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The CoDominium is the brain child of Sci Fi author Jerry Pournelle. The first books were written in the Seventies and set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, now Science and Time have marched on rendering the setting Alternate History. The premise of the series is that the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics join together to form the CoDominium (CD), and dominate the planet.

The CoDominium is corrupt to the core. It has a nasty habit of shipping millions of prisoners and dissidents, not to mention tens of millions of people "ethnically cleansed" from regions of Earth desired by persons or groups it views more favorably, to ramshackle colonies on Earthlike worlds in other solar systems--for some values of "Earthlike." Some, like Haven and Frystaat and Fulson's World, are quite horribly lethal places for humans. Others are merely really unpleasant.

Despite the fact that it's one of the more grotesquely evil political entities we see in fiction (it gives the Domination of the Draka a run for its money when it comes to sheer ruthless brutality), some military men serve it faithfully--if only because, they reason, someone has to hold it together and hold off the inevitable nuclear war as long as possible to give humanity a chance to survive offworld.

At first things seem to go smoothly, Earth is dominated by a one hundred year era of relative peace and interstellar travel and colonization are developed. However, this peaceful era comes with a price tag attached to it, namely a complete halt in scientific research and development; not to mention political evolution. Eventually it collapses under its own weight, as both the United States and the USSR both hate each other's guts still despite technically being allies. At the end, large numbers of nuclear-tipped birds fly, many launched down from orbit, and Earth is devastated. Even a millennium later, the devastation could still be seen.

After the CD's fall, the planet of Sparta forms the nucleus of the Empire of Man. It leads to centuries of "peace" (Not counting the initial conquest, putting down rebellions, and "Outies" who don't count), until a massive civil war is begun by the genetically-engineered Super Soldiers of Sauron (the planet, NOT the Lord of the Rings character). The Sauron Supermen are defeated (and their home world slagged by Spartan space battleships in orbit), but the Empire collapses into barbarism. Centuries pass, and Sparta becomes strong enough to form the Second Empire of Man. To make sure another civilization destroying war doesn't happen again, the Empire decides to take over every human held planet, through diplomacy, but through force if necessary.

Things get even more complicated when humanity actually makes First Contact with an alien race...

The series includes:

  • Falkenberg's Legion, tales focusing on the titular mercenaries during the decline of the CoDominium.
  • Prince of Mercenaries, Go Tell the Spartans, and Prince of Sparta, co-written with S.M. Stirling. Written some decades after the original Falkenberg's Legion stories, but still involve the Legion and intertwine with the earlier novel. It tells of the story of planet Sparta dealing with a violent revolution.
    • The two sets of stories were published together as the omnibus The Prince: The Complete Saga of Falkenberg's Legion. Available for free online onCD #1 under 'Friends of Honor'.
  • The Mote in Gods Eye, and The Gripping Hand, set centuries after Falkenberg's Legion, co-written with Larry Niven. The stories involve humanity's dealings with the alien Moties.
  • King David's Spaceship, set in the same time as Mote, tells the story of Nathan MacKinnie and his secret mission to Makassar. Expanded (roughly doubling its size) from A Spaceship for the King.
  • War World: series of anthologies that deal with the prison moon Haven, stretching from the Co Dominium era to after the collapse of the First Empire of Man.
Tropes used in CoDominium include:
  • Absent Aliens: Largely in the Falkenberg's Legion series. Aliens eventually show up, and become the focus in latter books.
  • Absent-Minded Professor: Dr. Buckman in The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand. Not a terribly important character, but an excellent example.
  • Action Girl: Glenda Ruth Horton in Falkenberg's Legions, a Patriot leader. Even more notable is that she actually does some combat.
    • Relatively, Mary Graham in King David's Spaceship. Granted, she doesn't do any fighting, but Mary is no Damsel in distress. Not only is she educated (rare on her home world), she is willing to risk her life by taking charge of logistics in the battlefield, and going up into space in a primitive steampunk Orion-drive spacecraft that could have killed her.
  • The Alliance: What the CoDominium was supposed to technically be.
    • The Empire: What the CoDominium was in reality, later played straight with the Empire of Man.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Played straight and subverted. See that trope for details.
