made without a single "active" period and would consume only 7.2 apparent months of the traveler's life span. Longer voyages would require periodic awakenings, but they could be staggered, permitting the currently roused crew to use only a fraction of the life support the entire crew would require. The result was to permit far larger numbers of colonists to travel on a given sized ship with a far lower subjective time passage.
A further boost to colonization came about in 725 pd with the advent of the first hyper drive. The casualty rates among early hyperships were so severe that it took a rather daredevil mentality to go aboard one, and colonists weren't normally noted for that sort of personality. To claim a new home world they would take risks, yes, but not risks they could avoid.
But what the hyperships provided was a survey vehicle which could travel more than sixty times as fast as a sublight ship, and the people who went in for discovering and exploring (as opposed to settling) new worlds had just the sorts of mentalities to risk hyper travel. A situation thus arose in which survey ships, generally operated by private corporations, undertook the high-risk job of locating potential colony sites which were then auctioned to prospective colony expeditions. Even with the hyper drive, this required that everyone involved take a very long view of things, but humanity adjusted to that just as it had once adjusted to the novelty of instant communication to any point on a single planet.
It is believed that the first Warshawski Sail colony ship was the Icarus, which departed Old Earth on September 9, 1284 pd, under the command of Captain Melissa Andropov (and, despite its name, provided over two centuries of dependable, reliable service before it was finally scrapped in 1491 pd), but for well over five hundred years, the dichotomy of FTL hypership survey expeditions and sublight hibernation colony transports remained the standard.
When the transition finally occurred, there were several very unfortunate instances in which unscrupulous operators used the new hyper sail technology to pass hibernation ships en route to their new homes. When the original colonists arrived, it was only to find well-established (and armed) claim-jumpers already squatting on their planned home worlds. If there was an already established colony in the vicinity, it might take a hand to assist the original colonists, even to the extent of lending military aid to eject the claim-jumpers, in order to discourage such unsavory elements from ruining the neighborhood. If there was no such well-inclined planet in the vicinity, the original colonists were out of luck, particularly since their technology might be several centuries less advanced than that of the thieves they confronted. In some cases, this created a domino effect. Expeditions which found themselves dispossessed of their colony sites often lacked the resources to return whence they had come (even if they had the inclination) and many opted to risk settling an unsurveyed world if there were stars with habitable planets (or which were likely to have such planets) in the vicinity. Many of them came to grief as the old generation ship colonies had in attempting to settle worlds other than the ones they had planned their original expedition's equipment list to meet, and those which did not often wound up displacing yet another group of legitimate colonists. Other such instances ended far more happily, with the second group of settlers discovering a world which was already partly settled and a group of "squatters" who paid their own way with the improvements they had already made and were integrated peaceably into the ranks of the "legitimate" colonists.
With the advent of Icarus and her later sisters, however, the entire pattern of colonization shifted. It was now possible to make a 500 light-year voyage in barely two-and-a-half years, an interval which dropped steadily as improvements in Warshawski technology became available. Hibernation was still used on most colony ships, but now it was simply to cram in the largest possible number of passengers, not a necessity. Indeed, as higher and higher speeds became possible, the hibernation features began to fall by the wayside.
The Star Kingdom of Manticore
Founding and Early History
The original colony expedition to Manticore departed Old Earth on October 24, 775 pd, aboard the sublight hibernation ship Jason for the Manticore Binary. Manticore, approximately 512 light-years from Earth, was a G0/G2 distant binary first confirmed to have planets in 562 pd, by the astronomer Sir Frederick Clarke. Its distance from Sol was such that the voyage would take 640.5 years (just over 384 subjective years), requiring that each colonist be waked for exercise seven times. Accordingly, the colonists were investing about 4.5 years of their lives (and all of their money) in the voyage.
Sixty percent of the colonists were Western Europeans, with most of the remainder drawn from the North American Federation, the Caribbean, and a very small minority of ethnic Ukrainians. The total expedition consisted of 38,000 adults and 13,000 minor children, and the "rights" to the system had been purchased at auction from the survey firm of Franchot et Fils, Paris, France, Old Earth. "FF" (as it was known) had a high reputation, and its survey ship Suffren had made the same voyage in just twenty years. Suffren's crew had done FF's usual, professional job, although, of course, all data was accompanied by the caution that it would be 650 years out of date when the colonists arrived, and FF sold its rights in the Manticore System to the Manticore Colony, Ltd., for approximately 5.75 billion EuroDollars. As part of the transfer of rights, FF expunged all data on the system from its memory banks, transferring the information to the Federal Government of Earth's World Data Bank's maximum security files. This was a standard safeguard to protect Manticore Colony against the occupation of the planet by later expeditions with faster ships, as it was already apparent that advances in hyper travel might well make such protection necessary, yet it was also recognized that there was no way to guarantee that faster, more capable hyperships would not beat the colonists to Manticore. Accordingly, Roger Winton, President and CEO of Manticore Colony (already elected first Planetary Administrator) opted to establish the Manticore Colony Trust of Zurich.
The MCT's purpose was to invest all capital remaining to the MC after mounting the expedition (something under one billion EuroDollars) and use the accrued interest to watch over the colonists' rights to their new home. It was a wise precaution, for when Jason finally arrived in the Manticore System on March 21, 1416 pd, her crew discovered a modest settlement on the planet they christened Manticore, but it was staffed by MCT personnel who also manned the four small Earth-built frigates protecting the system against claim-jumpers. Indeed, so well had the Trust done in the last six centuries that Manticore found itself with a very favorable bank balance, and the frigates became the first units of the Manticoran System Navy (later the Royal Manticoran Navy). Moreover, the small MCT presence on Manticore included data banks and carefully selected instructors assigned to update the colonists on the technical advances of the last six centuries. This last was a feature even Winton had not anticipated, and he had very good reason to be pleased both with his own decision and the diligence, foresight, and imagination with which a succession of MCT managers had discharged their duties.
It was as well that the colony had such unusual support and off-world financial strength, however, for after almost forty years in which things went perfectly, disaster struck Manticore in 1454.
The initial bid for Manticore had been so high for two reasons. One was that the G0/G2 binary was highly unusual—indeed, unique—in having no less than three planets suitable for human life. The second was that Manticore and Sphinx, the two Earth-like planets orbiting the G0 stellar component, were extremely Earth-like. Although each had its own unique biosphere, survey reports indicated that terrestrial life forms would find it unusually easy to adapt to all three, and so, indeed, it proved. Terran food crops did well, and while the local flora and fauna could not provide all essential dietary elements, much of it was digestible by the terrestrial visitors. Terraforming requirements thus were extraordinarily modest, consisting of little more than the need to seed food crops and selected terrestrial grasses to support imported herbivores. Unfortunately, that very ease of adaptation had a darker side, and Manticore proved one of the very few extra-terrestrial systems to possess microorganisms which could (and did) prey on humans.
