May 01, 2020
The idea first came to me on August 9, 2019 while sitting at a traffic light. I tapped the Ulysses butterfly and wrote:
Military Space Novel
Main character is told to sit out upcoming mission
I let the story marinate for the rest of the drive. Worlds, characters, events. Friends, foes, and palace intrigue.
My favorite part of any science fiction story is the history. What is the connective tissue from now into the imagined future?
As I wrote the history for Nebula Squad, I thought a lot about the power to lead. Where does it comes from? Ancient kingdoms were ruled by leaders believed to be chosen by God. How does a reasoned society yield power to a leader?
Democratic republics were formed on the equal promise of prosperity. What happens if prosperity evaporates? What would fill the vacuum?
For my story, I created a destructive event that would push humanity from reason. Force them to question the most basic assumption of any free society: security.
The world of Nebula Squad is set far in the future. Humanity colonized deep space using generation ships that traveled for hundreds of years. When they arrived at a hospitable system, they built interstellar gates to travel back.
At the edge of known space they discovered a mysterious disease. It spread quickly through the interconnected systems, and soon no one would survive past the age of sixty.
Nebula Squad takes place generations after the blight first spread. Society is governed by a small ruling family, who form the Grand Tribunal. They are the offspring of a miracle—a woman born with an immunity to the disease. A genetic immunity that can be passed on to her children.
The Grand Tribunal, and its regional tribunals, divine power from this immunity. They are “God’s chosen”.
Most dystopian futures cheapen the value of life due to expected over-population. Because of the blight, I can write the opposite with my dystopian future.
The founding principle of the Grand Tribunal is that “murder cannot be tolerated”. Life is sacred. Anyone convicted of homocide commits their family to a lifetime of military service for the next seven generations.
Under the stress caused by the blight, intelligent people of reason consider this a rational response to the economic crisis. It’s not hard to imagine, considering the examples of humanity’s past.
Many today hold a certain contempt for people of faith because their beliefs can be distorted by the morally corrupt. History has shown us that reason and science can be equally misappropriated.
This is one of the themes I hope to explore in Nebula Squad.
When “military space novel” first appeared on the page back in August, I didn’t expect to write such a contemporary story.
As a friend once told me, “Life has a funny way of leaking into your writing”.
Indeed, John Locke established that private property was essential for liberty. “The great and chief end therefore, of Mens uniting into Commonwealths, and putting themselves under Government, is the Preservation of their Property.” ↩︎
The guillotine was once considered a humane means of public beheading by the same government so committed to reason they created a calendar based on the decimal system. ↩︎