The following excerpt is © Peter F. Hamilton, All Rights Reserved. Under no circumstances should this be copied, distributed or reproduced any other way.
What follows is the background of the kingdom of Kulu as featured in The Nights Dawn Trilogy. The excerpt will be included in the forthcoming book, The Confederation Handbook, released in 2000.
Kulu is a terracompatible planet 173 light years from Earth. It is an ethnic Christian planet, discovered in 2227.
KULU PHYSICAL DATA
Kulu orbits 152 million km from its star, giving it a 379 day year. Rotation is 24 hours, 8 minutes, Gravity is 97 standard
Axial tilt is 1.5', giving moderate seasonal climate change.
Two fifths of the surface area is land, distributed among 9 major continents, and several archipelagos. Kulu has no polar continents, only ice caps. There are four major oceans.
175 stony iron asteroids have been manoeuvred into orbit 150,000km above Kulu, forming a large zero-gee industrial base. Population 18.5 million.
Kulu's capital city is Nova Kong, sited on the east coast of the Althalia continent (the largest) 42' north of the equator, population 19 million. The planetary population is 3.75 billion, making it the second most heavily populated planet after Earth. Emigration to the planet itself is now closed, though the asteroid settlements remain open to specialists.
KULU STAR SYSTEM PHYSICAL DATA
The Kulu system has 5 solid planets including Kulu itself,
There are 3 gas giants.
THE KULU KINGDOM
The Kulu kingdom is composed of Kulu, the capital planet, and the principality planets (in order of discovery) Xerez, StAlbans, Nesko, Balurghat, Echtern, Warwick, Shasta, and Ombey. The 9 member stars occupy a long roughly ovoid shape 57 light years long, with Kulu itself the closest to Earth and Ombey furthest away. Royal Navy scoutships are still searching for new terracompatible planets; however, the cost of funding the Shasta and Ombey principalities preclude another colonisation project being launched for another 50 years.
Kulu was settled in 2230 by Richard Saldana, the chairman of the New Kong company (an asteroid settlement in Earth's O'Neill Halo), who transported all the settlement's industrial stations to an asteroid in orbit around Kulu, and claimed the star system for himself. His reason for moving, or escape, as he called it, was to liberate the New Kong company from what he saw as the unnecessarily restrictive influence of Govcentral, along with its equally anti-capitalistic tax regime.
Saldana was of European aristocratic background, with proven ancestral links to the British, Spanish, and Greek royal families, a pedigree which undoubtedly helped his family in their later elevation to sovereign status. Although moving the New Kong industrial stations out of Halo jurisdiction was an act of dubious legality, Govcentral chose not to pursue Saldana. A naval action would probably only have succeeded in damaging or destroying the stations, and politically invading what was ostensibly an independent star system would have been disastrous at a time when Govcentral desperately needed unlimited access to colony planets in order to dump Earth's surplus population. Saldana's act had been meticulously planned over several decades (he was 87 when it happened), and considerable effort had gone into filling New Kong with people dissatisfied by both Govcentral and the alternative offered by the colony planets, the majority of which at that time were extremely primitive.
Perhaps the most notorious decision he took was to prohibit the Edenists from germinating a habitat in orbit around Kulu's gas giant, Tarron, and set up their usual He3 mining operation. He did this under the guise of religious devotion, although he had never before demonstrated any religious tendencies in his life. It is arguable that he was considering the establishment of a He3 mining corporation to rival the Edenists, however Kulu at that time could never afford to match what was already the largest industrial enterprise in existence, and Saldana must have known this. Whatever the true reason, the Kulu Kingdom remains completely independent of the Edenists for its supplies of He3 (see energy, below).
With extensive modern manufacturing systems available in orbit around Kulu, Saldana was quickly able to provide a sophisticated infrastructure on the planet itself, attracting the kind of middle class professionals who would otherwise have remained on Earth. With its burgeoning economy, Kulu was swiftly recognised as an excellent investment, and capital poured in, with many of the wealthier individual investors following it, raising its appeal still further. The economic upward spiral of Kulu's first century is one that has never been repeated despite innumerable attempts; the economic and social factors both on Earth and across the Confederation have changed too much since then. Richard Saldana was simply the right man at the right time with the right idea.
