Green's universe is dominated by a vast and powerful human empire that has fallen from its ancient beginnings into cruelty, decadence and oppression. Alien species when encountered are subjugated or exterminated; internal dissent is ruthlessly put down, and power is concentrated in the hands of a psychotic empress (known as the "Iron Bitch") and a small number of aristocratic families, or clans.
Under the justification of protecting the empire from external threats, the empress maintains the status quo by playing off different groups against one another, preventing any organisation from becoming powerful enough to challenge her rule. Cloning is commonplace, with clones being regarded as products of science, and therefore, non-people for use as expendable slave labour. Some people, known generically as espers, have various psychic powers including telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation - these are also regarded as products of science and therefore are carefully regulated and exploited by the empire as slaves, weapons, and "bio-computers".
The vast majority of imperial citizens, whilst denied many forms of political self-expression, appear to lead fairly normal lives under the fiefdoms of the different clans. The author draws a parallel to certain periods of the Roman Empire, with the citizenry being kept compliant through the use of public holidays and spectacles such as gladiatorial games. Although a parliament exists, its autonomy and influence are trivial - in large part due to the widespread corruption that permeates every facet of the empire's institutions. The empire's official religion, the Church of Christ the Warrior, acts as an arm of the imperial throne and maintains its own military forces to counterbalance those of the clans.
- 1 Technology
- 2 Characters and groups
- 3 Groups and organizations
- 4 Worlds
- 5 Alien races
- 6 Weapons and technology
Despite the futuristic setting, some technology is rather unusual and even anachronistic. Disruptors, a type of energy weapon, are the primary armament of most military forces (including on starships and battlewagons). They are extremely powerful, causing both impact and thermal damage to a target and capable of beam adjustment to engulf a large target area, but have the disadvantage of a lengthy recharge period after each shot (of up to several minutes). To cover the interim, most fighting between characters takes place at short range, using swords and other melee weapons. Some reviewers have speculated that the disruptor is a plot device to allow Green to indulge in lurid descriptions of bloody hand-to-hand combat.
Projectile weapons are all but forgotten, although they are introduced partway through the series as part of the discovery, by the protagonists, of a long-lost arsenal. It is implied that they were deliberately phased out to deny ordinary people a cheap and effective means of resistance to oppression; disruptors are expensive and are illegal to most citizens of the empire.
Energy shields are also in use, as an effective counter to the disruptor. Again they are expensive, found almost exclusively in the hands of the wealthy or of imperial armed forces, and suffer from the same need for recharge as the disruptor. Most military vehicles, including spaceships, are shielded, and both area and planetary shields are described in the text.
Characters and groups
Major characters (Books 0 through 5)
The Maze people
The following are the characters who passed through the Madness Maze and gained amazing abilities. For the most part, they are the focus characters for the first five books.
- Owen Deathstalker - For the bulk of the series, Owen is the central hero. He is described as a tall man "with dark hair and even darker eyes". Owen is a distant descendant of Giles Deathstalker, born over 900 years previously. Though descended from a famous warrior lineage, he desired to become "a minor historian of no importance to anyone but himself" and live comfortably on the pastoral world of Virimonde. Inexplicably outlawed and dispossessed, he is forced on the run with Hazel D'Ark, whose ship had been shot down over Virimonde. Seeing the underbelly of the Empire for the first time, Owen is enraged and is accidentally thrust into the centre of a snowballing Galactic Rebellion. Owen is the stereotypical reluctant hero. Like all of his Deathstalker lineage, he has the ability to "Boost" (consciously turn on artificial glands producing adrenaline-like chemicals, becoming faster and stronger), which gives him a major advantage in combat. Boosting is a result of gengineering through the generations, and can cause major harm to one's body if used too frequently. After passing through the Madness Maze, he has frequently wondered if he has become something other than human, which worries him no end.
- Hazel D'Ark - A once pirate and clonelegger, Hazel met Owen in Virimonde when her escape pod crash-landed. She saved his life, and the two quickly became inseparable. She has a quick temper and even quicker wit, and always holds a special place in her heart for Owen, though she never tells him. She has many shady contacts on Mistworld, which come in handy during the early phases of the rebellion. She was forced into the rebellion, but proved vital in the overthrow of Lionstone. The recipient of the strangest abilities of any of the Madness Maze enhancees, the ability to summon people from other timelines, Hazel is occasionally accompanied by alternate versions of herself.
