Psi-terch Universe

Donald Maass
Donald Maass Literary Agency
1000 Dean Street, Suite 252
Brooklyn, NY 11238

DAW Books
375 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014


“I’m very, very excited to see where this series goes next. The foundation that Bedford has laid has so much potential and promise. This is an author I will watch.” —Bookworm Blues


"Bedford builds a taut story around the dangers of a new world.... Readers who crave high adventure and tense plots will enjoy this voyage into the future." - Publishers' Weekly (Empire of Dust)


"The skill of this book lies in Bedford’s ability to seamlessly combine intrigue-heavy, multi-viewpoint plotting with human stories featuring characters you care about – a rare feat in this genre." - Jaine Fenn (Tales from the Garrett)


"Bedford’s punchy, readable style propels the reader easily through the complexities of the well-paced plot, and her world-building, whilst utilising some tropes, also displays interesting and original touches which bode well for future novels." - Jaine Fenn (Tales from the Garrett)


"I got to read a good chunk of Jacey Bedford's new novel Crossways on the train. I strongly recommend her intelligent and contemporary take on solidly SFnal space opera!"-- Juliet E McKenna


"Right now, this book is easily in contention for my best of 2015." - Jeff (via Goodreads)


"This book blew me away! Well written, great character development and kick ass weird SciFi ideas and battles. One of the best books I've read this year. Love the tactics in the final battle. Great job!" - Elaine Lo



Books in the Psi-Tech Universe

Empire of Dust1. Empire of Dust
DAW: 4th November 2014, Mass market paperback

Trust and betrayal on alien worlds. Cara Carlinni is on the run, maybe already half-mad or maybe, just maybe, closer to half-sane. Ben Benjamin might be her salvation or he might be leading her into even deeper trouble.

Crossways2. Crossways
DAW: 4th August 2015, Mass market paperback

What starts out as a search for survivors turns into a battle for survival. Space stations, corrupt corporations, telepathy, relationships, set in space.

Watch out for news of book number three in the series: Nimbus

"Bedford builds a taut story around the dangers of a new world.... Readers who crave high adventure and tense plots will enjoy this voyage into the future." - Publishers' Weekly (Empire of Dust)

The Psi-Tech Universe

Settlement on OlyandaCara and Ben's story is set in a future in which mankind has learned to travel through the Folds via jump gates. Commerce is king. Megacorporations such as Alphacorp and the Trust are more powerful than any one planetary government, even that of Earth, which is now ruled by the Five Power Alliance, led by South Africa. The megacorps race each other to gobble up resources across the galaxy, seeding and controlling colonies.

Platinum is the vital catalyst required for every jump into and out of foldspace. With each jump a small but significant amount of platinum is lost. They are working hard to fix the problem, but until then platinum is vital to the operation of interstellar trade. And it's rare. Super-rare. (All the platinum ever mined throughout the history of our world until 2014 amounts to less than 25 cubic feet!)

So to keep the jump gates open and trade running the megacorps are constantly searching for more and more platinum. It's a cut-throat business, sometimes literally. A platinum find can make you rich beyond your wildest dreams - as long as you can stay alive to collect on it.


The Megacorporations

How did the megacorporatoopns become so powerful in the first place? You only need to look at what's happening in the world now to see the seeds that might grow into something closely akin to the megacops in my books. There's an interesting blog article here about the changing rights of corporations in the USA. Extrapolate from there.

The corporations who jumped on the space bandwagon early made enormous profits, firstly from research and then when colonies were established, from exploration and trade. In 2210 the Tanaki Dominion Trust (later to be known simply as The Trust) financed the first out-of-system gate between Earth and Chenon (colonised by a slower-than light mission). They used Chenon as a staging post for gate expansion and colony exploration. There has always been intense rivalry between megacorporations, especially in terms of the number of colonies. Takeovers still abound and jockeying for position is rife. The Trust, Arquavisa, Alphacorp, Ramsay-Shorre, Eastin-Heigle, Rodontee, Sterritt etc. play dirty tricks and use whatever advantages they can to establish and keep their position. All megacorporations and aspiring corporations rely on psi-techs, not only in space, but on Earth and in the colonies as well. Each megacorp has its own training facility, though there are othetr schools run by the Five Power Alliance and the Monitors.

