Posted on Thursday Jul 13, 2017 at 02:10PM in Fiction
In the summer of 2014 several members of the team had the opportunity to attend WorldCon in London and give a sneak-peek of Maelstrom's Edge to some of the world's best science-fiction authors. The aim? To showcase our universe and convince them to lend their awesome storytelling talents to our project. Presenting the backdrop, artwork, and prototype models, many of the authors we pitched to came away impressed with both our vision and our commitment to building a long-lasting IP. We came away from the London Excel centre having signed up a great mix of highly-acclaimed established voices and up-and-coming superstars to contribute to our project.
Tales from the Edge: Escalation is the result of that fruitful few days at science fiction’s biggest convention. The anthology brings together a wealth of talent contributing short fiction work to the Maelstrom's Edge universe:
With over a decade of experience as a professional astrophysicist to back up his writing chops, Alastair Reynolds is deservedly called the "reigning master of the intergalactic space opera", and brings a compelling edge of hard-SF to his unique brand of galaxy-spanning science fiction. Author of the Inhibitor trilogy that kicked off with the seismic Revelation Space and ended with the chilling Absolution Gap, Alastair's star has only risen over the last twenty years, and has been nominated for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award three times.
Here's what Alastair said about getting to play in the Maelstrom's Edge universe:
"Maelstrom's Edge is something different: an SF game universe put together with real originality and incorporating some genuinely clever and inventive thinking. There are enough worlds and stories waiting to be explored to last a lifetime..."
With his gritty blend of dark sci-fi, speculative science, and galaxy-spanning drama he is a perfect match for the Maelstrom's Edge universe and we're delighted to have him on board with our opening story, ‘Remainers’, in which a ship’s captain accepts a client’s dangerous request to return to a world doomed by the Maelstrom.
Author of the spectacular Seed, which Paolo Bacigalupi described as "A hungry beast of a book, rippling with slaughter and sex, powerhouse action, surreal post-human horrors and bigger-than-life heroes", Rob's work combines kinetic action, bleak landscapes, and characters drawn from the grimy underbelly of society. As such we think he is perfect to help us flesh out some of the stories happening at the margins of the Maelstrom's Edge universe, particularly those involving the Broken, our very own faction of survivalists who mix the high-tech and the squalid together with the violent and the tender. ‘Little Bots’, Rob’s story in ‘Escalation’, is a terrific tale of a group of orphans, sneaking and tricking their way to survival.
Described by SFX Magazine as "A major new talent" on the release of her debut novel, Consorts of Heaven, Jaine Fenn has proceeded to flesh out her Hidden Empire series, charting seven-thousand years of future history as humankind adventures among the stars. Known for writing tense and fast-paced stories set in vivid locales, we felt Jaine would create the kind of gripping fiction perfectly suited to the universe of Maelstrom's Edge. For her first story in our universe, Jaine set her sights on two of our future factions – telling the story of a noble Champion of the Artarian Remnant Fleet, amongst the ragtag flotilla of a Broken fleet, in the cracking short story ‘Over You’.
In the Plague Year trilogy Jeff Carlson unleashed a nanoplague on humanity that killed all warm-blooded life below 10,000 feet. In his Frozen Sky novels humankind discovered a deadly species in the icy waters of Jupiter's ice moon, Europa. Who better than this Philip K. Dick Award Finalist to help bring the Maelstrom's Edge universe to gripping life? When we told him about the Maelstrom's Edge universe and invited him to spread his fictional wings he had the following to say:
"These days I write sci fi and tech thrillers that, I hope, are chock full of monsters and chills and cutting edge science. When I heard about Maelstrom’s Edge, I begged its designers to let me play in their sandbox. An unstoppable wave of hellish energy. Civilizations destroyed. Terraforming corporations, mech, refugees, cults, strange planets. Man, that’s what I do!!!!"
Jeff’s story ‘The Spaces Between Us’ is something both beautiful and brutal, telling a tangled family tragedy on a world with something truly worth saving.