  • Alternate History: by virtue of being set Twenty Minutes Into the Future while being written in The Seventies.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated
  • Apocalypse How: Earth gets a Class 2 variant in the Great Patriotic Wars, but given how man has colonized the stars already it feels more like a galactic Class 0.
  • Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Subverted in Mote, in which Captain Blaine is a Marquis, and is a decent guy. Word of God is that Mote is set in a dynamic, expanding period of the Second Empire when the aristocracy are devoted to their duty to unite humanity under the Empire and to serve it -- or, as the authors put it, when they're more concerned with duty than privileges. The Gripping Hand includes one scene with a couple of Spartan gentry arguing over fishing rights, implying that decadence is creeping in.
  • Artistic License: Biology: The short story "Brenda". Constant references to X and Y genes instead of X and Y chromosomes.
  • Artistic License Economics, the "Welfare Islands" - huge prefab communities where "Citizens" are kept apathetic with foodstamps and free drugs. Actually an Invoked Trope; eventually there are more people in the islands getting stoned than there are "Taxpayers"; people who actually work and pay taxes in exchange for voting privileges - Pournelle's Author Tract about how welfare will "ruin the economy". The "Taxpayers" slowly realized that their votes were worthless, as The Government started fixing elections by framing the well intentioned extremists for nuclear terrorism.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Sauron's supersoldiers are trained to attack at all costs; the result is that they attack until they have nothing left. Latter, the tropes applies to the Empire as well.
  • Author Filibuster: Like much of Pournelle's work, the CoDominium stories get rather Anvilicious in dishing up his social and political ideas.
  • Author Tract: The stories strongly reflect Pournelle's own political leanings.
  • Badass: Colonel Badass John Christian Falkenberg in the Legion books, Nathan MacKinnie in King David's Spaceship.
    • Also Sergeant Major Calvin as Sergeant Rock.
    • Several characters in King David's Spaceship are badasses who literally get medieval on their enemies.
  • Badass Army: The Sauron Supermen and Motie Warrior class.
    • In KDS, MacKinnie builds one on Makassar, from a bunch of starving citizens and knights.
  • Big Bad: Grand Senator Adrian Bronson in the Falkenberg's Legion series.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Moties have an asymmetrical anatomy.
  • The Captain: Blaine in The Mote in God's Eye, Falkenberg in the Legion books, Renner in The Gripping Hand.
  • Colony Drop: the Moties got this one covered by virtue of there being no fissionables left in their star system. Luckily, there were plenty of asteroids around.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive, subverted: Horace Bury funds a war in The Mote In God's Eye. But in The Gripping Hand it's retconned that he was only doing so because he wanted his planet to have religious freedom. He still has shades of being a greedy bastard, however. The whole tone of the character is different in the second book. The first gives no hint that he's anything but a villain who, among other things, had the man who suggested his name tortured to death.
  • Church Militant: In KDS, the Temple controls the city of Batav and its Christian soldiers. MacKinnie has to deal with their internal politics before completing his mission.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Justified, as there was a reunification of Christianity under the Pope. However, not all Christian denominations joined, and some conservative Catholics were displeased with the reunification. The later Empire imposes this religion on all Colonials, which isn't popular with, say, the Muslim offshoots on Makassar or Levant, or the followers of a Christianity off-shoot on New Scotland called "The Church of Him."
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The CD is a geopolitical example of this.
  • Cultured Warrior: John Christian Falkenberg III. Helps that his father was a history professor.
  • Dark Action Girl: Skida "Skilly" Thibodeau. Think Mayday from James Bond, but even more evil.
  • Days of Future Past
  • Death From Above: An Imperial warship can slag a planet's entire surface into a lava field.
  • Death World: To varying degrees; Haven, Tanith, Fulson's World, Frystaat
  • Decade Dissonance: Let's face it, the CoDominium has some cool toys (like regeneration technology, Nemourlon body armor, etc...) while certain planets are lucky to field infantry armed with bolt-action rifles. There are long parenthetical asides and quotes from Encyclopedia Galactica-style articles about things like the New Aberdeen 7mm semiauto combat rifle, which from the specifications in the description would not have raised any eyebrows had it been introduced on Earth around 1955, to terrifyingly efficient and effective smart bombs, orbital artillery, space battleships that can sit in high orbit and nuke entire continents down to the bedrock, antimatter bombs small enough to conceal in a tooth, etc. Some characters in one of the Haven stories set long after the fall of the CoDo find an imperishable, indestructible ceramic CoDo Marine dress uniform belt buckle that no one in the galaxy can analyze or duplicate and whose colors are as bright as they were the day it was made, seven hundred years before.