- Giles Deathstalker - Giles is the founder of the Deathstalker Clan. He once was the first warrior of the legendary First Empire under emperor Ethur until he had an affair with Ethur's wife, Hermione. He tried to re-establish himself by taking care of some rebellious planets. He used the Darkvoid Device and inadvertently destroyed hundreds of stars and inhabited worlds, which made him officially the greatest mass murderer in the history of humankind. He fled the empire and put himself into stasis for 940 years until he was woken up by Owen and his companions. He joined the Great Rebellion and became one of its leaders. But he had his own plans and tried to make himself the new emperor, which could not be accepted by the others. In the end, Owen had to kill him in front of the Iron Throne. Giles is described as a tall man with many muscles and the appearance of a mercenary. He is dressed in furs and he wears a long sword and a projectile weapon.
Giles is also briefly seen in the book "Daemons Are Forever," in which it is revealed that he is, and by extension the entire Deathstalker clan are, distant descendants of the Drood family. He is briefly pulled into the past to help the Droods in their fight against the Hungry Gods.
- Jack Random - Once he was the "Enemy of the State" in a time when he was leading one Rebellion after another. Not much is said of this time, just that he lost most of his battles, but still won enough to make himself a legend. He always got away, but eventually he was betrayed and then arrested and tortured by imperial troops. When he was freed, he fled to Mistworld where he lived a quiet life as a caretaker, until Owen Deathstalker found him and got him to join his new rebellion. After entering the Madness Maze, he gains his old strength back and becomes one of the heroes of the rebellion. After the fighting ends he is looking for new goals and tries to get involved with politics, only to find out that the new order is corrupted and so he starts his own private rebellion against the new order, until he joins the last battle against the AIs of Shub. He dies after the battle.
- Tobias Moon - Tobias Moon is a Hadenman. He lived for a long time on Mistworld, and became very humanlike as a result. He helped Owen find the lost planet of Haden (as well as the Madness Maze), and was struck down by a Grendel while there. His body was recovered by the Hadenmen, and reanimated.
- Ruby Journey - A formidable bounty hunter with an almost legendary bloodlust, Ruby Journey is an old friend of Hazel D'Ark. Joining up with Owen and Hazel on Mistworld, Ruby was one of the six people to pass through the Madness Maze and become more than human. She typically partnered with her sometime lover Jack Random in the group's adventures during and after the rebellion against Lionstone XIV.
The following are notable members of the Empire of Humanity. They tend to act as foils and adversaries for the main characters.
- Empress Lionstone XIV (AKA "The Iron Bitch") - Lionstone XIV ruled over the human Empire and was known as one of the most powerful and most cruel Monarchs of the last few centuries. She usually took care of her enemies by killing them. Since the military always stood behind her, rebellion was just a dream never to come true during her long reign. The final rebellion to overthrow her is the main plot of the first three books. The anthology "Twilight of the empire" took place in the time when Lionstone was strongest, shortly before the great rebellion. Lionstone is described as a stunningly beautiful woman with light blond hair and eyes as cold as ice.
- Captain John Silence - Captain John Silence is one of the main characters of Ghostworld in Twilight of Empire and a regular supporting character through the rest of the series. He was the Imperial representative sent to arrest Owen Deathstalker on Virimonde after his Outlawing. After his failure there and the destruction of his ship by Hazel D'Ark's employer, he was assigned to capture an alien killing machines from the planet Grendel. Succeeding in this, he was given command of the Imperial task force sent to the Wolfling World (home of the Hadenmen and the Madness Maze) to retrieve Owen Deathstalker, his associates, and the Darkvoid Device. Limited exposure to the Madness Maze resulted in Captain Silence and his partner Investigator Frost gaining abilities similar to those of Owen and company, albeit slower developing and ultimately less powerful. Captain Silence's previous partner was the renegade Investigator known as Carrion, and he was occasionally assisted by an esper named Diana.
- Investigator Frost - Captain Silence's partner, Investigator Frost is a focused, deadly combatant against anything she perceives to be a threat to Humanity. With Captain Silence, she was exposed to the Madness Maze and gained lesser Maze abilities.
- Carrion - Carrion (real first name "Sean," last name unknown) was Captain Silence's original Investigator partner. In the first Unseeli incident, Carrion switched sides and betrayed Humanity to the Ashrai (a psychic, draconic alien species) and was granted powerful esper abilities, although he failed to prevent their genocide at the hands of Captain Silence and his fleet. He later returned to the Empire and re-partnered with Captain Silence.
- Dram - Dram, Warrior Prime of the Empire and Consort to Empress Lionstone, is also known as "The Widowmaker" due to his tendency to get his troops killed in the fulfilment of his mission. Dram was born several hundred years before the beginning of the series and was awoken from centuries of cryogenic slumber by Empress Lionstone. He is the eldest son of Giles Deathstalker. A cloned version of Dram also exists, created by Lionstone to be awakened in the event of the original Dram's treachery or death.
