CoDominium (book series)

CoDominium (book series)

CoDominium is a series of future history novels by Jerry Pournelle.


The CoDominium series

History of the CoDominium universe

Artist conception of the Empire of Man seal. The American Eagle holding the Hammer and Sickle - thus combining the symbols of the two staunch antagonists of the Cold War - had been the seal of the CoDominium. The crown and spaceship were added later to make the emblem of the Empire of Man, a space-spanning entity headed by an Emperor.

Formation of the CoDominium

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 USSR. 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

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. Civilization collapses on some of these newly freed planets and results 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

Before the end, the bulk of the CoDominium Fleet evacuates their families from Earth and resettle 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 its 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

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

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

Structure of the CoDominium

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. It should be noted that 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

  • 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 keeping the peace on Earth and other worlds.
  • Intercontinental Bureau of Investigations (IBI): Presumably the CD equivalent of the FBI.

The United States

The United States of the CoDominium Era is a welfare state divided into two 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

Structure of the Second Empire of Man

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 discriminating 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

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 era, and the Second Empire era "League" might be a continuation of that group. 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.

Concepts of the CoDominium series


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. These resources are conserved as a deterrent against similar resources, however, so 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.

Planets of the CoDominium series

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

Inhabited planets

  • Arrarat — During the CD era, an Agricultural world settled by devout Christians, later used as a dumping ground for CD convicts and other involuntary transportees. Lots of desert, and jungles at the equator.
  • Ceres — During the CD era, location of a Navy yard, constructed mostly below the surface.
  • Churchill — English-ethnic world, one of the elite colony worlds.
  • Covenant — Scottish-ethnic world. During the waning days of the CD, it was known for its mercenaries specializing in infantry.
  • Dayan or Dyan or Dion — Israeli-ethnic world, one of the elite colony worlds.
  • Danube — Planet that was operating its own independent fleet during the CD era; target of at least one CD punitive expedition.
  • Earth — Homeworld of humanity, main world of the CoDominium. Also provided mercenaries in the late CD era, but they were not the best. During the Great Patriotic Wars, Earth receives heavy damage - although the Alps and Jamaica survive - and ceases being the center of Human civilization. However, Earth is still inhabited by the Second Empire, if badly damaged, and used as an honorary capital. The Naval Academy is located on Earth, at New Annapolis, partly to remind cadets of why the Empire is vital to humanity's survival.
  • Luna — Earth's Moon. During the CD era, location of Luna Base where the Grand Senate meets, as well as the office of the Grand Admiral. Also provides housing for Navy personnel and their families.
  • Fulson's World — A cold, infamous mining planet. During the CD era, it is known is that involuntary transportees are sent to this world unless they can bribe their way to a better one.
  • Franklin / New Washington — A double planet orbiting a red dwarf. Settled by Americans, Franklin by Southerners, New Washington (or simply Washington) by settlers from the U.S. state of Washington.
  • Friedland — German-ethnic world, one of the elite colony worlds. During the waning days of the CD, it was known for its mercenaries specializing in armored warfare. In one reference, the settlers of Friedland are identified as the New Democrats.
  • FrystaatAfrikaner-ethnic world with very high gravity and intense heat. CoDo convict-transportees later become a slave caste. Extreme conditions and aggressive native life result in a very low survival rate, producing extreme selective pressure that eventually result in an immensely strong, physically tough population. The elite Frystaat commandos known as Jarnsfeld's Jaegers are acknowledged as the best fighters in the Empire (other than Saurons).
  • Hadley — Earth-like world with a large city. Smaller than Earth, but has a heavier gravity due to being denser. Orbits a hotter Blue-White star, probably a blue giant. Despite being further away, Hadley still gets as much heat as Earth does from its sun. The planet was controlled by the CD for its thorium mines, and was used as a dumping ground for transportees. Also appears to have many farms.
  • Haven — Marginally inhabitable Moon of the Jovian planet Cat's Eye in the Beyers system, cold and dry with a thin but breatheable atmosphere. It is partially tide-locked, giving it a very long (87 hour) day-night cycle. During the CoDominium, it was settled by the Universal Church of New Harmony, and later by exiled miners and other involuntary groups such as nationalists and ethnic minorities of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. The main setting of the War World series.
  • High Shanghai — Chinese-ethnic and Thai-ethnic world.
  • Kennicott — wealthy Mining Planet.
  • Levant — Arab-ethnic world with a shipbuilding industry.
  • Makassar — Planet that is featured in King David's Spaceship, settled mostly by Malaysians, by the Second Empire it had a primitive culture.
  • Maxroy's Purchase - A Mormon world, mentioned in The Gripping Hand. Home of the deadly and much hunted "Snow Ghost" beast.
  • Meiji — Japanese-ethnic world, one of the elite colony worlds. During the late CD era, known for covert operations and espionage mercenaries.
  • Mote Prime — Located at The Mote in Murcheson's Eye, homeworld of the Motie race, non-symmetric semi-vertebrates who have been locked into cycles of growth and collapse for a million years, due to their enormous reproductive drives and being trapped in one star system. Appears in The Mote in God's Eye, written with Larry Niven.
  • New Chicago — World in revolt from the Second Empire of Man at the beginning of The Mote in God's Eye. One moon, named Evanston. Apparently the original Chicago was so thoroughly destroyed in the Great Patriotic Wars that no record of the original Evanston exists by the time of the Second Empire.
  • New Ireland — A partly terraformed world of the New Caledonia system. It sided with the rebels during the Secession Wars and fought loyalist New Scotland until both had lost nearly all their technology.
  • New Scotland — Capital of the Trans-Coal Sack sector in New Caledonia. It is a terraformed world settled by New Scots.
  • New Utah — In The Gripping Hand, classed as an "outworld" subsidiary to Maxroy's Purchase. Originally settled by Mormon and Himmist factions, it is the central locus of Outies, by J.R. Pournelle.
  • Nuliajuk — Inuit/Eskimo-ethnic world, cold with ice caps covering much of the surface.
  • Prince Samual's World — Important planet in King David's Spaceship. During the Secession Wars, it was bombed back to a dark age, and has had to re-invent much of its technology. When the Second Empire reestablished contact, this world was in the early Industrial age.
  • Sauron — Homeworld of the Sauron Supermen. Known for high metal content, and its genetically modified denizens' belief that war was the ultimate expression of humankind. Started the Secession Wars that ended the First Empire of Man. Was depopulated by Imperial bombardment during the conflict. Sauron system also has a very dense asteroid belt; this seems to be the home of the inhabitants of the Second Empire era.
  • Sparta — Capital world of the First and Second Empires of Man, originally called Botany Bay. Generally North American in population. Slightly higher than Earth gravity. Founded by political idealists, it turned from a semi-democratic meritocracy to a dynastic, hereditary aristocracy.
  • St. Ekaterina — Russian-ethnic world. The first planet attacked by the Sauron Supermen in the Secession Wars.
  • Tanith — A jungle planet known for the drug borloi. During the CD era, it was another infamous dumping ground for transportees.
  • Tabletop — American-ethnic colony. Appears to lack trees. According to Niven, a world of plains. A dry world, it is mentioned in Gripping Hand to have a vertebrate creature, the Crazylegs, with nine pairs of legs.
  • Thurstone — Earth-like dry world, with three nations, one of which is Santiago (non-industrial Spanish Catholic-ethnic w/ involuntary colonists).
  • Xanadu — Low gravity Chinese-ethnic world, one of the elite colony worlds. Known for its technicians and mercenaries.


