Tag Archive: Confederation


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Since my fiction is set on a number of planets of the Jarnian Confederation, no two quite alike, I’ll describe the most important ones for the stories I’ve published. Two others, Horizon and Rakal, will be in my upcoming trilogy, and T’Kun and Mava are in a barely-started book on the first Kharfun epidamic.

Central

Central, the administrative capital of the Confederation, is an Earth-sized planet circling a very sun-like star. There are two major continental masses, both extending from above the Arctic circle to below the Antarctic circle. Axial tilt is about 24°. The broad climate zones are similar to Earth’s: equator wet flanked by seasonal rain belts, deserts along the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn, rain shadow deserts on the lee of mountain ranges, prevailing winds easterly near the equator and westerly at higher latitudes. Mid-latitude continental climates are highly seasonal. There are no polar ice caps as neither pole is isolated from the oceanic circulation, though there is considerable permanent ice on the higher mountains.

Map of Central

Crude Lat-Long map of Central. Numbers are: 1.Lai’s home 2. Derik’s home 3. Seabid island 4. Rollover Archipelago 5. Tyndal school 6. Jelarik’s home 7. Zhaim’s home 8 Trade City

Central was originally a R’il’nian planet called Kentra. As the R’il’nai dwindled in numbers the larger continent, and then the northern part of the smaller one, were increasingly given over to humans and some R’il’noids. In theory the southern extension of the smaller continent is owned by the R’il’nai, but in fact many R’il’noids have homes there.

One thing the R’il’nai insisted on: a large fraction of each ecosystem must remain natural. Thus Central is largely a natural world, though there are very advanced cities. Most of the action in my novels takes place outside of the cities.

The flora and fauna make up a very mixed ecology. The planet was Terraformed (or rather R’il’n formed) a couple of hundred thousand years ago. Since then many species from Earth have been added, along with a large number from other planets, including Riya. The R’il’nian ability of conditional precognition has managed to keep out those species that would be disruptive. One species, the Akeda, is modeled on the terror bird that was a major predator at one time in South America. These are six foot non-flying birds which are the top predators in some areas.

I drew the rather crude map some twenty years ago.

Riya

Riya, like Central, is an Earth-like planet with Earth-like climate zones. Most of the action takes place on a subtropical volcanic hot spot island, Windhome. (Think Hawaii.) The main peculiarity of this planet is that there are no mountains of any significant height in the southern hemisphere, but there is a continental extension into the extreme north with mountains that are snow-covered year round.

The biota differs from Earth’s. The local fauna have evolved from six-limbed ancestors, with the extra pair of legs evolving into anything from wings to feeding arms. Flora often gives the appearance of branching down into the ground. However, this native flora and fauna has been blended with species imported from R’il’n. (Homecoming.)

One species imported as pets, and surviving in the wild only on isolated islands without predators, are the tinerals. They have a vague resemblance to feathered monkeys with wings. They grow throughout their lives: flying in their youth, but the wings acting only as a weather cloak as they become larger. They are singers with voices much like our musical instruments, and an instinct to harmonize.

Mirror

This planet is in the very early stages of evolving land life. In contrast to most planets, where living things are either all dependent on left-handed proteins or all dependent on right-handed ones, Mirror developed two totally independent ecosystems, one right handed and one left handed. When Marna and Lai are forced to land there, they go to a great deal of trouble to avoid contaminating the planet. (Homecoming.) There are animals in the oceans, including a mass of tentacles with threefold symmetry that Marna identifies as a possible food source, but the land (or more accurately the shore) has been colonized only by algae and land corals in the spray zone.

Falaron

Falaron was Terraformed as a vacation planet around 75,000 years ago, with most of the ecology transplanted from Earth in the Pleistocene. The action takes place around 45° North latitude, from coast to coast of a continent spanning several time zones. From West to East, the terrain is coastal forest, forest-clad mountains, more rugged mountains, a high plateau, more mountains with an apron down to a high scarp, plains with a climate ameliorating from rain-shadow near-desert to open woodland as the travelers move east, a fault scarp damming the river the party is following, a canyon cut by the river through the higher ground, and finally forest with open meadows to the east coast. (Tourist Trap.) Animals include mammoths, mastodon, longhorn bison, small wild horses, a miniature variety of horses in small canyons, and flat-headed peccaries, all real animals which left fossils during the Pleistocene ice ages.

