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CoDominium is a series of future history novels written by American writer Jerry Pournelle, along with several co-authors, primarily Larry Niven.


Title Publication date Author(s) Type Series Chronology Notes
A Spaceship for the King 1973 J.E. Pournelle serialized novel Moties series later expanded into King David's Spaceship
He Fell into a Dark Hole 1973 J.E. Pournelle short story
The Mote in God's Eye 1974 Larry Niven & J.E. Pournelle novel Moties series
West of Honor 1976 J.E. Pournelle novel Falkenberg series incorporated into Falkenberg's Legion
The Mercenary 1977 J.E. Pournelle novel Falkenberg series incorporated into Falkenberg's Legion
King David's Spaceship 1980 J.E. Pournelle novel Moties series expanded from A Spaceship for the King
Reflex 1982 Larry Niven & J.E. Pournelle short story Moties series prequel to "The Mote in God's Eye"
In Memoriam: Howard Grote Littlemead 1984 Larry Niven poem Moties series
The Burning Eye 1988 various anthology War World series
Prince of Mercenaries 1989 J.E. Pournelle novel Falkenberg series
Falkenberg's Legion 1990 J.E. Pournelle anthology Falkenberg series
Death's Head Rebellion 1990 various anthology War World series
Go Tell the Spartans 1991 S. M. Stirling & J.E. Pournelle novel Falkenberg series
Sauron Dominion 1991 various anthology War World series
Revolt on WarWorld 1992 various anthology War World series
Prince of Sparta 1993 S. M. Stirling & J.E. Pournelle novel Falkenberg series
Blood Feuds 1993 various anthology War World series
The Gripping Hand 1993 Larry Niven & J.E. Pournelle novel Moties series also titled The Moat around Murcheson's Eye
Blood Vengeance 1994 various anthology War World series
Invasion 1994 various anthology War World series
The Prince 2002 S.M. Stirling & J.E. Pournelle anthology Falkenberg series a compilation of Prince of Mercenaries, Falkenberg's Legion, Go Tell the Spartans, and Prince of Sparta
The Battle of Sauron 2007 John F. Carr and Don Hawthorne Novel War World series
Discovery 2010 various anthology War World series
Outies 2011 J.R. Pournelle novel Moties series
Takeover 2011 various anthology War World series
Jihad! 2012 John F. Carr anthology War World series
The Lidless Eye 2013 John F. Carr and Don Hawthorne Novel War World series
Cyborg Revolt 2013 John F. Carr and Don Hawthorne Novel War World series
The Burning Eye 2015 various anthology (reissue with new material) War World series
The Patriotic Wars 2016 various anthology War World series
Peace With Honor Forthcoming various anthology War World series


Formation of the CoDominium[edit]

The point of departure of Pournelle's history is the establishment of the CoDominium (CD), a political alliance and union between the United States of America and a revitalized Soviet Union. This union, achieved in the name of planetary stability, reigns over the Earth for over a hundred years. In that time, it achieves peace of a sort, as well as interstellar colonization, but at the price of a complete halt in both scientific and political evolution.

Forced colonization[edit]

Corruption and social decay force the CoDominium's BuReloc (Bureau of Relocation) to forcibly transport people from Earth to offworld colonies. This mass expulsion is made possible by the Alderson Drive, a device that allows instantaneous travel across distances of light-years. The starlanes are patrolled by the CoDominium Armed Forces, an elite fighting force created from the French Foreign Legion. The Navy, in particular, recognizes what the politicians and common people of Earth do not: that Earth is headed for disaster, and their primary mission is to remove as many people from Earth as possible before the holocaust.


In due time, the CoDominium crumbles under mounting nationalism worldwide. The governments of both the United States and Soviet Union regain their thirst for world supremacy, while the lesser nations chafe from years of CD oppression. The CD begins to lose support and is forced to reduce the size of the Fleet again and again, despite the best efforts of loyalists like the Blaine family and Grand Admiral Lermontov. As a result, several underdeveloped colony worlds are given their independence, prepared or not. On some of these newly freed planets civilization collapses, resulting in mass deaths.

Disbanded CD Marine units band together into mercenary organizations (for example Falkenberg's Mercenary Legion) and hire themselves out to fight in the former colonies, much as the earlier 'condottieri' of Renaissance Italy. Later, major worlds begin hiring out their national armies, and mercenary work becomes an industry. Eventually, mercenaries become legal in warfare, thanks to the "Laws of War", and are a major factor in colony warfare.

