Berserkers - The berserkers:
the physical embodiment of death. They are massive, intelligent
robotic space fortresses, programmed to destroy all life. Left
over from an ancient war between two living races, they have
reproduced and improved themselves, sweeping across the Galaxy
in search of life to destroy. Though the archetypal form of
the Berserker is the giant space hulk, they have come in a
variety of shapes and sizes, never ceasing their quest for
new and better ways to destroy life, and to wipe out Solarian
humanity in particular. The name Berserker is derived from
the unpredictability of the machines. At their core is an element
of randomness based on radioactive decay.
Humanity - this term
refers to all sentient life in the Galaxy. So homo sapiens
are referred to as "Earth-descended humans" or "Solarians." In
the timeframe of the Berserker books, homo sapiens and the
Carmpan seem to be the only two active and prominent instances
of humanity in the Galaxy, though several less influential
strains of humanity are encountered here and there, and there
were certainly more in the past...
Goodlife - a term coined
by the Berserkers, referring to a lifeform (perhaps only refers
to Earth-descended humans) that serves the cause of the Berserkers.
Originated in the story "Goodlife" in the original Berserker collection.
Goodlife may be born or tortured into servitude, but there
also exist cults of goodlife who choose to work for the Berserkers
of their own free will, often worshipping them as well.
Badlife - refers to life
that actively resists eradication.
Elder Races - almost
nothing is known about these shadowy branches of humanity.
It is not even clear from any of the books/stories whether
or not Solarians have had any contact with them at all, though
it is implied that any such contact would likely be mediated
by the Carmpan. It is unknown whether any of them still exist
outside of the center of the Galaxy. In Berserker Wars we
learn that some of them may have sacrificed worlds and lives
to slow the advance of the Berserkers in order to give Solarians
more time for development. We also learn that some of them
may be up to billions of years old and could possibly have
survived a previous, independent Berserker peril.
Carmpan - Earth-descended
humanity's only real ally in the struggle against the Berserkers.
Little is known or understood about them, except that their
way of thinking is almost completely alien. They are somehow
incapable of the kind of active resistance that Earth-descended
humans are, but they have the ability to see into the minds
of other living beings and in some cases to look past time.
They also seem to have contact with very elusive and mysterious
older races of humanity, the Elder Races. Their bodies are
described as squarish and even machine-like, and they often
appear networked with machinery and other lifeforms. They apparently
have two sexes, though there is no obvious difference in appearance
between them. A few specific Carmpan occupations have become
apparent, including: Historian, Adventurer, Prophet of Probability,
and Diplomat (I'm not sure about that last one).
Builders - This ancient
warlike race created the Berserkers apparently as an act of
desperation in a war against the Red Race, their most powerful
adversary. The Berserkers wiped out the Red Race and continued
on to apparently eradicate their creators, leaving no trace
of the Builders. It is believed that the Builders probably
exterminated several other races of humanity before their war
against the Red Race. Snippets of film footage of the Builders
have been retrieved from both the Berserkers and the Carmpan.
The Builders were humanoids with one large eye, had two sexes,
and communicated via soundwaves, though their language has
never been recorded. In Berserker Kill we discover
that, incredibly, some Builders have survived. One living Builder
crews a massive Berserker-looking ark ship filled with Builder
embryos. This ship has remained hidden in the Mavronari nebula
for ages, awaiting an opportunity to obtain the equipment needed
for restoring the race. Having got that equipment from a ship
with a similar payload of Solarian embryos, the Builder and
its new Solarian companions set forth to found a new world
within the nebula. The aid of such a skilled and once-powerful
is sure to help the fight against the Berserkers once its population
The Red Race - The race
on which the Builders unleashed the Berserkers. Very little
is known of them, though they must have been very powerful
adversaries to drive the Builders to create the Berserkers.
From bits of footage even rarer than those of the Builders,
the Red Race appeared to have been short and very stocky. And
red. One trace of this race and its struggle against the Builders/Berserkers
remains: Qwib-Qwib, the anti-Berserker Berserker. The last
Qwib-Qwib was miraculously discovered and restored by a Solarian
in Berserker Base and may well be reproducing itself.
Space Force - the official interstellar military
organization of Solarian humanity. Plays more of a role in the
later Berserker books (as it probably didn't exist earlier on).
Templars - a sort of brother/sisterhood devoted
to fighting Berserkers. They are the other main military-like
presence in Solarian space, beside the Space Force. There is
something of a rivalry between the Templars and the Space Force,
but they are both definitely on the same side. Templars tend
to be quite zealous about their struggle against the Berserkers,
especially loathing Goodlife. Many Templars are devoted to a
religion of some sort.
Dardanians - A mysterious sect of Solarian
humans who built the fortress at the Templar Radiant, long before
Berserkers ever arrived in Solarian space.
Directors - Master Berserker computers which
apparently direct operations of Berserkers across the Galaxy.
