I want to start by thanking you all for the reception you've given The First Imperium. It's been the fastest-selling volume so far, and that's because of all of you. I just wanted to give a few updates on upcoming releases, and then I'm going to start something new on the blog. I get a lot of email (which I always answer) and readers also mention various things on reviews, etc. I figure for every person who emails and asks something, there are probably 20 who are curious about the same thing. So I'm going to chat a little about these things on various blog posts. It'll be almost like I'm interviewing myself, but the questions will be amalgams of the types of things readers have asked me.
First, upcoming stuff:
Bitter Glory - this is another prequel novella (similar to Tombstone). It is set about 25 years before Marines, and it gives some backstory on Admiral Garret. As with Tombstone, it is a novella (about a third the length of the novels) and it is not in the direct story line. So if you don't like shorter works or backstory outside the arc of the main series, it's probably not for you. Of course, I'd love all of you to buy it, but only if you'll enjoy it. I am hoping to have it out in about one week, and I will announce it here and on the mailing list.
The Line Must Hold - Book 5 of Crimson Worlds. The listed release date is July, but there is a good chance this book will be out before then. I can't be sure, so I'm not going to list an alternative. But I'm pretty sure it will be early.
The Gates of Hell - this is the 3rd of the prequel novellas. It is about General Holm when he was a junior officer. Again, only for those who like prequel/backstory and shorter works. It should be out a few weeks after Book 5.
I also have a few new novels that will be released around summer and early fall. I'll be posting some info on these shortly.
Now, on to the simulated Q+A...
1.) Your release dates are a little vague, and they seem to move around a bit. WTF?
I've gotten an earful (at least a virtual one) from a bunch of people about this. The truth is I have always hated the enormous gap between releases of books in series I am reading. Since I write pretty quickly, I tend to be able to get books out fairly often. But since I don't pack in a lot of down time in the projected schedule, I'm subject to running late if something comes up (like a book just going slowly or a two week power failure when I was writing A Little Rebellion). The only real alternative would be to lengthen the release schedule and sit on finished books, but I don't want to do that, so my release dates will continue to be projected. This can work both ways, as I currently expect to get the next CW book out before the posted release date.
2.) Your science is awesome/your science is crap.
Ok, my education is in engineering, and I had a lot of physics classes (and chem and engineering mechanics). I am not a theoretical physicist, but I do have a basic idea of the science I'm groping my way through. Some of you commend the realism; some of you want to send me back to the lecture hall for a refresher.
Generally, I try to maintain a degree of scientific plausibility in the books, but not at the expense of the story. I hate SF that just solves every problem with made up science. On the other hand, I do make concessions to allow the storylines to progress. If I was trying to be 100% plausible, the superpowers would be fighting each other in the solar system only.
I would say I try to keep the science superficially realistic. Also, it's as much about retarding progress in certain areas as it is projecting new technologies. For example, I'm inclined to think that artificial intelligences in 200 years will be sophisticated enough to operate without human supervision. I suspect robotics will be employed more on the battlefield than it is by my Marines. But the heart of the story is the people involved in it, so in some cases I'm making decisions based on that.
Oh yeah, and I made one big brainfreeze that a bunch of you caught me on. I mention shockwaves moving through space in book two. I know perfectly well shockwaves don't travel through a vacuum...it was just a foul up. Nevertheless, the premise remains the same. If a nuke 25,000 times as strong as the Hiroshima bomb detonates right next to you it's gonna hurt. Just not from shockwaves.
3.) What are you, some sort of political ideologue?
This one sort of surprised me, but I got a handful of crappy reviews on Barnes and Noble that turned out to be nothing but political rants from people who managed to take offense at the subject matter. It surprised me because I certainly never intended the books to be political in any way. At least not beyond the premise of the overall story. There does need to be conflict for a good story, especially one that is military/adventure in nature.
Certainly, the future depicted is dystopian in nature, and that was intentional. I don't care for utopian stories where everyone is wonderful and mankind has ascended beyond petty greed and squabbles. I'm too much of a student of history to suspend that much disbelief to enjoy a piece of fiction. If there is a political message, it's just that if people don't value freedom when they have it, then sooner or later someone will take it away from them. I'd refer doubters to any conveniently located history book to back that up.
Any close parallels between the current world outlook and the books is purely conjectural. I certainly think something of the sort could happen, but I am not predicting it, nor am I proposing political solutions. Other than valuing and protecting freedom. It's something most of the humans who have been born on this planet never experienced, and it's not something you want to lose. I get to write what I want in these books and you get to read whatever you want. That's a pretty rare thing historically, and there is no reason to assume it couldn't change.
Dictatorships and elitist oligarchies can develop from the right or left, equally easily. The overall story arc of the CW series is the chance for rebirth of a society that has brought itself to the edge of destruction through bad choices, corrupt politics, war, and pollution. It's basically a dark story, but it's not a political manifesto by any means. I'm telling a story, not trying to impose any belief structure on anyone. Except maybe to value your freedom. Because if you lose it you may not be allowed to buy my books anymore...and we wouldn't want that, would we?
Next time I will consider some questions/comments about the military aspects of the books, including nomenclature, tactics, and equipment I've been both praised and taken to task for. I'll also go through a few questions I've had on how I write and a few similar items.