Literature: Arrivals from the Dark
Arrivals from the Dark
("Пришедшие из мрака") is a Russian science fiction book series written by Mikhail Akhmanov
. Except for the first novel, the series focuses on the lives of some of the members of the same family. The series timeline stretches from 2088 to 2352. All novels deal with humanity's wars against various alien races with the myths and legends of the mysterious Precursors
who left the known galaxy tens of thousands of years ago.
- Invasion ("Вторжение")
- Retaliation ("Ответный удар")
- Fighters of Danveyt ("Бойцы Данвейта")
- Dark Skies ("Тёмные небеса")
- The Gates of the Galaxy ("Врата Галактики")
- Good Will Mission ("Миссия доброй воли"; co-authored by Roman Karavayev)
("Миссия Тревельяна"), Another series by the same author shares the same universe
but focuses on one character and takes place about 500 years later.
- Envoy from the Heavens ("Посланец небес")
- The Faraway Saikat ("Далёкий Сайкат")
- The Missing Link ("Недостающее звено")
- The Sword above the Abyss ("Меч над пропастью")
- Consul Trevelyan ("Консул Тревельян")
The novels contain examples of the following tropes:
- Abusive Precursors - The Daskins ended up as this after millennia of ruling the galaxy. After realizing this, they depart the galaxy, leaving it for someone else to fill their shoes.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot - Deliberately averted. Several characters mention a certain threshold beyond which a truly intelligent AI is no longer capable of committing a violent act. As such, all military AIs are deliberately kept at a low level.
- Alien Among Us - True with the Proteids (AKA Metamorphs), who are capable of assuming any form. Their emissaries are present in all societies. One has lived on Earth since the 13th century.
- Inverted in the Trevelian's Mission books, where it's the humans who are infiltrating primitive alien cultures in order to study and progress them.
- Alien Invasion - The theme of the appropriately-titled first novel Invasion.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause - Averted for the most part, as many advanced humanoids societies consider it their duty to help the more primitive cultures advance, although any attempts to influence a post-Renaissance culture invariably lead to violence, so most work is done at Medieval stage. Usually by infiltrating the culture and subtly introducing or emphasizing certain technological advancements, scientific ideas, and discoveries. For example, hinting to an explorer that a whole other continent exists on the other side of the world.
- The Proteids do the same with all known cultures, thanks to their Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities.
- An interesting case is described in the novel The Faraway Saikat, where planet Saikat is populated by two sentient humanoid races, similar to Earth in distant past. Both humanity and the Kni'lina have stewardship over this world and decide its future. The vegeterian Kni'lina sympathize more with the vegeterian and pacifist Terre (they are equated with Neanderthals), which are soon to be wiped out by the aggressive omnivores Tazinto (the Cro-Magnon in this analogy). The Kni'lina wish to use their technology to either outright destroy the Tazinto or, at least, protect the Terre from them.
- The Paraprims also engage in studies of primitive alien cultures. However, their policy is of strict non-interference, except to save a species from extinction, usually from an external threat. They believe that humans are wrong in their conclusion that progress must happen as quickly as possible and, instead, prefer to let events run their course.
- Anti Matter - The most powerful ship-to-ship weapons are the annihilators, which emit a stream of anti-protons. There's a bit of Fridge Logic there, as they are able to destroy Deflector Shields as well, despite the fact that anti-protons are harmless if they don't interact with matter.
- When used against a planet, a single ship is capable of turning a planet into a charred rock in a few hours. Fortunately, habitable planets are valuable, so this almost never happens.
- Armor Is Useless - Ships without Deflector Shields might as well be made out of tissue paper. It is mentioned several times that, when a ship's shields go down, a few shots is all it takes to finish it off.
- Battlestar, The - all Earth warships carry several Space Fighter wings (each wing is 3 fighters), but most of the firepower comes from the ships' weapons. The Dromi dreadnoughts are this as well.
- Benevolent Precursors - The Daskins started as protectors of justice throughout the galaxy. However, after many millennia, they began to started to stay their hand less and less, turning into Abusive Precursors. Upon realizing this, they left.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies - Arhang is populated by large sentient spiders.
