What Comes Next: Science Fiction

Over in another thread, Mark Delagasse brought up something which is worth making more of and I need to start thinking about this ahead of time, so here we go in my usual rambling style…

Aneka Jansen. The first Aneka book, The Steel Beneath The Skin, holds a place in my heart for the very simple reason that it was my first really successful novel. Seven books later, however, Aneka is getting hard to write for and her story is going to come to an end (at least as far as me being able to write for her) in the foreseeable future. I need something to take her place.

I originally thought that Fox Meridian was going to be the new Aneka, and for some people I suspect she fits the bill. However, I’m guessing she’s not for everyone. Mark, for example, likes Aneka, but would prefer a bit less ‘skin,’ so I’d have thought Fox would work, but he didn’t mention her. Fox is pretty much a near-future setting while Aneka pushes more into space opera. Fox is kind of low-key while Aneka is based around the big stuff. Lots to consider and not so much idea what people are looking for.

So, if I’m looking for a new universe to take up the torch when Aneka is sent off to a pleasant retirement, what should I be aiming at? What is it that attracted people to Aneka in the first place? Let’s see if I can structure this a little…

  • Subgenre. More or less ultra-tech (scientifically implausible stuff like force fields, anti-gravity, artificial gravity, FTL), bigger or smaller themes. More space opera or more hard SF?
  • The kick-ass heroine. I have had comments that it was nice to see a guy on the protagonist list in Vampire’s Kiss, so while I am likely to have a female lead, I am not averse to developing a strong male character too. What about Aneka and her friends did people like?
  • Did people like the specific setting? If so, what about it?
  • This has to be mentioned: sex. There’s a lot of sex in the Aneka books. I’ve been reducing it in more recent stuff (not entirely intentionally, it just works that way sometimes).Β Tone it down? Keep it the same? All-out porn?
  • The last element I can think of here is the connectivity to our world. Aneka’s story starts off with no one even knowing where Earth is. There’s no sense of connected history from us, here, now, to the world of the stories. Stuff gets filled in later, but this is an entirely new universe when we start (like Dune or Star Wars rather than Star Trek). Is that good, bad, or really not an issue? Is the ‘discovering a new universe’ a factor in the enjoyment of the books?

Okay… Well, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. The more the merrier and I’ll try to coalesce the undoubtedly huge range of answers into something I can work with. This should be interesting… (Just like the curse.)

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63 responses to “What Comes Next: Science Fiction

  1. For myself, I loved Aneka’s stories because it was space opera with a kick-ass heroine and she was in a romantic lesbian relationship. I didn’t much care one way or another on the sex, though I started to get to the point I was skimming it for the plot. I loved that she got so much done, and unlike Thaumatology, she didn’t seem to increase in power exponentially until quite late in the series.

    With Fox Meridian, it was just too much of a murder-mystery for me. I bought the first book, read the blurbs on the ones that followed and just…lost interest. She didn’t intrigue me.

    But that’s my own view, so I hope you’ll work with whatever it is you decide works for you.

  2. Michael Misenheimer

    I have to admit that this is one of my most favorite series. Yeah, Aneka kicks ass and the sex is great, does it need more? probably not, but you could get more explicit with what is there, but that’s just me talking there. As to the story itself and being able to continue it? I can see where you might have a problem. I understand how a story can sometimes just go in a direction that you didn’t see coming. This one might have done that.
    The problem that I see is that there just aren’t any bad guys left to worry about. The AIs and their tech is just to good. If the bad guys are too tough….zap no more star system and no more bad guys. This really leaves Aneka and the team out of a job. If you can’t come up with another story plot for them, you might just have no choice but to let the series die. Which really sucks.

    Since reading your post, I’ve sat myself down and done a bit of thinking, I also called back some thoughts I had in the past. The way I see it, you have no choice but to somehow put the team in a position where they no longer have access to the AIs. Just themselves. You might have to concider one last upgrade to Anekas abilities, but not sure on that becuase when I read Hope I realized that either she had another upgrade that we were not aware of or you didn’t mention some of the new things she could do in Lowest Depths. That little trick wih changing her hair for instance. If another upgrade is required (providing you find a plot), concider one where she will be able to stand up to an actual Xinti one on one and win, so increased speed and strength for sure, and maybe a sill download from War. Seriously if you are going to upgrade her one last time, concider giving her the ability to be a hermaphrodite (yeah I know thats a little weird) but it can be used to spice some things up a bit, its a real twisty in the story, and I think Ella would really enjoy it. πŸ˜‰

    So what can you do? Well, does the wormhole transport system have access to the entire Galaxy? or is the range limited? Can there be an accident with the wormhole that places them somewhere so far out of range that it’s not worth trying to come back? Maybe even in a nother galaxy? Now it’s just Aneka and the team, Hyde, and Gwy. New races, new planets to explore, new bad guys, and no AIs to bail them out. If they are going to survive, they have to handle it. What if they run into some actual Xinti? Maybe this isn’t the first time there was an accident with the wormhole system? I really can’t see what else you can do at this point. I don’t want to see the series die but it might just have to be that way.

