When I first became convinced that I could write fiction and make enough money to call it a living, I had a number of ideas I wanted to pursue. The first and most important turned out to be The Science Officer, which led us into the entirety of the Alexandria Station Universe (minus only a few parts I don’t consider canon at this point).
Another was the idea that became Kincaide Kataragama and The Eden Package. At the time however (2014), I knew that I wasn’t a good enough writer to pull off something like that. Too big. Too many moving pieces, considering that I expected six main characters who were all radically different people with different motives, goals, methodologies and even species.
So I waited.
I used to have a job doing Business Intelligence Systems design. Database Architecture and the like. Lived in t-sql and wrote incredibly complex filtering systems. (My favorite query started out with 17,000 lines of code, all well documented internally because I had a system, before I managed to refine it down to about 9,000 after polishing. Big. Any time you have 20+ internal temp tables, shit gets messy.)
On my machine I work, I had a notepad++ file and would keep story ideas there any time something interesting came up, emailing it home to myself regularly. For years. What became the Eden Package was huge, in the number of lines of ideas, notes, and other things.
Eventually, I reached a new plateau of my craft that I felt like I could go beyond the three chapters I had in my head (which came out pretty close to how you will read them in January). It was the rest that took a lot of work.
Eden Package came in at a little over 160,000 words. By far the single longest title I’ve written to date, mostly because I tend to keep novels shorter and use them as punctuation in much longer series arcs where 250,000-400,000 words is my goal. Jessica et al runs closer to one million, but I originally only intended to write a trilogy and go on to something else. (That’s a story I’ve talked about elsewhere, and might again later.)
Eden Package took time, because there were so many moving parts. Cloning, but a new form of cloning, where you walk into a booth that acts like a transporter beam from Star Trek, except that you don’t go anywhere. Just get reduced to information and stored in a database. Forever.
Or at least until they need a copy of you and decant one.
Maybe an earlier you died of old age. Maybe they needed your genetics for some experiment. Something. Personal timelines don’t have to line up with anything, because a hundred years might pass. Or they might Index you to have an updated copy, then immediately print you again, if you are important enough.
But where did the idea come from?
As you can see, my copy is a bit worn. I got it new, back in 1978, and kept it when I passed most of my old comic book collection on to a friend for his kids a decade or so ago. (Had I known that SOB would immediately turn around and sell them instead…)
There is a ship. It is fleeing ahead of some catastrophe that is never fully explained in the comic, mostly because these titles were always one-off things designed to see if they wanted to expand it into a full title, or maybe do a four-issue run like they did in those days. There have been a few reboots that went beyond that final frame, but they never went anywhere and were nearly impossible to find print copies these days for a reasonable price. (Haven’t looked lately, so that might have changed.)
The idea of a telepath as an organic component for the FTL drive is fantastically fun, especially if you have one who was built, instead of born. Or rather, some mad scientist (that fucker Hasan Ildar in this case) started with a woman who had telepathic abilities, then started pushing the envelope. Radically. She’s not human any more. Part squid. Part other things. Extremely powerful. Designed to never achieve maturity in body or mind, so perpetually twelve years old.
But the power to alter genes and print out new experiments means there will be men who want to create sex objects. (There will be. Human males today are like that. Maybe we change later, but I’m not holding my breath.) So another Bio-god created Monster Wives to have sex with. All the worst nightmares he could come up with, because the man was an adrenaline junkie and had to keep upping the dosage, as it were. Until it killed him. Hopefully, he’s enjoying his time in hell.
The species that originally found Earth (the Alvar) realized that humans would be far better than any of the slave species they had been using to power their engines, so they immediately conquered the planet and rounded up all the survivors they could. Then they filtered those for the one best suited to some mental abilities and bred them.
And let their human slaves tinker on one another.
Dashavatara is the Tenth Avatar of Vishnu, come down to kick ass when things go wrong, so that was what they named the ship. The humans, working in a little conspiracy, built it to carry them beyond Alvar reach, where they could be free.
Then Kincaide and friends change a few things, in order to rescue those Monster Wives, and leave that asshole Ildar behind.
And run like hell for the warp-shroud.
Big. Messy. Complicated. I had a lot of space to cover what could have easily been two novels, but I wanted it all in one space, because the emotional arc was tremendous here.
It will be a trilogy. Today (12/20), I am about to finish the sixth and final First Centurion Kosnett novel. My plan is to start writing the second volume in Kincaide’s War in January. It will also be huge. Target again 160-170k. The series should be a trilogy, with Eden Package, Vehicles of Epiphany, and Ships of Heaven as the titles right now.
Eden Package, however, does stand on its own. And is an entire step bigger and more complicated than Jessica Keller or the Alexandria Station Universe, because I have aliens. Lots of them. History where the Alvar individually live 5000-8000 years, and their ruling dynasty has been on the throne since before humans emerged as a distinct species.
Book two will have an even older foe out there, because I enjoy contemplating the sorts of things that can happen when you really build for eternity in space.
When does somebody cross over and present as a god, anyway?
Personally, I’m looking forward to folks commenting on Eden Package. Something of a labor of love, but also a big sandbox that warrants the term Epic Space Opera.
Who will end up controlling the galaxy, when all is said and done? Or the universe?
Because humans and Alvar will never be able to live in harmony. Not unless there is a revolution.