Distance in any relationship is deadly and it naturally breeds hostility and isolation, stressing relationship to the breaking point. This also pertains to the settlement of exo-planets and how far they are from the influence and control of Terra. In this continuation of the blog article serial: What Will We Fight Over, FWS will be exploring this often used trigger of interstellar conflict: the Inner and Outer Colonies.
What Do We Mean by "Inner" and "Outer"?
Some sci-fi creators treat outer space in a similar way to the geography of Earth, giving little to the realities of distance and depth to deep space; let alone the grandeur of the scale of the Milky Way galaxy. Classically, the measure of outer and inner colonial settlements is their distance from the Sol System or other important central locations like the Citadel from Mass Effect, Tarn-Vedra from Andromeda, or even an important space station or military outpost like Babylon 5 or Reach from HALO. These inner and outer distances could made via their proximity to an hostile government, like the Star Trek Neutral Zone, or a frontier, like the Red Line from BSG. After all, distance and location are all relative. An alien empire may regard the Terran settlements near their border as the "inner" or closest Terran presence to their space. We would have to take in account several factors when labeling some colonies as inner or outer, but it is likely that most sci-fi creators will continue to judge these distances from the location of Terra and how far they either control or have explored.
How Distance Breeds Strife Between the Inner and Outer Colonial Settlements
Proximity to Other Governments and Species
One of the common themes with the frontier colonies is their proximity to the enemies of humanity or that they are on the frontier of explored space. Either way, this exposes the outer frontier colonies to contact with other governments, societies, and species. This could alter the outer colonies' opinion on interstellar politics or a conflict with the enemies of Terra. Colonists of these outer colonies could be more friendly or sympathetic to the issues of Terra's enemies. Or it could mean that these more distant colonies are forced to defend themselves from the alien threat and they become less reliant on Terran and/or the inner colonies. At times, the geography of the interstellar political landscape can cause these outer colonies to be the first to be attacked in the advent of conflict or dispute. In addition, it could mean that the outer colonies are the subject of increased government involvement due to their proximity and/or these outer colonies need greater resources for protection from the central Terran government.
Formation of Individual Colonial Culture
Depending on the existence and function of FTL propulsion, the outermost colonial settlements of Terra would began to develop their own culture, separate from where the settlers come from. Colonies closer to the Sol System would be more connected and influenced by the home system. Add more distance, and you increase isolated cultural and sociological development of individual colonial culture. This formation of individual colonial culture increases the more generations that are born, live, and die on the colony. This has been seen in the real world with the wild diversity of human culture across the globe, especially in how the Americans differ from Europe. This culture would further isolate the colony from Terra when new generations of children are born that have never seen or experienced Terra in the first-person. This would begin these settlers to translation from being Terran to originate from their colonial world. The experiences of the settlers on their world will also separate them from the rest of humanity, and depending on the environmental conditions, humans would continue to evolve due to local conditions. This adds up to the increased likely of conflict between the colonies…much like what happened in Mexico in the 1520's.
Pioneering Culture and Mindset
It takes a certain type of person to go out further than civilization and establish that point as home. Pioneers have also been a breed apart that brave the challenges and push humanity, society, and history forward. When it comes time for off-world colonization, there will be pioneers and that culture will cause the rift between Earth, the inner colonies, and the ones who go boldly into the night of deep space. It is that which will separate those colonies from the ones closer to shore. That mindset of being on your own and hacking your destiny on alien soil under unfamiliar stars is held by people that do not want a government lightyears away dictating policies, rules, and lifestyles. This was seen in the development of the Southern states of America, and how their colonial culture led to the Civil War. This was idea and historical example was mined for the civil war seen in Firefly.
How we get to the stars could determine a great deal about the people that colonize exo-planets and time will be a factor as well. If it will indeed take generations of real-time to get to an habitable world, than it is likely that hibernation and/or embryonic methods will be used to settle these distant points of light. Deep-frozen humans could sleep lifetimes, arrive at the colony site, and began the process of founding the colony long after everyone and everything they knew on Earth has been dead for centuries. That travel time to the colonial site will organically separate these deep space colonies from the innermost. If embryonic space colonization is the only way to counter the horrors of the travel time from our solar system to the objective, than artificial grown humans will be raised by robots and computers in the warm glow of another star. These native-born colonists will be alien to any Terrans that show up to the colony…all thanks to the travel time between the planets.
