Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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SF novels with a feudal system?

Discussion in 'Codex Public Library' started by Trash, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. Trash Don't trust the grinning loon.

    Trash
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    Recently read Scalzi's The Collapsing Empire and while having some good ideas, it once again falls flat in its characterisation. Why everyone must think and act like the exact same smart ass is beyond me. The guy really can't write believable or even interesting personalities if his live depended on it.

    But, while disappointed, I am interested in reading more (preferably good) science fiction with feudal or imperial systems in place. The granddaddy of the notion is of course Dune. Never read anything that even came close to that depiction though. Eisenhorn novels do actually manage to bring the daily life in the WH40K imperium to life. Other than that I am stumped to think of more succesfull attempts though. Any ideas?
     
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  2. Mikeal Novice

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    "Hard to Be a God" by Strugatsky's brothers may be what you're looking for. Agent from future Earth is send to oversee planet inhabited by human beings whose society has not advanced beyond the Middle Ages. Also "Pan Lodowego Ogrodu" (Lord of the Frozen Garden) by Jarosław Grzędowicz but book probably hasn't been translated on english.
     
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  3. Burning Bridges Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

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    If you liked Dune I would recommend a look at Herbert's many other works. For example Hellstroms Hive or The Saratoga Barrier.
     
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  4. abnaxus Arcane

    abnaxus
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    Look into Fading Suns game setting.
     
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  5. lukaszek Magister

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    star wars
     
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  6. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    There's always the Foundation series by Asimov, or van Vogt's SF version of "I, Claudius" - Empire of the Atom.
     
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  7. Monk Augur

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    There may be some elements of that and of medieval periods in general in A Canticle for Leibowitz.
     
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  8. laclongquan Arcane

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    David Weber's Honor Harrington series. Dynasty in spaaaaace opera, with fleets of missile boats shoot thousands of missiles at each other. Point Defense. Laser warhead. Think Space Empire 4 with all the RPG fixing and two major factions, two to three minor factions. main POV characters are in British Victorian era. Lord Nelson and stuff. "Engage enemy more closely".


    David Weber and John Ringo's Prince Roger series. March upcountry, march to the sea, March to the Star, We Few. Basically a prince and his bodyguards are stuck in a hostile planet and they have to move through this feudal-period globe to the starport.
     
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  9. Destroid Arcane

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    Legend of the Galactic Heroes.
     
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  10. Maxie Learned

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    Gene Wolfe's books
     
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  11. Make America Great Again WhiskeyWolf RPG Codex Polish Car Thief Patron

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    Vorkosigan Saga by the excellent Lois McMaster Bujold, arguably the best female SF writer.

    It has the feudal system as one of its main themes.
     
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  12. Mangoose Arcane Patron

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    Uhh maybe 40k but the human race? There may have a technological sect on Mars, there is complete ban of AI because of wars and such. If anything the Imperium is anti-technology. They'd rather have (*cough* feed the Emperor with) Psykers. Basically, a setting which had been scifi setting but fell apart.

    There isn't any reason for a feudal system in a "normal" science fiction setting. Serfs were basically servants (or if you want to play Devil's Advocate, they're like "paid slaves" and there is no need for that in an, again, an economically sound science fiction setting with robotic/nanorobotic/cyber/whatever "slaves." Hell, it could be that there is no such thing as a sound science fiction IRL future reality if society can't economically adapt to growing robotics/cyberware and who knows what else may pop up. The century or so it'll take to have usable AI could possibly be enough time for more research into quantum mechanics or quarks and then more.

    Perhaps a failed adaptation of the job market can cause a feudal setting because different classes would be needed, but again, that's an non-ideal science fiction setting in the first place.

    Now nepotism or high levels of aristocracy or oligarchy is possible. But I don't see many classes besides that, besides I suppose Engineers having it easier to get jobs. Probably it'd be more like a Stalinist type of Communism where almost everyone is in the same shitty class and the leaders are "more equal than anybody else." (Animal Farm, of course).
     
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  13. Lord Rocket Augur

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    The High Crusade, by Poul Anderson

    (sort of)
     
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  14. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    Dread Empire's Fall by Walter Jon Williams seems to have this setting, though I haven't read them.

    I would actually like to hear opinions about this one since I consider starting it.
     