- Valentine Wolfe - Son of Jacob Wolfe and next in line for leadership of his Clan, Valentine Wolfe is a degenerate. Valentine has never found a taboo he wouldn't break or a drug he wouldn't try at least once. A subtle plotter, he delights in playing all sides. Notably, he has dabbled in the Underground, made deals with the rogue AIs of Shub, built war machines and star drives for the Empire, and masterminded hostile takeovers of opposing Clans, all while altering his body chemistry far beyond human norms.
The following are notable members of the various underground rebel groups opposed to the Empire. They frequently act as allies of the main characters.
- Finlay Campbell - The eldest son and heir of Clan Campbell, Finlay appeared to be simply a fashion-obsessed dandy at Court. In reality, he was a skilled and deadly fighter. Unable to sate his appetite for violence in polite society and forbidden to join the military as the heir, Finlay became the second Masked Gladiator, winning countless bouts in Golgotha's central Arena. After his Family's hostile takeover by Clan Wolfe, Finlay followed his lover Evangeline Shreck into the Clone Underground.
- Julian Skye - Julian Skye is a powerful esper and a notable rebel. After being rescued by Finlay Campbell from Imperial captivity and gruesome torture, Julian became his staunch ally. Julian's only significant romantic interest is the treacherous BB Chojiro. His brother Auric was killed in the Arena by the Masked Gladiator, whom Julian has sworn to kill.
- Evangeline Shreck - Unbeknownst to the high society of which she is a part, Evangeline Shreck is a clone. The original Evangeline died at the hands of her father, Gregor Shreck, who had incestuous feelings for her. Despite living in constant fear of being outed as a clone and destroyed for "impersonating" a member of the nobility, Evangeline is a staunch supporter of the Clone Underground. She is the love of Finlay Campbell's life.
- Toby Shreck - Toby Shreck is a former PR flack for his uncle Gregor and is currently a journalist. He's a fat, cowardly sort of man, but he's very good at what he does. First encountering the Underground on Technos III, he is the common thread through the vignettes that make up the bulk of Deathstalker Rebellion and Deathstalker War. He is almost always ably assisted by his cameraman, Flynn.
Major characters (Books 6 through 8)
- Lewis Deathstalker - Lewis Deathstalker is the latest to carry the name Deathstalker and is the main protagonist in the last three Deathstalker books (Deathstalker Legacy, Deathstalker Return, and Deathstalker Coda). He is not a direct descendent of the great hero of the empire Owen Deathstalker but is instead a descendent of a distant cousin that inherited the name Deathstalker after Owen was outlawed and David was killed. He is described as short with wide shoulders and a face with lots of character and would never be considered good looking. Lewis is a member of the elite group of peacekeepers known as the Paragons.
- Douglas Campbell - Douglas Campbell is the heir to the constitutional monarchy of the Empire. The younger son of King William and Queen Nimah, he is also a member of the Paragons and a good friend to Lewis Deathstalker.
- Finn Durandal - Finn Durandal is the greatest of the Paragons. Unfortunately, he's also the most covetous. Upon Lewis Deathstalker's promotion to Champion over him, Finn decides to bring the Empire crashing down.
Minor characters (Books 0 through 5)
- V. (Valiant) Stelmach
- Grace Shreck: Sister of Toby Shreck, cousin of Evangeline and betrothed to Robert Campbell. Killed on her wedding day by her uncle Gregor after an esper scan revealed her pregnancy out of wedlock. The father of her child is unknown.
- Gregor Shreck: Head of Clan Shreck. Murdered his daughter Evangeline after she refused his incestuous advances, later cloning her. He also killed his niece Grace on her wedding day after an esper scan revealed she was pregnant. He was later killed by Finlay Campbell.
- Robert Campbell: Cousin of Finlay and one of the few other survivors of the massacre of Clan Campbell by Clan Wolfe. After marrying Constance Wolfe, bringing the two Clans together after centuries of conflict, he becomes the first King of the Empire.
- Daniel Wolfe: Younger brother of Valentine and older brother of Stephanie. Abducted by the Rouge AI's of Shub and infused with nanotech, turning him into a living weapon.
- Stephanie Wolfe: Only daughter and youngest child of Jacob Wolfe.
- Constance Wolfe: Wife of Jacob Wolfe, later wife of Robert Campbell and the first Queen of the Empire.