    • The Mote in God's Eye features the INSS Lenin, a massive battleship with a reputation of being a nigh-invincible mobile Depopulation Bomb (see immediately below). In the sequel, The Gripping Hand, 25 years later, the main character tools around in an aircraft described as if it was found and restored from the Alaskan bush.
  • Deflector Shields: The Langston Field, works by Energy Absorption.
  • Demonization: Surprisingly avoided in Mote and more so in KDS. Every side tends to be painted fairly. No one is presented as a total monster, including Makassar's Islamic "barbarians", some of the New Chicago rebels, Haven's ruthless secret police, and the Moties. The closest characters that come across as villainous are the Traders.
  • Depopulation Bomb: Admiral Kutuzov does this to one rebel planet. Thanks to that, The Empire Of Man now considers him the go-to guy when they have to Shoot the Dog. He should have realized that once he did it he'd either be executed or be forced to make a career out of it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Several. The climax of the Hadley campaign is based on the Nika Riots, the Santiago Civil War is likewise based on the Spanish Civil War.
  • Dramatis Personae
  • Enemy Mine: The premise is that the Soviet Union and the United States decided to ally with each other and rule the world, amongst other things.
    • Discussed by Rod Blaine in The Gripping Hand regarding his current standing with Horace Bury.
  • Exact Words: In the final act of "Prince of Sparta", the Royal Spartan government and the Legion both have to cut a deal with the rebel leader Skilly to get the location of a terrorist nuclear device before it detonates in the capitol. The terms of the deal are that any reward or bounty on her head be removed and no official efforts of any kind be made to locate her. And shortly after the deal is sealed, the most skilled SAS commando and one of the most skilled military intelligence analysts in the Legion, both of whom have strong personal reasons to want to Skilly dead, are placed on leave with the unspoken expectation that they're not to report back on duty until they have her head in a bag - because what two soldiers on leave choose to do with their vacation time is not, strictly speaking, official business.
    • A specific point is also made that if General Owensford wishes to arrange 'personal donations' to two of his men to ensure that they have sufficient funds to enjoy their vacation then that isn't an official act either.
  • Expy: Skilly and Two-Knife are these of Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin, only evil.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Usually in the form of essays or articles written in the books' present or recent past, as well as histories written in their future.
  • Fantastic Racism: Horace Bury after a traumatizing encounter with the Moties caused him to very quickly go from thinking the Moties represented a lucrative commercial venture to being a threat to the entire human race that must be exterminated.
  • Fantasy World Map: Typically included in the front of the Falkenberg books is a map of the relevant planet or city. This presumably allows the reader to have a clear idea where everything is, and follow the strategy the characters use in their works.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Alderson Drive, which operates more like a wormhole system, but not quite.
  • Feudal Future
  • From Bad to Worse: General Owensford's reaction on finding out just exactly what level of resources their enemy is willing to commit to the Battle of Sparta City. Also doubles as Tempting Fate:

General Owensford: How truly good. I have to face the 77th Line Marines with all my forces up north, nothing here but secondary militia, and I get to deploy for a general uprising as well. Actually, I expected it. Nice to see that effort wasn't wasted. Any idea of just what strength [Skilly]'s got?
Captain Alana: No, sir, and I don't think she knows either. The Ultimate Decree caught them off guard, and a lot of their politicals have deserted the cause now that it's dangerous. Of course if she looks like winning they'll be back. General, that's not the worst of it.
General Owensford: Captain, just what can be worse?
Captain Alana: Murasaki. He's got an atom bomb.