The culprit was a virus—or, rather, a small family of viruses—which had been missed by the original survey team. Some virologists argue that it was not, in fact, missed but rather evolved in the six centuries between the initial survey and the arrival of the colonists. Still others suggest that it was actually the mutated descendant of a virus the colonists had brought with them from Old Earth. Whatever the truth of the matter, the virus was deadly, producing a condition analogous to virulent influenza and pneumonia simultaneously in its victims. Worse, it proved resistant to all existing medical technology, and ten years were to pass before a successful vaccine was found.
In that decade, almost sixty percent of the original colonists died. Their Manticore-born children fared better against the disease, experiencing a generally less violent manifestation of it, yet without the cushion provided by the MCT funds on Old Earth and the evolution of the Warshawski Sail hypership, the entire expedition would no doubt have come to grief.
As it was, the colony found itself in urgent need of additional homesteaders. These were recruited from Old Earth (yet another process made much easier by the existence of the MCT), but the original colonists, concerned about retaining control of their own colony, adopted a radically new constitution before opening their doors to emigration.
Roger Winton had been reelected continuously to the post of Planetary Administrator, serving superbly in the position throughout the early settlement period and the plague crisis. He was now an old man (over eighty) whose wife and two Terra-born sons had died of the plague, but he remained vigorous and his Manticore-born daughter Elizabeth showed promise at least equal to his. At fifty-three, she was President of the Board of Directors (effectively vice-president of the colony) and one of Manticore's preeminent jurists. Since she had a large and thriving brood of second-generation Manticoran children and her family had served so outstandingly, a convention of colony shareholders converted the Corporation's elective board into a constitutional monarchy and crowned Roger Winton King Roger of Manticore on August 1, 1471.
It was a post he was to enjoy for only three years before his death, but his daughter succeeded him as Elizabeth I in a smooth and popular transfer of power, and the House of Winton has ruled the Star Kingdom of Manticore ever since. Simultaneously, the surviving "First Shareholders" and their descendants, who held title to vast tracts of land (including most of the richest mineral resources of Manticore and Sphinx) and/or to extra-planetary resources in the Manticore System, acquired patents of nobility to go with their wealth, and the hereditary aristocracy of Manticore was born.
The new wave of immigrants arriving in the wake of the Plague comprised three distinct classes of citizen. Each immigrant received a credit whose value precisely equaled the cost of a second-class passenger ticket from the Solarian League to Manticore. That credit could be converted, at the holder's option, into a land credit on a planetary surface or into a share of equivalent value in any of several orbital and deep space industrial concerns. Most of the new immigrants, faced with virgin planets on which to live, opted for homestead rights there, although some of the sharpest among them made careful investments in the Star Kingdom's industrial infrastructure which later proved of enormous worth, instead.
Any individual capable of paying his own passage received the full credit upon arrival, whereas those incapable of paying their passage could draw upon MCT for a dollar amount equal to their credit to cover the difference between their own resources and the cost of passage. In addition, an immigrant whose resources were greater than the cost of his passage could invest the surplus, paying 50% of the "book" price for additional land and/or investment. The most affluent immigrants thus became "Second Shareholders," with estates (whether in terms of land or industrial wealth) which, in some cases, rivaled those of the original shareholders and entitled them to patents of nobility junior to those of the existing aristocracy. Those immigrants who were able to retain their base land right or perhaps enlarge upon it slightly became "yeomen," free landholders with voting rights beginning one Manticoran year (1.73 Terran Standard Years) after their arrival. Those who completely exhausted their credit to buy passage to Manticore were known as "zero-balance" immigrants and did not become full citizens until such time as they had become well-enough established to pay taxes for five consecutive Manticoran years (8.7 Terran Standard Years). While all Manticoran subjects are equal in the eyes of the law, whether enfranchised to vote or not, there were distinct social differences between shareholders, yeomen, and zero-balancers, and even today there is greater prestige in claiming a yeoman as a first ancestor than in claiming a zero-balance ancestor. And, of course, direct descent from a full shareholder is the most prestigious of all.
The constitutional system prospered over the next five hundred years, blessed by a series of strong monarchs and a steadily growing population base. The constitution contains a strong "Declaration of Fundamental Rights," but the franchise is limited to citizens who have paid taxes for at least five consecutive years. (The policies encouraging emigration with credits were ended after a period of fifty years, having served their purpose most effectively, and it is no longer possible for an immigrant to become an instant shareholder or gain the franchise immediately upon arrival.)
The Constitution created a two-house Parliament, a Royal Council, and a Crown Judiciary. The Parliament consists of a House of Lords and a House of Commons with mutual veto power, and the Crown has the rights of both initiation and veto. According to some constitutional scholars (though not all, by any means), the Framers intended for the executive power to be exercised by the Royal Council, which, by law, consists of the Prime Minister, his subordinate executive ministers, and certain hereditary members, such as the Keeper of the Seal, the heir to the throne (as a nonvoting member), and the monarch. In fact, however, the Royal Council, now commonly referred to as the Cabinet, became the instrument through which the monarch acts as head of Government as well as head of State. Although the Prime Minister, who (traditionally) is from the House of Lords but must be able to command a majority in the Commons, manages the Cabinet, he may be dismissed by the King or Queen at will and acts in most ways as the monarch's executive officer. At the same time, it is only a foolish monarch who capriciously or willfully ignores the advice of his or her ministers and, especially, prime minister.
The Crown retains the power to pardon and commute, appoints ministers and judges with the advice and consent of the House of Lords, and, unless overruled by a majority in both houses, possesses the power to interpret constitutional law through its appointees to the King's (or Queen's) Bench. The Crown cannot, however, create new peers without the consent of a majority of the House of Commons.
In cases of disagreement between the Crown and both houses of Parliament, the Lords serve as the supreme judiciary without right of veto by Crown or Commons. The strongest safeguards of the common population lie in (1) the Commons' power to approve or disapprove budgets, (2) the Constitutional requirement that the Prime Minister command a majority in the Commons, and (3) the right to remove the monarch.
It is up to the Crown (actually, the Cabinet), and not the Commons, to initiate economic policy and propose budgets, and the Crown has an additional discretionary fund drawn from the extensive Crown lands and industrial holdings, but the Crown and Lords both know that they cannot long defy the Commons if the lower house decides to withhold budget approval. The fact that the Prime Minister, although serving at the Crown's pleasure, must also be able to poll a majority in the House of Commons (a similar majority in the House of Lords is not a constitutional requirement, although most PMs who cannot generally resign their office), also helps to insure that the viewpoint of the Star Kingdom's commoners will always be heard at the highest level. Finally, the Manticoran monarchy is one of the very few hereditary forms of government with a specific provision for the removal of a monarch for reasons other than incapacitation or criminal action. A monarch may be impeached for any reason, including but not limited to "high crimes and misdemeanors," by a two-thirds majority vote of the House of Commons. Impeachment proceedings may not begin in the House of Lords, and a three-quarters vote of both houses is required to actually remove a monarch. Although this constitutional provision has never been used and is now regarded by many constitutional authorities as a vestigial holdover from pre-monarchy days, it has never been removed, and the possibility of its exercise remains.