To Be or Not To Be: FTL Propulsion
In science fiction, Faster-Than-Light propulsion systems and drives are as common as Smartphones in today's society: nearly every major sci-fi work contains an fictionalized FTL propulsion system to get from Point A to Point B in a relative shorter travel time than what we understand today about space travel. This plot device allows for the majority of fictional space travel stories we enjoy. Just having an FTL drive system in your fictional work alters your fictional universe from the real-world, due to the fact that we have not YET proven or tested an FTL propulsion system. How fast your FTL system is, its operation, and established limits, sets certain conditions for your creation and issues within your story. This also directly affects the subject of this blogpost: inner and outer colonies.
If we obey the established physics of the known universe, there is no magical faster-than-light propulsion system and time dilation exists as a consequence of light speed travel. In the hard science world, inner and outer colonies might as well be the same damn thing for the most part. Most habitable worlds will be lifetimes beyond Terra and its current society, politics, and technology. The closest rumored Earth-like world is Wolf 1061 "C" in the Wolf 1061 star system, some 13.8 LYS from the Sol System. Even at near the speed of light, we are talking about a one-way trip decades in travel time without FTL. This puts a "close" star with an rumored livable exo-planet lifetimes beyond us…would this be an inner or outer colonial world?
Then there is another thing to consider, if there was indeed an dickhead marauding alien species in this hard science universe, the colony on Wolf 1061 "C" would be most likely on their own to defend themselves from the asshole alien aggressors. Help from Terran space marines or even robotic soldiers would be generations in arriving…the battle would be long over by then. The only inner colony in the hard science universe is within our solar system or maybe Alpha Centauri.
Now, in most soft science sci-fi works, FTL allows for the inner and outer colonies to be reached in a relatively short length of time or in the case of Star Trek, within an commercial break. Outer colonies in these soft sci-fi universes could be days, weeks, or months away, but they are still reachable and they are only "outer" until their spacefaring society pushes out to that point. Much like the American frontier was always being pushed back further and further out west due to increased settlement and the railroad. How does this affect wars and conflicts between closer to Terra and ones farther away? Without FTL, any colony beyond the Sol System would be an outer colony that develops nearly independently from Terra to the point that these colonial societies would as alien as the Aztecs, Mayans, and Inca were to the European explorers. Any contact between them could be hostile as an invading alien species. With FTL, inner colonies would be directly affected by the Terran government, society, and politics. While the outer colonies would more independent and less reliant on Terra or her government, much like we saw in the Firefly universe.
Will Inner Colonies and Outer Colonies Really Wage Wars?
Often this rift between Inner and Outer colonial settlements is used to be genesis of conflicts and wars in all types of science fiction works...but in the real world, would this actually happen? It is with near certainty that mankind will push out beyond the solar system to expand or save humanity. With FTL not being a reality (yet), colonization of exo-planets will be low and slow, with generations passing, and colonial societies evolving in vastly different ways, as we have seen with human evolution. Those space-flung colonial societies will be as alien, in some ways, to Terrans as the Aztec were to the Spanish or modern humans were to neanderthals. That alone could breed wars and conflicts. However, they may never met if there is no magical FTL propulsion system or even know each other. For there to be war between inner and outer colonies, it will as we've seen in Mobile Suit Gundam and Firefly…within the star system. We could see Titan or Mars rebel against Earth's rule.
Science Fiction and the Inner/Outer Colonial Wars
When it comes to the genesis of many wars mentioned in science fiction across all media, we see a correlation of interstellar conflicts being started by rifts between the Inner Colonies/Terra and the outermost colonial settlements. Why is this such a common reason for space wars? Some of it rests in the tense history of the relationships between colonies and their founding nations. In America, we owe our very existence as a nation to a war between the colonies and the founding government. The same is true of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Haitian Revolution, the American Civil War, and Latin American revolutions. These all serve has an historical foundation for conflicts in outer space and justification of inter-colonial conflicts being born out of distance from Terra and the core colonies.