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.

In The Mote in God's Eye, Rod Blaine successfully takes his company of Marines down to the surface of New Chicago to link up with a turncoat who lets them into the city. Far from being hailed as a hero, Blaine is disciplined for risking the only Marine force in the system. If his command had been destroyed, the Admiral in command maintains he would have had to "bomb New Chicago back to the Stone Age" to suppress the rebellion, to avoid detaining the Fleet in the system any longer than necessary.

For all this, there were no actual instances in Pournelle and Niven's work of actual encounters with "Outies." The closest was clandestine contact between merchants from the "Maxroy's Purchase" system and an outlying system which was settled by disgruntled colonists from Maxroy's Purchase. The nightmare scenario after the discovery of the Moties is that they will ally with Outies once they are no longer trapped in their own solar system.

Pournelle's daughter, J.R. Pournelle, has drawn on these themes, writing an eponymous 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] First published as an e-book [3] in Q4 2010, it was then released in trade paperback [4] in Q1, 2011.


  1. ^ Outies, New Brookland Press - Outies
  2. ^ [1], Outies, Gender Neutrality and Social Science Fiction: An Interview with Jennifer Pournelle, By K. Kris Hirst.
  3. ^ [2], Amazon Kindle Store - Outies
  4. ^ [3], "Createspace - Outies

External links

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