As a final safeguard intended to prevent the monarchy from losing touch with the non-aristocratic majority of the Star Kingdom's population, Roger I and Elizabeth I insisted that the Constitution include one additional provision. The heir to the throne is required by law to marry a commoner. Other members of the royal family may marry whomever they wish, but the Crown Prince or Crown Princess must marry outside the aristocracy.
The only real challenge to the Manticoran monarchy came in 1721 pd in the so-called "Gryphon Uprising," which remains the most internal excitement the Star Kingdom has been forced to confront. Gryphon, the least congenial of the three habitable planets of the Manticore System, has by far the smallest share of First Shareholder families, as its first outpost was not placed until fifteen years after the Plague. The bulk of its aristocracy came from the Second Shareholders, who, for the most part, had substantially less credit than First Shareholders and, accordingly, received smaller "Clear Grants" (that is, land to which clear title was granted prior to improvements by the owner/tenant). The Crown, however, had established the principle of "Crown Range" (land in the public domain and free for the use of any individual) to encourage emigration to Gryphon, and by 1715, the population of Gryphon had grown to the level set under the Crown Range Charter of 1490. At that point, as the charter required, the Crown began phasing out the Crown Range, granting title on the basis of improvements made, and the trouble began. Yeomen who hoped to become independent ranchers, farmers, or miners claimed that the planetary nobility was using strong-arm tactics to force them off the land—indeed, something very like a shooting war erupted between "squatters" and "the children of shareholders," and after two years of increasingly bloody unrest, a special commission was established with extraordinary police powers and a mandate to suppress the violence and reach a settlement.
The Gryphon Range Commission's final finding was that there was sound foundation to the yeomen's original complaints, and the Manticoran Army, having pacified and stabilized the situation, then oversaw a closely regulated privatization of the Crown Range. A degree of dislike between small landholders and certain of the noble families continues to this day, but it has become something of a tradition rather than a source of active hostility.
The House of Winton
- Roger I 1471-1474 pd (32-34 al)
- Elizabeth I 1474-1507 pd (34-53 al)
- Michael 1507-1539 pd (53-72 al)
- Edward I 1539-1544 pd (72-74 al) (boating accident; succeeded by sister)
- Elizabeth II 1544-1601 pd ( 74-107 al)
- David 1601-1642 pd (107-131 al)
- Roger II 1642-1669 pd (131-147 al)
- Adrienne 1669-1681 pd (147-154 al)
- William 1681-1690 pd (154-158 al) (assassinated)
- William II 1690-1741 pd (158-188 al)
- Caitrin 1741-1762 pd (188-200 al)
- Samantha 1762-1785 pd (200-214 al)
- George 1785-1802 pd (214-224 al)
- Samantha II 1802-1857 pd (224-255 al)
- Roger III 1857-1883 pd (255-270 al)
- Elizabeth III 1883 pd-present (270 al-present)
Manticoran Domestic Politics
Manticoran political parties began as factions in the House of Lords and, in the Lords, retain much of their original factional nature.
The Constitution adopted following the Plague intended to place government primarily in the hands of the aristocracy, who would dominate the House of Lords (the senior branch of the Parliament) and the Royal Council, but things actually worked out somewhat differently. Although Roger Winton had been a very strong planetary administrator, it is improbable that the drafters of the Constitution truly intended for the Crown to acquire a firm grip on the executive authority. Elizabeth I, however, was a very shrewd administrator, and she quickly observed that the original Manticoran peerage comprised a group of spokesmen for competing interests rather than statesmen. By playing the interests of the various factions within the Lords off against one another, Elizabeth was able to establish (among other things) that the Prime Minister and all non-hereditary members of the Royal Council served at her pleasure. The Lords had the right to advise and consent on initial appointments, but she had the power to dismiss them at any time, and she could not be forced to accept anyone else's choice for any of those positions. With that principle firmly enshrined in the unwritten portion of the Star Kingdom's Constitution, Crown dominance of the government was established.
As a ruling house, the Wintons have proven extremely capable. Indeed, their only realistic competition as a dynasty has come from the Andermani Empire, and for all its undisputed accomplishments, the Anderman Dynasty has always suffered from a potentially dangerous degree of eccentricity which has never afflicted the House of Winton.
Nonetheless, it eventually dawned on the members of the peerage that the Crown had assumed (some might say usurped) much of the political power the Shareholders had intended to reserve for themselves and their children. It also occurred to them that Elizabeth had enjoyed the strong support of the House of Commons in her maneuvers, for the Commons (elected primarily by the yeomen and zero-balancers imported after the Plague) had recognized that the Constitution stacked the deck against them. In particular, the fact that both houses enjoyed the mutual power of veto but that members of the Lords need not stand for election, gave the upper house enormous leverage in any dispute between them.
Once recognition set in—and once the immediate factional squabbles of the early settlement and post-plague period had been settled—the Lords began to evolve genuine parties. For the most part, they grew up around the old personal factions, but they were also differentiated by clear ideological differences, and as they solidified, they reached out to the Commons for allies. Because of their advantages in not needing to stand for reelection, members of the aristocracy continue to head most of the political parties to this day, but they have learned the hard way to listen to the Members of Parliament from the Commons, as well. Most (though by no means all) Manticoran aristocrats have a fairly strong sense of noblesse oblige (those who do not are among the most self-centered and intolerant of the known universe), but without the input of their allied commoner MPs, the aristocratic leadership of any of the parties would quickly lose touch with the majority of the Star Kingdom's population and suffer for it the next time the House of Commons called a general election.
Despite this, the Star Kingdom's political parties tend to be working alliances of individuals with the same basic interests rather than closed ideological systems even today. Party discipline is often impressive when close votes must be fought through, but there is no "collectivist discipline" in the sense that a member of a party must publicly endorse and support policies with which he disagrees simply because the rest of the party does. MPs are more likely than Peers to "vote the party line," but the tradition of "voting one's conscience" is the Manticoran ideal, and most of the Star Kingdom's political parties have their own distinct "left," "right," and "center" wings.
The more powerful parties are: the Centrist Party and its normal ally the Crown Loyalists; the Liberal Party; the Conservative Association; the Progressive Party; and the so-called "New Men" Party.
The Centrists, led by Allen Summervale, Duke of Cromarty, the current PM, are the largest single bloc, though they do not quite constitute a majority in their own right. The Centrists pursue a rather conservative domestic policy of gradualism and fiscal restraint, opposed to sweeping social changes and determined to avoid deficit spending. More importantly, they have been absolutely committed to the defense of Manticore against the growing Havenite threat for over fifty T-years, having believed that an eventual military confrontation was inevitable and should not be postponed in hopes it would go away. In particular, they believed that waiting for the Republic to weaken, however attractive it might seem, constituted a supine surrender of the initiative to their enemies and so invited long-term defeat. Moreover, unlike certain other political groups, the Centrists believe Manticore can survive open warfare with Haven and that even if they are defeated, the final cost will not be much worse than a craven surrender. It was the Centrists who supported Roger III in instigating the Star Kingdom's pre-war naval build-up and pushing through the annexation of the Basilisk System (a G5 star with a single habitable planet) to forestall Havenite occupation of the Junction terminus in that system, which was at the time a highly controversial move. Some critics saw it as the first step in a deliberate policy of imperial aggrandizement; others saw it as an unnecessary challenge to Haven which could provoke the very war they feared. The majority of Queen Elizabeth's subjects, however, supported the annexation, whatever their representatives might think. Of all the aristocratic-led parties, the Centrists have the strongest support in the Commons, which gives them an added depth that affords rather more clout than simple numbers might suggest.