    I’m not an author, but I am a story teller of sorts. I will sometime take a character that one of my favorite authors has created, sit down in my big chair with my feet up, a drink, snacks, and my smokes. Then let the character take me on an advneture. I have spent many hours this way and believe me, there have been time when the story is just flowing along, where I’ve had to stop and wonder just “how the hell did we get here”??

    I personally hope that you are able to find a plot for another Aneka story but I won’t hate you if you can’t. I will hate that it happened, but seriously it’s not your fault if it does/did. Sometime thats just the way the story goes. Several years ago I read a book, it was a series, I can’t remember the title or even the author. What I do remember was something the author said later about the story. She apologized to her fans for killing one of the characters, she said that it just happened, right in front of her eyes while she was writing the story.

    So, shit happens. If Aneka is done then she is done. We will remember her fondly for many years to come. I wish you all the luck you can hold onto in this endeavor.

    • Or you coud always fuck with time. Get the upgrade then go back to prevent the wars that started this whole thing. Kinda like different timeline stuff. Yeah Its been done, but it would also give a chance to get new material. Or you could go the different Universe theorie.

      A lot of choices if you want to pursue Aneka πŸ˜€

      And thanks for all the great books, I have read them all (all more then twice).

  3. Although my favorite series is Thaumatology, the first of your books I’ve ever read was “Steel beneath the skin”. It has a refreshing (for me, at least) feel of completeness, it didn’t scream “To be continued” at the end, like most ebooks I had read at the time (that was nice, I was fed up with nice series starts that were sudenly abandoned by the authors). The thing that really got me into Aneka was discovering a new universe far into the future through the eyes of someone from our universe and timeframe (that felt unique to me, everything was new to her and to me, nothing was common knowledge or obvious). The sex thing: that’s one of the things I like, but only when makes sense (no gratuitous sex scenes, this is not porn afterall, see Thaumatology books and Aneka books as reference). I have to say that I never read any of the Fox books. I’ve read a sample from the first one, and I just didn’t feel anything like I felt after samples of Steel or Thaumatology 101.

  4. The romantic lesbian relationships in Steel and Thaumatology are my favorite things in those series. When Fox started that way I was pretty jazzed. I like the open relationships too. (“We’re all friends here right, oh look, a bed!) And please, Leeanne and Juliana. Mike will be ok with it, trust me. Sub genre: Whatever. You’re a great world builder. If you’re inspired when you write it, we’ll like it. Kick ass heroine: Requirement. I don’t read anything else anymore. Sex: I like sex. Sex is fun. If I’m going to be “distracted” by something…

  5. Here is my take on your questions. As always, your mileage may vary.

    Subgenre: Use whatever space opera or hard SF elements work for the story.

    Main character: don’t care if male or female. Go with whatever inspiration you have. Can’t decide? Pop Jubilia or Faran through a portal to another realm. πŸ™‚

    Setting: Generally, the more worlds you have to create with a fast publishing schedule, the less thought is going to be in them, so use one you have already built, saving the brainpower for characters and story.

    Sex: If it is important to the plot, include it. If is a minor plot element or part of character background, then maybe put it off-screen. If it completely extraneous, then leave it out or publish it under a pen name as erotica. (Just tell us where to look. πŸ™‚ )

    As an example, in Thaumatology the sex was an important part of Lily’s character and needed to be there. In contrast, I found it almost completlely superfluous in Kate on a Hot Tin Roof.

    New universe: don’t care.

  6. Mark me down in the “Likes Sex” column. I really enjoy both your Thaumatology and Aneka series, in no small part because of the types of relationships depicted. NOT angst-filled vanilla hetero virgin-and-a-rake married happily ever after romance. Not all-out porn either, but there’s plenty of sexless sci-fi out there – it’s nice to have something a little different.
    After all, the sexual mores of western society today would be pretty alien to the average citizen from 1800, so why wouldn’t it be different centuries in the future?
    One thing I’ve been pondering is a successful blend of fantasy, sci-fi and your style of hard core romance. I’ve read a couple of authors who have done it moderately well, but mixing a sorceress, succubus and cyborg Valkyrie just doesn’t seem to happen often. And no, I’m not necessarily suggesting a blending of your two existing series … but if you wrote it, I’d buy it.
    I also reckon you could put your own twist to a near-future sci-fi series ala Laurence Dahners or Mackey Chandler, too. I liked Fox for the first couple of books, but I’ve never been a big noir/mystery fan and my interest kinda petered out.
    Anyway, Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to whatever your imagination churns out next.

