Malcolm: A Matriarchal, Militaristic, Society

Did Malcolm Always Have the Distinct Culture We See Today?

When the first settlers arrived in the Athena System in 2325, following hard upon the original survey team, they never foresaw the confederacy of matriarchies described in Nils Ziortza’s The Thousand Years War and our own recent publication, The Storm. Instead, the original 130 women, led by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Ailena Malcolm, hoped to establish a culture responsive to the needs of women-of-science. Their charter resembled a never-ending research retreat, and they expected other colonists would soon arrive to provide a broader societal infrastructure.

What Caused Them to Create Matriarchies and Super-Soldiers?

The same factor which caused so many human settlements to veer off of their planned paths: The Existential War. By 2340 Athena Four’s (minimal) terraforming had been completed and the population had grown to over a thousand persons. These included not only Malcolm’s expedition, but the original survey teams, an additional group of 200 colonists, and children born on planet. Like all who undertake an interstellar journey involving both cold sleep and subspace jumps, each individual had reset to a young (17 to 23 standard years) bio-age, and began reproducing immediately on arrival. Then the enemy attacked and the trajectory of the society changed abruptly.

Ailena Malcolm’s Leadership in the “Great Foundress’s War”

The “Women’s Research Expedition” had brought with it the frozen sperm of thousands of men from the full range of human racial and ethnic subgroups, all selected for intelligence and physical robustness. So, it is true that the Malcolmite tradition of women reproducing using precise, targeted breeding while quite young so as to leave the bulk of their adult lives free from child rearing appeared from the start. Malcolm herself, however, never followed that plan, remaining childless. So, when huge, troll-like hominids attacked the small settlements near the planet’s few water sources, killing most local leaders, Ailena stepped up to coordinate the colony’s response.

Malcolm worked tirelessly and at great risk to study the creatures and their tactics. We take it for granted nowadays that the Tronate can shut down power during an attack, leaving humans to face the giant HuTron with few technological advantages. The disorientation and shock associated with this phenomenon often proved fatal to early colonists, though. Ailena Malcolm was among the first colony leaders in the AHP to prove such power blackouts were consistent and intentional. She designated Chen Fanghua, an engineer who had been a senior military officer before leaving Earth, to develop effective low-technology weapons systems and tactics to hold off the enemy while she returned to her own specialty: genetics.

Fighting Fire with Fire

Collaborating closely with the renowned exobiologist Blanche Williams, Malcolm determined that the HuTron “trolls” were, in fact, genetically engineered humans whose gene lines traced to the crews of the lost survey ships NAAS Exeter, RFS Leonov, PRCS Xining, and (after the first wave of attacks) SHAS GaTaurari. From that fact alone Malcolm concluded one human man–Dholmo Castor, a brilliant genetic engineer and fierce rival of Malcolm’s back on Earth–was behind the “alien” attacks. He had been aboard the Exeter when it disappeared, and Ailena believed creating and dispatching monsters against her colony fit his “loathsome, mysogynistic, nasty character” perfectly.

Over a millennium later, we know that while Ailena Malcolm’s theory contained a grain of truth, it missed the far bigger picture of truly alien creatures manipulating events in our world from a different reality. She held fast to this belief to her dying day, though, and it fueled her determination to counter Castor’s move in kind. The beleaguered colonists of Athena Four would create their own army of engineered super-soldiers, superior in every way to her rival’s crude trolls. The controversy this policy ignited among her own expedition members, which nearly caused Malcolm to lose both the leadership and the war, will be the subject of our next article.  

The image at the top of this article is the iconic representation of Ailena Malcolm examining the body of a HuTron, which hangs above the entrance to Malcolm’s Planetary Council Chamber. Chen Fanghua, often called “The First Zetian” of the Great Chen Matriarchy (although the use of “Zetian” for Chen Matriarchs did not appear until over a century after her death) stands to her right. Kuluwa Abacha, who founded the Great Rayowa Matriarchy, crouches to her left, recording the scene. The image directly above is of Blanche Williams, first Matriarch of House Williams, shortly before she left Earth for Athena Four. It is on display at Stanford University (North America, Earth), where she taught for 23 years.

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