Even Peons are People is the first book in the Interplanetary Justice series, set in a world of space travel and against a background of interplanetary law. The hero of the series is one Thiery Wallace, a young space travelling lawyer (or “defender Advocate” in the language of the saga) operating in a solar system in which telepathy, invisibility clothing, virtual communication, space travel, space hobos, virtual courts and floating trays that can navigate their way along corridors bearing pots of “hotCaf” are all normal, even commonplace.
It is set two thousand years in the future, after the planet Jupiter has been dismantled by thermonuclear fusion and its heavy element debris turned into some 300 earth sized planets around the solar system – not to mention millions of space stations, many of them privately owned. In this world, space travel is as common as overseas holidays – even though people can quite easily use virtual communication to do most of their work from home.
In the first story in the series, Thiery Wallace – a young defender advocate on the planet Vespasian – is appointed by a virtual court (or vCourt for short) to defend a space hobo (a kind of indigent space travelling itinerant) against a charge of murdering a fellow space hobo by deliberately getting him sucked out of an airlock of a space station devoted to hedonistic pursuits. (The method he uses to thwart the hi-tech safeguards is actually quite ingenious – putting HAL to shame!) After a brief virtual communication (vConf) with the space hobo using brainChip-enhanced telepathy, Thiery takes on the case.
However, what starts off as an open and shut case proves to be something a lot more sinister as earth intelligence and politicians start getting involved. And while the earth leadership relies on telepathy to communicate their instructions, their space travelling executioner (Golam) shows up on Vespasian in person. The case appears to be connected to the recent death of a crown prince of a monarchy planet (Summanus) in an accident at an exclusive space station resort during an asteroid slalom. The incident was witnessed by an earthling called Telford. Telford is a svengali – a sort of paparazzo of this space travel era, who makes his living eavesdropping on the telepathy and virtual communications of the rich and famous, cloaked in invisibility attire or “stealthWear.”
But why are earth politicians interfering in a seemingly minor case concerning the mere peons of society on another planet? And why have they sent a space travelling killer to silence the space hobo – and possibly also Thiery himself? What are they afraid of? And will the space hobo even make it to the virtual court alive?
D-PAK does not get overly technical in his descriptions of telepathy and virtual communications. Indeed a lot of the technical explanations are presented in end notes. But he/she makes it clear that the telepathy and virtual communications are based on a microchip brain-implant – and thus rooted firmly in science. In contrast D-PAK offers no technical description of invisibility – although again it is clear that it is science and technology based. But one area where D-PAK does explain – albeit in an endnote – is in the realm of transport and space travel. Thus we learn the difference between an in-the-atmosphere hoverCar and a spaceHopper that can engage in true space travel.
This book is the first in a series called Interplanetary Justice, about Thiery Wallace and his defence of the accused in various cases in the solar system, whether set on a single planet or involving space travel between planets.