Richard Saldana died in 2248, and his son Gerrald inherited what had become the Kulu Corporation, which then consisted of the asteroid settlement and its associated orbital industrial stations, the Tarron cloudscoop operation, planetary utility services, a starship fleet, and various planetary factories. In a move no more inspired than his father's, Gerrald called the first election, and refused to stand for any post. It was a simple matter to insure his placemen secured a majority in the parliament, and the first action of the new president, Dennis Mason (later Lord Mason) was to introduce an act creating the position of constitutional guardian who would remain outside politics and safeguard the Kulu system's new-found liberty. The logical person for this post was someone who simply could not be bribed. Gerrald Saldana's appointment was approved unanimously by parliament, and his coronation was held in 2250.
The head of state is the King, who has the right to levy taxes in defence of the kingdom, and enforcing the Crown's justice. In return for fealty, the Sovereign guarantees all his subjects the following rights: An elected assembly which can offer advice to the Crown, pass laws subject to the royal seal of ascent, and raise taxes to pay for said laws. An independent judiciary and police force, not subject to parliament's control. The right to own and use property (widely referred to as The Capitalism Pledge, necessary to placate investors nervous that Gerrald was establishing a dictatorship).
The Sovereign is also the defender of the Christian faith throughout the Kingdom, a position which wasn't ratified by the Vatican until 2343. Although atheists are allowed to emigrate, the devout of all other faiths are refused entry. King Marcus granted considerable estates to the church in 2312, which have provided the synod with an independent income ever since, Kulu priests are frequently assigned to missions on recently colonized planets.
Gerrald Saldana took his duties as Head of State seriously, virtually handing over management of the Kulu Corporation to his son and daughter, Alastair and Cheloe, so he could devote his energies to government. He established a socialised health service, and several universities, as well as overseeing the formation of a genuinely independent judiciary. In short, he did perform his role as constitutional guardian, cementing the family's power base. His greatest test came over the annexation of Yerez, which was discovered by Kulu Corporation ships, but was also claimed by the Parma government. Up until that point, no government's jurisdiction extended outside its system (apart from the Edenists). As usual in times of national crisis, the population rallied round their leader; and with Cheloe serving on one of the starships which fought the Parma ships attacking the Tarron cloudscoop, the Saldana dynasty became unchallengable from this period onwards. Parma was defeated with the use of anti-matter weapons, its remaining industrial stations confiscated as repatriations, and Jerez became a principality awarded to Cheloe.
Since Gerrald's coronation, the greatest threat. to the stability of the monarchy came during the abdication crisis of 2432 (see Tranquillity, below). However, the reign of King Lukas did much to repair the damage; he worked hard at eliminating the excesses of the court corruption (which by then was becoming dangerously decadent), and along with Queen Anne enjoyed an extraordinarily high level of public popularity and support.
THE SALDANA FAMILY
The King still owns the Kulu Corporation in its entirety (as well as possessing the mineral rights of all planets and asteroids in the kingdom), and because of this is the richest individual in the Confederation today. The Kulu Corporation has expanded to include manufacturing of every kind, and owns the utilities on the capital and each principality world; it administers the Crown Estates, which account for 80% of the landmass on each terracompatible planet, and it mines and supplies He3 in each Kingdom system. The Kulu Crown Bank, a Kulu Corporation subsidiary, is the largest financial institution in the kingdom, and contends with the Jovian Bank for business throughout the Confederation. It is the junior members of the Saldana family who run the corporation, with the Sovereign's tenth sibling (see Saldana eugenics, below) as the president. Commissioned service in the Royal Navy is virtually compulsory for a Saldana, certainly in the upper echelon, ie, destined for public life. They normally serve a 15 year commission, although some make a career out of it. Promotion is always through merit, and several hold high ranking posts in the Confederation Navy (again earned on merit).
There are probably as many as .35 million direct descendants of Richard Saldana alive today, three quarters of whom are illegitimate. The Saldanas enjoy their pre-eminent position and associated privilege, rarely abusing it. Although all upper echelon family members marry, fathering children outside their official marriage is not considered an abuse of privilege (rather a consequence), and the family invariably pays a generous allowance to the mother (King Aaron allegedly sired 409 offspring).
