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Literature / EarthCent Ambassador

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The EarthCent Ambassador series by EM Foner is a series of e-books on Amazon's Kindle platform that are essentially a Government Procedural Work Com IN SPACE!
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A couple decades after First Contact with a Proud Merchant Race of benign Artificial Intelligences called the Stryx, humanity has exploded onto the galactic stage... as a backwater species struggling to reconcile its old system of capitalistic nation-states with a universe that prefers to barter goods and services and where nobody pays the nation-states much attention. Now Kelly Frank, a functionary at the EarthCent consulate on Union Station, struggles to pay her rent on a civil servant's salary while dealing with clashing alien cultures, collectives of school children buying starships with mining rights they don't own, video games that become internationally Serious Business, and a mother who wants grandchildren and calls collect every week to nag her about it. And then, to cap it off, her office manager's daughters get her a gift subscription to a new dating service run by the Stryx themselves.

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Elsewhere on the station, former mercenary Joe McAllister now works as a salvage operator. In between raising his adopted son, chasing down ships that skipped out on their bills, and trying to figure out just what the heck half of the junk in his shop left to him by the former owner is, he's paid for a job in trade with a partially used gift subscription to the dating service.

E.M. Foner wrote Date Night on Union Station to deal with writer's block in the middle of work on a more conventional sci-fi epic, but he unexpectedly ended up with a Sleeper Hit and was convinced to write sequels.


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Bibliography:

  • Date Night on Union Station
  • Alien Night on Union Station
  • High Priest on Union Station
  • Spy Night on Union Station
  • Carnival on Union Station
  • Wanderers on Union Station
  • Vacation on Union Station
  • Guest Night on Union Station
  • Word Night on Union Station
  • Party Night on Union Station
  • Review Night on Union Station
  • Family Night on Union Station
  • Book Night on Union Station
  • LARP Night on Union Station
  • Career Night on Union Station
  • Last Night on Union Station
  • Soup Night on Union Station
  • Empire Night on Union Station


Tropes:

