The current revision work on the Kestral novels—especially book 1, one of my oldest books—is giving me the chance to revisit more than just grammar and titles. As I started working on revising book 1 of the series, I realized that I was seeing the books, the characters and my own writing in a new light. My revisions will reflect that. Regarding the writing, I’ve added new material and tightened up on existing material, to better flesh out the story and the characters.
Most notably is an interrogation sequence in book 1, which I’d previously only referenced in the narrative, ie, “So this happened. Afterward…” I decided that I was skipping over some useful opportunities to help round out my characters, as well as give more dimension to that part of the book. So, in true “show, don’t tell” fashion, I added the interrogation scenes; nothing extensive, in fact, pretty brief… but still effective.
Some of the improvements are cosmetic, as best illustrated by what will be the new cover of book 1. Take a look at right:
I’m very excited about the new look to the series, highlighted by my new cover design. First is its new title, replacing “My Life, After Berserker”: “Race to Deep Abignon” is a more action-oriented title, fitting the novel’s action-adventure format; and it better describes the story itself. The overall composition of the cover emulates the most popular and modern aspects of science fiction action-adventure covers, which I hope will catch many a fans’ eye. Future covers will use similar elements.
Also, there’s the depiction of Kestral’s ship, the Mary: This art represents the best depiction of the Quicksilver-class space freighter that I had in my mind when I conceived it. Based on a public-domain piece of art I recently came across, I used the art as a framework and sculpted in Photoshop to achieve the desired scale and structure of the Mary. Then I worked it into the cover design, accompanied with a great-looking lighting effect for its faster-than-light “tesser” field.
Finally—maybe most notably—is the new look for Carolyn Kestral herself. As I’ve redesigned and reworked this series, I realized that I had in mind a different vision for Kestral… one that, I think, better represents the likely future of Humankind. In the Kestral books, a lot is made of the makeup of humanity in the future, having voluntarily undergone various genetic changes and augmentations to live on new, terraformed planets. (More on this in a future post.) In real life, humanity is going through a constant and steady change, as disparate populations mix across the globe, intermarry and procreate, further intermixing our genetic differences; the globe, following the example of the United States, is becoming a Melting Pot.
Carolyn Kestral’s new appearance represents some predictions of the look of the majority of humanity in our future, and the way I was coming to imagine our heroine: A stronger mix of races from below the equator, as well as the Indian and Asia-Pacific regions, and a subsuming of traditional European features behind those of these other races. Her hair, originally short and blond in previous depictions, is now a longer brunette. And she is still a statuesque stunner.
This Kestral not only represents a more likely future appearance of humanity, but she more closely resembles the growing and diversified cross-section of science fiction fans, many of whom have historically felt underrepresented by all the predominantly European characters, heroes and heroines in SF. I hope that some fans and readers, seeing my new covers, may feel more compelled to check out a book featuring people that look more like themselves.
And this isn’t to say that other readers should feel like they are being discouraged from reading the Kestral books, nor that I’m suggesting that they might be members of a “dying race” or something; quite the opposite, I see a future of all human races coming together to make a new, hopefully better human down the road, and they’ll be as much a part of that as ever, even if it’s less obvious on a cosmetic level. After all, the European culture is still a major part of modern society, and it will probably continue to be a major component of world culture for some time to come.
All of this has gone into the reimagining of the Kestral books and their characters. Kestral 1, Race to Deep Abignon, will soon be re-released, followed soon after by the new book 2 of the Kestral Voyages.