Greetings from the DK Attack of the Authors book tour in sunny San Francisco! (Yes really. My friend’s apartment is in Potrero Hill, which usually has very good, even stereotypically California weather.)
CHAPTER 3: ZENITH OF THE REPUBLIC
The Republic Navy/Contispex’s Crusades: I’ve always been interested in the Navy as one of the institutions of the galaxy far, far away – for Coruscant and the Core Worlds, I created Anaxes as a sort of Annapolis In Space, with deep traditions and attendant pomp and circumstance.
Here we see the origins of the Navy, and how Contispex’s Crusades were a crucible for the Navy and the larger Republic.
The exploration of the Crusades is one of my favorite parts of the book. It emerged from an exchange of emails with Nathan O’Keefe, the author of the very cool Hyperspace feature “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji.” I saw the Crusades as a rich wellspring of history and themes that would shape the galaxy: the ORD planets, tensions between humans and alien species, the Jedi spreading a secret faith, and the roles of the Caamasi and the Bureau of Ships and Services. Most importantly, we again see the Jedi confronting the dilemma of what to do when asked to serve a corrupt Republic. Given the decision the Order made here, we can also understand how galactic citizens who know their history would believe Palpatine’s tale of a Jedi plot to murder him and take over the Senate — every schoolchild would know they’d done it before.
As a minor note, the Order of the Terrible Glare originated in the old Marvel U.K. comics — I always thought that was a cool name. I actually tackled the Terrible Glare’s backstory once before, in a bio of Bey, but that project never saw the light of day. Second time’s the charm.
Capital Ships: A hazard of life in the “non-fiction fiction” end of Star Wars is that sometimes the continuity is just flat-out contradictory. Starship classes, alas, are such a case – there are different systems that don’t work well together, and over which fleet junkies seem willing to kill each other.
Capital ships were first classified by West End Games, which had the cruiser as its largest class, even including truly gigantic ships such as Super Star Destroyers. Incredible Cross-Sections offered a new system, one including Star Dreadnought, Star Battlecruiser, Star Cruiser and Star Destroyer as classes. Next came Starships of the Galaxy, which included Battlecruisers and Heavy Freighters, was emphatic that Star Destroyer was a descriptor and not a class, and classified Super Star Destroyers as Stations.
What to do?
I decided, with some trepidation, that I would come up with a classification system that tried to make sense of all (or at least most) of the above, hopefully turning the contradictions into an interesting part of an in-universe story rather than writing them off as real-world mistakes. I did take some small comfort in noting that real-world capital-ship classification systems are a hopeless mess, too – different nations define “cruiser” very differently and classes appear and disappear over time.
All the systems agreed that capital ships began with corvettes (100m-200m), after which came frigates (200m-400m) and then cruisers. Above cruiser, things were fluid in terms of which names to use and where to divide the classes.
My first stab at the Anaxes War College System divided cruisers into three subclasses: light (400m-600m), medium (600m-900m) and heavy (900m-1,600m), followed by battlecruisers and dreadnoughts (4,000m and longer). In addition, I proposed a shorthand system of three generic classes – gunships, cruisers and battleships – that I imagined would be used by officers in the heat of battle. The generic classifcations were good cover for a host of contradictions from the movies and books (lots of things are called “battleships” in lots of sources), made the all-over-the-map use of “cruiser” slightly more sensible, and meant I could stop writing things like “big capital ships” in Warfare.
And then I changed my mind.
Cruiser still seemed like too big of a class, so I dropped the medium cruiser, defined heavy cruisers as 600m to 1,000m, and introduced a new class: the Star Destroyer, at 1,000m to 2,000m. (Battlecruisers also got tweaked a bit to account for the evolution of the Super Star Destroyer, topping out at 5,000m.)
Why make Star Destroyer a class? Because it’s sometimes used as a synonym for “big capital ship,” suggesting it could be a class, and because I’d done a lot of work in Warfare to spotlight Kuat Drive Yards and its ambitions. Putting those two ideas together, I saw a chance to tell an interesting story: KDY muscled aside the old, elite shipbuilders, played fast and loose with Republic regulations, and was in the right place at the right time when the Republic began to crumble and many systems and groups militarized. That let KDY effectively turn one of its marques into a class, to the disgust of traditionally minded military folks. The resulting class system was still messy, but that messiness seemed to actually make some sense. At least to me!
Note that in this section we get some more details about technological advances. The Kumauri Empire originally appeared in Cracken’s Rebel Operatives, while the Waymancy Storm was created by Dan Wallace for Galaxy at War. Dan wrote a cool account of the Waymancy Storm for me – complete with his usual wonderfully evocative names – but it too wound up on the cutting-room floor. At least for now.
Note that the Eibon Scimitar looks something like the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser, as it should. And that, somewhat hilariously, Dreadnaughts aren’t dreadnoughts. “Dreadnought” is now the official spelling of the class as per LFL, so that one isn’t really my fault — but I’ll still apologize to Nancy Delia, Del Rey’s ace proofreader, for inflicting such things on her.
(On to Part 4)