On Earth, the inescapable result is the Great Patriotic Wars, the long-delayed Third World War that begins and ends with massive nuclear exchanges. Much of Earth is devastated; civilization collapses and much of the surface is rendered temporarily uninhabitable.

Empire of Man[edit]

Before the end, the bulk of the CoDominium Fleet evacuates their families from Earth and resettles them on Sparta (for the Americans and Europeans) and St. Ekaterina (for the Russians and Asians). Within a few years, the Fleet swears allegiance to King Lysander I of Sparta. Sparta and the Fleet soon begin the Formation Wars, taking advantage of the political, economic, and technological vacuum caused by the collapse of Earth to reunify the human colonies under Sparta's leadership and form the Empire of Man. For several hundred years, the Empire is the sole government of humanity.


Among the Empire's many worlds is Sauron, where the culture has grown militaristic and adheres to a literal interpretation of the philosophy of Nietzsche, namely that "man is something to be surpassed." In service of this aim, they engage in extensive genetic modification and eugenic breeding programs to turn themselves into supersoldiers known in the galaxy at large as the Sauron Supermen. Bristling under Imperial hegemony, in the 27th century they lead several worlds into open revolt.

Secession Wars[edit]

The Secession Wars are long and fierce, spanning decades. The Empire has a big edge in numbers, but it is almost matched by Sauron's military superiority. It is the Saurons' arrogance that leads to their downfall. For them, the war is to be waged free of any constraints or mercy and is run with the cold rationality of professionals. For the subjects of the Empire, it becomes a war of extermination, a life-or-death struggle for survival, and their passion is not accounted for in Sauron calculations. The war ends with Sauron being completely destroyed.

The Empire's victory is Pyrrhic though, as the Imperial forces have mostly been sacrificed to crush the Saurons. With the Empire weakened, new factions spring up, including claimants to the Imperial throne. It is reduced to a core of loyal planets, and marginal worlds are isolated. Many, their industries lost to orbital bombardment, descend into barbarism.

Second Empire of Man[edit]

In the thirtieth century, Lysander IV of Sparta proclaims the formation of the Second Empire of Man, and pledges to unite humanity by force if necessary, in order to prevent future wars of the magnitude of the one that ended the First Empire. Many worlds quickly accept; others, known as outies, continue to resist the Empire's hegemony. Against this backdrop of renewal and conflict, humanity makes its first contact with another intelligent, spacefaring species: the "Moties", who represent a far more grave threat than even the Sauron Supermen. The contact between the two species would have a dramatic impact on both civilizations.

The CoDominium[edit]


The CoDominium (CD) is a supranational alliance of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This alliance eventually becomes a de facto planetary government, and later, an interstellar empire. Despite this, no other nations on Earth are given representation or membership. Other major powers become mere client states. It is governed by a "Grand Senate", which is composed of Senators chosen from the two superpowers. A CoDominium Council exists and appears to function as a judicial branch. The CD did not unify the United States and the USSR, who appear to retain their separate identities and mutual distrust. The CD was only created for the shared benefit of the two member states. It does not govern either nation, and each state has been allowed to retain their government structures, nationalities, militaries, and to run their own internal affairs.

Government departments[edit]

  • Bureau of Corrections (BuCorrect): Agency for criminal corrections of the justice system.
  • Bureau of Personnel (BuPers): Responsible for the staff in all government departments.
  • Bureau of Relocation (BuReloc): Responsible for off-planet transportation of colonists and deportees, voluntary or otherwise.
  • Bureau of Technology: Restricts what studies people can learn.
  • CD Intelligence Services (BuInt): Suppresses research and development.
  • Colonial Bureau: Helps run colony worlds by providing planetary governors, law enforcement, and other specialists.
  • CoDominium Space Navy and Marines: The Marines are divided into 3 branches: Fleet, Garrison and Line. (The Fleet): Armed forces of the CD, headed by a Grand Admiral. Edicts of the Grand Senate are enforced by the CD's armed forces. Other functions is peacekeeping on Earth and other worlds.
  • Intercontinental Bureau of Investigations (IBI): Presumably the CD equivalent of the FBI.

The United States[edit]

The United States of the CoDominium Era is a welfare state divided into two social classes: Citizens and Taxpayers. "Citizens" are welfare dependents who are required to live in walled sections of cities called "Welfare Islands." People are given whatever they need, including the drugs like Borloi to keep them pacified. There are no limits to how long they can stay on welfare, except that they must live in a Welfare Island. Although people are free to gain an education and work or become a colonist, many citizens did not, preferring to live their whole lives supported by the government. Generally citizens are uneducated and illiterate. Some BuReLoc involuntary colonists are Citizens. By the late CD era, the Welfare Islands were three generations old. "Taxpayers" are the working, educated, and privileged upper class. They carry identification cards to separate them from Citizens.

