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

Building On #StarWarsNotStarWars

Star Wars Is Great

Lest anyone think that I don’t like Star Wars, given some of the earlier posts here, I have to make this point.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  It’s why I have issues with some of the later entries in the franchise; I think that they don’t do justice to what Star Wars could be.  The Original Trilogy remain classics, and having just gone back and rewatched all three, back to back, they still hold up.  (Which is why I don’t care for the argument that, “Star Wars is full of plot holes anyway, so you’re dislike of later installments is invalid.”)  There’s an ever-expanding universe of new worlds, new aliens, new ships, and hints of a long history.

Star Wars is a huge source of inspiration for The Unity Wars.  Because when you watch the movies, there’s a lot that’s implied without being said.  And that stuff that’s implied lends huge opportunities for storytelling. Continue reading

On Aliens

 

You Can Hardly Have A Space Opera Without Aliens

Okay, it is possible.  Isaac Asimov’s Foundation features humans only.  But a mainstay of the genre has long been the appearance of strange alien races, some far more advanced than humans.  They were in E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series, in Buck Rogers, and of course in Star Wars and most of the major space operas on TV, such as Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Farscape.

Part of any adventure story has long been visiting the strange, the foreign, and the exotic.  From Allan Quatermain to Tarzan to John Carter to Luke Skywalker, the adventurer has found himself surrounded by those unlike himself.  Aliens provide that exoticism and sense of a far bigger universe. Continue reading