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Extracts From The Hammers Slammers Handbook

By John Lambshead

 

The Human Galaxy

We are done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,  

We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung; 

- Kipling  

 

The theoretical scientific principles behind faster-than-light travel were discovered in the late second millennium but practical experiments demonstrating their utility were nor undertaken until the early third millennium. Star probes were successfully launched by the middle of the millennium and increasingly they actually made it home with live crews who reported the discovery of many Earth-like planets. This period was sometimes known as the Second Age of Exploration after the mid-second millennium on Old Earth. The Second Age of Exploration was followed by the Second Age of Colonisation, as interstellar travel became cheaper and more reliable.

A new land grab developed amongst the stars. Initially, the richer terrestrial states and corporations planted most of the colonies, usually for economic purposes, commonly to exploit some key mineral or biochemical resource. These were mostly well financed but rigidly controlled by the parent body. Poorer nations bankrupted themselves to colonise for reasons of political prestige, the same motivation that led dictators of second millennium starving nations to build battleships, international airports and six lane motorways through the bush. Included in this second, poverty-stricken wave were political and religious fanatics who left Earth to build paradise among the stars. Second wave colonisation was under-capitalised and the failure rate was enormous. The result was invariably impoverished, class-ridden rural societies clinging by their fingertips to existence. Finally, there was a third colonisation wave funded by the richer, more successful colonies themselves. These enterprises were often multicultural adding ethnicity to the potential for conflict.

It's a commonplace observation that history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Many a postgraduate thesis has been hung on the assertion that galactic and terrestrial colonisation do or do not resemble each other. If one considers the ancient Spanish and English Empires it is clear that there were two quite separate types of colonies. The first was where a rich but militarily and organisationally weaker civilised state was conquered and looted, as in Mexico or India. No convenient alien race has yet been discovered to fill this role.

The second form of colonisation was the occupation and expansion into an empty land as largely happened with the English expansion into North America and the Spanish into South and Central America. Such colonies have always been a financially losing proposition. They absorb massive resources from the host nation and promptly rebel as soon as they become economically profitable. A sole imperial power might with great effort have hung on to its colonies but in human space there were always rivals for power and so the scene was set for conflict.

And the galaxy burned.
 

Extract from The First Galactic Empire, Theodore Bose.

 

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