Introduction to Parastellis

The problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.
— E.O. Wilson
  The future is a strange, yet familiar place. Humanity has achieved its dream of space colonization, going interstellar with wormhole stargates. Over a century after a terrible dark age ended, civilization enjoys an age of peace united in the Stellar Compact. Can it last, or we will revert to the old ways of war and strife?

Themes

Technology

To what degree are ancestral human behaviors compatible with high technology? Will our base drives towards anger and war inevitably lead to civilization-ending destruction when given access to technologies such as nuclear weapons?
  Might someone try to design a "better" intelligent species without this problem?
  What are the effects of technology on society—does technological advancement cause or require moral advancement?
  Notable technologies in the Parastellis universe include wormholes, torch drives, terraforming, and space habitats.  

History

Can we actively shape the course of history to greater or lesser extent? Or are we just along for the ride, pulled by the inevitable forces of aggregate individual action for better or worse?   Historical events include the Wormhole Rush, Age of Strife, and the modern era of peace, the Pax Stellarum.
  The cosmos also holds tantalizing remains of paleocivilizations who went before us—after all, why should we be so arrogant as to think we're the first? Among them number the ancient Jeffersonians and the enigmatic Geometricians, whose floating ruins litter several worlds.
 

Non-Human Intelligence

Just how unique are human perspectives and behaviors? An alien, uplifted animal, or genetically-engineered posthuman will have different ways of viewing and thinking about the world. What happens when fundamentally different mindsets meet?   Intelligent species include aliens such as the group-sapient tanrin, radially-symmetric Enclavers, and color-changing Nikrit, plus posthumans like the winged avens and space-adapted caelans, and uplifted animals such as torens.

Tone

The universe of Parastellis is not a grimdark dystopia, but neither is it a utopia—such a thing is impossible. Instead, it is a time hopefully better than our own, where humanity has finally gotten its act together—at least for now. I am striving for an air of scientific verisimilitude, even where I depart from known physics, since I think that feeling of internal consistency and believability heightens the sense of wonder I love so much from other science fiction media.
  A great many science fiction stories and projects are focused on military affairs, particularly war. While that stuff is there in the background, I prefer to center my work around other concepts such as exploration, first contact, and political science. There's plenty of drama to be had even when people aren't fighting!

Goals

My main creative goals with this project, beyond worldbuilding itself, are in writing stories and, recently, making artwork. I'm currently posting a web serial in forty-odd parts, entitled Shadows of the Keepers, and other stories are in the works! I've also taken part in community challenges such as Summer Camp and WorldEmber.

Project Information

 
Author
M.J. Tremblay
Genres
Science Fiction, Space Opera

Narratives


When Eric, alongside his classics professor and fellow students, joins a mission to a recontacted colony world with pre-medieval technology, he learns dodging dinosaurs and gryphon-riding hunters while trying to stop an evil warlord is more trouble than he expected. Crossing paths with a wandering knight, a crew of sky pirates, and two winged posthumans, can his expedition end the tyranny of Caesar Dulane and uncover the mystery behind the planet's enigmatic founders?  
Shadows of the Keepers
Prose | Jun 25, 2021

An interstellar expedition must stop a warlord on a recontacted planet

 
  Researchers on a planet whose civilization destroyed itself in nuclear war unearth a deadly piece of history.  
Relics of War
Prose | Aug 31, 2021

Xenologists investigate a post-apocalyptic alien planet

 
A short story

Overview

Ready to start diving into the lore? Keep reading, or go to the homepage and have a look around! Articles are constantly being added and revised as I bounce around between this project's various aspects and stories.  

History

Parastellis's history begins in our near future, when decades of spendthrift resource use and environmental neglect force an end to the capitalist age of economic growth. What results, after long periods of strife and struggle, is a more sustainable but also more impoverished, and permanently-damaged, Earth. Then a miracle happens—humans discover a means of creating stable wormholes, and the gates to the stars are thrown open. What ensues is no less than a space race to find and settle new worlds. A handful of bright people, realizing that the final reckoning between human greed and the limits of a finite planet is yet to come, undertake a project to ensure the colonies' self-sufficiency were contact with Earth lost.
 
This comes to pass in the End of Earth, and the colonies are isolated. What follows is a grand renewal of the planet, now dubbed Terra, alongside the rise of sapient artificial intelligences and bio-engineered posthumans. The old wormhole network is rebuilt and starts taking on the form of what will become the modern Starweb, connecting hundreds of solar systems. This is the Second Interstellar Period, a time of great-power conflict and warfare as humanity, its descendants, and the alien species it encountered squabbled amongst themselves on the interstellar stage. Many battles were fought, wars won and lost, but this was not a noble age.
  War crimes were endemic, many smaller nations were bullied by major powers, and entire planets routinely coerced into surrendering with threats of mass orbital bombardment.
  Perhaps inevitably, this period came to an end when something—it is hard to tell what, maybe it was a minor brushfire war in just the wrong place and time—touched off a general apocalypse. Entire worlds were slagged to ruins, and civilization tumbled into an interstellar dark age. Even today, some planets remain lost from these sad events.   The current era is the "Pax Stellarum", an age of peace which began with the formation of the Stellar Compact as the Starweb got back on its feet. Absolute state sovereignty, of the type seen on old Terra and during the Second Interstellar Period, was judged existentially dangerous since it prompted arms races and wars which, when conducted with anything approaching advanced interstellar technology, could easily destroy civilization yet again. Therefore, a supranational union was empowered to regulate international affairs with binding force. This has many components: legislative assemblies, courts, the Star Patrol peacekeeping force, a Truth and Reconciliation Directorate to atone for crimes of the past, and an Exploration Service venturing into the unknown.   But not all are satisfied. Some consider the Stellar Compact just another tool for the rich to exploit the poor, while others think freedom is simply too important to submit it to some far-distant international authority. If they get their way, it seems the Starweb will revert back to the bad old days of brutal warfare and planetwide destruction. Or is that too pessimistic?  

