Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Arrivals from the Dark

Go To
Cover for Invasion.
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 2600. 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.

Novels (click links to go to fan translations of the novels into English):

  1. Invasion ("Вторжение")
  2. Counterstrike ("Ответный удар")
  3. Fighters of Danwait ("Бойцы Данвейта")
  4. Dark Skies ("Тёмные небеса")
  5. The Gates of the Galaxy ("Врата Галактики")
  6. Good Will Mission ("Миссия доброй воли"; co-authored by Roman Karavayev)

Trevelian's Mission ("Миссия Тревельяна"), Another series by the same author shares the same universe but focuses on one character and takes place in the 29th century.

  1. Envoy from the Heavens ("Посланец небес")
  2. The Faraway Saikat ("Далёкий Сайкат")
  3. The Missing Link ("Недостающее звено")
  4. The Sword above the Abyss ("Меч над пропастью")
  5. Consul Trevelyan ("Консул Тревельян")
  6. The Defender ("Защитник")

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. There are some indications of this in the first novel, when Yo first meets the Envoy. When she learns of his abilities, she immediately begins to chant something with in the ancient Faata tongue (with the word "Daskin" showing up a few times) and make gestures that appear to be meant to ward off an evil spirit. The Envoy confirms that he recognizes the gestures and the words as coming from the original (pre-spaceflight) Faata civilization.
  • Action Prologue: Sort of, the first novel begins with a man watching a recording of an action-packed battle, in which the Faata Curb-Stomp Battle the human fleet sent to stop them. The events then roll back to several months before, as the alien starship is first arriving to the outskirts of the Solar System. Later in the book, the battle is described two more times, from the viewpoint of a captive human aboard the starship and the admiral commanding the losing fleet.
  • Advertisement:
  • Adipose Rex: Dromi Patriarchs are typically extremely big and heavy and are virtually incapable of moving on their own, using specialized Artificial Gravity chairs to move around. This is because Dromi grow throughout their lives, and the Patriarch's life is far longer than a typical Dromi (who die at around 45-50) thanks to longevity treatments. Eventually, though, partly due to the Square-Cube Law, the treatments stop working, and the Patriarch dies. His place is taken up by one of his immediate assistants of the Sidura-zong caste, who also fit this trope for the same reason, if not to the same extent as the Patriarch.
  • After the End: The Faata have experienced two global disasters called Eclipses that brought their civilization down. The First Eclipse a Post-Peak Oil-like situation, when most of the necessary resources of their homeworld were used up, which was only aggravated by overpopulation. After centuries of chaos, during which most of the population was killed, the Second Phase emerged as the new civilization. New technology allowed them to solve the resource shortage problem by mining asteroids. However, remembering the First Eclipse, they used Population Control to keep the numbers manageable. Unfortunately, they kept the numbers too low, resulting in degradation of the gene pool. It wasn't long before inbreeding ruined their second civilization. The Second Eclipse was ended when the STL ships sent out to explore other stars returned centuries later. Finding out that their brethren have become primitive savages, they used their superior technology to enslave the rest of the population and start breeding low-caste subspecies. Obsessed with never experiencing another Eclipse, their doctrine is designed for unlimited expansion, citing it as the only guarantee against the Third Eclipse.
  • 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 (called Protectors) are present in many 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 Arts Are Appreciated: The novel Good Will Mission deals with Eric Trevelyan being sent to the Haptor homeworld as part of a diplomatic mission. Being a "cultural envoy", his task is to find a way to relate to the Proud Warrior Race through aspects like art. Unfortunately, he finds out that art is virtually nonexistent in Haptor society. Until, that is, he encounters a drunk at a local watering hole who appears to possess artistic talent. The drunk in question is a former soldier who refused to be ritualistically tortured and executed as befits a soldier who lost a battle, was dishonorably discharged, stripped of his property, clan affiliation, and name. In fact, it wasn't cowardice that compelled him to refuse an honorable death but the constant images in his head that he felt needed to be expressed somehow. By the end of the novel, Eric and the Haptor find common ground, and Eric resolves to find more artistic Haptors.
  • 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.
  • Alien Sky: Any novel describing an alien world will invariably refer to the color of the sky and any moons that are visible. Astronauts are trained to recognize a world partly by the sky, even if they have not personally visited it.
  • Aliens Steal Cable: In Invasion, the Faata first find out about Earth by detecting Earth's radio transmissions (presumably, from nearby stars). After arriving to the Solar System, they spend months studying TV and radio transmissions, learning English and attempting to find out more about our culture, society, and political structure. When Litvin sees what they are looking at (a number of TV broadcasts all jumbled together), he wonders how they can make sense of it all, especially since they appear to lump fiction, documentaries, and live feeds into one (e.g. watching a historical film about a pirate ship, then immediately switching to a shot of a hydrofoil). The Faata themselves, being highly pragmatic, have no concept of fiction, but they do understand lying. Art is also foreign to them, as is religion. One video in particular baffles them, which shows a woman undressing in a club before a crowd of watching men. When prompted, Litvin explains that they are not doctors examining her, merely men who are aroused by the sight of a female stripping.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted. While there are plenty of habitable worlds in the Orion Arm of the galaxy alone, this number is in the hundreds, whereas there are thousands upon thousands of systems without any even remotely habitable planets in each race's sector of influence. Some worlds are also only barely habitable, so races have to spend decades, if not centuries terraforming them (Mars was a testbed for much of the human terraforming tech). It's mentioned that the only reason some barely habitable planets are even settled is because large deposits of natural resources are discovered on (or rather under) them. This was why humans settled on the cold and inhospitable T'har, even though there was the tropical Ro'on in the same system.
  • 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.
    • The only known races to have annihilators are the Faata, the humans (reverse-engineered from the Faata), and the Haptors. The Haptors were unable to perfect and miniaturize the technology and eventually decided that the weapon wasn't worth it. Presumably, the Lo'ona Aeo have the technology to build annihilators, but they consider the weapons far too destructive and indiscriminate to be useful.
  • Apes in Space: The Paraprims are primate-like hairy beings with advanced technology and, possibly, Psychic Powers. They are encountered in Trevelyan's Mission novels. Their main problem with humans is their insistence on imposing progress on any primitive culture, while their own infiltrators stick to their version of the Alien Non-Interference Clause.
  • 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. This is demonstrated in the Battle of the Martian Orbit, when the Faata battle modules cut swaths through human Space Fighters with their Anti Matter weapons and obliterate human cruisers with a single strike. Justified by the nature of anti-matter, which explosively reacts with any matter.
