The Art Of War In Space (Excerpt)




Based on the classic Giles translation text, adapted from the original Klingon by G’nerphk of the Fascist Empire

With commentaries by the great commanders of history interleaved within the text

Collected and further annotated by Ef Yu, Consul of the Empire of the Bird Men

With invaluable inspiration from Rauli Poikela and SMN

Editing by J. Millard Simpson, author of “Notes On The Collapse”

The Inklings Press
Copyright 2017
All rights reserved


Editor’s Preface: 

This present edition was designed as an aid to modern military thought for use by combatants in the Echo Cluster wars.  Within are excerpts selected from the classic commentaries of the ancients, including all five of the classic Commentators as well as quotes from classic military commanders throughout all of history.  Where applicable, the source of these quotes has been annotated and credited in chapter end notes.

This excerpt has been provided for promotional purposes only.  It is, however, a work under copyright by the author and publisher, and so no unauthorized copy is permitted.  No restriction is placed on excerpts or brief quotations to be used in discussion or review.

Enquiries regarding obtaining full copies of this book should be sent via Private Message to our agent, Gnerphk (no relation), at

[Prefatory note to the First Commentary, by G’nerphk of the Fascists:
In this declining age of wisdom, Sun Tzu is rarely read.  Indeed, some so-called historians question his very existence; off-world diplomats cast doubt on his origin, often claiming him as their own.  And yet, the literary tradition is clear, that Sun Tzu lived and wrote his treatise in the early days of Klingon civilization.  The very validity of his wisdom is argument enough for his historical existence and his experience in warfare, for no such work could have been written by a lesser being.  In his treatment of deliberation and planning, the importance of rapidity in taking the field, clearness of conception, and depth of design, Sun Tzu stands beyond the reach of carping criticism.  My contemporaries, however, have failed to grasp the full meaning of his instructions, and while putting into practice the smaller details in which his work abounds, they have overlooked its essential purport.  That is the motive which has led me to outline a rough explanation of the whole, and to generate universal translations from the original Klingon.]

[Lt. Colonel Tolliver South, of the Solar Federation (Ret.):
Lest our readers be confused, Sun Tzu was from Earth.  He was Chinese.  It’s particularly telling that G’nerphk of the Fascists even stole a portion of his prefaratory remarks from the introduction to the commentaries on this work written by T’sao T’sao.  Who was also from Earth.]

[Ef Yu of the Bird Men:
How typical of the arrogance of these hairless apes!  Sun Tzu was, of course, a Bird Man, as any truly sentient being should know.]


[G’nerphk, in translating the title of this chapter from the original Klingon, says it refers to the preliminary deliberations and consultation of auguries in the temple selected by the general for his temporary use, or as we should say, in his “Command Chair”.] 

[“A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows.” —from the Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan, p. 3] 

  1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

[Col. South:  No shit, Sherlock.]  

  1. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. 

[Haaarkkhhh of the Lizards:  Rocksss.  Sssstudy rocksss.  Road isss of rock, ssstudy rocksss.]  

  1. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field. 

[Ef Yu:  It is notable that the factors remain consistent regardless of the field of battle.  They are as applicable for ground combat, atmospheric or oceanic fleets, and drone or missile conflicts as they are for wars between space empires.

  1. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

 [G’nerphk of the Fascists: 

In the original Klingon, the core military virtues are: 

 (1) Honor; (2) Courage; (3) Boldness; (4) The Example of the Commander; (5) Discipline. 

  This contrasts with the virtues of more traditional early Klingon military philosophy at the time of this writing, which were: 

 (1) Honor; (2) Courage; (3) Strength; (4) Agility; and (5) Feasting on the blood of one’s enemies. 

The parallels are interesting; the contrasts more so.

[Ef Yu:  These are better translated as: (1) Morale and Diplomacy, (2) Battlefield Conditions, (3) Fleet Composition and Race Abilities, (4) Strategy and Tactics, and (5) Logistics.

5, 6. The MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger. 

[G’nerphk of the Fascists:  Wars are not fought just between armies and nations, but as personal contests between the leaders.  The general who is best prepared to win will win; the general who is distracted or demoralized will lose.

  1. HEAVEN signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

[St. Aegis, Archon of the Most Holy Web:  The Klingons are so poetic.  Heaven signifies space, plain and simple.  The only winds there are solar; the only weather that of ions.

[Sir Elocutus of the Cyborg:  Advantage lies with those who are best suited to adapt to such myriad factors as mineral density, native populations, the distance between worlds, the selected build queue, and so on.

  1. EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death. 

 [Haaarkkhhh of the Lizards:  Rocksss.  Big rocksss.  Planetssss and ground combat, hand to tooth to claw.  And rocksss.

[Gaius Tacticus:  Minefields act on the map, and the map channels minefields.  In space, the map is the terrain.

  1. The COMMANDER stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Robots:  The wisest leader is often the most intelligent.

  1. By METHOD AND DISCIPLINE are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure. 

[Gaius Tacticus of the Robots:  Every vessel has its uses, both main and secondary; each has its place in the fleet and in supply.  Some few exist only to be traded to other races.

[Fleet Admiral G. K. Phern, of the Solar Federation:  This is why I tell High Command every single year to design a fleet fuel carrier.  Stupid buggers.

