Shine Cycle Précis: Space and Time (Part One)

Space and Time is the planned eighth book in the “main line” of the Shine Cycle, following The Barbaric Dragon in chronology. Today’s post is the first part of a [brief introduction]<a href=" to it.

Space and Time, unlike each previous part of the “main line,” looks at this point to be too large to fit in only one volume, so as I suspect I’ll have to divide it, I’m also dividing this précis into a few parts—probably three, but we’ll see. Each post will deal with several of the stories that I hope to combine.

Space and Time covers the nearly thirty-year Second Uneasy Peace that follows the events of The Barbaric Dragon, the brief Sixth War of the Dragon, and the subsequent nearly-twenty-year Third Uneasy Peace. It includes the advancement of the Shine and Wild Empire, its allies, and its enemy the Dragon Empire from a nearly medieval level of technology into space travel and beyond (hence the title). And it will describe several threads of the continuing effects of the arrival of the Chosen on Imperial society.

Perhaps the first thread to cover is the end of the previous war and the subsequent improvements to the Empire’s defenses. In addition to the peace treaty, the Dragon Empire is forced to sign a metaphysically-binding arms research limitation treaty, to prevent the sort of arms race that we’ve seen in our own recent history. (More on that in a bit.) And the Castle Lines are extended to defend the new borders.

The second major thread is one of religious (or, rather, ecumenical) dialogue. The “free world”—the Shine and Wild Empire and its allies—has been overwhelmingly Christian since its first settlements (as I wrote a year and a half ago), but the Church there has no direct connection to any of the modern denominations here on Earth. Among the Chosen, by contrast, many different (not always peaceful) denominations. So, once peace has been restored, the King calls the leaders of the native Church and all other interested parties to an ecumenical council, the Council of Capitol, to establish ecumenical relations going forward. (As I wrote in my post on the Council last year, I still don’t have many ideas about what the Council might discuss—do you?)

A third thread, after the Council, is a comprehensive survey of the laws (statutory and common) of every jurisdiction in the Empire, carried out by the Imperial Ministry of Justice, with the aim of eliminating obsolete or unenforced statutes, reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, and enabling a more just and consistently just society. Producing the report takes over a decade (partly because more laws are, of course, passed in many jurisdictions in the interim), and longer than a single Minister’s tenure overseeing the Ministry of Justice, but the Ministry eventually publishes it and distributes it throughout the Empire.

The fourth thread, and the last before the war, is the “Space-time Race.” With both sides limited by treaty in the scope of their arms research, less martial pursuits became a sort of proxy for that, much like the Space Race in the Cold War in our own world. For the most part, this “race” included advancements in less-weaponizable transportation technology, eventually culminating in spacecraft, and dramatic improvements in “flashy” (but still not immediately warlike) applied-etaphysical workings and Power-assisted devices, including inter-universal transportation and time travel. (Among other things; again, any ideas?)

In these threads, some of the principal characters I’ve identified so far are Faith, one of the most influential participants of the Council of Capitol; Rebecca, through whose eyes we’ll see the Justice Ministry survey; and (tentatively) Whitney, whose district was a leader in the Space-time Race.

In the next part, perhaps in a few weeks, I’ll describe the further events of *Space and Time), beginning with the Sixth War of the Dragon.


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