- Slightly subverted. When Ivar eventually shows up to the planet in person, he finds out they're about knee-high.
- Body Snatcher - Ivar Trevelyan gets to be one when his consciousness is sent to the planet Arhang populated by sentient spiders in order to find a lost colleague.
- The new technology allows one's mind to be sent to a random host among the target group (i.e. wherever the relay satellite is located). The technology is still in the experimental stages, and may yet be banned as immoral (since the host has no say in the matter) by the Arbiters of Justice. While in another's body, the researcher has access to the host's memories and instincts, including language skills.
- Boldly Coming - Lieutenant Commander Pavel Litvin encounters a lower-caste Faata female. When encountering her next, she is in the middle of her Pon Farr-like state, at which point she jumps him, and he is only too happy to "help" her pass through the phase.
- Ivar Trevelian usually tries to get some with attractive female members of various Human Alien species. Specifically, he has "encounters" with several Osieran women in Envoy from the Heavens while posing as an Osieran traveling minstrel. He also has a one-night stand with a Kni'lina female (possibly, two) in The Faraway Saikat.
- Brain Uploading - 500 years after the events of the first novel, it is not uncommon for great individuals to have their minds preserved as active consciousnesses. Since they are fully conscious, they have the same rights as humans.
- Canon Discontinuity - The author can't seem to agree on how the contour drive works, each novel offering a slightly different explanation. Additionally, the first novel had the human Space Navy being called the Near-Earth Space Forces. Later novels call them United Space Forces. While the name change may be understandable after the discovery of FTL travel, the novels make it clear that it was always called USF.
- Some novels claim that, from third novel on, the Faata have been utterly defeated, while others insist they remain a continuous threat.
- In the third novel, the protagonists are threatened by a Haptor warship armed with an annihilator. In fact, this is what allows them to defeat the warship. The sixth novel claims that the Haptors don't have annihilator technology, which is the only reason humans defeated them in a war that the Haptors started.
- There is plenty of this between the main series and the spin-off, usually with the uploaded personality of Commodore Olaf Peter Trevelyan-Krasnogortsev and the wars he fought when he was alive.
- Casual Interstellar Travel - Any ship equipped with a contour drive is capable of instantaneously jumping to another star system. In fact, the distance is immaterial to the drive itself. However, the extremely precise calculations necessary for a jump restrict jumping to a few parsecs. Otherwise, the ship risks missing its mark by a wide margin or ending up inside a star or a planet.
- It is mentioned in Envoy from the Heavens, when Ivar's shuttle is dropped off by a ship, which then jumps away that by the time he lands, the ship will have already arrived at its next destination.
- Cavalry, The - the fleet at the end of Dark Skies (the fourth novel).
- Chivalrous Pervert - Ivar Trevelian loves the ladies and is quite The Charmer. He does leave them, but only because his work requires him to travel a lot and avoid putting down any roots.
- On one occasion, he refuses to have sex with a bratty Osieran princess, despite her beauty, as he claims there should be an emotional connection between sexual partners rather than pure physical need. This gets him in trouble with her extremely powerful uncle. As can be expected, every other male who finds out about this considers Ivar an idiot (e.g. "if a young, attractive princess demands you sleep with her, you do it, end of story").
- Curb-Stomp Battle - the Faata are just too advanced in the first novel to defeat them using conventional means. The Battle at Martian Orbit results in the destruction of twelve Earth cruisers with minor Faata losses. These twelve ships constitute about 1/6 of the total strength of the United Space Forces at the time.
- The primitive battle described in The Faraway Saikat between the carnivore Tazinto and the vegeterian Terre definitely fits this, as the numerous Tazinto warriors slaughter an entire tribe of Terre using spears and clubs. The Terre, while deadly accurate with their javelins, have no other weapons and lack the aggressiveness of the Tazinto. They also choose to make their stand in their cave, leaving themselves no way out.
- The task force (a cruiser and several frigates) sent to liberate the T'har colony from Dromi occupation encounters an entire fleet in orbit. Despite the more advanced weapons on the human ships, the Dromi are just too numerous and quickly obliterate the task force, leaving a single survivor.
