Three centuries after the events of the Moreau Series, Earth has colonized 84 planets. 83 of them are divided among the 5 arms of the Confederacy, which claims authority over all Terran sapients. The 84th is the planet of Bakunin, which has no government that could sign the Confederate Charter and won't stand for any such thing to exist. Bakunin's billion-odd people (there's no census) are divided among dozens of communes, each devoted to some religion, ideology, philosopy, or personality, as well as the cities, run by one or more feuding corporations.
The Confederacy is tired of Bakunin's intransigence, and various factions see power for themselves if Bakunin is counted as one of their own, so Colonel Klaus Dacham of the Terran Executive Command is given the task of bringing the world to heel. The laws of the Confederacy prohibit outright invasion, so Dacham is tasked with subversion and recruitment of local forces to achieve the Confederacy's goals, and his only limit is that he must not be caught doing anything illegal.
On Bakunin, arms magnate Dominic Magnus finds his company, Godwin Arms the first target in Dacham's war, and feels the long arm of his past reaching out to gather him back in. Once an officer in the TEC himself, he initially believes the attack to be a personal vendetta, and when he realizes the scope of it, no-one else can do anything to stop it. Meanwhile, the genetically engineered hacker Tetsami has stolen the data that will buy finally buy her a ticket offworld. All she needs to do is hand it over to the rep from Godwin Arms and get her payment. A simple job turns into a maelstrom of massive forces, and it's all she can do to stay afloat.
Not to be confused with the novel by Susan Shwartz.
This series provides examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The first AIs Earth encountered were being used by aliens to aid their manipulation of human society. As a result, AI is discouraged with religious zeal on almost every Terran colonized planet.
- Anarchy Is Chaos: Downplayed. For a planet with no formal government Bakunin is surprisingly stable until the Confederacy shows up. It runs pretty much on leaving your neighbor to their own devices as long as they're not hurting anyone. That said, Corporate Warfare is part of living there, and extortion and "law enforcement" are one and the same across much of it.
- Church of Happyology: Communes based on an extreme cult of personality are called 'hubbards' as an obvious reference to L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.
- Company Town: Proudhon City is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the Proudhon Spaceport Development Corporation, which keeps order on its own terms.
- Continuity Nod: Tetsami is a Frankenstein whose ancestors were optimized for neural interface with computers. She shares a surname with a frankenstein hacker who plays a significant role in Specters of the Dawn
- Cyborg: Dominic Magnus/Jonah Dacham has been extensively rebuilt, including a replacement arm and leg, as well as complete skin replacement and facial reconstruction.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Klaus and Jonah Dacham were raised by an abusive mother, who often threatened them with their absent and nameless father. They joined the secret police to escape her, and were groomed to commit atrocies, peaking in Jonah's massacre of 35,000 rebels and innocent bystanders on Perdition.
- Deceptively Human Robot: Mike Kelly and Tjale Mosasa look entirely human, but those who rely on smell or can see deeper into the spectrum than humans can aren't fooled, and each does something impossible in view of others, revealing their true nature.
- Everyone Is Armed: Bakunin takes it to the point where it's actually considered rude to come to a business meeting (such as a gun buy Dom Magnus goes to at the start of Profiteer) without a weapon, and one's sidearm is almost a status symbol.
- The Federation: The Confederacy, centered on Earth, claims jurisdiction over 76 human worlds and seven inhabited by frankensteins and Moreaus. The Confederacy is divided into five Arms, and each planet is largely self-governing. The Confederacy mainly serves to maintain stability, by forbidding war (be it revolution or invasion) and heretical technologies. The Terran Executive Command comes down on violators like a ton of bricks, or rather like several tons of ceramic filament dropped from orbit.
- Great Offscreen War: The Genocide War against the Race, the Big Bads of the Moreau Series, which destroyed all their colonies. There are still Kill Sats in place over their homeworld, programmed to destroy anything that makes orbit.
- Startof Darkness: Neither Jonah nor Klaus can escape their past, but one tries to set it aside, or even atone, while the other clings to duty and vengeance.
- Kill Sat: The Linac, a kilometer and a half long railgun that accelerates projectiles to half the speed of light.
- Libertarians IN SPACE!: Bakunin is home to communities organized in all sorts of fashions, but none called a government.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Virtually everything on or relating to Bakunin, from the star Kropotkin that it orbits down to the Friedman Hotel on Lenin Avenue in Proudhon City is named after some anarchist, minarchist, socialist and/or anti-statist philosopher or theorist.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The planet of Waldgrave, where the Dacham brothers grew up, is a planet inhabited by blond blue-eyed people, ruled by an openly fascist government, and devoted to ethnic purity.
- No Transhumanism Allowed: AI, nanotech, and the genetic engineering of sapients are all forbidden with a religious zeal throughout the Confederacy.
- Older Than They Look: Wormhole travel is instantaneous for those who travel through them, but takes years from an outside perspective. Several characters have chronological ages widely divergent from their apparent age for this reason.
- Open Secret: Jefferson City is treated like this. They're a democratic-socialist city, and the only bona fide government on Bakunin. Everyone else calls them Jefferson Commune, because if they weren't a commune, they'd be a state, and Bakunin can't have that, now.
- Orbital Bombardment: The series uses the Deadly Euphemism "orbital reduction of target" for it. It consists of dropping a cloud of heavy filaments from orbit and has good ground-penetration properties. Jonah Dacham destroyed the city of Styx this way, killing 35,000 people, including his mother (Not really; Olmanov had her killed). Later, Klaus Dacham does the same thing to the refugees from Godwin Arms.
- Privately Owned Society: Godwin and Proudhon cities are two different flavors, with Proudhon being a Company Town where everything is owned by the PSDC, and Godwin a Wretched Hive where everything is owned by whoever can keep it.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Proteus colony is based on heretical technology. Dacham hits it with three shots from the linac, after landing dozens of nuclear devices on it.
- Time Dilation: Going through a wormhole is instantaneous from the perspective of those going through. AS far as the outside universe is concerned, wormhole travel takes one year per light-year. Helena Dacham fled to the future in this way. Tachyon drive ships move faster than light, but the time experienced on board ship is still considerably less than what passes outside
- Time Is Dangerous: Going the wrong way through a wormhole takes you back in time. The entrances of wormholes are heavily guarded, though, and anyone coming through is shot. Also, because of the butterfly effect, you're in a new timeline, which will never become the exact future you came from.
- Space Marine: All of the arms of the Confederacy seem to maintain these. We mostly see the Occisis Marines, who are devotedly Catholic and ethnically homogenous, like the planet of Occisis. A large division of the Marines are seconded to Klaus Dacham. Their commander, Captain Shane, plays a major role.
- Starfish Aliens: The Paralians are described as 'squid-dolphins'
- Wave Motion Gun: The Linac again. It is unique in the universe, not because no one else has the technology to build one, but because no planetary government would allow such a thing in orbit around their planet.
- Wretched Hive: Godwin City is run by a mixture of armed gangs and literally feuding corporations. There is no law enforcement beyond what someone's willing to pay for.