  • General Ripper: Admiral Lavrenti Kutuzov, you do not want to be on a rebellious colony when he is around. Subverted in that he is right, right, right! in every possible way.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: Occurs in King David's Spaceship, where the Kingdom of Haven sends a secret expedition to Makassar. Despite Haven having the technology of the early industrial era (they hire an Imperial trading ship to transport them), Makassar is even far more primitive. As a result, the expedition's seemingly outdated technology and tactics (compared to the Empire's) actually gives them a huge advantage on Makassar.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Inverted. Some rebel groups that support republican governments are either hypocrites, or use extremely unethical, violent methods to achieve their goals. The constitutional monarchy of the Spartan Hegemony/Empire of Mankind is portrayed positively, even though its default position is "Accept our rule or be bombed into extinction".
    • One of the few exceptions of this is the New Washington rebels, who are geuinely fighting for Indepenence and not an ideology. Still, there are elements of the rebellion who are willing to commit atrocites on the loyalists.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The CoDominium has a ton of Bureaus, including BuCorrect (Prisons), BuReloc (Forced Relocation), BuTech (Bureau of Technology-- prevents all advancement), Intercontinental Bureau of Investigation ("Eyes"), and the CD Intelligence Agencies. BuReloc is notably one of the largest and least liked since it's responsible for many of the problems of the Colonies.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: The Soviet Union is no longer a going concern in the real world.
  • Heavyworlder: Spartans, Taniths (slightly), and Frystaaters
  • Heel Face Turn: Horace Bury.
  • Hired Guns: One of the books is called The Mercenary after all.
    • Falkenberg's Legion starts out as Law Enforcement, Inc., among other things.
    • Motie armies are run by Masters who typically take up whatever cause seems most profitable.
  • Hive Caste System: Moties, but also subverted as they aren't a hive society -- each caste is a specially-bred subspecies produced over a million years of intermittent civilization.
  • Humans Are Special: Charlie predicts humanity will take over Motie civilization after the next collapse and the Keeper more or less confirms it.
  • Humans Are White: Averted by Frystaaters, who look like very much like Dark Skinned Blondes. Ironic because the colony was founded by South African whites that CoDo rounded up and transported to a hellish high-gravity desert world along with a mixture of others.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: Alderson Drive relies on them.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Admiral Lavrenti Kutuzov, in regards to the one planet he sterilized. Despite his reputation for ruthlessness, Kutuzov actually does feel bad for what he did. Falkenberg on Hadly perpetrated a massacre and felt badly about it, but it was the only way to avert collapse and general starvation.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja:Technoninja.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Chameleon suits, seen in War World.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Col. Falkenberg: "Things are going well. When that happens I wonder what I've overlooked."
  • The Kingdom: played with in King David's Spaceship. The Kingdom of Haven is conquering its neighbors, and a ruthless secret police. However, they are still trying to keep their freedom from The Empire.
  • La Résistance: Subverted, in which the supposedly pro-democracy insurgents are often far worse than the governments they're trying to overthrow. New Washington and Prince Samual's World, which are fighting for independence and not a political ideology, are the exceptions to this. Pournelle wrote some of these stories in the late 1960s and may have done this as a Take That to campus revolutionaries.
    • King David's Spaceship plays it straight; the Empire are earnest fanatics who believe Utopia Justifies the Means and have no trouble sterilizing continents for the Greater Good, but Dougal and his anti-Imperial Secret Police are just as nasty customers as you'd expect. Note that this story is told from their point of view.
    • The Gripping Hand; The Medina Traders are effectively the La Résistance against the much larger Khanate. There's also passing mention of a potential Mormon uprising.
  • Latex Space Suit: Skin tight space suits in The Mote in God's Eye.
  • Legion of Lost Souls: The CD Line Marines were formed from the French Foreign Legion, and thus continue their traditions.
  • Literary Allusion Title: See Matthew 7:3, and Go Tell The Spartans.
  • Mate or Die: the Moties (technically, theirs is "get pregnant or die")
  • Mega Corp: Imperial Traders Association has elements of this. While not outright evil as in other sf works, the Association has no qualms about manipulating others to achieve a profit.
  • The Missionary: Several in King David's Spaceship, some of whom support and help MacKinnie's mission.
  • Mobile Suit Human: Some Watchmaker Moties try to pull this off with a spacesuit and a severed head. Bury spots them through the faceplate and has nightmares for decades as a result.