The Trust
Headquarters are just north of Durban in South Africa, one of the most prosperous nations on Earth with its virtual monopoly on Earth's remaining platinum resources. The Trust's board of directors is led by Chair and CEO John Hunt, but Victoria (Tori) Le Bon is a rising star. The sub-sections of the Trust are located off-planet, all in different, but well-established colonies. Colony Operations is located on Chenon. The Trust has an academy on Earth (Paris) but also has a good school on Chenon. It has a boarding school, Aurax, in New Tamanrasset, in the Saharan Rainforest, which is where gifted children can be trained (and get early implants) before moving on to the academy.

Just a whisker behind the Trust in terms of wealth and influence (and always trying to catch up) Alphacorp runs all its operations from Earth (though they have offices on many colonies). Headquarters is based in Sandnomore in the Saharan Rainforest. CEO and chair of the Board is Akiko Yamada. Alphacorp's Special Ops unit is situated in York, England.


The Five Power Alliance

When the incoming meteor broke up and simultaneously destroyed the southern USA and large parts of China/Australasia the breakdown of those countries (and many others that had not been directly struck due to the catastrophic rise in sea levels) in the resulting Meteor Winter that lasted for decades a new power structure arose. The Five Power Alliance became a global government consisting of Europe, Africa, Soumerica (led by Brazil), Western Asia and Sino-Russia. Though the megacorps probably have an economy that outstrips that of Earth, mankind's mother planet is still the largest centre of human population in the galaxy.


ShipThe Folds

Even with platinum to keep the jump gates open, navigating the Folds is still a dangerous business. Ships enter but don't always leave again. In the early days many ships were lost, but the potential rewards were too great to retreat into interstellar travel at slower-than-light speeds. There's no quick profit to be had from sending out a generation ship or an expedition that won't return until after you're dead. The breakthrough in jump-gate travel came when neuroscientists developed an implant to enhance psionic tendencies that had previously been unacknowledged or consigned to the realms of fringe science.

People transiting foldspace often see things that aren't real - or aren't supposed to be real according to the training manuals. Hallucinations? Almost certainly - at least some of the time. However some Psi-tech Navigators see the same hallucination time and time again. Are Void Dragons only in the mind or is there something really out there?


Cara - from Empire of DustInitially researchers in China worked with individuals whose talent for Telepathy gave them instant communication between ship and home. Then they learned how to quantify a talent for Navigation bordering on the extraordinary, developing psi-Navigators with the ability to fly the Folds safely. An unexpected by-product of the programme delivered Empaths, Healers, Finders, Psi-mechanics who can interface and control bots, large and small and exozoologists, known in the trade as Dee'Ells (for Doctor Dolittles) who can influence and understand non-human creatures.

Developing psi implants became a research priority. The corporations sank an enormous amount of effort into R&D. Rowan-Markesa's scientists led the field. During an attempted hostile takeover by Arquavisa the entire R&D department of Rowan-Markesa resigned and published their findings, making the technology available to all. This prevented any one company getting a complete stranglehold. The Monitors, planetary governments and the Five Power Alliance in Earth also implant and employ psi-techs.

Even those with no psi aptitude can have an implant fitted, but it's expensive and allows only a basic facility to receive telepathic messages, not to instigate them without the mediation of a Telepath. It's possible for someone with a receiving implant to wear a damper to retain privacy, but because of the possibility of intellectual and industrial theft via an implant, the top executives tend not to have them and rely on personal telepaths to be at their beck and call for urgent communications.

It's expensive to find, implant and train a psi-tech so their employers tie them into long term, contracts. They are well paid and well looked after, but always in hock to their megacorp. Any psi-tech who steps out of line is likely to be scheduled for Neural Readjustment. If that doesn't work, their implant can be removed or they can be scheduled for neural reconditioning, but with predictably messy results. So the psi-techs are bound to the mega-corps, that is, if they want to retain their sanity. Psi-techs can change companies as long as their new company buys out their contract. They can also buy out their own contracts, but this is so expensive that it's hardly ever achieved in practice as there's a cumulative amount for ongoing maintenance of the implant - insurance of sorts that of anything goes wrong the company will look after it (and them). When they retire (they can always be recalled to active duty if the need arises) the company provides a modest pension and a place in any of their retirement companies.


