In which I give an overview of the project and its history. (Posted to the mailing list in June 2020.)
So What is This Thing Anyway?
The Exander Project is an epic science fiction series set in a distant future universe. Humans, as we know them, do not exist. Instead, over the course of millions of years, humanity has splintered into dozens of distinct species as it has spread out among the stars. Civilizations have risen and fallen, and entire species have come and gone.
In one particular corner of the universe, the brutal Exanch Empire has reigned for several thousands of years… only to be abruptly and (on the time scales of these things) rapidly brought to an end by the invasion of an alien species. In the aftermath of the most massive catastrophe in recorded history, the previously oppressed servant species of the Empire are looking for revenge against their former overlords, the Exanders.
On the planet Petralis, Zashka is an Exander who has been orphaned since birth. Raised by Zyrian parents, Zashka grows up in a world where Exanders are understood to be powerful, demonic, and an existential danger to the very fabric of civilization. Zashka’s first day at school goes from bad to worse as he discovers what exactly his classmates think of him. But when Zashka’s adoptive father goes missing, Zashka discovers a conspiracy that threatens not only his immediate family, but the entire planet.
The Exander Project is a series of both cosmic and intimate proportions. Cosmic, in that species, worlds, civilizations, etc. are all treated as characters. They have arcs, they grow or shrink—and they can even die, like any other character. At the same time the story is intensely character driven, following the life of Zashka as he grows up into a world where Exanders are very much not considered to be equal members of society.
Ok, Where Do We Go From Here?
Right now I’m working on book i of the Front Matter series. These stories focus on three characters, Zashka, Delana, and Atashka, as they navigate their lives on Petralis and the surrounding star systems. The current plan is to have four Front Matter books; I’ve written book i, have outlined book iii, and have sketched out the basic ideas for books ii and iv. (Yes, I work out of order. That’s why the Front Matter series exists in the first place, but that’s a matter for another time.)
After that will be the Main Matter series. Zashka, Delana and Atashka are all adults. Lives, even civilizations, are at stake in their decisions. Will they avoid a collapse back into the same patterns that allowed the oppressive Empire to rise in the first place, or will they succumb to the cycle of conquest and defeat? Currently, there are four books planned, but this is not a closed set, so there may be more in the future. I’ve written part of book 1 and planned substantial portions of books 2/3.
Just to set expectations up front: this is likely to be a multi-year, probably multi-decade, journey. For me, the journey has already been going for over 20 years. For the first 10, I was exclusively focused on worldbuilding: the species, civilizations, major events, historical figures, ships, technologies, etc. For the second 10, I had to (rather painfully) teach myself to write characters that I could actually care about. (This is, by the way, the reason why book 1 is not the first book in the series.) Recently, things have come together in a way that makes me confident that I can actually realize my vision. I don’t promise it’ll be a smooth ride (or fast!), but it sure will be an interesting one.
Sounds Cool, How Do I Get Involved?
Right now I’m polishing book i. After I’m satisfied that at least the most glaring issues are taken care of, I’ll be looking for feedback. If you’d like to help, the best thing to do is sign up for the mailing list (see below), since that’s where I’ll be soliciting feedback.
Thanks for reading, and hope you join me for the journey!
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