A Belated Merry Christmas to All Commanders

Blue Christmas BackgroundAnd a Happy Impending New Year!

It’s the holiday season, so you’ve either been able to find some serious time for credit grabbing and universe re-righting or terrestrial considerations have earthed your spaceboots. Either way, I hope you’ve been enjoying yourselves and aren’t shortening your jump ranges by eating too much.

Thank you, again, to everyone who made Out of the Darkness possible and to those who have bought either the ebook or paperback. Please, let me know what you think, on Amazon, Twitter, or in the comments below. With our words lost in the void, we writers feel bereft and lonely and it’s great to hear voices over the comm.

The book continues to sell steadily (apart from a Christmas dip), which isn’t bad at all considering it came out in August. Knowing the community are enjoying my work increases the chance of a sequel, but I can’t give a definitive word on that until Frontier let me know their plans for Elite fiction in the future.

In the meantime, many of the other Elite writers have started other fictional works, are touring the galaxy as their main character, or they’re involved with writing for other game franchises. Not having a publication team to sort OotD, those roles fell to me. By the time I was done, I felt satisfied but tired and I’ve taken some time off to relax and play a little Elite: Dangerous. I’m sitting on 1.5 million Cr and a moderately modded Type 6. Yep, I’m a space trucker, at least until I can pack enough agro into my spare Cobra to stand a chance against the vets out there in multi-player.

But writing was always going to draw me back. As a neutral, I’ve been keeping up with controversial developments in the gaming world around the ‘gamergate’ hashtag. It’s a complex and emotive subject. I wrote a journal piece, I suppose you could call it, to sort out my thoughts on the issues and, after finishing it, decided I may as well share it online just in case anyone was interested.

The post is a little unstructured, personal, and really long for a blog. I thought I’d get one or two readers at most. I still can’t believe the hit count is over 2800 and rising. If you’re interested, the link is HERE.

For 2014, that’s me. I hope to visit a system near you soon, when I’m hard enough.

All the best for 2015,

T. James.

Elite: Dangergate – Thoughts on Being Online Only

Taken from Frontier's original Kickstarter FAQ. The highlighted wording seems straightforward.

Taken from Frontier’s original Kickstarter FAQ. The highlighted wording seems straightforward.

Well, now we know that Elite: Dangerous can compete with AAA titles: any self-respecting game release has to have its own controversy and ours follows Frontier’s announcement that E: D will be online only. No internet, no game. Continue reading

‘Elite: Out of the Darkness’ is Out! Time to Celebrate!

Will 2014 be remembered as the year ‘Elite: Out of the Darkness’ was released? By me, yes.

 This will be a short post as I’m still sorting out the tail end of the project, but after eighteen months the book is finally out in the wild! (Overuse of exclamation marks is allowed when a writer is happy.)

Apologies for missing the deadline; my excuse is that—being an indie writer—I’m author, editor, proofreader, project coordinator, publisher, agent, and promoter (with a little help from my friends). That’s quite a few hats. Fear not though space-munchkins, the writing and editing have taken up 90% of my time and I’m pleased with the result, both in terms of the story and the presentation. Until reality tells me otherwise, I shall maintain my grin even as I start work on the backers’ Epub version.

I’ve thanked everyone, everywhere, it feels like, but you’ve been a great community to be part of. The book’s now yours and I hope you feel it adds to the Elite: Dangerous canon.

A Little Business

Backers’ names and the names of people who have made significant contributions to the project have been included as promised. If you have a problem with your name being incorrect or missing, please contact me HERE.

If you missed it, eligible backers can gain access to their downloadable copies by following the instructions in the latest Kickstarter announcement. Hopefully they are easy to follow. After a little hiccup, all reports coming in say things seem to be working. If you are really stuck, just click on the big ‘HERE’ above and message me—I’ll see what I can do.

To those lovely people with deep pockets who I still owe rewards to, I haven’t forgotten. As soon as the basic book commitments have been met I’ll be sorting those out.

So Where is it?

You can buy the book from HERE. I’ll be adding a backers’ Epub (free, obviously), a paperback, and possibly other formats from alternate vendors to the webpage as they become available.

