by Max Barry

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Heliopolitical Glossary

Aphrodite: The second planet in the solar system - terrestrial (hot, poison atmosphere)
Antimatter (AM, Alfa Mike): Matter (stuff) with reverse charge on its component subatomic particles. AM annihilation with normal matter has >99% mass-to-energy conversion efficiency rate (by comparison, nuclear fission has about 34% efficiency). Still extraordinarily expensive to manufacture; necessary containment systems continue to render it useless as a terrorist or sabotage weapon. Subject of fairly intense research to cheapen its production sufficiently to revolutionize space propulsion. Most major powers have a strategic store of the stuff "just in case"
Ares: The fourth planet in the solar system - terrestrial. Independent government conducting humanity's first large-scale terraforming effort. Bad blood with some Earthly governments following expulsion of colonists who'd inconveniently settled in comet bombardment zones; some such families have retained surnames like Tharsis, Marineris, Planitia, et al in remembrance
Astraea: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Belt ("the belt"): Main Asteroid Belt. Uncapitalized, denotes vast gap between orbits of Ares and Jove in which vast majority of asteroids are found. Capitalized, denotes Belt Federation (q.v.)
Belt Federation ("The Belt"): International alliance of asteroidal governments. Primary agenda is economic independence from Urrth corporations, trade on fairer terms. Very loosely allied with SL and Brasilistan, which are the only two Urrthly governments to have renounced sovereign imperial and colonial rights in the main belt. Significant minority of Belters also believe the entire Belt should be a sovereign nation, with no military or political presence of any Urrthly powers; this Independence Party has been prevented from taking power largely due to infighting among its ad-hoc mixture of hardline Belter irredentists, liberal reformers, and leftist revolutionaries
Ceres: Settled asteroid. Capital of the Belt Federation. Largest asteroid in the Solar System, largest trade hub outside of Urrth orbit
Cronos: The sixth planet in the solar system - gas giant with major ring system
Deimos: Moon of Ares. Claimed by Arean government. Minor trade hub, but growing since Phoboan independence
Euphrosyne: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Europan Unity (EU): Federal government of states of Europ. As globalization changed the face of the world in the 20th and 21st centuries, nations in Europ found they had more in common with each other than with the rest of the world, either their former imperial territories or those areas never colonized. At the dawn of the 22nd century, the EU formally took central executive power over its member states
Gravity ("G"): It makes the world go round, literally. Hi-G or robusty (q.v.) people such as Urrthborn and those who had quality childhood gravity medicine generally have more opportunities and are more physically capable than those without. Access to hi-G real estate, centrifuge time, genetic medicine, and nutritional & hormone supplements can often determine social class and economic power. One of the challenges facing the Belt Federation is how to more equitably distribute this necessity of life
Han, Celestial: Space-based government of People's Shining Han Republic. Separate bureaucracies for C. vs T. Han are a propaganda tool to encourage faith in government among the Han Planetary Diaspora. Dire warnings about the East/West partition of the Romish Imperium have been ignored and, so far, apparently rightly so.
Han, Terrestrial: Ground-based government of the People's Shining Han Republic
Hebe: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Hermes: The first planet in the solar system - terrestrial. Site of several pilot projects for giant mobile refinery/smelting colonies ("sled cities" - q.v.) which roll unceasingly across the night side of the planet, picking up stockpiled ore from underground mines and dropping off supplies in return. Unpleasant penal/mining colonies maintained here by Rossiya, Brasilistan, C. Han; other nations' efforts are mostly profit-based and have better, if not posh, working conditions
Hygeia: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
ICRB: International Colonial Review Board. Body governing disputes between settlements and commercial operations on non-Urrth planetary bodies, moons, and non-Federation asteroids ("objects"). Registrar of commercial and residential claims on dependent objects
Ifriqiyan Federation: Loose alliance of states on the continent of Ifriqiyah. Formal capitals are Lagos, Kairo, and Harare, but with the construction of the nearby Nakuru Space Elevator, Nairobi has outstripped all of them in importance for much of the last century. Governing structure most similar to EU before Ascension (i.e. mid-late 21st century EU, after the Britannian Settlement)
Interamnia: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
IOTA: International Orbital Traffic Authority. Body governing rights to Urrth orbital paths, space elevator construction and maintenance, and civilian launch and reentry scheduling. Gradually (and quietly) gaining massive power due to its monopoly over planetary transitions; some of its most vehement partisans and detractors have dubbed it the "Spacing Guild"
Irene: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Iris: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Jove: The fifth (and largest) planet in the solar system - gas giant. Many commercially useful satellites
LaGrange Point ("L Point"): Gravitationally neutral locale in reference to an object orbiting its primary. Multiple uses, most often has accumulation of objects. Multiple habitats have been constructed at L Points throughout the solar system, the most prominent ones being Shendong Station (Urrth L4), Antipode (Urrth L3) and Mehtopia (Jove L1)
Luna: Sole moon of Urrth. OSST governance. The neutral ground, crossroads, and cultural & economic hub of the solar system. Many of its settlements have names hearkening to historic world-important metropoles such as Constantinople, Singapore, and Amsterdam. If you need to arrange the unloading of a bargeful of exotic ores or meet a Belter agitator for an unofficial drink or pick up a disguised thumb drive from a corporate spy, you're likely doing it here, as everyone from the most ZGL-gao-zale Belter to the most privileged 'roided-up Urrther can move about comfortably
Melpomene: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Metis: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Murrkin Holy Republic (MHR): One of two major powers on the North Murrkin continent of Urrth. Theocratic capitalist republic with a serious love-hate relationship with SL. Ideologically opposed to SL, but mostly open borders; the two peoples squabble and argue all the time yet have binding political and literal familial ties across the (very hazy) border. Still reeling from Lyrical independence, but starting to assert itself on international stage once more
Object: Any natural body that is not Urrth
Ouranos: The seventh planet in the solar system - gas giant
OSST: Outer Space Settlement Treaty. Allows for local rule in off-Urrth settlements, forbids claims of sovereignty over planetary bodies by Urrth governments. Disputes between settlements are to be resolved by ICRB
Pallas: Major asteroid. Largest asteroid under ICRB control. Multiple Urrth powers maintain major bases here. Much of the independent population is agitating for complete independence and Belt Federation membership; Rossiyan, Han, and Murrkin Holy Republic influence over ICRB has prevented this. Piecemeal crackdowns in progress in wake of Phoboan independence; Federation and (quietly) SL influence is feeding the flames. Time will tell how it all shakes out
Phobos: Moon af Ares. Controversial, lightly bloody revolution currently settling down. Has applied for membership in Belt Federation. Major trade hub, business starting to resume
Poseidon: The eighth planet in the solar system - gas giant
Primary: Central object of an orbital system. Jove is the primary of Callisto, the Sun is the primary of the planets and asteroids.
