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The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuultani

Fans of Colin Maclntyre and the great starship Dahak should take a minute to stop in here for discussions about one of David's best-loved series.
Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Adeon Hawkwood   » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:01 pm

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Another potential reason for building lots of planetoids would be for a last ditch "Safehold" maneuver. A planetoid contains enough people and equipment to establish a viable colony on a new world (as the mutineers planned in t he first book). So if worse comes to worse and the war is going to be lost the surviving planetoids can be used as colony ships to ensure the survival of humanity.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by WeberFan   » Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:42 pm

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cralkhi wrote:Why did the 4thEmp have a million planetoids? Was it a matter of maintaining 4thImp military buildup levels, or did they build even MORE after Herdan?

I mean, Colin beat a double-sized Great Visit with less than a hundred undermanned ones, so a million seems absolute overkill for anything, ever. Now maybe the 4thImp tremendously overestimated the numbers and power of the Achuultani (or were just being very, very cautious)... but why keep such ridiculous levels of power after the Achuultani were no longer considered a threat? Sure, no one would deactivate theirs during the period of civil wars during the 4thImp -> 4thEmp transition ... but afterwards? The 4thEmp seems to have been extremely stable, and you'd think that after a few centuries - or, even if all the leaders had bioenhanced lifespans so the cultural memory was longer, a thousand years or so at most - there'd be no reason to keep all that military power around. Why didn't they disassemble them and use the resources for useful stuff, or at least deactivate them and save on the costs of the enormous crews? You might want a couple dozen or even a couple hundred to deal with rebellions or some sort of sudden alien attack (though the 4thEmp seems to have gotten pretty big without meeting anyone, so I doubt they'd consider the latter a serious possibility...)

Come to think of it, the 4thImp probably did colossally overestimate the Achuultani threat, because they seem to have been constantly wary of them - whereas judging by the events of TAI a Great Visit would have been trivially crushed with those sorts of numbers (though 4thImp ships are said to be far inferior to 4thEmp, so it might take several thousand to do what Colin did with 80ish.)

But Colin learned at the end that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant - something that the Imperium never knew - and had no way of knowing. The Imperium HAD to build all those planetoids under the assumption that the Achuultani were advancing at the same rate that the Imperium was. Make sense?
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by rakenan   » Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:49 pm

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WeberFan wrote:But Colin learned at the end that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant - something that the Imperium never knew - and had no way of knowing. The Imperium HAD to build all those planetoids under the assumption that the Achuultani were advancing at the same rate that the Imperium was. Make sense?

Except the Imperium did know that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant. Dahak comments on it a few times - in the multiple incursions of which the Imperium had records, over the course of an immense period of time, the Imperium found no evidence of any substantial technological innovation. What the Imperium didn't know was WHY.

The million planetoids were not needed to defeat the Achuultani and the Imperium knew it. But the Imperium also knew that the Achuultani were not just a military threat in the minds of its citizens. They were a religious threat, the Imperium's equivalent of the Devil, and had to be taken seriously just to maintain public trust in the government. As the civil war that led to the rise of the Empire shows, that trust was fading, as was concern about the Achuultani.

As for why the Empire needed a million planetoids? It was to maintain civil order. The Fleet was both the symbol of stable government and its enforcer. By the time the Empire came around, the Achuultani were essentially mythical, but the Empire still had its share of worries. Mostly internal worries. A nation formed from the civil-war produced ruination of its predecessor needs to be strong enough to crush any future uprising, and it was plainly pretty conservative in order to remain stable for thousands of years.

TL;DR - the Imperium needed an enormous fleet for religious/morale reasons, because the Achuultani threat was a matter of religious significance. The Empire needed an enormous fleet because its founding principle was to forcefully establish order over the chaos produced by a civil war.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Sigs   » Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:50 am

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rakenan wrote:
WeberFan wrote:But Colin learned at the end that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant - something that the Imperium never knew - and had no way of knowing. The Imperium HAD to build all those planetoids under the assumption that the Achuultani were advancing at the same rate that the Imperium was. Make sense?

