Superluminary, or The Last Days of the Lords of Creation is a free Web Serial Novel by John C. Wright. It is essentially a Space Opera reminiscent of such works as Lensman, but with each and every element taken up to eleven.
The story takes place in the far future. A devastated, wartorn Earth is arrived upon by Evripades Zenon Telthexorthopolis, the sole survivor of an expedition once sent to Pluto to investigate alien signals. On Pluto the expedition had found the Infinithedron, the repository of knowledge of an immensely advanced civilization. With the alien super-sciences at his disposal, Evripades promptly restores Earth to its glory, takes over the world and assumes the title of Emperor of Man, Lord Tellus.
Each of Tellus's children, the Lords of Creation, is given the secret of a single super-science, save for one: that of a faster-than-light drive. The Lords of Creation subsequently rebel and overthrow the Emperor once he goes mad. With Lord Tellus gone and likely dead, the Lords of Creation rule over the Solar System, being as gods to the ordinary human folk, all while plotting against each other. But Aeneas Tell, the son of Lady Venus and youngest of Tellus's dynasty, wishes to end the tyranny of the Lords of Creation by giving the super-science to the common man.
Then he gets assassinated for his trouble. And that's when his problems truly begin.
Soon, Aeneas finds out the terrifying truth of why Lord Tellus never let mankind leave the Solar System—and before he knows it, the fate of the entire mankind is at stake, threatened by an enemy of unimaginable might.
The novel features the following tropes:
- Alien Geometries: The Infinithedron is a solid which keeps fractally growing more faces wherever it is looked upon.
- And I Must Scream: Aeneas's potential fate if he had ended up falling into the black hole-like warp-core. With gravity stretching his body, the "death-energy" field turning him undead and time stretching into infinity, he would end up both immortal and in horrific pain for all eternity.
- Apocalypse How: Several levels:
- A planetary-scale apocalypse happens to Saturn and its moons.
- A galactic-scale apocalypse happened long ago—except for the Solar System, all living beings in the galaxy have been consumed or made undead eons ago.
- Numerous smaller-scale apocalypses happen to the human worlds throughout the latter half of the novel.
- Artistic License Space: The objects referred to as "neutron stars" are clearly no such thing. They are the size of gas giant planets and are said to mass more than all of Sol's planets put together but less than Sol itself. This description sounds much more like a brown dwarf, or perhaps a white dwarf, than a neutron star.
- Badass Cape: Worn by Lord Pluto, as part of his badass ensemble alongside a dark armor.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space: Aeneas, thanks to his countless body modifications, can survive in a vacuum with little problem.
- Benevolent Precursors: They left the Infinithedron to raise up an advanced civilization so that it may flee the space vampire threat and revive the Precursors, who have hidden themselves outside time.
- Big Bad: The Uttermost Overlord of the vampires.
- Book Burning: Lord Tellus has all the books he dislikes burned (this includes all works by Communist ideologues, The Qur'an, and Joyce's Ulysses) with only a few copies worldwide left, placed in New Vatican libraries for study.
- The Caligula: Lord Tellus, after he apparently went insane and began enforcing increasingly unhinged edicts.
- Caligula's Horse: As part of one of Lord Tellus's edicts, voting is done by shooting ballot cards from a distance, and all missed shots are counted as a vote for a local racehorse. It doesn't take long before the Senate is made up mostly of horses.
- Chandler's Law: After teleporting himself from Pluto into space, Aeneas calmly heals his damage, plans his next move, and admires the view. Then—He was admiring the face of the moon when a vast beam of deadly energy from somewhere in the Sea of Tranquility reached across the two hundred thousand miles and struck like a hundredfold thunderbolt.
- Chronoscope: Lord Saturn's Palaeoscope. It can see events stored in the universe's "memory layer", and works the better, the more distant in time is a given event.
- Cool Mask: Lord Pluto's face-covering faceplate.
- Danger in the Galactic Core: The palace of the Uttermost Overlord is located atop a titanic superstructure around the Milky Way's central black hole.
- Dyson Sphere: The vampire empire has a lot of these, used as combat vehicles. At one point the heroes manage to take over one of them, which is many times larger than the entire Solar System.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Given the scale of this space opera, planet-busting weapons are a regular occurrence.
- Either/Or Title
- Expressive Mask: Inverted by Lord Uranus's mask. It looks identical to his real face, but hides all emotions.
- The Faceless: Lord Pluto always wears a helmet fully covering his face, with a single camera eye. This also doesn't let anyone find out that he is actually Lord Tellus.
- Faking the Dead: The entire human race does this in order to escape the vampires, by leaving behind billions of fabricated corpses on the surface of the Earth for the vampire scouts to find.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: The one super-science that Lord Tellus never shared with anyone—until it ends up in Aeneas's mind. It requires the usage of a spacetime-bending "warpcore" of mass appropriate to the distance, and comes with a couple of caveats, such as the necessity for a large mass at the exit point as an "anchor".
- From a Single Cell: Aeneas is able to regenerate from damage destroying most of his body mass, as well as create new organs at will.