  • MST: Done in-story in one of the Warworld collections. In one of the framing interludes, a CoDo bureaucrat and a group of ad execs are watching a new commercial promoting ReBulock. The ad execs begin to riff into the very propaganda they help create, bursting out in laughter.
  • Naming Your Colony World: Since a lot of the major colonies are supported by nationalists, its no surprise that there a lot of planets named after people (Churchill, Meiji, Dyan). Other colonies seem to reflect their cultural or religious influences (New Scotland, Haven, Ararat, Covenant). Larry Niven added his typical whimsical naming by having one world named Tabletop, a world of plains. And then there's Sauron.
  • New Neo City: Overkilled in Mote, with almost every other setting mentioned is "New [Insert Nation or City Here]" Averted in later books.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo: the Moties don't have nukes, though not by choice as their system has run out of fissionables. Not to worry though, they found something just as good as nukes.
  • One Product Planet: Certain worlds are known for the commodities or services they provide: Tanith (Important Drug Slave Planet/ Death World), Sauron (Super Soldier planet), Sparta (Tough but free, and later Imperial Capital), Fulson's world (Very cold prison planet that everyone wants to avoid getting sent to), New Aberdeen (Producer of weapons), Meiji and Xanadu (Japanese and Chinese Mercenary Techs), Friedland (German Tanker Mercs), Covenant (Scottish Infantry mercs), and even Motie Prime (The Only Aliens Around Planet).
  • Only Smart People May Pass
  • Passing the Torch: Occurs in Prince of Mercenaries, where Prince Lysander briefly joins Falkenberg's Legion on Tanith. It's at this point that the latter books begin focusing on the events on Sparta than on Falkenberg himself. The clear moment of torch passing is before the climatic mission: Falkenberg comes up with a daring plan to hijack a cargo shuttle by swimming through monster infested swamps and sneaking on board. When Falkenberg says he'll carry out the plan himself, Lysander points out that Falkenberg isn't in the best shape or age for doing something this dangerous. So Lysander gets the mission instead.
  • Penal Colony: The CD treats most poor or undeveloped worlds as dumping grounds for criminals, ethnic minorities, and other "undesirables". In universe, Tainth and Fulson's World are considered the epitome of the trope.
  • Planet of Hats: Many of the human worlds seem to be defined by a single culture. It's justified, since the colonies were founded by nations, religious motivations, nationalist separatists, and idealists. Though BuReloc did toward the end like to go to small backwater colonies and drop ten million violent convicts from Earth's prisons on them to deal with, too (along with nonviolent protesters, wrong-place-wrong-time "dissidents", homeless, and anyone else they could grab to reach their quota).
    • And Moties are a species of hat-wearers, with different castes in which all caste members are bred to perform the same function (engineering castes, warrior castes, even a caste that was, umm...bred as a food source.
  • Population Control: The corrupt future United States implements this, through contraceptives and releasing infertility viruses among the welfare supported "Citizens".
  • Praetorian Guard: During the events on Hadley, Vice President Bradford attempts this. He orders Falkenberg to create a brigade composed of trusted party members, and led by officers loyal to Bradford. It comes to naught, as Falkenberg (being the savvy fellow he is) decides to stop the coup, and uses Bradford's men to take the blunt of fighting.
    • Likewise, Hadley's government has a force of Presidential Guards. However, their loyalty is rather questionable.
  • Prequel in the Lost Age: Falkenberg's Legions.
  • The Political Officer: The Republican volunteers during the Santiago Civil War is lead by one who follows the Western stereotype. The Commissar is more interested in propagating Communism than the well being of his men. Worse, the Officer prevents the volunteers from receiving any proper training.
    • Also seen in Reflex, the story of the battle between the INSS MacArthur and the Union war cruiser Defiant that was cut from Mote for size reasons: the Defiant has a classic, though non-Communist, Commissar type who second-guesses Captain Colvin's decision at every turn and orders his arrest when he surrenders to the MacArthur. Then, when a boarding party comes aboard, he steals their nuke (used to ensure the crew's compliance with the surrender) and demands that the crew resume the battle. They hit him.
  • Private Military Contractors: Falkenberg's Legion, not to mention the dozen or so mercenary groups and hired out planetary armies.