  • Artificial Gravity: Pretty much all interstellar races have that, since the technology exists alongside such concepts as gravity drives and Tractor Beams. Besides allowing people to walk normally, it also serves as a Reinforce Field for larger ships. Gravity generators can be localized, allowing for zero-g areas such as grav-lifts (two parallel shafts with currents of air pushing people up and down, respectively). Grav-lifts can also be present on planetary surfaces. Only the Silmarri don't use artificial gravity (despite likely possessing the technology), since they're, basically, sentient worms who prefer to move around by crawling around their Bizarrchitecture ships.
  • Author Tract: In The Faraway Saikat, it's mentioned that homosexuality has been eradicated from the human gene pool centuries prior and is seen as a disease. Given the homophobic tendencies in Russia, this view by the author isn't surprising.
  • Balkanize Me:
    • The Free Zulu Territory is a UN-recognized nation formed in the mid-21st century as the result of disengagement between the black and white population of South Africa. While not stated, it can be assumed that the "white" nation is still called South Africa.
    • The Kali Kingdom is a reactionary Islamic state created when rebels "annexed" the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo in 2036. Not recognized by the UN. The Kingdom officially follows the Biran, a holy book written by the self-proclaimed prophet Al Musafar (basically, the Quran rewritten to suit his needs).
    • Inverted with the nation of Estlavia, which, apparently, consists of the former Estonia, Latvia, and the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast (which has reverted to its original German name Königsberg). However, since there is Lithuania between Latvia and the Kaliningrad Oblast, it can be assumed that it is also a part of the new nation.
    • Also inverted with Francospain.
  • The Battlestar: All Earth cruisers carry several Space Fighter wings (each wing is 4 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.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Faata look remarkably like humans (a lower-caste Faata female named Yo managed to live on Earth for six years without being discovered). However, there are several factors of their biology that are utterly alien. For example, the Faata circadian rhythm (i.e. daily cycle) does not include a period of rest (i.e. sleep). This is an artificial development, as their distant ancestors are stated to require sleep. Additionally, unlike humans, who are, for the most part, always ready to conceive offspring, the Faata have a mating season called tuahha that occurs about once a month. When not in tuahha, a Faata does not concern him- or herself with sex. In fact, modern Faata do not engage in physical intimacy at all, considering it to be an act of barbarism. Any Faata reaching his or her tuahha period is placed in a stasis-like state called t'hami that accelerates his or her metabolism. This allows the Faata to let the tuahha pass quicker (while being unconscious at the time) and get back to his or her life. Procreation is achieved via artificial insemination and only of a special caste of females called ksa, who are kept perpetually in t'hami.
  • 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.
    • The Defender reveals that the technology is no longer used for this purpose. Instead, the Foundation builds customized robots that appear to be members of a particular species and can carry a person's consciousness.
  • 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.
    • Some novels claim that, from third novel on, the Faata have been utterly defeated, while others insist they remain a continuous threat. Additionally, there are marked discrepancies on the history of the Faata and their two Eclipses.
    • Some of the novels claim that the Llyano are a predatory starfaring race who are on par with the other star empires. Then we finally get to The Defender, which reveals that the Llyano are a primitive race of peaceful furry hunters, whose only knowledge of space comes from the Lo'ona Aeo and the Nil'hazi, who have made contact with the locals. The few Llyano who make it off-world do so on Lo'ona Aeo or Nil'hazi ships as passengers. In Fighters of Danwait, a character visits the Llyano homeworld and describes it as an arid place with no bodies of water or forests. In The Defender, the planet has an enormous ocean and is heavily-wooded.
    • There is plenty of this between the main series and the spin-off, usually with the uploaded personality of Komandor 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).
  • Celebrity Paradox: In Fighters of Danwait, the characters are sitting in the VIP room of a bar and examine the paintings there. Four of them are portraits of famous writers, including Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Alexander Dumas. The fourth portrait is of a Middle Eastern man in a turban with the writing underneath naming him "Mizael bin Akhman." One character even points out that "Akhman" is not the author's real name, having read his novels as a kid. For reference, Mikhail Akhmanov's real name is Mikhail Nahmanson.
  • China Takes Over the World: Averted in the first novel. The great powers of the world have unofficially agreed to keep China down, limiting its technological development and, mostly, keeping it out of space. Naturally, China isn't happy, but there isn't anything it can do. In the sequels, it's mentioned that China is one of the first countries to settle the habitable worlds found not far from Sol, mostly due to the fact that it's overpopulated and desperately needs to offload some of its people somewhere. Most of the people in the Western nations would rather stay in their comfortable homes than to try to tame a wild planet light years away.
  • 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").
  • Crazy-Prepared: the United Space Forces in the first novel have warships armed to the teeth with Magnetic Weapons (firing icicle spreads), Frickin' Laser Beams, Plasma Cannons, and nuclear missiles. Their primary combat tasks appear to be as a quick-reaction force against Earth-based missions and destroying dangerous asteroids. There does not appear to be a reason why the USF has to have so many well-armed ships, especially since a large chunk of them usually find themselves patroling the Outer Solar System, and the existence of aliens is not seen as something possible (until they show up, that is).
  • Creative Sterility: Both the Haptors and the Dromi have been traveling through the stars for millennia. And yet they have barely made any improvements to their tech in all that time. And while the non-humanoid Dromi are known to be a little slow, the Haptors are said to be calculating and ambitious. It seems strange for them not to seek to improve their tech. It's said in book 6 of the main series that the reason why their ships are multihulled is because this is their only way of compensating for the backward state of their weapons, shields, and engines. They have to, effectively, double (or even triple and quadruple) up on everything just to keep up with the other races. For a while, they even had annihilators, but the ones they had were bulky and far too exposed to be a useful weapon in battle, with the long thin tube frequently destroyed during the opening seconds of combat and the Anti Matter tank being an obvious vulnerable spot (break the containment, and the whole ship goes boom). They eventually simply removed annihilators from their ships, preferring to rely on plasma cannons instead.
  • 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.
    • In Good Will Mission, the Haptor drunk recalls his time as a soldier during the war with the humans. The fleet he was with were ambushed and utterly wiped out by a human task force in a matter of minutes. After recovering the few survivors, the Haptor higher-ups spent a long time trying to decide if this was due to a slip-up on the soldiers' part or purely an act of the hated enemy. The former meant that the soldiers would be dishonorably discharged, stripped of all titles, properly, clan affiliations, and even names. The latter gave the survivors the option of a ritualistic honorable (but excruciating) death.
  • Defector from Decadence: A number of Dromi exiles live alongside humans on several Lo'ona Aeo worlds. Unlike the vast majority of their people, they have managed to overcome their innate need to obey their elders and have grown tired of fighting. Most live monastic lifestyles and spend their final years (Dromi rarely live to be older than 50) contemplating the universe.
