Guest Post: “Coming Back — On Alien Races and Space Adventures” by Jamie Sawyer

SawyerJ-AuthorPicMy debut novel, Artefact, was released in February 2016. It is book one of The Lazarus War, and the story continues with Legion, released in the UK and US on 26th May 2016.

The Lazarus War is a series focusing on a far-future space war. The Alliance – the nominal “good guys” of the series  – are locked in an apparently endless conflict with the Krell – a bio-mechanical alien race. But in the universe of The Lazarus War, soldiers never really die: they remotely-operate clone bodies (called “simulants”). That means that if a veteran soldier dies, he retains his experience and knowledge, and can simply “reset” to a new body. Pretty handy, given the situations many of these soldiers find themselves in…

As you can probably imagine, it would be quite easy to develop an invincibility-complex once you master such technology. That’s exactly what happens to our narrator (I’m loathe to call him a hero, because he certainly doesn’t think of himself in that way), a burnt-out soldier called Conrad Harris. He’s seen it all, and because life is so much better inside a simulant than out, he’s become jaded with the idea of real life. That was the position in Artefact, and much of that story involved unpicking the armour Harris had built up around himself. I wanted to create a scenario in which Harris came to rely on his own body, and had to face the fact that he might die for real.

Then came Legion. Many authors have something to say about the difficulties of writing part two in a trilogy, and I can attest to the fact that it’s no easy task. To all those who say that it’s easier than book one? Think again! Although the world-building might be out the way, those characters that you’ve set up in book one need to move on in book two… I was also very keen to advance the simulant technology, and show the reader the limits to which Harris could push it when he had the chance.

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That was really the genesis of Legion. In Legion, the Alliance must face the fact that the human race will soon be embroiled in all-out war with the Krell. Worse yet, humanity is not a united front: instead fractured, squabbling, with some factions seeking to make a gain from the on-coming war. The nature of simulant technology doesn’t favour a drawn-out war – the Alliance has been running this show as a series of shock-attacks rather than a protracted engagement – and thus military command must come up with a plan to strike at the heart of the Krell Empire.

Many ideas that I had in Artefact, but simply couldn’t fit in, found a home in Legion. The characters and setting has moved on a lot, and what Harris does in Artefact has repercussions for the rest of the universe. Meanwhile, Harris gets to really throw himself into the simulant technology. In Artefact, Harris experienced a dearth of simulant-bodies (which was deliberate on my part!); in Legion he’s more than enough, but finds that no matter how many times he dies he might not achieve his objective. I deliberately put the characters in situations, allowed them to use tactics, that are wilder and more extreme than in book one. And like many SF trilogies, I chose to place the action on a starship rather than a planet. There’s nothing quite so atmospheric as a the claustrophobic interior of a vast warship…

Even though writing the second book in a trilogy is hard work, Legion definitely paid off.

***

Artefact, Legion, and Redemption (a novella) are available in eBook now. The third novel, Origins, is published on August 30th, 2016. The series is published by Orbit Books in the UK and US.

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For more on Jamie Sawyer’s writing and novels, be sure to check out his website, and follow him on Twitter and Goodreads.

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