Aliette de Bodard
Nominated for multiple Hugo, Nebula, and BSFA awards, and winner of the Nebula and Locus awards, Aliette de Bodard is a highly-acclaimed author who will bring brilliant prose allied to poignant characters to the Maelstrom's Edge universe. Subverting the usual tropes for original twists, and substituting by-the-numbers heroes for vivid individuals deeply entwined with familial and cultural shackles, we were really excited to see what Aliette did with the apocalyptic backdrop of Maelstrom's Edge, and her story, ‘Losses We Bear’ is a superb demonstration of her skills. http://aliettedebodard.com
Tomas L. Martin
Well, that’s me! Together with Stephen Gaskell, I’m one of the lead writers who helped develop the background to the Maelstrom’s Edge universe, as well as together writing the short stories that made up our first collection, ‘Tales from the Edge: Emergence’, and the two Maelstrom’s Edge novels, ‘Faith’ and ‘Sacrifice’. When not writing for Maelstrom’s Edge, I’m a lecturer in materials physics at the University of Bristol, as well as occasionally dabbling in other fiction endeavours! My story, ‘Fleet Champion’ is a little introduction to the tangled politics and heated contests of the Remnant Fleet and the power-suited Champions that compete for the honour and reputation of their noble houses.
Coming via Wolverhampton, Dublin and London, Jonathan Cooper is a novelist and occasional journalist now living in Amsterdam. He has written on film, TV and pop culture for the Mirror and the Independent and has short fiction published in the New London Review and Scrivener Creative Review. He is also the author of Lethbridge Stewart: The Showstoppers, a new novel featuring Doctor Who's very own Brigadier. In this anthology Jonathan gives us ‘The Daughter of Arin’, where a Comm Guild courier delivers a strange package that leads to an increasingly chaotic conspiracy.
Winner of a boatload of awards including Warner Aspect First Novel, Prix Aurora Award 2006, and Spectrum Award 2006, not to mention twice being shortlisted for the Philip K. Dick Award, Karin Lowachee's Warchild Universe explores the experience of fictionalised child soldiers learning to survive in a war-torn galaxy. When we asked her to expand on what drew her to Maelstrom's Edge universe she had the following to say:
"In a genre that can literally explore anything the imagination envisions, the opportunity to sink my teeth into a doomsday event of galactic proportions was too good to pass. Everything about Maelstrom's Edge speaks to my creative inclinations: high stakes, complex characters, an expansive setting, and a sense of wonder. The possibilities for exploration both external and internal are endless, and my fascination with the human condition—our frailties as well as our strengths—is something I will explore. A psychological close-up of what a random band of survivors on a frontier planet are willing and able to do to reach their destination—and presumably their saving grace to get off-world ahead of the Maelstrom—will take an unflinching look at the nature of selfishness, exploitation, compassion and love."
Karin's tale ‘The Flesh of the World’ explores a lawless, frontier-type world that has been abandoned by the corporations, leaving the population alone to face the coming Maelstrom.
The other half of the Maelstrom’s Edge lead writing team, Stephen is a prolific and talented writer both of fiction and for games. When not writing for Maelstrom’s Edge, Stephen works as a Senior Writer for Amplitude Studios, where he recently completed work on the popular 4X strategy title, Endless Space 2. His fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Interzone, Years Best Military SF, and elsewhere, and he is currently seeking representation for his debut novel, The Unborn World, a dystopian eco-thriller set in Lagos, Nigeria. An alumnus of University College, Oxford, he holds degrees in physics and artificial intelligence. Stephen’s contribution to the anthology is the fantastic ‘A Keeper’s Duty’, which explores the moral dilemma of a convert to the Karist Faith, growing up to become one of the Keepers who looks after the otherworldly alien creatures known as Angels.
With degrees in philosophy and artificial intelligence, a mother who was a gothic novelist, and a father who was a part-time conjurer, it is no exaggeration to say that Liz William's is one of the most original voices working in science fiction today. Short-listed for the Philip K. Dick Award for her novels no less than four times, Liz is also a master of the short form with her work appearing in many Year's Best anthologies. Writing dark and strange yet utterly compelling fiction, Liz's piece for our Maelstrom's Edge anthology is titled "’Moon Desert’ and is a fantastic read.
Maelstrom's Edge has a comprehensive long term fiction plan which we give as much attention as the game itself. From day one we've been trying to develop a universe which will grab the interest of anybody who has even a passing interest in Science Fiction, and with some of the best sci-fi authors in the world committing stories into the anthology ‘Tales From The Edge: Escalation’, Maelstrom's Edge is going from strength to strength, with plenty more to come from us in future.