- Gravity Master: Manipulation of gravity is Lord Neptune's schtick.
- Hermaphrodite: A sibling of Aeneas's mentioned in passing is Hermaphrodita, who is both male and female. Lord Mercury considers this sibling to be "monstrous".
- Invented Individual: Part of Lord Tellus's strange edicts was retroactively creating a "golden age of jazz" that never existed, complete with fabricated jazzman personalities with elaborate fake biographies.
- Invisibility: Lord Pluto's superscience is the ability to make himself, and others, invisible. It's more than ordinary invisibility—he literally erases the visual information from existence, so he cannot be detected through other wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Messianic Archetype: Aeneas becomes this in the final chapter, which the narration all but spells out explicitly.
- The Milky Way Is the Only Way: It's actually a plot point—the protagonists' main goal is to get to the only warpcore in existence powerful enough to transport them to another galaxy, where the vampires cannot possibly pursue.
- The Mole: One of the Lords of Creation, namely Lord Mercury, is working for the space vampires. Aeneas has his suspicions, but doesn't want to make his move until he has proof.
- Nanomachines: One of Lord Mercury's weapons is a knife which injects nanomachines into the victim, which proceed to rapidly convert the victim's inner organs into more copies of themselves.
- Older than They Look: Lord Mercury, who has stopped his aging early and permanently looks like a boy.
- One-Man Army: Lord Mars, thanks to his super-science, both literally and figuratively. The first thing he does when going to war with the vampires inhabiting the Dyson Sphere is to destroy a billion cities, each several times larger than the diameter of Earth, in the span of a few seconds. Entirely on his own.
- Our Vampires Are Different: They can be created artificially, do not age and do not tire; but being undead, they're incapable of creative thought or genuine emotion unless they consume the life energy of living beings. Most vampires are humanoid drones with no free will or agency to speak of, spending most of their time in dormancy until their masters need them. Those few vampires with free will, variously called "lords" or "archvampires," are not humanoid bloodsuckers but instead amorphous Eldritch Abominations that start at the size of mountains.
- Precursors: The Forerunners, the unknown race which created the Infinithedron. In fact, there were countless "precursors" in the galaxy—and the empire of space vampires is made up of remnants of several of them.
- Recursive Precursors: The race that created the Infinithedron were themselves started by a remnant of an earlier Precursor civilization.
- Required Secondary Powers: Aeneas, without his signet ring, is unable to safely modify his body without disrupting its life processes.
- Self-Duplication: Lord Mars can do this to turn himself into an army, or two, or ten. Later on this skill is taught to human militia. It's mentioned that the duplicates should not be allowed to exist too long, because then they start becoming their own individuals and refuse to integrate back with the original.
- Sentient Stars: Downplayed. While stars are mindless, they still have psychic dispositions, and their "moods" can be read by Lord Uranus's superscience.
- Serial Escalation: We begin with a solar system inhabited by a post-scarcity society equipped with unimaginable super-science. Then a planet-sized vampire attacks the Solar System. Then the entire army of a galaxy-spanning empire attacks the Solar System, and the aforementioned planet-vampire is its equivalent of a Mook. Then things begin to get epic.
- Some Call Me "Tim": Apparently, the reason why Lord Tellus adopted this name was because "no one could pronounce Telthexorthopolis."
- Super Strength: Brother Beast can freely control his body's somatics, and can at will increase his strength to arbitrary levels.
- Take Over the World: It says something about the scale and scope of the novel that, at one point, the heroes (who, at that point, are just three people) decide that the fastest way to attain their goal is to take a few months to conquer a nearby planet.
- Teleport Spam: As Lord Mercury's specialty is teleportation science, this is his favored combat strategy.
- Terraforming: All planets in the Solar System (or almost all, if you count Pluto) have been modified to be inhabitable by humans.
- Unnecessarily Large Interior: The Big Bad's tower is pretty big. How big? Its windows are bigger than planets.
- Warrior Monk: Anargyros Tell, nicknamed "Brother Beast", a monk given the position of Steward of Earth. He is one hell of a martial artist, and it helps he can make himself impossibly strong at will.
- Wave-Motion Gun: Really, really big laser beams are thrown around liberally throughout the novel, usually with planet-destroying force. At least one of the beams is described as being one light-second in radius. At one point the actions stops for the narrator to provide several paragraphs of exposition on just how unimaginably powerful the newly-introduced beam weapon is.
- Weakened by the Light: Vampires can be destroyed by the radiation of certain stars, which mankind uses several times to get out of a tight spot. Notably, only so-called "holy" stars have this effect, and what does the trick is not electromagnetic radiation but the "neuropsionic" energy of the star, which cannot be blocked by solid objects. A vampire that gets any closer to Sol than Neptune will die no matter what.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Lord Uranus's superscience is that of star psychometry, which is basically a cute bit of trivia with no practical applications whatsoever. He believes that Lord Tellus gave it to him because he hated him. At the end of the story, it becomes instrumental to mankind's victory.
- Written by the Winners: Lord Tellus ordered all references to rock'n'roll to be expunged from records, and replaced by a nonexistent period of jazz revival.