The Crown Loyalists, led by Henry McShain, Marquis of New Dublin, might be thought of as Manticoran Tories. Their fundamental article of political faith is that stability and prosperity for all Manticorans depends upon the power and authority of the executive in the person of the monarch. From time to time, the Crown Loyalists differ with the current monarch on policy, but in those instances they generally seek to remonstrate in private while preserving a public front of solid support. The Crown Loyalists are extremely weak in the Commons. They are perceived, with a certain degree of justice, as the party of the great nobles, and while they are accorded great respect and deference, there is a belief (even among many Centrists) that they are insensitive to current issues, subjecting all of them to the litmus test of their effect on the Crown's authority (and the nobility's influence). Those who believe this also believe that the Loyalists will oppose any policy, however beneficial its final effects may be in other ways, if it weakens the Crown. In general, the Loyalists share the Centrist view on foreign policy, but they are even more conservative in fiscal policy (they felt pre-war taxation levels were excessive) and have always had difficulty resolving their contradictory support for a strong fleet and opposition to high military spending.
The Liberal Party, headed by Marisa Turner, Countess of New Kiev, advocates humanist reform and is relatively disinterested in foreign policy. They are larger than the Crown Loyalists but smaller than the Centrists and have less numerous but extremely loyal adherents in the Commons. Although disheartened by the current state of affairs in the People's Republic of Haven, the Liberals believe that the fundamental objectives of the Havenite Declaration of Economic Rights were laudable. In their opinion, the pre-war Legislaturalist Havenite leaders were "bad liberals" who had become prisoners of the "mobocracy" of the Haven System. Their own concern is with "bringing the Star Kingdom into the main stream of modern galactic political thought" (ie., extending and enlarging the franchise, providing relief for the indigent, equalizing income, and promoting greater popular participation in government), and they do not pay much attention to the manner in which affairs beyond the borders may impinge upon Manticore. They regarded the Centrist Party's pre-war concern over Haven as alarmist, believing that however expansionist Haven's current leadership might be, it would hesitate to try conclusions with Manticore (lest it rouse the Solarian League by threatening the Manticore Wormhole Junction) and would eventually reach satiation and cease expanding. Since they preferred to increase spending on human services, they begrudged every penny spent on the fleet, which caused them to lose a great deal of public support once active hostilities with Haven broke out. Nonetheless, they continue to believe that "war never settles anything," and of all Manticoran political parties, they remain most comfortable with the official pre-war ideology of the People's Republic.
The Conservative Association, headed by Michael Janvier, Baron of High Ridge, is the smallest of the traditional political parties and might charitably be termed reactionary. It advocates an isolationist foreign policy, argues that foreign adventures are dangerous, and decries the "steady, liberalizing rot threatening Manticore with anarchy." As might be surmised, the Association is something of a crackpot group which attracts the nobles who find the Crown Loyalists entirely too permissive in defense of privilege. Indeed, they advocate return to an "original Manticoran balance of power" which never actually existed outside the imaginations of their own theorists. Although they felt the Centrists' annexation of Basilisk was an act of madness, the very sort of adventurism which could plunge Manticore into disastrous confrontation with foreign powers, Roger III and Cromarty knew they could be counted upon to support fleet appropriations, as their isolationist bent required a powerful fleet to police their borders.
The Progressive Party, headed jointly by the Earl of Gray Hill and Lady Elaine Descroix, is the third largest party and, in general, endorses many of the objectives of the Liberal Party. The Progressives share the Centrist determination to avoid deficit spending (which the Liberals see as an acceptable, temporary evil), would like to see "a better and more beneficial balance between social spending and military appropriations," and share the Liberals' distaste for foreign policy. Unlike the Liberals, they have never regarded concerns over Haven (which they see as an example of deficit-spending liberalism run berserk and corrupted by power-seeking politicos) as alarmist. On the other hand, they also felt (and, apparently, still feel) that any belief that Manticore can survive a fight to the finish with the Havenite military machine is lunacy. (Since the beginning of actual hostilities, the Progressives have been very vocally and publicly confident of Manticoran victory, but their opponents believe this is camouflage. According to this theory, the Progressive's present posture is designed to make their fear-based desire for a negotiated settlement appear to stem from their complete confidence in victory, instead.)
Because their primary concern is with domestic issues, their traditional foreign policy has always tended to be extremely simplistic, believing that "honest negotiators" can reach a live-and-let-live arrangement. Their pre-war Centrist and Loyalist critics argued, not without justification, that this really amounted to advocating that Manticore sell out the rest of the galaxy to save its own skin, a policy which must ultimately result in disaster when there is no more galaxy to sell to Haven. Yet while this may well be a not-inaccurate reading of the effect of their policy, it is unjust to argue (as their critics do) that it was their intended object. The real problem with the Progressives' foreign policy is that they simply don't think about it very much, relying on platitudes and vague beliefs rather than a reasoned analysis, which left them with no structured thought upon which to base themselves once the Havenite Wars actually began.
The "New Men" Party, led by Sir Sheridan Wallace, is a relatively new group which believes that power is far too concentrated in the hands of existing cliques of the aristocracy and wealthy merchants/industrialists. They argue that the traditional Manticoran practice of co-opting capable and ambitious individuals into those two groups is a mistake. The Centrists and Loyalists believe that co-option assures a continuous flow of new ideas into the aristocracy and financial elites in a controlled, gradualist fashion, whereas the Liberals and Progressives argue that the very concept of aristocracy is anachronistic and anti-democratic. The New Men view the practice of co-option as a deliberate, undisguised mechanism to keep control firmly in the hands of traditional power groups, which is rather Liberal-sounding—until one realizes that their problem is less that there are traditional elites than that they don't control them. In a very real sense, the New Men are the lesser nobility's counterweight to the Conservative Association, mounting perennial assaults on the bastions of power and entrenched privilege. Unlike the Liberals and Progressives, however, they believe that the spoils belong to the victors and are not out to overturn the system, but rather to seize the levers of power for themselves. The New Men have only the most rudimentary fiscal policy and share the Conservative Association's fundamental isolationism, yet distrust the military as one more bastion of the Powers That Be. In general, the New Men might be said to be in opposition to everyone. They enjoy the least support in the Commons of any of the major parties, but their intense party discipline puts Wallace in a position to reliably deliver an organized block of votes essentially at will. This, coupled with his readiness to make deals with anyone on a purely pragmatic basis, gives him much more power within Parliament than simple numbers might suggest.
