The storm is coming . . .

For centuries the Warders’ Circle on the neutral islands of Twaa-Fei has given the countries of the sky a way to avoid war, settling their disputes through formal, magical duels. But the Circle’s ability to maintain peace is fading: the Mertikan Empire is preparing for conquest and the trade nation of Quloo is sinking, stripped of the aerstone that keeps both ships and island a-sky. When upstart Kris Denn tries to win their island a seat in the Warder’s Circle and colonial subject Oda no Michiko discovers that her conquered nation’s past is not what she’s been told, they upset the balance of power. The storm they bring will bind all the peoples of the sky together…or tear them apart.

AT LAST I CAN SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THIS

For nearly a year now, I’ve been signed on to work on one of Serial Box’s collaborative, episodic stories, a new epic fantasy called Born to the Blade. It’s the brainchild of Michael R. Underwood, whom I’ve known since my days in Indiana*, and I’ve been cheering him on in pursuing various forms of this idea for quite some time, until it finally came into being as a Serial Box project. It’s got a bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender (magic via martial arts!), a bit of Babylon 5 (our last, best hope for peace), and a little bit of The West Wing (politics ahoy) — all set in a sky world with a lurking, monster-filled mist beneath. It’s given me a chance to indulge in my love of fight scenes (oh man, I want to tell you about the duels in my final episode, but I caaaaaaaaan’t), and an opportunity to dip my toes into the waters of collaborative writing, even more than with Legend of the Five Rings. Its mission statement, laid out at our story-building summit, is “post-cynical optimism,” because this is a tale where just because bad things happen and people make unfortunate decisions and sometimes the best intentions don’t work out doesn’t mean that ideas like honor, friendship, alliance, and trust are a mug’s game. Things may fall apart, but the center can hold . . . once we’re done putting our characters through the wringer, of course.

My fellow writers for this are Mike, Malka Older (of Infomocracy fame, and also a friend via college SF circles), and Cassandra Khaw (Hammers on Bone). The serial will launch in April, but you can pre-order it now, and get installments delivered in ebook and audio format.

You’ll hear more about this in coming days, but at least now I can finally say that it is a thing! That I have been working on! In sekrit! For months!

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*Dear god. I met him . . . fifteen years ago.

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