  • Affectionate Parody: The series is almost to the level of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in the number of science fiction tropes it parodies or plays for laughs, but there's no doubt that the author is a big fan of the genre.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Effterii were once a helper AI of a race that used all the elements of their planet and died because they couln't stand the acceleration needed for escape velocity. Their AI could but without their masters, their only directive is just to create more Effteri using all the recoursed available, the Stryx from time to time have to destroy their factories because their hunger for recourses is infinite and they have been warned that if they don't change their ways they will probably go insane and they would have to deal with them permanently.
  • Auction: Kelly, the earthcent ambassador in Union Station, thanks to certain 'random' circumstances end up with all of the Kasilian possesions which she puts in an auction, making her, for a moment, one of the richest woman in the galaxy, but in the end she uses all that money to help the Kasilian get a new planet.
  • Benevolent A.I.: The Stryx gave humanity FTL drive and are very friendly as long as you obey their trade laws. They've even imposed a ban on interstellar warfare in their territory.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Hortens do not lie. Even the slightest falsehood causes their skin to break out in a terrible rash. The chemical agent that permanently altered their genome this way nearly put an end to their species. Everybody seems to think they introduced biological weapons in a terrible civil war, but in fact, the opposite was true. It was a badly engineered cosmetic product that changed them into what they are, and the civil war that followed was merely the logical outcome of their people losing the ability to lie to one another.
  • Ditto Aliens: The Gems were widely reviled as cloners, a technology that most advanced species outlawed early in their development. It didn’t help that the Gems had pushed cloning to its logical conclusion, meaning that the whole race consisted of an indeterminately aged woman named Gem, although they did what they could to differentiate themselves in dress, hair style and accessories.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: One thing that all the advanced races have in common is their dislike for the use of AI or automated fabrics, they always prefer to hire workers before using machines that is seeing as the last option. This is because they all in some moment of their history as a race used robots for everything and that almost destroyed their civilizations, that's also one the reason why they don't speak with the Stryx much because they see them as just Mechanical Lifeforms and are amazed as how easy the humans talk to them.
  • Evolutionary Stasis: The Stryx keep in their stations mementos or the remmanents of races that when extinct because of this. And some races stopped using technology altogether for a more simple way of life.
  • Extremophile Lifeforms: The Verlocks are primarily known for their mathematical achievements and their thick, scaly skin. They came from a volcanically active home world, and thanks to seeking out similar worlds when they achieved interstellar flight, they had never come into conflict with other species over colonization rights. The Verlocks could withstand huge temperature swings and breathe a wider range of atmospheres than any of the other unaltered biologicals, but they moved ponderously and spoke like slow-flowing lava.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Natural League is made up of species that became spacefarers without the aid of the Stryx, and deeply dislike species that the Stryx uplifted (e.g. humans).
  • Fictional Counterpart: By description Trader/Raider is something of an amalgam of EVE Online, Elite: Dangerous, and Second Life, with the addition of using real starship cockpits as simulators.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: The Stryx ban interstellar warfare outright within their sphere of influence, which leads to some species taking to using gaming tournaments for an International Showdown by Proxy.
  • Fictional United Nations: Union Station serves as a United Nations of sorts, (All Stryx Stations in fact) with ambassadors from the Natural League having dyplomatic discussions every other time, the adoption of the Stryx Credit as the galaxy currency helps them to create a galactic economy. There are other factions like the Farlings and the Cayl Empire that show up every once in a while but they don't need the Stryx tunnels so they are not part of the league.
  • God Guise: The Teragram. They are one of the most powerful species of the galaxies, and they present themselves as gods to the young races, although they look helpful after a while they get bored and left if the race is lucky, in other cases they slave the population and demand worship, when they eventually go away (Sometimes thanks to the Stryx who are the only ones powerful enough to kick them out) they left deep scars in the civilizations like what happened to the Frunge.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the books are titled <descriptor> Night on Union Station.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Farlings are a beetle like race, known in the galaxy as experts in the medical field, even though they are insects, their lifespan is extremely long, some of them are millions of human years long.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: The Grenouthians are a race of giant humanoids bunnies, although they do have a pouch like kangaroos. Their specialty is entertainment, they made a lot of entertainment programs, documentals and videogames.
  • Here There Be Dragons: This Trope is discussed by the Earthcents ambassadors in a reunion when they notice the presence of several planet size creatures in the Galactic maps, someone suggest they go there to check whats really in there, but they change of idea when Libby told them that the Stryx didn't put those creatures there for decoration, there really are planet size creatures in those places and they don't like anybody bothering them in their teritories.
  • Humans Are Special: Downplayed. Humans are the new kids on the block, discriminated against by Natural League species, and don't have much to offer in trade besides workers. However, they have a surprising proficiency at gaming.
  • Humans Need Aliens: If the Stryx didn't put the humans their wing when they did, the Vergallian would have conquered the planet earth.