At times, sci-fi creators show the outer colonists as the resistance to an authoritative regime that opposes them, as we saw in B5, Star Wars, Renegade Legion, and Firefly. Other times, the sci-fi property shows war between different ideas and either are right or wrong…grey area…which is rare in sci-fi. However, it was seen in Star Trek: TNG and Battletech. Other times, the outer colonies are treasonous to the core systems, and their rebellion threatens the safety and security of the citizenry, as with the Clone Wars from Star Wars. This can be applied on a smaller interstellar scale. In a previous blogpost, we picked apart why Mars is a source of future conflicts in science fiction. This could be also considered an outer colony vs. inner colony conflict, depending on how developed the solar system is in the scenario. Either way, this reason for future wars in outer space seems secure in sci-fi and we will see more in future worlds.
The League of Free Worlds vs. Earth Empire from the Colony Wars video games
Okay, the open cut-scene for this game really beats it over your head that the Earth Empire is evil and wants to control the colonies absolutely. According to the opening cinematic, this imperial power from Terra sees all, knows all, and punishes all. To protect themselves from the pillaging Imperial Navy that imposes the iron will of the empire, the colonies form the League of Free Worlds to oppose the draconian Earth Empire. The League is led by "the Father", who turns out to a serious dickhead in the later games. The background of the oppressive government from Terra is one that gives logical rise to the wars seen in the game series. Terra and other Sol system settlements were exhausted of resources, and the government on Terra relayed and on the outer colonies to supply it with the material and resources to allow the Earth and settled worlds in the Sol System to operate. Soon that reliance led to the Earth Empire's leader, the Czar, to demanding that all of the outer colonial resources go to the Sol System, and thus began the war between the inner colonies and the outer colonies.
The IMC vs. the Frontier Militia from the Titanfall Universe
Titanfall is maddening game. In one way, it is an epic multiplayer mech shooter game that delivers on its promise beautifully, and it appeals to hardcore mecha geeks like me. However, the story of inter-colonial warfare is lost in the rush of combat and insanity that results in Titanfall online matches. That has been one of the main faults of the game: lack of story-driven gameplay. Long-term players of Titanfall could be excused from understanding or explaining the story that does exist…somewhere…in the gameplay. The Frontier Militia is like many pioneer movements to settle distant lands for their and their kids' futures.
The Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) is the company that constructed the Titans and Specters and like many historical heavily industrial powers, the IMC needs raw material to continue their domination of the war-machine market. That means that the IMC came to the colonial frontier with the purpose of controlling the raw resources of those backwater worlds. The Frontier Militia is the resistance movement to the IMC aggression. One of the elements that Titanfall wisely explores is the the people caught in the middle of the armed struggle between the IMC and the Militia. From the Militia POV, the IMC are imperialist, coming to the frontier to take and strip the resources from the settlers who paid their dues in settling these worlds. The IMC regards these militia forces as terrorists standing in the way of progress and their financial backers in the core colonies. After all, the IMC is one of the primary economic engines of the entire colonial economy, much like the RDA from AVATAR. If the IMC fails to be profitable, it could spell economic doom in the core colonies and on Terra.
The Commonwealth vs. The TOG from the Renegade Legion Universe by FASA
In one of the forgotten classics of 1980's tabletop wargames (foreshadowing), Renegade Legion, we see a struggle between the Terran Overlord Government (the TOG) and the Commonwealth in the 69th century. This is the basis for the wars in the 1980's FASA game that shows combat with anti-gravity tanks, aerofighters, and combat starships. The story is that the TOG is an response to an Reptilian alien invasion that took control of Earth and her colonies. The Terrans pattern themselves after the Roman Empire and won their rebellion against the Kess Rith aliens. After the senate is killed in a supposed terrorist bombing, the Overlords and their Caesar rule over the human race in a society that makes the Roman Empire look like a Mormon compound. Some of the military, human colonies, and alien races band together under the Commonwealth, against the TOG after it attempts to bring the entire Milky Way under its authority. These human settlements or nations, are the most distant in the galaxy, and far from the core regions of the galaxy and the TOG. The war in the 69th century, is the struggle of the distant Commonwealth vs. the innermost TOG. One day soon, FWS will be examining Renegade Legion in an Forgotten Classics blogpost.