    • All Motie armies are in effect PMCs ruled by a single Master, and are usually employed to achieve some sort of financial gain.
  • Retcon: The CoDominium was supposed to be founded in 1991, the year the Soviet Union collapsed in Real Life. Jerry Pournelle later moved the founding date to the year 2000 and had a military coup reestablish the Soviet Union. Likely done so the author could continue writing sequels to the work which he was working on at the time.
  • Secret Police: The CD Intelligence agencies regulates and suppresses research and development to maintain the status quo. The Kingdom of Haven also has a Secret Police that fits the trope more closely.
  • Schizo-Tech: Justified by a century-long period of Modern Stasis following the creation of Faster-Than-Light Travel, due to every politician in the CoDominium being either an Obstructive Bureaucrat, a Strawman Political or a Well-Intentioned Extremist; the only way all these megalomaniacs could agree not to start World War III was to agree not to develop weapons technology any further, which of course meant not developing anything, and even trashing all the libraries so nobody could build better weapons by MacGyvering. They then proceeded to deport millions of people every year to every marginally habitable world they could find, often with little more than the clothes on their backs. The result is a smorgasbord of Schizo Tech. Casual Interstellar Travel, but no lasers. Hand-held anti-satellite weaponry stored next to bolt-action rifles. Spaceports with horse troughs. Pournelle's 'Verse never actually recovered from the whole mess; a thousand years later, every Space Marine thinks PDAs are state-of-the-art.
  • Science Marches On: more of politics marches on, but a few scientific predictions from the first books are shown to be dated now.
  • Shout-Out: Several:
    • Sparta shares many similarities with Starship Troopers, namely citizenship with the right to vote as an earned privilege.
    • Then there was the little reenactment of the Odessa Steps sequence in The Mercenary, and of the suppression of the Nika ('Victory') riots in Constantinople under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532. David Drake used that same incident in a sci-fi novella, and in an alternate history of that time period.
    • The defensive energy shields for spaceships that start radiating under fire, going through the colors of the spectrum before failing at ultra-violet has to be a Shout-Out to E. E. "Doc" Smith's space operas.
    • The word is still out whether or not Sauron was originally a reference to Tolkien, although the Warworld works play up the reference. The Alderson Drive is a shout out to Dan Alderson, a JPL scientist who designed the drive, carefully defining its capabilities and limitations. Having a real physicist design your Applied Phlebotinum really makes for much harder than usual space opera.
    • The Gripping Hand features references to Pre-Civil War Mormons, who were considered dangerous radicals by the U.S. Government. How dangerous? The government had a third of the U.S. Army watching them, making sure they didn't create a separate nation.
    • The motto of the CoDominium Armed Forces is "Peace is Our Profession", the same as the USAF's Strategic Air Command.
  • Similar Squad: In KDS, MacKinnie and his sergeant Hal Stark are two unemployed mercenaries when the book starts. On Makassar, they meet up a similar pair of mercs, a Knight and his trusted sergeant. Going meta, this is how Pournelle first introduced Col. Falkenberg and Sergeant Calvin: as out-of-work mercs.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Calvin Whitlock
  • Space Marine: The CD Marines and later the Imperial Marines. The CD Marines subvert the trope, as they're often under equipped, lack power armor, and are armed with bolt-action rifles or whatever local industry can support.
  • Staged Populist Uprising: Go Tell The Spartans, Senator Bronson of earth tries to undermine the too independent government of Sparta by sending in supplies and advisers to organize the convict underclass into an army. It backfires as in the process of cracking down on the rebellions the Spartan government expels the CoDominium garrison and starts on the path to becoming the Empire.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Especially in the Falkenberg's Legion books, but pretty much the standard position in Pournelle's work. It gets a little better in later books, but not much.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: During the CD period, the technological stasis leave aircraft unable to cope with Anti-air weapons or Electronic countermeasures. As a result, Aircraft are gone from the battlefield. The lack of industry on Colony worlds results in difficultly of building tanks or artillery. As a result, colonial warfare is dominated by Infantry, artillery is rare and valuable, and a dozen or so tanks can win a war.
