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Authors: Jerry Pournelle

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Imperial Stars 1-The Stars at War

BOOK: Imperial Stars 1-The Stars at War
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Vol. One
The Stars at War

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 1986 by Jerry Pournelle
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Baen Books Original
Baen Publishing Enterprises
260 Fifth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10001
First printing, December 1986
ISBN: 0-671-65603-1
Cover art by Doug Beekman
Printed in the United States of America
Distributed by SIMON & SCHUSTER
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, N.Y. 10020


For Stefan T. Possony: as good a friend
as liberty and civilization have ever had.


EMPIRE by J.E. Pournelle was written especially for this work and appears here for the first time. Published by arrangement with the author and the author's agent, Kirby McCauky Ltd. Copyright © 1986 by J.E. Pournelle.

IN CLOUDS OF GLORY was first published in the July 1955 issue of
Astounding Science Fiction
and appears here by special arrangement with the author. Copyright © 1955 by Street & Smith Publications and copyright © 1986 by Algis Budrys.

THE STAR PLUNDERER by Poul Anderson appears here by special arrangement with the author. Copyright © 1954 by Love Romances Publishing Company and copyright © 1986 by Poul Anderson.

TRIBESMAN, BARBARIAN, and CITIZEN by John W. Campbell first appeared in the May 1961 issue of
Analog Science Fiction
. Copyright © 1961 by Street & Smith Publications. THE BARBARIANS WITHIN was first printed in the January 1965 issue of
under the title "Race Riots." Copyright © 1965 by Conde Nast Publications.

HYMN OF THE BREAKING STRAIN by Rudyard Kipling is in the ublic Domain.

THE MIRACLE OF GOVERNMENT by James Burnham was first published in
From Congress and American Traditions
. Copyright © 1957 by James Burnham.

TO A DIFFERENT DRUM by Reginald Bretnor appears here for the first time by arrangement with the author. Copyright © 1986 by Reginald Bretnor.

THE WHIRLIGIG OF TIME by Vernor Vinge first appeared in
Stellar I
edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey in 1974. It appears here by permission of the author. Copyright © 1974 by Random House.

NIGHTMARE WITH ANGELS by Stephen Vincent Benet is in the Public Domain.

THE ARISTOCRAT by Chan Davis was first published in the October 1949 issue of
Astounding Science Fiction
. Copyright © 1949 by Street & Smith Publications.

THE SONS OF MARTHA by Rudyard Kipling is in the Public Domain.

MAIL SUPREMACY by Hayford Peirce was published originally in the March 1975 issue of
Analog Science Fiction
magazine. Copyright © 1975 by Conde Nast Publications.

HERBIG-HARO by Harry Turtledove first appeared in the October 1984 issue of
Analog Science Fiction
. It appears here by arrangement with the author. Copyright © 1984 by Davis Publications.

FIGHTING PHILOSOPHER by E.B. Cole was originally published in the April 1954 issue of
Astounding Science Fiction
. Copyright © 1954 by Street & Smith Publications.

THE VOODOO SCIENCES and PART TWO: THE VOODOO SCIENCES by Jerry Pournelle first appeared in the August and mid-September issues of
Analog Science Fiction
magazine in 1982. They have been substantially altered for their first appearance in this work and appear by permission of the author and author's agent, Kirby McCauley Ltd. Copyright © 1982 and 1986 by J.E. Pournelle.

PAX GALACTICA by Ralph Williams was first published in the November 1952 issue of
Astounding Science Fiction
. Copyright © 1952 by Street & Smith Publications.

THE PROPER STUDY OF MANKIND by Jerry Pournelle first appeared in the Spring 1980 issue of
edited by Jim Baen. It appears here by arrangement with the author and his agent, Kirby McCauley Ltd. Copyright © 1980 by J.E. Pournelle.

FINGER TROUBLE by Edward P. Hughes is published here for the first time and appears by special arrangement with the author. Copyright © 1986.

YELLOW RAIN and SPACE WARS by Adrian Berry appeared in the
London Daily Telegraph
and in the book
High Skys and Yellow Rain
in 1983. Copyright © 1983 by the London Daily Telegraph.

THAT SHARE OF GLORY was originally published in
Astounding Science Fiction
in 1952. It is published here by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Copyright © 1952 by Street & Smith Publications.

THE STARS AT WAR by Jerry Pournelle is an original essay written for this volume and appears here for the first time. Published with permission from the author and author's agent, Kirby McCauley Ltd. Copyright © 1986 by J.E. Pournelle.

Research for certain non-fiction in this work was supported in part by grants from the Vaughn Foundation and the L-5 Society Promoting Space Development, 1060 E. Elm St. Tucson, AZ 85719. Opinions expressed in this work are solely the responsibility of the author.

Jerry Pournelle

We live in a modern and enlightened age: surely we are done with empire forever? Stories of future empires are no more than fanciful tales, stories for amusement, the worst form of escapist literature.

Perhaps. And yet—

Do understand. I do not despise "escapist" literature. As C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien once observed, it is jailers who are most opposed to escape. Good stories well told are reward enough in themselves. There is "escape" enough in this book.

However, we may also hope to learn something worth knowing. Humanity is a young species. If we are clever, and have a little luck, our line can last for billions more years, and settle the planets of distant stars.

This is no flight of fancy. We could today build ships to take us to the nearest stars. The ships wouldn't be cheap: they'd have to be traveling space colonies, self-contained worlds. They'd need energy sources, meaning we'd have to solve the fusion problem, but that's merely a matter of money and engineering; we don't need any new

The journey would take hundreds of years. The spacefarers who leave Earth would not live to see the new stars close up. For all that, we could do it, and many now reading this could be aboard that first star ship.

