The Maelstrom's Edge Fiction Creative Process
Posted on Thursday Aug 24, 2017 at 07:18pm in Fiction
by Tomas L. Martin
When I joined the team designing Maelstrom’s Edge in 2011, it was a small team with a great vision. We wanted to create not just a fun and challenging wargame with a bunch of cool-looking multipart plastic models to go with it, but to also design a new science fiction universe that the game and models would fit into. We wanted to bring a broad and complex world to life, somewhere deep and exciting where the tabletop battles would feel like a natural extension to the stories we told in the background fluff and fiction.
Stephen Gaskell and I signed on as lead writers to write the kind of fun space opera stories we loved reading and watching ourselves. Together with the rest of the design team, we would throw around influences that got us excited. The classic settings of Star Wars, Dune and Alien were all mentioned, as they are for many science fiction creations across the years. But it was the dark, morally grey confrontations of the remade Battlestar Galactica TV show that made the most frequent appearance in those discussions, as well as the wise-cracking, fast-paced action of Firefly.
We loved the idea of a universe where it made sense for there to be the kind of skirmishes and battles that the tabletop game depicted. Somewhere right on the bleeding edge of civilisation, where every day was a fight to survive and get the resources you needed, and where characters would be forced to make hard, morally complex choices, where the readers of our work could see both sides of the coin, and be genuinely torn as to what the right choice would be.
It wasn’t just the science fiction settings and heroes of the screen that inspired us. We also took a lot of inspiration from the great works of science fiction written on the page in the last few decades. Amazing writers like Peter Hamilton, Iain M. Banks, Neal Asher and Alastair Reynolds, who would tell big sweeping stories of interstellar conspiracies and wars, whilst keeping a certain balance between gritty action and scientific realism. Vibrant new writers like Aliette de Bodard, Tobias Buckell, Karin Lowachee and James S.A. Corey, who combined vibrant language and unusual characters with deep and interesting worldbuilding.
Stephen and I took inspiration from many of these great writers when we wrote the first set of short stories to cultivate the universe of Maelstrom’s Edge, stories that later were collected into the short story anthology ‘Tales from the Edge: Emergence’. We kept thinking of the fantastic peers we had in the science fiction realm when we co-wrote what would become the first two Maelstrom’s Edge novels, Faith and Sacrifice. And we continue to think of these influences today as we move forward to design the stories and background of future Maelstrom’s Edge releases.
Which is why it’s an incredible honour that such a large number of the authors we admire greatly agreed to contribute short stories set in the Maelstrom’s Edge anthology, Escalation, which is out now on the Kindle Store. Having the expertise of writers like Nebula and Hugo award winning Aliette de Bodard, or the Philip K. Dick award-nominated Karin Lowachee and Liz Williams, was a huge coup for us and we’re delighted with the stories that they have given us for the anthology. Likewise to have such influential authors as Jeff Carlson and Alastair Reynolds writing in the Maelstrom’s Edge universe has been an incredible pleasure, and we hope that you enjoy their adventures in our creation just as much as we have.