Birth Of A Series

The Compact Universe

Back in 2015, I’d gotten tired of trying to make the Jim Winter brand go. I dumped all the Kepler stories and Road Rules out independently. It infuriated some writers I’d dealt with, but frankly, the whole grind got old. Indie was supposedly a big thing. So what could I do if I still wanted to write?

I’d made notes over the years on how to write a space opera that was not Star Trek. I had a list. No time travel. That trope has made vampires look new and different. No teleporters. Sorry, but beaming screams Trek, even in series that manage to pull it off. I made my human polity dysfunctional, my warp drive wonky, and opted for wormholes as that was what all the cool kids were doing for FTL. But wormholes make you sick.

What about aliens? I could cop to lazy writing by making them all bipedal mammals, but if I suggest there’s a reason besides Trek’s Preservers for that, like the chemistry of local stellar groups affecting how life forms, it makes more sense. I had all sort of aliens, but decided the most interesting had an odd way to reproduce. Eventually, I needed to come up with a story to tell to put all this in.

One day, I was watching TV. A video game ad came on showing ordinary people – secretaries and street vendors and truckdrivers – all handling weapons of war while the Rolling Stones sang “Gimme Shelter” in the background. What was that?

Thus The Children of Amargosa was born. Except that there’s more than one story to it. So I sketched out what became Second Wave and the forthcoming Storming Amargosa. But there was a lot more to this universe. I wrote The Roots of War (first as The First One’s Free, then Before Amargosa.) The idea was to show an interstellar war’s beginnings from the aliens’ point of view. That spawned Tishla. And Douglas Best. And the Temple of Marilyn. And Jefivah. And…

Between Free/Before/RootsThe Marilynists, and Gimme Shelter (originally the first few chapters of The Children of Amargosa), I had fleshed out my universe beyond one distant, occupied colony. This is now the Seeds of War Arc. And I would need to tell stories there to bridge the gap between Children and Second Wave. So I wrote Broken Skies. That spawned Tol Germanicus and made Leitman something more than a low-rent Littlefinger conning his way through space. I wrote Warped. And I raised Tishla’s profile by giving her her own story. That is the Homefront Arc, to be rereleased later this year.

The story is elaborate. I already know what the next two trilogies would be if I found a way to continue. But with three novellas, a newsletter serial, and the last Amargosa novel in the can, it’s time to take a break.