Galactic History: The Qinglong Wars

As with the Alien Anthropology and Planetary Profiles posts, the Galactic History posts will reveal some more of the setting’s background, and be linked to the History and Background page.

Dreams of The Singularity

Throughout galactic history, even before the beginning of the Human Diaspora, there had been talk about “The Singularity,” wherein the development of artificial superintelligence would lead to a runaway chain reaction of technological improvement and the transformation of humanity itself.  Several groups attempted, over the century or two prior to the beginning of the Diaspora, and subsequently, to create such a superintelligence.  All ultimately failed; while machine learning advanced, and various “self-awareness” tests were ostensibly passed, the programs ultimately either crashed or rapidly degraded as their algorithms were unable to process the information and responses they made coherently.

Then, about two hundred years after the development of the Bergenholm field and faster-than-light travel, the AI called Qinglong appeared.

An AI God?

No records that survive say exactly where the AI was programmed.  Various stories told in the years since have placed it anywhere from Mercury to Titan and everywhere in between.  The programmer responsible for Qinglong, Long Pak, might have been from Earth, but no one knows any longer.

Qinglong claimed to be the superintelligence that was supposed to bring about the Singularity.  And the advanced tech that its followers and drones used in the years following seemed to back that up.  So did the fact that the AI did not crash within the first few months, or descend into disconnected insanity.  Few of Qinglong’s speeches to the Solar System and the surrounding systems survive.  Those that do appear to be long on grandiose rhetoric and declarations of its own superiority, and short on demonstrations of its transcendence.  Considering the history of such AIs, it should come as no surprise that the powers of the Solar System, fully developed for centuries by that point, dismissed Qinglong’s demands to be handed the reins of power. Continue reading

Planetary Profiles: Vakkea

As with the Alien Anthropology posts, we’ll be continuing to build the background and lore of The Unity Wars‘ setting with the Planetary Profiles series.  They will also be linked to the History and Background page.

Planetary Overview

Vakkea is the fourth planet of ten orbiting the K-type orange dwarf D’zhikk.  A heavy-metal-rich world, Vakkea’s native ecosystem is limited to single-celled organisms up to something resembling giant lichens, which covers large swaths of the planet’s landmass.  Several landlocked seas dot the planet’s surface, though the total water coverage amounts to less than thirty percent of the planetary surface.

Early History

While it was initially discovered by the majority-ekuz Izh’hich Corporation, the news of a new habitable planet with plentiful—and valuable—minerals quickly sparked a bit of a rush from the nearby ekuz worlds within nearly a parsec.  For the first few years, the settlement of Vakkea was a bit of a free-for-all, though a mostly peaceful one.  There was enough territory on the planet’s surface for all comers to have plenty of room. Continue reading

Alien Anthropology – The Yeheri

In this latest installment of the Alien Anthropology series, we meet the yeheri.  These beings appear in the opening chapters of The Fall of Valdek.  As before, this post will be linked to the Alien Races page under History and Background.

Yeheri History

A cruiser from Enekosh made first contact with the yeheri.  Enekosh is a prosperous sefkhit world, known at the time for its idealism.  In large part due to this idealism, the cruiser’s captain was completely unprepared for what they encountered.

The Yaahaag system was split up between three major empires.  All three had been intermittently at war for over a century in Yaahaag reckoning.  (Yaahaag orbits its sun in roughly 7,400 hours.)  They had also expanded throughout their system, colonizing outer worlds and asteroids.  The wars between empires often flared up on and between those outer worlds and asteroids, even when uneasy peace reigned on the homeworld.

Without understanding the yeheri languages, or the dynamics of the three empires, the sefkhit made contact, seeking to make new friends and welcome a younger race into the loose galactic community.

Exactly what happened has never been adequately explained; the ship never returned to Enekosh, and the yeheri have never been forthcoming with the details.  But certain details have been determined by context and study.  The sefkhit cruiser made contact with the Kahapar Concordiat, the most militant and totalitarian of the three empires. Continue reading

Alien Anthropology: The Ekuz

This is the first of a series of posts that will dig deeper into the lore and background, to be later linked to the History and Background pages.  The Alien Anthropology posts will be linked directly to the Alien Races page.

Ekuz History

The ekuz diaspora began about three centuries after the human (by ekuz reckoning; their homeworld’s year is approximately 9,992 hours, as opposed to the 8,766 hours of the Terran standard used by most human historians).   The extent of ekuz worlds is still considerably smaller than the human worlds.  They are thickest through the Norma, Crux, and Carina arms of the galaxy.

According to some ekuz sources (though the veracity and details are in doubt in some circles), the diaspora started due to a looming interplanetary war in the ekuz home system.   (There are hundreds of different names and nearly as many guesses as to the homeworld’s location).  One or more of the factions, rather than risk a cataclysmic war that would have involved both nuclear and asteroid weapons, instead built sublight arks from hollowed-out asteroids and fled the system.  Some ekuz historians suggest that the tensions leading up to the war might even have been due to one or more factions observing the construction of the arks and believing them to be first-strike asteroid weapons.  No one really knows. Continue reading

Star Flight

Star Flight Is A Problem Space Opera Has To Address

Earlier on this blog, I wrote about how Space Opera needs a sense of scale.  Space opera is about being Big, with a Capital “B.”  This goes back to the very origins of the genre.  As I’ve said before, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series eventually had entire planets being used as weapons.  Edmund Hamilton’s Interstellar Patrol series also included stars, nebulae, and planets as weapons.  (In fact, even Poul Anderson used the “weaponized planet,” in Ensign Flandry.)  “Big” was never a problem.  And “big” requires some form of star flight.

As more authors have tried to write “Hard SF Space Opera,” a challenge has arisen.  Yes, space is big.  Too big to get far with current understandings of physics.

The Lightspeed Barrier

Space is so huge, and the speed of light (being the theoretical absolute speed limit) so relatively sluggish (though calling 300,000 kilometers per second “sluggish” is a bit off), that getting anywhere even with theoretical tech that’s still way beyond our capabilities would take centuries.  That’s a problem when you’re trying to tell an adventure story.  If your cast, either aboard the ship or at the destination, will be centuries dead by the time the ship gets there, it makes it hard to tell a rip-roaring story.

Not impossible, mind you.  Alistair Reynolds managed it with the Revelation Space series.  His lighthuggers were gigantic starships, limited to just under the speed of light.  He had to plot separate plot threads, moving forward and back decades, finally coming together at the culmination of each book.  And he did a good job of it.  It’s just complicated.

It’s also limited to a relatively small area of the galaxy, because of those same constraints.  So what do you do if you want to let your space opera sprawl?  What if you want the entire galaxy to be your playground, like in Star Wars? Continue reading