The future history of “The Fourth Fleet” (available in the anthologies Make Death Proud to Take Us and There Will Be War: Volume X) makes several assumptions about the course of historical development over the next century or so. However, they were intentionally left out of the story. They weren’t immediately relevant, and including them would have bogged the story down.
A big part of the setting of “The Fourth Fleet” is the course of history of the United States between now and the time of the story. The United States of America, at the time of the story (the specific year is intentionally left off in order to give me maximum story flexibility, but assume that it’s roughly 150 years from now) is no longer the nation that we think of today. It’s borders have changed but also – and more importantly – its government has changed. It is no longer a democratically representative republic. Unlike the government of today, which more often than not acts as an empire, the government of my future world is an empire. However, much like the Roman Empire of old, it strives hard to maintain all appearances of still being a constitutionally limited republic.
Some examples: President Covington is currently serving his fifth four year term in office. Before that, he finished out the term of his predecessor. It’s an open secret that he had his predecessor assassinated, but nobody very much minds because the man was a Nero-like lunatic. He was “elected” by the people in sham contests that garnered him vast majorities of the votes. He will never lose an election in the system as it exists in the books.
Simultaneously, the geopolitical landscape around the USA has changed. In the early twenty-first century, the powder keg we call the Middle East exploded (hmm…). After a time of constant warfare, much of the region was finally forcibly united under a single ruling warlord calling himself the Caliph, and the new Caliphate was born. World War between the US, Japan and Europe on the one hand and the Caliphate on the other left Europe mostly a smoldering husk, including a few literally nuked cities. It is no longer a hub of civilization.
China rose – but not as fast as many feared. Despite the calamity facing the rest of the world, China had its own issues – including economic issues that are unfurling now in the real world and massive wars for Asian dominance against India, Russia, and Japan.
Thus in the story you have a sort of triumvirate of global (and extra-global, as it is a space story) powers: the US, China and India. The severely weakened but not destroyed Caliphate tries to play in this power game as well, but is most often lagging behind.
I would’ve liked to have worked more of this directly into the story. But the reality is that it would’ve bogged it down quite a bit. Even here in this form it took 460 words to very briefly summarize. The entire tale of “The Fourth Fleet” is a mere 8,017 words. Expanding the story by literally 6% (probably more after working it into the story cleanly) just to add this backstory would have ended up being cumbersome, and the reader would have bogged down in details that were only loosely relevant.
Instead, the story provides quite a bit of clues to give the reader just enough of a framework to figure out the major balance of power. It then leaves the rest to the reader’s imagination.
There’s another part of the backstory that I don’t particularly mind didn’t make it into the tale, because it really was irrelevant to this particular story. I am also strongly of the opinion that the Protestant Reformation is an aberration (albeit it one triggered with good justification) and that eventually (perhaps much sooner than many would think) the majority of Protestants will find themselves rejoining the fold in the mother Church. The Church will eventually come to regard this as “that weird little heresy that lasted for a short blip there.” The church thinks on different timescales than you and I. To a two thousand year old church, five hundred years just isn’t the same thing as it is to us mortals.
I also believe that the Church will find itself mending the Great Schism and reconciling with the Orthodox churches, although that will likely be more complicated. The Great Schism wasn’t primarily over issues of doctrine; it’s proximate cause was political conflict with Rome. Egos will have to be soothed and face maintained. But I believe that will eventually happen.
Within the context of the world of “The Fourth Fleet,” the churches largely reunite when a future pope calls for a new Crusade to respond to the potentially world-ending threat of a nuclear armed new Caliphate.
Interesting as it may be, all of this is just the speculation of a sci-fi author, right? Maybe.
Then again, maybe not.
I’m deeply honored to announce that my story “The Fourth Fleet” will be reprinted as part of the upcoming anthology There Will Be War: Volume X by Dr. Jerry Pournelle. I have to admit to having been a bit surprised by this.
Some of you may know Dr. Pournelle as one of the science fiction grandmasters. Or you may know him from his days as a science adviser to President Reagan. Or you may not know him at all, but recognize some of the other authors on the list – Dr. Martin van Creveld, Larry Niven, or Poul Anderson.