  • 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 140 gigatons. It's stated in several novels that shields are typically synchronized with weapons, since they must be dropped for several milliseconds in order for weapons to fire without hitting the ship's own shield. Naturally, if the enemy shot happens to land at just the right moment, the crew might not even know what hit them. Shield are dropped for longer periods is something needs to be launched, like fighters or probes.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Paul Richard Corcoran has one when he first joins the USF marines. Sergeant Brian Cox (not that one) is a typical example (except he doesn't complain at being called "sir", which could simply be a case of Artistic License – Military). When Corcoran proves to be a smart-ass on his first day (by clarifying if the sergeant will also turn the three girls in the squad into "real men"), Cox shows him a cigarette butt, then orders him to dig a hole three meters deep, put the cigarette butt in it, then sit on it in the lotus position until Cox comes to check. And do it all in 3 hours.
  • Duel to the Death: While duels are officially banned in Kni'lina society, tradition is stronger than rules, and they still happen if there's no other way to resolve personal differences. In the second book of the spin-off series, two Kni'lina women meet in a remote hallway of the space station not observed by cameras and fight with knives. Despite expectations, the fight is dominated by the older, smaller, bonier female, although she's revealed to be a war vet with plenty of combat experience. However, she underestimates her opponent, a trained assassin, and gets a sharpened pin stuck in her throat.
  • The Empire: 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 Dromi are definitely imperialistic (their main goal is to constantly take more planets for their ever-growing population) but are a clan-based society. Each clan has a Patriarch, and the Patriarchs of the ruling clans (there are also warrior clans, worker clans, etc.) form the Elder Council. They don't have a single ruler.
    • 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.
  • ET Gave Us Wifi: The Exile has been partly responsible for some of the great advances made during the Renaissance. He helped finance Gutenberg's printing press, suggested the idea for an aircraft to Leonardo da Vinci, and not only gave Christopher Columbus a hand-drawn chart featuring the American continents but also accompanied him on his journey as a simple sailor. Of course, part of the reason why he chose to go to Earth was to ensure that humanity would one day serve as a counterbalance to the rapidly-expanding Faata. He just didn't expect the Faata to arrive several centuries earlier than expected.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": A Shas-ga chieftain on the planet Ravana/Inferno takes on the name Grey Trumpeter after he unites the hearths (i.e. clans) of The Horde. His original name is unknown. "Trumpeter" refers to his loud voice, a necessity for a great leader.
  • 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. This is later Ret Conned. The Llyano turn out to be largely peaceful hunter-gatherers, who would never dream of eating another sentient being. Their primary "enemies" are deadly semi-sapient predators called shorro (or "nocturnal silent ones"), who would fit this trope, since they look similar to the Llyano (being a member of a lateral evolutionary branch), except larger and more fierce. When one appears near a village, it shows up every night and abducts and eats a Llyano until a hunting party is organized to kill it.
  • Explosions in Space: Played straight with ships destroyed by plasma or antimatter. Ships destroyed by an annihilator produce a gamma-ray burst.
  • Family Theme Naming: Paul Richard Corcoran's wife is named Vera ("faith"). His two daughters are named Nadezhda ("hope") and Lyubov ("love"). "Faith, hope, and love" is a phrase from "1 Corinthians 13:13".
  • Famous Ancestor: All of Paul Richard Corcoran's descendants can claim this. Also, the cast of the in-universe holofilm Invasion, released on the 30th anniversary of said event, includes descendants of well-known 80s action stars: Chuck Norris, Jr. (as the hero Pavel Litvin), and Peter Van Damme (as the Big Bad Yata).
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: In the fourth novel, Olaf Peter Carlos Trevelyan-Krasnogortsev hopes to get some leave on Earth, so he can meet up with one of his old flames, most of whom appear to be named after 20th century actresses: Lucía Méndez, Angelina Jolie, Goldie Hawn, Monica Bellucci, Michèle Mercier.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Dromi are divided into tribes, headed by a Patriarch (or Zong-er-zong in the Dromi language; literally "Elder-over-Elders"). All members of a tribe descend from the Patriarch. Caste stratification is done via generations. Those born of earlier generations have a higher status than those born later. The first generation, called Sidura-zong (Big-Elders), are the rulers of the tribe (after the Patriarch). The second (Zong-ap-sidura, Elders-under-Big) and third (Zong-tii, Elders-with-Spot) generations serve as supervisors, the latter named so because they feature a large violet spot on their bellies, signifying maturity. The fourth and younger generations are called Sinn-ko (Named-Ones), who function as workers and rank-and-file soldiers. The mindless younglings are called Hallaha, and most of them don't even make it to the Sinn-ko age (those that do are given names). Only the Zong-tii and Zong-ap-sidura castes produce offspring, although this has more to do with physiology than social stratification (i.e. this is the time when the hermaphroditic Dromi can produce offspring). Due to their Cannon Fodder status, few Sinn-ko live long enough to become Zong-tii. The casualties among the Zong-tii are less, but the numbers still grow smaller yet by the time they reach the age of Zong-ap-sidura. Most Dromi never make past this stage and die at around the age of 50. A few are chosen for the Sidura-zong caste and are given life-extension treatments. Since the Dromi continue to grow throughout their lives, even with the longevity treatments, they still, eventually, succumb to the Square-Cube Law. Patriarchs typically only die of this, although they usually sense their coming death and pass their authority to their oldest surviving offspring, a Sidura-zong, who becomes the new Patriarch. The other Sidura-zong can remain at that stage but can also leave to form their own tribes. As all this indicates, there is definite vertical mobility (by virtue of the aging process), but attrition ensures that only a relatively small percentage reaches higher castes.
  • Federation, The: The Earth Federation. The old nation-states still exist on Earth.
  • Fictional Currency: In the late 21st century, North America and Europe use a unified currency called the eular, the result of the economic struggle between the dollar and the euro. However, many other types of currency remain, such as the British pound, the Russian ruble, the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, and others.
  • 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.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Annihilators are, typically, mounted in this manner, since they are extremely-powerful and large weapons. The Pallas-class cruisers, introduced in the fourth novel, are a marked improvement over the older cruisers and feature two independently-targeted annihilators, not only doubling their firepower, but also allowing them to target two different ships at the same time.
  • 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 (although some text in the following novel suggests that it's not unusual; it's just that Alice is from T'har, a very conservative world). 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.