In addition to the parties listed above, there are several small, ad hoc factions which come and go, generally focused around a single charismatic leader. The real power struggle is between the Centrist/Crown Loyalist alliance and the Liberal/Progressive Alliance, with the former holding a slight edge in the Lords and a larger one in the Commons. The Liberals and Progressives tend to be allied on a stronger, deeper, and more permanent basis than the Centrists and Loyalists, helped by the fact that both of them regard foreign policy as a distraction from the real concerns of the day. The Centrists and Loyalists often find themselves divided over particular points of domestic policy, but maintain a fairly united front on foreign policy and military preparedness. Both enjoy the support of the Crown, which is a decided plus, though the Loyalists remain far from convinced of the wisdom of the Centrists' pre-war willingness to accept (some would say court) a confrontation with Haven. Traditionally, the Conservative Association has helped tilt the balance in favor of the two Crown parties because of its insistence on maintaining a powerful fleet, but the potential has always existed for the Association to strike a deal with the Liberals and Progressives on foreign policy, although the fundamental antipathy of their domestic policy positions makes it unlikely an alliance between them could last. The real joker in the deck is the "New Men." For all their relatively small numbers, they are concentrated in the Lords, where the Centrist/Crown Loyalist majority is thinnest. No one in any party believes that the New Men could work indefinitely with the Liberals or Progressives, whose domestic policy is fundamentally at odds with their own, but the possibility of a temporary alliance to break the "stranglehold" of the Centrist/Crown Loyalist group is not at all out of the question. It would be a cynical marriage of convenience on both sides, probably with the tacit understanding that once their common foes had been smitten hip and thigh the Liberals, Progressives and New Men would fight it out to a conclusion, and the real fear of Duke Cromarty and his inner circle is that the New Men may decide the Liberals and Progressives are so evenly matched that, once the "entrenched power brokers" have been toppled, the New Men would find themselves in a position to control the outcome by choosing whom to support.
The Manticoran Wormhole Junction
General Wormhole Mechanics
Wormhole junctions consist of a central wormhole (referred to as the "wormhole nexus") and its associated termini (referred to as "secondary termini"). The nexus is connected to each terminus by a unique pattern of gravity waves, one pattern outbound and one inbound, normally referred to as the "terminus route." Each junction has an absolute tonnage ceiling, the maximum mass which can be put through any given terminus (including the central nexus) simultaneously, but the limit applies individually to each terminus route.
Traffic may be routed from the central nexus to any terminus and from any terminus to the central nexus, but direct routing between secondary termini is impossible. The tonnage limit can be moved simultaneously over different terminus routes.
Each time a vessel or vessels move along a given terminus route, the route "destabilizes" for a brief period, during which it cannot be used by other vessels, and the destabilization time is proportional to the mass being moved along the route. Thus the more massive the transit (ie., the larger the number of vessels involved) the longer it is destabilized.
The central nexus is thus the most flexible but, in a sense, the most vulnerable (militarily speaking) of the junction termini. It may dispatch an assault force equal to its tonnage limit to any or all of its secondary termini virtually simultaneously, but will then be unable to send reinforcements until the route(s) used stabilize once more. By the same token, an adversary in possession of two or more secondary termini of the same junction may use each of the termini it controls to send the full tonnage limit of warships into the central nexus. Hence the Star Kingdom of Manticore's extreme sensitivity to the possibility that any hostile power (such as the People's Republic of Haven) might obtain control of more than one terminus of the Manticore Junction.
The Manticore Junction
The Manticore Wormhole Junction was discovered in 1585 pd (98 al). The Manticore Junction lies 412 LM from Manticore A and has the distinction of being the largest so far discovered, connecting to no less than five other star systems: Sigma Draconis (Solarian League), Gregor (Anderman Empire), Trevor's Star (People's Republic of Haven), Phoenix (Phoenix Cluster), and the most recently discovered (1856 pd/254 al) Basilisk System. In addition, the Star Kingdom's astrophysicists are currently working with the latest survey data in the belief that the junction connects to at least one and possibly more additional termini which have yet to be isolated.
The wormhole junction has been a bonanza for the Manticoran economy, attracting a huge concentration of shipping. Unfortunately, it has also made the kingdom a player, will it or won't it, on the galactic stage, as the imperialistic and military implications of the junction are quite clear to all concerned. For obvious reasons, the Navy budget has received considerable attention in the last 50-odd T-years, and the kingdom has laid claim to its first extra-system planet (Medusa, a thoroughly unpleasant, marginally habitable planet in the Basilisk System) to safeguard that terminus of the junction. (Prior to 1901 pd, Manticoran diplomats took great care to avoid saying just whom they were safeguarding it against, but Basilisk's relative proximity to the People's Republic of Haven made that fairly clear, and there is reason to believe the Kingdom got away with the annexation so easily only because Haven was occupied with other matters when the Basilisk terminus was first discovered.) As Medusa is inhabited by a sapient alien species, this embroiled the kingdom in questions of aboriginal rights and protection, and the increasing pressure of Havenite "merchants" there for "legitimate trade with the natives" (who have very little worth trading) further complicated an already complex situation.
Planets of the Star Kingdom of Manticore
Manticore: (Manticore-A III) The capital planet of the Star Kingdom, Manticore's diameter is approximately 13,500 km., with a hydrosphere of 76% and an axial tilt of 5°. This planet is slightly less dense than Earth, with a lower percentage of metals, but still boasts considerable mineral wealth. Average temperatures are close to Earth normal, and the climate is considerably moderated by the lower axial tilt.
Major Manticoran on-planet industries are agriculture, aquaculture, mining, and a well-diversified industrial sector and R&D base. Population as of 1900 pd (280 al) was approximately 1.5 billion. The major shipyards and space industry of the Star Kingdom of Manticore orbit the capital planet.
Sphinx: Sphinx (Manticore-A IV) is larger than Manticore (diameter=16,500 km.) It is also more massive and richer in metals than the capital world. Sphinx is habitable only because an extremely active carbon dioxide cycle effectively extends the liquid-water zone by giving it considerably more "green house" effect than its sister planets, and its hydrosphere is 68% with an axial tilt of 14°, which, coupled with its considerably lower average temperatures, gives it a much more active and less inviting climate than Manticore.
The major on-planet industries of Sphinx are mining, forestry, and animal husbandry (the planet has vast herds of Terran-adapted cattle and native prongbuck). Planet-side industry has been slow to develop but has made considerable ground in the last century. Planetary population as of 1900 pd was 1,048,000,000.
Gryphon: With a diameter of 13,200 km., Gryphon (Manticore-B IV) is actually the most Earth-like (in terms of size and mass) of Manticore's three habitable planets, but its hydrosphere is only 51% and its axial tilt is almost 27°. Coupled with its orbital radius (it is almost as far from the cooler Manticore B as Manticore is from Manticore A), this gives it a rugged "continental" climate with extremely cold winters and (relatively speaking) scorching summers. The planetary biosystem is also the least Earth-like of the Star Kingdom's habitable worlds, and the colony's original cattle did not do well there, but a genetically-engineered variant of the Plains Buffalo, imported from Beowulf (Sigma Draconis) in 1612 pd (113 al), adapted with phenomenal success, and two of the Star Kingdom's major exports to the older planets are buffalo hides and meat. In addition, the Gryphon Kodiak Maximus provides one of the known galaxy's premiere peltries, though the Manticore Charter of Settlement requires that a relatively low ceiling be placed on the pelts taken.