The Unification War from Firefly
One of the best examples of the inner colonies fighting the outer colonies comes from one of the best sci-fi television shows of the 21st century: Firefly. In the backstory of the show, humanity has abandoned Earth-that-was for another star system, the 'verse, due to pollution and climate change. The 'Verse is a cluster of stars that orbit a central star, making the 'Verse, a complex web of planets, moons, and asteroids. After the era of terraforming, the 'Verse became home to many different factions of humanity, and wars started. To avoid the mistakes of Earth-that-was, the central planets formed the Union of Allied Planets and they attempted to bring peace to the 'Verse, and then it got twisted.
The Strife between the 12 Colonies of Kobol from Battlestar Galactica
In the rebooted series and the cancelled show Caprica, while the 12 Colonies of Kobol were "at peace", there was strife between the heart of the 12 Colonies society, Caprica, and the poorer colonies of Gemenon, Sagittaron, and Aerilon. While there had been open warfare in the past, it was the treatment of some of the more outer colonies by the more inner colonies that bred strife. For years, the imperialistic habits of Caprica fueled a series of insurrections, terrorists groups, and protests. In the more powerful core colonies, Tauron, proved to be a source of tension to the rule of the colonial government, adding more tension. Some of this infighting was cooled by the Cylon Wars, but it did pick up against after the Cylons left the 12 Colonies. It is unknown what would have happened if the Cylon apocalypse had never happened.
The 2nd Rebellion the Hunger Games Universe
When we look at more unconventional example, we can see the struggle between the inner colonies and the outer colonies causing wars in the Hunger Games story. Even before the 2nd Rebellion that made a messiah out of Katniss Everdeen, there was interior strife between the Panem districts and the capital, namely the 1st Rebellion. The rumored nuclear response of the capital government against the rebellious District 13, kept the rest of the District, along with the Hungry Games and the economic/military superiority of the Capital, in line. This all changes with the emergence of Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay symbol, and the truth of District 13. By the end of the story, the Districts unite and topple President Snow and the Capital in an climactic fight in the capital itself.
The Spacers vs. Earthers from Issac Asimov's universe
Here is oldie, but goodie: the tension between the Spacer Worlds and Earth from Asimov's Robot novels. In most of these conflicts between the outer colonies and the inner colonies, the outer colonies are the backwater frontier worlds that are controlled by inner colonies and Terra. Or they are wild, and do not take kindly to the control of Earth and the older, more established inner colonies. In the Caves of Steel, the Spacers were the descendants of the original colonial pioneers into deep space, and they had grown technologically than the more backward Earth. Unlike the crowded Earth, the 50 Spacers worlds were low-population worlds with most Spacers living in vast estates with robot labors greatly outnumbering the Spacers. In some ways, the Spacers were nearly aliens to their Terran cousins.
The conflict between the Outer Worlds and Earth began when Earth attempted to force the issue of more immigration from Earth to the off-world colonies. The Outer Worlds refused and the result was the Three Weeks War and the Great Rebellion resulting the Outer Worlds gaining their freedom from the Earthmen. To punish the Earth and show off its superior in social and technological development, the Spacers blockaded Earth from any further space travel and even communicating with the Spacer Worlds. This blockade altered Earth, fueling the development of the massive underground cities seen in The Caves of Steel. However, the situation on the Earth is reaching crisis point, the Spacers attempt to solve the problem by establishing an outpost in New York City along with the introduction of robots. After the core Robot novels, the Earth enters a new phase of colonization led by Baley's son, but unlike the Spacers, the Earthmen found new worlds without the aid of robots. Soon, the Spacers are isolated on their fifty worlds and begin to die off. The Earth colonization movement leading to the foundation of the Galactic Empire of the Foundation and Galactic Empire novels.
The Arm of Orion Rebellion from Section 8
Section 8 was an military sci-fi shooter video game by Timegate Studios on last generation consoles that had the player taking the role of an powered armor wearing Special Forces soldier named Alex Corde. In the backstory to the multiplayer game, an group called the Arm of Orion was "disconnecting" frontier colonial worlds from Terra, and given the slow pace of space travel in the Section 8 game, the Arm of Orion was at an advantage. This struggle between the distant imperialistic Arm of Orion and the Terran government was conducted by the 8th Armored Infantry unit. While the frontier colonies were not rebelling against Terra, it is still an example of an conflict between the core central government and the frontier settlements.