    • The Teruxi believe that nothing should stand in the way of love or attraction, no matter how brief. They have a hard time understanding concepts like marriage (including the entire institution), inability to be with someone one likes/loves, or jealousy. This can lead to some problems with humans, who still value such ideas. When a female Texuri seer arrives to Liana 2 and takes a liking to Ivar Trevelyan, she doesn't even try to hide her attraction and desire to sleep with him, despite the presence of his wife. Ivar finally convinces her to quit it, and she relents, stating her confusion at the strange and brutal ways of the Earthlings. She makes one more attempt by trying to convince Ivar's wife Alice to talk Ivar into having two sexual partners, as she has heard is not unusual on Earth. Alice counters that she's from T'har, a conservative culture, whose views on marriage are very traditional.
  • Genetic Memory:
    • In Counterstrike, Paul Richard Corcoran keeps experiencing dreams (or Dreams, as he clals them) of strange places and events. His close friend Klaus Siebel helps him analyze them, based on their knowledge of the Faata history and culture, since Paul's biological father is a Faata. One of these is a vivid image of the First Eclipse, with tens of millions of people being crushed by collapsing Star Scrapers.
    • 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 Danwait 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.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Inverted with the Kni'lina, for whom "green" is a symbol for danger while "red" means everything is fine. Obviously, this can confuse uninformed humans. The reasons for that go back to their ancient history, where the arrival of a second moon caused much calamity and upheaval in society. The second moon appears green from the surface of their homeworld, thus the negative connotation of the color.
  • 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.
  • Happily Married: Most protagonists. Commodore Olaf Peter Carlos Trevelian-Krasnogortsev is a glaring exception, having gone through several marriages (although one of them would have probably lasted had that wife not been killed in combat). Even the philandering Ivar Trevelyan eventually ends up in a happy Fourth Date Marriage and readily gives up his womanizing ways.
  • 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.
  • Homeworld Evacuation:
    • The Proteids have saved a primitive sentient race called the Spolders from their dying planet and have resettled them to a large island on their own hidden homeworld. Spolders a race of thinkers, who don't really do much beyond taking care of the basics of survival. They tend to avoid interacting with the Proteids. When such interactions do occur, Proteids typically adopt the appearance of Spolders as a gesture of respect.
    • In The Defender, while an joint human-Haptor archaeological team attempts to discover a Daskin artifact on the planet Liana 2 (the Llyano homeworld), Earth's Mobile Fleet is attempting to intercept a Negative Space Wedgie that threatens the planet and any other planet in its path. A massive Lo'ona Aeo ship arrives to trade with the locals, and it's noted that it's much larger than a typical trade ship and may even be capable of evacuating a significant portion of the planet's population if necessary. The humans agree that the Lo'ona Aeo must be preparing to invoke this trope in case the giant Deflector Shield set up by the Mobile Fleet to intercept the particle stream fails. They are followed by three Nil'hazi ships, who claim to be doing the same and insist that the humans shield will not hold, so the Mobile Fleet should, instead, focus on evacuating as many Llyano as possible.
  • 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 Morons: The Exile expresses this opinion near the end of the first novel, frustrated at the humans' inability or unwillingness to heed his warnings or advice, preferring to fight one another to uniting against the alien threat. When Litvin asks why the Exile is unwilling to give his own life to destroy the Faata starship, the Exile angrily tells him that it's not for him to give up his (very long) life for a planet that's not his own, especially after doing so much to try to help the humans, despite their thick-headedness and stubbornness. He outright calls humans savages, who, maybe, deserve to be enslaves or wiped out by the Faata. That said, later novels show that humans do get better (it helps that the author includes almost no politics in any of the sequels), and the future human leaders are more than willing to heed his advice or use his information, since they now know about him. Given Litvin's humbled reaction after this rant, he fully agrees with the Exile.
  • 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.
    • In The Defender, a Teruxi female observes Ivar Trevelyan talking to his wife and notes how decisive humans are, wondering if that's the reason they have carved out an interstellar empire, while the Teruxi are still mostly confined to their homeworld with only a few million living among the humans.
  • 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.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: In Dark Skies, many of the chapters are told from the viewpoint of a unique Dromi named Patta, who desperately tries to understand the human Hossi-moa ("Paired Creatures", as the Dromi call all humanoids with two sexes, since they're a One-Gender Race). The rigidly-hierarchical Dromi in general have trouble understanding the much more flexible human society, as well as actions that seemingly defy logic (although, at least, they admit that the actions defy their logic). Due to their need to finish a train of thought before switching to a new one, they also find it hard to keep up with humans, whose minds must seem chaotic to the frog-lizards.
  • Humanshifting: While the rest of his species has Voluntary Shapeshifting, the Exile's condition causes him to be locked into the first species he changes to. After that, only relatively small changes are possible. He chooses humans and has been living on Earth since the 13th century. While he is able to imitate a human male of any skin color (women's bodies are too different for him to change into), he has been seen as a Human Alien or even a "pseudo-humanoid" at several points, although it's implied that these changes are only cosmetic (despite the four-fingered hands of the latter). He also spends decades with a prosthetic arm, as the man he replaced lost his arm in battle before expiring. He is able to regrow the arm when necessary in a matter of seconds.
  • I am a Humanitarian: Several races are known to eat their own kind.
    • The Shas-ga nomads on the planet Ravana live in the barren steppes, so it common for them to eat their defeated enemies. it's also common for a powerful Shas-ga male to have one of his females slaughtered for dinner.
    • The spider-like Arhs on the planet Arhang frequently eat the bodies of their slain enemies. The possible reason for that is the fact that salt is necessary for their metabolism, and bodies of fellow Arhs are likely to have plenty of that.
  • I Have Many Names: Having been on Earth since the 13th century, the Exile, naturally, can use this trope. Whenever revealing his true self, he usually showcases a number of his previous names along with the faces. In Invasion alone, he uses four distinct personae, all of whom have verifiable credentials: Gunther Voss, a famous reporter; Liu Chang, a Chinese astronomer; Umkhonto Tlume, a Zulu diplomat; and Roy Bunch, a USF officer. By Counterstrike, he mostly uses the identity of Klaus Siebel, a USF Secret Service officer. He also mentions Nikolay Krivin as one of his former identities. He then fakes his death as Klaus and emerges as Cro Lightwater, taking the name and face of a recently deceased Navajo officer. He continues to use this name almost 1000 years later when he reappears in Consul Trevelyan, although there are also other identities.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: long-lived races, as a rule, tend to have low populations either due to their Bizarre Alien Reproduction or simply because of a low birth rate. In the case of the Faata, their low birth rate is artificial, since their original civilization had population in the billions before most of them were wiped out. Among the Metamorphs, it's considered rare for an individual to bear more than one child during its millennia-long lifespan, which would seem to preclude any sort of population growth. Among those of the Corcoran line, it isn't unusual to have an individual be incapable of having children until the person is in his or her forties or fifties because of Corcoran's Half-Human Hybrid status.
  • 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 Dark Skies, 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.