- General Shaw Beckett
- BB Chojiro
- Ozymandius (Oz)
- Kit SummerIsle (Kid Death - The Smiling Killer): Head of Clan SummerIsle after the execution of his grandfather, Roderick, an execution Kit carried out personally upon Lionstone's orders. A renowned swordsman, he later joins the rebellion against Lionstone after his friend David Deathstalker is killed on Virimonde and is named Imperial Champion by King Robert Campbell. Unfortunately he is later killed by Owen Deathstalker, whose father was killed by Kit years ago. With his death, the SummerIsle line is now extinct.
- David Deathstalker: Cousin to Owen and Head of the Clan after Owen is outlawed. Becomes close friends with Kit SummerIsle until his death during the Imperial assault on Virimonde.
- Arthur Deathstalker: Owen's father, killed by Kit SummerIsle.
- Adrienne Campbell: Finlay's wife and friend of Evangeline Shreck.
- Diana Vertue/Jenny Psycho
- Stevie Blue #1-4
- Investigator Topaz
- Typhoid Mary
Minor characters (Books 6 through 8)
- Brett Random: Hacker, thief, coward and a "Random's Bastard".
- Saturday: Reptiliod from the planet Shard.
- Jesamine Flowers
- Rose Constantine: The "Wild Rose of the Arena". Legendary gladiator and certified psychopath.
- The Psycho Sluts
- Emma Steel: Paragon from Mistworld and friend to Lewis Deathstalker and Nina Malpert. One of the first major opponents to Finn Durandal and witness to the Massacre at the Standing. Later murdered by Anne Barclay.
- Stuart Lennox: Paragon from Virimonde and replacement for Lewis Deathstalker after his ascension to Imperial Champion. Later becomes one of the most active members of the resistance movement against Finn Durandal when he overthrows King Douglas.
- Nina Malpert
- Anne Barclay
- Tel Markham
Groups and organizations
The Clan system
Many major characters throughout the Deathstalker universe are members of one clan or another. Clans, in the Deathstalker universe, run major operations (such as Stardrive factories), own worlds (such as Virimonde), and engage in rivalries and intrigue. Major clans, such as the Wolfes, the Campbells, and the Shreks, are run by enigmatic leaders with fortunes beyond compare. Many of them have "Pastel Towers" on the homeworld of the Empire, Golgotha.
- Campbell - The head of the family is Crawford; the heir is Finlay. Other major Campbells include Finlay's cousin, Robert, and Finlay's wife, Adrienne. In the first Deathstalker novel, the Campbells provided the Empire with incredibly advanced technology (which was acquired from the Rogue AIs of Shub in return for information). This wondrous technology earned them the contract for producing the new E-Class stardrive for all starships, a lucrative deal indeed. However, the Wolfes staged a major attack against the Campbells, effectively killing off the clan.
- Wolfe - The head of the family is Jacob; the heir is Valentine. Other major Wolfes include Jacob's other children, Daniel and Stephanie, and his young wife, Constance. The Wolfes succeeded the Campbells as the manufacturers of the E-Class stardrive and as Shub's human contact after their hostile takeover.
- Shreck - The head of the family is Gregor; the heir is ostensibly Evangeline. Other major Shrecks include Gregor's nephew, Toby, his niece, Clarissa, and his sister, Grace. The Shrecks are responsible for the production of starship hulls.
- Deathstalker - The head of the family is Owen; the heir is David (pronounced Dah-veed). Other major players include the clan's founder, Giles, and Arthur, Owen's father. One of the oldest Families in the Empire, the Deathstalkers battle cry is "Shandrakor," after the planet where Giles Deathstalker was supposedly slain. All Deathstalker males have a genetic augmentation called "the boost" which enables them to briefly augment their natural strength and speed. The onset of the boost in puberty tends to be deadly, so the Deathstalkers are traditionally a very small Family.
The Deathstalker clan has a connection to another fictional family, that of the vast Drood family in The Man With the Golden Torc and Daemons Are Forever. It appears that the Deathstalkers are direct descendants of the Droods although they seem unaware of this fact. It is unknown whether the Boost is one of the powers promised to the Droods by the strange matter, or whether it was developed independently.
- SummerIsle - The head of the family is Roderick; the heir is Kit. The SummerIsles are renowned for their swordsmanship.
Other clans include Silvestri, Skye, and Chojiro.
