Exclusive Interview: “Embers Of War” Author Gareth L Powell


Writer, politician, and former ambassador to both Italy and Brazil Clare Boothe Luce once noted that, “no good deed goes unpunished.” It’s an idea the crew of the sentient spaceship War Dog — and the ship itself — comes to understand in Gareth L Powell’s new space opera, Embers Of War (paperback, Kindle), the first book in his new sci-fi trilogy.

Gareth L Powell Embers Of War

Photo Credit: Joseph Branston


To start, what is Embers Of War about?

A former battleship is called to recuse a crashed star liner, but finds itself drawn into a deadly struggle to avoid an interspecies war.

Embers Of War has been called a space opera. But do you think there is another subgenre of sci-fi, or a combination of them, that describes the novel better?

I think Embers Of War is more character-driven than you might expect from the term “space opera,” but I’m more than happy to call it that anyway, as I’ve always been a space opera fan.

Are there any writers or specific stories that had a big impact on Embers Of War, but not on your other books?

Embers Of War was obviously influenced by Iain M Banks’ Culture books, especially Excession, as well as Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy [Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy]. But I also drew inspiration from Nova by Samuel Delany, A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and a whole host of other books, and even the old Traveler RPG. That’s not to say I consciously used ingredients from any of them, just that they opened my eyes to the possibilities of the genre.

How about non-literary influences; are there any movies, TV shows, or video games that had a big impact on Embers Of War?

Some people have commented that Embers Of War bears some similarity to Firefly, and I can see why they make the connection, but it’s a bit darker than Firefly, and the stakes are higher.

And what about Starbucks? Because apparently the planet of Scarif in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story got its name when a barista at Starbucks misspelled the name of Rogue One director, and your fellow Gareth, Gareth Edwards.

No, I can honestly say I drew no inspiration from Starbucks or any other coffee chain.

Now, you’ve already said that Embers Of War is the first book in a trilogy. Do you know yet when the other books might be out, and what they’ll be called?

The second book, Fleet Of Knives, is already written and with my editor at Titan Books. It will be out in February 2019. And I’m currently working on the finale, Light Of Impossible Stars, which will follow on February 2020.

Obviously, if someone is interested in this trilogy, they should buy Embers Of War now, and then maybe a second or third time just to be safe. But is there any reason why people shouldn’t wait until all three are out and then read them in rapid succession?

All three books will definitely be coming out, so there’s no reason to hold off. In fact, the earlier you buy Embers Of War, the more of a success it will be judged, and the more likely it will be that I’ll be able to write more series in the future.

Prior to Embers Of War you wrote the Macaque trilogy of Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey, and Macaque Attack, which were recently collected in a single volume called Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy. For those who haven’t read those books, what are they about?

The Ack-Ack books are alternate history thrillers set in the same multiverse as my earlier space opera novel, The Recollection. They feature an uplifted simian pilot and a woman with half a brain fighting together to save the world from a succession of villainous plots.

Do you think people who enjoy Embers Of War will enjoy the Macaque Trilogy, and vice versa?

Similar themes run through both trilogies — loss, redemption, the importance of friendship — but I think I’ve taken my writing up a level in the Embers books. That said, they all feature plenty of action and great characters, so I see no reason fans of one wouldn’t also love the others.

So has there been any interest in adapting Embers Of War into a movie, TV show, or video game?

The TV and film rights are still available. [cough hint cough]. I think the trilogy could work as a TV series, similarly to Battlestar Galactica or The Expanse.

If Embers Of War was to be made into a TV show, who would you like to see them cast in the main roles?

I’d cast Tilda Swinton [Doctor Strange] or Cate Blanchett [The Lord Of The Rings] as the Trouble Dog’s avatar, and Tessa Thompson [Thor: Ragnarok] as her commander, Captain Sal Konstanz.

Gareth L Powell Embers Of WarFinally, if someone enjoys Embers Of War, what would you suggest they read and why?

All of the books I mentioned earlier, plus Children Of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky and Planetfall by Emma Newman.



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