What Next? Watch This Space

I’ll be blogging here a little while longer, keeping you up to date. I may also drop some more book-related nuggets as time and inspiration allow. Book/game tie-ins and the word ‘sequel’ have been whispered.

After the moon dust settles, maybe I’ll see you in-game (don’t look for me yet, I’m still under an alpha-backer moniker—something else I’ve not had time to sort).

In the meantime, remember joysticks are for external use only.

All the best,


Image Credits

‘Fireworks’ image courtesy of satit_srihin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

‘Planet for Sale’ image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Elite: Out of the Darkness is nearly ready for launch: pre-flight checks are well under way and final countdown will commence mid-September, 2014, at the latest.


Distribution details and links to the eBook files will be sent out via Kickstarter message, so PLEASE MAKE SURE YOUR KICKSTARTER ACCOUNT DETAILS ARE UP TO DATE. Initial release will be single-format (although readable on pretty much any mainstream device), and I want to make other formats available as soon as possible. In order to do this, I can’t email files to everyone individually. (If you’re really stuck, I’ll do what I can, but you’re Elite: Dangerous fans for hyperspace’s sake! The process won’t be that complicated and I expect your tech skills will be easily up to the job. ) Some help tips will be provided on the download page.

‘Elite: Out of the Darkness’ Cover Reveal

After much consulting of experts (many, many thanks to Colin Barnes, Alex Bowden from Frontier, and Liam ‘Mobius’ Rafferty for their input), and the community (my thanks to all those who expressed their opinions in the poll and on the thread) we finally have a cover!

It’s what you asked for: different, distinctive, yet still ‘Elite’. I hope you like it…

Although I did the mouse-work, it turned out to be a communal effort... 'Out of the Darkness', the book is shaping up nicely.

Although I did the mouse-work, it turned out to be a communal effort… ‘Elite: Out of the Darkness’, the book , is shaping up nicely.

 ‘Elite: Out of the Darkness’ is undergoing the final stages of editing and will be out ‘soon’. (For a definition of ‘soon’, please contact Michael Brookes of Frontier Developments. .)

Aside: I’m still on holiday; more news and details of the book to follow…

News Update

Things may have appeared static since the last post but, like watching a burrowing badger, none of the effort shows on the surface…


Things going bump in the night mean everything isn't as quiet as it seems...


Feedback is now coming in from final-stage gamma readers—the news is good; two have already said they’ve had to go back and re-read chapters for mistakes because they were gripped.

When they did re-enter crit mode, the worst they found (so far) were typos and a couple of basic continuity issues that were easily fixed. There is still a significant amount of feedback to come, but if it keeps errors in the released book to a minimum it’s worth the wait.


After six concepts and over twenty rough drafts, the cover design has been finalised. I received some immensely helpful pointers from Colin Barnes, a friend of mine who is trained in graphic design and has been releasing his thriller/SF books with custom covers for several years. Thanks are also owed to the Elite: Dangerous community’s very own Mobius, who contributed other useful design ideas.

The design is going to remain under wraps until it receives official approval from Frontier (hopefully, later this week). I could fall back on one of the others, but the current favourite combines a classic SF look with plenty of Elite influences. As requested by the community in the poll, it’s also completely different from any of the other Elite: Dangerous books released so far.

Formatting and Final Read Through

Formatting the text has already started. I need to incorporate all the corrections from the gamma readers before I do a last run through the whole ebook. How long this stage will take, I don’t know. Editing the HTML has been the only way to fix some problems in the past…


While I await Frontier’s decision and more feedback, it’s family holiday time in just a few days. There’ll be some work done on corrections, but things will really spin back up to speed later in August…

Until then, have a good summer, one and all.

‘Out of the Darkness’ is OFFICIALLY Elite and Dangerous

Now official, 'Out of the Darkness' can proudly wear the badge.

Now official, ‘Out of the Darkness’ can proudly wear the badge.

Good news this week: Out of the Darkness has been approved by Frontier. That means it stands alongside the contents of the game and the other fiction as part of the official canon, the Elite universe as envisaged by David Braben and brought to life by the Frontier Developments team. After a year and a half, this feels incredible—to have contributed something to the ever-growing epic that is Elite: Dangerous.