Except the Imperium did know that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant. Dahak comments on it a few times - in the multiple incursions of which the Imperium had records, over the course of an immense period of time, the Imperium found no evidence of any substantial technological innovation. What the Imperium didn't know was WHY.

The million planetoids were not needed to defeat the Achuultani and the Imperium knew it. But the Imperium also knew that the Achuultani were not just a military threat in the minds of its citizens. They were a religious threat, the Imperium's equivalent of the Devil, and had to be taken seriously just to maintain public trust in the government. As the civil war that led to the rise of the Empire shows, that trust was fading, as was concern about the Achuultani.

As for why the Empire needed a million planetoids? It was to maintain civil order. The Fleet was both the symbol of stable government and its enforcer. By the time the Empire came around, the Achuultani were essentially mythical, but the Empire still had its share of worries. Mostly internal worries. A nation formed from the civil-war produced ruination of its predecessor needs to be strong enough to crush any future uprising, and it was plainly pretty conservative in order to remain stable for thousands of years.

TL;DR - the Imperium needed an enormous fleet for religious/morale reasons, because the Achuultani threat was a matter of religious significance. The Empire needed an enormous fleet because its founding principle was to forcefully establish order over the chaos produced by a civil war.
They were crushed, not beaten but crushed and survived by a miracle after the last incursion. Same goes for the previous god knows how many incursions. So ultimately why take the chance of not having enough ships again?

They don't know why they are so adamant on killing life, they don't know where they are coming from and they don't know their industrial base, military strength, technology etc... what they do know is that they held out by thread in every previous encounter and as such the decision is simple, build as big a fleet as you can afford, prepare as you can for the next invasion and be ready to track the enemy back to their home space.

They had no intelligence to suggest that they had faced the entire enemy fleet in the previous invasion, so if they were beaten with potentially a small fraction of the enemy fleet having massive overkill gives you a lot of room for error and underestimating.

Scenario 1: The fleet is 1,000,000 planetoids, the expected invasion comes, the empire fights them off, traces it back to their home space and destroys the threat while still maintaining the defence of the empire. They determine that they had massive overkill because the enemy industry and military were nowhere near as big as expected. End of war everyone goes home, military is reduced to lower levels and everyone is happy.

Scenario 2: The fleet is 20,000 planetoids the expected invasion comes, the empire engages, defeats the enemy while losing significant forces. Finds that they defeated one of the enemy fleets but more are being concentrated to face the empire. Eventually battle is joined, the empire finds out that they are outnumbered and outgunned, the fleet is eventually overrun and followed shortly by the empire. If they are lucky some of humanity survives and starts to rebuild to face the next invasion, if they are not humanity is over.


Both scenarios have a woops moment, one is the woops we way overestimated the enemy and had to big of a fleet but whatever we survived, beat them and the threat is gone. While the other side the woops is that you didn't build enough, and your entire species is now destroyed or someone might be left but they start rebuilding again. In a situation like this where its life or death overkill is the only way to go. Finding out that you brought too much firepower to the fight is so much better than finding that you didn't bring anywhere near enough firepower to the fight.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by phillies   » Mon May 18, 2020 12:01 am

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rakenan wrote:
WeberFan wrote:But Colin learned at the end that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant - something that the Imperium never knew - and had no way of knowing. The Imperium HAD to build all those planetoids under the assumption that the Achuultani were advancing at the same rate that the Imperium was. Make sense?

Except the Imperium did know that the Achuultani were technologically stagnant. Dahak comments on it a few times - in the multiple incursions of which the Imperium had records, over the course of an immense period of time, the Imperium found no evidence of any substantial technological innovation. What the Imperium didn't know was WHY.

