It’s been a nasty week at work, including half a day today (Sunday) and next week looks worse. But, I actually made some notes on the setting (yes, you read that right, I wrote setting-notes) of By The Stars. I was thinking about the rationale for and structure of an interstellar government. Combine it with some hazily-remembered history books from my grad school days and:
This needs an interstellar civilization. A sort of combination of Lucas’ Empire, Asimov’s Empire, and Le Guin’s Ekumen. Here’s the thing: History teaches us that dynamic, active, vibrant cultures are those that bridge two civilizations, like the Italian city-states in the 14th century, England in the 19th century, and the U.S. in the 20th. If current trends toward a homogenization of culture continues, there will be only one culture, one way of thinking. This leads to ossification, stagnation, and unpreparedness for unexpected threats.
If the brain trust of the interstellar government saw this monolithic culture as enough of a threat, they would seed isolated colonies across the cosmos to create different cultural viewpoints. Perhaps entire prisons full of Opinion Criminals (or potential Opinion Criminals) were loaded onto colony ships and crashed onto potential planets.
The knights might be from one of these planets. This also allows for a “create your own planet” akin to Everway’s spheres.
Flash forward a few centuries since the seeding. What has happened is small-scale skirmishes, wars, trade disputes, star-crossed lovers and lots of drama. The reactionaries (who never really understood the seeding anyway) have had enough of these upstarts squandering the gifts the central authority has given them, and for piracy and low dealings and the like. They take over the central government, cast out/hunt down the far-thinking, Hari Seldon-esque monks (whose order presided over the Seeding) and organize the Singularity to crush out all diversity, conquer the outer colonies, and bring law and order to the galaxy.
That’s a villian worth stopping.
That’s all for this week. Next week may be late due to President’s Day. See you then!