Sometimes we become so focused on our goals that we don’t consider what might happen if we achieve them. Just ask the scientists from Jurassic Park. It’s also the position Rory finds herself in K. Eason’s sci-fi space opera / space fantasy novel How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge (hardcover, Kindle), the sequel and aftermath to Eason’s How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse ((hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audiobook). In the following email interview, Eason discusses what inspired and influenced this other half of the duology, as well as her plans for some Rory-free stories in the same space.
For those who didn’t read the first book, what was How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse about, and when and where was it set?
Rory Thorne was a princess blessed by fairies…or xenos; the science is unclear. But after her father was assassinated in her childhood, her mother became The Regent, and in order to keep the peace, betrothed Rory to the prince of the rival kingdom, which was a collection of planets and stations. Anyway, she travels to this space station and discovers that her prince is in trouble and one of the ministers is plotting a coup. So Rory, using her fairy gifts and her wits, and with the help of her guards and the second son of the rebellious minister, manages to save the prince, thwart the coup…and accidentally starts a civil war, which in the way of such things, spreads and engenders unexpected consequences.
As for where and when…in a parallel version of this timeline, where alchemy and other failed scientific paradigms work, and math, if manipulated properly, is indistinguishable from magic, though like magic, it has Rules™.
And then what is How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge about, and aside from being the second half of this duology, how does it connect, narratively and chronologically, to How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse?
Revenge is about what happens after “happily ever after.” Or rather, what happens instead of happily ever after. The story takes place a couple of years after the end of Rory. In Rory, part of her personal goal was to avoid this wedding she didn’t want to have — her conflict was having to decide whether to do her duty, or to seize some measure of personal freedom. Revenge is about the consequences of that decision, and comes with a few realizations on Rory’s part about who she is and how she sees herself and what she envisions as her place in the multiverse.
When in the process of writing How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse did you come up with the plot for How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge, and how, if at all, did the story evolve as you wrote the second book?
Rory was done when I started to conceive of Revenge. I ended up having to rewrite the ending of Rory a little bit, as I was figuring out how Revenge played out. I have another book coming out next year in the same universe, but a long way up the timeline, and the events of Rory and Revenge are the groundwork for the political situation in those books, so I was trying to imagine how the decisions Rory makes in Revenge, often for good reasons, but also often in somewhat limited circumstances, would ripple out and have an impact on the future.
In the previous interview we did about How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse [which you can read by clicking here], we discussed how that story was a feminist fairy tale fantasy space opera. Is How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge one as well?
I think this one is a little less of a fairy tale, and a little more of a first-contact / space opera / meditations on personhood and the needs of the many vs. the needs of the few or the one (thanks for that phrase, Star Trek and Mister Spock).
How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge also sound like they might be humorous as well.
They both have an element of humor to them — less Douglas Adams than Terry Pratchett, maybe, or Pratchett / Gaiman in Good Omens. But mostly they’re reminiscent of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, because I wanted a distinct narrator-voice having and interjecting opinions at points in the story.
But I wouldn’t style them as comedic, exactly — the stakes in both are high, and people die, and in Revenge particularly, it’s a lot darker and more violent situation.
So are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge but not on How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse? Or, for that matter, any of your other books?
Shout out to C.J. Cherryh for the Foreigner series, The Chanur Saga, and The Faded Sun. Those were my first (literary) contacts with first-contact scenarios in books.
What about movies, TV shows, or games; did any of those have a big influence on How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge?
The Princess Bride film, the original Star Wars trilogy, but also this time several of the Star Trek shows (TOS, Next Generation, Deep Space 9), Babylon Five, and Farscape.
Now, as we’ve been discussing, How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge form a duology. And as such, there are people — myself included — who have been waiting for Revenge to come out so they read both books back-to-back. But do you think this is the best way to experience this story?
I do think you should read them consecutively, because Revenge comes directly out of decisions made in Rory. Decisions have consequences, some of them quite long-term, far-reaching, and unpredictable.
Some people who write duologies later expand upon them with sequels or side stories. So, is this the end for Rory? You mentioned writing a Rory-free book in this same alternate universe.
I think this is the last Rory-centric story, for certain. As I mentioned, I’m working on a book — which I hope becomes more of a series — set in the future that comes out of Rory’s (and her friends’) decisions in Rory and Revenge. Her decisions start a civil war, that civil war spreads out and prods a xeno species into its own political actions, which in turn, etc., etc. That book is more of a post-apocalyptic / mystery story, only with space-templars and extra dimensional horrors unleashed by an accident of arithmancy.
That said…I have an idea for another Rory-adjacent story, in which we see what happens with Grytt, Jaed, Thorsdottir, and Zhang, and how their actions in the aftermath of Revenge also shape that future world.
Finally, if someone enjoys How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge, what similar book of someone else’s would you suggest they read next and why that? And to keep things interesting, let’s limit it to things you’ve read since writing the first book.
Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon The Ninth and Harrow The Ninth, because they’re a ton of fun — necromancers in space! Horror in space! I mean…how awesome is that? I love books that mash-up genres, and these do it fantastically.
Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire, which I loved from the moment I read it, long before the nominations for Nebula and Hugo (and I was delighted when it won the Hugo). It’s less fairy-tale-esque than Rory, but it is political, thoughtful, and pays attention to those little decisions that shape, make, break, create politics.
John Scalzi’s Interdependency Sequence novels (The Collapsing Empire, The Consuming Fire, and The Last Emperox) because they’re about, again, political decisions with far reaching consequences, and the conflicts between what one wants personally vs. one’s duty, and how sometimes those decisions are not just hard, they’re heart-rending. Also, the prose is just fun in these.