The Confederation Handbook is a book by Chris McCubbin released as a tie-in to the 1999 Wing Commander film. It has the character of a "source book" providing information on the background of the Wing Commander universe as presented in the film, such as humanity's early space travel and the physics of jump, never mentioned before.
The book is presented as an in-universe set of documents as seen through the "M14TCN5 Portable Data Reader Unit". The intro of the book contains boxes with faux console prompts requesting a login and entry of security and data chips into the unit, which the reader then accesses. The odd pages are decorated with browser-like "buttons" (search-prev-next-reload-save-print-quit). The head of each page is decorated with queries, seemingly to the CDATANET databank, from which the narrative is "accessed" and "downloaded", such as
SCREEN 1 | query "jump physics, layman" media=pracsci mag
level=UNCLASSIFIED | sort=bestmatch | return=1
SCREEN 2 | query "jump physics, layman" level=UNCLASSIFIED
source=1st ed. cit publ. Practical Science, TERRA, 2651
To add to the in-universe atmosphere of the text, the first section includes some several mock advertisements, similar to banner ads of the 1990s.
One of the stranger elements is a fourth wall breaking aspect which states that database is maintained in the 'past' in 1997, and implies time travel.
The book can be seen as a companion to the Wing Commander universe although it is mainly centered to concepts mentioned in the film. As such, there is much new continuity introduced, like the Pilgrims, the Pilgrim War, and the NAVCOM technology.
Several concepts of the WC universe, are expanded for the first time, such as the history of humans' early space travel, the discovery of jump points as well as description of the jump physics, history of the Kilrathi War, character's profiles and backgrounds, Christopher Blair's and Todd Marshall's Academy record, models and stats of ships appearing in the film, and details of the ship Iason that marked first contact with the Kilrathi.
The Handbook also establishes that Lt. Hunter and Lt. Knight are not the surnames of the pilots that appear in the movie (as nods to the game characters with similiar callsigns), but they are the same characters Ian St. John and Joseph Khumalo themselves. This is also reinforced in the novelization.
As the movie took some stylistic liberties from the games, also elements presented in the Handbook diverts in several points from previous material. First contact with the Kilrathi, as well as the Kilrathi War are moved further later in the timeline (2639 and 2641), apparently to make room to the Pilgrim War newly introduced to the canon. This obsoletes much of the canon such as Action Stations which takes place in 2634; in the context of the Handbook, the novel should now be considered as taking place during the peak of Pilgrim War, whereas the novel specifically mentions political and military stagnacy in the Confederation. While in 2634 Geoffrey Tolwyn is but an inexperienced Ensign according to the novel, in the Handbook, he is a Pilgrim War veteran.
Articles of the Handbook include a thorough explanation of the physics of space and jump travel. The Handbook suggests that "jump"ing is instant teleportation from a star system to another, whereas other sources mention that time passes while a ship is in "jump space". The Handbook also suggests that jump points exist on the surface of a star and link to other stars, whereas the games have shown that there are in-system and out-system jumps, and their location is unrelated to a star.
Other details include Iason being destroyed by two B'ru'k-class ships instead of a single (undefined) Kilrathi ship; the Confederation attempting an invasion against G'wriss instead of Kilrah leading to the Custer's Carnival; the Terran Confederation presented to be much smaller than implied in the novels (it consists only of 5 Sectors, and its members are only Humans; in other sources many more Sectors are mentioned, with various alien species as its members); Christopher Blair being an orphan, whereas his parents are implies to be alive in Wing Commander Academy; Bossman death is mentioned per movie canon, although he is alive in the game (furthermore, his name is inconsistent).
There are also some subtle nods to the games. The stellar maps contain system and planet names originally seen in the games. The Pegasus Station is mentioned to be located in the Dakota system (from the Wing Commander I), whereas this is not mentioned in the film. The article about the Kilrathi tactics mentions that they react in taunts during battle; taunting is a gameplay feature in the games. Blair's and Marshall's destruction of a Kilrathi ship during training is mentioned, being a reference to the event seen in an Academy episode Red and Blue.
The later published manual for Wing Commander Arena: Star*Soldier takes material from this, and considers the source (the movies, and the novels) as an official part of the Wing Commander Canon. But treats certain aspects of it as being 'mistakes' by the in-universe writers who helped publish it (similar to how modern historians don't always 'agree' and write different explanations and descriptions for the same events). Star*Soldier attempts to fix some of the discrepancies such as expanding on the history of human space flight and exploration. That Pilgrims were not the only humans colonizing the stars, that some humans were colonizing a little bit earlier, or at the same time as the Pilgrims but never 'evolved' beyond basic humans. Or that their might be different 'jump' technologies (with different effects).