Eversummer

Named (as Marna correctly deduced) by a publicity agent, this planet, though Earthlike in many ways, has no axial tilt and a very low-eccentricity orbit, thus no seasons. To quote from Tourist Trap:

“The planet, with its rotational axis almost perpendicular to its orbital plane, had no seasons.  The poles were bitterly cold, glaciated wastelands where the sun forever rolled around the horizon.  The equatorial belt was an unchanging steam bath, the permanent home of daily tropical thunderstorms, varied by hurricanes along its poleward borders.  The desert belts, inevitable result of the conflict between the planet’s rotation and its unequal heating by its sun, were broad and sharply defined, with no transition zones where the rains came seasonally.  The temperate zones, between desert and polar ice, were swept year round by equinoctial storms, varied only by occasional droughts.  No monsoons, no seasonal blanket of snow to protect the dormant land, no regular alternation of wet and dry seasons.”

Native animals are toxic, and Marna must determine why.

Horizon

Horizon was introduced in Horse Power as a planet recently terraformed from bare rock for stock rearing, specifically for silkies. This made-up species is a blend of cattle and sheep, producing both gourmet meat and a fleece that makes a luxury cloth. They are sensitive to ultraviolet, but Horizon is a low UV planet. For the same reason it has attracted colonists with fair skin, who are also UV-sensitive. The ecology was planned for stock rearing, with no large predators (foxes are about as large as they come) and few native herbivores beyond the rabbits introduced as an emergency food source. Gravity is slightly slightly less than or Earth or Central.

I’m still working on the Horizon War trilogy, but one of the plot points is the disaster that could be created by the introduction of pumas on land and great white sharks in the oceans.

Rakal

This planet will be mentioned several times in the first two books of the Horizon War trilogy, but is only visited in the third book. It is a steam-bath planet, especially near the equator where the action takes place, with jungle, part of which is prone to seasonal flooding. (Parts of the Amazon basin, but warmer.) Sample native animal? A predator the castaways call a One-arm and others call a Kraken. It has a flattened, bulbous body with a mouth and a single long tentacle with poison hairs, and attacks by attaching the body to a tree and grabbing prey with the tentacle. I’ll probably post its attack on January 10, as part of the Year of the Snake blogfest. I may also use a character’s first view of the planet as my excerpt Friday, but I’m still waffling on that.

Mava

This planet is mostly ocean, with only a small land area. Because the settlers realized early that only a limited population could be supported, production of babies was never a priority and a matrilineal culture developed with extended family structure. Recently at war with T’Kun. This planet is a home planet of a character in the Kharfun epidemic story, but all the action takes place elsewhere.

T’Kun

Physically, T’Kun is the opposite of Mava, with 90% land, and only a few saline lakes. It is a very harsh world, and many of the males die young. Partly as a result of this, a strongly patriarchal culture has developed with multiple wives and an idea that every woman should be nursing or pregnant — necessary to keep the population up, as most children die young. Again, only a very brief part of the action actually takes place on this world, but it is important in forming the character of one of the protagonists.

Welcome back, Sixers. I’m going to post something today that is completely different from what I’ve done before, though still in the same universe. This is from the third book of the trilogy, working title War’s End — though I hope I can come up with a better title before publication. This is roughly halfway through the book, and a moment before this scene, Coralie is on a spaceship.

She had to protect the baby.  Coralie tried to make a rigid shield of her body and arms as she rolled through wet, foul-smelling greenery, punctuated by harder masses that might have been tree trunks or rocks — she was too confused to tell.  Around her, familiar voices cried out in shock, and somewhere a dog yelped.  What had happened?  This wasn’t the ship!  The uncontrolled tumble ended with a blow that drove the breath from her lungs, and for a moment she could see nothing but colored flashes as she struggled for air.

If you like this excerpt, or want to play yourself, check out the other fine authors at Six Sentence Sunday.

