The Unity Wars got its start in June 2015, as “Alternate Star Wars Prequels.” (This was about six months before The Force Awakens was released, so the dumpster fire that is the Disney/Lucasfilm sequel trilogy had yet to begin.) I had been dissatisfied with the prequels (and the direction they led Star Wars as a whole in) for quite a long time, as much as I hadn’t wanted to be, and had a weird little writing prompt pop into my head one day. “How would I do it differently, more in keeping with what was hinted at in both the original movies and novelizations, as well as some of the West End Games material and the Timothy Zahn Heir to the Empire trilogy?”
I scribbled some notes, but later abandoned it, because I had no desire to get sued into oblivion by the juggernaut that is The Mouse. I always kind of wanted to finish it, but I had other projects.
It was Galaxy’s Edge that showed the way, and I’ve since made The Unity Wars it’s own thing, even though it still follows many of the elements I wanted to explore with the alternate Clone Wars. Clone tech is supposed to be as scary and dangerous as Zahn posited in the Thrawn trilogy, and the clones are supposed to be borderline psychotic enemies of the good guys (though I scrapped the Republic altogether, for various reasons).
Along the way, however, I delved into some of the alternate ideas about the Clone Wars that were out there. There’s not a lot of pre-’99 lore left aside from what was in print from West End and some of the other affiliates. But that alone provides some semi-cohesive inspiration.
And, a friend pointed out the following videos. They’re interesting, and better than what we got, in my estimation, though I went in a considerably different direction.
I wrote before on this blog about a sense of scale in space opera. Some do it better than others. I decided early on in the planning phase that there were going to be multiple arcs throughout this series, since one set of characters wouldn’t necessarily be able to see every facet of a true, galaxy-spanning war (or the forces that have set it in motion). There are three to start; Erekan Scalas is the main character for one, Gaumarus Pell for another, and the third has yet to be introduced.
Where I took a chance was introducing each arc in its own independent novel. Continue reading
As with the Alien Anthropology posts, we’ll be continuing to build the background and lore of The Unity Wars‘ setting with the Planetary Profiles series. They will also be linked to the History and Background page.
Vakkea is the fourth planet of ten orbiting the K-type orange dwarf D’zhikk. A heavy-metal-rich world, Vakkea’s native ecosystem is limited to single-celled organisms up to something resembling giant lichens, which covers large swaths of the planet’s landmass. Several landlocked seas dot the planet’s surface, though the total water coverage amounts to less than thirty percent of the planetary surface.
While it was initially discovered by the majority-ekuz Izh’hich Corporation, the news of a new habitable planet with plentiful—and valuable—minerals quickly sparked a bit of a rush from the nearby ekuz worlds within nearly a parsec. For the first few years, the settlement of Vakkea was a bit of a free-for-all, though a mostly peaceful one. There was enough territory on the planet’s surface for all comers to have plenty of room. Continue reading
Star Flight Is A Problem Space Opera Has To Address
Earlier on this blog, I wrote about how Space Opera needs a sense of scale. Space opera is about being Big, with a Capital “B.” This goes back to the very origins of the genre. As I’ve said before, E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series eventually had entire planets being used as weapons. Edmund Hamilton’s Interstellar Patrol series also included stars, nebulae, and planets as weapons. (In fact, even Poul Anderson used the “weaponized planet,” in Ensign Flandry.) “Big” was never a problem. And “big” requires some form of star flight.
As more authors have tried to write “Hard SF Space Opera,” a challenge has arisen. Yes, space is big. Too big to get far with current understandings of physics.
The Lightspeed Barrier
Space is so huge, and the speed of light (being the theoretical absolute speed limit) so relatively sluggish (though calling 300,000 kilometers per second “sluggish” is a bit off), that getting anywhere even with theoretical tech that’s still way beyond our capabilities would take centuries. That’s a problem when you’re trying to tell an adventure story. If your cast, either aboard the ship or at the destination, will be centuries dead by the time the ship gets there, it makes it hard to tell a rip-roaring story.
Not impossible, mind you. Alistair Reynolds managed it with the Revelation Space series. His lighthuggers were gigantic starships, limited to just under the speed of light. He had to plot separate plot threads, moving forward and back decades, finally coming together at the culmination of each book. And he did a good job of it. It’s just complicated.
It’s also limited to a relatively small area of the galaxy, because of those same constraints. So what do you do if you want to let your space opera sprawl? What if you want the entire galaxy to be your playground, like in Star Wars? Continue reading
This is a basic truism. (And one that Star Wars really started to fail at with the prequels.) You have an entire galaxy to play in. There is no reason to keep things small. George Lucas started going off the rails when his vast, sweeping space opera became about one small family and the same handful of planets.