But how ‘Elite’ is Out of the Darkness? I know what I think, but you’re going to want evidence, aren’t you? Tweeted questions (not mine) about whether David Braben has read any of the fiction go unanswered. Emailed hints, submitted alongside legitimate scene content queries, about whether Michael likes what you’ve written are studiously not acknowledged. (Yes, mine. Sad? Maybe, but writers want to know what any reader thinks, and doubly so when that reader has the power to require a re-write!) Does this mean that David dislikes the fiction, or doesn’t care for the writers? Doubtful when you see the generous way he interacted with Drew Wagar at the recent BAFTA games event. And Michael? He’s powered his way through eight novels and an anthology and still willingly takes time to go to a weekend conference where he knows many of the writers will hassle him about potential sequels*. He also integrated swathes of my book into the game in only a few days (more in later posts). The only fair-minded conclusion is that both David and Michael are committed to seeing the fiction fully integrated into the canon, galaxy, and game and value the contributions of every writer.

So, why no open glowing reviews, tweets, Facebook promotions, personal endorsements etc, outside of mentions in the official Frontier newsletter? Frontier don’t play favourites—David won’t say which book he read first, or Michael which story he prefers over another. They’re professional, and so keep their emotional cards close to their chests.

That leaves statistics—a field ripe for interpretation by someone with a writer’s imagination. So here’s one: out of the 3600+ paragraphs, 9400+ lines, 116,500+ words, and over half a million characters, only 5 minor corrections were needed to completely nail the Elite-ness of the book.

If that sounds like a hard sell, there’s a reason. Of this round of book releases*, mine is one of the last. Which means what? It means that you lot will be comparing it to the very best of the other Elite fiction. Not on a one-to-one basis either, but my plot goes up against the very best plot from the other books, my characters are compared to theirs, my pacing measured relatively, the number of hairs standing up on the backs of your necks and the width of your grins will be registered, catalogued, and graded against every other read. When a novel stands alone, with nothing similar to compare it to, there’s a uniqueness that gives it a sort of ‘favourability halo’. Not so when so many books are brought out in such a short space of time.

Do I feel the pressure? Of course, I want you to enjoy the book… but you want to know why mine is worth giving a go. I’ve tried for distinctiveness in the style, plot, and characterisation, and readers, so far, have responded very favourably. I think its uniqueness will keep the read fresh. There’s also some juicy revelations—facts you thought you knew about the Elite universe that are not what you expect, and others given new twists. It’s got drama, action, yet a pace that varies, allowing you to get to know the characters. A fight is just another fight, unless you care whose in it. (If you’re after 2D lantern-jawed heroes and busty wenches, you’ll probably be disappointed.) It has mystery, depth, and (as promised) it’s gritty—real emotion, motivation, and consequences. And it’s not static; the characters travel across multiple systems to discover the truth… Here’s the (reworked) blurb:


How do you win a high-stakes game when you don’t even know you’re a pawn?

Competent, driven, broken, investigator for The Proteus Collective, Moira Dolan, buries herself in work to hide from her past. She succeeds, until her brother, Keagan, wrecks her career.

By night, she’s tormented by the dreams. By day, she’s stuck in a dead-end job, assigned unsolvable cases by Ferris, a boss seemingly intent on making her fail. She thinks it’s personal, until Keagan goes missing and Ferris’ actions are cast in a whole new light…

Her latest assignment has Moira chasing ghosts between the stars, but she’s being played—a deadly game that threatens the precarious balance between the galaxy’s major political powers and could cost billions of lives…

If you’re not predator, you’re prey.”

Hopefully, that sounds like something you’d like to read.

If, you’ve any comments/questions about approval, the book, the blurb, or anything Elite, just leave them below… (They will not appear immediately! This is not an error, I approve them to avoid spam.)

* Sequels: please don’t ask; no one knows, possibly not even Frontier, yet.

Image Credits:

Elite: Dangerous © 2014 Frontier Developments plc. All rights reserved. ‘Elite’, the Elite logo, and the Elite: Dangerous logo are registered trademarks of Frontier Developments plc. All rights reserved.