Gryphon is poor in metals (relative to Manticore or Sphinx), and developed planet-side industry is primarily agrarian. Its severe climate has made this planet the last choice for colonization within the system, but, by the same token, this means it has the largest unclaimed areas (particularly with its limited hydrosphere), and it has tended to attract the more adventurous of the last two or three generations, giving it a particularly vigorous population. In addition, it actually has more total industry than Sphinx, despite its limited planetary supply of metals, because of Manticore-B's extensive asteroid belts. The Unicorn Belt's asteroid extraction operations (dominated by the Hauptman Cartel's Gryphon Minerals, LTD., subsidiary) produce the lion's share of the Star Kingdom's raw ores, and most Gryphons who don't want to herd buffalo end up employed in one part or another of their planet's sprawling near-space industrial activities. Perhaps because of this space-going orientation, Gryphon provides a quite disproportionate percentage of the Royal Manticoran Navy's personnel. Indeed, the backbone of the RMN's petty officers come from Gryphon and seem to feel a divine mission to keep the sissies of Manticore-A in shape.
As of 1900 pd, Gryphon had a planetary population of 575,000,000 and a belter population of 298,500,000.
Interstellar Politics and Imperialism
Emergence of Multi-System Polities
Before the introduction of the Warshawski Sail, interstellar trade and warfare were impossible. The only practical uses for hyperships were those with a sufficiently valuable return to justify the high risk of the vessel's loss—i.e., survey work—which was carried out not by planetary or system governments but by private corporations, most based on Old Earth or the very oldest colony worlds, who paid their crews of specialists handsomely indeed. With his or her high salary pre-paid and invested throughout the duration of his voyage, a survey specialist could retire to a life of wealth after a single cruise, though there was never any real shortage of repeat surveyors. The lure of the unknown and the lust to explore produced survey crewmen who pressed their luck again and again—in many cases until it finally ran out—and the frontiers of explored space were pushed steadily back despite the casualties.
Nonetheless, the repeat voyages which would make an interstellar cargo-carrier profitable were extremely unlikely, and no freight carrier could afford to pay the salaries survey crews commanded. Further, the same pressures which caused colony expeditions to prefer cryo ships to hyper-capable transports applied to any military expedition, and the distance between star systems effectively limited warfare to intramural affairs within a given system.
The Warshawski Sail changed that, along with everything else. Transit speeds soared as higher hyper bands were entered and their predominant grav waves slowly charted, and a Warshawski Sail hypership with inertial compensator could be of almost any desired mass. Huge ships might be slower than small ones, but they were still far, far faster than cryo ships, and their cargo carrying capacity could be enormous.
The first interstellar warships were (probably inevitably) piratical. Hyperships were scarcely needed for system defense, as any attacker was required to reenter normal space and could then be engaged by sublight ships with normal impeller drives, and after centuries of being literally unable to get at one another, there were no such things as power struggles between rival star systems. Humans had not changed appreciably, however, and the emergence of latter day "vikings" to prey on newly established or weakly defended colonies was almost a forgone conclusion. Ownership of at least eleven colonies changed hands by force during the first half-century of Warshawski Sail capability, financed in many cases by "respectable" corporations formed for the express purpose of mounting filibustering expeditions. In time, particularly as interstellar shipping established itself and began to grow, actual squadrons of independent pirates came into existence. As always, threats to commerce provoked the creation of navies to police the trade lanes, and the first system navies of interstellar warships appeared.
These navies were remarkably successful in running down and eliminating outright pirates, but they themselves didn't go away once the threat abated. Having been created, they took on a life of their own, particularly as the Warshawski Sail began knitting the far-flung community of Man back together. Traditional sources of contention reappeared, and the discovery of wormhole junctions created a whole new source of rivalry, as these were of immense value to trade, expansion, and warfare alike.
Since the restoration of the precious gift of the ability to make war upon one's neighbors, several inter-system polities have been created. Most have grown relatively peacefully, on the pattern of the old Solarian League; others have been forged by more forceful means, and no political unit can afford to overlook its own security needs any longer.
Aside from the Star Kingdom, the other three major polities of concern to Honor Harrington are: The Solarian League, the Anderman Empire, and the Republic of Haven. Although important as a trade partner and near-neighbor of the Star Kingdom, the Andermani have not (as yet) impinged as directly on Manticore's prospects of survival as have the League and the People's Republic.
The Solarian League
Composed of the oldest colony worlds, the Solarian League extends for roughly ninety-eight light-years from the Solar System. Old Earth is the League's capital but is only first among equals, as her daughter colonies had enjoyed centuries (in some cases over a millennium) of independence from the mother world and were unwilling to surrender their sovereignty when the new star nation emerged.
As a result, every member world of the Solarian League exercises full local autonomy. That is, the League's Executive Council, its highest governing body, has no legal authority over the local policies of its member worlds. On the "national" level, the Executive Council consists of delegates from all member worlds, and each world holds a veto right. On the surface any central government ought to find it impossible under such circumstances to maintain any sort of sustained policy, but there are countervailing pressures.
First, most of these worlds are quite populous, wealthy, and content, and pursue a consensual domestic policy, both locally and for the League as a whole, in which disputes which might draw a veto are unlikely to arise.
Secondly, the League's member worlds work off a great deal of their contentiousness in foreign policy debates because they feel safe in treating foreign policy as an area in which to make "statements of principle." Most League statesmen realize that this attitude makes any coherent military or diplomatic policy impossible, but the League is enormous. With the greatest concentration of wealth in human history (and counting almost two-thirds of the total human race as its citizens), it feels unthreatened by external dangers. Its navy is the largest in the galaxy, and the idea that any foreseeable combination of foreign powers could threaten its security is unthinkable.
Third, although every member world has veto right, the Executive Council has a counter-weapon; a two-thirds vote of the Council can strip any planet of its League membership. This power has never been used, but the threat of its use has brought several obstinate delegates to see reason over the centuries.
Despite its lack of an organized foreign policy, the League has an almost uninterrupted history of gradual expansion. From time to time an independent world will request admission to the League, and these requests are almost always granted, but any form of organized League imperialism is virtually impossible. In a sense, the League is isolationist—willing to trade with anyone, still the greatest source of recruitment for new colonies, but content to stand aloof from the power struggles prevalent in other regions of the galaxy. For all that, however, the League's size, power, and historical record of attracting requests for admission have given it a sense of manifest destiny. Its view (which, so far, has been justified by events) is that any of its neighbors will eventually recognize the advantages of League membership and ask to join. There is thus no need for the League to conquer anyone, as passing time and the inevitability of peaceful expansion will take care of the problem.
There have, however, been two exceptions to the League's "non-imperial" policy. First, the League has a tradition of extending protectorate status to what might be called "third-world planets" along and beyond its current frontiers. This is justified on the basis that such worlds are vulnerable to piratical raids and/or economic exploitation by less principled interstellar powers. As such, they need looking after . . . which just happens to give the League's merchants the inside track and prepares the ground for the protectorate's eventual admission to the League.