  7. Hard SF or space opera? Not bothered. What matters are the plot and, especially, the people – how the environment and events affect them, how they interact, how situations develop. Ideally, I’m looking for what another writer describes as “intellectual and emotional heft”. (Not steam punk or high fantasy, though, please. I read Kate on a Hot Tin Roof, but probably won’t buy any more Unobtainium books. I can just about take urban fantasy, but only until it steps out of the world I know. Thaumatology I generally enjoyed, but not the two books that were set largely in other worlds.)

    Gender of protaganist? Not bothered.

    Sex? Keep it going, by all means. I like it. But only if it’s at least vaguely relevant to the story.

    Connectivity to our world: well, I’d like to see the laws of physics as I know them more or less applying (which shouldn’t be taken as ruling out things like FTL, artificial gravity and so on), but a far-future and far-distant setting are fine.

  8. I enjoyed the Aneka series, and the sex was a bonus I think, keep that at the same level or maybe make it more detailed so long as it doesn’t cause jarring disconnects from the rest of the story. Thaumatology and Aneka are probably my favorite two of your book series. Not a big fan of Unobtanium but I will say that I do really want to see books 5 and 6 of the Utrahumans series too.

  9. A galaxy full of humans without Earth would stress my belief. I would like a Battlestar Galactica-like setting, where a group of people from an older branch of humanity (or from a parallel plane) encounters “our” world.

    As for the sex: The strongest scene you IMHO ever wrote was Ceri’s “awakening” (before it became explicit sex). I can easily live with soft erotic instead of hard sex, but I think that casual sex is an easy way to distinguish a future society from ours.

    The gender of your protagonist is second to me, it’s the stories and the interactions between interesting characters that keep me hooked to your writing.

    I really like heroes and heroines who are no “Superhumans.” Ceri, Aneka and Fox all have developed into near invincible supers. I’d like to see heroes with flaws (like Ceri at the beginning) overcoming their handicaps not by becoming more and more powerful.

    But first and foremost: Please write on!

    • “A galaxy full of humans without Earth would stress my belief.”

      Why? If it’s far enough in the future, that’s plausible. Sooner or later (the latter, I hope!), our sun will go nova, and there won’t be an Earth. And that’s assuming that there isn’t some other catastrophe in the meantime. If humanity is to survive in the long term, it has to colonise other worlds. Eventually, it will no longer have Earth.

  10. I thought the Steel Beneath the Skin series was great because, as someone said earlier, it was space opera with a kick-ass heroine and she was in a romantic lesbian relationship. I really liked the Aneka and Ella dynamic and found the mix and depth of action, sci-fi, romance and eroticism about perfect.

    Like others I’d love to see another space opera sci-fi book, either Aneka or a new series. For reference I never got bored of the Thomas DePrima Jenetta Carver books or C. R. Daems Riss series even though it was basically the same enemy every book but in a different setting and Jenetta or Nadya gradually climbing the ranks.

    I never could get into the Thaumatology series but have really liked all the others, Ugly, Reality Hack, Unobtainium, etc. and hope there will be others in those series too. Please keep writing!

  11. I read Thaumatology first, and after I finished that series and loved it, went looking for the rest. Aneka was my second, and I agree with several of the previous comments. Space opera, heroine, romantic lesbian relationship.

    However, what really had me the most is how the series actually lived up to the technological advances. Most of the series out there don’t seem to do that much, if at all. The humans are typical humans, sometimes with lower rates of disease and longer lifespans, and that’s it. On the other hand, you’ve got the Jenlay, who have shunned cybernetics, but embraced genetic manipulation greatly. You’ve got the Enforcers, who embrace those cybernetics to a great extent, the Xinti who, even if not human, show the extremes to which cybernetics can be taken. Few series actually manage to do any of that; it’s the same humans in a future setting, without any technological growth shown.

    Thus, I have to say, if there’s going to be a new universe, please let that be a part of it. Cyborgs, AI, genetic modding, cybernetic implants, and any other wild thing you can think of. Make it more than just modern day humans in a future setting.

  12. I first read your Aneka series, back when the fourth book was released, and have since read all your books and so far the only one I have not read more than once is Reality Hack. It just failed to grab me, though I did read it all; hopefully a second would help, the second Princeps book saved that series for me.

    To repeat what several others have already said: space opera, kick-ass heroine and lesbian/open romance/sex. The whether it has earth in it or not, is set in the next few centuries or millennia into the future don’t matter provided you can give a reasonable and believable backstory for the ‘world’.

    I like the range of sci-fi elements you included in the Aneka books, FTL, cyborgs, gen modding, AI and everything. But the one thing I would have liked to have seen more of are the esp powers that were mentioned, maybe evolve them into fully fledged ‘psionics’ in what ever your new series ends up being.