- At the end of the novel, an entire fleet of new cruisers arrives to aid La Résistance on T'har, promptly destroying the Dromi.
- Deflector Shields - Present on most alien ships and on all human ships starting with the second novel. When introduced in the first novel, a Faata starship's shields are able to reflect a swarm of icicles fired by a Magnetic Weapon back at the firing ship at a much higher speed. Also capable of shrugging off a combined nuclear blast of nearly 400 gigatons.
- Empire, The - The Faata. Also, possibly, the Dromi.
- The Haptors are an interesting case. While they are definitely imperialistic, their empire is ruled by four Primary clans, each of which has a ruler. Each of the four clan rulers is equal to one another.
- The first novel of the spin-off series takes place on a planet stuck in Medieval Stasis, with The Empire being the dominant power on the single inhabited continent and maintaining the status quo. One of the goals of the human agents is to induce progress by subtly getting native explorers to discover the existence of a second continent, thus allowing for colonies to be established not under the direct control of the Empire.
- Everything's Worse With Bears - the Llyano look like human-sized stocky bears. They are omnivores and are even rumored to eat other sentient beings. Very little is known about them, only that they trade with the Lo'ona Aeo.
- Explosions in Space - Played straight with ships destroyed by plasma or antimatter. Ships destroyed by an annihilator produce a gamma-ray burst.
- Federation, The - The Earth Federation.
- First Contact - The official first contact with the Faata happens when they choose to reveal themselves to humans before attacking. Prior to that, they destroy an Earth ship and abduct three officers. A more proper version happens when the Servs land on Pluto and greet humans on behalf of their Lo'ona Aeo masters.
- Fourth Date Marriage - In Consul Trevelian, Ivar decides to stop sleeping around and proposes to a beautiful T'haran (human from a harsh colony) woman... after knowing her for a total of 2 days. She accepts.
- Free-Love Future - While this is not the case, when Ivar proposes to a woman (whom he only knows for several days), she specifies, as one of her requirements, that their marriage will not be "open". She even apologizes for being "old-fashioned", although there's nothing to indicate that open marriages are the norm in human society. Ivar agrees, even though sex is one of his means of infiltrating primitive cultures. He does amend that he won't have sex with any humanoids, as Body Snatcher technology is likely to be used to infiltrate non-humanoid cultures.
- Genetic Memory - In Good Will Mission, Eric Trevelyan has incredibly vivid dreams where he imagines past encounters with Haptors while escorting a Lo'ona Aeo female on a trading mission. He's not quite sure what it means at first. However, these are events from Fighters of Danveyt experienced by his ancestor Sergey Valdez. This is likely thanks to the fact that they're descended from Paul Richard Corcoran, a Half-Human Hybrid whose biological father is from a race known for advanced genetic engineering.
- G-Rated Drug - The sentient insectoids from Arhang get drunk from salt water.
- Gunboat Diplomacy - The Earth Federation's standard policy is to ferry diplomats in warships as a reminder of humanity's strength. The only time this was broken was during the first official contact with the Paraprims, who insisted on an unarmed ship.
- Half-Human Hybrid - Paul Richard Corcoran is the son of a Faata high-caste male named Dyte and Lieutenant Abigail McNeil, who was forcibly impregnated with his seed. Named after his official father, Lieutenant Richard Corcoran, and his godfather, Lieutenant Commander Pavel Litvin. The second through fifth novels follow the lives of Corcoran and some of his descendants. Paul inherits some of the Faata telepathic abilities and their longevity. Some of his descendants also manifest telepathy. All are known to have lived unnaturally long lives, unless killed. Males tend to be unable to conceive until well in their 40s.
- The novel The Missing Link reveals that Ivar Trevelian is also a distant descendant (nearly a 1000 years removed) of that line, although he doesn't exhibit any of the abilities until the end of the novel.
- Hive Mind - Partly true with the Faata, with the higher caste using telepathy to control the lower castes.
