I have a lot of ideas for stories. Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all. I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them. I’ll just never get a chance to. So, I give them to the world. If you can make something of these, go right ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.
Several years ago, I had an image of a guy walking through a castle carrying a severed head. (Like, your story process is “normal.”) So I wrote a short, little story about it that ended hinting there was more to the story. I recently reposted this little story, but if you don’t want to read it, the basics are that Nallog the Third, after generations of fighting has finally conquered the planet by taking the castle of the last holdout. While toasting his victory – with the severed head of his enemy – his son comes in to complain that the troops are running rampant and burning all the books. Nallog the Third says that his son could just write more, but the prince says they need the knowledge in those books to continue. When Nallog the Third asks where they can continue to since they’ve conquered the planet, the prince just looks to the stars starting to come out in the twilight.
This was to be the prologue to a massive story. It eventually grew to seven trilogies. When I say idea, I mean I had some outline for the first book, and then a few sentences on what the following trilogies would be about. So here goes.
The background of the series, slowly pieced together, is that thousands of years ago people on Earth discovered some type of faster than light (FTL) travel, in the sense that it might take you an hour or two to go a lightyear. Which was great, but a downside was you needed very accurate and up to date gravity maps. So you couldn’t just go out a hundred lightyears right away. You had to go out maybe one lightyear at a time and map everything. Once that was done, then you could make the hundred lightyear jumps. What developed were a few travel lanes between Earth and the few Earth like planets out there located thousands of lightyears (months of travel time) away. Colonies were started on these planets, but the initial focus was on things like food and basic goods. Do they want to ruin the pristine landscapes to build the factories to make the things, that make the things, that make the FTLs, or just import them from Earth that already has everything set up? Everything was going great, until the ships from Earth stopped showing up. And the ships sent to investigate, didn’t come back. What happened? That’s the story for the sixth trilogy. On this world, things collapsed as the super high tech stuff either wore out or was hidden away and society fell to a medieval level. Then the first three Nallogs set out and conquered the planet.
Chapter 1 of the first book of the first trilogy begins with Nallog the Seventh taking a shuttle up to a space station. By reverse engineering the few FTL ships hidden away and spending decades industrializing, they’ve managed to get to the point where they’re going to the surrounding star systems. They do have the files on how to plot a course to Earth, but they are millennia out of date and utterly useless. If they want to go back to Earth, they basically have to find it. But they knew there was another colony relatively nearby them – only a hundred lightyears or so – and they found it on the last mission. The current scouting mission was to gather intel on them, but it is late returning.
The Nallog’s are military authoritarians, but Nallog the Seventh is … not entirely terrible. Like if you screw up, you’ll be demoted. You really have to screw up for him to have you summarily executed. He’s worried that maybe the scout was attacked, and hostile forces may be on the way there. They do have some fighter ships, but most of them are out on mapping missions. The scout finally returns and the pilot apologizes for being late. They were supposed to stay in a high orbit to avoid detection, but the pilot realized that the planet was far less advanced. So they went low to get some really good images, and it appears that colony also collapsed but hasn’t gotten out of the medieval stage yet.
This changes things. Nallog the Seventh was planning to invade that planet, but not for many years. He needed time to get more intel on them, but also to build ships. As it is, he only has one transport ship capable of carrying a hundred or so soldiers. A second ship is just a frame. But if it’s a primitive planet, then he might be able to take it with only a hundred soldiers.
They put the hull on the second transport ship, and load it full of equipment and a skeleton crew. The plan is it will also go the planet, but it would stay in orbit with his “reserve troops” in case Nallog the Seventh would need them. The crew would use the flight time to try to install all the life support equipment in case something happens to the first ship and they need to evacuate.
So they get all the ships and soldiers ready and they go to the other colony. They land outside the largest castle, and a guy with a sword comes out and Nallog the Seventh shoots him with a plasma pistol. He maybe does this a few more times at other castles, but the word spreads and the planet is soon his.
The book would deal more with the problems of taking over this world. Like most of them thought that they had always been on this planet, and the idea that they had come from somewhere else is heresy. Also, Nallog the Seventh assumed that once he took over the planet, the people would become the obedient followers like back home, but not so much. You could probably also through in some love interest to spice things up.
The rest of the first trilogy would deal with the Nallog’s spreading their empire out thousands of lightyears. They discover some other primitive colonies, some abandoned colony worlds, and maybe some new worlds. All the while dealing with various problems, like putting down revolts and everything that would happen if you took a medieval peasant from a field and tried to put them to work building a starship. The trilogy ends with a scout for Nallog the Ninth arriving at a planet only to find that it’s not a primitive colony, but part of an equal power.
The second trilogy would deal with this other power, showing their time from a collapsed colony to a growing power. The third trilogy would do the same for a third power. The power structure for each is TBD. Maybe all three are some shade of military authoritarian, or maybe one is democratic while another is communist. If you ever write this, you can figure it out.
So the first three trilogies give the backstories of these three growing empires. The fourth trilogy is them going to war. There is a lot of fighting, and a lot of people die, but in the end they are more or less back to where they started.
The fifth trilogy is basically a Cold War where spies are sent out to try to destabilize planets and whatnot. It ends with whatever happened on Earth coming back.
The sixth trilogy is the prequel that goes back to Earth pre-collapse and shows what actually happened.
The seventh trilogy is the three powers having to join forces to not suffer Earth’s fate.
That’s basically what I had. Now there are two big questions that need answered: what about aliens and what actually happened on Earth. My feeling is that there are primitive aliens out there, but they probably don’t show up much in the stories. Like, the cliché thing would be for these empires to use them as slave labor, but what would be so precious that they would risk a most likely toxic atmosphere to force the equivalent of cavemen to mine? Once they relearn the technology, they can just have robots mine asteroids. Maybe there are some 1940-equivalent aliens out there one of the empires is debating how to make contact with, but for the majority of the time, aliens don’t matter.
As to what happened to Earth, an obvious answer is some super advanced aliens thought Earth was becoming a threat, so they wiped it out and figured the colonies would just die out. But such a power should easily handle three smaller powers and the seventh trilogy would be really short. The same would be true if instead of aliens, it was an AI. Also, why would an AI not take over the colonies? Or was there some growing threat, and Earth just sent out all these colonies, but didn’t tell them what was happening and didn’t record where they were sent to try to hide them? Or is Earth just fine, and they kicked the baby birds out of the nest to see if they would fly?
Writing about vast space empires can be fun, but I think for this monster series to actually work, you’d need to have a fantastic conclusion which can only happen if you have a well thought out explanation of what happened on Earth. It would probably be better to figure that out first, that way you can drop hints in the setup trilogies so it doesn’t all come out of the blue.