What’s up with Tor’s Battlestar Galactica novels? And why should you care?
by James Frenkel, Senior Editor, Tor Books
When we decided we wanted to publish Battlestar Galactica books, the first question people asked was, “What kind of stories will the books tell?” Ron Moore, the creator of the TV series, asked me that; so did lots of SF writers who loved the show and wanted to write novels set in the dark, complex, conflicted Battlestar Galactica universe Moore had created when he re-invented the show. (I gotta tell you—lots and lots of writers have volunteered to write these books; I’ve had to beat most of them away with sticks!)
We knew we wanted to tell the story of the miniseries that launched the series. That terrific first book, by Jeffrey A. Carver, we just called Battlestar Galactica, because it was based on the Sci Fi Channel miniseries. Our next decision was pretty easy, too. We didn’t want to have people write novels based on episodes of the series; we wanted to tell new stories: tales of the heroic, complicated, flawed characters who risk their necks fighting the Cylons, fighting for survival of the human race. And we wanted to give a bunch of talented writers room to create stories they were passionate about. So Craig Shaw Gardner wrote The Cylons’ Secret, a story set in the unplumbed time between the first Cylon-Human war and the return of the Cylons. Adama and Tighe were young then, as was Tom Zarek. It turned out to have a few real Cylon surprises that even I didn’t expect, which was part of the point. Sagittarius Is Bleeding, by the inimitable Peter David, is set in the "now" of the series. It addresses an issue that lies at the core of the series in a story that hasn’t been done on tv: the conflict between the rights of the few and of the many, and the power of fanaticism, as faced by Laura Roslin in her hour of greatest need.
And now we come to our fourth novel, Unity by Steven Harper, which we published last month. Each of the previous novels has featured different people of Galactica in major roles, and now it’s Starbuck’s turn. While I’m not going to tell you what makes this such a different Starbuck story, I can tell you that you’ll see a side of Kara Thrace you haven’t seen before. And that’s part of the great fun of all of these novels, even the first one. They give readers a chance to experience hitherto unrevealed aspects of Galactica and her people, as the characters deal with crises, problems, dilemmas that the television series hasn’t shown. All the stories are, of course, approved by Ron Moore, so you can know that they’re canonically correct, unlike the comic-book series, which has taken a different, equally cool, approach.
I can tell you a few things about Unity without violating my oath: it’s set “now,” in the time between the events of the episodes “The Flight of the Phoenix” and “Pegasus.” And there’s singing. I’d better not say anything more; don’t want to get in trouble. Peace out.
Tor’s latest Battlestar Galactica novel, Unity by Steven Harper (0-765-31606-4; $25.95 / $31.95 CAN), was released in hardcover in April 2007.
Space Wars imagines how the first six hours of World War III might play out…
September 2006: China uses lasers to attempt to disable US satellites
October 2006: China attempts to jam US satellite transmissions
November 2006: US announces intent to defend satellites; Concern rises over war in space
January 2007: China successfully destroys satellite in test of space weapons system
In January 2007, in a surprise demonstration, China successfully shot a satellite out of the sky, causing an immediate furor—particularly in America, where we rely heavily on space-based systems for telephone service, data transmission of all sorts, and entertainment. Any disruption of our space-based infrastructure would have serious consequences—for the government, for banking and business, and for society as a whole.
What if one of our satellites simply dies? What if another goes silent? And then another? What if our government isn’t sure what’s causing these orbital fatalities? What if they suspect it’s not natural causes, but acts by our enemies?
This is the premise that Michael J. Coumatos (US Navy, Retired), William B. Scott, and William J. Birnes use to depict how the first hours of World War III might play out in their new book, Space Wars: The First Six Hours of World War III—A Wargame Scenario.
Michael Coumatos and William Scott know what they’re talking about. Coumatos is a former US Navy test pilot, ship’s captain, and commodore; US Space Command director of wargaming; and a government counterterrorism advisor. Scott is a retired bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, and a former US Air Force flight-test engineer who also served with the National Security Agency.
By weaving high-tech science and geopolitical issues together with engaging storytelling, Space Wars shows precisely how dependent the world (the Western world in particular) has become on space-based platforms. It raises a question rarely asked in a public forum: What happens when an enemy attacks and quickly disables United States military and commercial spacecraft? Going one step further, Space Wars also examines how the strategies and tactics of modern wargames have become essential tools for our national leaders as they make real-world decisions in real time.
With Space Wars (0-765-31379-0; $25.95 / $31.95 CAN), Coumatos, Scott, and Birnes go beyond the usual “Global War on Terror” headlines, taking readers into a disturbing, far-too-possible future. It was released in hardcover by Forge Books in April 2007.
John Scalzi on The Last Colony, sequel to Old Man’s War and The Ghost Brigades.
Hi, I’m John Scalzi, the author of “Old Man” trilogy, which includes Old Man’s War, The Ghost Brigades and the just-published novel The Last Colony. With me today I have someone who plays an interesting role, of a sort, in that last book. Let me have him introduce himself now.