Posted on Saturday Nov 12, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
The Epirian foundation is fragmented into many competing franchises. Each maintains control of multiple worlds, and technology and people must be interchanged frequently. Ensuring security on these worlds requires each adult Epirian citizen to be issued with a MATS number. This unique number allows an Epirian citizen to rise to high status on one world, and have that status recognised throughout the galaxy, granting a galactic mobility that would not otherwise be possible without immense personal wealth.
MATS numbers are controlled at the system level, and as such represent an extremely juicy target for infiltrating agents. Getting some fake individuals in to the MATS system is an easy way to gain unfettered access to key Epirian institutions and facilities, and for those desperate to escape a world, can lead to a significant bump in their position on passenger manifests.
Posted on Saturday Nov 05, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
Na-cybel is the type of cybel energy discovered by the Enclave's founders during their escape from a Maelstrom-infected collapsing cybel tunnel, and later reproduced via their Commune reactors. The Fourteen survivors began to experiment with cybel energy, fascinated by the strange new form that had flooded their ship. Eventually they managed to recreate what they called na-cybel energy, a metastable form that seemed not to harm flesh in the same way. Whilst cybel energy had been used often in ship engines, few people directly exposed themselves to cybel energy because of the health risks. The Fourteen survivors decided that the benefits of na-cybel energy outweighed its dangers.
When a commune reactor is used to produce na-cybel, it mixes highly disrupted, almost Maelstrom-like energy with calm, refined cybel energy. At the interface between the two, a hybrid of cybel and Maelstrom energies forms, with the more placid, wispy qualities of cybel combined with the colouring of Maelstrom energy. Unlike either though, na-cybel does not annihilate with conventional energy and matter, instead sparking tiny purple and magenta lightning strikes that topically burn objects. It has been observed that na-cybel has powerful effects on the human nervous system, producing a sense of euphoria and sometimes visions. The Enclave use this as a religious experience and also as a means of controlling their population. The scarring that results from na-cybel exposure is superficial in general, but only to a point, as heavy users such as the Kaddar Nova will eventually be crippled and killed by the cumulative effects.
The na-cybel is only used as a narcotic. Karist weapons do not use or fire na-cybel, they fire refined cybel. The technology in the communes, enhanced with further understanding and insights by studying angels, can be militarized to control and channel natural cybel with peerless performance to all other human civilizations, surpassed and dwarfed only by the angels themselves. It is this deeper understanding, derived from the need to re-produce na-cybel, but re-purposed to weaponising natural cybel, that gives the Enclave their unique weaponry and abilities.
Posted on Saturday Oct 29, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
The Karist Enclave are unable to take huge manufacturing facilities with them when they secret themselves away upon a remote world and capturing large facilities is immediately noticeable as well. As a result, more than any other faction, the Karists use complex refineries and nanoforges. A nanoforge is a molecular level assembly system, which allows almost all Karist equipment to be assembled at a near-molecular level. While organics remain too complex to replicate, armour, weaponry, furniture, electronics and extremely basic foodstuffs can all be produced from a wide array of input resources.
The most common output material is Metalloceramic - the material from which Karist plate armour, spacecraft and day to day tools are built from. As the name implies, the material mixes properties from input metals with the benefits of a ceramic, giving the best of both worlds in terms of conductivity, protection and strength.
Nanoforges are not exclusive to the Karist Enclave, but the energy requirements for operating them are immense, and only the Karists are content enough to sit on top of such large volumes of cybel energy. Most other groups in the galaxy appreciate that human power is a lot cheaper than cybel energy, so tend to vie away from such high levels of automated production for all but the most complex and critical equipment.
Posted on Saturday Oct 22, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
The origin of the Karist Enclave dates back to the eruption of the Maelstrom itself. When the disturbance first exploded into being near the galactic core, hundreds of worlds in the dense centre of the galaxy were quickly wiped out, before many knew what was happening. Few escaped that initial violent expansion, as cybel tunnels ruptured and sublight craft were overtaken by the Maelstrom’s first wave.
A fraction ahead of the event horizon, a small spacecraft named Kariman's Breath succeeded in escaping from the galactic core worlds. Carrying a few hundred people, the ship was in transit through one of the cybel tunnels at the edge of the core when the Maelstrom erupted. Although they were just outside the destroyed region, the tunnel they were in ruptured, throwing the ship into deep space between worlds. Their shields were overloaded by the energy storm, flooding the decks with a strange energy.