Conjecture: they probably only concern themselves with grand-scale
tactics or missions of extreme importance, because many Berserkers
seem to be operating independently and randomly. The Directors
are only ever mentioned or seen in Berserker Man as
I recall. No one of them was any more important than the others,
and they all had the same capabilities. They were stationed outside
the Taj at the Core and had devised the creation of Michel Geulincx
as a grand scheme. One of them attempted to reach the center
of the Taj and was apparently destroyed.
Nebulons - (Berserker Blue Death)
A sentient race of ethereal beings which lives among the Milkpail
Nebula. They helped to defeat the Berserker Leviathan.
'Reen - (Berserker Base) A "stocky,
carnivorous, mammalian sentient species" living on Almira
with humans who mostly overlook them. They hunt using the Calling,
a group ritual involving an effigy and chanting and culminating
in the halting of the lifeforce of the prey via some sort of
communal telekinesis. The 'Reen were pressed into service to
help fight a Berserker against which they used the Calling.
Ilyans - (Berserker Base) A sentient
race of beings on the world Ilya. Their technology is not very
advanced and their society is mostly pastoral. They are described
as short humanoids with a round head, large eyes, and grey plumage
somewhere between feathers and fur.
Other Races of Humanity (living or dead)? -
see the RUMINATIONS page.
Noteworthy Individuals, and those
appearing in more than one book/story
Frank Marcus - (Berserker Man, Berserker
Kill) Probably Solarian humanity's greatest pilot, ever.
Also one of the most seasoned and successful veterans of Berserker
encounters. Nothing seems to slow this guy down, including
getting a majority of his physical body blasted away by Berserkers.
He now chooses to exist in what have come to be called "Marcus
boxes:" three compartments on wheels which house his brain
and other remaining body parts (humanoid replacement bodies
are available, but he's sticking with boxes). He also turned
out to be the father of Michel Geulincx.
Johann Karlsen - ("Stone Place," "Masque
of the Red Shift," and "Face of the Deep" in Berserker and
a few other collections; also ≈Berserker's Planet,
and ≈Berserker Man) Solarian humanity's most prominent
and steadfast hero in the war against the Berserkers, also a
religious man. He lead the battle which nearly wiped out the
Berserkers at Stone Place, and is probably the single individual
that's highest on the Berserkers' hit list. Despite the grim
ending to the Prophecy of Probability for him, his personal story
after "Face of the Deep" is never much elaborated,
but there is evidence that he continued to lead successful battles
against the Berserkers for a long time.
Felipe Nogara - Johann Karlsen's nefarious
Hemphill - ("Goodlife," "Stone
Place," "In the Temple of Mars") Johann Karlsen's
cold-eyed righthand man and fellow Berserker war veteran. He
actually discovered the first known instance of goodlife.
Mitchell Spain - ("Stone Place," "In
the Temple of Mars") A poet-turned-warrior.
Harry Silver - (Shiva in Steel, Berserker's
Star) A talented, wry, no-nonsense pilot (with a penchant
for ancient poetry) whose most prized possession/companion
is his ship, the Witch of Endor. Trouble seems to follow this
guy wherever he goes, and that includes Berserkers. He helped
win the battle against Shiva and its minions on Hyperborea,
and helped thwart the destruction of hundreds of inhabited
worlds in Berserker's Star. His one-time partner in
smuggling, Becky Sharp, is also his serious love interest.
After the events in Berserker's Star he seems likely
to settle down on the world Esmerelda with Becky.
Becky Sharp - (Shiva in Steel, Berserker's
Star) One-time smuggler with Harry Silver. After a stint
on Good Intentions serving under Emperor Julius she rejoins
Harry. She's not present for the action in Berserker's
Star as she's off on Esmerelda, giving birth to their
Michel Geulincx - (Berserker Man)
This young man, an artistic prodigy on the world of Alpine, was
selected to use Solarian humanity's most advanced weapon ever,
Lancelot. His use of the weapon led to a transformation in which
he seemed to merge with the non-life Lancelot. His odd birth
was in fact engineered by the Berserkers, in an attempt to create
a living weapon they could use, but more importantly to somehow
determine whether or not the Taj was alive so they could know
if it was to be destroyed. His odyssey eventually brought him
to the Taj, where he was conceived and where he then became the
avatar of Solarian humanity and learned the secrets of the Universe.
This may well have been the greatest turning point in the Berserker
war, as implied by the 3rd Historian's records (Berserker
3rd Historian - the most famous of all Carmpan.
He essentially narrated Berserker and The Ultimate
Enemy. Most of what Solarian humanity learned form the Carmpan
was from long-distance transmissions sent by the 3rd Historian. In Berserker
Wars we read the report of a Solarian archivist on an expedition
to the private archive of the 3rd Historian. The report reveals
the 3rd Historian's keen interest in the following questions:
are there different Berserkers in other galaxies? If so, will
the life in those galaxies be able to fight them (with something
like Solarian humanity)? Finally, has there been a prior Berserker
scourge in our own galaxy, independent of the current Berserkers?