    So more of a similar flavour, but more depth to the ‘psionics’ please.

    Something I will admit to wondering is what a military science fiction written in your style would end up like.

    • Michael Misenheimer

      I’m thinking it would be something like the Fox Meridian seriies actualy. I mean Fox is former military and has had to deal with sort of military situations in the various stories. Now shes really the first Xinti? In a different universe of course, and she’ll be able to kick some heavy ass.

  13. My biggest problem with your recent work (and I loved Anika) is that you have fallen into a trap with the idea that you MC must be tortured physicaly in just about everything you write now. Or you put in char. like Red Diamond or what her name is in the super hero series that char KILLED the series for me as you didn’t remove her in the same book you created her and didn’t send the MC hunting her down in the next book even which means the MC is NOT a hero in my mind so I lost interest,

    I lost interest in fox when the guy tortured her to death On top of a very unlikely escape from prison that led to it,

    in Be My Valentine description is this . “Amid betrayal from a most unexpected source, Dione and Mike must fight to keep the secret of the existence of vampires, as well as saving a friend and bringing a killer to justice.” that led me to never reading the book even though I loved Hunter’s Kiss and was looking forward to the 2nd until I saw the above quote. As someone has to be a friend to betray you and I hate that kind of thing in books I read.

    The way you write sexuality into your stories is great and most of the time progresses the char. growth as well as the story but PLEASE leave off the torture in the future.

    Just my 2 cents and that’s about all its worth. πŸ™‚

  14. Note: As I try to do with these ‘what do you think’ posts, I’m going to be keeping my opinions to myself until I’ve seen what a fair number of you guys think.
    I will say that I was surprised about the number of votes for the lesbian romance element. I thought a male author writing lesbian sex scenes was a bit clichΓ©d, and it possibly is, but it’s nice to know it’s appreciated.

    • Just keep in mind that you have a strong self selection bias here. Those of us who read and post to your blog are probably not a good sample, statistically speaking, of your readership as a whole, much less of your potential readership in general.

      -Ben, who took too many stat classes in college πŸ™‚

    • The sex scenes are appreciated don’t get me wrong, but also some of the romance and a mostly female cast of characters. A lot of this comes from the fact that I’m so over seeing/reading male dominated scifi, I binge watched Star Trek Voyager over the break and even that that has a majority male cast and a handsome first mate that every female character would swoon over at some point or other. Majority female stories are still kind of unique, a refreshing and enjoyable change.

      • Voyager is the only one of the Trek series I can actually re-watch. You’re right, it does have a majority-male cast, but it only really has one interesting character, and she’s a cyborg. Thinking about it, her storyline does go downhill when they finally decide to give her a love interest.

      • Agree totally, shame they couldn’t have kept the female Kes character and the cyborg, the character traits where almost polar opposites, both could carry an episode and their interactions would have been entertaining.

    • For me it’s not the sex *scenes*. I can very well live with hints about what just happened (or will happen) off-stage. It’s the romance and the bantering and the jokes and the many possible combinations of people and preferences. E.g. When Svetilo is taken on by Cygnus and June there is no single word about what they did, but a great scene afterward which leaves everything to the readers’ imagination.

      And it’s not only the *lesbian* romances … Jacob and Andrea, Ceri and Michael, Cheryl and Carter and Alec. They all feel “right” and not forced like in most other Urban Fantasy settings.

  15. OK. What did I like about the Aneka series.
    The fish out of water story, at least in the early books where Aneka had to adjust to the future. A good strong heroine with principles. Her developing relationships. The future science. The hints of a larger universe.
    Not so crazy about the graphic sex in the early books, too distracting from the story telling. I think you got the balance right in the later books. Aneka seemed to be getting jaded in the later books. I’d like to read her getting her mojo back in the last story. And having a threesome with Ella and a Felix.

    I’ve been thinking you could spin-off the AIs in Fox into their own series, maybe building a starship and going off to explore the galaxy? I too like the idea of a balance of male and female protagonists in the stories.

    BTW Any chance of a sequel to Reality Hack?

  16. I came to your work specifically because I was looking for kick-ass lesbian heroines, and Amazon popped you up when I searched. Most of your characters are actually bi to whatever degree, but their relationships with other women are both more interesting to me, and better developed.

    I enjoy the sex, and the sexiness, but having it offscreen is fine too. For me, the point is the relationship, and the plot.

    If you’re going to go hard-SF, a connection to our world is nice. If you’re doing space opera, not so much. Either genre is fine by me, as long as your muse is into it.

    In the end, I say write for yourself. The result will be better for us, too. And don’t worry about cliches. That doesn’t matter.

