In about a week, the third Star Tribes book drops. SeptStar. This one was probably my favorite of the five to write, because you’ll get to meet the Anndaing (“ahn-DAH-ing”). If humans evolved from an arboreal tree shrew, the Anndaing started as hammerhead sharks.

Seriously. Sharkskin. That mobile hammer made of cartilage with eyes at either end. Fins that end in five fingers and a thumb. They count in a base-12 system, so everything is in zwolfs. Crence Miray was a joy because his favorite curse word is some variant of “tunashit.”

Everything about a new species/culture in a space opera should be different. I’ve bitched before about cheap special effects. That’s fine in a television show, where you can’t expect them to spend stupid amounts of money every week. Movies can like that, too, depending.

But you have no excuse to only make a standard model erect biped when writing Space Opera. Doc Smith taught me that one early on, with classifications that started at AAAAA and went down to ZZZZZ to distinguish various species. We’re leave off the specism, because he was writing in a different era, and had non-human heroes that were just as important as the human ones Worzel, Nadrek, and Tregonsee really got me to dreaming about just how weird I could get as a writer. (And when the Lazarus books come out next year, you’ll see just how weird I could get when I challenged myself.)

So when I came up with the Anndaing Merchants Guild and Merchants Bank, I had to get crazy, and fun. New culture. New language. New everything. They aren’t going to be humans with paint or nasal prosthetics. They don’t have to be.

If you’ve ever read any of my books, you’ll also know that sticking it to the man is a central theme. Fiction about chosen ones bores me to tears and book-tossing. I prefer the aesthetic of ‘punk. Any ‘punk. People rising up against an evil (or at least overbearing) empire that thwarts people.

There are no successful empires in human history. Read that again.

All of them fail. Fall. Disappear. The big ones get remembered. The important ones influence the future for good or ill. Think of the Greeks and Romans, and their impact on Western Europe (and thus the world). Or ancient Persian and everything they did. Mohammed and his social descendants. China is a record of new dynasties replacing old ones, time and again, but they have maintained a steady bureaucracy over that time. It’s only the new emperors who decide to erase predecessors, one way or another.

So SeptStar is the middle of the Star Tribes. The turning point. It also lets me introduce the Ovanii as well as the Anndaing. Sharp readers will see the Norse/Vikings in the Ovanii, as they really were, rather than how medieval Irish monks wanted them portrayed. They were culturally advanced compared to the Dark Ages. Socially advanced. Marauders, but they saw much of the world around them as backwards barbarians, rather than the other way around. It was only in the war of press releases that they lost, but even then they formed an important element in European history.

So with this novel we’re going to go meet someone that might be powerful enough to actually argue with the Sept Empire. The Anndaing Merchants Guild. And the Ovanii, but that’s later and even more fun.

The second half of the series lets me also ruminate on those arcs of empire I mentioned above. How do they fail? Why? even When?

Not many of you probably know that my undergraduate work included both political science (mostly military/international theory) and a separate and unrelated major in philosophy (generally epistemology) . Plus I read a crap ton of history even today.

I went on a grad school trip to the Soviet Union in 1991 and took the then-new Fagles translation of The Iliad (in hardcover, still on my shelf) to read, because Professor Anthony Guthyel had such a huge impact on my thinking about such things in my Origins of Western Literature (E101) class as an undergrad.

Empires, including the Sept.

Plus, now that you’ve met Amirin Pasdar and Hadi Rostami I can talk about the nature of evil. Every character is the hero of their own story. Very few set out to be villains, but many end up there.

It is all a matter of perspective. Pasdar and Rostami are going to talk about many things, including evil, because it is a topic worth exploring. When is an action evil and when it is righteous? That’s seriously the theme, starting with SeptStar and running through SwiftStar and finally into MorningStar. Hopefully, I will spur you to thinking deeper thoughts about such things.

So make sure you have your preorders in and I hope you will enjoy this amazing ride. (And yes, MorningStar does leave it open to keep going later if I want, but you have to get there.)


Lemme end by wondering out loud about the one guy who was apparently quite upset that I didn’t kill Daniel and everyone else at the end of book two (of five). Seriously? Apparently, the only way to get a good rating there was to kill my main character. And I quote: “The narrative was entertaining until it moved into an overuse cliche ending. At that point I was hoping the main character would ride his vehicle into the sun. No such luck.

The hero surviving is cliche? What do you normally read?

Other folks could help out here by adding some nicer reviews. I figure he’s the guy that read every book in the Longshot Hypothesis series and kept leaving bad reviews because he didn’t like them. EVERY BOOK. (shaking my head at some people.)