- Hollywood Tactics - An in-universe example in The Missing Link with the Chthon immortals, who have been at a stalemate for millennia, barring small border skirmishes, whose tactics have since degraded to just a few basic ones. These include
human robot wave attacks and basic ambushes. Ivar Trevelian's mental Companion (the uploaded consciousness of his distant ancestor), a former admiral, remarks that he could easily conquer this world with opponents such as these. He later proves this by defeating several opponents at the same time with inferior forces.
- Honor Before Reason - Teruxi males will try to prove themselves at any opportunity and will often thrust themselves into danger without thinking. This is mostly due to their culture retaining much of the romantic ideals of chivalry from their early history.
- If Haptors lose a battle, all survivors are given a choice: an excruciating ritual death to rejoin their perished comrades in glory (warriors must die holding their weapons) or their equivalent of a dishonorable discharge. Few warriors choose the latter, as that involves losing ones property, clan affiliations, even one's name. Unfortunately for the Haptors, this means that any experience that veterans of a lost battle could have shared is also lost, which is likely one of the reasons they lost their war against humans.
- Horde, The - The Shas-ga from planet Ravana (AKA Inferno) are a race of nomadic cannibals who have been united by a single ruthless leader known as Grey Trumpeter (a title and a name). While normally not a threat to the other, more civilized, inhabitants of the continent, they have somehow managed to cross mountain ridge which was thought to be impenetrable and their vast numbers (over 30,000, which is a huge number given Ravana's low population) and savagery is a major threat to everyone on the continent. True to their nomadic nature, they never stay in one place, prefering instead to use up all the resources and eat everything (and everyone) in the vicinity and move on.
- Human Aliens - The Faata (genetically and sexually compatible with humans), the Haptors (completely incompatible with humans), and the Kni'lina (sexually but not genetically compatible with humans).
- The Lo'ona Aeo are considered to be pseudo-humanoids.
- The Trevelian's Mission novels also introduce primitive humanoids, such as the Medieval Osierans, and the primitive Terre and Tazinto (equivalent to Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons) on the planet Saikat, as well as hundreds more that have been discovered in the 500 years since the first series.
- The Teruxi look very much like humans, except they are all blond. Both sexes are considered very attractive to humans. Their culture has retained many ideals of chivalry from their early history, causing Teruxi males to often thrust themselves into danger without thinking in order to prove themselves to females. Unlike the Haptors and the Kni'lina, the Teruxi are human allies and there are many exchange programs between the races.
- In Consul Trevelyan, Ivar briefly mentions that there have been cases of human-Teruxi hybrids, showing the two races have perfect compatibility. In fact, a good number of scientists think that both races come from common stock.
- Consul Trevelyan introduces a long-extinct race that's nearly identical to humans, as well as an advanced race known as the Nil'hazi (they are the same race).
- Humans Are Special - The point of the series, especially the fifth book. Humans are shown as one of the rare races that values justice and are the only ones fit to take on the role of galactic protectors, which has not been filled since the departure of the Daskins tens of thousands of years ago.
- Human Alien Subspecies - Millennia ago, the Kni'lina race was being wiped out by a highly virulent plague. Most of their race on the mainland was already infected and dying. The remaining Kni'lina survived on isolated isles by genetically modifying themselves in order to resist the plague. They succeeded, in most cases, and repopulated the continent. However, due to the isolation, the genetic modifications were slightly different on each island, resulting in a clan-based system, where each clan is a subspecies. The largest two clans are the religious Poharas, ruled by an emperor, and the rational and technocratic Ni. Their genetic differences are substantial enough to preclude inter-clan breeding, for the most part. During the war with the Earth Federation, only the Ni clan was in open hostilities with the humans. Poharas and the others remained neutral.
- The Faata have also artificially created subspecies among their kind, with the majority of the race relegated to the subservient status.
- A sizable percentage of the Kni'lina population are known as Zinto. These are descended from the unmodified survivors on the mainland. Being the original species, they are able to interbreed with the other clans. However, as this would mean the end of the clan system, it is strictly forbidden under the pain of death. The Zinto are looked down upon by all clans.
- The now-dead civilization of Snowy Maw (human name for the planet) had the ruling clans/guilds deliberately alter their appearance on a genetic level in order to be easily recognized by the normal-looking commoners.