Sameer Desai: Hello, I’m Sameer Desai, and when John started writing The Last Colony, I was his main character. In the original story, I was an American of Indian descent who had run afoul of some bad folks, and hustled off to relatives in India to avoid getting killed. While in India I and my relatives were forced to emigrate off-planet, and I was to land on a colony whose leaders were John Perry and Jane Sagan. That was the plan, anyway.
John Scalzi: That’s right. But what actually ended up happening?
SD: About four chapters in you walked me out into your yard and pushed me down a well.
JS: That’s right.
SD: Where you still keep me.
JS: Right again.
SD: It’s kind of damp.
JS: Well, it’s a well.
SD: I’d like to come out now.
JS: Maybe later. Tell the folks why you’re down there.
SD: Hey, man, you’re the one who put me here. As far as I knew, I was doing everything right.
JS: And so you were, Sam. During those first four chapters, you were indeed doing everything right – you got yourself in trouble, you fled just ahead of some bad men, you had amusing cultural misunderstandings with your relatives, and you were appropriately confused when you found yourself hustled off to a colony. But there was one problem with you, Sam: I found that I didn’t actually like you.
SD: I figured this out when you pushed me down a well.
JS: I never said you weren’t smart. Just that I didn’t like you.
SD: But you wrote me.
JS: I know! And it was killing me! Here was this character, who I meant to be a charming, hustling rogue, and you came out… well, like a twit. An annoying, whiny twit. And the more I wrote you, the worse you got. After four chapters, you had to go.
SD: So you’re blaming me for your own deficiencies of character building. Brilliant.
JS: Well, that’s just the thing. I don’t actually blame you. I blame myself. It’s not your fault that you were this annoying, whiny thing, Sam. As the writer, I should have been able to fix you. But eventually I realized I couldn’t – I didn’t have the time, and the further along I got in the book, the more I realized that I wanted John and Jane to be at the heart of the novel. The only thing to do was to throw out your character and every chapter you were in and start over. Oh, and push you down a well so no one would ever know you existed.
JS: Be that as it may, you were actually critical in helping to write the book. In writing you, I discovered what I didn’t want in The Last Colony. The final book wouldn’t be nearly as good without you showing me what wasn’t working with my writing and why. So, thank you, Sam. You were essential to the writing process.
SD: You’re welcome. Can I come up now? The lack of sun has given me rickets.
JS: Maybe later, Sam. Maybe later.
The Last Colony by John Scalzi (0-765-31697-8, $23.95 / $29.95 CAN) includes exactly zero appearances by Sameer Desai. It does, on the other hand, include a Solomonic decision regarding goats. It’s available in hardcover beginning in May 2007. Click here to watch a video interview with John Scalzi as he discusses The Last Colony.
Orson Scott Card’s Universe on XM Satellite Radio
Orson Scott Card once said, “The ideal presentation of any book of mine is to have excellent actors perform it in an audio-only format.” The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction agreed, saying that the audio production of Ender’s Game “quite literally brought greatness to the text.” Now you can hear for yourself how amazing Card’s audiobooks truly are. A new series has come to XM Satellite Radio’s Sonic Theater, channel 163… “Orson Scott Card’s Universe.”
The “Universe” began in March with Orson Scott Card’s award-winning classic, Ender’s Game, starring Stefan Rudnicki and Harlan Ellison. Next up is the amazing full-cast production of Ender’s Shadow, to be played in its entirety over 36 episodes.
In Ender’s Game, the human race is at War with the “Buggers,” an insect-like alien race. The first battles went badly for Earth. Now, mankind prepares to defend itself against the imminent threat of total destruction at the hands of an inscrutable alien enemy. All focus is on the development and training of military geniuses who can fight such a war—and win. The long distances of interstellar space have given hope to the defenders of Earth—they have time to train these commanders from childhood, forging them into an irresistible force in the high orbital facility called Battle School.
Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in Battle School; he was just the best of the best. In Ender’s Shadow, Card tells the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean—the one who became Ender’s right hand and a key part of his team in the final battle against the Buggers.
Bean’s past was a battle just to survive. He first appeared on the streets of Rotterdam, a tiny child with a mind leagues beyond anyone else’s. Knowing he could not survive through physical strength, he used his tactical genius to gain acceptance into a children’s gang. Bean’s success at this desperate struggle brought him to the attention of the Battle School’s recruiters. Bean was sent into orbit… and there he met Ender….
“Orson Scott Card’s Universe” runs 3 times daily on XM Satellite Radio, at 4:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 8:30 pm. On Saturdays 5 episodes run back to back, starting at 12 midnight on channel 163. For more information, visit http://www.xmradio.com/onxm/channelguide.xmc?ch=163
And if you can’t wait for the next episode, you can download the full audiobooks anytime on the special feature page at www.audible.com/orsonscottcard, or purchase Ender’s Shadow (1-59397-664-X, Unabridged CD $49.95/$69.95 Can.), Ender’s Game (1-59397-474-4, Unabridged CD $39.95/$55.95 Can.) or any of Orson Scott Card’s audiobooks wherever books are sold.