George R. R. Martin's 'Thousand Worlds' Universe Wiki
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Humanity originated on planet Earth, or "Old Earth" as it is now referred. They settled and colonised hundreds and possibly thousands of planets throughout the galaxy, growing into a vast and powerful Federal Empire that extended throughout the surrounding Manrealm, into the Jambles (formerly Hrangan Space), and all the way to the Fringe of the galaxy. As they expanded, humanity eventually became engaged in armed conflicts with two rival alien empires - the Fyndii and the Hrangans.

This Double War raged for a millennia, and while humanity made peace with the Fyndii and defeated the Hrangans, it ultimately lead to the destruction of many human worlds and the collapse of the Federal Empire. In the political, economic and social turmoil that followed, most human worlds lost the capacity for starflight and lost contact with each other. Many human colonies plunged into ecological disaster and regressed into cultural dark ages. The few planet that did retain order, such as Avalon, Baldur, Newholme, and Old Earth, intentionally isolated themselves from the rest of the galaxy in order to survive this Interregnum.

During the Double War, the Federal Empire sent biowar ships from their headquarters on Prometheus, spreading disease, insects, and plant and animal pests among the Hrangans. However, this spread of chemicals also effected humans colonies as well, producing all kinds of genetic mutations among the species. Some humans evolved or mutated so far that they were no longer interfertile with the rest of humanity; such beings are colloquially referred to as "not-men." The empire also performed genetic alterations on its soldiers in order to enhance their fighting prowess, especially on the colonies of Rommel and Wellington. After the collapse, Prometheus recovered starflight quickly, and retained and developed techniques of cloning and genetic manipulation. Humans who have been genetically altered are referred to as "Altered Men." The Promethean surgeons experiment constantly; thus there are many varieties of Altered Men.

Most star-travelling humans after the Interregnum use a common language called "standard." The term "standard" also refers to the monetary units and language of commerce accepted on the most important human worlds. It also denotes units of time corresponding with those of Old Earth, such as a standard hour, standard day, standard year, etc. Other words for "standard" include Terran, Standard Terran, Earthic, and Common.

All of the stories in the "Thousand Worlds" universe are told from the perspective of human characters. Most of the stories are set after Interregnum, with many of the disparate human cultures having regained interstellar flight and re-established contact with one another.

Notable Humans

Erika Stormjones

A religious leader and icon who advocated cloning as a means of achieving immortality. She is regarded as a great martyr of human history, alongside Jesus Christ and Socrates. Her followers are called Erikaners, and settled the planets Erikan and Stormjones in her honour, as well as establishing sects on S’uthlam, Arion and other planets.

Deirdre d'Allerane

A legendary figure from the Federal era. She is described as being bright, but having a “grim, ghostly twin.” Her children were tragically slain. There is a planet in the Jambles named after her.

Rajeen Tober

The commander of the 17th Human Fleet during the Double War. The fleet was based on Avalon, until it rebelled against the authority of the Federal Empire. Under Tober, it fled to the Tempter’s Veil at the Galactic Fringe, far from the reach of Old Earth and Old Hranga. They settled a planet there called Tober-in-the-Veil. The planet developed into the most technologically advanced of the outworld cultures and maintains a strong military arm.

Stephen Cobalt Northstar

The commander of the 13th Human Fleet during the Double War. He is remembered as one of the greatest tacticians of human military history, alongside Napoleon and Chin Wu. Under Cobalt, the Fleet conquered the Hrangan world of Hrakkean. Towards the end of the Double War, the Federal Empire attempted to remove Northstar from command (perhaps intimidated by his power); the 13th Human Fleet responded by rebelling against the Empire and destroying the planet of Wellington. This rebellion is cited as one of the main factors in the collapse of the Federal Empire and the beginning of the Interregnum.

Celia Mar-cyan

An Interregnum-era space pilot who explored distant and uncharted regions of space in a ship called the “Shadow Chaser.” There is a group of planets in the Jambles called the Cylian Cluster, including Celia’s World, named after her. She also discovered the rogue planet Worlorn in the Fringe.

