Sunday, July 07, 2013

Guest Blog by Eric Brown - Developing Weird Space - and Giveaway - July 7, 2013

Please welcome Eric Brown, author of many works including the Weird Space novels: The Devil's Nebula and Satan's Reach.  As Eric hands off the reigns to further development of the Weird Space series, he tells us about creating the Weird Space universe.

Developing Weird Space

Eric Brown

At the start of last year I was asked by my editor at Solaris if I’d like to create a science fictional universe for a series of novels to be put out under their Abaddon imprint. The deal would be that I’d write one, maybe two, books in the series, and then the baton would be taken up by other writers.
       There was nothing inherently difficult in the remit; after all, it’s what science fiction writers do, essentially, every time they plan a new novel. Unlike mainstream writers, who have the luxury of being able to use the real world as their fictional setting every time they embark on a new book, SF writers must build their world, their universe, from the ground up – thinking about things like the history of their world/universe, the level of technology, the cultural status of the civilisations, as well as geography, climate, and many other factors that go to make up a convincing fictional scenario. Then, of course, they must take into consideration the problem of internal consistency, the relationship of society and the individuals within that society and their relation to the technology which surrounds them, etc. It often takes weeks of working out what your unique future will be like... and then the writing begins.
       I was enthusiastic from the outset. My editor, Jonathan Oliver, made a few stipulations, and the rest was up to me. The universe was to be space opera, and Jon wanted some kind of Lovecraftian threat from beyond, bizarre monsters, strange cults, and lots of action. We batted a few ideas back and forth, and gradually built up the Weird Space background.
       I can’t recall whose notion it was to have ‘Weird’ in the title, but it worked. The basic idea is that in the future the human race has spread to colonise a hundred or so Earth-like planets. Over the centuries the governmental organisation that rules the ‘Expansion’, as it’s known, has become ever more draconian and fascistic. The authorities rule with a rod of iron and brook no opposition.
       Bordering human space is the territory known as Vetch space, the home of the alien Vetch, a bellicose race which, fifty years before the series begins, invaded a number of human colony worlds in so-called ‘disputed territory’ on the cusp of Human/Vetch space. Colonies were destroyed and millions of humans killed in the battles that ensued. Since then, an uneasy détente has prevailed.
       Then... a discovery is made. On a human colony world beyond Vetch space, in a region known as the Devil’s Nebula, the crew of the starship Hawk come across a human colony in thrall to strange creatures which, it transpires, emanate from another realm, a dimension which underpins this reality. These creatures, known by the colonists as the Weird, want nothing more than to absorb the entire human race (and also the Vetch), enslaving all sentient life in the region in order to assimilate and ‘understand’ the victim races. This is simply what they do, and as Weird is a hive-mind race, they do not see what they are doing as evil. The human and Vetch, however, faced with the enslavement of their races, have other ideas... And when the Weird start opening portals in human and Vetch space, and sending through their bellicose spawn, the battle commences.
       To add another layer to the threat, and to ramp up the threat and the terror, I thought it would be a good idea to have the Weird seed mind-parasites amongst the humans and Vetch. A hundred years before the action starts, the Weird sent ships into human and Vetch space, loaded with parasitic spores... Now, among both races are individuals who, unbeknownst even to themselves, are carrying mind-parasites which at the opportune moment the Weird will activate to take over these unfortunates. These victims can be detected only by telepathic agents, which will make, I hope, for a lot of dramatic scope as telepaths track down and eliminate fellow humans who might have risen to positions of authority within the command structure of the Expansion.
       So there was the background. The threat, the Weird – both on the level of the entities (some as big as starships) which issue from randomly opening portals through human and Vetch space, and the more insidious threat of ‘aliens amongst us’. Also, there’s the paradox that the human government fighting the Weird is not a particularly pleasant organisation itself. In the opening novel, The Devil’s Nebula, I have the liberal crew of a starship compromised into working for the Expansion authorities – who until then they had always regarded as their mortal enemy – against the greater threat of the Weird. And on another level there are the truculent Vetch, forced into joining forces with the human race to confront and attempt to thwart the Weird. In the second book, Satan’s Reach, I have a rogue telepath, on the run from Expansion authorities, chased through space by human and Vetch bounty hunters, caught and taken back to work for his hated pay-masters.
       Now I hand over that baton, and look forward to see what other writers will make of the scenario. There are many dramatic threads planted in the background, and in the first two books, for others to take up and develop. The characters have been set up so that their stories are ongoing, and so that others might use them – either as major players, or as walk-on bit-part players in later novels; there are many levels of conflict ready to germinate into fully-blown dramatic confrontations.
       Will the Weird succeed in taking over the human and Vetch races...?
       Will the draconian government survive the threat, or will liberal forces prevail...?
       Can the human race trust the Vetch in their joint fight against the Weird...?
       How far has the command structure of the Expansion been compromised by Weird mind-parasites, and who will be found to be infected...?
       I am awaiting the answers to these and other questions with all the eagerness of the many readers of the first two volumes.
       As they say – well, as they almost say: Watch this Weird Space.