Exposure to the energy of the cybel tunnels ordinarily causes burns and ultimately death, but the Fourteen survivors of the Kariman’s Breath didn't die when this energy washed over them. Instead the surviving crew and passengers reported a religious, transcendent experience. Some say that there was a difference of opinion between the ship’s inhabitants, that the experience was just a hallucination and that the early Enclave members killed those who disagreed with their interpretation. Whatever occurred in that moment, upon the re-emergence of the Kariman’s Breath into civilisation, all aboard had converted to the idea that becoming one with the Maelstrom would lead to their ascension to a higher plane of existence.
Isolated and unable to contact the rest of humanity, and suffering from their exposure to the energy, the ship’s inhabitants struggled to keep the ship going. Determined to pass on their revelations to others, they kept the ship limping through the tattered remains of the near-core. Desperate for supplies, they happened upon a small planet far from the plane of the galaxy - Schar's World. Because of the vast quantities of precious metals in the star system, it had been settled despite its distance from the main cybel trade routes, but the scattered population of the mining world was poor and downtrodden, kept under the control of a corporate dictatorship terrified by the Maelstrom's destruction of their superiors.
A few hundred million souls lived on the planet, fearful of the future and grief stricken at leaving their old lives in the past. When they realised the source of the small spacecraft, all were eager to talk to the survivors about their experience in an attempt to calm their own fears. The fourteen survivors of the Kariman incident were unified by their experience, both in the moment the Kariman's Breath was tossed on the crest of the Maelstrom and their long months of isolation afterward. The Fourteen came out with a fervent belief that the Maelstrom was a tool for ascendance rather than destruction. They committed their lives to promoting their miraculous discovery, and showing people how they too could reach enlightenment. As their new religion spread on Schar's World, the Fourteen grew to become the revered leaders of the movement. As the believers shared their philosophy throughout the planet they gained a name - The Karist Enclave.
Posted on Saturday Oct 15, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
The Kasmenai originally came from a barren world long lost to mankind's expansion. Bipedal with elongated limbs, the Kasmenai are radiation resistant and so often find work on human-owned worlds where radiation levels are high. Typically they can be found on mining colonies, and on highly radioactive worlds. Their service is cheaper than robots, especially when the robots need radiation shielding.
When the Maelstrom threatened many of these worlds, the Kasmenai were shown to be the subclass they are amongst humanity, as even those they thought friends fled the catastrophe, leaving the vast majority of the aliens behind. With much greater numbers than human populations on some harsh worlds, the Kasmenai have been driven to rise up and overthrow governments, but besides those in space already, very few find transport to escape. Most are happy to join the Broken given the chance.
Kasmenai bodies are very different from human. Their hardened skin is made of radiation-proof scales, but the absorption of radiation is also how Kasmenai feed, transferring the energy from alpha, beta and gamma decay into the chemical batteries that make up much of their internal organs. Due to this strange electrical sustenance they do not have blood or a digestion system, and their insides are much more radiation resistant, however if they do absorb too much radiation on their outer skin they can shed it like snake-skin, sloughing off the most dangerous contamination. Their bodies are lined with aluminium capillaries that transfer power and thought alike.
Although Kasmenai do not eat like most organisms, getting their energy from radiation, they still need a supply of metals and silicates to build their bodies, and Kasmenai can often be found sucking metallic lozenges to replenish the elements they need to grow and repair. Although their skin is designed to produce energy from radioactive decay, it can also feed off the photons from light and heat, albeit much more slowly due to the vastly lower energies involved. Their dependence on sources of energy can often make them prone to enslavement to work in dangerous locations, and the pallid grey colour of an energy-depleted Kasmenai's scales is a sign of danger, as their normally benign temperament becomes angry and unpredictable when they have not fed properly.
Posted on Saturday Oct 08, 2016 at 06:00PM in Fiction
The Epirian Foundation is most famous for the variety of robots it employs, but the vast organisation made its fortune in the business of finding and cultivating new worlds. There are six stages to the terraforming process that the Epirian Foundation uses to take a planet from a barren wasteland to a verdant paradise. Taking a planet all the way from stage 1 to stage 6 can take thousands of years and huge investments. Frequently a planet is taken to stage 4 and the process is halted, for the cost of reaching garden world status is not deemed worthwhile for all but the richest or geographically blessed planets.
