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Literature / Associated Space

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Associated Space is a novel by Marcus Johnston, co-creator of Tech Infantry and The Spectrum Wars, as well the Astonia and Dutch In Space universes. He is a Troper himself.

The story concerns the "miraculous adventures" of Fatebane, a covert operations specialist about 800 years in the future, working for one political faction in the Terran Associated States. What starts out as a regular mission goes awry, getting him dragged into a plot to prevent a civil war and the destruction of the Association along with it. Of course, nothing ever goes according to plan...if there was a plan to begin with. Can Fatebane reunite two Star-Crossed Lovers, save the universe, and live to collect his paycheck?

If you want to read it, you can either purchase it on Amazon, or, if you're too poor, write him at The author may be merciful.

Tropes present in Associated Space:

  • Absent Aliens: No non-human aliens have shown up as yet in the story.
  • Artistic License – Space: A fairly mild case, and the author does at least try to have his technobabble make at least SOME sense, but in a universe powered by Rule of Cool and Refuge in Audacity, a few physics blunders are forgivable.
  • Author Appeal: The author is a big fan of Used Future, Shout-Outs, and Magnificent Bastards, so of course his fiction contains all three in big heaping helpings.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Fatebane goes out of his way to not kill the legions of guards, soldiers, and civilians who are just trying to do their job, but when the Emperor's too stubborn to surrender, he has to flatten the Volsian capital city with more nukes than are in God's own arsenal.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Fatebane's favorite tactic.
  • BFG: The ubiquitous Piccone plasma rifles.
  • Blood Sport: An integral part of the scapegoat symbolism of the religion of the Sheep of New Tau Ceti.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Thanks to Catapault Points, planets in different star systems are mere days or hours away from each other. But you should still strap in.
  • *Click* Hello: David's prospective father-in-law is not happy to see them show up on his doorstep and greets them with the muzzle of a plasma rifle poked out the doorway.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: An entire coastal village on the university planet of Clonmacnois is devoted to esoteric philosophy. Which prompts Fatebane to remark, "We're all failed philosophers, in one way or another."
  • Cool Gate: The Catapault Points used to travel from one planet to another.
  • Cult Colony: New Tau Ceti, a Pastoral Enclave full of religious crazies who take the whole "Good Shepherd" thing a tad too literally.
  • Evil Chancellor: Ursula Urquart, leader of the loyal opposition.
  • Evil Matriarch: Ursula Urquart again.
    • "Yes, it benefited me. Our family's position in the Empire is dependent on my ability to raise our place in the universe. If that means alliances, assassinations, coups, bribes, wars, treaties, and yes, even marriages... I'll do it. Because, David... you don't get to stay in this business unless you're willing to make the tough decisions."
  • The Federation: The Terran Associated States.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Nazar actually defeats Fatebane, captures him, and brings him to Ursula. However, when he doesn't get paid, he decides to break him out, inadvertently joining his side.
  • Future Imperfect: Fatebane's analysis of the strategic and tactical lessons to be drawn from the campaigns of Admiral Patton, who broke through the Western Wall with his triremes to destroy the Japanese Fleet right under the guns of their own coastal fortresses, is a classic example of this trope.
  • Future Slang: All the shebing time.
    • "Sheba" & "Pabo Pyungshin" are Korean swear words (circa 2000) for "Fuck" and "Stupid Cripple," picked up when the author worked in an international school in Korea.
    • "Poh Ha'aretz" is a derogatory term in Hebrew/Aramaic used in the Talmud (ca. 100-400 CE) literally meaning "here in the land," but really means "idiot," or the equivalent of "white trash." Since Orthodox Jews have to study that book from ages 12-18, it frequently reappears in those communities throughout the centuries.
    • "Affskmi seffque" is actually a bad personal joke using two acronyms AFSCME (the public sector employees union) and CEFCU (a credit union).
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: You have to admit, it's harder to get through your Invasion Fleet funding passed through the Senate then it is through an Emperor who says, "Do it."
  • Hulk Speak: The chapter ?Me Doctor? features a Sarmatian medic who talks like Tonto.
  • Infinite Supplies: At some point, Fatebane's credit chit is going to run out or be stolen. Until then, he can bribe or buy his way through many obstacles.
    • Averted by having their ship run out of gas, otherwise, their stolen craft seem to be curiously well-stocked.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: When Fatebane's escape pod is picked up by the Volsian battlecruiser, you just know this trope is coming.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: All space combat is done through the missile (for long range) or the (nuclear dumb-fire) shell (for short range). Lasers are limited to communications because using them as weapons is ridiculously weak.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Fatebane Himself, and probably half the rest of the cast.
  • Meaningful Name: Fatebane, Justified because he chose it himself as part of his home planet's coming-of-age ceremony.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Fatebane dives his ship through an interlocking field of fire generated by the planetary defenses. When that fails, he gets into a shuttle. When that fails, he jumps out in a combat suit, which then fails momentarily, only to come back on right before he plows into the ground.
  • Not My Driver: Fatebane and David are not happy to find that the freighter captain they hired to help them escape from a planet turned out to be the detective chasing them.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Captain Tretyakov is the female version of one. Too bad she works for the apparent badguys.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Fatebane has a memorable run-in with the President of the Terran Associated States.
  • Planet of Hats: Several of the planets visited or mentioned. Sarmatia is the planet of Space Amish nomadic horse warriors. New Tau Ceti is the planet of religious nutjob sheep-men.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Fatebane's main schtick.
  • Runaway Bride: A rare sympathetic male example in David Urquart.
  • Salvage Pirates: Averted. When Fatebane and David crash-land on Sarmatia and are soon surrounded by angry-looking horse-warrior nomads...they promptly get the wounded Fatebane some medical attention and help him get to a spaceport.
  • Shout-Out: Multiple references to previous writing projects by the same author, his friends, and obscure sources of inspiration. For example, Righteous Indignation was the name of Bucky O'Hare's ship in that underappreciated comic bok and Western Animation TV show from the 80's.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: You could call Fatebane a One-Man Army, but whether it's penetrating the enemy's secret lair or finishing off mutant wolves, he's gotta look good doing it.
  • Space Amish: The Free Realm of Sarmatia was colonized by people who want to live simple, or at least live as steppe nomad horse warriors. They're not stupid, however, and thus keep modern medical technology, and hide the oh-so-convenient maglev trains underground so as to not spoil the illusion of primitive barbarism.
  • Space Jews: Coronado Salazar, one of Fatebane's underground contacts. As the author himself is a recent convert to Judaism, some sort of Jews In Space was inevitable.
  • Spiritual Successor: Not only to multiple previous projects by the same author, but it has been compared to the Retief novels of Keith Laumer and The Stainless Steel Rat novels of Harry Harrison.
  • Stealth in Space: Notably averted, even explaining WHY you can't hide in space.
  • Storming the Castle: Rescuing David from his mother's mansion, among other instances.
  • Take a Third Option: What Fatebane invariably does when he seems stuck between two bad choices.
  • Tank Goodness: The very first scene involves giant hovering super-tanks the size and shape of Egyptian Pyramids.
  • Used Future: The author himself prefers to call it "Things Falling Apart In Space".
  • Unusual User Interface: The prolific use of holograms as control panels.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Fatebane has an objective, but the plan falls apart once he drives it off the lot, so he has to make quick adjustments all the time. Sometimes, though, he plans so quickly to doubt he had a plan in the first place.