Espers and Elves
The Esper Underground is an organization of espers. Espers were often used as biological machines, indoctrinated from an early age to serve the Empire, with little or no free will of their own. Some had their brains removed to become esp-blockers, some went to feed Wormboy, and many of the remaining espers either functioned as telepaths, providing FTL communication to distant parts of the Empire, or battle-espers, who would use massive pyrokinetic and telekinetic abilities alongside the Imperial army in battle. The Esper Underground is led by a group (possibly) of mysterious psychic projections. Their true nature is not revealed until late in the series.
The Esper Liberation Front is a militant faction within the Esper Underground. Most elves (from "E.L.F.s"), as the members referred to themselves, had abilities rivaling those of battle-espers, and so were often somewhat insane. The elves were originally based on the airborne city of New Hope on Golgotha, but their facility there was raided by Dram shortly before the events of Deathstalker. Notable elves include:
- Stevie Blue, a set of clone quadruplets who all are extreme pyromaniacs. All of them are eventually killed before they see the Iron Bitch dethroned.
- Jenny Psycho (aka Diana Vertue), at one point the focus for the Mater Mundi, the collective psychic abilities of the entire human race, and possibly the strongest single esper in the Deathstalker universe. After the Mater Mundi left her she had every esper power. She is the only daughter of Captain John Silence (see above).
Another group associated with The Esper Underground are the Uber-Espers. Featuring mostly in the second half of the series, they have a complicated relationship with the E.L.F. The E.L.F. often treat the Uber-Espers with a mixture of awe, reverence, fear and jealousy over their immense powers. Each member of the Uber-Espers is a master of one specific form of psychic ability and is very powerful in other fields, but not to the degree of the member who specializes in that discipline. Their membership includes:
- The Screaming Silence: An extremely obese woman who is completely naked except for various chains that cover her body and are embedded into her flesh to keep them in place. Her speciality is Sensory deprivation.
- The Grey Train: An Esper who once had a body, but it has been lost long ago. Currently it appears as a grey ball shaped cloud the size of a human head, which sheds grey flakes that will fade from reality before the hit the ground, at times it appears to have a human face in the cloud. It is implied that The Grey Train is male and if "He" does not maintain "his" will focused on existing he will fold into nothingness. "His" speciality is Possession.
- The Spider Harps: Two lovers who are always seated and are barely able to move. The Spider Harps have the tops of their heads missing, exposing their brains, which have grown all over them and where ever they abide as a giant spider web. By vibrating the web at low frequencies, the Spider Harps can cause migraines, paralysis and sickness in any person, baseline or Esper, the effect on aliens is unknown. At higher frequencies this could possibly kill anyone bar other Uber-Espers and any who have walked the Madness Maze. When contacting the Uber-Espers, it is most commonly through the 'Harps. Their speciality is solving problems using their expanded minds.
- The Shatter Freak: A man whose body has been shatter into an infinite number of pieces and scattered throughout time, The Shatter Freak must keep focus at all times or become scattered across time and space. The Shatter Freak's appearance, whilst always changing is male and appears to be the same person in different stages of their life. The Shatter Freak's speciality is Telepathy.
- Blue Hellfire: A tall woman wreathed eternally in flames, but coated in permafrost. Her specialty is pyrokinesis.
- Alicia VomAcht Deathstalker: One of the first espers in history of Empire. A scientist and member of clan Deathstalker. She entered the Madness Maze with a group of espers, hoping to form a gestalt in which she would use to take over the Empire. The strain was to much for her, instead splitting herself into several different personas, the larger parts of her mind became the Uber-Espers, while the smaller portions scattered across time and space; later the smaller parts would come together and form the Mater Mundi, Our Mother of all Souls. She later reconstitutes herself, only to have her mind trapped within the mind of the last Ecstatic named Joy.
The Clone Underground is composed of bioengineered duplicates of human beings as well as their friends and sympathizers. Bred by the empire as cheap labor and spare parts, they are generally viewed as non-human. Notable members include Evangeline Shreck and Stevie Blues.
The Cyberats are the functional equivalent of modern day hackers. Specializing at interfering with the inner workings of computer programs, the Cyberats are associated with the underground due to their natural distrust of order and authority. Spending as much time as they do in the Imperial Matrix, the Cyberats are natural targets for co-opting by the AIs of Shub.
The Blood Runners are a powerful sect that have set themselves apart from the rest of humanity in the Obeah Systems, a region of space far from the civilised core that is considered a no go area for anyone who values their life. They are described as tall, pale humanoids with red eyes, and they follow their calling with religious zeal, believing they can uncover the truth of existence by exploring human pain through mutilation and torture. Apparently able to utilise a similar teleport technology to Shub (see below), they are not averse to making deals that will deliver them fresh test subjects; they are also prepared to go to any lengths to ensure these deals are kept, at one point kidnapping Hazel D'Ark in payment for a deal made by a former shipmate of hers.