Earth/Space History from 2055 onwards...

  • 2045: Massive loss of life in central Africa following a five year drought. International cooperation formulates a rescue plan. European, American, Russian, Chinese and Australian borders are opened to refugees.
  • 2047: First successful colony on the moon established.
  • 2056: First manned mission to Mars successful. Permanent (unmanned) base established for future expeditions to build on.
  • 2057: Sahara irrigation scheme begun in the face of climate change
  • 2059: Fourth manned mission to Mars establishes a small permanent scientific outpost.
  • 2063: Out of hundreds, Chenon identified as a seriously possible earth-alike planet suitable for colonisation along with four other potentials.
  • 2064 Virgincorp funds the building of the first biodome on Mars in preparation for a small permanent colony. The first colonists are engineers, botanists, construction workers and support staff, all involved in building a second dome and growing adapted crops.
  • 2065: Unmanned probes sent to the five potential earth-like planets.
  • 2066: The first Martian, Dominic Miller-West is born - i.e. the first child conceived and born on Mars to Donna Miller and Adrian West.
  • 2067 - 2070: Commerical corporations send ten additional remote survey missions to other potential colony planets with transit times of between seventeen and thirty five years.
  • 2071: First Mars Colony disaster. 120 die
  • 2072: The Middle East finally explodes and drags the world into a third global war with great loss of life. Global population reduced to 8 billion. Peace e ventually brokered by the Chinese
  • 2078: First steps towards a global federated government with China, Indo-asia, Europe, Africa, Australia/Antarctica and the Americas. (This later changes post-meteor.)
  • 2090: Signals from unmanned probe show Chenon to be a potential colony planet. Five Power Alliance is reluctant to authorise a colony expedition following failure of first Mars colony disaster and the death of 120 volunteer colonists and technical crew.
  • 2092: Of the five colony probes sent out, two have been lost, one planet is non-viable. Chenon appears to be viable and Sulain shows limited potential with temperatures too high for comfort in the 30-50 degree C. band in the habitable zones, and as high as 60C at the equator.
  • 2098: Second Mars colony phase succeeds
  • 2110: Gene manipulation creates the first humans with psionic tendencies. Though it's not 100% reliable the Chinese send Telepaths into space with some success.
  • 2128: Chenon expedition (STL) launches with telepaths on board.
  • 2132: More STL ships leave earth on a one-way trip to find the closest inhabitable planets as already identified
  • 2140: Humans with psionic tendencies breed true. Incentives offered for a breeding programme. Psi genes are spread indiscriminately until it becomes part of the human genome.
  • 2145: Chenon colony expedition lands safely. Message received via telepaths on board.
  • 2146: Second colony expedition to Chenon departs carrying more telepaths.
  • 2147: The Good Hope expedition - a fleet of slower than light generation ships, completely self-sustaining - depart Earth taking telepaths with them. Destination: out there.
  • 2150: Lab-based experiments with micro foldspace are promising
  • 2152: A series of successful space stations are commissioned between Earth and Mars including an O'Neill colony at the mid point which is occupied from 2158
  • 2163: Second expedition arrives on Chenon. Colony established. Communication with Earth via telepaths is successful but limited to the few telepaths with enough power to broadcast over interstellar distances.
  • 2187: First practical experiments with foldspace
  • 2190: Pioneer Abelard Henning makes the first successful foldspace jump between Earth and Mars using a pair of prototype gates. Despite early successes there are still many failures.
  • 2191: a STL ship is despatched for Chenon to open up a jump gate
  • 2192: Jump gate technology relies on platinum as a catalyst. A small but significant amount of platinum is lost with each jump. The price of platinum soars. South Africa, home of most of the platinum mining, rises to prominence
  • 2196: A few Telepaths are discovered to have an innate talent for navigating the Folds. Experiments with psychotropic drugs and implants begin the development of the Psi programme
  • 2211: The Chenon jump gate is successfully established. Gate-building ships are sent through to Chenon and then outwards from there - still STL. Psi Navigators significantly reduce the ship-losses in the Folds.
  • 2222: A 3D printed organic psi-implant is developed, coded into the DNA of the implantee. Much success.
  • 2265: The first prototype jumpship is brought into service. The first ship, navigated by Kim Li Jones, makes a wild jump and ends up 30 light years from Earth. A long range gate is established and the gate network grows, one wild jump at a time.
  • 2350: The fiftieth colony has been established. Tendrils of humanity are spreading throughout the galaxy. No sentient alien life has been found yet, though there are plenty of planets with plant and animal life.
  • 2365: Earth is threatened by a meteor. Efforts are made to deflect it, but it is broken apart into three large chunks (and a few smaller ones). As a result Earth is struck by 3 meteors simultaneously The smaller ones, .7km and .9km strike North America (Texas) and coastal China respectively. The third, a 1.9km meteor hits just off the coast of Antarctica causing a massive tsunami and a devastating rise in sea levels as Antarctic ice melts. A 'nuclear' winter follows: acid rain, disastrous flooding and a mini ice age. 41% of the earth's population perishes in the first two years. Earth governments are bankrupted just trying to keep the population alive, but the big corporations, with a high percentage of their assets off Earth already ride the natural disaster better than earthbound governments.
  • 2390: The Five Power Alliance (FPA) emerges after a certain amount of chaos, as Earth's Global Federal Government: Europe, Africa, Soumerica (led by Brazil), Western Asia and Sino-Russia.
  • 2390: A push to colonise further and faster. The megacorporations are all building their own power bases. Most colonies are owned by megacorps or affiliated, but a few independent ones slip through the net. Platinum becomes a priority for everyone.
  • 2391: The Monitors are formed - essentially an interstellar policing operation to 'monitor' the new colonies.
  • 2434: Crossways is built, one of many space stations
  • 2452 Crossways declares independence and fights to keep it.


