Title Posted
How the Safehold series won't end (Thu Apr 18, 2013) Dec 2013
Safehold Map Jul 2009
Hyper generator modes of operation Jun 2009
Counter-missile fire control issues Jun 2009
Capital missiles, multi-stage missiles, and missile pods Jun 2009
Prolong effects Jun 2009
Hyper Limits by stellar spectral class Jun 2009
Effective speed by hyper band Jun 2009
Acceleration by ship mass Jun 2009
Do you plan ahead for which characters die? Jun 2009


Narrow the posts above by selecting a series or specifying a keyword.


Pearls of Weber

A collection of posts by David Weber containing background information for his stories, collected and generously made available Joe Buckley.

The spillover effect from Manticore's Junction-created astrographic position

  • Series: Honorverse
  • Date: April 11, 2009

The spillover effect has been… not inconsequential, let's say.

There are two other points I didn't really emphasize in my earlier post. (Sorry; it got kinda large and I didn't realize I hadn't hit these two before I hit the "Post" button.)

A few people have alluded to Manticore's potential to become a major banking and financial source. Well, there's a reason the Cromarty Government was always able to find a take for its war bonds, and also a reason for the preeminence of the Star Kingdom's emphasis on the development of Admiralty law interstellar law in general. The traditional hub for matters of interstellar commerce and law was the Sol system. One of the worst aspects of the collateral damage of Old Earth's Final War was the effective collapse of the interstellar financial and commodity marketing system. The system as a whole didn't fail, but the damage that the for all intents and purposes total destruction of the central node of the system sent shock waves through out the entire explored galaxy and created a panic that very nearly led to a complete failure of the interstellar banking community. At the same time, the unquestioned prestige of the mother system's jurisprudence also pretty much fell apart, leaving several competing "fountain sources" for interstellar and "maritime" law.

It took quite some time for the interstellar financial system to restore itself and to put the terrible, confidence-shaking collapse of the previous system behind it. The process was gradual, and most people seemed to want to avoid the kind of centralization which had produced such catastrophic consequences. As a result, no single star system ever attained the prominence and dominating role in international finances which had once belonged to the mother world. Instead, a series of regional centers developed within a fundamentally decentralized system. It was nowhere near as efficient on a macro level as the defunct system killed off by the Final War had been, but it recouped some of that in advantages for local markets, and it provided most of the essential services, even if it was rather clumsy upon occasion.

Following the emergence of the Star Kingdom with its position dominating the most important single navigational connection in the entire galaxy, however, the regionalism which had been incorporated into the new system came up against the fact that Manticore, by its "geographic position," had an overwhelming advantage where financial markets and transactions were concerned. Not only were physical cargoes transshipped at Manticore, but so where financial instruments, and a financial services community quickly grew up to handle that traffic, as well. The fact that the Star Kingdom had always enshrined the rule of law and that the impartiality and fairness of its court system was well-established generated a lot of investor confidence, and the Star Kingdom did, indeed, turned into a major hub of the interstellar financial community. In fact, the Star Kingdom has come remarkably close to stepping into the "central clearinghouse" role the Sol system once filled. This is yet another cause of resentment on the part of some Solarians. They simply can't stand the thought that an out-kingdom, populated by a batch of neobarbs, can have such influence on its own financial transactions. The size of the Manticoran merchant marine is bad enough; the scale of the Manticoran dominance of high finance only makes it that much worse for the people who realize what's going on.

Don't mistake me here. I'm not saying that the Star Kingdom completely dominates the Solarian League's financial markets or stock markets or futures markets, because it doesn't. No single star system could completely dominate an economic system that huge. But Manticore is very definitely first among equals -- by a substantial margin -- compared to the other interstellar banking centers scattered around the galaxy. It could hardly be otherwise, with such a huge percentage of the galaxy's total trade and shipping passing through the Star Kingdom. Indeed, dear readers, I suspect that you are coming to understand (if you didn't previously) why a single-system polity like the Star Kingdom was able to ram an embargo on military technology to Haven down the Solarian League's throat.

The same wartime destruction which destroyed the Sol system's dominance of the interstellar financial markets also destroyed Old Terra's dominance of interstellar law. The rise of the Solarian League -- in no small part as part of the interstellar rescue effort mounted to save the mother world -- did not, as one might have expected, produce a single authoritative center for interstellar law. The League's High Judiciary, located on Old Terra, is the authority for the League's domestic law and has always had substantial input into matters of interstellar law, but has never managed to attain a status which would allow it to simply declare what international law is. That those a great deal to the fact that while most star nations want a stable interstellar legal system, none of them really wants anyone else to be in a position to dictate terms to the rest of them. In addition, however, it does quite a bit to the fact that the Solarian League doesn't care as much about what interstellar law says as many other political units do for the simple reason that it's so big that its domestic law already governs the majority of the human race. It can afford to allow competing theories of interstellar law because the truth of the matter is -- or traditionally has been -- that no one can force the Solarian League to do anything that it doesn't want to do simply because of its size and power. The de facto letter of interstellar law, you might say, has always been pretty much whatever the Solarian League wanted it to be.