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  15. CaptainCoxwaggle Learned

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    Feudalism isn't necessarily tied with serfdom, but rather the aspects of a decentralised authority held together via personal loyalties and military force are the most likely means employed by a space faring empire. Taking into consideration the distance of planets and the lack of any viable means of trade for any but the most valuable resources, habitable planets will most likely need a local despot tasked with managing the planet to be a self-sufficient entity, while concentrating wealth in such a way a meaningful contribution can be provided to the larger state as a whole. Considering a local rebellion may take decades to deal with, familial bonds and nepotism are the best means of ensuring loyalty. A democratic system in comparison lacks accountability for reprisal actions as well as being a poor format to bleed off resources towards the state, whereas a democratic planet will inclined to utilise it's resources towards it's own wellbeing.

    A serf is not a servant or a slave. Rather they are closest to a lessee, where they agree to care and maintain land and property in exchange for taxation of produce and a requirement to provide labour on demand. The advent of AI and robot workers leading to a post-scarcity society is a double edged sword. While resources and materials are in abundance, there is little incentive for this wealth to be spread towards a now unemployed populace barring an utopian welfare state, an outlook that would likely serve to neuter any human ambitions in space if not within society itself. With the exception of employment in higher sciences that still require human input, the expanded human labour pool is now a cheap reservoir that can be utilised towards risky ventures. At this point it would not be odd for emigration into frontier feudal worlds in exchange for land. While it can be argued that widescale development of new worlds via sci-fi engineering and robots is more efficient, it is vastly more expensive then jobless desperates willing to develop land for subsistence farming which is largely free aside from transportation costs, and at anyrate would be a better stepping stone from which to develop a planet as compared to an uninhabited land.
     
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  16. Mangoose Arcane Patron

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    Yeah, and how do you maintain any type of economy for the non-elite when everything is automated?

    Personal military force? That won't exist. You have drones and robots. You need just a few people to operate those, and that's assuming AI doesn't do it itself.

    What you described is not science fiction. It's nonscientific futuristic fiction, just like 40k.

    And feudalism is classes. Decentralized my ass. Peasants serve specific vassals which in turn serve specific nobles which in turn serve higher nobles, ad nauseum.. Everything is under obligation. Serfdom, btw, was just an example, because I figured I didn't need to describe the whole system because I figure the reader would understand what was implied. If feudalism was decentralized, then the English barons would not have wars in order to depose the higher class noble they were, under feudalism, obligated to obey. In other words, it was a rebellion against what was a centralized system controlled by "divine authority" and lots of incest and the at the time political Papal State..

    Shit, if England was decentralized in any manner, then the Anglican Church would not have taken over, and Protestants would never have fled to the New World.

    And the first major political conflict in American history was federalization vs confederation. A confederation would never fly in any part of Europe, even now.

    Edit: Unless you're talking about breaking apart the era of empires, that era's decentralization turned into separate feudal states.
     
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  17. Mangoose Arcane Patron

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    Providing menial services in exchange for rewards is what a servant does. It's called trade. Trade is exchange of service for payment.

    And there's a reason I said if you want to play Devil's Advocate, they're like "paid slaves." Notice how real slaves don't get paid. It was, again, just a sidenote for giggles.

    BTW, there were slaves. They were called "Villeins." (Not that I even knew about that until tonight)
     
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  18. Mangoose Arcane Patron

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    BTW: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/serf

    A serf is a peon if you ever played an RTS (hey, you have to pay to get peons). It's not about "slavery." It's about an escalating class system. Even a caste system is more decentralized. Each class has a duty that is not beholden to an upper authority, but simply because a system needs different types of people. There are "tiers" but do Brahmin have any authority over Kshatriya? Does anybody control the Vaishya outside of typical governance?
     
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  19. CaptainCoxwaggle Learned

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    Precisely, hence a return to subsistence farming for those no longer employable, or otherwise labour prices drop to a degree to make them competitive with robots in certain fields. If instead material wealth is spread to all aspects of society, then there is no impetus for expansion.

    Aside from the dubious utility of ground forces in sci-fi, where nuclear weaponry is the baseline, humans are vastly preferable for being able to respond to unconventional situations and for their capacity to utilise flexible judgement for policing, both of which are the most likely uses for sci-fi ground forces. In addition martial bonds tend to be more trustworthy over entrusting engineers and programming for ones personal defence,there is also a prestigious aspect of having actual flesh and blood attending to your person. With handheld nuclear weapons already being a possibility, archaic weapons may be romanticised and utilised in future inter-personal disputes.

    If the English barons were not decentralised, they would never have mustered the forces necessary to challenge a centralised government. But regardless, the High Medieval era was characterised by a centralisation of power in monarchs, as compared to Dark Age Feudalism where the Divine Right to Rule was not yet a absolute concept. Centralisation itself was only brought about via the rise of the merchant class, who's wealth could finance a standing army that could challenge the previous monopoly of force the nobility used to hold.

