‘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.

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18 Responses to ‘Out of the Darkness’ is OFFICIALLY Elite and Dangerous

  1. Drew says:

    Congratulations on getting approved TJ. Excellent news, looking forward to reading this one.

  2. Simon says:

    Are you willing/able to tell us what the 5 minor corrections required were (after publication)? :-)

    • TJames says:

      Yes, but only in general terms, as communication between writers and Frontier is confidential (legal contract). There were two terminology changes and one technology basis change (all single word swaps), one explanation/character POV query (resolved with a change to one paragraph), and one bit of dodgy thermodynamics (a change to two adjacent paragraphs).

      I don’t know why you’d want to know, so I don’t know if that’s helpful in any way, but there you go…

      • Simon says:

        Ah, thank you. Any new information about the Elite universe is fuel for my curiosity – you never know what subtle details may reveal!

        • TJames says:

          Then get reading the other writers’ fiction – there’s enough in there to keep even the most ardent fan occupied until the game comes out!

          • Simon says:

            I have been! I was particularly interested by the revelation in Kate’s book that:

            (base64’d for spoilers – there’s an online decoder here: http://www.base64encode.org )

          • TJames says:

            I’ve got to edit a book and sort a cover! Anyone else want to try decoding this? :O

            I’m looking forward to reading Kate’s, too. She’s seems to have got a good mix of plot, characters, and humour.

          • Simon says:

            On that page, click “decode” at the top, paste the encoded text, click the “decode” button. Simple enough!

            If you haven’t read Kate’s yet it is quite a spoiler, so you might want to wait – but it does seem related to what I know of your book.

          • TJames says:

            Got it, ‘Decode’ twice; apparently it’s heavily encrypted.

            But… I won’t be reading it. I like to come to my fiction fresh, without knowing too many of the twists and turns the author has planned.

  3. Peteris Krisjanis says:

    Where and how I will be able to buy your book? And congratulations on finishing all hard work! I enjoy all fiction so far, but mostly all books done by all community members.

    • TJames says:

      Thanks, Peteris.

      The book will be released to backers first, then made available on Kindle (you can also read it on any PC, Mac (I believe), any Apple or Android tablet or phone via an app). It’s the most common ebook format, and so I’m intending to do that first.

      Paperback will follow on Amazon Createspace, with other ebook formats available according to demand…

  4. Ian Quest says:

    Congratulations on reaching this milestone!

    As a former proofreader, I need to ask: is the blurb representative of all of your writing – specifically the prevalence of commas? You could safely get rid of half of the commas in that introductory paragraph, and the result would actually be clearer and easier to read.

    As an example, I’d rewrite that paragraph to read:
    Moira Dolan, a competent and driven – yet broken – investigator for the Proteus Collective, buries herself in work to hide from her past. She succeeds, until her brother Keagan wrecks her career.

    Of course your mileage may vary, but I always pay particular attention to commas because when I started writing you’d have thought I’d used a shotgun to apply them to the page!

    I look forward to reading the final result when you send it out to us Kickstarter backers!

    • TJames says:

      Hi Ian,

      Yep, commas are my friends – the awkward ones who ignore every hint and follow you to the party anyway, then stand around in the kitchen licking out all the dip bowls.

      Does the blurb represent all my writing? I hope not. I’ve got a qualified proofreader going through the MS as I type this, so she should curb any tendencies I have towards unnaturally high levels of punctuation.

      The blurb is still a work-in-progress. Thanks for the suggested changes – I’ll give them some thought.

  5. Many, many Congratulations! I’m sure it’s been hard work but must make reaching this point all the sweeter. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

    So, I have to ask, how’s the timeline looking now you have approval?

    • TJames says:

      Hi Jonathan, and thanks. If you mean the timeline here: http://outofthedarkness.info/blog/its-alive-alive-i-tell-you/, then I think it still holds. As expected, the approval process has taken two weeks and although the proofreading is under way early, I’ve still got three gamma readers’ feedback and my own final read to work through. Front and back matter are drafted but need checking. There’s a cover to sort and my wife wants me to go on holiday with the family…

      I’ll get it out to everyone as soon as I can but I won’t rush it.

  6. John Harper says:

    Congratulations buddy. So in the end the ‘big’ hurdle wasn’t actually that big at all. So tidy it up and get that damn book out here!

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