That state of affairs has not been allowed to pass unchallenged, however. For many centuries, there was no effective way to challenge it, but that -- like many things -- changed with the discovery of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction. Gradually, over a period of centuries, the Star Kingdom's theories of interstellar law began to challenge the traditional Solarian League bodies of jurisprudence. Unlike the Solarian League, whose whose emphasis was more on domestic law when it came to theory, Manticore had a very strong interest in the law of nations, and its astrographic position and growing domination of the carrying trade gave it far more clout when it came to arguing matters of legal interpretation than any other single-star system polity could boast. By now, in fact, Manticore is probably the single most important source of authority in such matters. That doesn't mean that the Star Kingdom can do whatever it wants to do -- just as one example of its inability to do that, the Star Kingdom has been opposed to the legality of privateers just about forever, but it's been unable to convince the rest of the galaxy to outlaw the practice of granting letters of marque. Despite that, the Star Kingdom's opinions carry enormous weight, and a simple decision on its part to begin enforcing its interpretation of interstellar law on the huge volume of traffic passing through the junction can effectively rewrite interstellar jurisprudence on its terms. Which, predictably, is once again a source of irritation and resentment on the parts of those Solarians who find themselves forced to dance to the Manticorans' piping.

The really remarkable thing, and a great many ways, is that the average Solarian in the street doesn't realize just how powerfully Manticore's direct and indirect influence affects his own life. Most Solarians aren't especially concerned with esoteric matters of high finance, whose flag covers a particular cargo shipment, or whose abstruse interpretation of interstellar law is going to govern in some dispute far, far away between interstellar shipping lines and cartels. These simply aren't concerns which are going to cross most Solarians' mental event horizons, and most of those who have most resented Manticoran prominence in these fields have also recognized (however little they wanted to admit it) that they need Manticore just as badly as Manticore needs them. The services Manticore provides are simply too valuable, too fundamental, to the interstellar shipping and finance markets for them to do anything about it unless they could somehow convince the Solarian League (which can't find its posterior with both hands and approach radar where foreign policy is concerned) to forcibly add the Star Kingdom to the League, thus bringing Manticore's irritating theories of interstellar legality into the all encompassing embrace of the League's domestic legal system.

This is a significant part of the subtext of the conference near the beginning of Shadow of Saganami where Bardasano and Anisimovna are doing their mustache-twirling best (all right, so they don't have mustaches; the imagery still works, doesn't it?) to put together an anti-Manticore operation that doesn't simply hand control of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction to any of their fellow plotters. And, I suspect, it probably sheds some additional elimination on just why the People's Republic of Haven was so desperate to get its hands on the Star Kingdom of Manticore and the junction from the very beginning.

One additional point that probably needs to be touched on here, especially where the "spillover effect" of the junction is concerned, has to do with the Star Kingdom's relations with its immediate neighbors. By and large, successive generations of Manticoran statesmen have made it a priority to be "good neighbors" with those star systems the network of wormhole junctions bring into effectively close proximity with the Star Kingdom. That doesn't mean they're always going to get along with their neighbors, and it doesn't mean that they won't pursue what they consider to be vital national interests even at the expense of possible damage to their interstellar relations. What it does mean, however, is that the Star Kingdom has traditionally gone out of its way to treat its neighbors with respect, to avoid anything that would give the appearance of meddling in their domestic politics or institutions, and to share sufficient of the junction's financial bounty to preclude or at least greatly reduce jealousy and resentment. Greg commented specifically on San Martin, and that was actually a very well taken example. There was a very specific reason that the People's Republic saw the neutralization of the Star Kingdom before it attacked Trevor's Star as important enough to risk organizing the assassination of the Manticoran head of state. Even though King Roger was still far from reaching anything close to what he would have considered a strong enough military position to stand up to the People's Republic directly, there was no question in anyone's mind that the Star Kingdom would have provided all assistance short of outright war to its neighbors, friends, and commercial allies at Trevor's Star. At the very least, it would have made the San Martin Navy a far, far tougher opponent, and it could conceivably have stretched out the conquest for years… during which Roger would have been given ample opportunity to convince his subjects that they really did need a Great Big Nasty Navy™. In a worst-case scenario, Manticoran support for San Martin could easily have kicked off the First Havenite War 20 years earlier, and if Roger wasn't ready to take on the People's Republic, the People's Republic wasn't eager to take on the Royal Manticoran Navy, either. One victim at a time had been the People's Republic's rule from the beginning, and the relationship between Manticore and San Martin was close enough that without Roger's assassination, it was highly probable that Haven would have been forced to take on two victims at once.

That background relationship also helps to explain why San Martin's application for membership in the Star Kingdom could be agreed to so rapidly from both sides. Not only had Manticore liberated San Martin from Havenite occupation, but the centuries-long relationship between the Star Kingdom and San Martin had been close enough to make the concept of actual political union very attractive on many levels. Once upon a time when I was discussing this relationship with Richard Earnshaw, Richard commented that the pre--Haven relationship between the Star Kingdom and San Martin struck him as being rather similar to that between the United States and Canada, although the imbalance between the two sides economic and industrial power was considerably greater than that between the US and Canada. I told them that I wasn't sure that was a good analogy, but after we'd kicked out around a little bit, I came to the conclusion that there really was something to what Richard was saying. It's a bit more complicated than that, however. It's more as if Great Britain had been defeated by the Axis Powers before the United States had geared up for war. As part of the peace terms and forced upon a defeated Great Britain, Canada was ceded to Germany as a captive province, the Gestapo moved in, and anyone who attempted to resist was shipped off to a concentration camp somewhere. Then, after a couple of decades of that, the United States found itself at war with the Greater Reich and, in a series of military operations, managed to invade and liberate Canada, restore the Canadian government, and bring Canada back into the war as a full ally. After several more years of warfare, fought side by side, the Canadian government proposed that it would only make sense for Canada and the United States to merge into a single political unit that dominated the entire North American continent.

There are still obvious problems with the analogy, but I think that it does help to underscore the nature of the relationships Manticore has sought to maintain with all of its "wormhole" neighbors. And, I think, it helps to explain why the Lynx system immediately sought annexation and why Bernardus Van Dort was able to convince such a large majority of the Talbott Cluster's joint electorate to do the same thing.