We can do that today. What will we do in a hundred years? In a thousand, when we will have spread through the solar system and space colonies are common?


Arthur Clarke said it first: If mankind is to survive, then for all but a very brief part of our history the word "ship" will mean "space ship." We
spread through space. We will build a colony on the Moon: if we had a government of courage and imagination we would have that in time to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Co-lumbus's voyages of discovery. As it is, it will take a bit longer; but we will go back to the Moon. We will settle other moons, and asteroids, and the planets; and we will go to the stars. Where mankind goes, government goes.

It is no idle thing, then, to think about what forms of government we will take to the stars. We in this enlightened age think we know; but do we? We are, after all, no smarter than our ancestors. We know more, but that's quite a different thing—and we have forgotten much that we had best relearn before we pay dearly for what they knew and we don't.

Imperial Stars
examines the future of government: of wars and rumors of wars; of tumults and revolts; and of peace and rule and law and order among diversities of peoples and cultures and wealth. Through history the characteristic government that includes a multitude of races and peoples and cultures has been empire.

Empires take many forms. The Athenians established an empire and held it through their Golden Age of Pericles: through the age of Athenian democracy. Their suppression of Mitylene, and the siege and destruction of the neutral city of Melos, are among the most cynical and ruthless acts of history; for when the people of Melos pleaded that the gods would favor the cause of justice, and all the world knew that Melos was in the right, the Athenians said:

Of the gods we believe, and of men we know that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. . . you know as well as we that right, as this world goes, is only in question between equals in power; for the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer what they must.

It is only in fairy tales that democracies always act from the purest motives, and never have imperial ambitions. Of course the democracy may not survive. The Athenian democracy was snuffed out and her empire dismembered after Sparta's victories; we do not know what would have happened to the democracy if Athens had won. We do know that the Roman Republic gained an empire—and then became one, complete with emperor. Fletcher Pratt begins his justly renowned history of decisive warfare thus: "The Greeks had to go imperial to survive." We like to believe that western civilization has more freedom of choice.

The forms of empire change. The day of empire has not ended.


Empire. The very name holds power, even in this republican land and age, It conjures images of flags and drums, burnished shields and glittering banners; trumpets and courts and ceremonies: of Queen Empress Victoria and her captains and kings; of Claudius the Idiot, who became a god; of Alexander of Macedon, master of the world at thirty-two and dead a year later; of Charlemagne and Roland, Don John of Austria at Lepanto, Canute the Great, Constantine's fiery cross in the sky.

It conjures memories of past glories. Recently I stood at the
at Arnsburg: the outer limits of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent. As I stood in the watchtower and stared out into the German forest I fancied I could hear the distant sound of horns, the measured tramp of the legions, the clatter of hooves of the cavalry patrols. Behind me lay plowed fields and cities; ahead, to this day, is forest and waste. The borders of empire were the boundaries of civilization.

The late Herman Kahn once argued that the natural state of mankind is empire, and the natural size of an empire is the Earth: that empires grow until they encounter something capable of resisting them; and the only institution capable of resisting for generations is another empire. Republics by contrast are short-lived, and either succumb to the pressure of the empire on their borders, or transform themselves into empire in order to remain independent.

There is much essential truth in these observations. For most of history, most of mankind has either lived under imperial rule; or has wanted to; or has been locked in struggle with empire. It is true today. In this, the supposed age of democracy, both China and the Soviet Union have imperial governments. Both are expanding; between them they encompass more than half the populations of the world. Nor are things so stable at home. Many books, written by liberal and conservative alike, note the drift of the United States toward imperial forms. The President of the United States holds, with his red and gold telephones, control of more power than was ever held by any man throughout history.

Blessing or curse, savior or destroyer: the shadow of empire falls across the Earth even in this enlightened age.

But empire may be many things.


"Saith Darius the King of Kings, the Great King: By the favor of Ahuramazda these are the nations I seized beyond the boundaries of Persia; I ruled over them; they bore tribute to me; what was said to them by me, that they did; my laws held them firm. Media, Elam, Parthia, Asia, Bactria, Sogdiona, Chorasmia, Drangiana, Arnchosia, Sattagydia, Gandara, Sind, Armygian Scythians, Scythians with pointed caps, Babylonia, Assyria, Arnbiz, Egypt, Armenia, Cappadocia, Sardis, Ionia, Scythians who are across the sea, Skudia, petasos-wearing lonians, Libyans, Ethiopians, men of Maka, Carians.

"Saith Darius the King of Kings: Much which was ill done, that I made good. Provinces were in turmoil, one man smiting another. By the favor of Ahuramazda this I brought about, that the one does not smite the other at all, each one is in his place. My law, of that they feel fear, so that the stronger does not smite nor destroy the weak."


This was no idle boast. Darius the Great King had brought more than a quarter of humanity under his rule. This was Empire, the greatest that had ever existed, and Darius sat supreme at the top of it. His word was law; his messengers carried it everywhere. So he boasts, and so it was.

More important is
Darius boasts. Contrast his inscription with one found in Elam by Darius's predecessor:

"I Assur-bani-pal, Great King of All Lands, took the carved furniture from these chambers; I took the horses and mules with gold-adorned bits from the stables. I burned with fire the bronze pinnacles of the temple; I carried off to Assyria the god of Elam with all his riches. I carried off the statues of thirty-two kings, together with the mighty stone bulls that guarded the gates. Thus have I entirely laid waste to this land and slain those who dwelt in it. I have laid their tombs open to the sun and have carried off the bones of those who did not venerate Assur and Ishtar, my lords—leaving the ghosts of these dead forever without repose, without offerings of food and water."

BOOK: Imperial Stars 1-The Stars at War
12.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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