Some are almost rabidly isolationist; it is not uncommon for Liaden to refer to those of other races as "it" likening them to animals. Several characters are part- or even half-Terran: this does not endear them to the isolationists. Liaden society is clan-based, each Clan being made up of one or more families "lines".
The Head of a Clan is the "Delm", the head of a line is the "Thodelm"; either might be male or female as circumstances dictate.
Liaden Clans do not generally allow lifemating. Instead, Liaden's practice contract marriages, where two individuals from different clans are ordered, or allowed, by their Delms to create a progeny for one of the two clans. This marriage is over when the terms of the contract are fulfilled. Most members of the clan must produce at least one progeny to replace them.
Lifemating is when two individuals become exclusively bound to one and other. This can happen rarely by order of a Delm, or this can happen by the physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding of two individuals with dramliza abilities regardless of the depth of those abilities. Some Liaden are trained as explorers: the Scouts.
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They are regarded with distaste by the more isolationist within Liaden society. Most of the stories thus far centre on members of Clan Korval, made up of the yos'Phelium and yos'Galan lines. Scouts also appear often. Home planet known as "Terra". As remarked above, there is a brief reference to the possibility that this planet is possibly the fourth of that name. From cultural references, familiar English names, and references to regional linguistic dialects that appear in the core books, it seems likely that this Terra is nonetheless our own Earth.
There appears to be some resentment that the "younger" races usually Liaden hold more power in the realm of shipping and commerce than Terra; there is reference to at least one political party involved in less-than-legal operations. The Juntavas are an organized-crime "clan" who appear in various guises, sometimes as antagonists, sometimes as allies of the main characters. Unlike the real-world mafia, the Juntavas are apparently able to act as an unopposed organized government in their own right, to the point of having appointed officials called Sector Judges who administer justice within their appointed jurisdictions.
The Juntavas are usually not as oppressive as they might be, because they have learned that too much of that sort of thing is "bad for business. A number of other planets are known to have non-Liaden human inhabitants, presumably of the Terran strain. Some of these worlds, such as Surebleak and Delgado, were settled by Terrans from this universe's Terra. Others, such as Sintia, were settled by ships from the same Crystal Dragon -era colonization waves as Liad and Terra. Some of these colony worlds, such as Vandar, have backslid to pre-spaceflight technology levels.
These worlds have been considered interdicted by the Liaden Scout Corps, with external contact forbidden in order to permit their societies to develop without interference.
As of "Prodigal Son," post- I Dare , there are signs that this policy may be changing. Home planet unknown at this time.
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Usually much larger than the Terran norm, they are a war-like people who live for conquest. They are almost universally prone to thinking of the other human races as animals. References in Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon suggest that the Yxtrang are the descendants of a group of "X Strain" and "Y Strain" genetically-engineered soldiers who served in a platoon with Jela and accompanied the human migration to the new universe. Some of them venerate Jela an "M Strain" for his skills and deeds as a warrior. It is not known whether they can interbreed with Liadens or Terrans, though given their common genetic origin there is no reason why they should not be able to; the likely lifespan of such offspring is short, not for merely biological reasons.
These non-humans are even larger than Yxtrang and very long-lived; they appear much like turtles walking upright, hence the name. The length of their names are directly proportional to how old they are and their accomplishments: Edger's full name apparently takes some hours to recite. They are usually slow to act but are very dangerous when angered. Clutch turtles travel in starships made from hollowed-out asteroids using an electron substitution drive that can have hallucinogenic effects on the human nervous system.
They are able to command forces of great destructive or healing potential by singing. Clutch turtles are greatly feared and avoided by the Yxtrang as the result of a resounding defeat in battle many years prior to the timeframe of the story. The Clutch turtles encountered in the "Agent of Change" sequence make up a "market research" team on behalf of their clan, who are known for manufacturing crystalline blades of extreme sharpness and durability by growing them in caves over a timespan of decades.
There are many cats which appear in the stories, usually by name, often taking an active part in the proceedings. Unlike ordinary housecats, these cats often display paranormal abilities, as well as considerable intelligence. Furred quadrupedal mammal with a burrowing habit; soft dense coat, ranging in color from grey, brown, black, orange, white and mixed.
