Smell that? That is the smell of new BattleTech fiction. Ah…
One thing I wanted to capture with this book was that sense we all had when new BattleTech fiction came out years ago. It is that sense of excitement, those gasps at some of the things in the book when they are revealed, that tension we all had as readers back in the day. I wanted to be 20 or 30 again and feel that awesomeness as I learned more about this shared universe we all are a part of. Yes, even as writers, we thrilled when other authors put out new books.
From what I am seeing on social media, the fans are getting those sensations. Freaking sweet!
Going back to characters from Exodus Road was risky. We have had a lot of characters killed in BattleTech to only see them return. I knew that would be a challenge, but I also knew it was going to be worth it. We had to see the story arcs of these characters go to full fruition. The crushing defeat of the Smoke Jaguars left so many unanswered questions, I knew I had fertile ground to work with. For the record we never saw Trent’ death on screen, only word that he had died. That was true – he died several times after the battle, revived each time. The Nova Cats told the truth, but withheld the important parts because, well, they are Nova Cats.
And now it is out there, in the public. There will be detractors, the troll community. I don’t give a shit. BattleTech is back! You got boxed sets, new fiction, awesome new maps too. If you want to whine about it, well go ahead. The rest of us are going to have some fun instead. When was the last time that the community as a whole was devouring fiction? It has been years. Even with Betrayal of Ideals, it had already appeared in BattleCorps. This was new and fresh and touched on characters and eras when we all were heavily engaged in BattleTech.
The things I liked the most is the interplay between Trent and Paul Moon as characters. These two characters have been at each other’s throats for years. Having them be fighting together took a lot of character development work. Duty and honor trumps hatred in this case. They no longer have competing ideologies, but share something in common. Their shared vision is what saves the Smoke Jaguars from extinction.
Inanna is important. At one point (very early on) I wondered if I should make her a figment of Trent’s imagination – a fill-in for Judith. Then I realized I needed her to be much more.
The Second Star League is important as a character as well, though most people won’t see it that way. It was cocky, “liberating” Huntress and essentially throwing it into chaos. How many times have we seen nations win the wars and lose the peace? If it feels like the Star League did not have a plan for what to do with Huntress after they won it is because they really didn’t. How do you liberate a people that do not want liberation? The parallels, even contemporary, are many and sad.
I also loved dinging the armor of Victor Steiner-Davion. Like all humans, he is flawed. Forcing him to face those flaws was fun. Mistakes were made, but it took him decades to realize and acknowledge them. Even then, he hit the delete key. In that moment when he hits the delete key in the end is critical. Ego and arrogance overpowers the truth for Victor, even though he knows that there will come a time of reckoning.
The little scenes make it for me. Stealing the Remembrance from Master’s office – priceless. The whole Smoke Jaguar exodus was fun and dark and neat. Russou Howell was useful to be the alternative for the Jaguars.
There’s a lot to process in this novel, I will grant you that. The biggest one is, “Where does this leave us?” Well, the Smoke Jaguars are there, hidden in plain sight during the Dark Ages. We knew that already – but there are several clues near the end of the book as to what is possibly coming next, if you can spot them. (Evil laugh mode engaged – Mwah ha ha hah!)
For those of you that followed it, I tied in elements from Impetus of War (Wayside) and Exodus Road and Surrender Your Dreams. That should be a hint all on its own. I am a big fan of connecting the books in the BattleTech universe. To me, connecting the stories is part of what makes BattleTech cool. In other words, go back and start re-reading some of the older fiction!
Next up is the Wolves Dragoons novella for me (no I don’t know when it will be released or if it will be in paperback — geez I’m just a hack writer.) There’s a lot crammed into a small package with that fiction too. I can’t share the title with you because that alone will stir passions and frothing hilarity.
So, there you have it. The game is afoot. I can’t wait until GenCon. Bring your books to be signed and brace yourselves…something huge and exciting is about the happen.