  1. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

[As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” -Donald Rumsfeld] 

  1. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise: — 
  1. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law?

         (2) Which of the two generals has the most ability? 

         (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? 

         (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? 

[Col. South alludes to the remarkable story of G’nerphk, who was such a strict disciplinarian that once, in accordance with his own severe regulations concerning civilian damage, he condemned himself to death for accidentally Pillaging his own world.  However, in lieu of losing his head, he was persuaded to satisfy his sense of justice by detonating his Glory Device, converting the entire Amorphous population to soup.] 

         (5) Which army is stronger? 

[“God is not on the side of the big battalions, but of the best shots.” -Voltaire] 

         (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? 

[Ef Yu quotes G’nerphk as saying, “Without constant practice, the general will be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand.”

         (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment? 

  1. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast victory or defeat. 

[Gaius Tacticus: 

(1) Who is the wisest diplomat and the most charismatic? 
(2) Who understands the tricks and quirks of the Host Order and the Queue better? 
(3) Which race has the best advantages in battle, ship capture, and planet capture? 
(4) Which player best understands their race? 
(5) Which race can build the best ships, both in battle and for logistics? 
(6) Who is the most skilled both at tactics and strategy? 
(7) Which player never misses a turn? Which player pays attention to every detail? 

You’ll notice that, of these seven, only two depend on the race.  The other five depend on the leader.

  1. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon it, will conquer: —let such a one be retained in command! The general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will suffer defeat: —let such a one be dismissed!

[G’nerphk of the Fascists:  It is to be remembered that the original Art of War was penned by Kahless, also known as Sun Tzu, for his Emperor’s use; it is to be read by the sovereign and the general both.

[Ef Yu of the Bird Men:  Long has it pleased the Bird Men to permit the Fascists to believe this, but now the truth can be revealed to them:  Sun Tzu was a Bird Man, and his writings were conveyed to the lesser races in order to elevate their consciousness.  Their military applications are almost incidental.

  1. While heeding the profit of my counsel, avail yourself also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary rules. 

[Ef Yu of the Bird Men:  While the main laws of strategy can be stated clearly enough, you must be guided by the actions of the enemy in attempting to secure a favorable position in actual warfare.

[On the eve of the battle of Waterloo System, Lord Oxbridge, commanding the interceptor squadron, went to the Duke of Wellingford in order to learn what his plans and calculations were for the following turn, because, as he explained, he might suddenly find himself Supreme Commander and would be unable to frame new plans in a critical moment.  The Duke listened quietly and then said:  “Who will attack the first tomorrow — I or Elocutus?”  “Elocutus,” replied Lord Oxbridge. “Well,” continued the Duke, “Elocutus has not given me access to his secret plans; and as my plans will depend upon his, how can you expect me to tell you what mine are?”

  1. According as circumstances are favorable, one should modify one’s plans.

 [No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow.” -Ivanova] 

  1. All warfare is based on deception.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Colonies:  Deception has many layers, and should be practiced constantly, that it may be mastered.  It is a way of life, not a mere tactic.

  1. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. 

[Gaius Tacticus of the Robots:  It is important that we shadow the enemy fleet closely enough to engage and far enough away so as not to cause alarm.  Concealment behind planets is vital.

[G’nerphk of the Fascists:  In practical terms, this speaks largely of the utility of the cloaking device in warfare, but also of using the terrain for concealment.

  1. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

[Col. South:  G’nerphk says here that the passage means that the enemy can be crushed when he is in disorder.  As Giles observes, it is more natural to suppose rather that Sun Tzu is still illustrating the uses of deception in war.

[St. Aegis:  By feigning disorder in oneself, one induces disorder in one’s adversary.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Colonies:  Keep the fleet hidden; keep patrols invisible.  Show freighters where there are warships; show scattered vessels where there is an ambush unseen.

[Ef Yu: It can be advantageous at times to pretend to retreat, leaving forces cloaked, and even failing to sweep mines in order to conceal the strength of your battle fleet.

  1. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Robots:  When he has many strong bases, you must destroy his fleet when he attacks your space.  When he has many ships, build starbases and lure him in.

[G’nerphk of the Fascists:  It is the defender who has the choice of the ground on which the battle is to be fought.  If the enemy will win on his chosen ground, fight him on your own.

  1. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Colonies:  Use messages and taunting names for your vessels when you want to be attacked.  Show your foe your kidneys if you wish him to strike them.

[“Before embarking on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” – Confucius] 

[“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” – Pashtun proverb] 

[G’nerphk of the Fascist:  Revenge is a dish best served to someone else.

  1. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

[Gaius Tacticus of the Robots:  Where his fleets are scattered, use minefields to keep him from unifying.

[Wang Tzu, quoted by Ef Yu, says that the good tactician plays with his adversary as a cat plays with a mouse, first feigning weakness and immobility, and then suddenly pouncing upon him.] 

  1. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

[Haaarkkhhh of the Lizards: Thisss doesss not alwaysss require cloaking.

  1. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be divulged beforehand.

[Ef Yu of the Bird Men:  Mental note — Destroy all copies of this work presently enroute to the Evil Empire.

  1. Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.

[Sir Elocutus of Cyborg:  Your individual and technological distinctiveness will be analyzed and, if of interest, removed for further study.]

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