Is the Starmasters’ (Schmidt-Kokorov) drive the only way to travel at hyperlight speeds?
No. There are two other stardrives in use among the humans in the Thousand Worlds.
The BEACON (Bio-Etched Animal-Contoured Operating Nexus) ships use a cybernetic construct that contains living tissue along with a more conventional electronic core to produce a control system that can pop a ship through hyperspace if the initial velocity is high enough. The Starmasters survey BEACON routes and are also instrumental in rescuing BEACON ships whose systems malfunction.
The other non-Starmaster drive is the “flicker” drive. This drive allows the ship to “flicker” through low level hyperspace every few seconds. Of the three drives, this one is the least capable of long distances. It does have one interesting effect, however. The flicker goes far enough that driving through space looks like a movie. For this reason, the flicker drive is often used in cruise ships to allow for space tourism.
What kind of traffic do the different ship types carry?
The Starmasters and other Schmidt-Kokorov blind jaunters carry smaller cargos to places where there are no BEACON routes. In places accessible to more than one drive, Starmasters’ ships have the advantage of being small and and fast. Star pilots not capable of blind jaunting are next fastest, followed by the BEACON ships. The flicker drive is used in conjunction with one of the other drives to go short distances or, alone, to haul freight and people within systems or star clusters.
Why develop the other two drives?
The Schmidt-Kokorov drive is fast and flexible, but it has two huge disadvantages. One disadvantage is the schedule. SK pilots, whether star pilot or Starmaster, have a flight cycle in which they must return to the Beyond every so often in order to remain healthy. For Starmasters, the flight clock varies from 9 to 15 days. This clock gets a little longer with blind jaunters who have not passed the Gauntlet. For casual pilots, the clock can run as long as 45 days, or even longer with the help of drugs. Freight and passenger lines struggle with this scheduling problem in all the societies of the Thousand Worlds.
What are the specialties in aurionics?
There are five aurionics specialties:
- Technical kokua
These five specialties were known and practiced at the time of “The Portmaster of Kellsharah.” Jessec, even though released by Stacey, received rudimentary training in Timekeeping Integrations and Balance, though not enough to be certified in any of them.
By about 1000 SE, the Navy had developed a hybrid physician/healer flight surgeon to serve its Starmasters and star pilots. To become a flight surgeon, a candidate had to qualify in three of the five aurionics specialties. The candidate then spent four years in physicians’ medical school followed by a physicians’ internship. Generally, the physician training of a flight surgeon occurred after the aurionics’ internship and residency.
Integrationists specialize in the uniting of Starmasters and star pilots with ships, up to and including a full Integration, in which the pilot would stay with one ship for his or her whole life.
Timekeepers specialize in the measurement of flight parameters, especially the relationship between subjective and objective flight times (the issue discussed in “A Man Called Twenty-Three”).
Balance specialists are the career counselors of the aurionics profession, responsible for identifying the groundside interests which can keep a Starmaster from retreating into the Beyond.
Diagnostics is the practice of identifying medical issues with both a physical and psionic component. Diagnosticians work with flight surgeons to treat the psionic consequences of injury, illness, and flight mishaps.
Technical kokuas are highly trained and sensitive aurionicists who go into flight with star pilots and Starmasters who have lost their service tickets due to injury or mishandling by employers. They are kokuas because of the risk they take going into space with pilots deemed “unsafe” and technical because of their degree of training and sensitivity.
While both the Sodality and the Empire practice these five specialties, they are much more hierarchical and formal in the Empire, paralleling the formal training of physicians.
The Kramer Convention
How did the Kramer Convention arise?
The convention arose from a need to standardize the conditions of service for Starmasters serving in non-human societies and the economic need to curate and preserve the most valuable Starmaster skills. Beth Kramer is its primary author, though all signatories contributed to its final form.
What are the convention’s terms of service?
A Starmaster serving under the Convention agrees to the following:
- They agree, if required, to take service in the losing side of any war involving Starmaster casualties as part of war reparations.
- They agree to serve in non-human and non-Starmaster-bearing societies if requested to do so. During such service, their flight hours are registered to the society they are serving.
- They agree to accept training in as many areas of the Starmaster’s art as they can reasonably manage.
- After about 1000 SE, Starmasters serving under the Convention became involved in adjudicating disputes between Starmasters and those who hired them. In Jessec’s time, this adjudication was given to the Starmasters’ Guild.
What is the length of service under the Convention?
Under ordinary service, 30 Standards (years). Exceptions are made for Starmasters placed under the Convention for health reasons, and for those interested in the Convention’s adjudication and flight training duties.
Why are Kramerite Starmasters called by the names of their ships?
Because all the non-human signatories to the Convention recognize the Starmaster and the ship as being inseparable if the Starmaster and the ship share a name.
Who can serve under the Convention?
The economic aspects of Convention service limit such service to Starmasters. Blind jaunters who wish to serve under the Convention’s protection must pass the Gauntlet first. Star pilots not capable of the blind jaunt are not eligible for Convention service.