What is ‘Out of the Darkness’ About? And Other News


What’s the Novel About?

If you’ve been wondering, here’s the current blurb:

Moira Dolan, an investigator for The Proteus Collective, is forced to take on a dead-end case. How did an elite pilot, his family and their ship disappear in a well-policed star system? With so few leads, it seems her boss wants her to fail.
And where is her loser brother, Keagan? Torn between her only family and last chance for a career, her journey between the stars reveals more of herself than she ever wanted to know.
As the pieces fall into place, Moira and some new-found allies uncover a conspiracy: mankind is no longer the galaxy’s apex predator, and a plot to destabilise human space could cost of millions of lives…


How much of the blurb will remain relevant depends on the the approval process, which is ongoing. I’m hoping to hear something back later this week, Frontier willing.

Cover Art

Thanks to everyone for your votes and opinions. The results of the ongoing cover art poll running on the Frontier forums are pretty clear at the moment:

Cover Art Poll Results 01/07/14.

Cover Art Poll Results 01/07/14.

You want to see something different, so I’m working towards that—announcements to follow. If you prefer the old design:

Out of the Darkness Rough Cover 250x354

or the styles chosen by Gollancz or Fantastic Books, it’s not too late to vote, but do it soon!

If you have any opinions about the blurb, cover, or any Elite-ish / book-ish thoughts in general, just leave a comment below. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t show up straight away; after the anti-spam I still have to approve them.)

Thanks for your interest in the book. Watch this space and, hopefully, I’ll have some good news for you soon. Until then, enjoy everyone else’s offerings.


It’s Alive! Alive I Tell You!

The Good News

Out of the Darkness lives! It’s a real book; Elite settings, characters, plot, themes—it’s all in there. The first gamma draft is complete, and pretty polished.

The Scary News

It’s very existence in in great peril. The book is currently with Frontier for approval. Death can come in many forms… can Out of the Darkness survive? If so, will its soul remain intact, or will it be torn asunder, rendered a mere shadow of its former self?

Only one man knows… which side of Michael Brookes’ personality will the novel draw out?


Or this?!

We should know in a little while…

So, backers and would-be readers, as we wait, let us focus on the positive, make optimism our banner, and raise our heads and sniff the roses… the Roses of Success!

More Good News

We have a proof-reader—qualified, experted an’ everfink! I want to thank the awesome Zoe Markham for taking on Out of the Darkness and squeezing us in at the last minute. If you want to check out her work and find out why she’ll be a real asset to the project, you can find her here.

The Plan of Action

Looking from the outside, it may not seem like it, but there is a plan (ish):

Stage 1: Frontier Approval & Writing Front Matter and Blurb etc (approx 2 weeks)

Stage 2: Corrections & Gamma Reading (approx 1 month, but could be a lot longer… see stage 1)

Stage 3: Proof-Reading (1-2 weeks)

Stage 4: Corrections from Gamma and Proofing, plus Typesetting (no idea)

Stage 5: You lot, reading (not up to me! )

Stage 6: Prep of the Paperback (unknown)

Stage 7: Everything is Available, and Selling Millions of Copies.

If there are no major spanners, I hope to have the book out to you all August-September time. I know that it’s been a long wait already, but several of the upcoming stages I have no control over, and they can radically impact the timings of those I can influence. It may be sooner, possibly later, but this is my best guess at time of writing…

Cover Art

I’m currently looking into the possibilities for an alternate cover design. If you want to let me know what you’d like to see, pop over to this thread on the Frontier forums and vote in the poll or comment.

And to Waiting?

Nope, back to writing front pages, backer thank you pages, blurb, finding cover art etc, etc, etc… All for the good of the book, and to keep me from chewing my finger nails, tearing out hair, fiddling with my executive stress toy until it breaks—you get the idea—until I hear back from Michael.


Image Credits:

Michael Brookes as Dr Evil, located on the Frontier forums. Originator, unknown. Please contact me if you would like an attribution. Michael Brookes as Superman, located on Frontier Development’s ‘Meet the Team‘ thread. Originator, unknown. Please contact me if you would like an attribution.