You may read an interview with Eric Brown about The Serene Invasion (Solaris, April 30, 2013) here.

About Weird Space

The Devil's Nebula
Weird Space 1
Abaddon Books, May 29, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Best-selling author Eric Brown has created a brand new shared world for Abaddon Books: Weird Space. This thrilling space-opera series will begin with the release of The Devil's Nebula. Brown will introduce readers to the human smugglers, veterans and ne’erdowells who are part of the Expansion – and their uneasy neighbours, the Vetch Empire.

When an evil race threatens not only the Expansion, but the Vetch too - an evil from another dimension which infests humans and Vetch alike and bends individuals to do their hideous bidding, only cooperation between them means the difference between a chance of survival and no chance at all.

Satan's Reach
Weird Space 2
Abaddon Books, July 30, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages

Telepath Den Harper did the dirty work for the authoritarian Expansion, reading the minds of criminals, spies and undesirables. Unable to take the strain, he stole a starship and headed into the unknown, a sector of lawless space known as Satan’s Reach. For five years he worked as a trader among the stars – then discovered that the Expansion had set a bounty hunter on his trail. But what does the Expansion want with a lowly telepath like Harper? Is there validity in the rumours that human space is being invaded by aliens from another realm? Harper finds out the answer to both these questions when he rescues an orphan girl from certain death – and comes face to face with the dreaded aliens known as the Weird. Satan’s Reach is the second volume in the Weird Space series, a fast-paced action-adventure that pits humanity against the unimaginable Terror from Beyond.

About Eric

Eric Brown began writing when he was fifteen, while living in Australia, and sold his first short story to Interzone in 1986. He has won the British Science Fiction Award twice for his short stories, has published over forty books, and his work has been translated into sixteen languages. His latest books include the SF novels The Serene Invasion, Salvage, Satan’s Reach, and the crime novel Murder by the Book. He writes a regular science fiction review column for the Guardian newspaper and lives near Dunbar, East Lothian. His website can be found at:

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Devil's Nebula (Weird Space 1) or Satan's Reach (Weird Space 2) from The Qwillery. Winner's choice.

Note that if the winner chooses Satan's Reach, the novel will not be sent until after the July 30th US publication date.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on Saturday, July 21, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. That is a hard question. I don't know enough about what is out there to make a choice I do know if I could I would go.

  2. I have heard about Andromeda since I was a young child. Oh, and Krypton, which is out of the question. So...Andromeda it is!

  3. I would definitely go if offered the chance to travel in space period, and of course to go out of the solar system would be awesome. I would love to see what's out there. Both of these books sound fantastic and I'm putting them on my wish list now. :D

  4. I am not sure if I was go. No one knows what is out there. Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Depends, is it a big ship or a small ship? :)

  6. Congrats to Eric on the new release! I'd have to say, I'd like to go somewhere that was earthlike and had intelligent friendly life :)

  7. I'd be packed so fast it would make your head spin. YES!!!

  8. Toward the galactic center. Really, any direction would do! :)

  9. Crikey! Mind spores and enslavement oh my! Yes yes yes! I can't wait to read one of the Weird space books! I'm excited for sure, I could use a bit of space opera. It's so neat that other authors are going to get to contribute to the world also. Admittedly I haven't read too many of those types of series. I tried a few of the other Dragon Lance books that had that sort of thing going on. But found I really liked sticking with the authors I favored. So I hope this works out!!

  10. Eric Brown is one of the more underrated SF writers publishing today. I've read a few of his books and have not been disappointed.

  11. Read some of his short stories & have been favourably impressed.

  12. Probably. I guess it all depends on the tech involved and if I am coming back... what am I coming back to? The new series looks interesting, I am looking forward to the reads. Thanks for the giveaway!
    - lavendersbluegreen(at)yahoo(dot)com