The plot of Salamander Six is kicked off when  “a Pelagian submarine squadron scuttled the Francophone fleet off Guadalupe,” making the position of the French colonial government in the Caribbean untenable. Since it has very little to do with the rest of the story, exact what ‘Pelagia’ is is left something of a mystery. Here, then, is some never before seen detail from my notebooks about the polycentric network of oceangoing communities called Pelagia.

Pelagia was originally an ethno-geographic label for the burgeoning population of North American migrants who settled the islands and coastal waters off of Latin America beginning in the late 1980s. Today, it is the name for a loose alliance of many of those seasteading and privately-owned island communities. There is no central government of Pelagia and no common legal system or language. Indeed, it exists primarily as a defensive confederation, united only by external threats and the common cultural and economic bonds of those who make a living on the sea.

While there is no single Pelagian culture, one can identify some common characteristics of an average Pelagian. They are mostly North American in extraction, English and Spanish speaking, entrepreneurial and independent in attitudes. Many have citizenship in other countries or membership in Clades, but in day to day life they consider themselves members of their small communities foremost, with a strong preference for localized governance.

The communities that comprise Pelagia mostly developed along four different waves of settlement and growth.

  1. The first was a project of the Blue Frontier Society, a North American organization with a market anarchist bent, looking for space for political and economic experimentation. Unlike the classic stereotype of the seasteader who lived “out in the boonies” and primarily self-sufficient, Blue Frontiersmen aimed to build larger and denser communities that could support a higher and more comfortable standard of living through trade and division of labor. They also wanted to settle on a real island as opposed to man-made one or seastead. Accordingly, the Society sold stock, the pooled money being used to purchase three islands off the coast of Latin America. The land was then parceled out to the membership according to their shares. This first settlement was later joined by less explicitly anarchist groups, especially aquapreneurs from coastal cities and a wave of dissident families seeking freedom from the Mormon theocracy in Deseret.
  2. The second wave was largely made up of ‘Catastrophists’ from North America. Prompted initially by the 2008 Heartlands Earthquake that set off fears of a coming mega-quake along the New Madrid Fault, that first batch of migrant seasteaders was joined by emigres from the mountain west and Cascadia who suspected the imminent eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera (according to the predictions of certain prophets among fringe religious groups in the region). Over time, these communities became closely associated with Catastrophists, eventually luring groups who feared a new Martian invasion out of their Rocky Mountain and Appalachian strongholds to experimental settlements on the coastal shelf or new submarine seasteads.
  3. The third wave was Tranhsumanist, particularly those interested in genetic experimentation and surgical self-modification unfettered by legal and social constraints on the mainland. Many of these were already “modded out” into Aquamorph forms (humans with webbed hands, collapsible lungs, ability to story oxygen in their muscles, etc…) or heavily ‘borged’ cybernauts who fled ostracism and, in some cases, legal repression.
  4. A smaller splinter from this third wave led to the creation of several new settlements by radical ecologists and pan-sapientists, people who were more interested in experimenting on the environment and other animals than themselves. Central to their goals were advancements in ‘uplift’ (intelligence boosting) of dolphins, whales, and octopi. A few independent clans of free uplifts and feral Moreaus also joined them.

Of course, all of these different seasteads and island settlements were just that — separate and sometimes isolated, united only by the trade and tourism that sometimes occurred among them. It took a series of external military threats, first from Chan Santa Cruz, then from the Confederate States of America, the Republic of Texas, and the Compact Francophonie, to bind them into a military alliance. Since they lacked a central government to target and destroy, their foes found Pelagia very hard to suppress permanently. Through a combination of commerce raiding, cyberwarfare, and economic subversion, they have so far been successful in their resistance.

Now that you know a little more about Pelagia, you’ll want to check out Salamander Six, available for free in the Liberty.Me library! And if you want more, you can always read the other Ascension Epoch books available in ebook and paperback format. Descriptions and excerpts can be found on our website.

Anyone who reads the book and leaves a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or another review site and sends us an email with a link to the review will receive a free paperback copy of Salamander Six and three other exciting Ascension Epoch short stories. Illustrator Shell DiBaggio will even personalize it with a sketch in the back pages of the book!

And don’t forget, you can get the Salamander Six Audiobook free with a 30-Day trial from Audible. If you write a review of the audiobook and contact Derek Sheriff (@dereksheriff), you’ll get another free audiobook from Listen & Think’s catalog!