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The books in the Refuge series are available in e-book format only. Just mouse click on Smashwords or visit other e-book retailers.

What is a star nation?

A star nation is an organized group of worlds and planets under some form of overall, centralized coordination or government. Generally, developed, populated planets are referred to as “worlds,” while all others are called “planets,” but through common usage that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. In addition to developed, populated worlds, there are various planets which might or might not be habitable by that society’s dominant sentient species. A few of those planets might be suitable for and in some stage of observation, exploration, mineral exploitation, or conversion to such condition that they might be habitable by the society’s dominant sentient species. In addition to planets and worlds, a star nation may also include a number of space stations of various classifications, with or without living crews.

Generally, a star nation is controlled by a single dominant sentient species: the Refuge Confederation is dominated by human beings.

(Human beings are not alone in space. People of the RefugeConfederation know of over 50 non-human species of spacefaring beings, and 31 star nations aside from their own, of which they trade with seven.)

What is the Refuge Confederation?

The Refuge Confederation is a star nation comprised of seven developed and human-populated worlds, one per solar system. It includes several human-built and -populated major space stations; over a hundred interstellar-capable major ships, plus lots of shuttles and in-system interplanetary vessels; and half a dozen planets, each in its own solar system, that are in various stages of exploration or are being prepared for, or are in the process of, being terraformed so they may be populated by human beings and other Earth-normal life forms. The Refuge Confederation also encompasses and has sole jurisdiction over a large volume of space where there are no human-habitable planets.

Where did the humans of the Refuge Confederation come from?

Human beings developed on Earth. All the human residents of the Refuge Confederation trace their ancestry back to a small mixed community of early humans -- both Modern Human and Neanderthal -- who were taken off Earth some 33,000 years ago by non-human “real” aliens. Those early humans had lived in a single, mostly peaceful, interbreeding community in a hanging valley in the mountains of central Europe, and had begun to develop the concepts of community and society capitalizing on their differing but mutually beneficial characteristics, skills and abilities. The only reason the aliens took them away from Earth was that they were trapped in their valley, which was threatened by a glacier that was about to collapse (and did so soon after their evacuation was complete, wiping all life from, and all traces that life had ever been in, that valley.) Those aliens had also collected samples of almost every life form then on Earth to use while they terraformed a planet in a distant solar system into a world properly suited for those human beings, the ancestors of almost all the present-day humans of the Refuge Confederation.

The small number of people transported from Earth could not naturally have produced a genetically stable, viable population, so the aliens -- masters of the genetic sciences -- carried out a careful, prolonged breeding program until the number and genetic stabiliy of transplanted humans was adequate to establish a naturally viable population. One result is that most Refugees appear very similar to the more robust modern-day humans of northern European ancestry, although through “founder effects,” some physical traits have appeared that are specific to one or another of the Confederation’s worlds. There is one exception: the people who settled the world named Éhofen performed deliberate, planned genetic engineering on their members, producing a race of people with very distinctive features and certain other characteristics quite different from the general human baseline, although they are still capable of producing fertile children with “normal” humans of both the Confederation and of Earth.

What is “terraforming?”

Terraforming, as far as humans are concerned, is the process by or through which a planet is made sufficiently Earthlike in atmosphere and climate so that all known Earthly life forms may live in the resulting environment without assistance or protection. Ideally, it is carried out starting with a dead, sterilized planet, one on which all life has been extinguished – preferably due to a “just close enough” nova or supernova – to keep from destroying native ecosystems. Terraforming is a very long process, typically requiring several thousand years, with the end result supposed to be almost indistinguishable from what is available on Earth. Of course, it’s never a perfect match; all planets have different mass, gravity, chemical composition, ratio of land to water surface area, length of day and year, different axial tilt – but “close enough” includes a fairly wide range of variables, even including the composition and sea-level pressure of the atmosphere. Some “terraformed” planets seem almost better than Earth for some of the transplants.

Who were the aliens who transported people from Earth? What do they look like?

We’re not going to answer those questions. Some people on Earth at this time would get all negatively “religious” about them based entirely on their physical appearance, and they really don’t deserve that, being just ordinary (if not human) people, neither angels nor demons. One day you might find out, but not this week.

Why do the humans of the Refuge Confederation have such advanced technology when compared to Earth?

The aliens didn’t originally intend to artificially elevate the rescued humans as far as they eventually did, but the people they took off Earth were curious, intellectually aggressive, and most quickly proved to be apt students. Very apt. Humans of that time and location were extremely intelligent – far more so than many people today.

“Robert Mariner” is a pen name. Why doesn’t this author use his real name?

In real life Robert Mariner is a semi-retired engineering designer and physical systems integration specialist who still does occasional real-world work for various customers. He’s found it best to keep his “real life” persona distinct from his life as a science-fiction author.

Artists credit

Star field: portion of
(used with permission)
Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2
D-85748 Garching bei München