The second exception is a consistent policy of extending the same protectorate status to wormhole junctions with termini in or near League space. Among those junctions was the Erewhon Junction roughly a hundred light-years from the People's Republic of Haven's "southern" frontier, but this effort failed. The Erewhon Republic rejected League "protection," despite the proximity of the threat of the PRH. Instead, Erewhon chose to place its reliance upon the Manticoran Alliance and the assistance of the Royal Manticoran Navy—probably because the League's lack of a coherent foreign policy failed to fill the Republic with confidence in the face of Peep expansionism.
The League itself contains no wormhole junctions, but at least five junctions have termini in League territory. Where possible, the League has secured control of the junction at the far end of the wormhole as a defensive measure, though the use of force majeure to do so remains contrary to League policy. Nor, for the most part, has force been required, as the League is well able to proffer economic and industrial incentives to encourage most colony worlds to accept League membership quite eagerly.
The most important junction not to pass under League control is the Manticore Junction. Historically, Manticore has enjoyed congenial relations with the League but has no desire to submerge itself within the League's bureaucracy, and the combination of the revenues generated by the junction and the sturdily independent, continually growing population of its three worlds make the League's traditional incentives less attractive to the Manticorans than to most struggling colonies. In the last thirty years, however, an undeniable edge of strain has crept into League-Manticoran relations due to the looming conflict with the People's Republic. The one thing the Star Kingdom most fears is a situation in which the Peeps would be able to purchase advanced technology from the League, thus redressing their tactical inferiority vis-a-vis the Royal Navy. In its efforts to prevent that situation from arising, the Cromarty Government was forced to resort to strong-arm economic pressure to get a technology embargo out of the Executive Council. The effort succeeded, but at the result of strained relations.
The People's Republic of Haven
Although the Haven System lies 667 light-years from Old Earth, 155 light-years further distant than Manticore, the first shuttle landed on its habitable planet (also called Haven) in 1309 pd, over a century before Manticore was settled. This was possible because of the fashion in which the introduction of the Warshawski Sail had revolutionized the logistics of colonization. Haven's day is 24.56 standard hours in length, and its year is 412.25 local days in length, divided into 13 months: 9 of 32 days each and 4 of 31 days each. The short months are the 3rd, 5th, 10th, and 12th. Every 4 years, the 3rd month is 32 days long.
Haven lay in a particularly attractive region, with an unusually high proportion of F, G, and K class stars, and the original expedition was extremely well financed as a joint venture by no fewer than eleven corporations based on member planets of the Solarian League. Moreover, the planet of Haven proved well-named, for terrestrial life forms adapted to its environment with a minimum of difficulty and its climate was very nearly idyllic. With a powerful PR organization to tout its attractiveness, it exercised a magnetic effect on the would-be colonists of the League and, with the availability of the new hypership technology, grew at incredible speed. By 1430 pd, the Republic of Haven already boasted a planetary population of almost a billion and was beginning to mount colony expeditions of its own in what became known (despite the fact that six other systems in the same region had been colonized before or almost simultaneously with Haven) as the Haven Quadrant.
By 1475, the Haven economy and government had proven themselves extremely efficient and effective. Politically, Haven was a representative democracy with a strong and politically active middle class, and its economic policy enshrined the principles of liberal capitalism with minimal government interference. Coupled with the "jump start" provided by the colony's highly favorable initial circumstances, this combination of market efficiency and flexible government created a planetary standard of living at least as high as that of most Solarian League member worlds, and it became the envy and the pattern for every other world in the quadrant.
For the next two centuries, Haven continued to fulfill its promise, rising to a system population of almost seven billion and becoming a sort of interstellar Athens. The Haven Quadrant, although composed of independent worlds and star systems, rivaled the Solarian League for economic power, and it remained a vibrant and expansive entity, unlike the essentially satisfied and content League. Although the quadrant contained no wormhole junctions, it had access to the Manticore Junction (and, later, to the Erewhon Junction) and thence to the League, and there was every reason to believe that its expansion and prosperity would continue.
It did not. Precise identification of a specific event which caused the change within the quadrant is impossible, but in general terms it might be called over-achievement. The quadrant—and, in particular, Haven—had done too well. Its wealth was incalculable, and it began to seem unfair that that wealth was not more evenly distributed. In particular, capitalism, as always, had produced stratified classes, ranging from the extremely wealthy to the marginal and even sub-marginal, and if the members of Haven's "sub-marginal" class were immeasurably better off than, say the pre-Anderman citizens of New Berlin, they were not well off compared to their own affluent fellow citizens.
The Republic thus began to experiment, cautiously at first, with assistance and welfare programs to increase the opportunities of its less advantaged citizens. Unfortunately, what began as an experiment gradually became something else. Transfer payments became increasingly important for the maintenance of the industrial poor, requiring greater levies on the productive elements of society. Marginal industrial operations were shored up by protective tariffs, government loans, and outright grants to encourage full employment, which both undercut the overall efficiency and productivity of the industrial base and encouraged inflation. Inflation further worsened the condition of the poor, requiring still higher transfer payments—payments which were soon adjusted for inflation on a mandated basis—and, as the network of assistance proliferated, it came to be seen as a fundamental "right" of those receiving the aid. By 1680 pd, Haven had issued its famous "Economic Bill of Rights," declaring that all of its citizens had an "unalienable right" to a relative standard of living to be defined (and adjusted as inflation required) by statute by the legislature.
In the process, the government had initiated an unending spiral of inflation, higher transfer payments, and increasing deficit spending. Moreover, it had (quite unintentionally, at least at first) undermined the fundamental strength of its own democracy. The middle class, the traditional backbone of the Republic, was under increasing pressure both from above and below, caught in the squeeze between an increasingly less productive economy and ever larger levies against its earnings to support the welfare system. Whereas the middle class had once seen the upper class as (at worst) essentially friendly rivals or (at best) allies in their joint prosperity, they came to see the wealthy, like the poor, as enemies, fighting over a dwindling prosperity. Worse, the middle class's traditional aspiration to upward mobility had become an increasingly remote dream, and it was much easier to focus resentment on those who had more than the middle class than on those who had less—a tendency which became ever more pronounced as "enlightened" commentators and academics secured dominant positions in the media and educational system.
Perhaps worst of all, was the emergence of the "Dolist" blocs. The Dolists (so called because they were "on the dole," receiving government assistance in greater or lesser degree) were still franchised voters and, quite logically, supported the candidates who offered them the most. It was a case of self-interest, and the Dolists' self-interest interlocked with that of increasingly careerist politicians. A new class of machine politicians, the "Dolist managers," emerged, playing the role of king-makers by delivering huge blocks of votes to chosen candidates. Incumbent politicians soon realized that their continued incumbency was virtually assured with the managers' backing—and that the converse was also true. A politician targeted by the "People's Quorum" (the official term for the alliance of Dolist managers) was doomed, and as the leaders of the Quorum became aware of their power, they selected specific politicians to punish as an example to all politicos of the power the Quorum represented.
