Well, now that 'Operation Damocles' is off to the beta readers – and I'll be honest, this one was tough – I can relax for a few days and work out some details on future projects. As soon as August rolls around, I'll be starting work on 'Interceptor', once I work out which book that is going to be! (I've got two plots for the book, both of which I intend to use – the real question is which one I go with first…) I know that 'Interceptor' is my August book, and 'Pyrrhic Victory', also known as Alamo 21, will be my book for September, though I hope to start it a little sooner than that.
Actually, I already know what I'm working on for the rest of the year; the 'Strike Commander' series will conclude in December with the fourth book, as yet untitled, and I've got Battlecruiser Alamo novels outlined as far as March, which takes me to Alamo 24. That's pretty much set in my head, but I need to start thinking about projects to work on next year, the twelve novel slots I have for 2017. Some of them, of course, will be Alamo, but I know I need some other series to fill in the gaps.
A while ago, I wrote an outline for a setting I called 'High Frontier', and I said at the time that it was a setting in search of a story. Now, I have the story, or at least the start of it, and I can begin to flesh out the details. Though naturally it is far too early for me to go into any specific notes on it, I can say that it is going to be rather different from the work I've been doing with the Alamo and Strike Commander series, far more Cyberpunk in tone – in fact my working title for the series is 'Cosmopunk', and I like that enough that it might well make it all the way to publication.
In outline, this is a six book series set in the middle of this century, around fifty years from now, and the science will be as accurate as I can possibly make it. Alamo has, I am forced to admit, got a little softer as the books went on, though I've still tried to preserve the realistic feel. The Cosmopunk series is intended as my 'hard science-fiction epic', with settings ranging from the Pacific Coast of the Siberian Republic, to the fleshpots of Singapore, the wastelands of the Martian Colonial Districts, and the remote scientific station on Mercury.
Some of this is based on, shall we say, concerns I have about some of the directions that space exploration and colonization are proceeding. I'm a huge booster of spaceflight, as I think I've made clear, and I definitely think that 'commercial space' is the way forward, but that doesn't mean I'm not reserving the right to be critical in some areas. Mars One, for example, sets serious alarm bells ringing in my head. I don't actually think that the project will happen in its current form, but let's step into the future, say thirty years or so.
It's 2046. The first landing on Mars, a joint project of a consortium of space-industrial corporations, took place twenty years ago, and visits have been semi-frequent since then. There are American, Chinese and Russo-European outposts, run by their respective government. Unfortunately, there are also the independent colonies, and they are faring less well. More than a few people have claimed a desire to 'retire on Mars', and some of them are actually doing it; now that the cost of setting up a Mars Base has dropped to ten figures, it's within the range of possibility. That North Korean settlement up by the pole raised eyebrows, the Kim heir fleeing the collapse of his government and any possible jurisdiction. (He died shortly after landing in mysterious circumstances, but if anything, that made things worse.)
Fast forward ten years. The national colonies are gone, their work abandoned as interest moved elsewhere, though a space facility on Phobos has become the Gateway to the Asteroids. The independent colonies...well, some of the wealthy went home while they could. A few of them even took their employees with them. Others found that their fortunes vanished, either because of changing economic circumstances or governments deciding that those multi-billion-dollar assets were worth taking. Not as if a Martian Court is going to protest, after all. Ten years on from that, and you have a collection of failing colonies, slowly fading, the cost of rescue or even support politically impossible to meet. Periodically, one charity or another sends supplies to stave off the inevitable.
That's the world of 'Farewell Lost Atlantis', the first in the 'Cosmopunk' series. 'A Thousand Shattered Hells' takes place in the Asteroid Belt, 'Lord of the Quantum Underworld' on the Moon, and 'Cold Shadows on the Sun' at Mercury. That leaves two others, and I think Phobos and Venus are possible, or possibly Titan, instead. This series is forming nicely in my head, and I think it's going to be the big effort of 2017, starting in February with the final book released in December. That's the current plan, anyway. Now all I have to do is write it.