Tim Pratt is the author of nearly two dozen books exploring varied facets of science fiction and fantasy (including, recently, a number of unreasonably fun books in the Pathfinder universe) and published under multiple bylines (among them T.A. Pratt and T. Aaron Payton). He’s a senior editor for Locus, his work has been nominated for the Nebula and World Fantasy awards, and his short fiction earned him a Hugo. Today, we’re announcing his next project, and it sounds like another winner: The Wrong Stars, a hard sci-fi novel coming in November 2017 from Angry Robot.
Here’s the official summary, which promises plenty of what we love about the genre (TBH, they had us at “ragtag crew of posthumans”); keep reading for some words from the author, who discusses what inspired the book.
A ragtag crew of humans and posthumans discover alien technology that could change the fate of humanity… or awaken an ancient evil and destroy all life in the galaxy.
The close-knit crew of the White Raven run freight, salvage, and (sometimes) security at the fringes of our solar system. They discover the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel floating light years away from its intended destination and revive its sole occupant, who wakes with news of First Contact. When the crew break it to her that humanity has alien friends already, she reveals that these are very different extra-terrestrials… And the technology they left her with threatens to unleash a terrible existential threat to all intelligent life in the galaxy—but also opens up unprecedented opportunities to explore the larger universe.
Here’s Tim Pratt to talk about writing The Wrong Stars…
I’m best known as a fantasy writer, but I’ve always had a secret love for space opera, and I knew, someday, I would venture into the star-littered void to have my own adventures. That day has come. I’m pleased to announce that the fine people at Angry Robot will be publishing my first space opera, The Wrong Stars, in late 2017.
When I was little I lived for Star Wars and Star Trek (original, and even more so The Next Generation; you have to love the holodeck, the Borg, the occasional evil androids). I read Edmond Hamilton’s Star Wolf series, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat novels: tales of big strange dangerous universes teeming with criminals and fugitives and worlds and mysteries. Before long I was making up my own worlds—one of the first short stories I remember writing, as a pre-teen, was about the ragtag crew of the treasure ship Tantalus, attempting to steal precious metal from a lifeless world… but the precious metal turned out to be inside thousands of killer robots who’d murdered all the organic life on the planet. See, I had good ideas even then!
As I got older, I discovered Joanna Russ’s time-and-space-traveling heroine Alyx, and read her wonderful and startling novel The Two of Them; I discovered the sociologically complex planets of Ursula K. Le Guin; I gloried to the whimsical widescreen universe of Cordwainer Smith and his Instrumentality of Man. When I was in my twenties I picked up one of Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels, and my mind was blown wide open all over again, a process that continued as I read my way through the series. Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly premiered when I was 25, combining my love for frontier stories, crews of misfits, and shady doings around the ragged edges of inhabited space. I played the Knights of the Old Republic games back then; I play the Mass Effect games now. More recently I’ve loved M. John Harrison’s tales of the Kefahuchi Tract, the dysfunctional crew from Peter Watts’s Blindsight, and basically everything about James S.A. Corey’s ever-expanding Expanse universe (the TV adaptation is great, too). All these years, I’ve thought, “I should get off Earth, out of these dreamworlds, and into space.”
So when I started to wrap up my eleven-book, decade-long Marla Mason urban fantasy series last year, I decided my next big project should finally be a space opera. I wanted to create a universe full of wonders and dangers, with the grand strange potential of the stories I’ve read and watched and played and loved my whole life. I wanted all that ambition and scope, but with the focus on the characters that Smith and Le Guin and Russ and Corey and Whedon had. (Plot is, after all, just whatever your characters do when faced with extreme situations.) I decided to put everything I love about the genre into this book: a crew of misfits and outcasts who form their own family, strong women, quirky AI, mysterious aliens, ancient artifacts of incomprehensible power, aliens who are at least as bizarre as creatures we’d find in our own oceans, looming cosmic menaces, posthuman weirdos, denizens of the past awakened from cryo-sleep, cyborgs, space pirates, heists, and more.
The result is The Wrong Stars, about the crew of the White Raven, a freight, salvage, and (sometimes) security ship operating on the edges of our solar system, sometimes clashing or collaborating with a race of enigmatic aliens known as the Liars. The crew discovers the wreck of a centuries-old exploration vessel that holds a bizarre alien artifact, which could open up the universe to human exploration in unprecedented ways… or doom us to destruction by an ancient cosmic threat.
The novel is a standalone, but it also opens a door onto a universe full of adventure and danger, populated by characters I think you’ll love as much as I do. Space opera is an exciting new direction for me, but one that plays to the strengths that have defined my career: engaging characters, smart banter, thrilling plots, and lots of cool weird shit.
It’s a big bizarre universe out there, and I can’t wait to explore it with you.
The Wrong Stars will be released on November 7, 2017.