Political parties maintain influence in the government, with a multi-party system arising during the CoDominium era. The Unity Party is a combination of the Democratic and Republican parties, and supports the CD. Other major parties include the pro-CD Freedom Party; the radical Liberation Party; and the nationalistic, anti-CD and anti-Communist Patriot Party.

The Second Empire of Man[edit]


The Second Empire of Man is an interstellar empire encompassing over 200 planets. Centralized on the planet Sparta, its government is a constitutional monarchy, with a hereditary emperor as head of state. A hereditary aristocracy also exists, and is referred to by Western nobility titles. There are mentions of the Imperial Parliament, Senate, and Assembly, which serve as the legislative branch of the government.

The military arm of the Second Empire is the Imperial Space Navy. It enforces the will of the Crown and its representatives; it also protects worlds from pirates, conducts punitive actions, and suppresses revolts. The Navy consists of its fleets of starships and their crews, Marines, an Admiralty, Intelligence, and a Reserve component. Women are allowed to serve in the Navy, despite the Empire's discriminatory attitude toward women. Like the CD Fleet, the Imperial forces are headed by a Grand Admiral.


The Empire is organized by sectors, ruled by a Viceroy who serves as a representative of the Crown. Each sector has its own Council, headed by a Lord President, and its own Parliament. The Imperial government is divided into several ministries, including External Affairs, War, and Science. Some planets are governed by an aristocracy, although at least one member world is a republic.

Inhabited planets within the Empire have varying degrees of power. After Sparta, "Member Kingdoms" are semi-autonomous. "Classified worlds" are member planets over which the Empire has considerable influence, though such worlds still have considerable self-governing powers. Class One worlds are governed by a governor-general, with a council and assembly elected by the planetary population, and are allowed to send representatives to the Parliament. The main requirement to become either a Classified World or a Class One world is the achievement of both spaceflight and unified planetary government. "Colonies" are worlds that have not achieved spaceflight and are also technologically backward. These worlds have no influence over their affairs; viceroys, nobility, and Imperial colonists are appointed to govern over the native populace. There are also "Primitive" worlds within the Empire; it is unknown what this classification entails.

Civilian groups[edit]

Several civilian organizations within the Empire have some influence on government affairs. The Imperial Traders Association is a group of interstellar merchants that has influence over the government. The Church and the Humanity League are also mentioned. The Humanity League is mentioned during the CD and the Second Empire eras. The Church, located in New Rome, is the official religion of the Empire. It uses a hierarchy and follows traditions similar to the Roman Catholic Church. The Empire also tolerates other religions, as Jewish and Islamic worlds are also members.



For the most part, the stars with inhabitable planets in the CoDominium are obscure and unnamed on current star charts. For instance, the world of New Washington and its sister planet Franklin orbit a red dwarf at some distance from the Solar System. Such stars are very common in the galaxy but even the closest ones are too dim to observe without equipment, Proxima Centauri being the obvious example. Other habitable systems in the CoDominium have stars in the stellar classes F, G and K, which are common but dim compared to the named stars in the night sky. One of the few stars explicitly named in the CoDominium stories is 82 Eridani, containing the Meiji colony. Viewed from Earth, 82 Eridani is a star of the fourth magnitude at 20 light-years distance. Beyond 50 light-years such stars are below sixth magnitude and therefore invisible to the naked eye, so they are unnamed and largely unrecorded, except in astronomical sky surveys. These are the stars likely to host colonies of the CoDominium. There is no mention in the canon of closer candidate systems such as Tau Ceti and Epsilon Indi.

The Imperial planet of Sparta occupies a system containing an orange dwarf K0 primary with a red dwarf companion (described in The Gripping Hand) which makes passes close enough to impact Sparta's climate. References to Acrux and Crucis Court in the novels probably do not indicate planets around Alpha Crucis, since this system is composed of bright, short-lived stars. However it is certain that Sparta lies in the direction of the Coalsack Nebula from Earth, with another part of the Empire, known as the Trans-coalsack Sector on the other side of that nebula, where most of the action of the two Motie novels takes place. The Coalsack is 600 light-years away and several of the named planets are mentioned as being variously 20, 60 etc. parsecs away. At these distances stars with inhabitable systems would be dim and uncatalogued.

