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.
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