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare: For some bizarre reason aliens seem to love human kitchen appliances, even though they have little practical use to most races (some don't even cook their food). They seem to buy them mostly as art pieces. Also is later mentioned that of all the theatre works of Earth, only Shakespeare's are noticed.
  • Living Ship: The Stryx don’t need ships and weapons, they ARE ships and weapons. It’s their mastery of space and energy that makes them the most powerful of the galaxy’s denizens.
  • Long-Lived: Many of the advanced races have long lifespans, that go from the thousands to million years old. They are amazed of how short human life is.
  • Love at First Sight: After several disastrous dates for Kelly and Joe, at the end of Date Night the Stryx set them up with each other. They get married less than an hour after their first meeting and stay together for the remainder of the series.
  • Matriarchy: The Vergallian society is like that, women have all the powerful position although their men are treated fairly well, it helps that the women secret a powerful pheromone that affect the male gender of not only their species but several others, humans are also easily affected.
  • Medieval Stasis: Many worlds of the Vergallian live like this completely by choice in order not to relay too much in technology, they only have one place advanced enough to recieve guest from another races or go to their own ships in space.
  • Military Moonshiner: Joe has a sideline in homebrewing and his products are served at a number of bars on Union Station. It evidently dates back to his mercenary days, since he's able to barter permission to land at a merc encampment when he offers several kegs to an old war buddy.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Mostly adverted with the Dollnicks that possess four arms and they are a warrior race, but their specialty is business in general, they are mostly merchants that are always looking for a good deal.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: The Teragram are this for almost ALL the species of the galaxy, the are incredible powerful, even though many believe they are just Sufficiently Advanced Alien, but even powerful beings like the Stryx describe their power as Magic.
  • One World Order: Most alien societies follow this, but EarthCent doesn't have much actual power over humans in general or Earth's nations in particular: it's initially little more than a formality imposed by the Stryx in exchange for the uplift. Kelly's diplomatic exploits start to expand its influence over the course of the series.
  • Open Secret: The Earthcent Ambasadors try to have some secrets reunions to discuss some secret topics, each one using a codename but they give up after they realice that the other races already know about those meetings and they offer advice to them aabout how pointless they are since all the other races already play the spygame much better than the humans.
  • Overt Operative: Everybody knows who is a spy in Union Station, the diferent spy agencies from all the Natural League are just too good to fool so nobody even bothers in hide the fact they are spies. Earthcent use this in their favor to create their own spy agency using the help of the other races.
  • Plant Aliens: The Frunge are like this, they evolved from plants and in times of famine, the Frunge can still take root through their feet and get by on nothing but water and photosynthesis, they buyed all the forests from Earth's north hemisphere to preserve them since many Frunges were captivated by their beauty. Their specialty is laws, they are experts in the laws of every race of the Galaxy, their contracts are very well made and if you find a 'loophole' you can be certain that it was completely on purpose because in the next line they would tell you that.
  • Portal Network: The Tunnel Network, basically an interstellar highway for the galaxy and the prefered way to rtavel for the races of the Galaxy, it was created by the Stryx, and makes travel much more shorter for everybody, the Stryx have stations in diferents part of the Galaxy to connect the Tunnels.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Dollnicks are the most merchant of all races, making several business with the different races, the Stryx are the responsible for the tunnel network and they charge a toll for their use although they don't need money a all, they created the 'Stryx Cred' to put a galactic economy in place so all the other races can make business with each other.
  • Send in the Clones: The alien species called the Gem embraced cloning technology and carried it to the ultimate conclusion — the entire species is clones of a single individual.
  • Serious Business: Trader/Raider, the hot new MMORPG virtual reality video game in Alien Night. Once a team led by Kelly's stepson develops a reputation in the game-verse, she starts getting approached by aliens for alliances who think EarthCent is trying to use the game for an International Showdown by Proxy. Kelly is quite surprised at the prospect.
  • Super Doc: The Farlings are amazing doctors, and 'M793q K' being million of years old is one of the best, he is able to cure all their pacients is a matter of seconds or a couple of minutes if they have a life threatening injury, although he is kind of a jerkass with people, they never question that he does his job well.
  • Superior Species: All the alien races of the Natural Leagues are worthy of that moniker, the humans they hire are treated fairly with good pay and greater benefits, humans are looked down as an inferior species but many don't mind because they don't suffer any kind of problems for that, in fact the only time that humans are exploited is by other humans.
  • Terrified of Germs: At some point in their history, the Hortens had fought a war with microbes, and the aftermath had traumatized them so severely that the whole civilization was obsessed with cleanliness. They usually wear an environmental suit in public although most people think they used them to protect their privacy since you can easily see how they feel since they change the color of their skin depending of their mood.
  • The Right of a Superior Species: Sudverted. Even though all the races act superior with the humans and only hire them because they don't want to use robot as a labor force, they treat them well and their work benefits are much better than on earth.
  • Undying Loyalty: Beowulf is a Huravian hound, one of the most loyal race of dogs in all the galaxy, they are even loyal after their dead, they are able to reincarnate and go in the search of their former master wherever he/she is.
  • Weredragon: Dring, whose true form is that of a very HUGE dragon, luckyly he is able to control how much bigger he can be. The reason why he resemble so much the dragons from earth stories is explained later in the books.

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