With Resilient (hardcover, paperback, Kindle) writer Allen Stroud is continuing the military sci-fi space opera saga The Fractal Series that he started with 2020’s Fearless. But as he explains in the following email interview, Resilient is as much an expansion as it is a continuation.
For people who didn’t read it, or the interview we did about it, what is The Fractal Series about, when and where does it take place, and what happens in the first novel, Fearless?
The story is set in 2118. Fearless is a very focused novel that introduces the character of Captain Ellisa Shann and involves a duel between two warships. Responding to a distress call, the Khidr finds itself engaged with an unfamiliar enemy. The two ships lay waste to each other, resulting in a running battle and close fought victory.
And then for those who did read Fearless, and thus can ignore me yelling SPOILER ALERT like a crazy person, what is Resilient about, and how is it connected to Fearless?
The story of Resilient picks up where Fearless finished. However, this time, the scope is a little wider. We get a sense of the events going on around the battles of the first novel and what motivated the different sides. We have two new main characters, Natalie Holder and Doctor Emerson Drake.
When in the process of writing Fearless did you come up with the idea for Resilient, and where did you get the idea for it?
The first book had an open ending, indicating there would be more to the story. I’m a fan of endings that pull things together, but don’t necessarily resolve them in a neat way, as that’s more reminiscent of real life. I’ve always wanted to write a series in this setting, and Ellisa Shann’s story needed another part, to take her from where she found herself back to civilization and back to a better sense of herself.
Fearless was a military sci-fi space opera story. Is that how you’d describe Resilient as well?
I’d describe it pretty much the same way. Resilient is “Die Hard on a space station,” but it is also the continuation of the story.
Are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a big influence on Resilient but not on Fearless?
The aforementioned Die Hard was certainly an inspiration. But there are other elements at play here. Some of the comments about Fearless when it came out pointed towards my greatest heroes and inspirations in science fiction. The reception for the novel was amazing for me and it encouraged me to start exploring some of the themes I’ve always wanted to examine in a modern context. I mean, what would Asimov’s psychohistory look like in a world of artificial intelligence, algorithms, and computers? How might the balance of agency shift in one hundred years, looking at the current state of corporate and government partnership in space? Some texts have started examining different ideas around this. Television shows like Westworld, and The Expanse, films like Bladerunner, writers like Ann Leckie, they all examine elements of what I want to examine, but I felt there was still room for this story.
A particular priority in this series has always been the portrayal of disabled characters in science fiction. The foreword to Resilient explains my purpose and motivation for some of the decisions made when writing Fearless. There is a voice that needs to speak and the second book gives that voice more time, space, and hopefully, a bigger audience.
In the aforementioned interview we did about Fearless, you said that the sequel was going to be called Powerless. Is there any significance to you changing the name from Powerless to Resilient? Because they mean very different things, obviously.
The story didn’t change a great deal. The theme of powerlessness is key to the narrative. However, the turn of the story, the endurance of the key characters during moments of adversity, became something more important as I read over the drafts. The new title was a discussion and I think an improvement.
So, are there plans to write more books in The Fractal Series?
The plans are considerable. We are announcing several new episodes in the story. These will focus on other events going on around what has happened in the first two books. We’re also working on a variety of other releases. I’m known for being creative in a variety of different areas and Flame Tree have been incredibly supportive about that. You may have seen the recent trailer?
I wrote the music for this. There’s plenty more already composed. 2022 is going to be an exciting year.
After that, I’ll start working on the next novel. I have some ideas of where that will go. There’s a big hint at the end of Resilient.
So, is there anything else you think people should know about Resilient and The Fractal Series?
Only that this is a developing story and there is plenty more to come.
Finally, if someone enjoys Fearless and Resilient, what sci-fi novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read next? And to keep things interesting, let’s stick with stand-alone novels, not ones that are part of a series.
Emma Newman’s excellent After Atlas. The first book in the series, Planetfall was a great read, but the sequel was masterful and doesn’t need to be read as part of a series. I’ve also just finished The Ministry Of The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, which is amazing. Going back, I’ve always considered [Arthur C. Clarke’s] Rendezvous With Rama to be a stand-alone work. I mean, there were sequels written, but they never quite captured the essence of the original book. Lastly, Anna by Sammy H. K. Smith was a great sci-fi read of last year for me, that’s standalone, despite my best efforts to persuade the author to carry on the story.