- Keystone Army - The Dromi are highly hierarchical. The lower-ranking Dromi are hard-pressed to act without orders from above. In The Gates of the Galaxy, the humans have a chance to end the long war with the Dromi by taking out the Dromi homeworld, destroying the ruling clan and causing a big Succession Crisis, giving humans a decisive advantage against the disarrayed Dromi forces.
- A smaller scale is attempted in The Fighters of Danveyt, where T'Har's La Résistance takes out the Dromi colony leader's tower with a massive rocket barrage, hoping that his death will throw the occupying forces into disarray. Unfortunately, the aging leader has transferred his authority to his immediate underling (located in another tower) minutes before, so no disarray followed.
- Kill It with Ice - One of the handheld weapons given by the Lo'ona Aeo to their Defenders is the Freezer, which fires miniature black hole generators. When these activate, they create a short-lived microsingularity, which nearly instantly sucks in all the heat from the surrounding area, effectively freezing it. Freezers can come in a semi- and full-automatic variety.
- Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better - Lo'ona Aeo, while possessing plasma weapon and annihilator technology, prefer arming their defenders' ships with Magnetic Weapons that fire cannonball-like shield-piercing rounds. Unlike the aforementioned energy weapons, these rounds are better for precision targeting.
- Lizard Folk - The Dromi.
- Logic Bomb - The first novel mentions that the biological computers used by the Faata are actually failed Daskin experiments. Their major flaw appears to be a high susceptibility to, essentially, crashing simply by giving it competing orders. For example, the first thing Pavel Litvin does when he escapes from his cell is to tell the computer to keep his location hidden. When the Bino Faata try to ask the computer for Litvin's location, it warns them that attempts to follow their orders will result in major malfunctions of the kind that can seriously damage a ship.
- Macross Missile Massacre - During the first battle with the Faata in Invasion, twelve Earth cruisers fire a massive barrage of nuclear missiles at the single Faata starship with the combined force of 400 gigaton. They prove to be completely ineffective against Deflector Shields, however, and are no longer used after that, at least in space.
- Magnetic Weapons - Swarms are weapons that fire a cone spread of metal shards (planet-based) or icicles (space-based) using a magnetic field for acceleration. A single swarm shot at (relatively) close range can result in a ship being riddled with holes. Used by the United Space Forces during the pre-invasion days. Completely ineffective against Deflector Shields.
- Lo'ona Aeo weapons fire cannonball-like rounds that completely ignore Deflector Shields.
- The Maiden Name Debate - Commodore Olaf Peter Carlos Trevelian-Krasnogortsev reveals that the reason for his hyphenated last name dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. An ancestor of his, a Russian nobleman named Krasnogortsev, fled Russia during the Red October and settled in France, marrying into the aristocratic Trevelian family, changing his last name to symbolize becoming one of them. Interestingly, some of the Commodore's children have decided that the name was too long and have used only "Trevelian" since then.
- Multi-Ethnic Name - Olaf (Scandinavian) Peter (pretty common across cultures) Carlos (Portuguese or Spanish) Trevelian-Krasnogortsev (French-Russian). Given that this takes place in the distant future, it's not at all surprising.
- Naming Your Colony World - played straight with most human colonies. One of the often-mentioned colonies is named Gondwana after one of the ancient Earth supercontinents. The three colonies most mentioned (T'har, Ro'on, and Aezat) were originally Faata colonies and were settled by humans after the aliens were pushed out. They decided to keep the names.
- By the time of the Trevelian's Mission series, the humans also tend to name any populated world they discover, even if the natives already have a name for their planet. Examples include Ravana (AKA Inferno), Bitter Berry (after a disastrous attempt at influencing the locals), Osier, and Chthon.
- No Endor Holocaust - Partially averted in Invasion, after the destruction of the Faata mothership, where the out-of-control battle modules filled with Anti Matter crash in most major cities. The resulting matter/anti-matter explosions kill over 40,000,000 people and destroy countless landmarks and historical artifacts. Really, though, the number of casualties should have been much higher, given the amount of anti-matter in the modules and the fact that later novels mention that Earth is getting overpopulated (i.e. higher population density in cities). In fact, cities should have erased from the face of the Earth.