  • Killer Space Monkey: Zigzagged. While the Paraprims are indeed primates from some other world (they have prehensile lower limbs and are covered in fur), they are psychic, clairvoyant, and are naturally peace-loving. They are first encountered in the Trevelyan's Mission series, but their existence is hinted at in The Gates of the Galaxy, as they are implied to be the Lo'ona Aeo Defenders prior to the Haptors. They are said to have been poor Defenders due to their peace-loving nature but were excellent students.
  • 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.
  • La Résistance: In Dark Skies, after the Dromi capture the human colony world T'har, those who are not killed in the initial attack or captured by the ground troops flee into the mines to the north and form resistance cells in their ruined cities, attacking small Dromi patrols. Despite the fact that they have killed hundreds of Dromi soldiers, it's pointed out that the Dromi higher-ups couldn't care less about this loss, since the Dromi breed like rabbits (much faster, in fact; there are several times more Dromi in the galaxy than all known humanoids combined). Thanks to Mark Valdez, the T'haran resistance finds an old cache of weapons left over from the Void Wars and tries to stage an attack on the Dromi base. The goal is to kill the Patriarch of the clan, causing the rigidly-hierarchical Dromi to freeze for a while. It's a failure, since the Patriarch transfers his authority to his next-in-command mere minutes before he's killed, and the resistance is nearly wiped out as a result. Only the coincidental arrival of The Cavalry in the form of the human fleet saves them.
  • Lady Land: The Nil'hazi appear to be a matriarchal society, and their female ship/fleet commanders often refuse to deal with human male commanders, habitually treating them as subordinates.
  • 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 140 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. Worse, the shields can reflect the buckshot back at the attacker at an even greater speed.
    • Lo'ona Aeo weapons fire projectiles that are incredibly effective against both Deflector Shields and enemy hulls.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Komandor 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 Komandor's children have decided that the name was too long and have used only "Trevelian" since then.
  • Mars: Several small bases are present on the red planet in the first novel, including the USF base of the Second Fleet. In both first and second novels, the planet is used to test fighter pilots alongside the hellish Venus. By the fifth novel, taking place a few centuries after the first, however, Mars has been largely terraformed and is now home to 200 million people and even has oceans, rivers, and vast forests. Some areas have been set aside as preserves in order to retain the natural Martian landscape and scenery, although, of course, the air is breathable if rarefied (think Himalayas). In fact, the terraforming of Mars was used as a testbed for future settlement of Mars-like worlds, including T'har.
  • Mayincatec: At the end of The Faraway Saikat, Ivar Trevelyan sends a message to Earth. He receives a reply that's partly encoded in Mayan glyphs. It says "Quetzalcoatl". Ivar explains that he was a brutal god demanding hundreds of sacrifices a day. Except that's not the case. Quetzalcoatl was one of the least violent and bloodthirsty gods. In addition, Quetzalcoatl is his Aztec name, the Mayans called him Kukulkan, so it's unlikely that his Aztec name would be encoded in Mayan glyphs.
  • Mode Lock: Most Metamorphs are fully capable of Voluntary Shapeshifting and frequently infiltrate other races' cultures in order to both observe them and subtly push them in the right direction. A rare mutation may cause a Metamorph to get permanently stuck in a form he first takes (they normally exist as shapeless blobs on their homeworld). The Exile chooses to take the form of a human and infiltrates Earth in the 13th century. After this, he is able to make small changes to his appearance, but not the internal structure. At the end of Fighters of Danwait, he even appears as a four-fingered Lo'ona Aeo, but he assures Sergey Valdez that he still has human organs underneath.
  • 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, although the hyphenated last name dates back to the early 20th century (a Tsarist Russian officer's daughter married into a wealthy French family and insisted on preserving her family name). His birthplace is given as Cornwall, England. In fact, according to him, he was named after his ancestors from Scandinavian, English, and Spanish sides of the family.
  • Multinational Team: The USF has servicemen and women from all Western nations and their allies. In the sequels, this expands to pretty much all nationalities.
    • In Counterstrike, the frigate Commodore Litvin has 16 crewmembers. Of them, The Captain Paul Richard Corcoran was raised in Russia, but his mother is Irish-American and his official father is Austrian (his biological father is a Faata); his Number Two Selina Praagh is from Singapore (despite the European name); four other crewmembers are Russian; the second navigator Oki Yamaguchi is Japanese; the pilot Bai Ling is Chinese; the senior engineer Sancho Hernandez is Hispanic; the cyberneticist Sigurd Linder is Scandinavian; Communications Officer Camille Dupressis is French (or, at least, from a French-speaking country); the gunners Robert Wentworth and Samuel Bigelow sound English or American; another gunner Cro Lightwater is Navajo; the pilot Boniface Santini's origins are unclear but definitely European; Corcoran's friend and USF Secret Service officer Klaus Siebel appears to be of German descent (he's actually a shapeshifting alien).
  • My Grandson Myself: In the first novel of the spin-off series, Ivar Trevelyan eventually learns that one of the human scientists studying the medieval society on Osier has remained behind after using advanced human tech to find salt deposits and becoming filthy rich. Since native Osierans don't live that long by human standards, especially centuries in the future and with medical implants, he has faked his death several times and then reappeared as his own son. It also helps that he lives on a private island, so he interacts with very few people (mainly his wives and his servants). Trevelyan happens upon the man purely by accident, as the ruler of a nearby city exiles him (in lieu of punishment) and sends him to the island of his friend as a guest for a few days. There, Trevelyan is shocked to see a mansion built in Victorian style and learns that the island's owner, one Ugo-Tasmi, has a habit of giving his servants new names, such as Ellie, Kitty, and Millie. It's not long before he realizes that the man is really the missing scientist Hugo Tasman. At the end of the novel, Trevelyan offers Tasman a chance to return to Earth, but Tasman chooses to stay on Osier.
  • My Greatest Failure: On a large scape in the spin-off series. Back during the early days of the Foundation for the Development of Alien Cultures, FDAC tried to progress the cultures of three humanoid races at the level of 19th century Earth. Those civilizations are now gone, and one of the Foundation's guiding principles since that time is the Kinnison Threshold, which states that only cultures in the Late Medieval period or earlier can be progressed. Ivar doesn't even remember the original names of the three planets, only the names given to them by the Foundation after the fact as monuments to their failure: Icy Hell, Bitter Berry, and Ruined Hope.