  17. I love advance tech, AI, strong female leads, etc. it’s what got me to first read your books. Have you thought about a universe where Earth existed but nobody cared? It’s not lost or abandoned it’s just not really a big deal. Maybe seen as boring or backward, like some people in cities see small mid west towns.

  18. When I am looking for a new series of books the first thing I allways look for is a strong kick ass female lead and if she is gay or bi that’s a bonus. And I like the way you do your sex seines I used to read laurel k Hamiltons book and her sex seances just got ott and very boring.

    What I’ve always thought might make a interesting story is a vampire/ shifter story but set s 1000 plus years from now, are they still hidden or in the open??? Just a thought.

  19. Will | January 2, 2017 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    I thought the Steel Beneath the Skin series was great because, as someone said earlier, it was space opera with a kick-ass heroine and she was in a romantic lesbian relationship. I really liked the Aneka and Ella dynamic and found the mix and depth of action, sci-fi, romance and eroticism about perfect.

    Like others I’d love to see another space opera sci-fi book,

    This pretty much says it. I have enjoyed Fox and Dione & Kate. I also enjoyed Ultras and lets not forget the newest Gunwitch. I could never get into the Thaumatology or however it might be spelt lol.

    I mean if I wanted reality all you have to do is turn on the news or step outside. It’s really depressing. I favor the female herione, be it a mixture of fantasy and sci fi or one or the other. I don’t mind either way.

    • > Thaumatology or however it might be spelt lol.
      Amazingly, it’s spelled ‘Thaumatology.’ πŸ™‚

      • I just finished re-reading the whole Thaumatology series. I love that series so much.

      • Michael Misenheimer

        Well, this is a first. I find myself in a condidition not previously concidered in regards to you. I’m a bit upset with you Tharcion, well no actually I’m quite mad at you. I purchased Gunwitch: Rebirth this morning. I have just now finished it. Thus my anger. Why? The story is too short. It ended much too soon. More (and worse really) you have not given us a second book. So I quite demand that you start writting at once. Otherwise I might have to oh, I don’t know track you down and turn you over my knee and spank you? Sit you down in front of your computer and force you to type under threat of being beaten with a large wet knoodle? Somthing anyway…..start writting dammit!

        So yeah, I really liked this story. I refused to put it down until I finished it. Ok, there wasn’t nearly enough sex in it, wasn’t any at all really. I missed that in this story actually. There didn’t need to be much but really I expected some and the story certainly had places in it where you could have put it in. However, the story was good enough that I’m willing to overlook the lack of some of your really well writtin sex scenes. Really looking forward to the next Gunwitch….um, try to put a little sex in it? maybe?

  20. Have you thought about writing scifi Litrpg? not much of that out there, its mostly fantasy

    I loved Aneka and Thaumatology , did not like fox i’m not into the whole murder mystery thing or superhero books.

    The sex in Aneka and Thaumatology was spot on, could maybe have been a bit more descriptive at times. As long as its not constant sex its fine in my opinion, i recently read a book where there was sex for 6 pages then 2 pages of story, ended up skimming through it.

    You could always mix fantasy and scifi, though that might be difficult.
    I read most scifi as long as there isnt to much of time travel or political intrigue as many authors like to write.

    • That Gunwitch is based on RPG is visible sometimes. Their encounters in the sewers look like “random encounter” right from the AD&D DMG or any other reference manual.

  21. I like the kick-ass heroine. Actually, I thought the male MC in Hunter’s Kiss didn’t quite work as well, perhaps because you kept alternating viewpoints. I really liked the early Thaumatology books, both because of the progression of the heroine from relatively weak to finding real strength; the growth is more fun than being all-powerful from the start. And finally, I liked the sex in the context of romance, teasing and seduction; not so much orgies all the time. In other words, abut the level in Thaumatology and Aneka.

  22. Female protagonist in scifi for me, and not making it romance-based (I mean, clearly the personal relationships were important but it’s not one of those stories were everything is about the romance).

    That, plus exploring a different society with (somewhat) different values. I think that this is something that’s too often neglected in scifi – technology advances, but social values don’t. It’s (too often) just current middle-class US/Western mindset translated a thousand years into the future or so. Disappointing. So even if it was mostly about running around dressed for cheap porn movies it was at least a fresh idea, and fresh ideas always get bonus points in my book πŸ˜‰

    That being said, I felt that Aneka too quickly became too powerful, which reduced the tension of the plot too much. Overpowered protagonists can be fun, too, but not like this. Likewise, as the story progressed, I think the technologies got a bit too crazy; I’m usually more of hard-scifi type of person unless it’s deliberately completely and utterly over-the-top (so basically Japanese ^^).