- One-Gender Race - The Dromi are hermaphrodites. The convention is to refer to Dromi individuals as male.
- The Servs are an artificial Servant Race created by the Lo'ona Aeo without gender. For ease of communication, they are also referred to as male. Those made in human likeness for diplomatic purposes are all male and wear appropriate clothing.
- Our Elves Are Better - The Lo'ona Aeo not only fit the profile, this was referenced in the novels. They are frail humanoid-like creatures with four-fingered hands used to living in low-gravity environments of their space habitats. They are ancient with only the Daskins being older and have extremely long lives by human standards. They are highly advanced and refuse to share weapons with the less advanced races (which is everyone else), although they do trade for certain technology that is specifically designed to be impossible to weaponize. They never meet outsiders (due to extreme xenophobia) but use their Servant Race to actively trade and maintain diplomatic relations with others. They also possess Psychic Powers.
- Subverted in that they don't believe themselves fit for the role of galactic protectors and are secretly grooming humans for the job.
- Planet of Hats - Averted with the Kni'lina, who are not a unified race in terms of a single government. They are split into many clans, although two are dominant: Ni (a secular technocracy) and Poharas (a religious empire). During the hostilities with the humans, only the Ni were involved. The Poharas and the smaller clans remained neutral.
- Portal Network - The Daskins built an enormous network of "tunnels" that connect various systems throughout the galaxy. It is speculated that the network reaches the Magellanic Clouds. There are many entrances to the Hub (or Abyss) via the so-called Mirrors. One such entrance is located on Jupiter, which we call the Great Red Spot. Only the Lo'ona Aeo know how to use the tunnels. Attempts by humans to send probes to the Spot resulted in failure.
- Practical Currency - Arhs use salt as currency. Since salt is also an integral part of their biochemistry, it's also frequently consume with meals, often in the form of salt water, which is their equivalent of alcohol.
- Precursors - The Daskins.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy - The Haptors are a race of large, tough Human Aliens with two small horns and a warrior culture. Explored in-depth in the Good Will Mission from the viewpoint of a human diplomatic mission sent to their homeworld Harshabaim-Utartu not long after humans thoroughly beat them in a war that the Haptors started. Their warlike mentality is so prevalent that they attacked a peaceful human outpost on the border between human and Haptor territories and slaughtered everyone there after it had already been peacefully handed over to them, figuring that any territorial gain must be done with force.
- Any Haptor warrior who comes back from a lost battle is given a choice: an excruciating but honorable death or a dishonorable survival. Most choose the former. Those who choose the latter are kicked out of the military, stripped of their rank, clan affiliation, and name, and treated by everyone worse than dirt. This mentality could help explain why they lost the war (i.e. if no one survives lost battles than there are less veterans to learn from).
- The insectoid Arkhs from Consul Trevelyan are also warlike to the extreme with constant infighting and honor duels being a common occurrence. Given that their population grows at a tremendous rate, most of wars between city-hives are fought over living space or salt (which serves a wide variety of purposes in their society).
- Psychic Powers - The Faata high caste, the Lo'ona Aeo and the Proteids are telepaths. As are Paul Richard Corcoran and some of his descendants. The Proteids are also able to teleport themselves and other objects to various distances.
- The Lo'ona Aeo use their telepathy for reproduction. Three of their genders join telepathically with the fourth to impregnate her by a process called "mental contamination."
- The Paraprims are also able to communicate with each other telepathically. Additionally, they are able to see through the eyes of related species, which is why they often spread primates from their homeworld in the worlds they are studying. They also appear to have highly developed intuitive abilities, which allow them to predict future events with surprising detail, much better than the most advanced mathematical and statistical models (which they also use). They also may be able to teleport small objects, although this may be based in technology.
- Really 700 Years Old - Lo'ona Aeo live extremely long lives, measured in many centuries or even millennia. As such, it's hard for them to think in short-term. A few decades for a Lo'ona Aeo may as well have happened yesterday. Metamorphs (AKA Proteids), being shapeshifters, don't really age. What is aging when one can shape one's cells exactly as one wants? The Exile (the Metamorphs' emissary to Earth) has lived among humans since the 13th century, usually swapping identities every few decades to keep up appearances.
