The story of the first two novels takes place in the 1990s, while this storyline moves on to 2130s. The following description applies to the first two novels.
Our galaxy contains a huge number of worlds inhabited by sentient beings. For most civilizations, interstellar travel, including FTL travel, is routine part of life. As civilizations are constantly in contact with one another, their levels of technological development are roughly the same.
There are, of course, more primitive worlds, whose people are unable to leave their system, and who do not even suspect that the galaxy is full of life. Earth is one such planet.
All known civilizations are humanoid. Most of them are indistinguishable from earthlings, while others differ slightly (for example, they might have grey skin or can bear extremely cold or hot temperatures) but still very similar. The reason for the appearance of so many humanoid civilizations is known - a long time ago, mysterious beings only known as the Seeders "seeded" the Earth-like planets of the galaxy with life. After that, they disappeared without a trace. The study of what remains of their culture shows that their level of development was much higher than the current galactic standard. Specifically, they were able to travel through time. It is believed that the Seeders were at war with someone, but no one knows who were their enemies.
On almost all planets, the Seeders are deified.
On every inhabited world, except Earth, the Seeders left a Temple. The Temple resembles a large sphere standing on a thin (4 inches in diameter) support leg, which ends in an ornament in the form of a hand, as if the hand is holding the sphere. The surface of the sphere is divided in black and mirror-like squares, alternating without any visible pattern; however, the design of the squares is identical on all Temples. It is physically impossible to destroy a Temple. After a civilization reaches a certain level of technological development, its Temple allows the supreme ruler of that world inside it and can grant his or her wishes.
Besides its other qualities, a Temple reveals the galactic coordinates of all planets with Temples. Therefore, any interstellar civilization can contact all others, excluding Earth. Earth does not have a Temple, and its coordinates are unknown. That is why Earth is often contemptiously called "the planet which doesn't exist." Most believe that the Seeders, by not leaving a Temple on the planet, displayed their contempt for Earth. One religious sect even believes that the Seeders consider Earth to be their enemy; as such, the sect believes that Earth must be destroyed. Fortunately, the same lack of coordinates prevents the planet's destruction. However, there have been rumors of people reaching Earth by making a blind jump.
Most of these technologies have been reverse-engineered from recovered Seeder artifacts.
Besides interstellar flights (both FTL and sublight), another method of travel is through hypertunnels. This does not require the traveller to know the hyperspace coordinates of the target world (how it works is never fully explained). As such, extraterrestrials can get to Earth (for example, Palian vampires have visited Earth numerous times in the past to feed). However, such method of transportation lacks commercial or military value, as physical laws prohibit any mass greater than 80 metric ton to be moved through a hypertunnel. Also, no weapon capable of destroying a planet can be successfully transported. For example, a quark bomb (description below) becomes inert after rematerialization.
Blocks all weapons except for bladed ones. Even reactions such as nuclear fission, fusion, and matter/anti-matter annihilation are blocked. The area of effect is limited - a single spaceship can be protected (although protecting large ships is extremely costly), an area of several miles around a royal palace, a restaurant territory, etc. Due to the invention of neutralization fields, bladed weapons have returned to their important role on the battlefield. The battles are now reminiscent of medieval knights fighting.
The monatomic sword (called by the protagonist "the plane sword") is an ideal melee weapon. Its blade is one atom thick. Due to such sharp blade, the sword can cut through any known material.
Any strike or even a wave with the sword blunts the blade, making it thicker than one atom. The hilt contains a button that nearly instantly sharpens the sword back to its original thickness. However, this can be done only about 1500 times, after which the sword breaks down.
When two swords collide, one of them slices through the other. This depends on the angle of collision and on the sharpness of each blade. The latter is what makes the sharpness button so important.
When not in use, the sword is placed in a specially-designed scabbard which hold the sword using magnetic fields without actually touching it.
A wound from a monatomic sword is nearly painless.
These swords are extremely popular throughout the galaxy. They are developed and made on the planet Tar, which increased its weight in the galactic community.
Partly protects the wearer from a monatomic sword. After a sword strike, it stretches over the wound and holds it in place. A wound of one atom thick heals in about 3 seconds (as long as the suit does not let it move).
To neutralize the effect of the suit, the protagonist developed a "persistent sharpening" mode. When the sword is in the wound, the wielder keeps holding the sharpening button. The constant sharpening does not let the wound close and kills the opponent. In fact, the energy used to sharpen the blade burns the wound, making it a gaping hole. Another way to quickly kill an opponent is to stab him in the heart, as the constant motion of the heart prevents the healing process.
An "improvement" of the monatomic swords invented by the protagonist. Made of a disc of thin steel, with monatomic blades glued to all sides (from broken monatomic swords). This disc can be thrown at an enemy; however, a professional fighter can dodge such a throw. Several different versions of the weapon have been invented. A discus-sized version can slice a person in half. There are also shuriken-like discs and small discs designed to be fired from an air-powered gun. The latter is designed with a shifted center of gravity (similar to a 5.45 x 39 mm M74 round) to literally shred the target's organs upon entering the body.
Since the beginning of the public use of the discs, they have been criticized as a "coward's weapon", claiming that no combat should come down to a "shot from around the corner".
Anti-ship weapon. When it hits a ship's hull, the matter/anti-matter reaction causes a massive explosion. The only way to stop antimatter from reacting with the ship's hull is by engaging its neutralizing field. However, the ship is then unable to use any weapon. The only way to get rid of the anti-matter is to jettison the hull section with it.
Antihelium is especially dangerous, as it tends to flow all around the hull, enveloping the ship. However, this same flowing property makes it simple to dispatch by heating up a single section of the hull (the antihelium will keep flowing over that section and be evaporated).
Antisodium and antihelium are used by the protagonist in a decisive space battle. Apparently, antimatter is a Seeder weapon that has never been used before.
The size of a soccer ball, the quark bomb is capable of destroying an entire planet, initiating subatomic fission. The complete destruction of a planet takes several hours. There is no known defense from a quark bomb (see also Strangelet).
The quark bomb explodes at the moment of construction at the factory. The rest of its existence is a slow process of quark fission, which turns the avalanche-like destruction of atoms into a slow, rhythmical, gradual destruction of 10 grams of copper dust - the best known explosive trigger. If the bomb is shot at, which destroys its mechanisms, then the unstoppable process of atomic fission begins at full strength. The only way to get rid of a quark bomb is to jettison it in deep space at least 3-4 light years from the nearest stellar body or nebula. Occasionally, quark fission can be transferred from one planet to another through tiny meteorites, dust particles, molecules of ionized gas, etc.
The bomb was used only twice, before a galactic agreement was signed banning its use.
Spaceship equipment. Absorbs g-forces (for example, during takeoffs), then slowly "returns" them, creating a constant acceleration of 1.5g for a long period of time. Allows a ship to stop on a dime, even moving at relativistic speeds, but the crew then has to "repay" this with months, or even years, of 1.5g acceleration.
Resembles a black sphere, which decreases in size as it absorbs g-forces. The more g-forces it absorbs, the smaller the sphere becomes.
In extreme cases, the absorber can be ejected into space, then it will create a gravity field in surrounding space. However, this is highly extreme as such devices are very expensive; also, the ship loses its absorber.
A web of super-thin strings. Constricts and chokes it victim. Can also break the victim's neck, which is considered to be a more merciful death. Once the person is trapped by the mine, he or she is as good as dead.
Amazingly tasty sweets. Much better than the very best Swiss chocolate. As such, it is considered a highly prized delicacy, which only the richest can afford.