Sunday, 23 February 2014

Humanity's role in a galactic war...

Imagine if, shortly after First Contact with an interstellar traveling alien species, we find out there is a war raging across the galaxy, one that's headed our way. What would be our role? Would we be:

(a) Inconsequential
(b) Collateral damage
(c) Slightly useful to one side or another

At first thought we might well be inconsequential. For there to be a galactic war, then a number of species would have to be far more advanced than us, and have cracked the ability to either fly faster than lightspeed or find a means of travel using wormholes or something we've not yet dreamed of; otherwise, any war could at best be local to a few star systems, as the travel time between stars would be too long. Maybe aliens visiting us might take pity and herd us away to a safe zone, the way we try and protect animals in times of flooding caused by a new dam project. Or they might ignore us, the way we ignore ants when we're fighting a war. Or they might plunder our resources before moving on. In any of these cases we'd be either inconsequential or collateral damage. The best we could hope for is protection from a superior race and maybe a footnote in the annals of galactic history once the war was over. The worst would be the planetary equivalent of an unmarked grave.

But what if one side did find a use for us?

That is the theme of the Eden Paradox series. Years ago I was influenced by David Brin's books where humanity was a 'wolfling race', but we did play a role, even if the politics and technology were beyond us. It is precisely because we would be 'off the grid' in galactic political terms, that we would be an unknown variable. Humanity would be a wild card, unpredictable.

The Eden Paradox series has four books. The Eden paradox is about First Contact, and it goes pretty disastrously. In Eden's Trial, we get to meet more alien races, and begin to understand the 'Grid Society' that has been in place for ten million years and incorporates more than a hundred species far more advanced than little old mankind. We also see the beginnings of the galactic war, the initial invasion from another galaxy. In Eden's Revenge, it gets personal between us and a race intent on our destruction, but all the time the galactic war is getting closer. In the finale, Eden's Endgame, mankind is enlisted by one of the top dog aliens and deployed in the ultimate battle between two super-beings.

Are we a pawn or a knight?
In the last two books of the series we appear to be treated as pawns, but towards the end that changes, and our role is more strategic. Why a knight and not a bishop or a rook? Knights move in an odd way on a chessboard, i.e. two squares in one direction and then one square at right angles to the original direction - a dog-leg. Again, it's the unpredictability that has value to the more advanced species.

Do we get rewarded if we win?
Unfortunately, super beings in this series aren't known for their generosity or appreciation. But maybe something good will come of it...


  1. Ok, so I have had a couple of beers and am still slightly conscious of coming across as a stereotypical sycophantic blog commenter. However!! I just need to let you know that I have never read a science fiction book before the Eden books (much more interested in traditional fantasy). But with this series of books, you have introduced me to the genre and I can't thank you enough. Each book was brilliant.. That is all. Cheers mate.

    1. Many thanks! What more could a SF author want to hear? :-) You made my day :-)


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