A science fiction space opera adventure for folks who miss Firefly, Stargate, and Babylon 5.
I’m a big fan of what you might call pre-War on Terror sci-fi. Back in those heady days of my youth, when history was supposed to be over and American values of freedom and democracy were triumphant, science fiction was a heck of a lot more hopeful than it is today.
In the wake of collapse of that hopeful vision of the future wrought by the noughts came an introspective, brooding, misery porn turn exemplified by Battlestar Galactica. A lot of the people who used to read sci-fi went to college in a decade where their professors warned them climate change was going to destroy everything, and for a lot of people that took the idea of traveling to distant stars down a peg.
This loss of hope has left the bulk of non-gritty science fiction to Star Wars, which thanks to Disney’s insistence on re-running old plot threats into the ground and churning out content meant to power toys and social media memes is already stagnant. The promise of ideas covered in the Extended Universe and Knights of the Old Republic is being crushed under the boot of Star Wars’ space fantasy roots, clad in steel by all-conquering House of Mouse.
I’d like to stand against that — and Bivrost Nine represents my first sally in this sacred combat.
Take note Netflix — you’re gonna want to pick this one up in a couple years :)
Here’s the official description from Amazon, where you can buy Bivrost Nine or read it free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber:
Nysse Ann Hazara-Ghazi has spent thirteen years traveling the Three Arcs from Core to Rim and Frontier to Desolation, trying to forget the awful Human-Othren war that killed all her dearest friends.
But a weary warrior with decades of experience working alongside Aliens is a valuable commodity in the twenty-second century, eight decades since Earth learned the secret to swift travel between the stars and humanity joined a burgeoning interstellar community. Tensions are again on the rise between the great powers, and many fear a new strife is brewing, well aware of the Plague that so often comes when planets go to war.
Now Nysse has a new mission: take command of a remote outpost thousands of light years from Earth, home to a unique effort that seeks to give form to an old dream: a place where the many diverse peoples of known space can meet to work out their differences peacefully.
Joined by Sam, a cyborg on his first off-world adventure; Winston, a brilliant but unorthodox scientist; and Ishlaa, an Othren priestess, Nysse and her new team face the daunting challenge of securing and governing a small city perched on the remnants of a shattered world, all alone in the night.
Danger stalks their every choice, as no noble effort is without its enemies, some lurking in dark places where others fear to walk, waiting for their time.
The year is 2159.
The place: Bivrost Nine
Catchy, eh? I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Missnatmack for her (as ever) gorgeous design work and Imbue Editing for proofreading and formatting support. They’ve been indispensable in helping produce what I firmly believe is a fine piece of science fiction deserving of a wide audience.
It has bugged me for years that Babylon 5 and Firefly lack sequels or reboots, and Stargate is old enough to deserve a new look too. Sadly, intellectual property rights being what they are, companies like to hold onto properties yet not allow them to be developed.
So it falls to fans lucky enough to become creators themselves to carry on the legacy.
Before the War on Terror and the Climate Crisis began tearing at science fiction’s classical roots in hopeful explorations of what-could-be, there existed a common vision of a world made slowly and steadily better by technological development and social progress. And in the process, sci-fi of the time inspired a generation of inventors, engineers, and developers to make things like tablet computers — once the province of Star Trek — everyday reality.
Babylon 5 also held onto the optimism we used to place in diplomacy and negotiation for solving disputes. Americans since 2001 have been taken down a unilateralist road not only in actual foreign policy, but our imaginations too.
Bivrost Nine — the name is an intentional echo of Babylon 5, and there are many other nods and shout-outs to it and other cool works in the text— is a barren outpost in the middle of a strategically vital piece of real estate in the Three Arcs that holds the secret to surviving a malevolent threat gaining strength in the darkness between the stars.
This is how humanity comes to find it:
In 2063, scientists on Earth detect the first unambiguous signal from a previously unknown phenomena near the Sun requiring entirely new physics to account for. It comes and goes unpredictably, drawing attention from the burgeoning research and habitation stations spreading across Earth’s solar system.
In 2073, the first direct images are produced of an object appearing near a strange and still-unexplained energy source — and later disappearing. The Earth Democratic Federation initiates a program to study and replicate the phenomenon.
In 2079 another object is seen and closely tracked until it disappears into a bright light, a kind of tear in space. It is confirmed to be constructed, not natural, in origin, and the source of the anomalous signal. Sufficient data is recovered to begin to attempt to reconstruct the effect, which requires concentrating a tremendous amount of energy at a precise point in space around the Sun.