This starts directly after the last sentence from last week, referring to the physician, Nik Tarlian. It then omits about a page that would be hard to follow as an excerpt and continues the scene from Tourist Trap. As a reminder, Zhaim is treating his injuries after beating Roi. He is also in rather a hurry to make a planned Council meeting.

Helix NebulaThe man was a competent physician, but he was also a sentimental fool. He was very likely to spread the word that one of Zhaim’s slaves had managed to defy him, or even pick up the fact that Roi had been involved, and later on, when the bodies were discovered, that might draw attention Zhaim could not afford.

He reached for the synthetic skin spray and applied it to both hands, then pulled on a pair of thin black leather gloves. He would wear his black leather tunic and breeches today, he thought. The crested shoulder would hide his own swollen joint, and the sleeve cut, intended to emphasize that the wearer need never exert himself physically, would explain any stiffness in his use of the arm. Fashion demanded that he wear gloves with the outfit.

That’s all from Tourist Trap, as the published book is available. Next week I’ll go back to bits from the trilogy in progress, or one of the shorter pieces I’m thinking of putting on Smashwords – if I can figure out how.

Meanwhile, have a look at the other fine writers participating in Six Sentence Sunday – just click on the logo.

http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/nebula/pr2005012b/As I said last week, the Jarnian Confederation acts only to prevent Human-occupied planets from preying on each other or on other sentient species, or to provide emergency aid. But it needs some structure to do this. The interaction of my characters with this structure provides much of the plot of my fiction.

Originally (and still to a large extent in Homecoming and Tourist Trap) the Confederation as a whole was ruled by the R’il’nai. As their numbers dwindled, the Councils were developed to provide the remaining R’il’nai with information and a part-Human sounding board. Membership was originally determined by tests to determine the fraction of traits R’il’nian-Human hybrids showed that were clearly of R’il’nian origin. Those with over seven-eighths R’il’nian traits were considered part of the Inner Council.

The Outer Council was composed of High R’il’noids, those with more than three-fourths R’il’nian traits, and was primarily an advisory, fact-finding and enforcement body subject to the Inner Council. Those with more than half R’il’nian traits were considered R’il’noid. R’il’noids were essential to the running of the Confederation and were subject to Confederation law but not to planetary law. This was primarily because of problems that had arisen in the past because of planetary laws (such as a ban on travel at the new moon, punishable by death) which prevented R’il’noids from carrying out their professional duties. At that time virtually all adult R’il’noids had the R’il’nian empathy at least to the extent that they could be trusted not to take advantage of their immunity to planetary law.

R’il’nian-human hybrids were rare, is spite of official encouragement for R’il’nian males to father offspring from Human or R’il’noid women. Such matings were often sterile. A R’il’nian scientist, Çeren, developed an in vitro fertilization method that greatly increased the production of crossbreds, and also developed a more objective method of ranking R’il’noids by the fraction of active R’il’nian-derived genes. The unintended consequences of both these developments (which were desperately needed at the time) set up the problems in my science fiction.

By the time of Homecoming the Inner Council was actually making most of the decisions to run the Confederation, though the only surviving R’il’nian, Lai, had absolute veto power at least in theory, though he rarely if ever used it. Barring that veto power, the Inner Council was ruled by a majority vote providing at least 5/6 of the Inner Council members were present and voting. Reconsideration of a vote already taken required a 2/3 plus majority. By the time of the trilogy veto power no longer exists, and this is how the Confederation is ruled and the Horizon War was started.

The Jarnian Confederation, the political structure in which I’ve set all of my science fiction writing, is neither a utopia nor a dystopia. It is a pragmatic structure which has evolved over time to govern a number of planetary systems, and its primary purposes are threefold:

1. To prevent Humans from bothering other sentient species. In my universe most space-traveling races are basically cooperative for the simple reason that in order to reach technology sufficient for interstellar travel, they must go through a stage when self-destruction is possible. Humans are an exception to this: one of the R’il’nai hybridized with early proto-humans and led his offspring back to the stars, and the R’il’nai have felt responsible for them ever since.

2. To protect Humans from one species in particular, the Maungs. The Maungs are friendly, but they are a symbiotic species and one of the symbiotes, which enters a free-living state during Maung reproduction, is capable of infecting and taking over the mind of any Human in the vicinity. The best prevention, recognized by both R’il’nai and Maungs, is separation. Luckily the Maungs prefer planets both hotter and with a higher gravity than those Humans prefer.