Joachim Charle Kleronomas

A brilliant scholar who surveyed the galaxy after the collapse of the Federal Empire and established the Academy of Human Knowledge on Avalon. Purportedly, Kleronomas’ mother was a high-ranking officer of the 13th Human Fleet and his father was a minor scholar at a library on New Alexandria (in the Manrealm). Kleronomas joined the military at an early age, towards the end of the Double War. He served initially as systems tech on a screamer-class raider with the 17th Human Fleet, before being promoted to cadet and given command training. Kleronomas distinguished himself in battle, and became third-in-command of the dropship Hannibal. Unfortunately, during raids on Hruun-Fourteen, the Hannibal took heavy damage from Hrangan defenders. Afterwards, retreating soldiers discovered the dropship had crashed on the planet’s surface; Kleronomas was found inside, horribly maimed and close to death. He was taken back to Avalon, but due to low resources, he did not receive medical treatment and was simply placed into cryostorage. Several years later, after the rebellion of the 17th Human Fleet, Avalon was left vulnerable to Hrangan attack. The planet's government ordered the restoration of the ancient 5th Human Fleet, and began reviving combat veterans, including Kleronomas, in order to crew the ships. His body was repaired using machine parts and he returned to life as a cyborg.

Kleronomas was described as a big man, with blue-black skin, a heavy outthrust jaw, grey eyes, and long pure white hair. After the operation, the jaw and the bottom half of his face were gone entirely, replaced with seamless metal. He had no nose or mouth, and took nourishment intravenously. One eye was lost, replaced by a crystal sensor with IR/UV range. His right arm and the entire right half of his chest was cybered steel plate, duralloy mesh and plastic. The Avalonian scientists replaced a third of his organs with synthetics, and installed a jack and small computer. Kleronomas chose not to mask his cybernetic appearance with cosmetics, preferring to look exactly as he did.

As there were few officers among the revived, Kleronomas was given his own command, a small courier-class ship. He served for a decade, while also pursuing scholarly interests in history and anthropology in his spare time. He rose higher and higher in the ranks while Avalon rebuilt its space armada. With the Federal Empire disintegrated, Avalon remained in isolation. Eventually, a bolder civil leadership decided to deploy ships to see how the rest of human civilisation was faring. Six of the 5th Fleet dreadnoughts were refitted as science survey crafts and deployed into the galaxy. Kleronomas was given command of one of them. Three of the ships returned within two years carrying minimal information on a handful of the closest systems. This prompted the Avalonians to re-initiate starflight on a very limited local basis. Kleronomas was on one of the three ships that did not return.

However, he was not lost. When the small, limited goals of the original survey were completed, he decided to continue exploring rather than return to Avalon. He became obsessed with learning what was out there, and took his ship further and further into the unknown. This decision forced him to deal with a multitude of mutinies, desertions and dangers. As a cyborg, he was immensely long-lived and was able to travel far. According to legend, he became ever more metallic as the voyage went on, and on the planet Eris he discovered the matrix crystal and expanded his intellectual abilities through the addition of the first crystal-matrix computer. These alterations gave Kleronomas the capacity to both acquire and retain large quantities of knowledge.

When Kleronomas finally returned to Avalon, more than a hundred standard years had passed. Of the men and women who had left Avalon with him, Kleronomas was the only one left alive; his ship was manned by the descendants of its original crew, plus those recruits he had gathered on the worlds he visited. But he had surveyed four hundred and forty-nine planets, along with thousands of asteroids, comets and satellites. The information he brought back became the foundation upon which the Academy of Human Knowledge was built, and the crystal samples, incorporated into existing systems, became the medium in which that knowledge was stored. The resumption of large-scale starflight soon thereafter heralded the end of the Interregnum. Kleronomas himself served as the first academy administrator until his death.

Tomas Chung

A brilliant Avalonian linguist who served under Joachim Kleronomas during his famous survey of the galaxy. Chung analysed the language patterns of the various human and alien societies they encountered. His research allows humans to communicate with alien species, such as the Jaenshi on Corlos. Chung died during the survey in unknown circumstances.

