I said a few days ago that I was facing a difficult decision, to choose between 'Rocket Dawn' and 'Blood of Patriots', but after a lot of thought, I've finally made up my mind. I'm going to write both of them. Meaning that 'Rocket Dawn' will now be out in early April, 'Blood of Patriots' in early May, and the next Alamo, 'Spell of the Stars' in early June. (Provisionally – very, very provisionally – I've pencilled in Vae Victis I for July and Polaris 2 for August, but that's far too far ahead for me to plan at the moment.
My reasoning in the end was simply this. Creating something new is inherently more difficult; when writing an Alamo, there are so many things I've already done, creating the major characters, the details of the setting, and so forth – which means that a lot of the hard work is already behind me. (And yes, this is a very good reason to write a long series – though to be absolutely fair, that can have problems of its own when you are dealing with large amounts of canon.)
In any case, I rate it as likely that at least one of the books will end up falling by the wayside. This will be the second try at Rocket Dawn and the third at Patriots, so I'm hopeful that I'll do better than I have in the past, but either of them can be replaced with an Alamo if the need arises. In a perfect world, I'll write both of them. (And by God, I need to get Rocket Dawn out of my system if nothing else.) Otherwise, Alamo is advanced to May, and things move on from there. Why Rocket Dawn first? Largely because I have that plot firm in my head, but I'd like more time to work on Patriots – and incidentally, on Alamo 25 as well.
So, let's talk about Rocket Dawn. First of all, I'll say that this will be different to any book I've ever written before, and that's a good thing. It should stretch me in new and interesting ways, and I think that's extremely important. Technically – sort of – it represents a very early stage in the Triplanetary universe, chronicling the first attempt at starflight, though the book completely stands alone, and about the only thing I'm using is some of the concepts of the hendecaspace drive. (Which works a little differently here, but I'll remind readers that the first – essentially broken – take on the hendecaspace drive did work differently. Lots more options, at the cost of a lot less reliability.)
All of that is just set-dressing, though; this is to be my homage to the films and books that did so much to promote spaceflight in the 1950s and 1960s, Destination Moon, Conquest of Space, the old Von Braun/Willy Ley dreams from that era – and even years later, I still pored over them as a kid, and still longed for the future they promised. Frankly, I still do today. I want my moonbases and space stations, darn it! And the less said about the flying cars, the better!
Rocket Dawn is set in a 2032 that I desperately hope does not exist, but fear for. A series of Challenger-scale disasters a decade before killed off manned spaceflight, private access to space dying before it could be truly born. Now only satellites orbit the Earth, the International Space Station de-orbited by its last crew, Russia forced out of the game with a faltering economy and China withdrawing when it was apparent there was nobody to challenge. The tattered remnants of NASA monitor failing space probes, hoping for a new chance.
And out in the Nevada desert, at an old rocket testing site, a maverick Air Force Colonel, the last astronaut recruited by NASA before the manned space program was cancelled, has gathered together the resources and personnel for one last, desperate throw of the dice, masterminded by an astrophysicist shunned by the scientific community, who believes that he has uncovered the holy grail of space travel – the secret of faster-than-light travel. From the backwater town of Dry Wells, Nevada, the last astronaut will finally rise to the heavens...