Finally, as if to complete the system-wide outbreak of mass insanity, most of those who recognized that something was wrong embraced a "conspiracy theory" which assumed that their problems must result from someone's hostile machinations—probably those of the domestic "monied classes" or foreign industries who "dumped" their cheap, shoddy products on the Haven economy. Almost worse, there was an entrenched element of "this wouldn't be happening to us if we weren't somehow at fault" in the vast majority of mid-18th century Havenite political and societal analysis and rhetoric, and this masochistic tendency only became more pronounced as the century wound to a close.
By 1750 pd, the Republic—no longer "The Republic of Haven," but now "The People's Republic of Haven"—had become the captive of a coalition of professional politicians (indeed, politicians who had never had and were not qualified for any other career) and the Quorum, aided and abetted by a morally and intellectually bankrupt academic community and a mass media philosophically at home with the Quorum's objectives and cowed (where necessary) by threats of blacklisting. That the Quorum could succeed in blacklisting journalists had been demonstrated in 1746 pd, in the case of Adele Wasserman, one of the last moderate journalists. Her moderation, which was actually a bit left of center by mid-17th century standards, was labeled "conservative" or, more frequently, "reactionary" by her 18th century contemporaries. She herself was called "an enemy of the common man," "a slave of the monied powers," and (most cutting slur then available on Haven) "a fiscal elitist," and her employer, one of the last independent news services, was pressured into terminating her contract (for "socially insensitive and inappropriate demagoguery") by means of an economic boycott, strikes, and governmental pressure. Her firing, followed by her subsequent relocation to the Kingdom of Manticore and a successful career as a leading theorist of the Centrist Party, was the writing on the wall for any who had eyes. Unless something quite extraordinary intervened, the current Havenite system was doomed.
The problem was one which had arisen as long ago as Old Earth's Roman Empire: when power depends on "bread and circuses," those in power are compelled to provide ever greater largess if they wish to remain in power. In effect, the politicos required a bottomless and ever-filled public trough to pay off the Dolists and provide the graft and corruption to support the lives to which they themselves had become accustomed, and after almost two centuries of increasingly serious self-inflicted wounds, not even the once-robust Havenite economy could support that burden. It became apparent to the political managers that the entire edifice was in trouble: tax revenues had not matched expenditures in over 143 T-years; R&D was faltering as an increasingly politicized (and hence ineffectual) educational system purveyed the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo of collectivist economic theory rather than sound scientific training; and the decreasing numbers of truly capable industrial and technical managers produced by the system were increasingly lured to other star systems whose economies allowed them to use their talents and enjoy the benefits thereof. The "Technical Conservation Act" of 1778, which revoked emigration visas for all research and production engineers by nationalizing their expertise "as a resource of the Republic," was intended to put a stop to that, but it could not reverse the fatal trends.
Real economic growth had stopped—indeed, the economy was contracting—but ever higher Basic Living Stipend payments were politically inescapable, and the stagflation which had resulted was becoming a self-sustaining reaction. In 1771 pd, a highly classified economic report to the House of Legislators predicted that by the year 1870 the entire economy would collapse in a disaster which would make Old Earth's Great Depression and the Economic Winter of 252 pd look like mild recessions. The Chiefs of Staff, apprised of the degree of collapse to be anticipated, warned that it would precipitate pitched warfare in the streets as Haven's citizens fought for food for their families, for Haven had long since attained a population which could not feed itself without imports, and imports could not be paid for with a negative balance of trade.
The government saw only two ways out: to bite the bullet, end deficit spending, abolish the BLS, and hope to weather the resultant catastrophic reorganization, or to find some other source of income to shore up the budget. The possibility of admitting they could no longer pay the interest on Haven's mortgaged future was too much for them to stomach, which meant only the second solution was a real possibility, but there was no more money to be squeezed out of the economy. A panicked group of legislators suggested draconian "soak the rich" schemes, but the majority recognized that any such panacea would be purely cosmetic. Aside from their own hidden assets, the wealthy represented less than 0.5% of the total population, and the totally confiscatory taxes proposed would provide only a temporary reprieve . . . and eliminate both future private investment and the highest tax brackets (already taxed at 92% on personal income and 75% on investment income) as a long-term revenue source. A self-sustaining tax base could be produced only by a strong middle class, and the middle class had been systematically destroyed; what remained of it was far too small to sustain the government's current rate of expenditure and had been for almost a century.
That left only one possible way to find the needed revenue, and the government, with the cooperation of the Quorum, prepared to seize it under the so-called "DuQuesne Plan."
The first step was a "Constitutional Convention" which radically rewrote the Havenite Constitution. While maintaining a facade of democracy, the new constitution, by redefining eligibility requirements and office qualifications and giving the House of Legislators the right to refuse to seat even a legally elected representative if the House found him or her "personally unfit for public office," created a legislative dictatorship with hereditary membership. (It was not a strictly parent-to-child inheritance but rather a codification of the "adoption" process which had become the normal career route for Havenite politicians over the past century; true dynasties came later.) The second step was not to limit deficit spending but to increase it, this time with the enthusiastic support of the military, which underwent the greatest peacetime expansion in Havenite history. And the third step, launched in 1846 pd, was to acquire additional revenue from a totally new source: military conquest.
The initial attacks were almost totally unopposed. The quadrant was so accustomed to the idea that Haven represented the ideal to which all humanity aspired that its steady collapse had been sadly underestimated. Haven's problems were known, but their severity was misjudged, and the consensus was that all of them could be solved if Haven would only put its house in order. Indeed, the majority of Haven's neighbors felt that Haven was on the right track but had simply gotten temporarily out of control, and many of them were in the early stages of the same process in a sort of lemming-like emulation of disaster. The sudden expansion of the Havenite military caused some concern, but those who suggested that long-friendly Haven contemplated hostile action were viewed as hysterical alarmists. Besides, the quadrant's other systems found their own economies were becoming increasingly strapped, and warships and troops cost money which was required for their own welfare programs.
The result was a turkey shoot for the Peoples' Navy. Between 1846 and 1900 pd, a period of barely more than fifty years, the People's Republic of Haven had conquered every star system within a hundred light-years of it, incorporating them by force into a new, interstellar PRH ruled by the now openly hereditary "legislature" of the Haven System.
Unfortunately for the Legislaturalists, they soon discovered that conquest was not the solution they had hoped. True, they could loot the economies of conquered worlds, but unless they wanted servile insurrection, there was a limit to how badly they could wreck their subject economies. Worse, the military machine required to conquer and then police their new empire cost even more than they had anticipated, particularly as their alarmed and (so far) unconquered neighbors began to arm in reply. Despite all efforts, their budgets remained stubbornly in the deficit column; they simply could not pay for both their military and the support of their subsidized population out of available resources. There was an appearance of prosperity on the home front, but those in informed positions knew that it was only an appearance. In short, the "Republic" had only two options: continue to expand, or collapse.
And so, in 1900 pd, the People's Republic had no choice but to look for fresh fields to conquer . . . and found, directly in its path, between it and the additional worlds it had to have, a small but wealthy star system known as the Star Kingdom of Manticore.