Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In Death Ground
The novel is set in a distant future. Following the accidental discovery of hyperspace travel via wormholes, humanity has expanded through space into a Terran Federation consisting of Core Worlds like Earth and Alpha Centauri, corporate worlds like Galloway's Star, and fringe worlds colonized by small groups of like-minded people seeking to preserve ethnic or cultural identities from getting lost in cosmopolitan sameness. (Tensions exist between the three groups of worlds, and are explored in the sequel, although published before any in the series, novel "Insurrection".) Following a series of four interstellar wars with different species (warlike feline Orions and their centauroid Gorm associates, birdlike Ophiuchi, genocidal Rigelians, and a weird Theban Jihad explored in prequel novel "Crusade"), humanity has experienced a seventy-year "vacation from history".
A survey ship accidentally encounters starships from a hive-like Arachnid species referred to universally as the Bugs. (It is clearly inspired by the arachnids in Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers.) All attempts at communication fail, the Bugs seek battle to the death while utterly indifferent to individual survival (suicide tactics being standard battle doctrine for them), and indeed follow the ship detached to send back word and embark on a campaign of conquest and annihilation throughout Terran (and later Orion) space. Cameras left behind reveal that the Bugs regard other sentient life forms as mere food sources, and indeed prefer to eat their prey alive.
The alternative being "equal opportunity genocide", Terrans, Orion, Gorm, and Ophiuchi form a military alliance, with Terrans and Orions as the senior partners. The novel features long and very detailed space and land battle sequences, detailed discussions of tactical doctrine and the weapon systems development race between Alliance and Bugs, and the development of interpersonal relations between military people of different background or even species.
It is also important to note that the universe and novels are based on a wargame Starfire, which David Weber has helped develop in the past. Starfire has been in existence since 1976.
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