As everyone remembers, I started playing the Star Fleet Battles (SFB) tabletop board game in the early 80s. Played a LOT. Had the early editions, then the collection when they redid everything. And a lot of SSD books and expansions. It was good. Played up until I came back from Los Angeles in 95. (broken and angry. Different story for a different day.) Haven’t really played since because none of my gamer buddies were into that.
Instead, I played Warhammer 40k for a while. (Small Eldar and Space Marines forces, then large Imperial Guard Heavy Armor. Then super orky cavalry army.) Got out of that and played Flames of War for a while in the mid oughts and later, before selling everything off again and calling it good.
Between 1990 and 2001, I moved a shit ton of times. Usually zip codes. Frequently time zones. My SFB stuff took up a heavy double milk crate. It is currently in my office, tucked under the shelf where the kitty watches the hillside for bunnies.
When I needed names for Republic of Aquitaine officers, Phil Kosnett was one that had been used in SFB. (Those folks tuckerized a buddy who went on to become a Foreign Service Officer and eventually Ambassador. Phil recently returned from being the US Ambassador to Kosovo, and I think (haven’t confirmed with him yet) that he is done and retiring.)
CS-405 was the ship I needed, to tell that story. At the time, I had no idea Kosnett existed as anything but a James T. Kirk stand in for SFB. But he was the guy who got things done in various historical scenarios in SFB, so obviously he made a good impression back then. And I used him.
I had completed writing Petron before I discovered he was a real person. Which just made it all the more awesome.
With that in mind, I had promised a follow-on series to Jessica for Phil. (Plus three others, if you were paying attention. And hopefully I’ll get to them eventually, as well.)
Encounter at Vilahana was written with Phil and Alison Kosnett directly in mind (though I didn’t know she existed at the time either and she occasionally wants to know why I don’t retcon everything to include her. She is in the opening of Vilahana. Phil actually sent me the idea for that opening commentary on the former Alison Smith.)
All this is on my mind because just now, I wrote the final bits of book five. Empire at Gloran.
- Encounter at Vilahana
- Consensus at Aditi
- Hegemony at Dalou
- Princes at Ewin
- Empire at Gloran
As I’m writing the last epilogue this morning, it’s Phil and Heather, reviewing what they’ve done and looking forward to the ^final^ novel in the series, which will be Domain at Yaumgan.
I’ve written them in pairs up until now, but didn’t really have the terrible problem that needed solving for Six. These have not been your typical military space opera with grand, epic space battles filling whole chapters. Its been my chance to create a handful of random new cultures, somewhat isolated from everyone else, and then explore them.
Because Phil is an explorer. A diplomat. He’s also a hardass who will punch you in the mouth if you need it. (The First Centurion. I haven’t asked The Ambassador, but he’s like 6’3 tall, so I wouldn’t recommend needing to find out.)
If you pay attention, you will see a lot of Star Fleet Battles in the cultures of the Balhee Cluster. I appreciate that most of you have only read Vilahana, but trust me, if you look, you’ll see them. That was intentional on my part. Part of the homage to Star Fleet Captain Phil Kosnett and the Constitution-class Heavy Cruiser USS Kongo (NCC-1710. again, in there, because I can). Partly my way to say thanks to Phil for being such an amazing guy.
So I have just finished #5 a few minutes ago. And I have a few projects to complete before I go after #6, because writer-brain finally decided to tell me the plot and story arc. Thus, I have to go invent a whole bunch of new cultural notes and issues to address.
And it’s gonna be fun.
At some point, I also plan on Heather having a series, set another stretch in the future from Vilahana. Because I can. And you’re having almost as much fun as I am.
So get Aditi when it comes out in November. Dalou and Ewin are (currently) April and May of 2022. Gloran and Yaumgan are going to be in the fall.
I still don’t know if there will be a book seven. I’m leaning against it, if only because it really needs to be its own series spun outward, considering where things are headed right now.
But it will be fun. Epic. Interesting.
Hope you come along for the ride.