LUCIFER’S STAR is a dark space opera set in the distant future where humanity has spread out along the galactic spiral but is a primitive, violent, war-torn society still.
After a huge war between the Interstellar Commonwealth and the Archduchy of Crius, starfighter pilot Cassius Mass witnesses his homeworld bombed to oblivion as revenge for the Commonwealth’s casualties.
He also discovers, as anyone who reads space opera should guess, the Archduchy was actually a brutal imperialist nation that probably deserved to be destroyed. Devastated by his lost friends and family, he ends up a drunk working on a space freighter. Unfortunately, he’s not able to leave behind his past since the Commonwealth’s agents want him to stop a resistance movement which will kill millions more if it’s allowed to gain traction.
It becomes a serious question of ethics, war, politics, and also stabbing people with a proton sword.
Lucifer’s Star is both the name of the series as well as the first book. It takes place in the Spiral, which is the area of the galaxy which humanity lives. It’s noted the rest of the galaxy is populated but humanity is considered a backward unimportant species. It’s a bit a ‘take that’ to those who assumes humanity would be super-special and badass should we enter into a larger universe—we’re more like Space Slovakia.
What makes your world special or different?
For me, I think it’s the fact the book takes a deconstructive look at a lot of the tropes which we normally associate with Space Opera. I’ve heard it called an “R-rated Star Wars” and that’s not a bad description. Characters are left traumatized by the conflicts they’ve fought in and suffering severe losses which haunt them. The aftermath of the war is arguably worse than the actual fighting and we see the idea of rising up against the people occupying the former Archduchy in a decidedly cynical light–just like we see the occupiers the same way. Even so, I love adding over-the-top action, starfighter fights, sword duels, and other classic tropes even as I play out the serious themes.
How does your main character fit into this world?
Cassius Mass is a character who has already gone through some of his character arc at the start of the book. He’s a a man raised as a feted soldier and nobleman in a society which modeled itself after Old Earth warrior values. As such, he went into the Archduchy-Commonwealth War with a naive heroic view of conflict that was gradually ground out of him. He not only is left with survivor’s guilt over lost friends and his family but also the knowledge it wasn’t a righteous cause but slaughter in the name of his planetary leader’s ambition. He’s still a badass but he’s definitely a dented piece of iron.
Tell us about the technology of your world.
I’m fairly soft on my science with human technology working halfway between Alien and Star Wars. The majority of the book takes place on the freighter Melampus which has a couple of hundred crew but is the size of a small town. It’s all very functional even as I have handwaves to justify why its practical to carry melee weapons as well as fight with personal shields. Technology outside of human space is “sufficiently advanced” with some artifacts working effectively like magic. Humanity is a small fish in a very large ocean.
What are the people who inhabit your world like?
Generally, my view of humanity in the Spiral is very cynical. On one hand, you have the Archduchy of Crius which was a bunch of arrogant gene-modded racists who set themselves up as kings and queens because they could. Some were decent people but the majority of them were really conquest-minded jackasses. The Interstellar Commonwealth cloaks itself in democracy and freedom but is really a ruthless nation exploiting the world’s it takes over to fuel its own economy. Megacorporations are active in the background, called transtellars, and the public at large is selfishly tribal. Old grudges and conflicts among humans has kept us at each other’s throats with no sign of uniting. Generally, I draw a lot from history for describing the nations as a shorthand even if they’re not one-for-one analogs.
What about non-human characters?
Human space mostly has humans in it even though there’s plenty of aliens in the universe. In fact, the most common “alien” humans deal with are those members of its own race that have modded themselves to being unlike baseline humans or “Uplifts.” There’s also a return of an old evil in humanity with bio-slavery as sentient androids with human coverings are now ubiquitous tools used by humans. Due to a past disaster, humans generally loathe A.I. but need them so bioroids get a lot of general ill-treatment as well as casual destruction. One of the main characters, Isla Hernandez, is a bioroid masquerading as a human that eventually reveals this fact to Cassius after they’ve been in a relationship for months.
Is there anything special, precious, or unique about your world’s geography or its place in the universe?
I think I do a pretty good job of establishing the geography and cultures of the worlds depicted in the book without overwhelming the reader with info dumps. I want to focus on the characters, primarily, and use the Spiral as a backdrop. I do, however, keep a careful notebook of details so I can make sure everything is consistent. Big details like the economy, politics, and technology level affect the smaller details like how people live.
What are the two most interesting facts or features of your world?
The setting provides an answer to Fermi’s Paradox about why, even though the galaxy does have alien races, it mostly is a bunch of empty barren lifeless worlds.
It also contains a staggering amount of double-crosses, betrayals, and hidden identities for an adventure tale. Finally, if you like starfighter combat, I think you’ll really enjoy this.
How does the landscape or geography of your world affect the plot or theme of the story?
I have a lot of fun with using the geography of each world to set mood. The planet Crius was a beautiful and picturesque planet of noble estates with genetically engineered dragons as well as unicorns. Its moons, however, were industrial hell holes that kept people in slave conditions to prop it up while hundreds of subject worlds were pillaged to keep up the homeworld’s luxury. The planet Xerxes is a desert world with constant insurrection against the Crius (and later Commonwealth) but its lack of resources means just as many citizens side with occupiers in exchange for trade to keep their lives going. The Melampus, itself, is a cramped and yet still large location that forces the crew into learning each other’s secrets.
Is there a religious system in place?
Religion has survived into the 3rd millennium with lots of characters having various beliefs or lack of them. Cassius was raised in the state church of Crius that was a vehicle for propaganda that he recognizes as full of falsehoods but maintains a private personal faith. Another character is a Buddhist but, as others observe, not very good at it. A race of transhumans venerates the ancient species near the galactic core that have abandoned organic bodies to become godlike machines who avoid contact with lesser races.
What is one last thing you would like readers to know all about your world?
It’s part of a series with the second book in manuscript form. The first book is also coming out in paperback and audiobook form this month.
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