In the case of the New Washington/Franklin planetary system, the configuration of the planets addresses a problem with having a red-dwarf as a central sun. Any planet close enough to the sun to maintain an Earth-like climate would be tidally locked with its orbit so it would always keep the same face toward its sun. In order to restore a night-day cycle, Pournelle created a double planet. New Washington and Franklin are about the same size and orbit a common center with a period of 40 hours. They are tidally locked in this orbit, so they always present the same face to one another. Together they orbit their sun once every 52 days.


CoDominium policy is to restrict the development of technologies that can be used in warfare—in effect, almost all technologies. To this end, not only has almost all research and development been outlawed, but all public sources of information have been contaminated with false data. As a result, technology has not only stagnated, but in some cases been forced to recede.

The CD's treatment of technology is the literary device Pournelle uses to restrict conflicts to trench warfare. Despite the presence of SSTO spacecraft and faster than light starships, soldiers still use chemically-propelled projectile weapons, in many cases bolt action rifles, as they are easier to maintain. Countermeasures have not been developed for rail guns, lasers, or anti-aircraft missiles, so aircraft have ceased being used in most combat situations. Most colony planets lack the infrastructure and supporting equipment to produce or even maintain high technology, making what little that is imported rare and valuable. On such worlds, warfare is largely fought by infantry, artillery is important, and a few tanks can decide the outcome of wars. Only the elite worlds (mainly those under the control of major Terran nation-states) can escape these restrictions, and have even developed their own space fleets. However, these resources are conserved as a deterrent against similar resources; most conflicts are fought without them.

Despite these limitations, the CD still has some superior technologies. The Alderson and Fusion drives propel starships to other star systems. Fusion power plants supply energy, and medical research has developed regeneration technology. Soldiers are equipped with precise, cheap, and handheld anti-aircraft weaponry, light-amplification goggles, and the effective Nemourlon body armor. Anti-satellite rockets that can be used by a military force lacking advanced technology have been developed as well.

The spaceships of the CD use "photon drive", which apparently produces only light to propel the craft in normal space. This allows an estimate of the power capabilities of such a ship. Radiation pressure can produce about 3.35 nanonewtons of force per watt of luminosity, so for a 1-gravity drive there would have to be about 3 gigawatts of luminosity per kilogram of ship mass. A typical ship might be 10,000 tonnes or 10 million kilograms, bringing the power level to 30 petawatts. For comparison, US electrical generating capacity is only in the terawatt range. 10 petawatts is about the equivalent of a megaton nuclear device exploding every second. Interstellar travel is accomplished by use of the Alderson drive which instantaneously warps ships along tramline paths between stars.


During the CoDominium era, instantaneous interstellar travel as a result of the Alderson Drive easily gave humanity the ability to explore, colonize, and exploit various star systems. As a result, many of the space settlements are on planets that are similar to Earth. At the very least, a colony world was barely inhabitable for human life without technological support. Many colonies were founded by ethnic minorities, religious groups, or political groups. Some are started by businesses, for commercial reasons. Most lack an industrial base, and have little advanced technology as a result. The elite, more technologically advanced colonies are ones settled and supported by the Earth countries. These elite worlds have their own fleets and enjoy some independence from the CD.

Several of these planets were used as dumping grounds for involuntary colonists, ranging from violent criminals to exiled dissidents and intellectuals. Some worlds willingly accepted them to use as slave labor, others had to take the transportees in, whether they wanted to or not.

After the CoDominium and during the Empire of Man, new worlds were colonized and terraformed. However, since the collapse of the First Empire and birth of the Second Empire no new planets have been settled. Many worlds were devastated during the Secession Wars, and their civilizations reverted to primitive levels, while others eventually recovered from the wars.


These are apparently systems which retained enough technology after the Secession Wars to present a threat to the Second Empire, by resisting takeover and mounting raids against Empire systems. The presence or threat of Outies is mentioned in all the Second Empire stories as a reason for the Imperial Navy having to deal with events in the most expeditious way possible, rather than allowing time to achieve ideal solutions. Pournelle's daughter, Jennifer R. Pournelle, has drawn on these themes, writing Outies, an authorized sequel [1] to King David's Spaceship, The Mote in God's Eye, and The Gripping Hand, that attempts to marry hard science fiction with social science fiction as it explores what it means to be an "alien" in this Empire, and to what degree biology is destiny.[2] Outies was first published as an e-book[citation needed] in 2010, and was then released in trade paperback [3] in Q1, 2011.


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