Delivering the Commonwealth
Welcome to the page for my forthcoming science fiction novel: Delivering the Commonwealth. Here you will find information about the novel, chapter excerpts, and background about the world of the story.
About the Novel
This story is an exercise in appreciation.
I have been reading science fiction since I was a child, and it has always fired my imagination like no other genre. The big ideas that science fiction deals with have always been what I enjoyed most. And not just things like the Ringworld or the Encyclopedia Galactica, but the context.
Especially attractive to me were the future histories. How did we get to this narrative? What was the story of the human race that got us here? And so I’ve always been fascinated with how authors presented human society: the United Federation of Planets, the Nine Worlds, the Golden Oecumene, Known Space, the Terran Federation and Safehold, the Galactic Empire, and the Empire of Man.
In this story, I wanted to explore one such organization of humanity: the Commonwealth of Humanity. But I wanted it to be a thing of legend; that is, the characters I would spend the most time with would never have known the Commonwealth themselves. To them, it was a name out of the past, but not without emotional power, both positively and negatively. I wanted them to feel inspired by and resent the Commonwealth at the same time.
But there was one other piece I wanted to look at. In most of these galaxy-spanning civilizations, communication is never a problem. It’s virtually instantaneous. Every once in a while on Star Trek, they’d mention that it takes three weeks for a subspace message to get from the Romulan Neutral Zone to Starfleet Command. But most of the time, they ignored any communication limitations and had real-time conversations. But what if our communications were still limited to light speed, but our travel was not? That is, what if communications actually ran slower than our ability to strike out? In effect, this is not unlike the situation the settlers of the New World faced. Today, we can cross the Atlantic and discover that there is email there waiting for us. But it wasn’t always so. What if those Plymouth colonists had set out for New England, established a colony, and never heard from Europe again? What if they no longer possessed the resources to make the journey back across the Atlantic—what would their life be like? And what if generations later, they encountered a hostile force they could not resist, and their only hope was in a country they had not heard from in centuries? That is the conceit of this story: a civilization whose growth could outpace its ability to keep in contact with its far-flung parts and the pressures that would place on such a society.
And, of course, the theme of deliverance is present. The double meaning implicit in the title Delivering the Commonwealth—speaks to the very physical delivering from one place to another, but also the rescuing of the Commonwealth from its fear and reluctance to explore. So, there were a number of themes I set out to explore.
But first and foremost, I wanted to create a work of science fiction and a world in which it could take place. I use several sci-fi tropes throughout the book and do so intentionally. There are clichés and patterns (e.g., the two past, one future series: “the Roman Legions, the Allied forces, or the Belt Rangers”) and other inside jokes that are meant for the appreciation of sci-fi fans (“required reading at the academy”) and to show my sincere appreciation for all the great authors and producers of the science fiction that I have so loved and enjoyed.
The Commonwealth of Humanity