The million planetoids were not needed to defeat the Achuultani and the Imperium knew it. But the Imperium also knew that the Achuultani were not just a military threat in the minds of its citizens. They were a religious threat, the Imperium's equivalent of the Devil, and had to be taken seriously just to maintain public trust in the government. As the civil war that led to the rise of the Empire shows, that trust was fading, as was concern about the Achuultani.

As for why the Empire needed a million planetoids? It was to maintain civil order. The Fleet was both the symbol of stable government and its enforcer. By the time the Empire came around, the Achuultani were essentially mythical, but the Empire still had its share of worries. Mostly internal worries. A nation formed from the civil-war produced ruination of its predecessor needs to be strong enough to crush any future uprising, and it was plainly pretty conservative in order to remain stable for thousands of years.

TL;DR - the Imperium needed an enormous fleet for religious/morale reasons, because the Achuultani threat was a matter of religious significance. The Empire needed an enormous fleet because its founding principle was to forcefully establish order over the chaos produced by a civil war.


Except, as President Eisenhower explained all, those resources spent on bombs and ships are resources not available for more constructive purposes like feeding the hungry and increasing your tech advantage.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by fallsfromtrees   » Mon May 18, 2020 2:16 pm

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You know how many planetoids you need only if you make the assumption about the size of an incursion - and assuming that the next incursion will be the same size as the previous one is a good way to get your ass kicked - when they come with twice the number of ships you expected - I'll concede you probably know the capability of each individual ship, but quantity is a quality all its own - And you don't know how many different prongs of the attack you may need to stop -= which dictates a larger that strictly speaking number of plaentoids.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by phillies   » Fri May 22, 2020 2:46 pm

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cralkhi wrote:Why did the 4thEmp have a million planetoids? Was it a matter of maintaining 4thImp military buildup levels, or did they build even MORE after Herdan?

I mean, Colin beat a double-sized Great Visit with less than a hundred undermanned ones, so a million seems absolute overkill for anything, ever. Now maybe the 4thImp tremendously overestimated the numbers and power of the Achuultani (or were just being very, very cautious)... but why keep such ridiculous levels of power after the Achuultani were no longer considered a threat? Sure, no one would deactivate theirs during the period of civil wars during the 4thImp -> 4thEmp transition ... but afterwards? The 4thEmp seems to have been extremely stable, and you'd think that after a few centuries - or, even if all the leaders had bioenhanced lifespans so the cultural memory was longer, a thousand years or so at most - there'd be no reason to keep all that military power around. Why didn't they disassemble them and use the resources for useful stuff, or at least deactivate them and save on the costs of the enormous crews? You might want a couple dozen or even a couple hundred to deal with rebellions or some sort of sudden alien attack (though the 4thEmp seems to have gotten pretty big without meeting anyone, so I doubt they'd consider the latter a serious possibility...)

Come to think of it, the 4thImp probably did colossally overestimate the Achuultani threat, because they seem to have been constantly wary of them - whereas judging by the events of TAI a Great Visit would have been trivially crushed with those sorts of numbers (though 4thImp ships are said to be far inferior to 4thEmp, so it might take several thousand to do what Colin did with 80ish.)


The assembly line is totally automatic. No one hit the "off" switch.
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Re: The Fourth Empire, 1 million planetoids, and the Achuult
Post by Sigs   » Tue Jun 09, 2020 6:45 pm

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phillies wrote:
Except, as President Eisenhower explained all, those resources spent on bombs and ships are resources not available for more constructive purposes like feeding the hungry and increasing your tech advantage.


No one know when they are coming back, investing the resources you would normally invest in the fleet into society is great up to the time the enemy come back and crush you. This isn't a situation where even if you lose your people live, even if you lose you can eventually regain your independence, this is a situation where if you lose it's game over or at least you start back up from scratch. This isn't a case of what MIGHT happen, this is a case of what has happened on an unknown number of incursions before and what is known is that none of the previous empires were truly ready for the enemy, so this time it was different, they were going for overkill because that was their only way to improve their chances of survival.
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