    In the context of space, centralisation is simply impossible due to the distances involved. Inter-planetary trade will be nearly non-existent except for exceptionally rare items. Planets by necessity will need to be self-sufficient entities, and thus require autonomous authority to govern.

    To think that space is in anyway comparable to modern day politics is childish at best.
     
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  20. CaptainCoxwaggle Learned

    CaptainCoxwaggle
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    A serf as stated, is someone bound to land ownership in exchange for certain rights. Whereas a slave is property, and caste a requirement based upon birth. Slaves and paid labourers both require an economy, which is something we have established to be automated in a sci-fi setting. A Caste requires a higher authority capable of enforcing doctrine. A serf is essentially a more subjugated form of worker, but nevertheless is nominally free in that his obligations are tied to the land which he can theoretically abandon. Much as the modern worker is nominally free aside from ones obligations to state and financial limitations.

    Without capital, land ownership once again becomes the means of wealth. This can take two forms, serfdom or free farmers, depending on the authority projected by the local government or military power.
     
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  21. Trash Don't trust the grinning loon.

    Trash
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    Thanks for the excellent recommendations all! Codex does not disappoint.

    The Strugatsky brothers are amazing. Never read this book, though I do have the movie on my backlist. It's supposed to be amazing. Will get the novel asap. Lord of the Frozen Garden is not available in English. Apparantly there is however a boardgame of it.

    Dune is a genre classic and an astounding novel. The sequels however where drab at best. I quickly got tired of Herbert and never looked back. Now I'm wondering if that was too soon. Hellstroms Hive for example has a brilliant premisis. I'll check it out.

    I'm the guy who collected all digital media available and put it online years ago. ;)

    Let's be honest though. Most Star Wars novels are shit. Gladly would learn to know of those that are not.

    The Foundation series is monumental. Loved it back in the day. never read Empire of the Atom. For some reason a lot of the Golden Age writers don't really gel with me. Mostly because many of them are more about showing a cool idea they got than writing a genuinely good story about it. Must say however that I, Claudius in space does sound cool. I'll give it a try.

    Medieval period after an apocalypse, right? Not really what I was looking for but I do have it on my backlist as a classic I should read..

    John Ringo is a guy I always saw as a hack who throws in the usual Baen jingoism and violence to sell his novels. The prince Roger series does sound cool however. The blurb I read gives me the impression of a SF version of the Anabasis. I'll give 'em a try. Honor Harrington is Horatio Hornblower in space, right? I'll put it on the list.

    Anything with the addendum Japan and anime scares the shit out of me. Mostly because it simply rubs me the wrong way. Then again, I actually did like the novel Edge of Tomorrow so who knows. Will check it out.

    Defenitely on the list as they are supposed to be unbeatable. Tried them more than a decade ago and couldn't get through the prose back then. Will try again.

    Falling Free has been on my list for ages. Will read it asap.

    Medieval lord and his household go into space and conquer the stars. Always thought it would be either amazingly hilarious or complete shit. How would you qualify it?

    Never even heard of this one. Sounds interesting indeed.

    Eisenhorn and Ravenor series are pretty much the only WH40K novels that I consider really worth reading. Eisenhorn especially is pretty much amazing. Concerning your point regarding a feudal system in science fiction, well, it is just a genre. And one is broad that classification of what does and does not constitute real SF goes straight into 'true metal' territory imo. The only real limits are human creativity in what we can think off together with at least some futurism. If you consider if things could be realistic, well, who knows. Human history alone is pretty amazing and bizarre at times.

    Anyway, thanks all. My backlist keeps growing.
     
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  22. Make America Great Again WhiskeyWolf RPG Codex Polish Car Thief Patron

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    Falling Free is actually a sort off prequel of the series, but it does not deal with the Barrayar society (which is the thing you are looking for). It deals with the origin of a totally different society that becomes relevant only in one of the later books, which would be Diplomatic Immunity.

    Cordelia's Honor is the prequel you should be looking at. I would advise you strongly to check the chronology of the series. It's not really out of order but some books were combines into a single piece and given a new title. That was confusing for me when I started with the series.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
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  23. Riso Arcane

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    I agree, they are really well written. Or at least, were. An Arstechnica review told me the last book was basically depraved porn.
     
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  24. Burning Bridges Enviado de meu SM-G3502T usando Tapatalk

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    This seems to be a quirk of Herbert. He had some brilliant, original ideas, but kept writing the same book over and over again.
     
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  25. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Robert Heinlein's story Logic of Empire touches bit upon this. Basically his idea is that in new colonies and frontier worlds the tech is initially low, and there will be a high damand for labour, which creates slavery.
     
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