    As for the sex … meh, never was quite sure what to think about it. Pretty similar to Thaumatology, I think. There’s some fun, playful scenes – or more like teasers, and as mentioned above I like that this setting a refreshing attitude towards it. But there’s some stuff that I frankly found rather … well, stupid. Let’s build an AI body and give it a vibrating penis so it can have sex with that other AI … yeeah, well. Altogether a neglectful influence; in the beginning maybe slightly on the plus side, towards on the end slightly on the negative side, but mostly I just pretended some stuff never happened. ^^

    Your “what am I working on” site still has this “Aneka and Ella do Star Trek” idea set there. I’m not sure that’ll be super-interesting with the current universe (though it might be), but I think it’d also work as a solid idea for a new series. Although I’m thinking less Star Trek and more Diadem from the Stars (minus all the weird rape), with emphasize on all the various really “fantastic” locations and such. It’s something to nicely play around with. Just a some crew adventuring around or so.

    As for Fox: I quite liked the first book, but in part it felt too similar to your previous series (well, particularly the sex stuff) and then it didn’t quite manage to interest me for further books (mh, I read the 2nd, and those amazon previews for the 3rd and 4th, but they didn’t grab my attention either). I think that’s one thing you did perfectly with Thaumatology, that teasing of future events / mysteries still left to explore and such, and of course also Ceri’s growth as a character. It really felt like a series, not like a chain of glued together books, without resorting to the dreaded cliffhanger option.

  23. Michael Misenheimer

    Something that I completely forgot about.

    The Ghost Fleet!

    It’s real, and Aneka needs to kick its ass becuase the AIs just can’t findit or deal with it at all.

    just sayin

  24. Steel was the first of your books I picked up when it first came out because I have always been a big sci-fi fan. I loved it but didn’t look at the Thaumatology books as the blurb didn’t sell it to me. Then I picked up 101 as I was a bit bored and started reading and didn’t stop until I got to the end of Wedding Bell. After that I threw out my preconceptions on what sort of genre I would like if you were writing it.

    You build very detailed and interesting worlds whether they are near or far future sci-fi, urban fantasy or whatever. More importantly you fill them with smart, believable characters that grow over time.

    That last point is a big strength but also a weakness and part of the problem I think you are having with your two main universes. You are encountering the bane of episode writers and MMO developers, Powercreep.

    Ceri and Aneka (and now Fox to a degree) have hit level 80 and there is no where for them to go. You could up the stakes to ridiculous levels (Aneka has to fight an Intergalactic Sparkle Dragon With Laser Eyes using only a set square, a gherkin and a rolled up copy of the Guardian). Or come up with a reason to de-power your heroine, but that’s really a contrivance that will only work once.

    What would be interesting to see is an exploration of your worlds though the eye’s of a different protagonist and a different genre. A police procedural in Thaumatology London based on a detective that doesn’t happen to have a sorceress on speed-dial perhaps? πŸ™‚

  25. Setting: I love SF in any wether it is space Opera or stuff like in Gunwitch concernig the ultratech i find that in modern science many things you wrod about became atleast conceivabel.
    I love a kick-ass heroin and lesbian romantic
    but some times i find the habit of saying i’m actually straight but i love this girl anyway really annoying. As for the sex i don’t mind it but i think that more wouldn’t be good for the story line, if anything a little less has proven to be good.

    The Princeps Venator series is a good combination of a strong male lead and a Kick ass Heroin but if you want to have a strong male character than dont let the Female do ALL the ass kicking. Let the guy have his fun to.

    The problem with the aneka Jansen Story is That the lead character is simpli Over powert by now, i mean Stargata effectively rules the Galaxy.

  26. I am beging your pardon for such ghastly mutilation of englisch.

    • I am guessing from your email address that you’re German. Believe me, my German is a lot worse than your English. πŸ™‚

      • The Greman in Kate on a Hot Tin Roof wasn’t that bad a few words here and there that arend used as they are normaly would but it fits into the whole Steampunk atmosphere of the setting

      • Whish i really enjoy by the way

      • Sorry about that, i meand which

      • I know that since you called that Ancient “Raynor” and not “Rainer” as it had been correct πŸ™‚

        But for one you finally corrected that lapse with “Rainer Gottschalk” and for two most of your short trips into German are much better than what other English speaking authors tried.

      • He has a point ther

      • I’d like to thank Google Translate for its help with my German and, in some cases, with my future alien languages. Google, if they haven’t already taken over the world, they sure… Hold on. What was that, Alexa? What do you mean, this unit has a soul?

      • I would like to offer my help with future translation into German

  27. Hmm, Spinoff… Mizzy (with Ella-like upgrades), working with New Hope and Shatataga, to take down/reform the Pinnicale by rooting out the extreme elements and shooting them in the face. I’d buy that.

  28. The male protagonist was my least favorite part of Vampire’s kiss. I think you’re better off sticking with the more softcore sex as well.