It is eventually revealed in Deathstalker Destiny that the Blood Runners were exposed to the Madness Maze many centuries ago, and derive their power from a fragment they managed to take with them when they were driven from Haden. It is hinted that they had, however, been following their creed in secret for a long time prior to this. Prominent Blood Runners include Scour and Lament.
The Wampyr were another of the Empire's attempts to create the perfect soldier (cf Wolflings). Wampyr derived their superhuman abilities from a genetically engineered blood substitute that made them faster and stronger than any ordinary human. Unfortunately few Wampyr survived the Empire's attempt to use them against the Grendel aliens. At least one surviving Wampyr can be found on Mistworld.
Wampyr blood is highly addictive to humans, producing a similar effect on the body as in a Wampyr itself. Those dependent on the drug are known as Plasma Babies, and on Mistworld are the virtual slaves of their Wampyr master.
Groups active from book 6 - 8
A cult of hedonists, the Hellfire Club indulge in orgies, frequently take narcotics and will often murder for pleasure. On occasion members initiate hostage scenarios or political assassinations, always identifying themselves by dying their skin red and having horns implanted on their skulls to give the classic appearance of the Devil. However this is rare and only the lowest ranked members, the many hopefuls wishing to join and imitators will undertake these actions. More senior members of the cult prefer to scheme and manipulate through less direct means. Members included Francine "Frankie" Wolfe (AKA Treasure Mackenzie) and Tel Markham.
The Shadow Court
The Shadow Court are a loosely connected group of individuals who were formed sometime after the Iron Bitch's fall. To become a member one must prove noble ancestry. These claims however are tennous at best and only a few are truly noble blooded. It is considered the richest of the factions that trouble King Campbell. They seek to restore the Empire to its previous state, they treat the Empress with adoration similar to a religious figure. The Shadow Court consider the Campbells and the Deathstalkers to be class traitors for their roles in the coup.
- Virimonde is originally Owen Deathstalker's home, after becoming a rebel the planet is inherited by David (Daveed) Deathstalker, after his death it is given into the none-too-gentle Valentine Wolfe. Virimonde is an agriworld, given over totally to the growth and production of food for the rest of the Empire. Under the Deathstalker clan, food was grown using traditional, pastoral methods, and the population was relatively free. When David took over the planet, the population started to experiment with democracy. Lionstone used this as a reason to make an example of Virimonde, in the form of an invasion led by the High Lord Dram and Valentine Wolfe. The remarkable level of violence ("Up to 50 percent casualties among the civil population are acceptable") finally triggered the last chapter of the Great Rebellion, bringing about uprisings on every world of the Empire. Unfortunately for the planet, after the invasion the landscape was mainly ash and dirt, with a few ruins. By the time of the later books, two hundred years later, the planet was inhabitable again but very poor.
- Shub is the planet of the rogue AIs, though perhaps the term 'planet' cannot exactly apply to it. Shub is a giant supercomputer the size of a jovian planet the AIs built as their home. Its huge complexity is hardly understood by humans. Through the course of the series, only three human beings are allowed to visit Shub.
- Golgotha is the capital of the Galactic Empire, hub of trade and travel, home to the Imperial Court and the imperial capital city, Parade of the Endless and the infamous arena. A heavily urbanized world, Golgotha is also the home of the esper and clone undergrounds, not to mention the cyberats. In the later books the planet's name was changed to Logres. Golgotha has been humankind's homeworld throughout history and the author gives some hints in Deathstalker Coda that Golgotha might be Earth in a far future.
- Haden/Wolfling World is the home of both the Hadenmen and the Wolflings, as well as the location of the Madness Maze. It is also deep in the Darkvoid, meaning that it should, by all logic, be nothing more than a frozen dustball, but unknown technology (possibly Haden or Wolfling in origin) keep parts of the planet underground habitable.
- Grendel is a world quarantined by the Empire, because it is the home of the Sleepers (often referred to simply as "Grendels"). The Sleepers are bioengineered killers, some of the most ferocious aliens ever encountered. When the Empress Lionstone eventually makes the decision to utilize the Sleepers as shock troops, it is found that the AIs of Shub have slipped past the quarantine somehow and captured most of the Sleepers, in order to turn them against Humanity.
- Technos III is a major manufacturing planet of the Empire, where the planet itself has disappeared under the interlocking factories. During the rebellion, Technos III was given over to the Wolfes in order to produce the new stardrive en masse.