People

The Starweb, to say nothing of the cosmos beyond, is home to a wide array of intelligent species. Humans have spawned a variety of posthuman offshoots and uplifted animals thanks to genetic engineering, all the while encountering truely alien species with sometimes-radical differences.
An aven, a species of lightweight winged
posthumans created by the artilect Helia.
 
  • Humans: Originating from Terra (once dubbed "Earth"), a species of bipedal primate notable for being excellent endurance runners. At their best, humans are innovative, compassionate, and tenacious, while at their worst they are greedy, warlike, and bone-headedly self-destructive. Humans value democracy, but their societies tend towards oligarchy, patriarchy, and (especially since the invention of rejuvenation technology) gerontocracy.
 
  • Enclavers:A species of six-limbed, radially-symmetric aliens, the Clavers had a hundred thousand years of interstellar history before humans launched their first wormhole. Perhaps fortunately for us, their most recent civilization-cycle broke down thousands of years ago. This left behind a vast region of space littered with incredibly-advanced paleotech goodies...and the occasional monstrous living spacecraft.
 
  • Avens: Engineered by the artilect Helia as the first of her so-called "Children", the avens are thin, light winged humanoids whose psychology was designed to fix what Helia saw as "flaws" in baseline humanity. They are egalitarian, cooperative, and disposed towards long-term thinking, but tend to be paranoid and kept largely to themselves before the Stellar Compact's foundation.
 
  • Torens: Uplifted raccoons, unleashed on an unwitting world as a by-product of Ancient American military efforts to create animal supersoldiers, torens are master tinkerers who excel at salvaging things other people left behind, including entire planets.
 
  • Spartans: Posthuman soldiers created to fight in the Second Interstellar Period's many conflicts, Spartans are autocratic, extremely hierarchical, competitive, and tend towards zero-sum thinking. For a Spartan, to care for anyone outside the immediate clan or in-group is a weakness, and they are quick to defend their honor with violence. During the Interstellar Dark Ages they ruled many worlds as tyrants; the Stellar Compact defeated them, tried their leaders for crimes, and disarmed the rest. They, for one, would love to get it out of the way and return to practicing their favored art of war.
  Read more about intelligent species!  

Technology

Parstellis's technology tries to stick to what seems at least vaguely plausible, with deliberate departures in the area of metric engineering (including wormholes for effective-FTL travel) and paraforces (a "handwave" to justify some beloved tropes like kinetic shields and levitator vehicles).  
  • Wormholes: The primary means of interstellar travel, wormholes are portals in spacetime which connect two locations across arbitrary distances. Because wormholes can be transported at near the speed of light, where time-dilation effects become significant, a stargate network using them can expand at apparent faster-than-light speeds for those within it. Wormholes must be mass-balanced as traffic crosses them, and are located in interplanetary space as a safety measure in case of collapse.
 
  • Space Travel: Space voyages are done aboard ships, which range from little orbital shuttles and asteroidial rockhoppers to great luxury liners and drone-carriers. Beam propulsion can push ships across solar systems, or they can use onboard fusion torch drives or solar-wind sails. Gravity can be simulated in a ship's cabins through acceleration (from engine thrust), rotation (spin rings/modules), or complex paraforce systems acting on matter inside compartments. With a good torch drive or beamline boost, crossing between stargates or planets in an average-sized solar system takes a few days to weeks.
 
  • Biotechnology: Biotech fields, such as genetic engineering, enabled the creation of posthuman and uplift species, and has given a form of indefinite lifespan extension through rejuvenation technology.
 
  • Paraforces: Learned from studying Enclaver science, fermionic paraforces enable the manipulation of matter at a distance. This can create kinetic shielding (by exerting a force against incoming projectiles), repulsors and tractors (via pushing or pulling on objects), and deflectors for neutron radiation.
  Read more about science and technology!  


Comments

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Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
17 Mar, 2021 17:39

Beautiful introduction. Love the formatting! You touch all the bases quite well and even to me, someone who's been around the world, it offers some insight and fosters a desire to learn more. Well done.

Sage AntimatterNuke
M.J. Tremblay
17 Mar, 2021 21:16

Thanks for the feedback, that's exactly the impression I was hoping to make!

Parastellis, sci-fi with aliens, posthumans, and uplifted raccoons!
Current serial: Shadows of the Keepers
Mareoquine
Mareoquine
21 Apr, 2021 19:43

I think this is incredible! It has a thought-provoking, wondering opening, and then you get right into it while showing that it's still a meta article. Also, nice formatting!   And I can't believe how possible some of the things are in this world, like the earth being more sustainable but dying, practically. Ruined. Poor Earth.   The jargon here blows my mind...in a good way. Seems like everything is well-thought-out and I like that! Awesome job!

Sage AntimatterNuke
M.J. Tremblay
22 Apr, 2021 22:20

Thanks for the kind feedback, that's just what I'm going for with a vast, thought-out universe. And yeah, Earth gets it pretty rough.

Parastellis, sci-fi with aliens, posthumans, and uplifted raccoons!
Current serial: Shadows of the Keepers
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