Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scale of Power for SciFi Races

One of the things I enjoy about spaceships Sci Fi is classifying all my favorite races into categories of Power Projection Capabilities.

In order to do so, I have to extrapolate a little on the current theory for types of powers on literature, to fit them in terms of outer space power projection.

So, I came up with the following suggestion:

Races may be classified on planetary, galactic and cosmic (!) levels.

Races that are capable of projecting power only within their own homeworld, to a greater or lesser degree, are classified under the current theory of power status (local power, regional power, major power, superpower, etc.), and fall under the planetary power category.

Races capable of projecting power over stars on their home galaxy are classified under the galactic status. And here is where my (silly) ideas thrive...

Galactic Level Powers may be: Interplanetary Powers, Local Powers, Regional Powers, Major Powers, Superpowers, Hyperpowers.

Interplanetary powers are races capable of projecting power on their own solar system, as well as on nearby systems, up to a few light years distant. Example of this on Sci Fi would be the Bajorans, from Star Trek DS9.

Local Powers are capable of projecting power over an area of space up to a few hundred light years from their homeworld. Ex: The Ferengui Alliance, the Gorn Confedaracy, both also from Star Trek.

Regional Powers are races with suficient capabilities to project power over an area a few thousand light-years around their homeworld. Here is where I believe most "major" powers in Sci Fi would fall into. Ex: Federation, Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians, Centauri Republic, Earth Alliance, Narn.

Major Powers are able to project power in a region of the galaxy far from their own territory. Ex: The Dominion, from Star Trek, the Centauri Republic in the past and the current Minbari Federation, from Babylon 5.

The main difference between a Regional Power and a Major Power could be seen in the Deep Space 9 series: The Dominion could fight a war on the Alpha Quadrant with extreme efficiency, though very far away from home. Could the Federation and its allies do the same? They could barely defend themselves from the Dominion Assault on their own backyard.

Superpowers are races capable of projecting power not only over far regions of the galaxy, but virtually anywhere in it. Ex: The Borg Collective, the Vorlon Empire.

Hyperpowers are those capable of projecting power on the entire galaxy (superpower), in a galaxy where there are no (other) superpowers or major powers. Therefore, their extreme power is unopposed.

As examples of this, we have the Galactic Empire, from Star Wars, and the Wraith on the Pegasus Galaxy, from Stargate Atlantis.

The Borg are classified here as a Superpower, rather then an Hyperpower, precisely due to the presence of the Dominion (a major power) in the Milky Way. Such race has suficient capabilities to oppose Borg interests on far reaches of the Galaxy.

The same happens with the Empire of Men, from Warhammer 40k, which would also fall into the category of Superpower, as its is capable of projecting power on the entire Galaxy, but can be effectively opposed by other superpowers or major powers (the Eldar, the Orcs, the Tau, The Necrons, etc.)

Finally, we have the scale for Cosmic Power. It is even more theorectical than what stated above, as it would imply assuming races could project power much beyond the limits of their home galaxy (!).

But anyway, here too we would classify races as Intergalactic Cosmic Powers, Local Cosmic Powers, Regional Cosmic Powers, Major Cosmic Powers, Cosmic Superpowers and Cosmic Hyperpowers.

Intergalactic Cosmic Powers are those capable of projecting force on nearby galaxies. They are assumed to be Superpowers or Hyperpowers on their own home galaxy. Ex: Species 8472, from Star Trek (and probably The Wraith, from Stargate, is too, as I don't recollect if they were able to travel among galaxies).

Local Cosmic Powers can exercise power on a few hundred galaxies around their own. Right now, I can't think of any Sci Fi race that have gone so far. But I have one of my own that reaches that level of power: The Citri!

They are so powerful they can submit entire galaxies, millions of light-years away from Citrar, their home galaxy...

The next level would be Regional Cosmic Powers, which would be those capable of projecting power over thousands of galaxies. Again, no Sci Fi race hits me right now. But I have one of my own here, too:

Beyond that, there would be the Major Cosmic Powers, which would be those races capable of projecting power over millions of galaxies. No, not even I have something to fall into this category... 

Next, Cosmic Superpowers would be those capable of projecting power over the entire Cosmos (!)

Finally, a Cosmic Hyperpower would be a race capable of projecting power over the entire Cosmos, if there was no other Cosmic Superpower or Major Power.

The rest of my own fictional races would almost all fall under the Galactic Regional Power category, such as the Oberons, the Calinori, the Burbassi and the Vidrians.

The Carmakian Empire is a Major Galactic Power, and the Alliance of the Worlds, a Galactic Superpower, although each member on the Alliance, separatedly, would at best be classified as a Local Power.

What do you guys think of that? Does it make sense? What other races would you classify under these categories?

*End of Transmission*


  1. Hello Matgc, Mrwoodchuck61 from SCN here. Your system makes sense. May I make a suggestion or 2 to you.
    1. Read EEDoc Smith's the Lensman series and you will get what works it way up through all your levels to the beginnings of a Local Cosmic Power. As well as the decline of another. Always assume the Arisians lie to protect the lesser races sorry a small spoiler.
    2. Dimensional Races all levels with the addition of Dimensions. Species 8472 The Borg only classify races they wish to assimilate so we assume more than 8471 races in this galaxy and we don't know how much more Dimensional travel/exploration the Borg did. They could be a Galactic Super Power and Local Dimensional power at the same time.

  2. Hi, there Mrwoodchuck61,

    I believe the Borg would probably fall into at least the first Cosmic Power level: the Intergalactic Power, if we assume their crusade into a foreign galaxy wasn't a one time performance, but rather a regular practice for them.

    Anyway, as you said, there's much about them we don't know, so we can only try to classify them based on what we have seen them doing (which is already pretty much!)

  3. Urban Warrior from Scn forum here. Could not take the same alias for Google (was already taken) so I named myself Herc Warrior, in case you were wondering.

    I was doing some thinking. Where could we place the Ascended Ancients and the Ori from Stargate? As they are supposed to be omnipotent, maybe they should be considered a cosmic Superpower. They might not actually be a playable race, but hey, they could be out there.

    Just ask Fox Mulder.

    Now that I come to think of it. When speaking of omnipotent beings, don't forget the Q-continuum.

  4. Hi, Herc Warrior,

    To understand where the Ancients and Ori would fall into, we first need to understand what is meant by "power projection capability".

    We could understand it as the capability to interfere with the context around you, so to mold/subvert it according to your interests. That way, we could only classify a race as a Superpower if it is not only able to reach a certain region, but to actually exercise their will there, effectively opposing the interests of other races.

    That being, I don't know if the Ori and the Ancients would have the military structure to be classified as a Cosmic Superpower.

    Its something like Israel. They are technologically advanced, their weapons are cool, but there is just so much they can do with it, because they don't have a large military structure.

    On Sci Fi terms, the Wraith or the Goaul'd, could be a greater power than the Ori or the Ancients, as they are likely to have a much larger military array, which enables them to "be" at many more places at the same time, exactly as, the less advanced russians are treated as a greater power than the hightech Netherlands...

    Buut, if we assume the Ancients, the Ori and the Q to be both near-Omnipotent and Omni-present, than they should be treated as Cosmic Superpowers.

    As for the Q, I guess this may be the case, but I don't see the Ori/Ancients being that much powerful...

  5. For Cosmic Superpowers, you should check out the books in Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. They chronicle the universe-wide war between two species who use galaxies as ammunition