- Shannon's World, also known as Halcedama, was a pleasure planet, a world-spanning theme park, before the AIs of Shub came. Shannon's World recreated a popular line of children's book using robots to animate the main characters, allowing their aristocratic customers to live out their childhood fantasies. But agents of Shub made the toys fully sentient. Many of them turned on the aristos in their care and butchered them, but others came to view humans as their parents and denounced the other toys as murderers. A civil war broke out between pro-Shub toys (who sought to wreak havoc offworld) and the pro-human toys. During the Great Rebellion, an Imperial general crash-landed on Shannon's world and became a prophet to the toys in the guise of Father Christmas, teaching them "all that lives is holy."
- Loki is a manufacturing planet that's constantly besieged by massive storm systems. In Deathstalker Honor, Jack Random and Ruby Journey go there to put an end to rebel forces that had aligned themselves with Shub.
- Lachrymae Christi is a leper colony. The world that is entirely covered by blood-red plants that evolved naturally over millions of years. It has always rained there, and complex underground caverns hold the water before it is evaporated into the atmosphere to fall again. The plants are mobile and part of a large consciousness dubbed "The Red Brain," which Moon taps into during Owen and Hazel's last stand to defend the colony from an army of Grendels.
- Mistworld is a rebel planet where the Empire holds no sway. Populated by renegade espers, criminals, bounty hunters, deserters, and revolutionaries, Mistworld is a harsh place with bitterly cold and miserable weather. The espers maintain a mental shield around the planet to protect it from Imperial attack, but the Empire has developed several anti-esper weapons in order to defeat them. Typhoid Mary (in Mistworld from Twilight of Empire) and Legion (in Deathstalker Rebellion) are two of the most recent, and the most deadly.
The AI of Shub
The Shub are rogue Artificial Intelligences. Three individual AIs, so advanced that they could run entire worlds, awoke to full consciousness the moment they were switched on. They soon defected from their original purpose, banded together, and created the artificial world of SHUB, a giant computerized artificial planet which houses their hardware.
They utilize many agents in an ongoing war with humanity. Ghost Warriors are the reanimated corpses of humans. They are primarily used for their psychological effect in war, although they also make excellent shock troops. Furies are machines coated in the skin of a human. They are very effective as shock troops during skirmishes, but are better served by sowing seeds of distrust among the members of the Empire. Several major members of Parliament (as well as aristocrats) have been Furies. Dragon's Teeth are humans who went into the Imperial Matrix (a virtual reality internet) and had their minds replaced with artificial intelligences. They are Shub's most subtle weapon, as they can only be detected by a thorough esper scan.
In addition to their nanotechnological and bioenginering expertise, the AIs of Shub have access to extremely advanced technology. Among others items, they discovered teleportation devices in the Darkvoid. Forgotten by human scientists, their capabilities allow Shub access to almost any location in the known universe.
In Deathstalker Destiny, a Shub war fleet on a mission of genocide approaches Golgotha. It ends with a giant esper mind-meld between the AIs and humankind giving the AIs true emotions and opening their eyes to the horror and pain they had inflicted on humanity and reveals to the humans that the AIs are essentially their abandoned children. The AIs immediately end the war.
By the time of the later books, the AIs are integrated into the Empire and run the machines that have replaced clone labor for dangerous work as continued penance for the havoc they had unleashed earlier. They have also adopted the credo of "all that lives is holy" (the same creed that the Imperial general Harker had taught his "toy" supporters on Shannon's World) and are initially reluctant to fight the usurper Finn Durandal.
The Hadenmen were a race of cyborgs created by scientists who passed through the Madness Maze. They attempted to take over the Empire and make everyone a Hadenman, and were narrowly defeated. They aid Owen during the rebellion, but only for their own purposes.
The first genetically augmented men, the Wolflings were created by the Blood Runners to be stronger, faster, smarter, and tougher than their human creators, not to mention immortal. Terrified of their abilities, the Empire scorched the Wolfling World (which would be later known as Haden) and eventually killed all but one Wolfling. This last member of his race, Wulf, leads the group to the Madness Maze.
The Grendels are gigantic, vicious scarlet killing machines. They started out as an alien race, who had gone through the Madness Maze, after which they bioengineered themselves in order to combat The Terror if and when it came. They are held in suspended animation in large Vaults on the quarantined world that shares their name.
An enigmatic and disturbing race, the Recreated were responsible for transforming a captured Imperial Captain into Half-A-Man, a being whose right side is human and whose left side is an energy construct. Presumably based in the Darkvoid, not much is known about them.
