Star King’s Future History

Edmond Hamilton’s Future History of the Star Kings

The publication of Edmond Hamilton’s Last of the Star Kings appears with Edmond Hamilton’s own multi-millenial future history.  With permission, we reproduce it here.  You may or may not want to read the excerpt first….


With minor emendations this follows the chronology Hamilton provided in 1949 as a somewhat lengthy footnote in the magazine printing of The Star Kings. We have combined that material with the names he gave the key eras of his future history in its 1939 presentation in the pages of Thrilling Wonder Stories, under the title “History of the Solar System”, which ended with the Era of Interplanetary Secession. A decade later in 1949, he provided a revised version of that chronology, along with a sketch of the next 160,000 years leading up to the era of the Star Kings. (Spoiler warning: Those familiar only with this history up through The Star Kings may want to skip the final section, which contains material extracted from The Tattooed Man.)
* * * *
The era of space travel really dawned in 1945 and ’46, with the first release of atomic energy and the discovery that radar could function efficiently in space. By the end of the 20th Century, atomic-powered rockets guided by radar had reached the Moon, Mars and Venus.

The era of “Exploration and Colonization” deals with the first pioneering flights in space, from that of Johnson to the moon in 1971, up to the successful colonization of Icy Pluto. This was, of course, an era of rapidly expanding Earth Influence.

The “Frontier Era” is the section devoted to the wild two hundred years in which the System Government, with headquarters on Earth, struggled to bring the half-explored nine worlds, with their colonists and native planetary peoples, under complete law and order, against the opposition of space-pirates, plotters and scientific criminals who, in some cases, actually threatened to overthrow the Government itself.

The “Era of Interplanetary Succession” takes up the fateful four centuries in which the various colonized planets began to drift toward a desire for independence from the System Government. It describes the Martian Rebellion of 2463, the Swampmen Uprising on Venus, and the other bids for the eight worlds’ independence that the System Government struggled to put down. It ends on August 17, 2621, when President Alderdice of the System government signed the fateful Recognition of Independence which recognized planets as free, self-governing worlds.

Interplanetary exploration and exploitation had increased rapidly. But the vast distances to other stars remained unconquerable until late in the 23nd Century, when three great inventions made interstellar travel possible.
The most important of the three was the discovery of sub-spectrum rays. These were hitherto unsuspected octaves of electromagnetic radiation far below even the gamma and cosmic rays in wavelength, and which had velocities vastly greater than the speed of light.
Of these sub-spectrum rays the most useful were the so-called pressure rays in the Minus-30th octave of the spectrum, which could react against the tenuous cosmic dust of space with a powerful pressure. These pressure rays formed the driving power of starships. They were produced in generators powered by atomic turbines, and were jetted from the stern of a ship to drive it thousands of times faster than light.
The second vital invention was that of the mass-control. Einstein’s equations had shown that if a ship travelled as fast as light, its mass would expand to infinity. This difficulty was overcome by the mass-control, which “bled” off mass as energy to maintain a constant mass unaltered by velocity. The energy thus obtained was stored in accumulators and fed back automatically whenever speed was reduced.
The final invention concerned the human element. Men’s bodies would have been unable ordinarily to withstand those vast accelerations, but this obstacle was conquered by the cradlestasis. This was a stasis of force which gripped every atom in a ship. The energy-drive jets gave their thrust not to the ship directly, but to its stasis. Thus everyone and everything in the ship remained unaffected by acceleration. Magnetic apparatus furnished artificial gravity on shipboard, similar to that of the tiny gravitation-equalizers worn by all star-travellers.
The fastest of the sub-spectrum rays, those of the Minus-42nd Octave, were so speedy that they made light seem to crawl. These super-speed rays were used in telestereo communication and also in the vital function of radar for the starships.
Using these inventions to build starships, mankind took at once to interstellar space. Alpha Centauri, Sirius and Altair were quickly visited.
Colonies were soon established on suitable star-worlds. For some 10,000 years, Sol and Earth remained the center of government of a growing region of colonized stars.

Until then, there had been no serious conflicts. Aboriginal alien races of intelligence had been found at some star-systems and were helped and educated, but there was found no scientific civilization on any star-world. That had been expected, for if such a race existed it would have visited us long before we ourselves had conquered space.
But in the year 12,455, a group of star-systems near Polaris complained that Earth was too remote to appreciate their problems, and they set up an independent kingdom.

By 39,000, the kingdoms of Lyra, Cygnus, and the Baronies of the great Hercules Cluster had declared independence. [See The Star Hunter.—Ed.]
Criminals and fugitives from the law seeking refuge eventually founded the League of Dark Worlds.

THE FIRST KINGDOMS ERA 120,000–129,411
By 120,000, the star-kingdoms were many. But the biggest was still the Mid-Galactic Empire, and hosts of star-worlds remained loyal to it. For convenience its government had been shifted in 62,339 from Earth to a world of the great sun Canopus.

The Empire took the lead of the star-kingdoms in the year 129,411 when the galaxy was suddenly invaded by alien and powerful creatures from the Magellanic Clusters outside. And after that invasion was repelled, the Empire had steadily grown by exploring and colonizing the wild, unmapped star-systems in the frontier regions called the Marches of Outer Space.

THE STAR KINGS ERA 202,000–unknown
Thus, in the galaxy of 202,000, the star-kingdoms were already old in traditions and history. Many wars had been fought between them, but the Empire had steadily sought to prevent such sanguine galactic struggles and to unify them in peace. Though they took the title of kings, they were at heart democracies. Then the ominous growth of the League of Dark Worlds reached a point where the safety of the Empire itself was challenged. Thus began the First Galactic War. [See The Star Kings.—Ed.]
After the war, legend would say, began the Golden Age of galactic man, a mighty empire that spanned the stars, all men united by a single heritage and a single loyalty to the Heartworld from which they came. [Not Terra but the throne-world of the King of the Central Empire circling the sun Canopus.—Ed.]

[Contains information given in The Tattooed Man about the Star Kings Era, and the millennia that followed, not previously published in book form.]

THE SHATTERED EMPIRE ERA* [225,000–275,000?]
Time passed and the people lost their singleness of identity, adapting to the different conditions of their worlds, so that after a while there were many physical differences between them, many cultures, and many different tongues. And they forgot that they were brothers, and made war on each other. The Second Galactic War began and the great golden Empire fell; there were ages of chaos, when the people sank back into barbarism and the starships rusted away because no one knew how to fly them. And even the Heartworld was lost, except for the nostalgic legend that ran through the folklore of countless scattered stars. Then interstellar travel developed again and the myriad of inhabited worlds of the galaxy began to interact once more. Those who see themselves as closer to the original human stock are still a bit wary of those who have changed significantly, but these distinctions are beginning to fade. [See The Tattooed Man.—Ed.]

[* Hamilton coyly gives no dates here. The Golden Age must have lasted millennia—perhaps 10–20,000 years or more—before the Second Galactic War, and a much longer interregnum of decline and then barbarism—perhaps 50,000 years or much more—must have ensued before humankind reacquired the lost skills of repairing, then flying, and then building, starships.]

—Edmond Hamilton

You can find the Star Kings novels here

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