Lamiya-Bailis

A famous post-Interregnum era composer who lived on Darkdawn. She is remembered as the greatest of the “Darkling Dreamers,” and her music is described as eerie, wild and deeply sad. During the Festival of the Fringe on Worlorn, the Darklings built a city that produced the music of Lamiya-Bailis as winds passes through its towers. According to legend, her symphonies were so powerful that they pushed the entire culture of Darkdawn into madness and despair, and as punishment, her brain was kept alive and placed deep under the mountains of Worlorn, where it is forced to listen to the music forever.

Tomo and Walberg

A pair of space pilots who, around ai-300, began a voyage from the Fringe to the opposite edge of the galaxy. Tomo was born on Darkdawn in the Fringe, and is remembered as “melancholy” and a “Darkling Dreamer.” Walberg was an Altered Man from Prometheus, and described as a “roistering adventurer.” The pair rode in a ship called the “Dreaming Whore” and according to legend, visited many worlds and had many adventures. Their ultimate fates remain unknown.

Lilith

There is a planet in Fyndii Space named after her, which she may have discovered or settled. Her name may be a reference to the female demon of Jewish mythology, who is supposedly sexually wanton and steals babies in the darkness.

Notable Human Cultures

Kavalar

A warlike culture which inhabits the Fringe planet of High Kavalaan. The Kavalar were originally refugees and miners from Tara, who fled to the Fringe to escape Hrangan attacks during the Double War. They resettled on the planet that would become High Kavalaan. Hrangan raids destroyed most of their original colony, but the survivors evolved the modem Kavalar holdfast civilisation. Kavalar society is regimented and individualistic at the same time; the culture places strong emphasis on both loyalty and personal honour. Close to barbaric when rediscovered by traders, the Kavalars are now industrialising rapidly, educating their young, and acquiring their own fleet of starships. An important export for the Kavalar is the glowstone, a stone native to High Kavalaan which is capable of storing light and emitting it in darkness. Glowstones are used for both building and jewelry. High Kavalaan claims legal jurisdiction over the rogue planet Worlorn, and was one of the driving forces in the Festival of the Fringe.

The basic social unit of High Kavalaan is a holdfast. It consists of an underground chamber or series of chambers, easily defensible from attack, that provides shelter for anywhere from six to one hundred people. In ancient times each holdfast was an independent entity, a combination of family and nation. Soon, however, holdfasts began to make alliances and merge with other holdfasts, and even connect up underground; these were called holdfast-coalitions. In modern times the term holdfast is often used loosely to signify what might more properly be called a holdfast-coalition. "Keth or "kethi" is the Kavalar term for the males of any holdfast or holdfast coalition; it literally means holdfast-brother(s). Historically important holdfast-coalitions include Glowstone Mountain, Taal, Bronzefist, and Deep Coal Dwelling. Glowstone Mountain is considered one of the greatest holdfast-coalitions in Kavalar history. It was finally defeated and destroyed by its enemies, and now lies abandoned. Taal and Bronzefist are both extinct. Deep Coal Dwellings is a mythological holdfast-coalition of High Kavalaan, said to exist in ancient times. The folk of the Deep Coal Dwellings were cannibals who preyed on the other holdfasts until destroyed in war. They were alleged to be half human, half demon. During the events of Dying of the Light, High Kavalaan contains four holdfast-coalitions. These include the more traditional Braith; the more progressive Ironjade Gathering and Redsteel; and Shanagate Holding.

In Kavalar society, males form polygamous unions with men and women. However, this union is not equitable; the closest possible relationship is considered to be between two males. A man bonded to another man, usually for life, is called a "teyn." The term literally means mybond, close-bond or holdclose. "Betheyn" refers to a woman bonded to a man and under his protection; literally heldwife. "Cro-betheyn" is the term for a betheyn's bond to her highbond's teyn; literally, shared heldwife. "Eyn-kethi" are the breeding women of a holdfast, who are sexually available to all men; literally, bonded-to-the-holdfast-brothers.

In the past, Kavalar would hunt individuals or groups whom they identified as "mockmen," meaning not-men. Traditional folklore identified mockmen as shapeshifters who would disguise themselves as humans to infiltrate holdfasts. However, the term was often misapplied to primitive or foreign humans, rather than actual not-men. The term "korariel", meaning protected property, was used by individual Kavalar or holdfasts to designate mockmen as private game. Poachers of korariel were subject to challenge and duel. Later, the term was used by the more progressive holdfasts to protect primitives and foreigners from extermination at the hands of traditional Kavalar hunters. Properly, the term cannot be applied to a real human, only to a not-man or animal.

