Janissaries series

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Tran (novel))
Jump to: navigation, search

The unfinished Janissaries series of military and political-based science fiction novels are set in an interstellar confederation of races, in which humans are a slave race entrusted with military affairs and law enforcement, written by Jerry Pournelle.

Works in the Series[edit]

Title Year ISBN Authors Notes
Janissaries 1979 ISBN 0-671-87709-7 J.E. Pournelle
Janissaries II: Clan and Crown 1982 ISBN 0-441-38294-0 J.E. Pournelle

with Roland J. Green

Janissaries III: Storms of Victory 1987 ISBN 0-441-38297-5 J.E. Pournelle

with Roland J. Green

Janissaries IV: Mamelukes T.B.A.
(not yet submitted)
J.E. Pournelle work in progress for fifteen years as of 2012
Tran 1996 Jerry E. Pournelle and R.J. Green an omnibus edition of Janissaries II and III.

Overall Story Arc of the Series[edit]

The theme of this series is that a small force of principally United States troops, acting as faux mercenaries under a secret CIA contract in Africa during the Cold War, about to be annihilated by a Cuban military force, is "rescued" by extraterrestrial beings (part of an interstellar Confederation) who offer them their lives in exchange for service on a primitive planet in raising a crop of plants that are used in the manufacture of a recreational drug. The primitive planet, called Tran, is populated by other Earth-origin humans who have been periodically and secretly brought there over the past several thousand years of earth history for the same purpose. In the Confederation, humans are used as a soldier class vaguely similar to the Janissary soldiers of the old Ottoman Turkish empire, thus the name of the first novel and the series.

The series of novels describe how these 20th-Century soldiers proceed to both integrate with the existing human cultures and use them to establish a base of operations for the growing and harvesting of the plant, which only becomes sufficiently potent for use as a drug for a few years out of every 600 earth years. The first book shows how the soldiers use a combination of modern weaponry, knowledge of technology, and advanced military tactics to carve out a political enclave that will enable them to fulfill the rest of their mission, to actually plant and raise the crop they are expected to provide to the extraterrestrials that brought them to this place. The subsequent books illustrate the further adventures of the human soldiers as they perform their mission, but also begin to raise the standard of civilization among the disparate cultures of the humans of Tran. As they learn more of the history of this world, it also becomes clear to them that they will eventually be betrayed by their benefactors, as this has been the fate of each generation of new immigrants in turn. They begin to plan for that betrayal, and other forces outside of Tran begin to plan for what appears to a possible uprising of all humans in the Confederation.

The Confederation[edit]

The immediate saviors of the doomed human soldiers are representatives of a race of beings called the Shalnuksis. These particular Shalnuksis are looking to continue to profit from the trafficking of a recreational drug that is obtained only from the planet Tran. The planet is generally unknown amongst the other races of the Confederation, a secret the Shalnuksis are intent upon maintaining. While their drug trafficking is not illegal, per se, the use of "wild" humans to produce the drug is something that would be curtailed if it were known; thus the need for secrecy.

Confederation Technology[edit]

Confederation technology includes the all-important "phase drive", a kind of faster-than-light travel. Pournelle never explains what the drive is, or suggests a mechanism for how it works. Ships using it, however, vanish from "normal" space while under way. And while Confederation technology appears quite advanced, curiously enough it doesn't seem quite as advanced as one might expect from a civilization that had had space travel for over 5,000 years. Pournelle has Gwen talking about how the Confederation has become stagnant in its stability, however, so it might very well be a deliberate technological stagnancy. One reason why an independent space-going humanity might be a threat could be the unregulated and destabilizing effect an ever-advancing technology could pose.

Confederation Culture[edit]

The Confederation is an interstellar, and interspecies civilization that is rank with politics, intrigue, and corruption. The enslaved humans, bred for loyalty and obedience, comprise the primary armed force of the Confederation. They keep the peace between the various species. Earth is left untouched, primarily as a source of "wild" human genes for when the Confederation masters feel they need to breed initiative into their "tame" humans to keep them capable of their important tasks.

However, with Earth civilization becoming more and more capable of the beginnings of space travel, there is debate in the Confederation about what to do about it. Leave the "wild" humans alone? Bomb them back to the stone age to prevent them from upsetting the status quo? Or bring them forcibly into the Confederation and stifle their progress?

The Shalnuksi's use of Tran is secret from the Confederation (officially), and is also illegal. Some of the humans who are aware of Tran also want to keep it secret so that if the Confederation decides to bomb Earth or bring it into the Confederation, there would at least still be a place where there are free humans.

Weapons of the Mercenaries[edit]

Rick Galloway's troops carry a number of different 20th century weapons.

Individual Weapons[edit]

Crew Served Weapons[edit]

References to Other Media[edit]

In "Clan and Crown",[1] Ben Murphy finds himself in a tight situation and says to himself "But what the hell, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred..." a direct reference to the theme song from cartoon series Super Chicken.

Continuation of the series[edit]

Pournelle has made several statements on his blog that he is working on a fourth book in the series, the working title being Janissaries IV: Mamelukes. He mentions on the 26 January 2010 entry of his blog that he is "still hard at work on Mamelukes."[2] His Works in Progress web page, dated September 17, 2004, stated that Mamelukes was then 65,000 words into an ultimate length of 80,000.[3][4] He is not collaborating with anyone on the fourth book.[5] In April 2007, he wrote also: "I am currently working on Mamelukes, which will be the fourth book, but physically the third volume. It is about 2/3 finished, and I expect to turn it in to Ace this July. I will then begin plotting the fifth and last volume, but I make no promises on when that will be finished."[6] Pournelle's blog entry for 9 December 2011 that Mamelukes stands at 140,000 words, with 10,000 until completion,[7] and again another entry for 24 October 2012 "I did a thousand words on Mamelukes last week. I hope to finish this cycle shortly.",[8] and again August 23, 2013 "She wants me to finish Mamelukes, but that’s not likely by Christmas. Maybe by Easter."[9]

Pournelle has posted the first three chapters of Mamelukes on his website to paid subscribers to his blog.


  1. ^ Jerry Pournelle and Roland Green (1982). Clan and Crown. New York, NY: Berkeley Publishing Group. p. 213. ISBN 0-441-38295-9. 
  2. ^ Chaos Manor Reviews; Parties and Principles; Jerry Pournelle; Tuesday, January 26, 2010
  3. ^ Chaos Manor Reports; Real Soon Now; Jerry Pournelle; Thursday, April 05, 2007
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Chaos Manor Mail; Re: Starswarm; Jerry Pournelle; Wednesday January 13, 1999
  6. ^ Chaos Manor Mail; Subject: Janissaries; Jerry Pournell; Thursday, April 5, 2007,
  7. ^ The View from Chaos Manor; Dancing as fast as I can; Jerry Pournelle; Friday, December 09, 2011
  8. ^ The View from Chaos Manor; TWIT; England returns?; Iranian nukes; election predictions, climate change, and more.; Jerry Pournelle; Tuesday, October 23, 2012
  9. ^ The View from Chaos Manor; War gas, Mamelukes, Aetius, and none dare call it treason; Jerry Pournelle; Tuesday, August 23, 2013