Given that I'm only a handful of days away from starting work on the first book in the series – and incidentally, I might as well get out of the way the announcement that Alamo 23: Into the Maelstrom will be out on January 22nd – I think the time has more than come for me to talk a little bit about what I have in mind for 'Starcruiser Polaris'. I'll say right now that my original ideas have completely gone out of the window, replaced, I hope, by something considerably better. Like with the 'Strike Commander' trilogy, this will be a limited series, not an open-ended one as Alamo has turned out to be. (Yes, I'm still planning Alamo books up to 32.)
I thought long and hard about what I wanted out of a new series, and not coincidentally inspired by a recent movie or two, I thought that it was about time that I went for a 'Galactic Rebellion' concept, though one that I could fit into the Triplanetary universe. Three reasons for that, both story- and business-based. The first is that in the Triplanetary setting – now closing on two million words, amazingly – I have a lot of world-building already done. I know the major players, I know how the starships work, I know the organizations; hell, I damn near live in that universe. The second is that launching it in the same setting as Alamo allows for future cross-over and cross-promotion, hopefully back to Alamo again, and the third is that I'd probably end up duplicating myself anyway. I might as well use what I already have, rather than try and reinvent the wheel!
So, the basic plan – and naturally, this is going to be almost spoiler-free; certainly nothing that you wouldn't get from the first couple of chapters will be revealed here, partly because I'm still working on a few of the details. The core idea, however, is fully established. A 'pocket empire', the Atlantean Commonwealth, on the frontiers of known space has suffered a military coup, leading to the installation of a rather nasty dictatorship; while officially the Triplanetary Confederation cannot do anything about it, there are many willing to take some action, and to help finance the restoration of a democratic government. Not least because one of the Commonwealth's colonies, Lemuria, is one of the richest sources of uranium in known space, still a vital industrial resource.
That means plausible deniability, which brings in Triplanetary Intelligence, and specifically, the recruitment of a group of 'mercenaries'. Former military personnel for the most part, hired to liberate the imprisoned President of the Commonwealth, as the first stage in the restoration of democratic government. Naturally, it isn't going to go anything like as simply as that, but then, I'm hoping that this one will go for five books, to be written over the course of the year. (Which suggests that the final book in the series will be out in November/December, with luck.)
There are three elements to draw my characters from. The first is the crew of Polaris itself, and there I have gone with 'character'. An old, obsolete ship from the Interplanetary War, a design prototype that never went anywhere, stuck in the Mothball Fleet and auctioned off to a shell company, theoretically after being demilitarized. She's forty years old, battered and worn, but still ready for one last campaign, with some interesting weapons tweaks to make her somewhat distinct, and give her a punch in a fight.
Then comes the bulk of the crew, the assault team – we're talking Special Forces here, once again, commanded by a disgraced Lieutenant-Major who took the blame for a covert operation that went wrong, fighting quite literally for his freedom. I'm de-emphasising Espatiers in Alamo for the current run, but they're coming back with a vengeance here, and you can expect a 'Dirty Dozen' vibe to this motley crew.
Third, of course, comes the Democratic Underground, the force fighting back against the tyrants who have enslaved their nation. Maquis, basically, concentrated more heavily on the outer worlds rather than Atlantis itself, with a leavening of ex-military personnel who decided that their service oaths were more important than the wealth and power offered by the junta. There will be one POV character from each of these groups, though I might expand to four in later novels, depending on how the characters develop over the course of the series. Something I do not know as yet. I do know that there will be no crossovers, once again, tempting as it is to bring back some of the characters from Strike Commander – but I'm already using some of them in the main Alamo series, so I think I'll leave that resource for the future. Though I might bring in a few old friends, later in the run. (I did consider this as a Cooper/Bradley series at one point, before deciding to bring in new characters instead.)
As for the setting, well, I have Atlantis and Lemuria fleshed out, the former a bountiful ocean world with a single continent, settled during the 'First Exodus' in the 2040s, following the outbreak of the Third World War; a hundred and thirty years later, it is a booming metropolis of three million people, currently hitting the limits of the available landmass. Lemuria, by contrast, is a dry, desert world, barely habitable but with mineral deposits rendering it extremely valuable. Colchis Station, an independent outpost orbiting a dull red dwarf also features both in the first and second books, a typical hive of scum and villainy of the sort that science-fiction readers are familiar!