  • Named After Somebody Famous:
  • Named After Their Planet: Largely averted. The advanced races typically come from worlds whose names have nothing to do with their racial names. For example, the Lo'ona Aeo come from Kullat (although they have since voluntarily become Space People), the Teruxi are from Dingana-P'how, the Haptors are from Harshabaim-Utartu, and the Kni'lina are from Yezdan. Many of the primitive locals, however, on planets discovered and studied by humans and other races are frequently named after their planets but only by the advanced races (e.g. Osierans from Osier, Arkhangs from Arkh). Their own names for their races aren't usually mentioned. Additionally, while the name of the Bino Faata homeworld is never stated, it can be assumed that, since their name for themselves is roughly translated as "sentients of the Third Phase", the name of their home planet is different (unless they renamed it).
  • 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. Several early colonies are also named after ancient gods or mythical heroes, such as Baal, Astarte, and Ajax. Two colonies in the same system are named after Greece (presumably, settled by Greeks): New Hellas ("Hellas" is the original name for Greece) and Peloponnesus (the peninsula where Southern Greece is located). 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 (although later it's revealed that Osier is the native name, meaning "World in the Ring"), and Chthon.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The main threat in The Defender is a particle and gas stream coming away from the galactic core, destroying everything in its path. In the novel, Earth's Mobile Fleet arrives to attempt to stop or, at least, dissipate the stream with an enormous Deflector Shield before it hits the inhabited planet Liana 2 (the Llyano homeworld). Three Nil'hazi ships appear later and advise the fleet commander that the stream also contains a number of planetoids who would not be stopped by the shield and would be too large to obliterate with annihilators or pushed out of the way, recommending that humans attempt to evacuate as many Llyano as possible instead. Fortunately, the defenses system installed by the Daskins millions of years ago for just such an occurrence awakens and opens a Limbo portal right in the path of the stream, sending it elsewhere.
  • 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.
  • No Name Given: In the first novel, Admiral Timokhin's first name or patronymic are never specified, despite the fact that he's a major character. This continues in the sequel, where all mentions of him only reference his rank and last name. He is the only one of the three admirals to not have a known first name.
  • Noodle Incident: dark versions in the Trevelyan's Mission books. Ivar occasionally mentions several worlds where human interference resulted in some sort of disaster for the natives. The details are never given, only the names given to the planets by humans (e.g. Icy Hell, Bitter Berry, Collapsed Hope). These were early examples, which served as lessons that were successfully employed in further attempts at imposing progress on primitive cultures (e.g. never interfere in a culture past the Medieval stage of development).
  • No Sense of Personal Space: everyone compared to the Kni'lina, whose concept of "kono" defines a strict boundary of personal space (usually, 6-9 feet) that must never be crossed by another, except under special circumstances. As a result, all Kni'lina rooms tend to be spacious to accommodate this rule, and the Kni'lina themselves constantly look around to make sure they stay well away from another person. The main exceptions are those of the servant caste, who aren't required to abide by this rule with respect to other servants. They can also serve their masters when necessary. Romantic/sexual relationships, naturally, are also exempt from this rule. There is a cultural reason for this, though. Long ago, a deadly plague struck their homeworld, wiping out a good chunk of their race. Only those who developed an immunity or underwent genetic modifications survived. Thus, the concept of "kono" is a left-over from that time, when people were afraid of contracting the plague from close contact.
  • Nuke 'em: the T-16 charges are portable fusion explosives consisting of magnetic vibrators that heat up deuterium to the temperature required to initiate nuclear fusion. Besides its use by the USF, illegal T-16 factories are also present in the Kali Kingdom, a rogue Islamic state on Borneo, which are used to supply the terrorists of the world with destructive weaponry to be used against the infidels.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Not quite omniscient, but the Arbiters of Justice, created centuries after humanity's First Contact, are humans who possess a quality that allows them to look at events objectively, not only from an anthropocentric point of view. An Arbiter of Justice also has the nigh-ultimate authority in Earth Federation, and everyone is required to obey by their decisions, since they are always perceived as ultimately just, even if they may seem detrimental to humanity. Many alien races even demand that an Arbiter of Justice be present at important negotiations to ensure fairness for both sides. Naturally, some people resent the Arbiters for their cosmopolitan views, but they are still forced to abide by their decisions. One such decision involves preventing the fleet from dealing a crushing blow to the enemy with whom humanity has been waging a long and devastating war for decades, which results in the war continuing for another century before humanity is finally able to overcome their foe.
    • It's mentioned that attempts to include members of other races in the organization were met with failure, as humans seem to be the only species with the ability to look beyond their race's interests. Others naturally think from their race's point-of-view and play favorites.
  • 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.
    • The shapeshifting Metamorphs/Proteids are also hermaphrodites and reproduce by budding, after being fertilized by several other Metamorphs. However, each Metamorph is only considered to have one parent.
  • Organic Technology: The Silmarri utilize semi-organic ships with Bizarrchitecture. The Daskins had experimented with self-aware organic computers that utilize Psychic Powers for communication. The experiment was, apparently, a failure, but the Faata stumbled on one of these computers at some point and adapted them for use on their ships and colonies.
  • Our Elves Are Different: 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. They don't believe themselves fit for the role of galactic protectors and are secretly grooming humans for the job.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Averted at the start of the series, which is set in the last 21st century, and radical Islam and the associated terrorism is still very much a thing. Partly played straight in the spin-off series, which takes place in the 29th century. It's stated that, while a good number of humans still have faith in whatever deity they choose, organized religion has been done away with, as it's believed that one's faith is a personal thing, as intimate as the carnal manifestation of love. Definitely averted with the Poharas Clan of the Kni'lina, who tend to be very religious and follow their state-sanctioned belief in the prophet Yezdan the Grey-eyed. While the members of the Ni Clan are far too pragmatic to be religious, they still respect Yezdan's words of wisdom.
  • 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.
  • Planet Ville: By the time of the First Eclipse, the original Faata civilization had turned most of their homeworld into a giant city full of Star Scrapers with only the equatorial landmass being set aside to grow tall grass to be used to make artificial food to feed the enormous population. This proved to be their undoing, when an unspecified disaster caused their enormous buildings to collapse, much of the population was killed (they simply had nowhere to run). It took centuries for the Faata to recover.
  • Plasma Cannon: Plasma weapons are used as primary space weapons by races who lack the technology to field annihilators (e.g. Dromi, Haptors). However, even humans use plasma weapons on their ships, since it seems stupid to them to build a ship with only one weapon (an annihilator is, typically, a Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon), and plasma turrets are useful against smaller enemies who can sneak up from behind. Prior to the arrival of the Faata, humans also have ship-mounted plasma weapons, but it can be assumed that they are more primitive than the plasma cannons used by the more advanced races.
  • Please Select New Planet Name: Averted for both the Bino Faata and the humans. Early in the first novel, it's stated that the Faata always keep not only the native name of any inhabited planet they conquer, but also the native names of any other heavenly bodies in the system (if they have them, of course), even if they can't pronounce them. This even applies if the natives resistance results in their complete extinction. When humans retaliate for the attempted invasion by taking the three Faata worlds in our arm of the galaxy, they also decide to keep their Faata names.
