Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith
Part 1: Precipice
My first Star Wars fiction for Del Rey!
My first Del Rey novel, years ago, was also the first proper "Expanded Universe" novel: Splinter of the Mind's Eye, by Alan Dean Foster. My grade-school class (that's primary school, for those of you across the pond) had just let out when my sister picked me up in her Monza, a car which makes me wonder now why GM didn't go bankrupt in the 1970s. She passed me the copy of the paperback, suggesting it might be the plot for the next Star Wars movie -- or that, at least, it was the next Star Wars adventure. Obviously, I had to see what that was all about, and so it was that this kid worked his way through his first adult novel that spring.
I think it was apparent to both of us about part-way through that it probably wasn't going to be the next movie -- there was a severe and debilitating lack of Han Solo. But it was still a great read, and I still have that dog-eared copy today, since signed by Foster at the 1992 Midsouthcon. It also started me off reading Star Wars prose fiction, as I headed into Brian Daley's Solo novels (so that's where he was!), L. Neil Smith's Lando novels, and, after a reeeeally long wait, Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire novels. Years later, I have a burgeoning bookcase -- shelf doesn't cover it -- of Star Wars novels, organized in a manner that would puzzle my librarian mother: by location within the timeline. It defies all organizational logic and I can't manage it without a cheat-sheet, but it helps me with reference.
So when the opportunity came to contribute something to that history, it was obviously something not to be missed. I had written my first official Star Wars prose for StarWars.com in 2008, a couple of done-in-one short stories; Lost Tribe of the Sith would involve longer stories in electronic book format, promoting and providing backstory for the Fate of the Jedi line of novels from Aaron Allston, Christie Golden, and Troy Denning. The novels are set in the period after the Star Wars movies, but involve a group of Sith whose roots stretch back to the days of the Old Republic — back even before my own Knights of the Old Republic comics.
The first Lost Tribe story, "Precipice," is set during the events of Tales of the Jedi: The Golden Age of the Sith, Kevin J. Anderson's 1996 comic-book limited series that established much of the ancient history of the Sith. It is a world that looks much different — and where the Sith look much different — from the characters we see later on. Making that transition is an interesting challenge, and "Precipice" begins to fill in some of the historical blanks, while also depicting a very personal drama.
The cast of "Precipice" are people we know must exist to make the Sith Empire work -- the troops and specialists that give the Sith Lords their reach. Like a fractal picture, we find the Sith philosophies provoking major power-disputes at these lower-levels, too. A Sith ship is one big hornet's nest of ambition -- and while it can make for an efficient organization under the right guidance, it can also make for a pretty dangerous place to work. "Precipice" puts the crew of one such ship in an unexpected circumstance, making it more dangerous, still.
As literally part of a work in progress, I can't discuss what or how many installments may lay in the future, or when they might appear -- and as a number of questions that readers have raised have answers in the stories themselves, I really should defer here to the future work. So stay tuned. There's more to come...
- My first prose "e-book" nearly wasn't Star Wars — but Star Trek. I'd had a pitch approved for the Star Trek: S.C.E. (Starfleet Corps of Engineers) series a few years earlier. The line was suspended indefinitely before the story was written, but the series did enjoy a very long run, as electronic prose goes, generating several print collections. Montgomery Scott was the head of the Corps, which dispatched engineers to deal with perplexing galactic problems; I had previously entered a Scotty story in the Strange New Worlds competition, so I found it of particular interest.
- The existence of standing naval infrastructures within the Sith of 5000 is something suggested in Golden Age of the Sith; while a plot point is that the Sith Empire have been isolationists resting on their past glories, it is still an interstellar empire, as illustrated when we see ships arriving for the funeral of Marka Ragnos. We might well suspect characters as ambitious as Naga Sadow as having a number of extracurricular activities over the years -- just not comparing to the galaxy-spanning conflict that was the Great Hyperspace War. The multispecies aspect we see illustrated here springs from that thinking as well -- with a variety of subject peoples from which to draw, few people of ambition would not try to advance those of talent.
- The story of the fallen Tapani houses comes from the Players Guide to Tapani, one of my favorite resources from the old West End role-playing game. It's a hidden gem when it comes to material from the very distant past. (This story does not suggest, as some have inferred, that the Sith conquered or even encountered Tapani territory; rather, refugees from a fallen House wandered for years until being discovered by the Sith. You don't want to make a wrong turn into THAT neighborhood!
- How do you know there is a ground when you're crashing onto an unknown planet? You don't, really -- especially if you don't get a good read on the planet's size and composition on your way down. Of course, there is usually a ground of some sort somewhere -- but you've likely been crushed under whatever gases are above long before finding it!
- The concept of "red" Sith — as distinct from those of a more familiar human persuasion— draws again from the depiction of the Dark Lords in Tales of the Jedi. Actually, in comics terms, they're magenta. But "magenta Sith" doesn't sound very threatening...
- I first learned the effects of pulmonary edema on my Mount Everest kick, which lasted for a few years after reading Into Thin Air. It's a terrible malady, but an interesting one to visit on what would otherwise be among the strongest members of the party here.
- This e-book contained an excerpt from Fate of the Jedi: Omen by Christie Golden, and ranked as the #2 download in its first week of release.
Be sure to also check my shop for the availability of signed editions.