My thoughts on future tie-in fiction 2

A few weeks back my fellow Fantastic Elite Fiction (FEF) author Drew Wagar wrote a blog on why he would write tie-ins for Elite:Dangerous. He talked of all the great things we know and love about the Elite games. Realism, attention to detail. Hard-nosed science fiction. These are all things important to Drew and as he moves onto his next project (or should I say the project he was working on BEFORE he started working on Elite:Reclamation), which he has called the Shadeward Saga, you can bet it will be more of the same. Very close attention to detail and as realistic as you can get within the science fiction genre.

book coversThe rest of the Fantastic Elite Fiction (FEF) authors have their own views. Darren Grey from the Elite Anthology was already producing tie-in fiction before Elite:Dangerous entered his life and will continue to do so. Allen Stroud, author of Elite:Lave Revolution is currently working on the official tie-in novel for Chaos Reborn. Ulla and Marko Susimetsa both liken the boundaries of tie-in fiction to writing historical fiction so from that point of view its a familiar experience that will continue into the future.

The concept of tie-in fiction was the last thing on Kate Russell’s mind when the opportunity for Elite:Mostly Harmless came along. She’s had three years of book related deadlines so another fiction project is the last thing on her mind right now.

For me though? Elite was fantastic. My first love, and something I dreamed of being a part of since my school days. Writing Elite:Dangerous was an awesome experience and I wouldn’t change any of it, but there are limitations to working in some one else’s sandpit.

On one side its great that the rules are already made for you. You absorb the rules, make your story fit and away you go. In this case I was so familiar with existing canon that little research was needed except for when that canon was changed or updated – there was 50 new years of history to learn!) On the other side having the rules already made for you means you can’t fully express yourself as an author. As the person making the story you create the people, you create the conflicts, you create the substance that makes it brilliant. But to make it truly your own you need to also create the places, the environments, the religions, the backstory, the flora and fauna, the themes and concepts. You need to make ALL the rules. These can (and should) all tie together into the very fabric of the novel. When you are making your own worlds you can do that. When you’re not there is a degree of limitation.

BsQGn5wCYAAlOhLSo after one project of building within one person’s world, my next project is to build within a world of my own making. James Martin is making a science fiction computer game called ‘Shallow Space‘ and I am the creative developer/writer on his team. I’ve developed the backstory (Or ‘history of things to come’) of the human civilisation from the year 2014 through to the start of the game. This ‘journey’ has affected the human psyche in many ways and this influences the way the game will be played and how any fiction will be written.

Part of my writing process involves what I call the ‘In and Back Out’ process, where I look at external actions, go inwards to the heart of what makes a character/place do what it does, then come back out to develop new external actions that are true to the character/place. (I leant this from Alicia and Theresa at who are just plain awesome). It all has to come from the centre. With a full history, and the resulting effect it has had on everything, I feel comfortable to start developing actual fiction.

Each planetary system in ‘Shallow Space’ has been designed, and all the planets within named and I’m currently working on developing each system’s history. Who discovered it? What planets were colonised? Why? How hard was it? What do they do now and how is this affected by the natural environment of the planet (And in some cases their orbital mechanics). I also do all the other stuff needed for the project, for example the scripting for a soon to be released video and a short story (Start reading it here) which are both leading to a pretty exciting announcement (Hint: Steam Greenlighting succeeded last month).

Alongside game development of course there will be the official tie-in fiction. Its unclear what form this will take at this stage but we’ve already talked about a few ideas inside the team.

So I’m having my cake and eating it too: Doing tie-in fiction…in a sandbox that I built myself.

Will I do tie-in again? Yes. Will I tie in to something that isn’t created by me? I don’t really want to think too far ahead but the door isn’t closed, but its only open to the right kind of project.


Standard_27_11_13The Garry Clan Needs You!

Calling all members of the Clan. Robert Garry needs your help to make a decision in the story ‘Commerce Disruption’. The Garry Clan have boarded the Lakon Freighter and Robert is face to face with the smug Captain who has one of those faces that is honestly, without exaggeration, begging to be smashed right in. (All the way in so the front becomes the back).

So what will Robert do? The options are all pretty simple. Shoot him, punch him, or pull off his pressure suit glove and slap him.

Its decision time. YOU decide, and in the process YOU forge the history of the Garry Clan.

This is the last week to put your thoughts forward. The Poll closes at the end of the week and the results will dictate how the next part of the story will be written.

Click here to help out Robert Garry.

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2 thoughts on “My thoughts on future tie-in fiction

  • Steph Wyeth

    This is a wonderful time to have been involved with the Elite fiction project; an opportunity to shape a part of the sandbox in the way that you would like to see it. If fiction continues to be authorised in the years to come, you might encounter a number of authors who envy the relative freedoms that were enjoyed.

  • T. James

    Hi John,

    An objective assessment of what it’s like being an Elite: Dangerous author. It’s been challenging, rewarding, and exciting, but there’s an inevitable trade-off when you are not the creator of the setting. The main advantage is that this allows you to get into a story faster – you can pick and mix the ready made bits you need from the ‘catalogue’… However, if weird and more wonderful is your thing in SFF, then the only realistic option is go it alone. Compromises like the one you’ve found are rare. Enjoy. 🙂