The Decline & Collapse of the Hyrzhog-Burluss Galactic Mining Combine
is the first in Micah E. F. Martin's Corporate Space duology. It deals with the misadventures of disgraced and exiled corporate bureaucrat Horace T. Uxorial, caught in an embezzlement scandal and banished by the Hyrzhog-Burluss Combine's powerful chairman to the frontier mining world of New Hiram. Confronted, after a life of luxury and indolence, with the harsh reality of the Combine's exploitative methods and brutal disregard for life, Horace, with the aid of outcast native Malintzin, senile genius E. M. Gironde and local tough Norton Strong, must use his bureaucratic savvy to strike back at New Hiram's callous corporate oppressors.
The Combine, however, has other plans for New Hiram. Iron-fisted geologist T. Bernard Hughes, megalomaniac planetary governor Preston Rucker and callous General Wolcott, all with the backing of the Chairman, will do everything in their power to make Horace's tenure on New Hiram a living hell.
The second volume of the duology, Ichorat, deals with the consequences of Horace's successful plan to bankrupt the Combine
and a corporate world suddenly desperate for fuel and profit. With galactic society in decline, the remnants of
the Combine have adopted a dangerous plan of action: mining planets deemed too lethal for galactic contact or colonization. First on the list is Shibboleth, homeworld of the bloodsucking Ichorati. Hapless, debt-choked administrator Roger Lovelace, along with his daughter and elderly mother, is dispatched to oversee the mining operation, but Shibboleth is more than it appears and soon Roger is caught up in a galaxy-spanning web of lies and betrayal.
The Corporate Duology is set in Accorded Space, a loose confederation of economically-tied planets in the Milky Way administrated by various corporations through a Senate. Humans, or Terrans, exist as second-class citizens in a galaxy dominated by alien ("xenic") genii. Most characters are, in fact, non-humans and some (like Horace) are, physically, extremely strange.
This novel provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: E. M Gironde.
- Absolute Xenophobe: Mr. Hughes, though he hates everyone. Also, the Nang No.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Mr. Hughes isn't a good man, but it's reassuring to know he'll always be there to stave off even worse things. Until he's shot on the bridge of his own battleship. Mr. Manning's death is also fairly tragic.
- The Alcoholic: Roger Lovelace.
- Aliens and Monsters: Oh God, the Ichorati.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Ichorati, though really it's more a case of Blue and Orange Morality.
- Back-Alley Doctor: Dr. Tenenbaum, while an established practitioner of medicine in the town of Dodge, fits this trope to a T.
- Badass Grandpa: Mr. Hughes, especially in the later books.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: The Executive Partners, giant flying space grubs suspended by gas bladders. Goljoirans, crablike and with absurd systems of redundant organs. Mogothi, whose legs telescope, Nylantha, gilled quadrupeds, etc., etc.
- Character Development: Often.
- Combat Pragmatist: Norton, Malintzin, Mr. Wake.
- The Dandy: Many. Governor Rucker has shades of this.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Roger and Norton in particular. Also, Mr. Potter.
- Deep Cover Agent: Mr. Potter.
- Doomed Protagonist: Horace. So hard.
- Emperor Scientist: Dr. Legue is a wannabe.
- The Extremist Was Right: Ada, in a nutshell, is a living embodiment of this trope.
- Gambit Pileup: So, thousands of years ago the Ichorati were a fractious and divided species native to the planet Golgoth. A ruthless Queen managed to seize power after centuries of butchery and, knowing her genus was weak after so much slaughter, took her strongest daughter and exiled her to the far-away world of Shibboleth. Here's where it gets complicated. The ruthless Queen then reinvents her own genus, creating through gene therapy a new public face for Golgoth in the form of the Executive Partners. She intended for Shibboleth to stew while she gathered her strength and then, when she waxed and the galaxy was at its weakest, to create and manipulate a brutal war between the Ichorati (her daughter's offspring) and the galaxy at large. After it was done, she would step in and establish her own dominion with the galaxy little more than her own personal meat farm. She is joined in her scheming by the xenophobic Nang No, who wish to see the Milky Way ordered and regimented by a trustworthy partner. One of their own, however, created a wildcard half-Terran, half-Ichorati prophet figure on Shibboleth through genetic engineering, and now the enigmatic creature demands to rule alongside Queen Allison. What's more, to make certain the Ichorati are a credible and yet easily-destroyed threat the prophet-thing has engineered the brain-death of an Ichorati queen and her replacement by a mad scientist bent on becoming the beloved emperor of the galaxy by first engineering a bloody war (like Allison) and then destroying the Ichorati with a sangrophagic virus. Meanwhile, though, Queen Allison's exiled daughter has set her own schemes in motion to end the cyclical hunger-expansion-destruction-collapse of the Ichorati Empire by rebirthing them as a new genus cast in the mold of Roger's genetically-altered daughter, Ada. Phew.
- Genius Bruiser: Dr. Legue, again.
- Glorious Leader: Harlan Fuller-Pratt after the timeskip between Only the Dead and Bastard's War, the second and third books of the second volume.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: The Ichorati. Also, Queen Allison.
- Grande Dame: Evelyn Lovelace.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Legue and An Nam Mu.
- The Messiah: The Ichorati have their prodigal son, the nameless genetically-engineered half-Terran.
- Noble Savage: Subverted with the Nahuatl, New Hiram's natives.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Almost every damn character, including the non-sidekicks.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Welcome to the cast. This is also the Hat of Administrative Center 01, the homeworld of the Executive Partners.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Siddhis.
- Proud Merchant Race Guy: The Executive Partners.
- Psycho Sidekick: Mr. Potter.
- Sacrificial Lion: Maybe you didn't hate the Ichorati after Shibboleth. Maybe you even felt bad for them. Until, of course, you learn that they killedNorton back on New Hiram.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Mr. Wake.
- Sesquipedalien Loquaciousness: Especially in the first volume.
- The Shrinking Violet: Ada.
- Token Minority: Usually the Terrans, weirdly enough.
- Ubermensch: Part of An Nam Mu's bizarre scientific program.