Fearless and lively disposition, natural empath. Adapts well to domestication. Banned on certain worlds. Check port rules before importing. The race formally known as Ssussdriads. An unusual character is Jelaza Kazone a term that has been translated as "Jela's Promise," "Jela's Contract," or "Jela's Dream," among other variants and the seedlings thereof of which only two have thus far appeared in narrative. This very large tree lives in the grounds of Clan Korval's primary residence also called Jelaza Kazone and is in the habit of communicating its likes and dislikes to senior members of that clan; it has particularly been noted to have an interest in the likely parents of future children of the Clan.
As a young soldier, Jela found the tree on a desert planet on which his ship had crashed. Though barely a stunted seedling and the last member of a dying race, the tree was by itself able to repel invasion of the planet by the enemy Sheriekas. As an act of trust, the tree gave its only seed pod to feed the starving Jela. When Jela's rescue came, he refused to leave the tree behind. The tree proved to be intelligent, and able to communicate via mental images.
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It also had the ability to manipulate the chemistry of its seed pods to create useful pharmaceutical compounds. Both these powers proved useful as Jela and Cantra searched for information necessary for mankind to escape its collapsing universe. The name Jelaza Kazone refers to the promise Cantra yos'Phelium made to Jela, who knew he was destined to die before the migration could be complete, to see the tree through to safety on the new human homeworld. Clan Korval holds itself the guardian of this promise in perpetuity, and every trading vessel of Korval carries a seed of the tree somewhere on board, to ensure the survival of its race.
A great deal of the Liaden culture centers on melant'i. Part of this concept is roughly analogous to personal honor or good manners: a person of impeccable melant'i will behave in a certain way, in a given situation.
It is also used to distinguish between a person's different roles in life. If one is speaking to a shipmate in one's role as an officer of the ship, one uses a particular mode to cue the shipmate as to the formality of the situation, and is said to be expressing one's melant'i as that officer.
If, on the other hand, one is speaking to the same shipmate, but in the role of daughter, one uses a different mode and is expressing the melant'i as a family member. Different levels of formality, and actions, will be appropriate in each case. Human ships are able to travel quickly between planets by "jumping"; different technologies exist but are all fairly quick; journey durations are comparable to swift sea-travel here on Earth. Only the Clutch Turtles use a different method, with predictably idiosyncratic side-effects of which few details are available.
Propulsion and artificial gravity is provided by Struven Surface Units which Theo describes as having a "sense of presence. From The Gathering Edge : . A ship in the Jump configuration preferred by most starfaring groups neither comes nor goes. If the Jump is not calculated properly, the ship stays where it is within the frame of previous motions. The goal is to achieve an energy level meant to match that of a "place"—a star system, a nebula, a rendezvous point—where the matched energy levels permit the ship to reappear in normal space.
Transferring from place to place in this way requires minimal energy once the Struven units stress the base ship-and-energy packet into a unit; space rearranges itself around the packet until the ship emerges—or occasionally fails to emerge—at the target location. Ships range from single-person courier, small trade craft, private ships, long-loop, and family trade ships depreciated in modern shipping to large trade ships often carrying a Master Trader , bulk cargo ships, and large passenger liners.
There are of course many specialty craft for station maintenance, and other utilitarian functions. In this era of relative peace, there is little mention of purpose-built military ships, except for the battleships of the warlike Yxtrang though mercenary companies have troop ships and various support ships. Planetary governments may have small fleets of fighter craft, for defensive purposes, that operate both in air and near space.
It is not uncommon, however, for merchant ships to carry weaponry to defend themselves from pirates and brigands. Some large trade ships, such as Korval's Dutiful Passage , have incorporated enough weaponry to be considered full battleships. Pilots are shown deference in the Liaden Universe, both in Terran and Liaden space. Pilots are addressed as "Pilot" as an honorific title.
Pilots must have superior reflexes, coordination, and spatial orientation. Pilots need proficiency in higher mathematics to be able to quickly and accurately solve equations in trajectory, orbital mechanics, and jump coordinates to many decimal places ; one does not place one's life and one's crew or passengers in peril should computer navigation fail. A pilot needs to be able to defend herself in the low port or away from civilization, thus trains in self-defense and personal weaponry. The Pilot is responsible for the ship and passengers; the Co-pilot is responsible for the pilot and ship.
Bechimo adds, "the ship is responsible for pilot and crew. The co-pilot, or acting co-pilot, "sits Second". Larger ships may have a third board, communications officer, executive officer, etc.