With Through The Storm (hardcover, Kindle), writers John Ringo and Lydia Sherrer are continuing the military sci-fi gamelit adventure series TransDimensional Hunters that they launched in 2022 with Into The Real. In the following email interview, John and Lydia discuss what influenced this second installment, how it ties in to the first book, and how their plans for this series have changed.
John: The story takes place about fifty years in the future. Tech has obviously advanced and it’s to the point that VR is an everyday thing. The story is about a young gamer girl who is recruited to Beta an Augmented Reality Game called TransDimensional Hunter. The plot to TransDimensional Hunter is that invisible trans dimensional beings are interfering with the power grid and technology to the point that modern civilization could collapse if they are not stopped.
As the game continues enough Real Life events occur that the line between the game and reality start to blur.
And then, for people who did read Into The Real, and thus can ignore me writing SPOILER ALERT in all caps, what is Through The Storm about, and when does it take place in relation to Into The Real?
Lydia: Through The Storm starts about a month after Into the Real. Now that Lynn and her team have qualified for the national TransDimensional Hunter championships — and a shot at a million dollars apiece plus a full ride game design education and a guaranteed job at Tsunami Entertainment — now the real “fun” begins.
Top on the “fun” list is becoming an overnight stream celebrity and being followed around everywhere by swarms of paparazzi drones. On top of that Lynn has to navigate inner team strife, sabotage by rival teams, and worst of all: dating [shudders]. To top it off, the game is acting more and more weird, and Lynn can’t help noticing that people are starting to get hurt. What is going on with this game and is it really just about winning now? Or is there more going on?
Into The Real was a military sci-fi gamelit adventure novel. Is it safe to assume Through The Storm is one as well?
Lydia: Yes both are military sci-fi gamelit. Yay lots of genres!
John: But the main difference is that there is more exploration of the effect of technology on society and how society adjusts to it.
Are there any writers, or specific stories, that had a big influence on Through The Storm but not on Into The Real?
Lydia: Not really. I know that’s not a very satisfying answer. As it is the same series, same storyline, same characters, the general genre comparisons and inspirations (like Ender’s Game, Ready Player One, etc.) apply to with, there isn’t anything specific to Through The Storm.
The only thing I can think of is perhaps a vague inspiration from Matt Dinniman’s Dungeon Crawler Carl series, in the sense of the media attention / scrutiny and the craziness of the stream viewers.
John: In the “effect of technology” aspect it gets more into Stephenson and Bradbury.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games?
John: The whole series is loosely based on “What if Pokémon were real and dangerous?”
Lydia: A bit of a Catching Fire influence again, in the sense of the media attention and influence, though unlike in Catching Fire, Lynn’s life doesn’t depend on her winning viewer favor. It has more of a behind the scenes influence in the way that her amazing success and badass moves elevates the game’s popularity in general, which gets more people playing it, which might just be the difference between saving the world and humanity being knocked back to the stone age.
And Lydia, what about your cats? How did they influence Through The Storm?
Lydia: Well, I don’t know about my cats directly, but my snarky talking magical cat, Sir Edgar Allan Kipling, from my Love, Lies, And Hocus Pocus universe does make a cameo appearance (because how could he not?).
My cats’ greatest influence was the many hours of purrs and warm weight they kept on my lap to keep me writing more. So much so that one of them is has the title Usurper Of Laps because of her tendency to slowly take over my lap and push away my laptop so she has my full attention.
(top to bottom): Luna The Usurper Of Laps,
Bastion Murder Mittens, Gadget The Head Floof
Now John, along with Through The Storm, Baen has also recently reissued your 2010 novel Live Free Or Die. For people who haven’t read it, what is that novel about, and when and where does it take place?
John: Live Free Or Die was set contemporary to the original release (which date I forget) and is about first contact and the ensuing issues that arise. (Mainly that the earth gets subjugated quickly and has to fight to free itself.)
And is this new version of Live Free Or Die different from the original in any major ways?
John: It’s the same book without any changes. There are books I’d do major work on (Gust Front) but Live Free Or Die was pretty good the way it was.
Live Free Or Die is the first book of a series called Troy Rising. Are there plans to reissue the other books in this series, 2011’s Citadel and 2011’s The Hot Gate?
John: I don’t know.
What about writing a fourth book?
John: There are no new books in the series. I’ve got about 1/3 of a book finished somewhere on the hard drive but it’s been stalled for forever. There are discussions of doing a collaboration or as I put it “bringing in a relief pitcher.” That’s still in discussion. The issue is finding someone who can do it and do it well. One thing about that series is that I have to restudy to get up to being able to get a C in College Physics every single time. So it would take someone who can get a C in Physics.
Going back to Through The Storm, in the interview we did for Into The Real, you said it was going to be a trilogy…
John: It was going to be a trilogy. It looks like it’s four books now.
Why the change?
John: Mostly has to do with how well the series sells and whether Lydia wishes to continue. I’d prefer to wrap it when it’s “done.”
There are always more stories. There is no “beginning” nor “end” of a story. But you want to tell the good parts primarily. The gripping parts. Beyond the end that’s envisioned, I don’t have any gripping stories in that universe to tell.
But we’ll see.
Cool. Do you know what the next book will be called and when it might be out?
Lydia: I don’t believe we will settle for sure on a title until the story is at least mostly written, because sometimes stories morph in ways you don’t expect.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Through The Storm or the TransDimensional Hunters series?
Lydia: I would say strap down for a roller coaster ride. The pace is intense and it keeps up through the whole book.
Finally, if someone enjoys Through The Storm, what sci-fi novel or novella of someone else’s would you each suggest they check out while waiting for the next book?
Lydia: The Dungeon Crawler Carl series comes to mind. It’s LitRPG and more gory / hard core gaming than TransDimensional Hunters. But it is just as gripping, more hilarious (lots of humor), and just a straight up fun series to read. You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy it, but if you are a gamer you’ll definitely get more of the jokes. I’d describe it as Ready Player One meets Hunger Games meets Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy with a healthy dose of Mortal Kombat thrown in for good measure (and when I say Mortal Kombat, I mean yanking people’s still-beating hearts out of their chests level violence, so…if that really bothers you it might not be a series for you).