Steel Angels

A popular nickname for members of a powerful and widespread military-religious movement that developed among Federal Empire soldiers during the Double War, and has persisted and grown since. The Steel Angels believe that only humans ("the seed of Earth") have souls, that race survival is the ultimate imperative, that strength is the only true virtue. Today, from their capital on Bastion, the Angels rule a dozen planets and have colonies, missions, and footholds on hundreds more. The members of the cult call themselves the Children of Bakkalon. Exact origins of the movement are in dispute. The Angels have had two major schisms and have conducted numerous wars, chiefly against non-human sentients.

Corpse-Handlers

A profession which involves the transmitting of one's will into dead bodies in order to use them for manual labour, usually dangerous or intensive tasks. The process is facilitated by the transplantation of a pseudomind into the corpse, and the use of psionic circuitry by the handler. The corpses themselves are often criminals who have received the death penalty. The practice is outlawed on older, richer human worlds, such as Old Earth, Newholme, Silversky and Zephyr, where capital punishment and corpse-handing are considered barbaric. However, it is permitted on poorer, more remote human worlds, such as New Pittsburg, Skrakky and Vendalia. Corpse-handlers are employed by companies to undertake mining, logging and factory work. Corpse are sometimes also handled for entertainment purposes, such as gladiator fights and prostitution.

One True Interstellar Catholic Church of Earth and the Thousand Worlds

The largest of over seven hundred Christian sects in the galaxy. It originated on Old Earth and is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, whom followers believe was the "Son of God." The church's main headquarters is located on the planet New Rome and it is lead by the Pope. Throughout the galaxy, Christianity is the single most practised human religion, although non-Christians outnumber Christians five-to-one. One of the church's chief concerns is punishing or silencing those who dispute its doctrine or challenge its authority.

Liars

A widespread, secret religion, whose followers believe that there is no God, no afterlife and no inherent meaning to existence. However, they also believe that life should be treasured and happiness is a good that should be pursued. Because the depressing truth of existence is counterproductive to achieving this goal, Liars endeavour to cultivate beautiful fabrications instead; among these fabrications are faiths, political movements, and high ideals, which are designed to improve upon history and mythology in order to increase the beauty of the world.

Erikaners

A religion that advocates cloning as a pathway to immortality. It was founded by Erika Stormjones, whose followers settled the planets Erikan and Stormjones as religious colonies. There are also sects on S’uthlam, Arion and other planets.

Children of the Dreamer

A religion started by a man called the "Son of the Dreamer" who lived on Deirdre in the middle Federal period. He preached a creed of physical pacifism and psychological aggression, and told his followers to resist their enemies with wit instead of force. Today his teachings are influential on Kimdiss, Kayan, Tamber, and several other worlds.

Church of Life Evolving

A religious sect based on S’uthlam that is followed by 80% of the planets inhabitants. The church preaches that the purpose of life is to breed, and that humans must enrich and correct their genepool in order to produce higher states of sentience and genius. They believe they can and must achieve the level of godhood in time to avert the heat-death of the universe. Followers are against any form of birth control, considering it a hinderance to the next step in human evolution. The elders of the church settled S’uthlam after escaping religious persecution on Tara.

Holy Altruists

A religion which teaches that salvation can only be obtained by living a simple life close to nature, and through suffering and self-sacrifice. The Altruists left their original planet after being offended by its advanced technology. They then went on to settle the planet of Charity. This planet was subsequently subject to a second wave of settlers, who established a city, agriculture, advanced robotic technology, and a starport. Most of the Altruists gradually deserted their simple lifestyle to join this new society.

Taoists

A religious and philosophical tradition which emphases living in harmony with the universe. It has sects on Arion and other planets.

Old True Christers

A Christian sect based on S’uthlam, Arion and other planets.

Melders

A religion with communes on S’uthlam and other planets. It may involve followers mind-melding with each other in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.

Aestheticists

A quasi-religion focused on art. It is the most popular religion on the mostly secular planet of Arion, and has sects on other planets.

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