I’m deeply humbled to find my name listed in such company, and I hope that the readers find that the story justifies its placement. As soon as I have a purchase or pre-order link available, I’ll post it.
Going to go narcissistic for a moment. I’ve hit 30,000 words on my first novel (working title Post Traumatic Stress). Still a long way to go, but that’s a big milestone – and by far the longest thing I’ve ever written.
A young man comes back from Afghanistan on a medical discharge after a helicopter crash only to find that his literal war demons have followed him home to terrorize his friends. He has to deal with them with the help of his not-quite-father-in-law, a young friend, a hapless and overly bureaucratic secret military group that gets in the way more than it helps, and an ancient order of knights chartered by the Vatican.
The work is not strictly part of the Tales of Peter Bishop series, but it does tie in heavily to the series (the “young friend” mentioned in the blurb is, in fact, Peter Bishop). You might even say that this kicks off the series.
I just finished uploading the final files for Make Death Proud to Take Us. It will be available to readers on Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day). And I have to say, I think this is the best product that Silver Empire has put out to date.
There are some really enjoyable stories in this one from myself, my wife Morgon, and my friends K Bethany Sawyer and Jennifer L Weir. Jennifer’s contribution, “Major Hunter” (from her Wayfarer Chronicles series) is her first publication with us. In my own personal opinion, I think each of the other authors has contributed stories that are their personal best so far. I won’t pretend to be unbiased, but that’s also my honest opinion.
My personal favorite of the series is the novella at the end, “Down the Dragon Hole,” by my wife Morgon. It’s got a fun, Pratchett-esque feel to it (although not as silly). But again, I feel that it’s the strongest of a strong collection.
You can preorder your copy from Amazon.com today. If you’re a science fiction or fantasy fan, I highly recommend it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
We’re giving away some great prizes from Silver Empire!
See the giveaway information below to enter:
The latest from my wife, “The Blacksmith and the Ice Elves”, is now available! You can pay Amazon.com $0.99 for it or you can download it straight from Silver Empire for free. Personally, I’d opt for the latter. But if you really want to pay us (and Amazon) we’ll take it!
Make Death Proud to Take Us – the first anthology from Silver Empire is now available for pre-order on Kindle! Featuring stories from Morgon Newquist, Russell Newquist, K Bethany Sawyer and Jennifer L Weir. Order your Kindle copy today!
Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.
When his parents fail, little Johnny must protect his younger sister from the creatures that come in the night. Aided by unexpected allies, a village makes its final stand against the onslaught of winter. Major Hunter must fight for his very survival after his ship is shot down by hostile aliens on a savage world. The Holt family struggles for survival after a pirate attack leaves their craft stranded in orbit two billion miles from home. An unlikely duo bands together to face the mighty dragon that attacked their campus library.
A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories celebrating the courage of men, including the stories:
“Who’s Afraid of the Dark?” – a Tale of Peter Bishop.
“The Blacksmith and the Ice Elves” – a story of Thrúdheim
“Major Hunter” – from The Wayfarer Chronicles
“The Fourth Fleet”
“Down the Dragon Hole”
The Kindle edition of “Ghost of the Frost Giant King” is finished and uploaded, and ready for release on March 15th! To celebrate, we’re giving three fans a chance to get a pre-release copy for FREE!
All you have to do is agree to leave us an HONEST review (we want to know what you really think!) on either Amazon.com or rpg.drivethrustuff.com and we’ll get a copy out to you! Be one of the first three readers to leave a comment on this post and agree to review it and it’s yours!
Or you can pre-order your copy today from Amazon.com!
A father wrestles with his daughter’s fate as she lies in a coma. He can save her body – but can he save her soul?
Pick up your copy today for only $0.99! You won’t want to miss this award winning story from an up-and-coming author!
While you’re at the Amazon store anyway, drop in and pick up Wishing Only Wounds the Heart. It’s currently ranked #5 in “Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 30 minutes (12-21 pages) > Science Fiction & Fantasy,” so you know you don’t want to miss it! And this weekend only, it’s FREE!
So drop in today and pick up both stories for only $0.99! And don’t forget to leave reviews!