From indications in Berserker Man and Berserker
Wars, the 3rd Historian probably now currently resides in
the Taj, possibly as the representative of his race.
4th Adventurer - (Berserker Blue Death,
Berserker Kill) The individual who held this occupation
was a true anomaly among Carmpan. Whereas the entire Carmpan
race is somehow unable to participate in direct combat, the
4th Adventurer personally accompanied Solarians in particularly
important missions against Berserkers and actively participated.
The 4th Adventurer was instrumental in making contact with
the Nebulons in the Milkpail Nebula and in the destruction
of the notorious Berserker, Leviathan (both in Berserker
Blue Death). Unfortunately, he/she (?) was killed in Berserker
Greta Thamar - ("Some Event at the Templar
Radiant" in The Ultimate Enemy and Berserker
Wars, and Berserker Throne) An inquisitive young
dancer who inadvertently got mixed up with a Berserker debacle
at the Templar Radiant. Her mind got jumbled by the authorities,
trying to extract information that wasn't there, but she lived
for several hundred more years and was apparently still working
in the same club when the Berserkers again attacked the Radiant
with the naïve help of Prince Harivarman.
Qwibbian Qwibbian Kel - (Berserker Base)
An anti-Berserker Berserker; its likes were created by the Red
Race as a final act of desperation before they were wiped out
by the Berserkers. Miraculously, the last one in existence was
found intact and repaired by Dr. Juna Bayel, a Knowledge Systems
Hilary Gage - (Berserker Base) an
Earth-descended human who volunteered to have his mind instantiated
in a machine, then struggled through artistic creation to prove
that he was still human. He became instrumental in the famous
rescue of some Solarians and Carmpan from a Berserker base. He
at one point met Frank Marcus, who maintains that gage doesn't
qualify as human.
Christopher Havot - (Berserker Kill, Shiva
in Steel) Not his real name. A smooth sociopath and a
scrupulous killer. Fighting Berserkers proves to be entertaining
for him when they get in his way, so at least he isn't Goodlife.
Shiva - (Shiva in Steel) A particulary
intelligent Berserker. It is left unclear as to whether it is
still functional at the end of the book, but even if it were,
it has no way to move about on its own.
The Co-ordinator - (Berserker Man)
A special Berserker sent on a mission to capture Michel Geulincx.
Leviathan - (Berserker Blue Death)
A terribly menacing Berserker which ravaged worlds in the Milkpail
Nebula. It is eventually destroyed by the obsessed Niles Domingo
with an assist from his crew (which included the Carmpan 4th
Adventurer) and the Nebulons.
Individuals appearing in only one
Thomas the Grabber - (Berserker's Planet)
A burly yet swift man with a unique weapon: a steel-armored spear.
He is steady and intrepoid. He quickly becomes a frontrunner
in the tournament of Thorun, and ultimately defeats his last
competitor only to face the god, Thorun, himself in combat! But
Thorun turns out to be nothing but a Berserker robot, which Thomas
defeats with the help of the presumed-dead Giles the Treacherous.
Thomas is thereafter revered as a god.
Lily Gunnlod - (Berserker's Star)
An energetic and perseverant young woman who travels across a
score of systems in search of her wayward husband, Alan. She
charters passage from Harry Silver on the final leg of her journey
to Maracanda, and ends up being instrumental in thwarting the
Beserkers' plans to unleash unparalleled devastation on surrounding
Alan Gunnlod - (Berserker's Star)
A hyper-idealist who changes his mind on a regular basis. Deserts
Lily to join worshippers of Malakó on Maracanda, who deify
the Galaxy itself, only to decide that investing in mineral rights
is the one true path. Doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about
Mr. Redpath & Mr. Dietrich - (Berserker's
Star) A couple of tight-lipped businessmen who turn out
to be inept cons. After a short "vacation" on an
abandoned station in the Thisworld system, they make it back
to Maracanda to help out their boss, Bulaboldo. Redpath is
still alive by the end of the book.
Kul Bulaboldo - (Berserker's Star)
Falstaffian business "friend" of Harry Silver. Will
do almost anything to make a buck, yet always maintains his joviality.
Brigadier General Robledo Pike - (Berserker's
Star) An enthusiastic Templar leader stationed on Maracanda
who would like nothing more than to stamp out the goodlife
he suspects is plotting there, except that he doesn't have
Commandant Rovaki - (Berserker's Star)
The head Space Force authority on Maracanda. Highly suspicious
of Harry Silver.
Dr. Kloskurb- (Berserker's Star) An
astrogeologist on Maracanda, interested in studying the non-planet's
physics-defying innards. Looks like Harry Silver.
Dr. Emily Kochi- (Berserker's Star)
Another astrogeologist, gone missing a while back.
Piers Herron- ("Patron of the Arts")
Perhaps one of humanity's greatest artists, but can he regain
his own humanity in the face of a Berserker attack? He attempts
to paint an interpretive portrait of a Berserker unit, and to
explain the value of art to his subject. He is allowed to live
in order to use his art to spread appreciation of the cause of