Starways Congress was an interstellar governing body that ruled over the inhabited human planets in the galaxy.
Starways Congress was founded many years after the War of Xenocide. When it was created, it re-established the calendar based on the year of Congress' formation. Various religions and ethnic groups were granted permits to found colonies and allowed to rule them according to their belief systems provided they followed the laws set by the Congress. The human planets that followed the established rules and regulations were allowed as member planets in the Hundred Worlds.
After the discovery of a sentient alien species, the Pequeninos, Congress declared minimum interaction and cultural contamination by the xenologers of the colony planet Lusitania. When it was discovered that the xenologers Miro Ribeira and Ouanda Figueira had gone against the rules set by Starways Congress, they were declared criminals and were to be arrested by the governor of Lusitania, Bosquinha, and sent to Trondheim for trial.
Lusitania's populace did not follow this decree, and so Congress assembled and sent a Lusitania Fleet, to subdue the rebellious inhabitants of the planet and contain the Descolada. During the time the Fleet was traveling to Lusitania, Starways Congress gave them authorization to use the Molecular Disruption Device if necessary.
After Peter Wiggin II and Si Wang-mu convinced swing groups in Starways Congress to revoke the order, Admiral Bobby Lands, the commander of the Lusitania Fleet, ignored the changed plans and launched the M.D. Device anyways. Jane, along with Wiggin and Wang-mu, moved the device back on to the Fleet's flagship, where it was disabled.
Duties and RolesEdit
Starways Congress ruled according to the Starways Code. It was known to have the power to issue and revoke the charters of planetary governments. Starways Congress also held some level of control over the ansible network; until the discovery of Jane, they believed their control absolute. In the novel Speaker for the Dead, Starways Congress declared the planet Lusitania to be in rebellion, revoked their charter, and removed all documents from the world. They also ordered the two xenologers of Lusitania to travel to the nearest planet to stand trial for their crimes.
Starways Congress' core belief was in the survival of the human race. When they learned of the danger posed by the Descolada, Gobawa Ekimbo, the chairman of the Xenological Oversight Committee of Starways Congress, said, "I want to make sure that it's the other guys that disappear." They ordered the termination of the planet on the grounds that humanity's survival preempts the survival of the Pequeninos.
When Bishop Peregrino ordered the citizens of Lusitania not to speak to Andrew Wiggin on the basis that he was a Speaker for the Dead, he threatened to petition for the status of Inquisitor. If the planet was found guilty of religious persecution, then their Catholic-only license would be revoked, which would lead to Starways Congress shipping enough people off and to the planet to allow for a mixing of religion and culture so that it would be fair to everyone.
Starways Congress made secret genetic modifications to people of the planet Path, giving them high intellect, but also extreme OCD-like symptoms. These people believed that the Gods were speaking to them, and thus gave birth to a religion. This showed the power of Starways Congress, for they could isolate and harbor a culture such as that without allowing it to become diluted with other facets of human society.
Starcommon was the universal language for the Hundred Worlds and the various non-member colonies. The language was called IF Common in the days of the Formic Wars, and was abbreviated into "Stark" some time after Starways Congress was instituted. Stark was modified only slightly from American English. Some examples of changes included the abolition of "whom" and the addition of several Slang terms. The language was mandatory to be learned as soon as one entered school.