Hopefully by now, the name Hammerfield means all sorts of useful and intersting things to you. This is important, because we’re about a week away from the Hammerfield Saga dropping. I will be so thrilled when the rest of you are able to know how Season One of The Science Officer books winds up.
It is not the place I expected when I set out. There were three Javier Aritza books out (The Science Officer, The Mind Field, and The Gilded Cage), and I had left things in a kinda dark place. (You tell me The Gilded Cage is a bright and cheery book. I dare you.) So I knew that I wanted the fourth book to be a little less dark. The result was The Pleasure Dome (#4), which might still be my favorite of all of them.
Coming out of that, I had already planned the basic elements of the War of the Pirate Clans, but writer-brain rarely lets me know what is actually going to happen until a page, or sometimes only a paragraph ahead. The Doomsday Vault (#5) was intended to run pretty much as it did, being something of an homage/pastiche to Run Silent, Run Deep, at least intellectually. And to set up a massive confrontation with the asshole from The Pleasure Dome.
From there, things went sideways on me.
One of the things that people have commented about my writing is that my characters tend to grow and change over time. I do. Frequently, someone asks me about something in the past and I will respond with “That was so many me’s ago, I don’t ever remember him, or the person he became, or the six after that.”
I know that some authors believe that your characters should stay roughly the same over an arc of stories, but that never feels right to me. Are you the same person you were five years ago? Would you make the same choices now you would have then? Don’t get me wrong. I like who I am today, and wouldn’t go back and make easier choices, because I would never be here.
I could have been a lawyer. Would have been magnificently successful, but I’d be on my third trophy wife by now and utterly miserable. Could have been a professor. Would have been successful there, but I’d be dull and boring (no offense, Lew and Nat, or Ken and David).
So here I am, totally different guy from the one I was then.
Javier grows. I won’t say grows up, because adulting is rarely as much fun as teenaging, but you get the point. If you have been paying attention to the early stories, you will know just how damaged he is. I won’t say flawed, because that suggests permanency. He’s damaged. Healing, but slowly. Over the course of the War with Valko Slavkov, he has to make hard choices.
More importantly, he has to turn into the man he could have been but never became, but for reasons never discussed. You’ll learn what they are now. Why he blew up his career with the Concord Fleet. Why he has two ex-wives. Why he ended up alone on a Sentient Probe/Cutter with only Suvi and the Four Musketeers to keep him company.
At the same time, the other characters grow. They are all damaged, to one degree or another. (As are we all, when you think about it.) Wracked by guilt and loss. Pain. Might-have-beens. Each of them has to face their own darkness and come to terms with it. Zakhar. Suvi. Afia. Pete. But most importantly, Djamila.
Her arc is almost as big, and almost as important, as the one Javier goes through over the course of these eight books. In The Last Flagship (#6), she has to come face to face with death itself, and confront an angry AI in control of an entire First Rate Galleon. And then, Djamila must find the willingness to step past the fear that has been with her for so many years. She must do the most intimidating, frightening thing she had ever done in her entire life.
Thank you to all the amazing people who have pre-ordered. The numbers are kinda frightening and boggling for me to look at. Hopefully, you will find yourself satisfied with where Season One went to. It was eight titles. Season Two will be nine, because I have partly written a transition piece, three short stories that introduce new characters for Season Two and set the galaxy up for where you go when you might never safely return to Concord space.
I will not, however, be dropping them every two months, like I did these last five. That pretty much consumed my life, and I really want to concentrate on getting Jessica Keller’s story told. I just finished the first editing pass on book six: The Red Admiral, and I’m rather pleased with it. It’s long (135k words, when Javier runs 25-30k each), and deep. And begins a new interior trilogy (6-8) that sees the war with Buran get serious.
I have three Jessicas to write, and a couple of other projects that I can’t tell you about until summer. I will promise at least a couple of Javiers each year for the next couple, at least until things settle down a little.
I have titles for most of Season Two. And I don’t really anticipate it going into multi-volume story arcs. I like the ability to tell a story at 25-30,00 words. I have to stay on topic. It is the novella equivalent of a short story: Get in, get out, without meandering.
Instead, they will be single issue stories. And I plan to focus a little more on the science side of The Science Officer, and a little less on the piracy. After all, as you will see in a little under a week, Javier and the crew of the First Rate Galleon Hammerfield are rather done with piracy, and poised on the verge of a grand, brand new adventure.
I hope you will join me for their voyages, and I look forward to hearing from you what you think about the Hammerfield Saga.
shade and sweet water,
West of the Mountains, WA