Escapades of the junior family members provide a constant source of amusement and gossip to the entire kingdom's population, and indeed across the Confederation as a whole.
SALDANA EUGENICS AND HIERARCHY
The family has received considerable genetic modification, improving the efficiency of both brain and body, and this project continues. They are physically impressive in size and vigour, although most have a thin nose with a slight downward curve on the tip which has become a (in)famous distinguishing characteristic, their life expectancy is currently 180+ years. A common saying is that Saldanas are Edenists without the affinity gene.
All senior Saldanas marry, presenting an idealised Christian family example for public consumption. The first 10 offspring of the King and Queen are grown in exowombs, and the eldest child (always male) becomes King, with the next 8 assuming the thrones of the principality worlds (3 princesses are the norm), and the tenth becoming president of the Kulu Corporation. This procedure is followed by every generation, which allows further genetic modifications to be made to the zygotes. After the tenth exowomb child has been birthed, the King and Queen (usually Crown Prince and Princess) are then free to conceive natural children. The usual number is 3 or 4, who act as a reserve in case any of the exowomb 10 are killed before assuming their station.
The Crown Princess is always a Kulu kingdom subject, and a member of the aristocracy is the norm. A family which has undergone extensive genetic modification (especially where life expectancy is concerned) is preferred, so that a long term partnership will be possible. The King and Queen do not get divorced. It would be wrong to conclude that all royal marriages are arranged by the court arid are therefore loveless; most notably, King Lukas is reputed to have only ever had Queen Anne as a sexual partner.
THE KINGS OF KULU
Gerrald Saldana instigated a titled nobility the year following his coronation, formalising the institution of the Monarchy. Letters of patient were (and are) used as a reward for loyalty or public service (the highest carrying pensions and sometimes small estates), and the format duplicates the original European system of ennoblement. The aristocracy do not have a house of lords, but a great many work for the court in the administration of the Sovereign's privileges, such as the granting of mineral extraction licences, levying taxes for defence and justice offices, etc. In effect, forming a private civil service unaccountable to parliament. It is the court which runs Kulu's intelligence services, perhaps its most notorious function.
Kulu technology is second only to the Edenists; and in some fields, notably nanonics, more advanced. The capital system has a highly developed technoeconomy, providing its population with the best Adamist standard of living in the Confederation.
The gas giant Tarron is the centre of heliuin3 mining in the Kulu system. The operation consists of 40+ cloudscoops controlled by 15 asteroid settlements in orbit around Tarron. In addition to the Tarron operation, each of the principality systems has a gas giant mining operation. The cloudscoops supply all of the Kulu Kingdom's industrial, civil, naval, arid transport energy requirements, as well as supplying fuel for visiting starships.
The price of He3 within the kingdom is equal to the price which the Edenists charge throughout the Confederation, an arrangement of sheer necessity. If Kulu He3 cost more than Edenist fuel, their industry would suffer accordingly. The mining operation is profitable, although dividends are not as high as more normal commercial activities. The colossal scale of the operation makes up for this one shortfall, and the Saldana family considers it a more than worthwhile price to pay for complete independence. Starting with Richard, they have always viewed the Edenist energy monopoly as a gross incursion of national sovereignty. He3 is not exported by the kingdom. The Kulu Corporation simply could not match the price the Edenists charge for He3 in star systems without a developed mining industry. Nor would there be many star systems willing to pay the political price of having their energy supplied by the Saldanas. The Kulu Kingdom is one of the very few examples of a sovereign state having its own He3 mining operation. And now that star system colonisation is conducted on an almost institutionalised basis, it seems set to remain so. The two other principal exceptions are Oshanko and Far Texas. Ironically, the only other nation-state to have its own cloudscoop is Tranquillity, which assumed control of the Kulu Corporation's Mirchusko mining operation when it became officially independent from the Kingdom. None of these mining operations pose any threat to the Edenist energy monopoly.
The kingdom uses a decimal pound as its currency. Most transactions are through credit disk, though the Royal Mint does issue silver arid gold sovereigns. During 'private' events such as a night at a restaurant or club, senior Saldanas will pay for any purchases with a platinum crown, equal to 100 pounds, which are only issued to members of the family. Needless to say, these coins become instant collector pieces, and can change hands for 20 to 30 times their face value.