    • Also, the CoDominium Marines are divided into three branches: Fleet (Elites), Garrison (Security), and Line infantry. Indigenous partisans also play a vital role in several of the books.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: In the essay Building the Mote in God's Eye", Niven and Pournelle actually choose the ship type of the INSS MacArthur. It was too big to be a Destroyer (which would be expendable and deployed only in a flotilla), and too small to be a Battleship. It had wings and scoops (good for getting fuel from gas giants), and thus can go on independent missions, which Crusiers and Battlecruisers are designed for.
  • Standard Sci Fi History: Follows the template closely, except alien contact occurs during the Second Empire stage. In most SF works, Alien Contact typically occurs relatively early or not at all.
    • Pournelle had another collection High Justice, set during the Exploration of Colonization of Space. Likely thinking of this trope, the publishers billed it as a prequel to the CoDominium series. Pournelle disagreed.
  • Strawman Political: See Author Filibuster above.
  • Super Soldier: Sauron's hat. Their soldiers are genetically engineered to be super soldiers, who easily outmatch most non-Sauron infantry, though Frystaaters are said to be sufficiently tough and crazy to be able to give them a run for their money. Sauron Cyborgs are considered to be even more powerful than regular Sauron forces. The Motie Warrior caste also fit the trope.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: Happens to MacKinnie, who after being defeated by the Imperials is allowed to go into retirement and keep his pension. However, he's immediately press ganged into service after accidentally overhearing a vital piece of information that starts the plot.
  • Terraform: Generally limited to altering pre-existing ecologies, with varying degrees of success. New Cal is an example of a world needing full Terraforming.
  • Technology Levels: Plays a major plot point in King David's Spaceship. It turns out the Second Empire of Man admits planets with different levels of autonomy. Those who have developed Space Flight technology are allowed some say in their affairs, while more primitive worlds become colonies.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The basic attitude of the restored Empire Of Man: Mankind will be united and at peace under our rule, through diplomacy if possible, by conquest where necessary, and the only alternative to subjugation is extermination.
    • The basis of the original Empire of Man as well, though not as strongly (or nastily) enforced.
  • Vicious Cycle
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Grand Senator Bronson. Determined to dominate the CoDominium and whatever arises after it tears itself apart as well as to utterly destroy all he regards as his enemies, and a very evil man, he is nevertheless shown to hate the hell that the CoDominium has created, and is working towards the same end as his enemies: the survival of human civilization. Pournelle's Author Avatar spells this out in Prince of Sparta.
    • On the heroic side, there is John Grant, Director of the CIA who, in Mercenary, to keep the CoDominium (and with it, human civilization) alive as long as possible, destroys the campaign of presidential candidate Harvey Bertram (whose victory would, he believes, lead to World War III), by framing some of his supporters for giving nuclear weapons to Japanese nationalists. He then exiles his daughter offworld to cover up his actions.
    • From the same book, U.S. presidential candidates Harmon and Harvery Bertram. Harmon is a rabid right-winger who sees the CoDominium as making the United States a partner in Communist oppression and wants to pull the U.S. out, risk of nuclear war be damned, emphasizes the "extremist" part. Harvey Bertram, a libertarian idealist who wants to restore the liberties that participation in the CoDominium cost the United States, meanwhile, emphasizes the "well intentioned" part. Victory by either man would lead to World War III.
    • In "King David's Spaceship", the whole Second Empire is viewed this way, from the POV of a conquered planet.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Donkeys and pack-mules along with human porters are used to move goods around on colonized planets. Justified in that the Co Dominium made sure it was set up like this.
    • Likewise, the Runner, Farmer and Engineer caste on Mote Prime. Engineers in particular are pretty much treated like portable autopilots. Justified in that the Moties bomb themselves back to the Stone Age every five generations or so, are aware of the fact, and keep the old methods around as preparation for the next time.
  • World War III: the Great Patriotic Wars
  • World Building:
  • Xanatos Gambit: Invoked by the Imperial Trading Association. Tricking a group of imperial clergymen to go to Makassar, the merchants hoped the locals would slaughter them. The Navy would then have to retaliate, and the Traders would profit from the whole mess.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: A lot of the "Outies" during the Imperial period see themselves this way. Unfortunately, the resistance is often guilty of far worse attrocities than the Empire.