3. To keep Human planets from attacking each other. This is actually the hardest one.

R’il’nian-Human hybrids with a preponderance of active R’il’nian genes, known as R’il’noids, actually do most of the work, and tend to regard purposes 1 and 3 as the real reason for the Confederation, with 2 being one of the main reasons the Humans accept it.

Human planets have their own governments of many types: democracies, dictatorships, patriarchies, matriarchies, oligarchies, meritocracies, anarchy (though usually not for long with any sizable population), theocracies, and just about anything else you can come up with. The Confederation government has absolutely no voice in local affairs with one exception: any Confederation citizen has the right to emigrate to any planet which will accept that person. (This may be an empty right because of finances.) But it is also true that any Confederation planet has the right to refuse entry to any person. New planets are being terraformed and settled frequently, but companies settling desirable planets generally require a substantial premium. (Undesirable planets often have a very high death rate.)

In addition to settling interplanetary disputes, the Confederation may assist in major crises, most often novel diseases or natural disasters that affect a large portion of a planet.

Because hybrids tend to have very low fertility, they are scarce and a number of Confederation laws have been developed specifically to protect R’il’noids. Before Çeren’s time this worked very well, as all the early R’il’noids inherited the R’il’nian empathy and sense of responsibility. At the time of my stories this has fallen apart, and there are a number of R’il’noids lacking empathy entirely.

I’ll give some details of the practical side of the Confederation government later.

My science fiction is based on two species, the R’il’nai and Humans, and their crossbreds, the Ril’noids, living together. One of the major differences between the two parent species is in life span. The Humans have what we would consider a normal life span. The R’il’nai, while not immortal, do not age beyond maturity. A number of my characters have been alive for millennia. Crossbreds can show either pattern.

This leads to all kinds of interesting situations in the society. How do the two species interact, for instance? How many Humans would want to marry someone who would never grow old? How does a R’il’nian act toward someone he or she knows will grow old and die while the R’il’nian is still young? This is in the background of all of my plots.

Here, however, I am addressing a different problem.

Most of the cells in our bodies are constantly turning over. I can imagine a creature that looks and acts human with a near-infinite life span, except for one thing. Teeth.

Tooth enamel wears, and unlike skin, it is not constantly replaced from within. Modern dentistry can do a lot to repair wear, but I’m having to have enamel repairs already. Young mammals are born with two sets of tooth buds, one that grows into teeth suited for the small jaw of a juvenile; the second set adult sized, and that’s it. People who lived thousands of years would wear out their teeth. How to handle the problem?

The R’il’nai would have to have an essentially infinite number of replacement teeth. When a tooth was worn out, it would be shed much as a child sheds its milk teeth, and replaced by a new tooth. How? They must have some tooth stem cells in their jaws, just as we have blood stem cells in our bone marrow. Assuming that a tooth would last for 50 or 60 years, this would mean that the R’il’nai and non-aging R’il’noids are teething roughly every two or three years. I don’t think I’ve actually mentioned that, but if a R’il’noid seems to be in a particularly bad humor, he or she may be teething.

Quite a few comments last Sunday expressed confusion over Zhaim. I thought I’d explain something and give a snippet from Tourist Trap, my now-published book and winner of the Garcia Award for best fiction book of the year.

The R’il’nai and some of the R’il’noids in my fiction are able to strip memories from their minds into computer storage. All but Roi have done this in fairness to the “new” Zhaim, so Roi alone has the memory of Zhaim before Marna imposed an artificial conscience on him. He also seems to be the only one who has retained the memory that Marna said the treatment should be repeated every quarter century. The snippet below was well over 200 years before Rescue Operation in story time, when Roi was only 18.

The woods lightened ahead of them, and the mist lifted as they entered a clearing. Roi glanced around quickly, looking for something they could use as shelter. Nothing but grass and sodden wildflowers. He checked the compass and headed straight across, hoping the Mastodon River wasn’t too far away.

He heard a thunderclap behind him when he was halfway across the clearing and spun to face it, fearful he knew what it was. Zhaim stood before him, a triumphant leer on his handsome face and a beamer swinging toward the party.

