My first piece of Elite fan fiction was written in ‘Standard 2’, or Year 5 of primary school.
The story started out pretty casually. New neighbours moved in, they acted a bit suspicious so John Harper (naturally the protagonist) investigated further and overheard them talk about some crazy combination of sausages and some other things I can’t remember. This was so suspicious that John had to get a bit closer for a better look. Jumping the fence he saw that they had a Cobra Mk III hidden under the lawn, but was exposed ready to launch. John Harper sneaked on board the Cobra Mk III as they lifted off and entered a world of isocahedron space stations and aliens and a whole suite of snake named ships.
It was pretty cool.
The teacher didn’t agree. she followed the story well, up until I mentioned there was a Cobra Mk III in the backyard. I didn’t elaborate or explain what a Cobra Mk III was. Dude, it was the primary ship of Elite, everyone knows that! Except the teacher, clearly, as she red penned that whole page, not knowing what I meant.
Thinking about it now: I drop the bomb that there is a Snake in the backyard. This Snake is, what, the third descendent of the original snake? and it can fit people in it and fly? No wonder the teacher got confused.
I’m happy to say that things have moved on a touch since then. I’ve learnt alot about writing. Not just stringing words together in an easily read form, but making concepts, tying together structure, theme, scene construction and story architecture, and finally spinning it with my own voice to make a compelling story.
This process has taken a while. And it’s still going on. I imagine I’ll be learning about writing until the day I die.
This writing career has taken many twists and turns, and one of these was returning to my roots – Elite and writing more fan fiction. This time set in the First Encounters Universe (or FEU). I call it the First Encounters Universe because there are quite a few things that don’t gel between Elite and First Encounters. Sure, you can retcon quite a few of them (Retroactively try and fix the timeline continuity after you’ve already gone ahead and messed it up) but some points are so disparate that its hard to even think of them as being part of the same universe. In fact this is a point being debated quite hotly in the writers forum at the moment. Although we do have a few issues to resolve it is really exciting just soaking up all this obvious passion for Elite, and its this passion which we will load our stories with to make them the absolute best they can be.
There was a website, www.alioth.net, now defunct, which was a great fan site pretending to be a information hub for the Alliance Capital. There was training documents, a forum and a whole lot of fan fiction. People would post their own fiction, other people would build on it and out of this cooking pot came what became known as the ‘HPA Sarrrrggghhhhhaaa’ or less colloquially as ‘The Huge Plasma Accelerator Saga’. It involved a bad man stealing a big gun (no guesses required for the type of gun) and trying to blow someone up. There were bastards (of the Game of Thrones type) and lone wolf pilots and intelligence agents and everything you could ever want in FEU fiction. The various authors teamed together and made something really exciting with quite the climax. But then they lost steam and it petered out, ending in what could only be described as ‘sequel heaven’. The story had to go on, there was no doubt about it.
And it did. The bad guy, who survived, came back to civilised space after his sabattical of looking for Raxxla. He wanted his ship and its big gun back after having lost them during the climax of HPA1. And thus started ‘The Huge Plasma Accelerator 2’. But this time I was ready. I dived in with my own protagonist, Vasquith deHavilland and pulled the story along. Again each of the authors wrote disaparate parts, threads about their own characters with their own motivations, but eventually everything became entwined and the authors started writing about everyone else’s characters. It became a blend which I think really began to shine near the end.
Vasquith deHavilland was a mechanical engineer by training who did a stint in the Federal Marines as a Sapper. Once discharged he got hired by AAAI to work on ship weapons. That was fun and kept him busy, but the call of the stars was too hard to resist and with no money, no pilot training but a big heart to do the right thing he started his flying career in a rusty old Adder.
I wrote a few novellettes of his early adventures. He lost a mentor, helped a city free itself from the yoke of criminals and learned that once you’re a marine you’re always a marine. deHavilland then upgraded to an Asp Explorer, hired a pilot on, and then BANG! he got caught up in the events of HPA2.
The desire to do the right thing by himself, by his young co-pilot and by the galaxy was at odds with his desire to stay alive and resist the forces chasing him. This began a slow decline into becoming exactly what he hated, into someone the old deHavilland would not recognise. But there was still a chance for redemption.
HPA2 came and went, and HPA3 took its place. The story direction was established but writers dropped out for one reason or another until only I was left. And then I too decided to concentrate on writing stories I could actually sell to magazines and the like. So HPA3 remains unfinished, but maybe one day I will go back to it and finish it, if only to let Vasquith deHavilland finally get the rest he so deserves.
But not now.
Now, I’m writing an official novel for Elite:Dangerous with backers who have entrusted their money to me to make it happen. And I’ll be using every spare moment to make sure ‘And Here The Wheel’ is the best Elite:Dangerous novel you ever read.
The Huge Plasma Accelerator saga is available to read in most e formats at: http://www.frontierastro.co.uk/FEU/feu.html. Its a fun read, though the writing skill is at a less mature level. If swashbuckling adventure in space is your thing I strongly suggest you check it out. There is also a big entry on the Elite Wiki at: http://wiki.alioth.net/index.php/HPA2