  29. The one gap for me in Aneka’s story is the Deltram Technologies, Tilton and the email for kidnapping Aneka’s team. I was expecting that to be worked into book 7 once the war and survival issues were cleared up πŸ™‚
    As far as settings go, I tend to look at that as support of the characters story, so Ceri and Lilly or Ella and Aneka and how they evolve/interact are more then where and when they exist. Those two and Kate hold my attention, while at times I have to struggle a bit on Fox and haven’t been able to get into the ultrahuman series at all, or finish Valentine yet.

  30. I really love Cyborgs, Androids, AIs,… and a strong main character.

  31. Just watching “Orphan Black”. Have you ever thought about having Clones as protagonists?

  32. First i must say. The first of your books i read was the first aneka story and i followed over the years as the other 6 came out. I think the thing that made me continue reading and ultimately re-reading a number of times is the connectedness and depth of story. I love the space opera, i love the unrealistic sci-fi aspects. The thing for me is aneka is timeless.

    Being a computer in a body like hers she can live millennia.1, 2, 5, 50 thousand years. So for aneka the sky is the limit. Redesign the hyde as a bigger long term ship. Figure out a way to extend the lives of others or something else. Turn the hyde into a cruiser sized exploration vehicle where they can defend themselves if attacked but also travel to very very distant regions. Maybe a powercell from a sun? A portable worm hole generator to instantly get them back to the AI?

    In my opinion given her design. There is limitless opportunities to where the story goes. It really is only down to imagination.

  33. Personally, I have nothing against sex in your stories. It brings a little thrill and it’s kinda your selling point, Niall you write good stories with excellent plot. Your characters are alive and I always buy what you write since I discovered Thaumathology, my favourite series written by you. Then you wrote the Aneka books! It was quite a ride, and I agree with you that messing up the perfect end that it had would not be good. Now you have the ultrahumans series that I like too, the sex and the actions is an essential part of why I’m reading it. So another series with the genre of Aneka should still have those winning elements you bring on the table : sex (not too much, or else I’m just skipping part lol), the plot and the discovery of the world you are making the characters evolve in, you excel in creating support characters for your MCs so yeah a good sidekick bring good stuff.

    You ask if I want another novel with the same genre as Steel beneath the skin? Spaceship, cosmic powers, descent worldbuilding and soft erotica? Hell Yeah I want it!

    I hope my rambling… helped?

  34. Huh. I think what drew me in to Aneka, and pretty much all of your work, is the presence of a strong female lead. The lesbian/bisexual aspect didn’t hurt. I’ll be sad to see Aneka’s story end, but considering the space opera scope and the AI’s ability to blow up star, I can see how it limits what you can do plot wise.

    As for your specifities:

    I like the level of detail you put into the sex as is. I don’t want a five page sex scene.

    For an SF-nal setting, I’m not picky as long as it’s logically consistent within itself. I haven’t come across a book of yours I haven’t enjoyed and will most likely buy and read it no matter what.

  35. I spent the last few days rereading the series. One question I was left lingering with. Who was anekas old earth boss talkin to that knew. Time traveler? Another xenti? Could there be xenti still alive. Are humans from another world like in sg1? What if they encountered another group with wormhole tech or portable wormhole tech? Maybe a way to contain a star inside a battleship or bigger class of ship?

  36. Just a couple of thoughts after rereading the Aneka series, perhaps ghost fleet, finding Xinti, or solving the mystery of who knew, besides the crew of the Agroa Gar, that Aneka was being targeted for uplift and the soon to be released Xinti technology on Earth. I recall mention of a company that had continued on to New Earth, yet I don’t recall a resolution to that.

  37. I started reading your books with the Aneka series and I think because of that they are my favorite Granted Fox is a close second. That said I’ve given some thought to why I like it and what I’d like to see in the future. Here is a couple things that came to mind.

    Expanding the strange email Aneka and Aggy found in Aggy’s database. Perhaps for example they where part of a group that Aneka, Ella and crew run into out and about. Maybe even for some reason those descendents recognize Aneka for some reason. Such as a recognized historical figure or something. These emails would tie up one of the very few unfinished stories for Aneka series that I’ve found. Also I think another commentor mentioned it.

    Next maybe something from a different perspective after all Aneka, Ella and crew are big people. Perhaps write something in the perspective of someone meeting them for the first time. Interacting with and then learnung about or even being helped by. This could be keeping the universe which is just as interesting as the characters going.

    Maybe expand on the psychic abilities and such. A story focusing morr on them or perhaps they run into a society that focuses on them instead of technology.

    Also maybe a story where another for some reasin goes through the same process the Xinti and Aneka did. Maybe even in a body unlike their original. This could be something of the focus or something that some of the original crew show up to help this person. and it’s a subplot.

    Anyway that is a few Ideas I had and hope they help inspire you. As for the sex I think in Aneka series it’s fine. Usually a little titillation that adds a smidge of spice to the stories so ling as it’s not the focus.

