Square eyes, my mum used to call me. Watch too much TV,
you’ll go blind, she said. Wait, no, that was something else.
Anyway, I don’t watch nearly as much TV as I used to when
I was a kid, but I grew up on some greats – not least of which was Doctor Who – and I’m glad to say there
are still a few series that induce a similar level of addiction. Sadly – and
curiously - not many in the sci-fi department. Setting Who aside, the most recent SF shows to have become a compulsion for
me would be the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. And
before them, Babylon 5 and The X Files, up to a point.
That’s just me, I guess. Too darned fussy. I’m sure there
must be other stuff around, but wherever it’s lurking none of it has jumped out
and grabbed me. No doubt folks can offer recommendations.
In the meantime, I guess when you’re a writer and short
of a decent slice of SF adventure/entertainment the thing to do is write your
own. I’ll bet that’s how JMS got started on B5.
Of course, unlike Mr Straczynski I am a) blessed with a
surname that’s quite easy to spell and pronounce and b) not in the world of
television. So whereas he set out to craft a sweeping epic novel in TV form, I
set out to create a TV series in novel form.
UnLtd was born many, many years ago out of a deep and profound
dissatisfaction with Star Trek: The Next
Generation. All those people boldy going about the universe being
dreadfully – and I mean dreadfully – nice.
What I needed for my ensemble space-faring cast was a
league of extraordinarily despicable gentlemen. And that’s where I began – by
profiling my main characters. From there, everything else followed. Situations,
plots, splashes of background to the universe and plenty of seeds for some
wicked world-building. And enemies – often known in other series as ‘heroes’.
And given that every piece added to the mix would
generate more ideas, more fuel for future episodes, I was never going to be
able to stop at just the one book. From the get-go, Evil UnLtd was doomed to be a series.
There’s an in-story reason for it too, but this is why
when you open an Evil book you will
find sections headed up 1.1, 1.2 and so on like TV episodes. These ‘episodes’
combine to form a full novel-length tale and in some respects you can look on
it in terms of an ongoing ‘season arc’, of the sort that characterises many a
modern TV series. Except the storyline runs over the course of a book and not
five or so years of 22 45-minute episodes padded with convolutions, flashbacks,
flashforwards and Previously Ons which the writers, let alone the viewers, sometimes
have trouble following.
Initially, I had it in mind to continue like that with
each book like a volume in a DVD box set – but having episodes 1.4-1.6 in Book
2 was just asking for confusion. So instead I suppose we’ve ended up more like
the BBC’s Sherlock, with a season of
three episodes per year. Which, yes, is a lot less than JMS ever wrote for B5,
but in our defence he sometimes had trouble keeping up that kind of pace and would
occasionally churn out a few stinkers.
We don’t want that for Evil.
Indeed, for some point in the future, I have fanciful
notions of inviting other authors to contribute to the series. That’d be my
ultimate (pipe?)dream where this project is concerned. Because then you’ve not
only won over a faithful following of readers, you’ve inspired others to want
to write stories for your characters, set in your universe.
For the present, our ambitions here at Galaxy Six are more
realistic, with aims to release a third Evil
volume in December 2012. (The title’s already decided, with more than enough
material in hand and the writing has begun.) And, all being well, a fourth for
the following December.
We’re primarily focused on the ebook market, but we do
produce a paperback version of each book for those who prefer the feel of
something physical in their hand.
Mainly, we’re in it for the fun right now. The ride.
Okay, I have some notion of where it’s taking me for the next book and beyond,
but it’s still an adventure with plenty of unknowns and cliffhangers ahead.
Sure, we’ll never be able to match the immediate gratification
and appeal of a TV show, but on the other hand our cast members will not be
tempted away into other projects like some Strictly judge jumping ship to BGT.
There’s no studio screwing us around so we don’t know whether we’re going to
have a fifth season or not and our dialogue is rarely, if ever, drowned out by
an overly bombastic score. And our fx budget is awesome.
Tune in. You never know, you might find it habit-forming.
UnLtd. A TV series in book form. It’s like a subtitled show
without the pictures.
[This was a guest post by Simon Forward, author and all round good egg. Buy Evil Unltd from here now!]