The six stages are:
- In stage one, a planet is barren, inhospitable and even overtly hostile to human occupation, due to extreme temperatures, atmospheric conditions, weather or seismologica phenomena. Even colonists in armoured vehicles or space suits are not safe. The goal of stage one terraforming is to stabilise the world, removing or mitigating the biggest threats to survival so that the terraforming process can begin in earnest. Stage one is dangerous, risky work and can take hundreds or even thousands of years, and in many cases might be too expensive to complete.
- In stage two, the planet is still unsuitable for sustaining life, but is no longer dangerous on a day to day basis. The next phase of terraforming is about removing big impediments to cultivating a viable habitat, such as the removal of toxic materials, protection against cosmic rays and the beginnings of atmospheric tweaking to provide breathable air and survivable temperatures. By the end of stage two, a colonist might be able to survive unprotected for a few minutes, but life still remains under protective domes. The transition between stage 2 and stage 3 typically begins the true colonisation age, as settlers flock to the world in search of their fortunes.
- A stage 3 world is marginally habitable. There might be a thin atmosphere that requires rebreathers, or substantial areas of the planet might be too hot or too cold to survive for more than a few hours. The third stage aims to begin moving more of the world's surface to a habitable state through atmospheric processing, temperature control using greenhouse gases or space-based mirrors, the seeding of a water cycle using comets of ice and the introduction of thousands of variants of nanoorganism that digest the soil or purify the air. It is at stage 3 that colonists begin to settle the planet in earnest, and much of the resource extraction is also performed at this stage. The planet of Zycanthus is around halfway through stage 3 of the terraforming process.
- Stage four begins to move a planet from a marginal world into a more comfortable home for humanity. The air is close to human-standard by now, and extremes of temperature are limited to the poles and equator. Following purification of planetside bodies of water or the introduction of water from ice comets, a truly self-sufficient ecosystem is cultivated, and agriculture moves from a desperate struggle against the elements to a profitable enterprise. Cities grow and the world ceases to be considered a backwater, sustaining a bustling economy and trade network with nearby planets.
- Stage five is where a world truly becomes a desirable place to live. Most of the planet is fertile and verdant, although differences in temperature and ecosystem can still vary widely depending on latitude and longitude. Agriculture is by now a key export, and tourism may even become a factor as outsiders flock to experience the natural world that has been created. Extraction of resources begins to be limited by environmental constraints, as a world of this quality is too rare and costs too much to be sullied by mining and industry.
- Stage six is a status achieved by relatively few planets across the Spiral Arm. Garden worlds or paradises, as they are often known, are blessed by fortunate geography or huge expense to be close to perfect for sustaining human life. Ecologies thrive, with vibrant habitats teeming with plant and animal life. Living on such a world becomes a status symbol in itself, and the rich and powerful flock to holiday in its lush forests and shining beaches. There is no greater prize than a garden world, and their loss to the Maelstrom is viewed as more tragic than almost anything else.
The processes and methodologies of terraforming vary widely between different human and alien cultures, and even within the varying franchises of the Epirian Foundation. The complexities of the process mean that each planet must be treated in a bespoke manner, with the terraforming tools used tailored to maximise the world's strengths and mitigate its weaknesses. When a world blessed with a few of the former but none of the latter is found, the battles to control it can be fiercer than any other.
Posted on Saturday Oct 01, 2016 at 07:00PM in Fiction
We are very proud to announce, that as previously teased, today sees the release of the first volume of the Tales From The Edge series. This series will cover all aspects of the Maelstrom's Edge universe, all factions, and fiction from a large number of perspectives and authors.
The first release - Emergence - includes stories by Tomas L. Martin, Stephen Gaskell and Andrew Everett. It will be digital exclusive on Amazon until February, when it will also get a print release alongside the second volume.
Go and check it out today, and please spread the word to your sci-fi fan friends if you enjoy it as word of mouth really helps us to thrive!
Posted on Saturday Sep 24, 2016 at 06:00PM in Fiction
Across our range of fiction, there have been a number of foodstuffs unique to the Maelstrom's Edge universe noted. We'll highlight some of them here so that anyone who wants to make some labels on terrain, their own fiction, or their own vending machines have some canon options!
