Science Fiction as History
I’ve read plenty of tales that put humanity in the driving seat, but how do we get there? The tale of Western Civilisation is that the advanced colonise the primitive. Early Science Fiction made the universe a playground for future human propagation, informed by recent Western history. The narrative of the West can deliver entertaining Cowboy v Indian fantasies but this isn’t a great model. A more plausible state of affairs would be the efforts of humanity to bypass the constraints of much more advanced and powerful species. It’s worth putting the rise of the West into context.
Sometimes, better planning can overcome the more advanced but we have to go back to the time of the Mongol Empire for a powerful example. For those who find interest in history, the negotiating and haggling, as the protagonist deals with the main villain, are inspired by the arrogance of the thirteenth century Mongols who, following their destruction of the Khwarezmian Empire, had their pick of artisans, whores, loot… and scribes. If the iron fist decides who lives or dies, it can surely decide who frames the threats it makes to the empires it plans on looting. Consider the brazen threat made in 1260 by Hülegü, grandson of Genghis Khan, to Qutuz, who then headed up the newly formed Mameluke Empire in Cairo (searchable on the net). It’s much more direct than the toadying utterances of today’s politicians. Hülegü’s demand was a precursor to the battle of Ain Jalut, a battle that, arguably, forestalled Mongol ambitions to make vassals of the rest of Europe. The Mongols were capable of fielding well-organised armies of 100,000 plus — we were well out of the Mongol civil war that followed… our fledgling Renaissance was let be. Those names will of course mean little to the average man, yet they are fundamental to understanding the origins of the West …and their actions contain important clues to unpicking the mess in Central Asia and the Middle East. The past resonates through to the future. Enough with the history.
Plausible Galactic Empires
The genre is about questions. What kind of universe do we live in? Are we alone? Even if we’re not, we might be only beings to develop space flight and to colonise new worlds. Imagine that – a federation of human colonies, an empire of the stars. Would we really be the first to space? Seems unlikely. If something out there is technologically advanced, why would it not colonise us as less advanced and thus inferior beings? Let’s hope there’s rules – rules to govern when the powerful can colonise, patronise, stomp on or otherwise exploit the weak. Maybe they’ll trade with us.
That handily drifts us towards Space Empires. Assume a long established interstellar society of which we’re the newest member. Would we be strong enough to survive it and even keep our identity? Will we be allowed to make our own way? Humanity wants to be on the top table with the rest of interstellar society and it needs space travel technology to make the transition from planetary to interstellar civilisation. The cost might be crippling – a big investment for potentially no return – but assume we acquire it. What next? survey the stars and colonize? What if all the best worlds are taken? Interstellar society will have rules about that kind of activity. The new kid on the block doesn’t make the rules, he makes compromises, so will we. If so, what?
Some species will have nothing better to do than watch for greenhorns making mistakes. The stars have traces of ancient races that simply vanished. Do the wrong thing and your species joins them, you’ll become a future subject for xeno-archaeologists. Keep secret, keep quiet, especially if it’s not working out, because if you holler for help loud enough, things could get a whole lot worse. Watch out humans, you’re under the microscope
The foregoing is context to the course of events disrupting the life of my protagonist in:
The Tau Device
War isn’t just big conflagrations of hyped up technology, even in space. It’s also a battle of wits and making the best use of your assets, no matter how mismatched they might be. Out in the stars are traces of ancient races that simply vanished. Do the wrong thing and your people will join them. Knowledge is power.
Lory Gato, is a businessman travelling the stars and doing deals; to be more precise he’s an interstellar gourmet accustomed to a life of drink, eat, ask for the bill, repeat (don’t forget to tell the folks back home).
On T’negi 36 he meets Liasse, a xeno-archaeologist. Though she’s t’negi, a human seeming but alien species, a friendship forms and he gets to explore their culture. She makes a discovery that could have profound consequences, however, trouble is brewing.
Lory falls foul of Earthers, a movement that believes in overthrowing aliens, stealing their advanced technology and using it to terraform and colonize. Events spiral out of control, humans have outstayed their welcome on T’negi 36 and Lory is stuck in the middle. Somehow he has to protect Liasse so she can complete her research, but they are caught up in a desperate struggle to just survive.
The Tau Device is Science Fiction.
Those who’ve read the author’s comments elsewhere should be warned that, although there are superficial parallels to certain current events, this tale bears no agenda. The writer would welcome and value constructive criticism.
Sub-genres: Adventure, Alien Culture, Mystery, Romance, Robots, Invasion, Colonization.
Other content: some violence, no explicit sex