What rights are guaranteed under the Convention?
Three rights are guaranteed. They are the right to remain with their ship, the right to their balancing interest, and the right to appropriate flight—meaning flight within their skill level, to their cycle, and to their mission.
Who are the crecenyei?
The crecenyei (f. crecenya m. crecenyo) are descended from the liturgical charismatic communities that arose in the late 1960’s and 1970’s which, in the Starmasters universe, gained in prominence and did not disappear during the Reagan years. Beth Kramer grew up in these communities and, when colonization started, surveyed a world called Lucaea, which became the center of crecenye practice.
A believer from Lucaea is called Lucaera (f) Lucaero (m) Lucaeri (pl), while all others are simply crecenyei.
Besides the Christians, what other religions are there?
All major human sects have practitioners, and most have their own planets. The early exploring Starmasters had the responsibility for chartering colonies, and they insisted that governments be secular even if the entire set of colonists for a chartered world followed the same faith. So the extent to which worlds retained the character of the original religions’ colonists varied.
What are the main Muslim worlds?
To date, I haven’t written about a major Muslim world, though I suspect Sudharan has a substantial Muslim population. Kellsharah, though, is emphatically not Muslim. They are generically anti-religious.
What are the Voskrecenias?
The Voskrecenias are five worlds chartered by Beth Kramer, who wanted a place for some of the more unique flavors of Christian. The worlds are:
- Lyothar, which has a strong liturgical reformist tradition
- Rittlesworld, the gateway to the Voskrecenias, with a variety of odd practices and mostly secular ports
- Pennachen settled by Old Order Amish and similar communities. Pennische is a descendant of German spoken by the Pennische communities.
- Evangeline was settled by the vibrantly Pentecostal sects, including those who charmed snakes.
- Tate was settled by a variety of Christian monastics.
The common factor among the Voskrecenia colonists is a desire to limit the use of technology, specifically interstellar travel and trade. Of the Voskrecenias, only Rittlesworld is accessible by BEACON ship. The remainder are accessible by Starmasters and blind-jaunters only.
Family and Marriage
What kinds of marriage are there in the Thousand Worlds?
In both the Sodality and Empire, contract marriage, life-mating, monogamous and polygamous marriage patterns are legal. As a practical matter, the marriage patterns that predominated on any given world depends on its dominant culture. On all Empire and Sodality worlds, it is illegal to forbid hospital visitation and other legal structure to people who have declared their intention to be “family.”
Does the relationship between Starmaster and kokua supersede all other relationships?
The short answer is “yes.”
What protects a Starmaster from abuse by a kokua?
Kokuas found to have abused their Starmaster partners were brainwiped summarily. Perps brainwiped for this reason were employed in ports on some worlds as examples of what would happen to those who engaged in such abuse.
What are “life-mates”?
Life-mates share a psionic bond that is detectable by telepaths, empaths and aurionicists. Except for the relationship between Starmaster and kokua, the life-mating is held in the highest esteem in all major human societies. When one member of such a match dies, the other member is allowed to suicide without recrimination, even on worlds whose predominant religious cultures frown on suicide.
Are there fostering customs among the Thousand Worlds?
Yes. Among the strongest fostering customs is the one seen in “Mother” in which a Starmaster undergoes in vitro fertilization with sperm from a known donor and then places the child with the donor’s family. This is not traditional fosterage, but is called by that name by the people involved in such relationships. This particular practice developed from a need to preserve all component phenotypes of the psionic gifts, whether the psi gifts were present in the donor or not. The various itinerant performer populations carried high allele frequencies for loci associated with psionic gifts, in particular, Starmastery.
The Purity Wars
What is the Purity Cluster?
The Purity Cluster is a group of eleven worlds which, very early in Sodality history, quietly isolated themselves from the rest of the Sodality. They were astrographically isolated, completely accessible among themselves by BEACON routes, and not interested in trading outside their cluster.
When they did finally get interested in trading outside their cluster, they found the lack of Starmasters unbearable. Their solution was to hijack any Starmaster’s ship foolish enough to venture into their space and subjugate the Starmaster to their service.
Are the Purity worlds all Muslim?
No. Six of the eleven are Muslim, three are political sects, and two are Christian. They all, however, share a harsh judgmental temperament and totalitarian governments.
Why are there three wars with this cluster?
The population would inevitably grow restless in its isolation. Somewhere about this time, one of the BEACON ships which plied the Purity trade routes would get ambitious and travel to the Sodality. That ship would try to set up trade routes and, inevitably, some enterprising Starmaster would decide to go investigate the Purity routes. The Purities would kidnap the Starmaster, who would then be forced to fly and to recruit other Starmasters and ships, usually by piracy and kidnapping. The Sodality (or the combined Sodality and Empire) would declare war on the Purity wretches and blast them into pre-space technological oblivion. The civilization would rise again....
Rinse and repeat, three times. Why? The answer forms the basis of the story arc outlined in Wings of Joy.