- Betelbark - Traded spice.
- Carnglen - Good brand of whisky, Epirian/general worlds.
- Fungal Root - Karist food onboard an Ark, has a 'tang'.
- Kulquat Fruit - Egg shaped fruit known to Phelon IV residents with inward-growing pips on its skin.
- Pareto - Coffee like drink, caffeine source.
- Ragleaf - Tobacco like plant, smoked and chewed.
- Spinifex - Grass like plant (chewed, not eaten). Mild relaxant.
A hearty handshake to the first person to make a Pareto dispenser in scale!
Posted on Saturday Sep 17, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
The Epirians do everything they can to reward risky endeavours. Anyone who can find a valuable world or mining resource towards the fringes of the galaxy is rewarded with a share of the wealth for as long as things are harvested. As a result of this long standing policy, large numbers of Epirian Prospectors have existed for generations.
Individuals as tough as nails, from human to alien, anyone with enough grit and the willingness to risk it all in deep space can register as a prospector and head to the rim of the galaxy, far beyond the reach of the cybel network.
Isolation, alien attack, system failures and simple betrayal cause the number of failed prospectors to vastly surpass the few successes, but with the winners purchasing entire systems with their newfound wealth, the call to the unknown is loud.
Posted on Saturday Sep 10, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
Part of the development of the comprehensive background fiction for Maelstrom's Edge is ensuring a constant level of universe-specific terms. This week we discuss the term tunnelhugger.
The cybel network has been covered in detail before. As one may figure out from putting 2+2 together, the cybel tunnels can be transited by a vast range of spacecraft. The aggregate informal term for these is 'tunnelhugger'.
A tunnelhugger is a ship that has the right kind of electromagnetic shielding to repulse the constant onslaught of energy from within a cybel tunnel. If that energy makes contact with conventional matter (like the hull!) it will explosively detonate in a manner similar to a matter/anti-matter reaction. The energy requirements to sustain such shielding are immense, and therefore an engine with cybel energy capability is practically always a requirement for a tunnelhugger as well.
Tunnelhuggers are much less common than conventional craft which by their very nature reside in individual systems. Escaping the maelstrom in a conventional craft might get you close to a waystation near a cybel gate, but transiting the cybel network to safety is much less common.
Posted on Sunday Sep 04, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
Tales From the Edge is the forthcoming short story collection series from Spiral Arm Studios. The first book is scheduled for release at the start of October, and the second in February. The first book contains short stories from three authors, covering a wide range of our factions and background fluff.
The second book will contain the short stories from the third party authors mentioned during our kickstarter.
Physical copies of the books will likely be printed towards the end of the year, for sale at conventions and likely online as well. Digital copies will be available through amazon as soon as it is ready.
Sorry for the short post this week - we are finalising the cover and just making a few final decisions on the contents over the first two books, so it is a little early for us to go into extreme detail just yet!
Posted on Saturday Sep 03, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
One thing that we see quite frequently is a misunderstanding around cybel energy - the energy which Karist Angels feed upon, and which is harvested from the cybel tunnels at the network's irising gates. The Maelstom's energy is similar and related to cybel, but is highly volatile, unstable and unusable, with far too much volume to be contained in any way.
The energy that forms the cybel network is known as cybel energy, and is naturally occurring. Until gateways into the cybel network were first opened, cybel energy was rarely found in real space, but the first travellers through the maze of tunnels between stars soon learned that the medium of the tunnels was a powerful energy source, and today there are few space vessels that don’t use cybel energy in their shields and engines.
Natural cybel energy will annihilate with conventional matter and energy, ultimately eliminating both in a burst of heat energy. The more cybel energy and conventional matter interact, the greater the resulting explosion. A few litres of cybel losing containment creates an explosion large enough to raze a city block. It is for this reason that cybel energy is carefully controlled and typically not allowed planetside without refinement.
Cybel energy is sometimes classed as ‘Raw’ in the wild and ‘Refined’ after magnetic processing. Raw cybel energy can be harvested from the cybel network, contained or repelled by electromagnetic fields. The refinement process uses a series of concentrated electromagnetic fields to align the energy, in a similar fashion to the polarisation of light. The refining does not change the energy itself, but reduces its volatility, allowing it to be used as a fuel source when contained in various shielded vessels from small battery sized objects to huge drums for industrial and starship use, and lowering the risk of accidental discharge.