- Reinforce Field - Large starships must use these in order not to rip themselves apart during maneuvers or by their sheer mass. The massive Faata starship is crushed like a tin can by Earth's gravity in the first novel when its computer is destroyed by nanites, resulting in the structural integrity field shutting off. Probably should have invested in backup systems. The field is not explicitly mentioned in the following novels.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism - In the third novel, Mark Valdez crash-lands on a human colony in Dromi hands. After recovering, he finds his Space Fighter wreck, retrieves his helmet and blaster, and sets it to self-destruct. Unlike a typical one, this mechanism just turns the craft into dust in a matter of seconds to be scattered by the wind.
- In the first novel, the Faata ship apparently doesn't have one, forcing the Exile to improvise. He programs waste-disposal nanobots to eat the ship's organic computer, which controls gravity, structural integrity, and life support. Without it, the crew dies, and the massive ship collapses on itself. However, the whole point to keep the ship salvageable for humans, who needed to catch up to the aliens in terms of technology.
- Servant Race - The Servs are a race of biorobots created by the Lo'ona Aeo. They are a One-Gender Race with total devotion to their masters. They are normally incapable of violence, although at least one was able to fire ship's weapons at a Space Whale in the fifth book.
- Sex Is Evil - Completely averted with the cultures described. Most humanoids have outgrown silly taboos against sex. While sexuality is not flaunted, sexual relations between consenting adults are shown as perfectly natural and healthy. On Osier, for example, in the local Medieval Stasis culture with strong religious belief, sex is also viewed in this manner. In fact, female virginity doesn't hold nearly as much weight as it did during our Middle Ages. Experience counts for much more, and is shown where an heir to the imperial throne wishes Ivar Trevelian to "school" his bratty niece in the pleasure arts, so her future husband will be satisfied.
- Notably, Ivar refuses on the grounds that he isn't attracted to her on a deeper level, even though he himself is constantly seducing females with his life of work keeping him from forming permanent attachments, and gets thrown in jail as a result. Everyone he meets thinks he's an idiot. After all, the girl is beautiful, and her uncle is likely going to be the next Emperor.
- Single Line of Descent - Averted. The Half-Human Hybrid Paul Richard Corcoran (born at the end of the first novel and is the protagonist of the second) has two daughters, each of whom has several children. The novels usually skip several generations in-between, but most descendants usually have at least two children. It's mentioned that not all of Corcoran's descendants have his abilities or longevity. It also makes it easier for an alien shapeshifter to pretend to be from the same line, as there are so many descendants. The Trevelyan's Mission series takes almost 1000 years later. In the fourth book of this series, the protagonist Ivar Trevelyan discovers that he is also of that line and has latent Psychic Powers (but not the longevity). This is a surprise to him, as he hasn't heard of anyone in his family possess such abilities.
- Also averted with Olaf Peter Trevelyan-Krasnogortsev, who constantly boasts about his many children from his four marriages. Centuries later, it's implied that there are many descendants (although the male-line descendants chose to shorten the last name to "Trevelyan").
- Sins of Our Fathers - In Good Will Mission, Eric Trevelyan accidentally reveals to a Haptor that his ancestor Sergey Valdez once saved a Lo'ona Aeo from another Haptor wishing to take her prisoner. Unfortunately, this Haptor turns out to be a direct descendant of the one who was humiliated by Sergey Valdez, and the descendant wants revenge, especially since this cost his clan dearly.
- Space Elves - Subverted. While the Lo'ona Aeo are specifically described as elf-like in their physical stature (minus the pointy ears), they are far from being smug to the others. Part of it has to do with the fact that they are complete xenophobes, psychologically incapable of being near a member of another sentient species. However, they are by no means isolationists in terms of policy. They actively trade with other races via their biomechanical Servant Race and hire mercenaries to defend their borders (Servs, being sentient machines, are incapable of violence).
- Stealth in Space - While there are no cloaking devices, it is possible to avoid enemy detection by using various tactics, such as flying directly between the target and the system's star.