If you want to see other bits from both Tourist Trap and Rescue Operation, click Index above and then Six Sentence Sunday.

There are lots of other great authors on Six Sentence Sunday. Click on the logo to find them. They’d all love your comments.

This is the end of the first chapter of my current WIP (at the editing stage) Rescue Operation, continuing on from last week. It’s the first book of a trilogy, starting a couple of hundred years after the end of Tourist Trap.

He [Roi] leaned back, closing his eyes, and the pair took the hint and left. Dad, Roi thought miserably, Marna, why did you have to die and leave me with this? It’s more than I can handle. I’m doing my best, but I don’t think my best is good enough. And Zhaim’s not helping. At worst, if he’s escaped the bonds you put on him–Roi didn’t even want to think about that.

Be sure to visit the other Six Sentence Sunday authors.

Another snippet, continued from last week, from the end of the first chapter of Rescue Operation.

“It won’t happen again,” Roi said, “but I couldn’t do anything for Horizon.” He lifted his head, blinking wet eyes at Mark. The next time he had to reinforce Marna’s bindings, he swore to himself, he would insist that the part of the Inner Council he trusted back him up.

“Maybe,” he continued softly, as much to himself as to Mark, “I can get enough change in the situation to force reconsideration. But I don’t think I can do it by a Council vote. Meanwhile, I’ll have to do what I can with the other situations.”

Be sure to visit the other Six Sentence Sunday authors.

Kathy Collier-Miehl tagged me for the Fourth Writer’s Campaign Lucky 7 meme. The Rules are:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines – sentences or paragraphs – and post them as they’re written. No cheating
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let them know

I’m not going to do numbers 4 and 5, because I understand how exponentials work and I’m not sure there’s anyone left who hasn’t been tagged. If you haven’t been and want to do this, consider yourself tagged. And I have a little problem with 1, because my files are by chapters, with no consecutive multi-chapter page numbering. So I went to line 7 of page 7 of chapter 7 instead. (Which leads me to wonder what one does if one’s WIP is less than 77 pages long.)

I interpreted the start as the paragraph in which the 7th line fell, and then copied that and the following 6 paragraphs. The WIP in question is science fiction, with a working title of Rescue Operation.

Well, the horses hadn’t been that dirty to start with.  Each had free access to a generous grassy paddock, and a daily session with the autogroomer.  Their stalls and paddocks were likewise kept clean by robot extensions of the Big’Un.  The dirt Rabbit had managed to accumulate, however, was mostly now on Crys, who was continuing to brush as high as she could reach on the mare’s hindquarters.

“Is she clean enough?” the child asked, turning as she heard Dusk’s hoofbeats.  “I couldn’t quite reach the middle of her back.”

“Clean enough to ride,” Roi chuckled, and gave Dusk a firm mental order to stand still.  “Here, hold Dusk for me a minute, will you, while I get a saddle on Rabbit?  Dusk needs to be cooler before I put him up, and you might as well ride along while I’m getting him walked dry.”

The sheer bliss on Crys’s dirt-smudged face told him that he was finally getting to understand her.  I think, he thought at Emeraude, that you’ve just lost your horse.

___________

“You really don’t mind?” Roi asked that evening, watching Emeraude brush her hair before bed.

“Of course not.  I like being with you, and you like company when you ride.  I’m not all that fond of horses and riding, but I know you are.  If Crystal is, wonderful.  With a little practice, and you contacting Rabbit’s mind, she’ll probably keep up with you better than I do.  You need children, Roi.  She’s already done a lot to relax you.  I don’t know why the Genetics Board doesn’t want you to foster R’il’noids that need parenting any more.”

“They figure I’m too busy trying to run the Confederation.  Young R’il’noids take a lot of attention.”  Roi lay back on Emeraude’s bed, letting his eyes roam over the rather spare room.  Like his other two wives, Audi had her own building, opening off the series of jump-gated rooms loosely called the corridor system.  As a general rule she preferred Roi’s oversized bedroom to her own, and she’d put most of her energies here into facilities for her sociological research.  The bedroom was adequate for sleeping and had a bed large enough for two, but that was about all.

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