There is no hope and You Can't Go Home Again
. The Empire
is spreading out. Even The Federation
has too many Obstructive Bureaucrats
. There is no way for free men to get out of the reaches of The Government
and even mounting La Résistance
will be of no avail. So what do you do? You become Space Cossacks. You flee to the border and live in a tough area where you all have to be sharp.
You set up as Space Pirates
or as Hired Guns
or as Intrepid Merchants
. Or all of these at once. With you are various dissidents like people who feared being Made a Slave
. There might be a Noble Fugitive
or two, perhaps even a Defector from Decadence
. You and your brave band of Fire-Forged Friends
will struggle on to survive and maintain your freedom and heed no laws but your own and respect no authority but that of your Team Mom
and/or Team Dad
. Songs will be written of your deeds.
most likely officially considers these guys outlaws, either in the sense that they're to be shot on sight, or in the sense that they're "outside the law" and are to be left alone as long as they stay out of the way. Either way, they probably consider them useful, as they both screen the empire from external threats and tame the fringe worlds
into a state ready to be colonised. They may also provide a handy place to send people who are to be Reassigned to Antarctica
Given the parallels
to the Wild West
, a Space Western
is almost sure to be set amongst such people.
The reference comes from the old Russian custom of disgruntled people fleeing to the steppes and joining a Cossack band.
- Firefly: "...take me out to the Black, tell them I ain't coming back. Burn the land and boil the sea, you can't take the sky from me"
- Traveller: Has a lot of examples of this. Among them are the Vilani Kimashargur, The Classic Traveller volume "Pocket Empires". And much of the history of the Sword Worlds as well as this troppers favorite sample campaign from the Gurps volume of that name. Many others.
- Star Wars: Han Solo
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the settlers on the Cardassian frontier are rebelling against both the Federation and the Cardassians. They are usually treated semi-sympathetically even though they are sometimes adversaries.
- Dune: According to Fremen legends, they were once runaway slaves.
- In the Battletech universe, there are the Clans. They are an interesting example as by the beginning of the main storyline they have become the dominant power in their own space and hold many systems of their own. Their warrior culture is enforced rather than necessary.
- The 'Hyperion Cantos'' has the Ousters, who fit this trope quite nicely.
- Raynor's forces post-Mengsk's betrayal in Starcraft are an example if this.
- This was the background for H. Beam Piper's Space Vikings, in the book of the same title. "at the end of the Big War. Ten thousand men and women on Abigor, refusing to surrender, had taken the remnant of the System States Alliance navy to space, seeking a world the Federation had never heard of and wouldn't find for a long time." Eight centuries later, their descendants have begun raiding into the territory once held by the now-collapsed Terran Federation.
- The entire human species became Space Cossacks in Titan A.E. after the destruction of the Earth.
- In C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe Conrad Mazian's fleet become pirates after the Earth-Union-Alliance war ends and the Earth Company abandons them. The Merchanter's Alliance may also count, comprising a number of nomadic merchant families and one station (plus one of Mazian's ships who defected) who got tired of the war between Earth and the Union and formed their own faction.
- The Dendarii Mercenaries in Vorkosigan Saga play with this. They are a little like Cossacks, being irregulars in the service of Tsarist Russia Recycled IN SPACE! and they contain individuals escaping from social pressure on Barryar including Elena and her husband and in a different way Miles himself. However they mostly contain people from any and every world in the Nexus. Also they play the "screening the Empire from external threats" role.
- The Nomads in Star Ways by Poul Anderson.