- During the Faata invasion, the alien ship remains invisible from Earth sensors (primitive at the time) simply by having its Deflector Shields up (they absorb all emissions).
- Subspace or Hyperspace - Interstellar travel is achieved via another dimension known as the Limbo. A ship equipped with the contour drive jumps into the Limbo before re-entering our universe at different coordinates. All this takes a fraction of a second. It is extremely disconcerting to an untrained traveler, as the mind cannot comprehend where it is.
- The author attempts to explain it using the idea of the quantum foam.
- Superweapon Surprise - After the Dromi conquer the human colonies of T'har, Ro'on, and Aezat, Lieutenant Mark Valdez helps the T'har resistance fighters by showing them the Arsenal, a cache of weapons and battle robots hidden during the wars with the Faata. Subverted in that the Dromi are too numerous to defeat without help from the outside.
- Sword and Gun - The military adviser to the diplomatic mission on the Haptor homeworld wears a dagger and a blaster on his belt. The Haptors initially protest any sort of weapons, but the advisor counters that the weapons are ceremonial in nature, and that human Foundations (Foundations are great laws and customs among the Haptors) require that he wear them. The Haptors immediately allow it provided the blaster is discharged.
- Technical Pacifist - The Lo'ona Aeo are the most advanced race in the known space, but they are completely non-violent (and physically frail). Their Servs also cannot fight. So the Lo'ona Aeo hire members of another race to serve as their Defenders. They are given ships and weapons and a regular pay in whatever currency they prefer (could be money, technology, or something else). Currently, the Lo'ona Aeo only hire humans for the job. Prior to that, it was the Dromi and the Haptors before them.
- The Paraprims are a race of telepathic non-humanoid primates (they are more like chimps) who value peace over everything. However, they are far from being defenseless. During the first official contact with humans, they insist that the humans forego their usual Gunboat Diplomacy and send a single unarmed ship.
- Telepathic Spacemen - The Faata high caste, all Lo'ona Aeo, the Proteids.
- Voice with an Internet Connection - After The Faraway Saikat, Ivar gets a second companion in the form of a Kni'lina AI who usually travels with him in the form of a trafor (a robot capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting). Being programmed by the extremely-proper Kni'lina, the AI is very respectful of Ivar and the uploaded personality of his ancestor.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting - The Proteids (AKA Metamorphs) are able to adopt any shape flawlessly. Some are born with a rare genetic defect that allows them to completely shapeshift only once, at which point they're stuck in this form for good. These usually choose to live among other races as secret envoys. They still possess limited shapeshifting abilities, such as altering one's external appearance, but one cannot, for example, switch sexes or some other major change like that.
- The Daskins are rumored to have been this as well.
- Trafors (short for "transformers") are robots that are able to take almost any shape, partly through the use of holograms.
- War Is Hell - Millions die in the wars between humanity and other races.
- Wave Motion Gun - The annihilators are portrayed as this in the first novel. They are more commonplace in the other novels, although they are capable of turning a planet into a charred rock in a matter of hours.
- We Are as Mayflies - The Lo'ona Aeo live for nearly a millennium, which reflects in their perception of time. To them, something that happened a few decades ago may have as well happened yesterday. Humans and most other races appear to them ridiculously short-lived.
- The Proteids, being shapeshifters, are effectively immortal. After all, what's aging if you can just alter your cellular structure? At the same time, those who live among other races tend to eventually adopt those races' views on life. The Exile, for example, has lived on Earth for over a thousand years but still likes to enjoy life. He will have romantic relations with human women not as a cover but because he wants to.
- You Already Changed The Past - The Paraprims view the universe in this manner. Being able to predict the future with great accuracy, they may know a thing or two about how time works. In Consul Trevelyan, they are proven right when Ivar fails to save a civilization of ancient Human Aliens from destroying itself. However, he gives a small group of them in the past plans for the FTL drive and a galactic map, showing them a location of a remote system, so the race may still live.
- Not only do they live, they are actually responsible for the terraforming of Gondwana, which was found and settled by humans almost 1000 years before Ivar's trip back in time.