The Strife between the Colonies from Dynamo Joe
In one of the best military science fiction American comics, Dynamo Joe from First Comics (1986-1988), we see a ongoing strife between the colonies of Terra in the 35th century. In the comic backstory, the Terran Confederation has a serious rift between their inner and outer colonies, with the outer colonies being under attack from pirates, slavers, and the Blood Nation attacks. This causes the Terran Confederation to mount a serious pirate suppression activity for the outer worlds. This costs a great deal of money, and Terra and her inner colonies resent the outer colonies for their helplessness. Then the table turn. In 3415, when an unknown alien race attacked the galactic rim. Faced with an aggressive species of unknown origin, the Terran Confederation decided to attack the hostiles with the full might of their fleet. At the Rim Battle Massacre, half of the Terran fleet was wiped out, and the aliens made a direct path for Terra and Londree. For years, the combined forces of three civilizations banned together (sort of) to repel the invaders. Because the aliens were laser-focused on attack Terra and Londree, the outer colonies were uninterested in funding "Terra's War", because they were not under direct threat from the aliens. Once again, the rift between the inner and outer colonies reached a breaking point. This tension between the inner and outer colonies in Dynamo Joe was the origin-point for this blogpost
The Maquis from the Star Trek Universe
Even in the big, happy Federation, shit can go wrong, especially on the edge of Federation space with an hostile alien race on your doorstep. During final peace talks between the Cardassian Union and the UFP, after a brief war years before TNG started, it was decided to from an DMZ with planets changing hands. The Federation worlds were home to frontier settlers and these were their homes…they were not going to give up and move for the sake of peace with an aggressive alien government. That was the setting that Trek introduces us to one of the more un-Trek like elements of the 24th century: the Maquis.
Taking their name from the underground French resistance movement of the 2nd World War, this 24th century Maquis were labelled many things: terrorists, freedom fighters, troublemakers. However, they are a symbol of how a policy made between Terra and an hostile species, the Cardassians, could result in tensions and conflicts way out on the border/frontier. This is a struggle between the central government and the frontier, where things are different and less clear-cut that back on the utopia of Earth. One of the interesting things I learned about the Maquis during my reading up on the topic was that the concept of this group goes back to 1993 when the foundations of what would be Voyager were being laid. The Maquis were developed for that show to provide the tension on the long-lost starship and the Starfleet crew. Over time of Deep Space Nine and TNG, the Maquis were more developed, and many fans sympathized with the quest of the Maquis.
The Insurrection of the Outer Colonies from the HALO Universe
From 2494 to 2537, the UNSC fought an board violent insurrection against their rule over the outer colonies. This was the genesis of the SPARTAN-II program. The outer colonies of the UNSC were tired of the politics and policies of the Colonial Administration Authority/ When protests did not work, the violence started. The actions of the UNSC fueled more volunteers to the cause of the insurrection, especially after the use of nuclear weapons on Far Isle. However, the out-and-out civil war of the outer colonies against the UNSC was the Insurrection were able capture the UNSC warship Callisto in 2494. When the UNSC set three warships to recapture the Destroyer, the Insurrection was able to use an nuclear device to break apart an asteroid, and pepper the three UNSC warships with the natural kinetic projectiles. With one ship destroyed and two others wounded, this became the wake up call to the UNSC on the power of the Insurrection in the outer colonies. This war in the outer colonies even touched as far into the interior of UNSC space as Reach, and even after the Covenant invaded the UNSC, there was still conflict between the UNSC and her outer colonies. Some in the government even feared the Insurrection would attempt to made a deal with the aliens to betray the UNSC. One of the more interesting points I've read about the Outer Colonial Insurrection is that it prepared the UNSC, as a whole, for the Human-Covenant War, especially with regards to be the reason for the creation of the SPARTAN-II Program that saved humanity from the Covenant.
Earth Alliance Civil War from Babylon 5
At the beginning of the B5 television series, the President of the Earth Alliance, Santiago, was killed by an conspiracy to bring Morgan Clark to the office. It was during the 2nd and 3rd Season that the shit really hit the fan, as EarthGov was twisting into being more anti-alien and wanting for the Earth Alliance to be more aggressive in the galaxy. During this, Captain Sheridan and others on B5 learned of an vast conspiracy and the draconian goals of Clark, and the connection to the shadows. Part of this was the creepy Nightwatch movement.