  38. I have always been intrigued with the concept of turning the big bad aliens on it’s head. Instead of a desperate earth fighting off a super race suppose we turned out to be the baddest of the bad. Imagine the universe looking at terrans as a race who make Klingons look like pacifists, ruthless as a great white shark, willing to pay any price to get what we want. We mess with our DNA to make super marines, werewolf shifters and live in any environment. Other races use us to make their kids behave.

    Now we are pushing out to other stars. How would other races try to handle us? Their morality means trying to convert vs killing. Suppose we do not like their federation of trillions of lifeforms? We are frightening to others because one minute we can be making beautiful art the next dropping genetic impostors on an enemy.

    Feel free to mix magic and science. So long as it follows its own rules nothing says you cannot blur the line between fantasy and hard science.

    Sex oh yeah go for it. I loved how Ceri and her friends indulged their erotic cravings. Why is SF so adverse to showing us as we are sexual creatures? So much good along with a lot of evil comes from the urge to merge.

    Good huntingr

  39. so far, i have read all thaumatoloy/aneka/fox … and i say that i have a lot of trouble puting down your books that said… :-
    thaumatology .. the sex, with lilly is so well done, and a great cross between invert/orvert that its just about right . as to what could you do, to follow on.. well how about the fact that both main character have saven the world from , both demon/ghost monsters, and dragons, and now she is the overlord of the demon world, why not have the demon world attacked, by the human world ????
    aneka jenson world, we have hear about most races, in this serries , but we know not a lot about the torem and even less about the old tech, they used in the war, maybe they took over the planet, before the jenlay and the old tech is from a even older race.. maybe there is some thing going wrong, with some of this tech, hence they said it dose not work anymore after the war…and again the sex, is fun and its great when its left to the reader own iders , and even more so, with the one line inuendos [?] ..

    fox world.. in the first book i found it a bit on the slow side, but as the serries went on, it picked up and i love a good mistery. the idea of the “sisters of corruption” is a fantastic idea , maybe some more with that as a base of a story . even a slight sideways shift in this world, where fox is taken to a secondary role, and a bit more sam/ the sisters / marie take on a front of house role .

    over all the side kick characters are what keep the books going with a great amout of fun and humor , lilly , ella , kit , are excellently written that you can see them in your mind as you read the storys , and they also expand just as much as the main characters . i love the twist of the story lines, as they use this world and twist them just a bit [thamutatology] wher the world is, so near to what we have, but then you add magic, and airships .. awesome ..
    and that there are still enough “now real happenings” in your near furture fox story as well . to make it a good mistery novel, with out going way out and not just rehashing old plots .
    and on to a grand space opera, with aneka’s worlds to finish off [ as of yet still got more to read ] … may have more to add later, but back to reading .

  40. Wow, there is so much here… First, Aneka is like Sherlock, and any number of other sleuths out there, but with some additional tools to rely on. Fox is the same. I believe someone mentioned the Star Wars,Star Trek analogy. I think it is appropriate. The reality of the situation is, we will miss either of them if they go away. Your style will allow them to go to just about anywhere. I think the real question is, do you still enjoy writing for them? We, your avid fans, will without doubt, suck up every paragraph regarding them like a black hole sucks up light. Considering the ladies makeup, they can literally go on unlimited adventures and go through many iterations of supporting characters. (Daav you Phelium/Theo Waitley or Nova Whiteside/Tychon and Seth) for example. I believe regardless of which direction you go, I will miss this level of expertise in literature as you are beyond excellent as a writer. I hope you keep them, but I know it’s tough if your heart isn’t in it. Thank you for what you’ve already given us.

  41. you could also find a reason for Aneka to go into long term stasis again, only to wake up a 1000+ years later, to a very different reality..
    or the hunt for the ghost fleet.
    maybe even a wormhole trip goes awry and she ends up in a different part of the universe!

    or a new epic saga with a pirate for MC (female of cause)

    ultimately write about what you find enjoyable πŸ˜€

  42. “Aneka is getting hard to write for and her story is going to come to an end (at least as far as me being able to write for her) in the foreseeable future. I need something to take her place.”

    Whoa, slow down there before you go deep sixing Aneka. I know the story has to end someplace but there’s still some tales to tell of Aneka. Like what about Deltram Technology? Somebody knew what the Xinit
    were up to back on Earth. You just going to leave that thread hanging? And what about the virus found in book seven? You just going to throw out that the Xinti should have been able to handle the virus but
    were somehow manipulated into leaving their physical form? Who was the man behind the curtain? You’ve painted Aneka into a corner where the AI’s have made things too safe as others have commented. Send her
    back into the past where the answers lay and options are limited by the possible effects of changing the future.

    Dan Eaton

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