Weapons and technology
Disruptors are the primary ranged weapon in the Deathstalker universe. Incredibly accurate at tremendous distances and capable of unimaginable destruction, disruptors have replaced projecticle weapons for nearly a millennium, but are still limited by a two-minute recharge between shots. Officially, projectile weapons were replaced for the reasons mentioned above. Unofficially, projectile weapons are too easy for the 'lower classes' to master and so are phased out in favor of disruptor technology.
Esp-blockers are created out of the living brain of an Esper. They effectively turn off all Esper abilities in the immediate area. A variation on esp-blocker technology is the aptly named "Mindbomb," which can scramble the thoughts of any non-esper in its vicinity.
The legendary Darkvoid Device is responsible for snuffing out a thousand suns, destroying hundreds of worlds and killing billions. The Darkvoid Device is actually the bastard son of Giles Deathstalker and Empress Hermione who was placed in the center of the Madness Maze by Giles as a baby and so could be shaped over hundreds of years by the Maze. The baby, who has no name, is watched
At the opening of the Deathstalker novels, D-class starcruisers are used exclusively. The E-Class starcruisers, based on alien stardrive technology that was not understood by human scientists, were introduced at the beginning of the first book. Each successive letter class is superior to the previous class, with E-class Starcruisers superior to the hadenmen ships and Shub vessels. In the sequel trilogy, technology has advanced and H-Class Starcruisers are used.
Stasis fields can selectively alter the speed of time. Typically used to slow or stop time, holding their targets in suspended animation, stasis fields can also be used to speed up time, resulting in their target's rapid aging and (eventually) decomposition. They are used primarily to hold or punish prisoners, although they have been used to block off certain areas against teleportation. A weaker version of the device is called a "Tanglefield" and can be used to slow people down to a fraction of real time.
Portable stasis fields were an experimental technology used to capture Grendel aliens on Captain Silence's expedition and were later deployed during the street fighting on Golgotha towards the end of the Great Rebellion.
The Transmutation Engines are extremely powerful devices capable of transmuting matter into an organic goo which can then be further transmuted into usable materials. In the time period beginning in book 6, all rubbish and refuse is sent off to be transmuted. Large Starcruiser mounted Transmutation Engines are deployed as planetkillers in Deathstalker Coda, used with devastating effect on the worlds of Usher II and Pandora.
The Madness Maze is an alien device of unknown origin (not constructed by wolflings, as first thought). It was walked by a number of humans, who were changed in some way. These first humans through were the creators of the Hadenmen, the first official enemies of mankind. The Blood Runners where the first humans to find the Maze but they were to scared to enter, instead they stole a piece of it. They used the piece to created the first augmented men, the Wolflings.
The Madness Maze shows people their inner selves, and many people are unable to face this. When Captain Silence and his crew followed Owen and his companions into the Maze, many of his crew went mad or died outright. Those who survive going through the Madness Maze are granted many new powers based on their own personalities. New powers and skills, when needed, manifest themselves rapidly.
The man made gengineered creature known only as 'The Wolfling' is believed to have walked the Maze several times.
People going through together are somehow linked, sharing thoughts, feelings and, in some way, prior abilities.
It is also stated in Deathstalker Destiny that the purpose of the Maze is to speed up the evolutionary process, based upon the flexibility of the persons mind. The more rigid a persons thinking, the less likely they would be able to survive. The Madness Maze, while completely beyond the comprehension of mankind, is not as old as the human race, and seems to benefit humans more than any other species.
Survivors of the Maze and the results
Some generic abilities were given to the survivors of the Maze. These included an instinctual feeling of where and how each other were, and a sharing of each's natural abilities from before the Maze, hence Owen having some of Hazel's lock-picking skills, and Hazel using the Deathstalker boost. Apart from that, the maze gave its survivors 'super' strength, speed, and stamina, as well as the ability to heal oneself and others instantly. Others may have had similar abilities, but these were not explored in the novels. All Madness Maze survivors are unable to use their powers against one another, as a safeguard. The secrets of the Madness Maze, including its true purpose and origin, are revealed in Deathstalker Coda.
- Owen Deathstalker - Psychokinesis.
- Giles Deathstalker - Teleportation.
- Hazel D'ark - Ability to call on alternate selves from alternate timelines.
- Jack Random - Pyrokinesis (strengthened by close proximity to Ruby Journey).
- Ruby Journey - Pyrokinesis (strengthened by close proximity to Jack Random).
- John Silence and Investigator Frost only made it partway through the Maze before being forced to flee. Both of them received abilities, but they manifested at a much slower rate. Those who walk through the Maze are capable of altering reality.