Nakasen's Principles

John Barnes has a series of books (three as of 2003) set in a far-distant future where Sol system culture is governed by a religion/political system called The Wager that is described by a bunch (234 to be precise (ref DU page 4)) of Principles penned by one Paj Nakasen.

I expected I'd be able to find all the principles that have been mentioned in the text so far on some fan-boy web page, but google didn't turn anything up, so I guess I'll have to do it myself. Does that make me a fan-boy? Oh well.

I didn't mark these as I read the book, but instead did a quick visual grep for "Principle \d+" as I flipped through the book afterwards, so I've probably missed some. If you find one I missed or see where I messed up something about one of the ones I got, please let me know via email.

Thanks to Tom Womack for finding #8

Thanks to Alan Raskin for finding #19 which I missed and for a correction to #159.

Thanks to Paul Loeser for finding #56, #133, #163, and #212 all in Princess of the Aerie, and #106 in In the Hall of the Martian King.

Principle Book(*) Page
4 The other bastard can't win if you can kick over the table. PA 257
8 Do not do things to others that would seem spiteful, petty, vicious, or shameless if they were done to you. MK 152
9 Fear is an excellent way to pass the time when there's nothing else you can do. DU
11 Break any principle except this one and a few others, but expect the consequences. DU 27
19 Whenever possible, agree with those in power. DU 4
22 In conflict, if you are the flea, do what harm you can; if you are the dog, scratch no harder than necessary. PA 165
23 A functioning metasociety meets the demand for as many different kinds of society as possible. MK 20
29 If your friends see through your act, expect the blow from your enemies at any moment. MK 260
38 When it's us-and-them--or them--it's them. DU 188
56 Courtesy has no logical basis, but practice it anyway. PA 215
62 Since it doesn't change anything, go ahead and fear death if it makes you feel better. DU
86 When it is necessary to dissemble, do it quickly. DU 108
88 Ostentatiously obey, and quietly disobey, anyone with power. DU 207
106 Telling your boss what he wants to hear is the very essence of administrative talent. MK 14
112 It is human to love some neighbors more than others and few more than yourself. DU 201
116 The dead can have honor, but they can't eat it either. MK 81
118 Forgiveness costs nothing and saves energy. DU 227
120 Never neglect the null hypothesis, however dull it may be. DU 211
122 Consider what use those in authority may make of the truth, and speak accordingly. DU 6
128 Since your emotional state rarely affects anything, always have whatever one you like, and never worry about what it is. PA 2
129 The hardest thing to understand about a balance is that both sides are equal; grasp that and the universe is yours. MK 65
133 Make sure you appear to deserve your privileges. PA 143
134 Do not reveal your thoughts to anyone whose power over you is unknown. DU 108
136 It is useless to feel sorry for the dead but some things that are useless are good. MK 215
138 Mistakes in an unfamiliar environment are still mistakes and no discount is awarded. DU 206
144 Death happens, anyway. DU
149 Real beauty is whatever is loved by people more important than you. MK 106
155 If you stumble often, watch your feet and look for patient friends. DU 206
158 Respect every True Way, but not because it is a True Way; distrust every True Way but keep in mind that it may be a True Way. PA 162
159 Money changes everything. DU 275
163 If you are a thief, make sure you have good locks, because being robbed will really upset you. PA 143
171 Courage is fear without consequences. DU
174 Every habitat must stay habitable. PA 44
181 Whether you succeed or not is not under your control, but whether you try is. PA 137
194 Never hesitate to abase yourself when you are powerless, at worst it does not harm you and at best it may make the other side careless. DU 214
201 Always excuse ignorance and punish malice; only a malicious person is ignorant of the difference. DU 107
203 Nothing is so galling as praise from an enemy. MK 276
204 Always make your lie the lie that your listeners want to tell themselves. PA 10
209 When the common interest is survival, individuals must gang up or be ganged up on. PA 44
212 If you are thinking about changing the subject, you already should have. PA 314
DU=The Duke of Uranium, PA=A Princess of the Aerie, MK=In the Hall of the Martian King


Short Litany of Terror
144 therefore 062 because 009, but remember that 171. (DU page 196 (this is the only place that has used leading zeros), MK page 103 (no leading zeros))

All the Principles were written by John Barnes (unless they were really written by Paj Nakasen or someone named Bob Patterson), so I'm only showing them here using some flavor of Fair Use. If Barnes or his publisher or other representative objects to the presence of his words here, they won't be here when you come back.

This page was assembled by Jeff Youngstrom. Visit my homepage or my weblog: Mad Times.