  • 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.
  • Power Perversion Potential: During his time at the Academy, Paul Richard Corcoran occasionally uses his Psychic Powers to pull the answers to problems from the instructors' heads.
  • 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.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: The Arsenals on frontier worlds contain mothballed military equipment, enough for two marine divisions (about 14,000-16,000 men and women). This includes handheld weapons, ground vehicles, tanks, transport and combat aircraft, robots, recon drones, and supplies (e.g. ammo, food, drink). Everything is designed to be usable for centuries. Indeed, when the Arsenal on T'har is re-activated in the fourth novel, it has been waiting for 140 years. All supplies are still good (including food, and not just rations, we're talking steaks and chickens), and all equipment is in perfect working order, besides being outdated.
  • 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: On the planet Osier, the Emperor tends to be this, as inheritance isn't done by primogeniture there. Instead, a group known as the Tower Nobles (descended from the best warriors of the Empire's founder) select candidates for the throne from any eligible male in the Imperial family, which also includes those whom humans would consider bastards (the Osierans don't have such concepts). One of the criteria is a lack of ruthlessness, so they make sure that they never get anyone like The Caligula. It's a system that has survived largely unchanged for thousands of years.
  • 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, except when referencing the the destroyed Faata starship.
  • Retro Rocket: Surprisingly, the pre-Alien Invasion spaceships were of this variety. They typically land and take-off vertically, like a typical example of this trope. Naturally, after Artificial Gravity becomes available, this changes. The new kilometer-long cruisers are cylinder-shaped, but the frigates keep their pointy shape despite using the same tech.
  • Sacred Scripture: The Kni'lina (mostly the religious Poharas Clan) revere an ancient prophet named Yezdan the Grey-Eyed (it's no coincidence that their homeworld is also called Yezdan), whose text The Book of the Beginning and the End is as frequently quoted as humans do with The Bible. Ivar Trevelyan is well-versed in Kni'lina proverbs (most of them come from said book) and occasionally quotes them to the Kni'lina and others. His wife Alice becomes a big fan of the book as well, quoting Yezdan at least as much as Ivar, although she does occasionally mention that many of the sayings have a very male-oriented view.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Hook: A number of Trevelyan's Mission indicate a sequel. For example, at the end of The Defender, Ivar resolves to travel beyond the Void to Faata-controlled space to find out more about the mysterious artifacts left behind by the Daskins.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: A possible one to Dune in Envoy from the Heavens with one of Osier's nobles being named Rabban.
  • Shrink Ray: The Lo'ona Aeo have a device called a molecular scanner. It can take a small object and make it big and vice versa. This is how the Lo'ona Aeo do all their large-scale manufacturing. A skilled craftsman makes a small model of a building, a ship, or an entire space habitat, and then a molecular scanner is used to "grow" it to the desired size. The process is never explained (the energy demands must be enormous), although it's stated that the process does not work properly on electronic systems or living beings due to their complex structures. Still, that device alone makes the Lo'ona Aeo a post-scarcity society. It's also used to transport large items (including entire islands) in containers a fraction of their size, since the Lo'ona Aeo love to collect rare things from across the galaxy.
  • 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 Cadet Academy: Several such places are mentioned in the first two novels. The Baikonur Space Academy (presumably located in Kazakhstan, based on the name) appears to be a combination of a military academy and a boot camp. Anyone who enlists in the USF (usually as a marine) spends their first six years of service there, although they are also sent to other planets in the system for flight practice. There are also officer schools in other parts of the world, such as the Navigator School in Málaga, Spain.
  • Space Elves:
    • The first novel has the main character initially describe the Bino Faata as elves, compared to humans. In contrast, their guards are seen more like trolls, despite them being of the same species.
    • Subverted with the Lo'ona Aeo. While they 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).
  • Space Marines: the United Space Forces Marine Corps is a branch of the USF. Marines typically travel aboard warships and are used for both ground-based assaults and as Space Fighter pilots. They appear to be part of the same chain of command as the rest of the USF and have the same ranks. It can be assumed that the marines used to pilot fighters are not sent on ground missions, as the requirements for pilots are different. For one, pilots have to be small to fit into a fighter's cockpit. Additionally, a number of protagonists start out as marines and end up as fleet commanders.
  • Space Navy: the United Space Forces is a joint service having absorbed NASA and the space forces of several leading nations. The USF continues many of the traditions carried over from wet navies and uses the Anglo-American naval ranking system as well as English as its official language. Even many of the ships are named after historical warships. The novel even provides a parallel between the historical submarine HMS Oberon (P21), an "iron tub" which could only go 17 mph and had 30 torpedoes, and the heavy cruiser Oberon, made of a superstrong composite and capable of going 17 miles per second as well as obliterating the combined wet navies of the 20th century. The initial USF is controlled by a triumvirate of admirals, one from each of the key sponsoring regions (North America, Europe, Russia); each admiral is responsible for one of the three USF fleets (the First Fleet is based on Luna and is mainly responsible for operations against terrorists and other criminals on Earth; the Second Fleet, deployed at Mars, was the reserve, although its ships could also be brought in to assist the First Fleet; the Third Fleet was, by far, the largest, and had bases on Mercury and the Asteroid Belt, effectively patrolling the entire system). After the contour drive is reverse-engineered from the Faata starship, the number of fleets in the USF expands to several dozen, and the organization renames itself to Earth Space Forces after the formation of the Earth Federation (or the Federation Fleet). By the time of the spin-off series, the organization's new name is the Space Defense and Terraforming Corps, since many of its tasks are no longer combat-oriented.
  • Space People:
    • The Lo'ona Aeo have voluntarily moved their entire race into orbital habitats called astroids (not a typo) above planets in their Pink Zone (inner systems). The planets themselves are now nature preserves and museums. The Lo'ona Aeo frequently purchase plants, animals, or even pieces of landscape from other races and put them on their now-empty worlds. Among these are falcons, whose numbers on the Lo'ona Aeo homeworld of Kullat are now about 7500.
    • The Silmarri are a race of worm-like nomads who don't appear to live on any particular world. They are occasionally seen passing through an inhabited star system. As long as no one bothers them, they don't bother anyone else. There are, however, some races with whom they are, essentially, at war with, including the Faata who attack them on sight. Their ships are part-organic and are fairly advanced. They possess Artificial Gravity, contour drives, and Anti Matter weapons.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: The United Space Forces has a number of different types of ships. The first novel provides the most descriptions and lists different types of ships, from Universal Fighters and corvettes to heavy cruisers. Like most Russian sci-fi authors, Akhmanov shies away from terms like "battleship", "battlecruiser", or "carrier", since, officially, the modern Russian navy has none. Strangely, even destroyers are absent from the list, although that could be because there are no submarines in space to be hunted. The classes appear to jump from "frigate" all the way to "light cruiser". Also, for some reason, the author keeps alternating the words "cruiser" and "raider" without explanation.
