The Star Tribes series of books has been something of an anomaly for me. The main character is an Arab of Algerian descent, trained as a French chef. The Mbaysey are an entire tribe of women, and they are 85% female, originally (culturally) Nigerian/Igbo.
The villains are generally Persians from the plateau, culturally evolved forward from a science fiction blend of both Shia and Sunni, without either being all that important, so much as the overarching culture. Its the same way that the United States tends to be generically “Christian” in many ways, without getting deeper into Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, or anything else.
At its heart, Star Tribes is about revolution. That’s high in my mind this morning as we wake up from such a celebrations in the US. For many people, overdrinking and playing with high explosives is their definition, but the original meaning is to escape from an overarching monarchical authority and establish freedom to commit oligarchy.
And we have always been an oligarchy in this country, regardless of whatever fan fiction you might have been taught in your US history class. From 1619 to the present day, white males of Christian background were established at the peak of the social and legal pyramid, with white women only really being allowed to vote in 1920. Minorities of various flavors were not even granted birthright citizenship until the middle of the 20th Century or later. Blacks weren’t guaranteed any rights until the mid 60’s and even that has been an uphill battle for them since then.
When I started out writing Daniel, I had him in mind. And Kathra and Ndidi. Daniel and Ndidi really are the heart and soul of the series. Daniel is an outsider who cannot give away the power he had been given, and cannot trust anyone else with it. He actually loses his agency at the beginning of book one, for those of you paying attention, and does not really get it back until then end of book five (MorningStar, coming in August).
The entire arc of the series will see the odds escalating. The price as well. Its Daniel’s story about how he has to come to grips with being a God. You will wander through a bout of serious depression with the man, as well as the all the other things.
At the same time, Ndidi will always be his sister in the soul, and you are starting to see how much that means to her, to him, and to Kathra. She represents the new generation coming up, unattached to the old ways of thinking, and free to pursue an entirely different way of seeing the world.
There will be a scene talking about her glasses. The Anndaing could fix her eyes. Make them perfect. That they aren’t is a measure of how poor the Mbaysey are. Had her eyes been perfect, Ndidi would have been one of Kathra’s pilots, rather than her cook.
She is asked about retaining the glasses. For her, they are her symbol. She sees herself as a symbol that any child of the Mbaysey can rise and overcome whatever limitations are put in front of her, physical or otherwise.
Erin and the others are exceptional specimens of humanity.
Ndidi is extremely nearsighted and almost blind without her glasses. But she is comitatus. And an officer.
SwiftStar is an Ovanii warship. One of the lost ancients who are something of a metaphor for the Vikings of ancient Earth, seen as horrible reavers by the southerners who set the vision of how history saw them. The Ovanii are also where the Mbaysey might go in the future. A path Kathra could take, but more likely her great grandchildren, if they survive free long enough and prosper sufficient to build vast battlefleets that might wander through the uncharted depths of space.
I planned this series late in 2018, and wrote them over the course of 2019, with no expectation that the themes of black women rebelling against a white authority with religious overtones would hit so hard in the middle of 2020. But the themes themselves are universal, and I learned about Kondratieff Cycles in the 1980’s, so I always expected 2020 to be a cultural dumpster fire. (Ask some folks who’ve heard me talk about it in the WAY old days sometime.)
It is even worse than even I imagined but, science fiction is meant to ask “What if…?” even as it addresses cultural and social issues with a coat of body paint to obscure things. Star Tribes does that.
I’ve had folks pissed that I didn’t follow all the standard tropes of Space Opera, but seriously, have you read me? I’m all about sticking it to the man. This man happens to be a Caucasian with Church authority supposedly the foundation of his reign, even as the social elites wallow in a vast cesspool of debauchery that they deny to anyone else.
For those of you all caught up, you should preorder SwiftStar now.
For everyone else, it is long past time to expand your mind look at what it means that we will build space empires in the future, and on whose back those chains might live.