The Deathworlders


Welcome to “The Deathworlders” by Philip R. Johnson, AKA HamboneHFY. This serial has been running for more than six years at this point, and stretches to dozens of chapters (many of which have subchapters) and is now several million words in length.

You may already be familiar with the concept of a Deathworld; planets so terribly inhospitable that any hapless explorer landing on one is likely to meet a swift and unpleasant end. Science Fiction is riddled with such worlds, beginning with the planet Pyrrus from Harry Harrison’s novel “Deathworld,” and from there to the Arrakis, Catachan, Z’ha’dum, Midworld, Pandora and many, many more…

Including, in this series, the Earth. Not that humanity knows any different, as we have never visited any other planet to make a comparison. But to the other species of the galaxy, humans are terrifying in our strength and intelligence. Our arrival on the galactic scene will change the course of history…and not necessarily always for the better.

I hope you enjoy.


Special Thanks

Justin C. Louis AKA Ctwelve,
Sally and Stephen Johnson, plus Sam and Meg,
Sian, Steve, Willow, Zoe and Riker.

All my wonderful patrons and subscribers.

More by the author


Amber Houston was born light-years from Earth, aboard the enormous colony starship Dandelion. By the age of fourteen, she has spent her entire life training as a “Ranger,” ready for the day when she will be among the first humans ever to set foot on an alien world & build a new civilization.

When Dandelion suffers an emergency toward the end of its journey, Amber & her fellow young rangers are evacuated & land on the planet Newhome years ahead of schedule. While the adults left behind on Dandelion slow the ship & turn it around to come back—in eight years—Amber & her friends must build lives for themselves amid revelations that will change Humankind’s destiny forever.

Meanwhile, aboard the ship, secrets that were buried over three hundred years ago finally come to light…

Co-authored alongside Justin C. Louis, Dandelion is my debut novel, and you can download the Audiobook edition from Audible, or buy it in hardcover, paperback or ebook through any major literary retailer.

The Story So Far

This summary is for returning readers. Beware spoilers for the early chapters! If you’re a new reader, I suggest you jump right to the start instead.

Millions of years ago, the Milky Way galaxy was dominated by the Igraen Empire. Power-hungry and obsessed with stability and continuity, the Igraens grew ancient and powerful, and ultimately unlocked the secret to technological immortality. They divorced their minds from their bodies, created “Dataspace” as a shadow to the world of matter and energy, and retreated into its depths to live in a format incomprehensible to meat-based life.

They left behind the Hierarchy, a secretive order of their most independent minds, capable of hijacking any living being through cybernetic implantation. Since the Igraens’ ascension, this Hierarchy has ruled the Milky Way from the shadows, maintaining the status quo that keeps the Hegemony safe and undisturbed. Their methods are horrific, genocidal and sinister…and for millions of years, they have succeeded in their task.

The Igraens also left behind their discarded bodies, now reduced to beings of pure slavering cannibalistic appetite and no sense of self preservation. These so-called Hunters* became one of the Hierarchy’s most useful pawns, keeping the galaxy’s weak civilizations contained and cowed by the constant threat of becoming “Prey.”

In the Hierarchy’s estimation, the greatest threat to the Hegemony’s existence would be the rise of a Deathworlder civilization, sapient life from one of the galaxy’s deadly inhospitable planets. Every such civilization has been ruthlessly expunged by nuclear fire, invasion and guile…but even the Hierarchy is not perfect. It was inevitable that, eventually, they would be thwarted.

Their great failure was engineered by an organization of unknown origin and size, who identify themselves only as Singularity, and who managed to smuggle one single, promising deathworld under the Hierarchy’s radar.

Specifically: the Earth.

To the Human race, the Earth is just home. Her howling storms, strong gravity, spouting volcanoes, virulent plagues and fierce predators are simple facts of life. Scrubbing the bacteria from our teeth and washing our hands are routine necessities, and our cities are planned to prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis and freezing winters.

To the many sapient life forms that make up the Interspecies Dominion—the intellectual Corti, the populous Vzk’Tk, the slow but sophisticated Guvnuragnaguvendrugun, the fractious Kwmbwrw, the Robalin, Mjrnhrm, Versa Volc, Rauwrhyr and many, many more—Earth and the planets like it are death. And Humans?

Humans are monsters. Terrifyingly quick, strong enough to rip the Hunters limb-from-limb, cunning and inventive enough to be impossible to predict and capable of so, so much more than our comfortable lives usually demand of us.

By the time the Hierarchy even noticed we existed, it was too late to contain us. When Humanity spread to the stars, we did so with a few false starts. Alien civilizations, panicked by the prospect of a Deathworlder civilization, wrapped the whole Sol system in an impenetrable containment field, only for one of their own politicians to treacherously open a back door. The planet Cimbrean, originally settled with the best intentions of conserving its native ecosystem, was ultimately doomed by a careless human taking a comfort break in the woods. A Hierarchy agent operating on Earth bombed and destroyed the city of San Diego rather than face capture.

But there were successes too. Friends were made, other deathworlders rescued from their inevitable demise. Thanks to humanity the Clans of Gao were united under a new Great Father, Daar of Clan Stoneback, and saved from extinction. On the high-G planet Akyawentuo, the native jungle-dwelling Ten’Gewek were delivered from the Hierarchy’s terrible machines and introduced to the secrets of steel and “sky-thinking.”

And at the point of the spear is the HEAT: the Hazardous Environment Assault Team, the very best of the allied nations’ special operators, who combine the most rigorous training with alien performance-enhancing medicine and high-tech armor to take the fight deep into the very worst the Hierarchy and the Hunters can give…and win.

The galaxy has changed forever. The old powers are doomed.

This is the story of their downfall.