2083 brings the first successful test after more than a dozen failures, coming after yet another direct observation of an apparent alien vessel entering and exiting the solar system through another tear in space. A probe is able to create and enter a breach — and then return carrying footage of the same alien craft in orbit around a star soon verified as Alpha Centauri A.
A crewed craft of six immensely bold volunteers is dispatched days later, and humanity simultaneously makes its first step into the interstellar age and initiates the first known direct contact with intelligent life from another star system.
As it turns out, space is absolutely teeming with life, increasingly connected by the expansion of the jump gate network: a series of links between stars that for unknown reasons disrupt normal space around many stars, especially large ones. Beings with the right technology can discover how to breach these weakened points in spacetime to send ships and signals along a strange one-way channel outside of normal reality where the rules of physics don’t apply.
The media calls it jump space. Scientists still argue over whether these channels qualify as wormholes or transit through another dimension.
But it doesn’t really matter. Jump gates link thousands of stars, and more connections are being discovered all the time.
Anything that enters a breach is moved outside of spacetime by invisible forces at speeds relative to our spacetime in proportion to its mass. Light waves can pass through in seconds, spaceships take around six hours to make normal jumps to the next star, anywhere from three to three hundred light years away.
So though real-time communication isn’t possible more than a few jumps away, messages can still cross the Three Arcs in hours — ships in weeks. And the Three Arcs are chock full of habitable worlds, many of them long inhabited.
In this Era the region of known space Earth is located in — the Rimward spur of the Second Arc — is pretty much the galactic suburbs. Until a couple hundred years before the region was barely known to the wider galaxy, as there was nothing of interest to most of the interstellar powers.
So when, in 2090, Earth sends out its first large-scale expeditions along the jump gate network, it finds vast tracts of unclaimed space to occupy. After fifty years of steady colonization of the solar system some hundred million people already live in or beyond Earth orbit, and the shift to interstellar travel was not difficult at all.
For thirty years almost all of humanity was taken by the rush to explore and settle the stellar neighborhood. The nine core colonies are established within four jumps — a little more than a day’s travel time — and attract more migrants from crowded Earth than capacity exists to move them for many years.
The turn of the century saw tens of millions leaving Earth each year, the rate constantly accelerating. Earth’s population had reached a stable state of ten billion in the middle of the twenty-first century, but climate change impacts were set to be severe until sufficient carbon removal facilities could be set up to reduce concentrations of atmospheric carbon. Food shortages were a real concern, mitigated only by careful planning and investment.
That had powered much of the early migration into orbit, mostly by elderly people desiring a last adventure in a climate-controlled, lower-gravity environment. Humanity’s Interstellar Age, by contrast, drew young adventurers and people who sought a life of freedom from the restrictions imposed by living on a crowded planet.
By 2120 however the major and minor Core colonies were well-established, and the frontier had pressed further outward — closer to places more often traveled or inhabited by space-faring Aliens, as Humans began to speak of anyone not of their own species.
And sometimes of members of their own not born on Earthly soil.
While the vicinity of Earth space might have long been relatively empty, only a few jumps away the situation changes fast. No interstellar species claims territory within ten standard jumps of Earth, but many ancient single-system species, rogue colonies, and young societies at all stages of development litter the stars.
And as humanity’s outward spread continues, it was inevitable it would become involved in conflicts — there are plenty of those in the Three Arcs.
And there I think it is best to end this introduction, for the story of the years after the 2120s, the time of the Scae Wars and Human-Othren conflict, is best told by those who lived it.
Bivrost Nine is the saga of a group of misfits who wind up in charge of a place that represents the last, best hope of Humans and Aliens against a threat so ancient and terrible few even remember it exists outside of myths and legends.
It will be a six-book series when complete — the sequel, The Scae Resurgence, will commence production on October 1st and should be available by May of 2022. I hope to have the entire saga done by the end of 2024, but we shall see — my rate of productivity is consistent, but the perils and tragedies of life are many.
In short, life is hard to predict these days, but I’ll do my level best.
After all, I wrote Bringing Ragnarok — a six-book saga that doesn’t fit neatly into any genre and required a lot of fealty to certain rather restrictive commitments made in the initial world design — from 2017 to 2020. Bivrost Nine is space opera science fiction adventure at heart, though including many tropes from exploration, colonization, but the world is entirely mine so there is less research to do and transmit in the narrative.
Which makes this saga a bit weirder than the last, but in a good way — and also guaranteed to be easier to read as I’m not trying to evoke the style of the old sagas on every page.
So give it a look-see, if you like ebooks. Print edition coming soon for those like myself who prefer a hard copy.
Leave this sad tortured world for a time and get a glimpse of a better future that may yet come.
Then maybe we’ll all be inspired to help build it.