Shadow of the Dominion


So, news update. Some of you have been paying attention to the new series getting ramped up over the rest of the fall and into the winter. Shadow of the Dominion. Fun stuff.

The old discussion in the genre of Science Fiction is whether a series is Space Opera or Space Adventure. Mostly, the distinction is scale. In the 8th Jessica Keller book Winterhome (spoilers, proceed with caution), we see the war taken to nearly impossible levels, as Moirrey and a few special friends take the war to Buran itself and end up slaying a god.

And there’s still a 9th novel coming in December. Petron. And we’ll top everything that happens in Winterhome.

Space Opera. Epic Space Opera. Every novel escalates the crazy and risk and threat to another level.

Contrast that with Shadow of the Dominion. We start with the novel Longshot Hypothesis. I had a silly idea as a world-building exercise, which I’ll share with you here. (Some of you have already heard this, so just smile.)

Imagine if Darth Vader had a mid-life crisis, stripped off the armor (minus the cyborg bits and dueling scars, mind you), and replaced Chewbacca as the First Mate on the Millennium Falcon. And we just had adventures, instead of a rebel alliance, a death star, ancient religions, and freudian angst.

I had a LOT of fun writing these books. Got to practice aliens. There are no aliens in the Alexandria Station universe, with the notable exception of the Sentient warships. (And look how THAT turned out.)

Part of the fun of really big space stories (going beyond Earth and First Contact tales) is that you can create alien creatures. And I don’t mean humans with some body paint and a nasal prosthetic. I mean my friend Glaxu, who is best described as a Dire Ground Cuckoo. (Call him a roadrunner and watch the man open you up with a dewclaw.)

1.3 meters tall. Ground Cuckoo (of which the American Roadrunner is a type, but also a pejorative among his kind and he gets a little testy about that). Long legs. Short arms. Zygodactyl toes. Feathers. Beak. Really twisted sense of humor. Head crest.

How, exactly, does a Mondi’s body language go? Like I said, practicing aliens who are alien.

All this is on my mind this morning because I just logged onto the Amazons and “claimed” the third Shadow of the Dominion book: Outermost.

It’s not obvious to the rest of you yet, but all six of the titles in the series are actually ship names.

I have been hard at work, adjusting to some bubbles in the production schedule, but I just sent Princess Rualoh off to the copy-editor last night. And Outermost is up for pre-order as of yesterday.

Getting back to space adventure versus epic space opera. These six novels tell one long arc of a story, but the scope is personal. We’re not deciding the future shape of the galaxy or the human race here. Just Valentinian Tarasicodissa and his ongoing mission to keep his ship flying and himself out of jail.

Honestly, everything that happens is mostly the work of other people maneuvering him into progressively worse places and him using every bit of luck and cunning he’s got to wriggle off the hook.

Better, I was cheering, crying, and planning as I finished a slow-read through Princess Rualoh last night. Seriously emotional story (at least for me). Hopefully, you’ll feel the same way when we all get there in February.

I had so much fun. Seriously. All of book six is one on-going conspiracy as almost every player huddles with someone in the group to work out some deal separate from everyone else, in the middle of an on-going, running firefight, trapped in an abandoned catacomb, being hunted by sex-crazed cannibals. (Spare me your fantasies, please.)

I consciously forget novels after I’m done writing them. It helps with the editorial process, because I’m reading the words for the first time and only then remembering what I was doing, but it was obvious how much fun I was having, keeping all the plates spinning.

Best part, this one has legs. We haven’t saved the galaxy at the end, merely escaped the latest trap. That lets me write a new novel/trilogy/series sometime in the future if folks are that excited about what happens with the gang. And I’ve left a LOT of places they could go at the end of this one.

But that’s in the future. Right now, #1 is out, and #2 and #3 are available for pre-order. Also, my plan at present (this might change) is to send out some chunk of the rules of a new style of poker called Arcades. Had to invent the rules for Hard Bargain, and they became a running metaphor all the way to the very end.

Met a lovely lady the other day who is having a custom tarot deck made for her latest fantasy series, and that got me to thinking about Arcades. You cannot play the game with a standard Hoyle deck, because it requires 72 cards in six suits. (It’s Science Fiction, why the hell should I be limited to what dead people considered poker before we invented indoor plumbing?)

At the same time, you can apparently have custom card decks made in a “Print On Demand” model, meaning I supply the images and they’ll just spit out a deck when you order it.

If you think this sounds like fun, let me know. Until last week, I had no intention of actually turning Arcades into something the rest of you could do at home, but there is NO REASON WHATSOEVER why you could not.

It will cost me time and money to set up, however, so I have to be careful and not just chase that down the rabbit hole. Instead, I’ll take a tally of people interested, and if we ever get to a critical mass, I’ll hire me a graphic artist to do the design work.

So, go get your pre-orders for the novels, and let me know about Arcades, once you’ve had a chance to play the game with Valentinian and the Sheriff of Bohrne Station. (And a few friends.)

y’all have fun.