The book is divided in 4 sections, Unclassified, Confidential, Secret and Top Secret.
query "news update" media=popmag, level=UNCLASSIFIED | return=7
- An interview of Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn to Davis Davis, senior editor of Jubilee (
query "admiral tolwyn" media=popmag, level=UNCLASSIFIED source=Jubilee magazine, 2654.042)
- History of the Terran-Kilrathi War from the Current Events Annual archives (
query="terran-kilrathi war, history" | source=Student's Encyclopedia Current Events Annual, 2653, HarperCollins, TERRA)
- History of the Pilgrim War, excerpts from the 123rd Edition of The Student's Encyclopedia (
query="pilgrim war, history" media=encyc, level=UNCLASSIFIED | source=Student's Encyclopedia Current Events Annual, 2653, HarperCollins, TERRA)
- Major Arnold Blair's obituary from Solar Newswire Service (
query "death, sf maj arnold blair" media=obit, level=UNCLASSIFIED | source=Solar Newswire Service, 2634.302)
- Joan's Ships of Known Space (
query "joan's ships of known space" level=UNCLASSIFIEDwith subqueries from
- Jeannette Deveraux's letter about Kien Chen's death (
query "death, sf lt cmdr kien chen" media=ship archives level=UNCLASSIFIED | sort=bestmatch | return=1)
- Description of space travel technology such as impulse drive, ramscoop, hopper drive and jump drive, also narrating the beginning of space travels, from Every Citizen's Guide to Practical Science (
query "jump physics, layman" media=pracsci mag level=UNCLASSIFIED | source=1st ed. cit publ. Practical Science, TERRA, 2651)
This section also contains several fictitious advertisements. Products and companies advertised are Durasteel Bomb Shelters, a Personal Holographic Assistant by Metadynamix, authentic Frasian warsop eggs, VR sports, tour in the undisturbed Gemini Sector, Galaxy Investment Group, Neural massage and exotic holo-blooms
query "confidential update" media=org_class, level=CONFIDENTIAL | return=8
- Nose art (
query "pilot nose art, cs tiger claw" media=org_class level CONFIDENTIAL | sort=bestmatch | return=1)
- Pilot reviews (
pilot reviews, cs tiger claw) with Final Evaluation of Christopher Blair (
query "lt blair, cs tiger claw" media=archives/confid | source=TCSF Flight School, SIRIUS, 2654) and Todd Marshall (
query "lt marshall, cs tiger claw") as well as pilots of the Tiger Claw (
source=CS Tiger Claw bi-annual pilot eval)
- Description of boarding operation procedures and description of equipment seen in the film (
query "boarding protocol, confed marines" | source=confed marine corps.sop.m-462.document)
- Tiger Claw deck plans (
query "deck plans, cs tiger claw", level=CONFIDENTIAL special=file not available for print at any security level | source=csn.ship in service.schematics.tigerclaw)
- Flight Deck protocol (
query "flight deck protocol, confed naval" media=mil.archive.pers | level=CONFIDENTIAL | a_rank=MCPO | a_name=? source=mil.archive.pers.cn.tigerclaw.MCPO.9842-68399)
- List of casualties of pilots (
query "casualties, 88th fighter wing" media=mil.archive.cn. level=CONFIDENTIAL | sort=most recent | return=1)
- Silhouettes of ship models appearing in the film (
query "ship silhouettes (relative sizes)" media=mil.archive level=CONFIDENTIAL | sort=smallest | return=all)
- A survey of Kilrathi history, evolution, psychology and military tactics from Document C776b-12, published by the Office of Tactical Intelligence(
query "kilrathi tactics" media=oti | level=CONFIDENTIAL sort=most recent | return=1 source=mil.archive.oti.dbase05A-2653.kilrathi.C776b-12.12)
query "secret update" media=org_ops| level=SECRET | return=4
- Description of the Pegasus Station from the Confed Military Installation Index (
query "pegasus naval base" media=org_ops | level=SECRET sort=bestmatch | return=1 source=Confed Installation Index, 2653)
- Tolwyn's personal files with profiles of senior officers appearing in the film (
query "profile cn senior officers" media=org_ops | level=SECRET sort=bestmatch | return=4 | source=personnel.senior_officer_profiles)
- Description of the Skipper Missile from the CN Threat Report K459-C (
query "kilrathi skipper missile" media=org_ops | level=SECRET sort=bestmatch | return=1 | source=cn_reports.intel.kilrathi_missiles). This article also has a cf. to Threat Report K422-B concerning a "Kilrathi Stealth Fighter", a possible reference to the Strakha.
- Description and history of the CS Iason, including the first contact with the Kilrathi, compiled from staff reports, Inspector General's Office, CN (
query "loss of iason, inquiry report" media=org_ops | level=SECRET sort=bestmatch | return=1 source=cn_reports.intel.confederation_ships.losses)
query "top_secret update" media=org_top, level=TOP_SECRET | return=5
- Psychological profile of Christopher Blair fro the Office of Special Psychological Operations
queary "cn academy security report, christopher blair" media=CNA Security, level=TOP SECRET | sort=bestmatch | source=Office of Special Psychological Operations, 2653.103)
- Explanation on the source of the Pilgrim powers (
query "intelligence, pilgrim powers" media=Inelligence doc level=TOP SECRET | sort=bestmatch | return=1 | source=Progress University, Sem II, 2641)
- History and description of the NAVCOM A.I., escerpted from Advanced Theories of Space Navigation. (
query "navcom" media=Confed military arch., level=TOP SECRET | sort=bestmatch | return=1 | source=Advanced Theories of Space Navigation; 2651)
- James Taggart's background, revealing his duty on the Iason and capture by the Kilrathi. (
query "escape, taggart" media=CIS docs, level=TOP SECRET sort=bestmatch | return=1 |source=Confederation Navy Intelligence reports | 2641.350)
- Taggart's message to Tolwyn shortly before the beginning of the movie. (
query "correspondence, taggart to tolwyn" media=U-Web mem level=TOP SECRET | sort=bestmatch | return=1 | source=diligent/Captain James Taggart, TERRA, 2654)