Right from the first, I have had it in mind that the Triplanetary universe is large enough for multiple series, for more than a single cast of characters to explore. As I said yesterday, I actually have vague thoughts of another starship at some point engaged on a specific mission – that's something I might well end up doing next year. For this year, however, I knew that as the plotline developed, there were other areas that I wanted to look at, areas that would not make sense for Alamo to cover. The Battlecruiser Alamo is, after all, a starship – so it should be on the move, exploring new space.
What's missing from this equation is more depth on what takes place closer to home; I've had some requests for more of a focus on the intrigue taking place closer to the heart of the Triplanetary Confederation, and I'd be lying if I said that wasn't of a lot of interest to me as well. The idea of the 'cavalry fort on the frontier' is one that springs to mind for me, and it's something that has been on my mind for a while...so the concept of 'Spitfire Station' was born. (There is already an 'Espatier' spin-off in the works...this is something new.)
Spitfire Station was – once – a critical strategic point at the height of the Interplanetary War, but has long since become a backwater. Positioned at a precarious hendecaspace egress point between the two stars of Sirius, it sits on what could be a vital trade route, between Sol and the Republic colony of Procyon III and the United Nations settlements of Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti – but as the Sirius system contains little of use, and the three interstellar powers are constantly feuding, the potential remains unrealized. The station was given to the Triplanetary Confederation as a bargaining chip in the negotiations – during the war, it was a haven for smugglers and blockade runners – but has been unclaimed since then.
That is now changing. 'Not One Step Back' begins with Alamo essentially being sent to Spitfire Station on the first leg of its mission to 'clean up the town', knocking out a particularly bad nest of raiders...and things evolve from there. Think Firefly meets Deep Space Nine in Babylon 5's back room to get an idea of how this is going to look in practice. Being a lot closer to home – a single jump from Sol System – the station is going to get a lot more involved in the political intrigues and machinations, as well as rivalries between the three powers. Heck, it's Casablanca in space.
As with Alamo, the intention is for four novels in this series this year, one per quarter, each in the month following an Alamo release. The first novel will follow on from the fifth Alamo book – though will be designed to be stand-alone, as well – and after that the series will follow its own independent course, though still a part of the ongoing whole in terms of the wider plot. While Alamo is out exploring unknown space, Spitfire Station is keeping the wolves away back home.
The titles for this series are even more provisional than the ones I announced for Alamo, I fear! I really am terrible with covers – 'Price of Admiralty' changed titles about half a dozen times before I finally fixed upon one I liked, and I've had similar problems since then. I think the only one that got through unchanged was 'Fermi's War', and that was originally slated for the third book before I realized that it was a much better fit for the plot of the second! (Even got to the 'cover created' stage...)
Book 1: Anything Goes (March)
Book 2: Kill or Cure (June)
Book 3: Operation Backstab (September)
Book 4: Failed Mandate (December)
I know, not great! Fingers crossed I think of better ones before launch day...but all of these are completely provisional at the moment. My next post will reveal details on the mysterious 'Project X'...