In appearance, natural cybel has purple and blue hues with a wispy texture, appearing to the naked eye like tendrils of nebulous smoke or mist. When pinched in an electromagnetic vice inside a fuel source or reactor, the energy of small reactions can be amplified and harvested as heat, driving more conventional engines and devices. Spaceships also use magnetically contained shields of cybel energy to protect their hulls, both whilst travelling through the cybel tunnels and in space combat.
The Karist Enclave, obsessed with the nature of cybel energy, have taken to using it to power their weaponry. Due to the long-term detrimental health effects of exposure to the energy this is frowned upon by other societies, but there is no denying its effectiveness as a weapon, burning into its targets and annihilating any mass it hits with devastating effect. Although cybel energy has been known by galactic civilisations for millennia, another type of cybel energy has only recently been discovered by the founders of the Karist Enclave during their escape from a Maelstrom-infected collapsing cybel tunnel. The wispy, pink energy has a peculiarly unreactive nature, allowing non-lethal physical contact with little more than superficial burns, although it also seems to interact with the human nervous system. Most who experience contact with na-cybel have euphoric feelings, a narcotic like high, and out-of-body experiences. The Karist priesthood claim that this is a glimpse of ascension, whilst others dismiss it as a dangerous drug addiction.
To clarify the above rulebook excerpt further, there is 'raw' cybel energy - that which can be harvested from cybel tunnels, there are various grades of 'refined' cybel energy, which have differing levels of volatility, with a mid-level refined version being the type which is fed to Angels, and the least volatile being 'na-cybel' - used in Karist rituals, and finally the energy of the Maelstrom which is like a super volatile form of raw cybel energy, unusable and exploding forever outwards.
Posted on Saturday Aug 27, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
Part of the development of the comprehensive background fiction for Maelstrom's Edge is ensuring a constant level of universe-specific terms. One that has become quite endearing to us is Stellargee.
While the etymology of the word should be fairly self apparent, a combination of 'Stellar' and 'Refugee', the reason for the introduction of the word was because every time we used 'Refugee', it pulled us back to the modern era/real-world settings, and away from the grandiose galactic scale vision of the universe that we try to encompass when talking about the crisis caused by the Maelstrom.
Refugee was also strongly suggestive of world-scale evacuation and migration, whereas Stellargee allowed us to vastly increase the scope of people affected and associated with the term.
Stellargee is specifically defined in our internal dictionary as "The diaspora refugees - able people temporarily on a world while fleeing the edge". Billions of people forced on to desperate planets, doing everything they can to keep themselves and their families ahead of the inevitable expanse of the Maelstrom.
Posted on Monday Aug 22, 2016 at 05:00PM in Fiction
In just 10 days time, the audiobook sequel to Transit will be released - 'Fracture'. We thought it would be prudent to use our first product spotlight post to talk about Transit - our most distributed audiobook.
For those who have not heard it, Transit is a one hour long audiobook by Stephen Gaskell which was written to serve as a broad introduction to the Maelstrom's Edge universe, following the POV character as he learns what the Maelstrom is and what it represents for his future. Amusingly enough, none of the Maelstrom's Edge factions are directly present in the story as it was written while things were still being finalised on that front and we did not want to have to retcon story number 1 if we changed anything at that time!
We've now made the first 5 minutes of Transit available here so that anyone can preview it.
We tried out a few different voice actors and studios, and differing mixtures of sound effects and music with our initial recordings. We opted for an older British accent with subtle ambient sound effects to be the standard in our audiobooks as it was deemed to be the most appropriate for the setting and avoids too much in the way of distracting sounds.
The pace of narration is deliberately designed to work well for listening to when you are either painting or driving. Painting our models is a massively enjoyable part of the hobby for us, but painting while enveloping ourselves in the universe with an audiobook makes things even better. This is why we've gone so heavy on audiobooks already, with 5 painting session length audiobooks already released on the Maelstrom's Edge webstore.
If you've got a long commute, or want to take your relaxation to the next level when painting, we hope you'll consider checking out some of the Maelstrom's Edge audiobooks.