What is Saurian Space?

(as referenced in “Pale as the Noonday Sun”, “Sanguine”, Aqua Equal”, “Edge of the World”, and other short stories set in the SF Fireverse of Jonathan Shipley)

As futuristic humans of Terra moved out into space, they immediately categorized known space as Terran or Outsector — very much an “us vs. them” divide. Terrans during that colonial expansion tended to be brash and trigger-happy, and border wars with non-human cultures followed. The Outsector label became more precise, differentiating cultures. One of the updated labels was “Saurian Space” that lumped together a range of saurian, reptilian, and amphibian cultures.

The chief characteristic of these cultures from a human perspective was that they were ancient. Sentient saurians developed tens of thousands of years before sentient mammalians, and their cultures reflect that age difference. In ancient times, two great saurian empires — the militaristic Zaradon and the tech/trade-oriented Xcath — controlled vast territories within the Milky Way. When saurians refer to ancient happenings, they usually express it as “ere the Fall of Zaradon.” But those empires ended abruptly. And here we need to access the semi-mythical lore of the Dragonlords.

All saurian cultures share some common imagery. The Wan Iguana is the universal symbol of Death, and Dragonlord is the universal symbol of Wrath and Power. But while the Wan Iguana is clearly a metaphor, the Dragonlords are historical facts. In their wrath many thousands of years ago, they obliterated the vast empire of Zaradon and threw down the scientific advances of Xcath. That event so scarred the racial memory of saurians that even the mention of the word “Dragonlord” causes a panic reaction. The one institution most impacted by this reaction is slavery. For several decades, the border wars of the expanding human colonies supplied a steady stream of human slaves for saurian markets, both as menials and as edible delicacies. All of this officially halted when the last Dragonlord through his Voice decreed all forms of human slavery at an end. Unofficially, however, human slaves were still traded on the black market, particularly by those races lacking a racial memory of the Fall of Zaradon.

This tension between official and unofficial positions drives the plots of several of the stories that take place in Saurian Space.

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