It was during the apex of this, that Joint Chiefs General Hague staged a coup as Proxima III, Mars, and Orion VII broke away from the Earth Alliance, and Sheridan sided with others breakaway colonies as Mars is bombed by Clark's forces. Also during this, the sci-fi CNN, ISN, revealed the truth and was shut down by Clark's goon squads. Seeing B5 as a support and safer harbor for the rebellion, Clark ordered an taskforce to retake the station, resulting in one of the best episodes of the entire series. B5, with help from the Minbari, repel the Earth Alliance attack, and this made the station a beacon in the darkness. During the Shadow War, there was an ensuing tension between EarthGov and B5, and it was only after the Shadow War, that attention was turned to liberating Earth from Clark. The final episode of Earth Civil War, we see Clark take his own life, and the end of the darkness. While the show was building to the Shadow War, I always preferred the Earth Civil War storyline. There is less of a struggle between the inner and outer colonies here, but it does show an Terran based government attempting to take control of their colonies and the most distant Earth off-world installation: Babylon 5.
Earth Federation vs. the Principality of Zeon from Mobile Suit Gundam
In the Mobile Suit Gundam universe, the One Year War from 0079 UC-0080 UC, was a transformative event that had the breakaway Principality of Zeon wage war against the Earth Federation.
In 0058 UC, the Side 3 O'Neil Colony station near Luna declared themselves independent from the Earth Federation and the other space colonies, calling themselves "the Principality of Zeon". After the One Year War, this outer colony was brought back into line with the Earth Federation, but the die had been cast for colonial resistance.
The Clone Wars from Star Wars
While the real genesis of the Clone Wars was an grand machiavellian Sith plot to wipe out the Jedi Order, erode the power of the Republic, and installing an Sith-controlled Galactic Empire. On the surface however, the Clone Wars were an outgrowth of tensions on the outmost regions of the galaxy that started with the Trade Federation, the Siege of Naboo, and the formation of the Confederacy of the Independent Systems. While some of the tension between the rim and Coruscant was rooted in real issues of economics, government, and bureaucracy; there was a great deal of Sith engineering to destabilize the galaxy and foster tensions between the rim and the core systems. This peaked in the First Battle of Geonosis and the discovery of the existence of the Cloned Army. By the end of the 2nd Prequel film, there was an all-out war between the Republic and the Separatists that engulfed the galaxy. Most of the war was fought away from the central systems, however, there was the battle over the Coruscant at the beginning of The Revenge of the Sith. By the time of Order-66, the war was over, and when the Empire rose, it too, would find controlling an entire galaxy was too difficult a task. Another reason mentioned for the Sith-engineered Clone Wars was to eliminate the possible resistance to an new Sith-based empire. By the Sith uniting powerful groups, like the Banking Guild, the Techno-Union, against the Republic, they could destroy these groups that might oppose the new Empire via the war.
The Foundation vs. the Barbarian Galaxy from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Universe
In an odd examples culled from one of the titans of science fiction Isaac Asimov, we look to the Foundation established on Terminus and the crumbling galaxy after the fall of the Galactic Empire. In the iconic 1940's science fiction novel, Hari Seldon, founder of the Psychohistory, was moving to safeguard the knowledge of the galaxy has the Galactic Empire was crumbling after 12,000 in power. He predicted using Psyhohistory that the galaxy would be under barbarism for 30,000 years until it would reunite. Seldon and others wanted to shorten that to about 1,000 years and the Foundation on Terminus was the answer. Assembled there on the edge of the Milky Way was the best and the brightest, devoted to the Encyclopedia Galactica. As the galaxy collapsed around Terminus, newly formed savage kingdoms came to Terminus for their storehouse of old Imperial and technology. While this is a stretch of the core concept of the blogpost, it does show the very distant settled world of Terminus against these new kingdoms. Why the Foundation was way the hell out there was due to it wanting to protect itself and its knowledge from the savagery of the new galaxy situation after the fall of the Galactic Empire. In someways, the Foundation represents the Byzantine Empire after the fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian invaders, as Isaac Asimov intended.