Ship fly-pastThe Monitors - Galactic Policing

Formed in 2391, the Monitors are an interstellar policing force largely concerned with providing law in the space-lanes and for those newly established colonies that have not yet achieved critical mass in terms of their own law-keeping. They have massive ships that carry a self-contained circuit court. The circuit-court ships tour the subscribed colonies and independent settlements, generally dealing with the more serious crimes.

Well-established colonies have their own police forces but the Monitors hold precedence over local law if necessary. In practice they prefer to work with local forces rather than ride roughshod over them, but there are times when they have to muscle in. Funded by levies from all the colonised worlds, Monitor effectiveness is limited by their ability to respond quickly to requests for intervention. They are one of the few organisations that keeps a modest fleet of jump drive ships for fast response, but they are stretched thinly.

Some (not many) of the independent settlements also pay a levy to the Monitors. Theoretically speaking the Monitors are obliged to pursue the process of the law whether or not individual planets are signed up, but it's a delicate balance on the independent worlds The Monitors have no right to interfere on those worlds which have declared closed-planet status.

Most planets do not have capital punishment. Those that do are generally planets not signed up to the Monitor 'circuit courts' and the prison planet system, and are without resources to build their own prisons. The Monitors have access to designated prison planets, usually marginally survivable worlds. There's no rule on any prison planet except the rules the prisoners make for themselves, i.e. survival of the fittest. Prisoners are stripped of their handpads, dropped and left with only the clothes they stand up in. If they have a set-term sentence they must present themselves at the drop point on the day their sentence is up (presuming they can keep track of time without their handpads). They have only one opportunity to get off planet. If they miss their pickup they are stuck. Unsurprisingly only a small proportion of prisoners ever show up for pickup. Some prison planets are lawless hell-holes, others are not much different from independent colonies. Much depends on the prisoners themselves. Once a prison planet has a population of fifty thousand it's closed. If, fifty years later, if it has become 'civilised' it can apply to become a colony. The acceptance process takes long enough that by the time colony status is granted the original prisoners will all have died of old age, natural and unnatural causes, and the population will consist only of their children and grandchildren.