Psyche: Inhabited asteroid. Associate membership in Belt Federation. Partly occupied by SL as military R/D for some decades; this presence recently formally accepted by special treaty with Belt Federation; a significant fraction of Belters still resent this
Robusty/Trofi: ZGL (q.v.) terminology. Robusty is roughly "strong, able to work in high-G, gravitationally privileged." Trofi is the opposite, often with connotations of poverty or a ghetto upbringing. Belter socialism has been far more resistant to Stalinist/Maoist thinking than Urrthly versions due to the obvious biological need for human beings to work and live in widely varying G-fields. Class warfare is only useful insofar as it achieves that goal, and exterminating or dispossessing the robusty per se will accomplish only another cycle of oppression and enslavement
Rossiya: Technically the Russian Space Empire. The War of the Russian Succession ended in defeat for the SL-supported Makhnovist Faction when the Neo-Bolsheviks signed a surprise treaty with the EU-aligned Romanov Dynastic Army. The resulting compromise government features a Tsar with legislative veto power, a Politburo with supreme executive power, and a diminutive Duma (parliament). The Tsar must clear his or her heir with the Politburo, and may either propose or veto laws, but may not enact them. The Duma may propose laws, but can enact them only with consent of the Tsar. The Duma, the Politburo, and the Tsar each have their own independent secret police agency. This system is touted as combining the best features of the Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet eras of Russian government. At the very least, the ability of any branch of government to disappear or gulag the most notable of any other branch's patrons and hangers-on has kept corruption to a minimum not seen since the late 1950s.
Sierra Lyricalia (SL): The other major power on the North Murrkin continent. Claims no remaining animus toward MHR; its people's general conduct suggests otherwise, despite the remaining strands of indivisability. "It's complicated." SL is the most Belt-friendly of Urrthly powers, and has enjoyed correspondingly greater returns for its space presence
Sled city: On Hermes, a mobile colony complete with spaceport and all necessities of permanent settlement, always including ore refineries, to allow exploitation of Hermetic mineral wealth without constant and unsustainable exposure to solar radiation. A sled city travels a regular route, picking up raw ore from underground mining operations and dropping off equipment, organics and food supplies, and other sundries
SOSARS: SWOPS Outer System Access & Return Service - nascent network of outer system mirrors allowing SWOPS lasers to boost lightsail craft heading insystem
SWOPS: System-Wide Optical Propulsion Service - growing network of solar-powered lasers which boost lightsail craft heading outsystem. IOTA-managed public-private partnership. Laser boosting stations are constructed in solar orbit, just outside Hermes orbital distance. Some paranoids worry about these stations being used to control the entire system by shooting down any resisting ship; but at the distances involved, this is physically impossible. Even the most efficiently-collimated laser beam loses its destructive power fairly quickly, and it is only by combining multiple beams that the system is useful for propelling lightsail craft
Thalia: Settled asteroid. Member of the Belt Federation
Urrth: The third planet in the solar system. Cradle of humanity and only known home of naturally-occurring organic life. Major spacefaring powers are Sierra Lyricalia, Han, Brasilistan, the Europan Unity, Hindustan, and Rossiya. Smaller powers maintain manned Urrth orbital facilities: MHR, Ifriqiyan Federation, Cannadian Affiliation, Ostrahlia, Mejico, Greater Persia, several others. Nearly every nation on Urrth has at least one unofficially loyal Lunar settlement, with diplomatic presence; major powers maintain military bases as well.
Vesta: Major asteroid. Independent government but with extremely close ties to Rossiya. Belt Federation overtures have been largely rejected
ZGL (VZG, VCG, G0V, 0GL, etc.): Zero-gravity life. Cultural affinity among Belters, especially among the trofi. Sometimes rendered "GZ" - a double entendre referring to the Chinese gǎo zále ("f***ed up")