  • 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).
  • Stock Footage: An in-universe example in the second novel, which includes a critic's review of a historical film about the Alien Invasion that took place 30 years before. The critic mentions that the director opted to use the so-called Message to the Presidents, which was a recording of the Curb-Stomp Battle that was the Battle of the Martian Orbit, for the scene of said battle.
  • Stun Guns: In the first novel, the olks (genetically-engineered Faata guards) carry heavy paralyzer guns aboard the starship. However, the weapon appears to be deadly at close range, as demonstrated when Litvin causes them to fire at one another at near-point-blank range. The concentrated blast stops their lungs from breathing.
  • 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.
  • invoked Technology Marches On: In the fourth novel, it's mentioned that, after the Void Wars finally ended, everyone in The Federation breathed a sigh of relief. The Space Navy was reduced to a token force, returning to a peacetime economy, most of the ships were mothballed, and most of the veterans retired. All new warship construction was scrapped and developments frozen indefinitely, as the Federation Parliament believed that what they had (both active and in reserve) was enough to handle any threat for decades. Forty years later, the war with the Dromi, who outnumber all other known races combined, starts, and, suddenly, they realize that the Fleet simply can't protect all Federation worlds from the less advanced but numerous enemy. The admiral in command of the Fleet muses that the ships he has on hand are only able to hold the line against the enemy onslaught at a few key systems at most. But there are hundreds of new ships in the process of being constructed in the Asteroid Belt, including powerful new heavy cruisers with double the firepower and improved defenses, compared to what he has.
  • Telepathic Spacemen: The Faata high caste, all Lo'ona Aeo, the Proteids.
    • The Paraprims as well.
  • Terraforming: One of the first extrasolar planets settled by humans is Gondwana, which appears to be a paradise that, in later centuries, becomes a Pleasure Planet. Scientists have since determined that the world was likely terraformed by an advanced race who then failed to settle it, for some reason. The truth is revealed in Consul Trevelyan. A race of advanced Human Aliens called Nil'hazi found the planet in the middle of an Ice Age millennia ago. Believing it to be their lost homeworld, they have terraformed it and placed hidden devices to maintain the biological balance. Since the planet was as a shrine to them, they did not see fit to live on it. Then they find out that humans have turned their planet into a resort and demand that humanity vacates Gondwana. An Arbiter of Justice is about to decide in the favor of the Nil'hazi, when Ivar Trevelyan discovers the actual Nil'hazi homeworld, still covered in ice. The Nil'hazi are willing to let humans keep Gondwana, in return for helping to terraform the icy planet.
  • Theme Naming: Also see Naming Your Colony World.
    • Animal Theme Naming: Human fighter craft classes tend to be named after birds of prey. Examples include Vultures, Kites, Peregrines, and Harpies (it can be assumed that the latter refers to the harpy eagle, not the mythical beast).
    • Location Theme Naming: The six cruisers of Task Force 37 in Counterstrike are named after Earth's continents: Europe (the lead and flag ship), Africa, America, Antarctica, Asia, and Australia. Theme Initials also fits all ships but the Europe.
      • In The Defender, six heavy cruisers in the Mobile Fleet are named after ancient cities: Tyre, Memphis, Sidon, Nineveh, Troy, and Thebes.
  • Time Skip: Each novel of the main series takes place decades, if not centuries after the previous one and usually features a different main character (with one exception):
    • Invasion takes place in 2088.
    • Counterstrike moves on to 2125, 37 years later.
    • Fighters of Danwait jumps 141 years to 2266.
    • Dark Skies moves on to 2310, a 44-year skip.
    • The Gates of the Galaxy takes place in 2352, 42 years after that.
    • Good Will Mission leaps 148 years into the future to 2600.
    • The spin-off novels start in 2831 or 231 years after the end of the main series. The skips then are smaller, since the spin-off series focuses on the same character.
  • Tone Shift: Invasion plays out as a desperate struggle of humanity, still just as split by politics, religion, etc., against a ruthless, monolithic alien race who arrives to enslave them. There's plenty of politics, backroom deals, multiple characters (if a bit one-dimensional), a detailed description of a key Space Battle (not one but three times). The sequels abandon all that and focus on the suddenly-unified humanity, the difference in technology becomes negligible, the character count drops to low single digits (you'll be lucky to find more than a dozen named characters in the later novels), no more politics, religious differences, etc. The novels aren't necessarily bad, but they're definitely very different from the first one.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: In the first novel, the UN (more specifically, the UN Security Council) is in control of the Space Navy, the United Space Forces, which is the power outside the planet. The smaller nations (as well as China and India) are excluded from this "space club". One of the tasks of the USF is to be a rapid reaction force, striking from orbit and landing troops within hours of a crisis starting. By Counterstrike, UN's power seems to have grown to the point where it's reorganized into the World Parliament headed by the First Speaker. The UN Security Council becomes the Solar System Security Committee, presided over by the Second Speaker. In later novels, humanity is united into the Earth Federation with the Federation Parliament being its main legislative body and the Federation Fleet its military arm.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The uploaded personality of Ivar's ancestor likes to reminisce about his glory days, although the stories often differ not only from the actual events described in earlier novels but also between tellings. For example, in The Faraway Saikat, the ancestor tells Ivar that he's descended from the ancestor's third wife. In a later book, though, the ancestor tells him that he's actually descended from his first wife and acts as if Ivar is remembering incorrectly. The first wife is actually the correct one, as Ivar has a tiny amount of Bino Faata DNA.
  • 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.
  • We Have Reserves: The greatest strength of the Dromi are their sheer numbers. Their population is estimated at several hundred billion, which is several times greater than the combined population of all the other known races. They breed like rabbits (much faster, in fact) and constantly need new planets to settle. Despite the great attrition rate among the lower/younger castes, their rate of reproduction is still incredibly high. They don't value the lives of the lower castes and see nothing wrong with sacrificing hundreds of them to find out a key piece of information about an enemy. Their technology is also less advanced than that of the humans and many other star-facing races, but their numbers more than make up for that. Their largest ships are called dreadnoughts by humans, but they're actually the size of human frigates and are a fraction of the size of human cruisers. Their inborn lack of fear also means that all battles are fought to the last. Retreat is not an option to them.
  • 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.
  • Zero-G Spot: Many races use anti-gravity fields to sleep. Naturally, this trope comes up. The difficulties of doing this are never brought up.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: