The Spiral Arm
is a Space Opera
series by Michael Flynn
, consisting thus far of
- The January Dancer
- Up Jim River
- In the Lion's Mouth
- On the Razor's Edge
They take place in a far-future galaxy, caught between the League on one side, and the Confederacy on the other, of a starless rift, in a great game of intrigue and adventure.
The setting is further in the future of his previous Firestar series, a near future SF novel set about private space travel being financed by a female industrialist. Earth attained an advanced civilization with AI and nanotechnology, and underwent periods of successive Chinese and Indian world hegemony(known to the far future people as Zhogwo, a corruption of the Chinese term Zhonguo for Middle Kingdom and Tantamiz, a Tamil term for their language respectively).
Wormhole variants called Krasnikov tubes and sublight seedships were used for interstellar colonization and an Earth ruled interstellar empire called the Commonwealth was founded and most nations on Earth founded colonies, which were oppressed and called the "Lesser Worlds". Evidence of an ancient empire of silicon based alien life called the People of Sand and Iron was discovered and used by the Chinese and Indian regimes in the Commonwealth to justify oppressing the colony worlds as a defense measure against an alien threat.
The colony on Tau Ceti, now referred to in the contemporary language as Dao Chetty, revolted and founded a totalitarian regime called the Confederation of Centralized Worlds ruled by a secretive elite nomenklatura called Those of Name and destroyed the Commonwealth, and initiated a forced population transfer called the Cleansing against their former oppressors on Earth. The Cleansing included deliberately mixing nationalities to stifle revolt among the deportees through linguistic and cultural conflict. AI and nanotechnology were lost during this period.
Eventually, after a period of interregnum, a new interstellar age comes about with the United League of the Periphery, a series of colony worlds ruled by the Ardry monarchy and supported by their Hound secret agents in rivalry with the Confederation.
Fallen colonies exist at the edge called the Wild, with such worlds as Oram and Enjrun existing in savagery and independent planets such as Cynthia and Gladiola vying for power with the larger interstellar nations.
Worlds have formed their own cultures and ethnicities and Terrans, the deported Earth people live in segregated ghettoes on various worlds called Terran Corners. Science, much of it lost with the Cleansing, has devolved to a syncretic religion that worships Newton, Einstein, Maxwell and Schroedinger as literal gods to be prayed to and the universe is in a kind of transhuman medieval stasis.
The novels focus on intrigue between these groups, various individuals and the search for prehuman artifacts of the People of Sand and Iron.Needs a Better Description
Tropes included in these works:
- Air-Vent Passageway: Discussed and dismissed a moment later.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Arson, rebellion and leaving your licensed township.
- Artifact of Doom: The Dancer, they think.
- Bad Dreams: Discussed in January Dancer
- Big Dumb Object: The underground treasuries.
- Blessed with Suck: You find a marvelous array of treasures — that you can't remove.
- Bottled Heroic Resolve: Booster
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Used metaphorically
- Buy Them Off: Werguild is offered, after a civil war.
- Cincinnatus: Cited in an argument, with George Washington and two more names.
- The City Narrows: Terran Corner on Jehovah
- Cliffhanger: Up Jim River and In the Lion's Mouth
- Compelling Voice: What the Dancer gives
- Corrupt Bureaucrat: On one planet, a country revolts from a honest administration.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Sometimes you really have to deal with something dangerous.
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: The planet Alabaster's Phenotype Stereotype
- Disappeared Dad: the harper was raised by her mother alone.
- Doomed Moral Victor: Discussed in a subverted form.
- Dramatic Thunder: When the storm first strikes.
- Drowning My Sorrows: In the bar on Jehovah.
- Due to the Dead: Ravn promises a proper burial to Donovan.
- Dysfunctional Family: The Hounds are somewhat likely this, according to noe.
- The Exile: Fa Li, according to those at court
- Famed in Story: The civil war was immortalized in song before it was four weeks old.
- Fearless Fool: The Brute
- Feudal Future: The Ardry — or king.
- Fire-Forged Friends: In the civil war.
- Fisher King: The emperor of the morning dew really hates that his subjects believe this.
- Flashback: Many of returning memories for Donovan
- Friendly Enemy: After a civil war, the two sides often join to sing of the various exploits.
- Friend or Foe: A problem with an undercover war.
- Frogs and Toads: The "Frog Prince" can jump
- Full-Circle Revolution: Discussed in a subverted form.
- Good Samaritan: Gives "booster" after an ambush.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Bridget is furious when she hears another woman seduced Donovan.
- Green Eyes: One of the first things noted about the woman in the opening of January Dancer. Before her name, even.
- Happiness in Slavery: Podiin, who is mentally retarded
- Harmless Lady Disguise: Hugh uses it.
- Help Face Turn: Do not ignore that you have armor and your men dont'
- Hoist by His Own Petard: A danger of repression
- Honorary Uncle: Does not make a man less dangerous.
- Honor Before Reason: Burning down your own ammunition factory to keep guns out of the war.
- I Gave My Word: Hugh's motive
- I Have Many Names: The narrator introduces the scarred man with observations about how many names he has
- I Know You Know I Know: Is a good reason to confide in your enemy.
- In Harm's Way: Brute's opinion
- In-Universe Catharsis: A drug used for a vision quest has substantial effects on Donovan.
- Invisibility Cloak: Extremely high tech version.
- It Was a Gift: The harper's necklace
- King in the Mountain: Hugh escapes and promises to return
- La Résistance: The Loyalists
- Last Kiss: In memory, Donovan could not wait for one.
- Living Legend: Zorba
- Luke, I Am Your Father/Luke, You Are My Father: Both in a fraught scene
- MacGuffin: Discussed
- Mama Bear: Bridget, about Mearana
- The Man Behind the Man
- Manly Tears: Pyati defends his, revealing a death.
- Meaningful Rename: Dubbing Five "Pyati"
- Missing Mom: The motivation in Up Jim River
- More Hero Than Thou: Issa insisted on staying and covering his retreat.
- The Mutiny: Brought down one maxraj — Donovan reflects on the analogy
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: An attempt to avert it by burning down the ammunition factory means
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead: the Fudir covers up a dead man's treachery.
- The Nondescript: Greystroke
- Oireland: A country puts it on for the tourist trade.
- Old Flame Fizzle: Despite Fire-Forged Friends
- One for Sorrow, Two for Joy: Invoked
- Ontological Mystery: Given the Dancer's powers, how can you know what really is happening?
- Opposites Attract
- Ouroboros: The Ouroboros Circuit
- Patron Saint: Cecelia and Jude are invoked.
- The Plan: Retrieving Donovan
- Political Correctness Gone Mad
- Precursors: "the folk of sand and iron."
- Proud Warrior Race
- The Quest: Discussed. Also invoked
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Fa Li
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Jumdar's characterization of the Loyalists.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The man who betrays Hugh to an assasin
- Rule of Three: On Razor's Edge opens with the observation that it started with three
- Seven Deadly Sins: One library caters to at least five of them.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Discussed in January Dancer
- Shout-Out: Dozens
- Silicon-Based Life: The Precursors.
- Soft Gas: When you hit a star at speed — it's not true.
- Space Is an Ocean: Played with.
- Stern Chase: And a stern chase is a long chase.
- A Storm Is Coming: Drives them off the planet
- The Storyteller: The scarred man in January Dancer — the ministrel sought him out for it.
- Tap on the Head: the dangers are hinted at but not used.
- Tears of Joy: Podiin, when Gidula promises not to free him.
- There Are No Coincidences: thought of a murder
- The Tourney: A descendent is practiced among the Shadows.
- Unexpected Successor: Hugh
- Ungovernable Galaxy: It's hard to impossible to control even a planet, let alone large stretches.
- Used Future: Owing to Mind Control, war, and other problems, much of the future has been used
- Wandering Minstrel: In the opening of January Dancer, a woman shows up at the bar, and plays for her food, without asking.
- War Refugees: One Hound thinks he may have aided one of these.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: One failure draws down opprobrium
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Manlius thinks life is romantic, albeit a tragic romance
- You Are in Command Now: Hugh
- You Shall Not Pass: Many rear guards near the end of the war on New Eireann