As with the Edenist dollar, He3 has given the pound an enviable stability, and its exchange rate against the fuseodollar has remained unchanged since 2370. The pound is the second strongest Adamist currency (after the Govcentral dollar), and the Kulu Crown Bank is prevalent across the Confederation.
THE KULU ROYAL NAVY
Kulu maintains the third largest naval force in the Confederation after Earth and the Edenists, with 750 warships on active service. The Saldana family is a strong supporter of the Confederation, and one third of the Royal Navy is on permanent assignment to the Confederation Navy, with squadrons serving 6 year tours of duty.
The squadron deployment levels throughout the Kingdom systems, and a willingness to pursue pirates (assisted by the fleet intelligence agency) across Confederation territory has made the Kingdom systems the safest in the Confederation through which to travel after the Sol system.
Kulu's intelligence gathering activities are divided between three agencies, all of which are funded by taxes paid to the court, and controlled by the most senior privy councillors. The King himself chairs the inter-agency management council. The three agencies are as follows.
1) Internal Security Agency. ISA. This deals with threat assessment and elimination within the Kingdom itself. Contrary to public opinion and tabloid media speculation, it is the smallest and least active of the three agencies. It monitors all senior politicians and their parties for signs of disloyalty, as well as radical groups and any other group, organization, or individual that could conceivably threaten the stability of the Kingdom or pose a physical threat to senior Saldanas.
Agents are operative on every planet and in every asteroid settlement within the kingdom. Their primary task is the collection of information, and unlike the police they do not require a warrant to search public or private data cores, nor intercept communications.
Threat elimination is conducted with as little fuss as possible. The Saldanas do not favour trials which give opponents publicity. In political cases, direct confrontation with evidence of unsavoury activity, or leaked data to the media, is nearly always successful in halting the career of the individual, neutering the threat. In the case of radical groups, particularly those sanctioning and practising violence, deportation to a Confederation penal planet (from which there is no return) is the usual option. Deportation orders in these cases are issued directly (in camera) by the Lord Chancellor upon request by the ISA chief, and are not subject to appeal or judicial review; the offender is simply removed from public life as quietly as possible. The very nature of their activity means they are unlikely to have a large collection of colleagues querying their abrupt decision to 'emigrate'.
Assassination of the state's internal enemies is a last resort, and practised only on people who have already killed for their cause, or are in the process of sabotage, etc.
2) Fleet Intelligence. Basically an anti-piracy operation, run by a senior admiral. Its members are Royal Navy officers who go undercover and sign on as crew in likely trader ships, ie those fitted with anti-matter drives (see Starships, above). Their principal task (along with the CNIS office) is to locate pirate anti-matter stations, as well as the suppliers of illegal combat wasps, and the networks through which pirated cargoes are distributed.
A second function of fleet intelligence is to monitor the development of naval technology by other governments.
3) External Security Agency, the ESA. The largest, and by far the most active of the three groups. The ESA has agents working on every planet in the Confederation, hundreds of independent asteroid settlements, and the 5 independent bitek habitats, gathering strategic, political, and commercial data. Station heads in the Kulu embassies run networks of recruits, infiltrating every aspect of their host government's civil service, including, where possible, its own intelligence arm. As with the Saldanas, who take a long-term view to their policies, the ESA prefers to recruit university students and junior politicians, allowing them to work their way up the promotion ladder (often with covert assistance), rather than target established officials for subversion.
The influence which this agency exerts upon foreign governments is immense. In several instances a foreign government's Head of State has been working for the ESA. A special effort is made by the ESA in the star systems around the Kingdom's boundaries to insure that their policy remains non-confrontational with regards to the Kingdom. Several leaders have been toppled by the ESA when they showed signs of 'standing firm' against the Kingdom in the areas of trade (the Kingdom is a vigorous exporter) or diplomatic policy.
There is no Confederation planet exempt from ESA activity, and exposure of agency assets has occasionally led to diplomatic incidents, which the Saldanas inevitably ignore until the fuss dies down several decades later. Only the Edenists are immune to manipulation by the ESA, it is impossible for the agency to turn an Edenist into one of their assets.
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