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Bill Smith Books Newsletter -- February 2002

Greetings! It's been a busy couple of months as I'm finishing up the next three books in the Outlaw Galaxy series.

Now, on to the news....

Rather than complete final editing on Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars, I plunged ahead and started writing Outlaw Galaxy 4: Revolution on Brinik-Ros, the follow-up to Outlaw Galaxy 3: The Warriors of Brinik-Ros.

As you should be able to tell from their titles, books three and four are closely related so I felt it was important to move ahead and complete book four so I can edit books three and four as a set.

I'm already about halfway through the first draft and should be wrapping it up shortly. After that, there will be the marathon editing sessions to complete Outlaw Galaxy 2, 3 and 4.

Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars will be finished and ready to go to press within the next couple of months, with books three and four to follow shortly. Each ebook is $2.99.

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About Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars

Outlaw Galaxy 2: Fugitive Among the Stars reunites Trip and his friend, Johnnie O., on a vacation trip to a small town where nothing exciting ever happens...until they show up. Their plan is to spend the week with Johnnie's cousins, joyriding on their beloved and frighteningly fast anti-grav scooters, but the vacation is cut short when a freighter crashes near their campsite.

Soon after, the freighter's injured pilot, Bosh Tippen, stumbles into their camp and begs for their assistance. He has urgent information that must be delivered to the Frontier Rangers, while gangsters working for crime boss Croll Weixx are hot on his trail!

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Inside Outlaw Galaxy

This month, I wanted to give you a quick glimpse into the creation of the Outlaw Galaxy series. When I started working on my first novel, my background as a roleplaying game designer kicked in and I quickly focused on creating a universe I would enjoy exploring for many years and many, many novels.

The first novel, which eventually became Outlaw Galaxy 1: Trip and the Space Pirates, is just a glimpse into a much larger universe. Many science fiction stories deal with the near future (at most, a few hundred years in the future) and often deal with humanity's first steps away from Earth and the awkward first attempts to explore the stars.

Outlaw Galaxy is much larger in scope, set in the far distant future. To those living in the Outlaw Galaxy universe, there is nothing exceptional about living in a galaxy-spanning civilization with millions of intelligent species and starships equipped with lightspeed drives. These things are just the stuff of ordinary life, no more remarkable than our modern "wonders" of television, cell phones, and inter-continental flights, all things that would have mesmerized our great-great-grandparents.

Lightspeed starships and the like seemingly have always existed, dating back to pre-history. (In fact, many of these technologies see only incremental changes -- a lightspeed drive that's 10,000 or 100,000 years old fundamentally relies on the same principles as the modern drives produced in starship yards across the galaxy.)

This is a universe where known history goes back hundreds of thousands of years. Certainly there's more to the story...after all, somebody had to build the ancient jump gates that litter space, somebody had to develop lightspeed drive, it all had to start somewhere, sometime...but nobody knows where or when. There have been so many upheavals and many risen and fallen empires, civilizations and cultures...that much more has been forgotten than has been recorded.

What of Earth and the origins of humanity? It is a world unknown, not even mentioned in myth. This is a civilization where many species, including humans, are so far removed from their cradle-homeworlds that these planets are long forgotten. Yet, their legacy -- such as Earthly planets, animals, and customs -- live on.

The galaxy is teeming with long-ago terraformed worlds, modified to suit the needs of humans and species with similar tolerances. Genetically-modified and engineered species are very common. In fact, this is one of the reasons why so many species in the Outlaw Galaxy universe share tolerances close to humanity, but many of these species were engineered far back in the pre-history of civilization, their origins lost and forgotten.

One of the underlying themes behind this universe is no matter how far back you go, no matter how deep you dig, there is always more that remains undiscovered. The Outlaw Galaxy universe features elements of many genres, including Westerns, war movies, swashbuckling pirate stories, espionage, and film noir. There is also an undercurrent of the great pulp-serial "romantic adventures" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where adventurers headed to deepest Africa or South America might encounter dinosaurs, lost cities of gold, or wondrous artifacts with magical powers.

The adventures are just beginning...I hope you enjoy the ride!

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General Comments

Oscar Nominations. I am so pleased that The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring has been so well received, with 13 Oscar nominations including Best Picture and a Best Director nomination for Peter Jackson. I have not enjoyed a movie this much in years, and Fellowship crept into my personal "Top Ten Favorite Movies" list, which is all the more remarkable since the novel is not one of my favorites. The creative team did a wonderful job of putting Tolkein's world on the screen in all its glory, while making the story accessible for general audiences.

Star Trek: Enterprise continues to impress me, with great characters, compelling stories and a healthy does of the "sense of wonder" that I look for in science fiction. The show delivers on many levels, including the depiction of less-than-perfect technology, the thrill (and very real dangers) of exploration, and a reliance on solid character- and conflict-driven stories instead of "time-warp/techno-babble accident of the week" fluff stories. The depiction of the Vulcans as meddling, overprotective guardians is particularly refreshing....

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Convention Update

MarsCon. I made my first science fiction convention in several years with the trip to MarsCon in Williamsburg, VA! It was geat to see former West End Games/Star Wars editor Peter Schweighofer, as well as reacquaint myself with the great gaming folks down in Virginia Beach. I wanted to thank Michelle and the entire MarsCon staff for such a warm welcome and recommend the con highly!

Due to changes in my work schedule, I will not be able to make StellarCon as previously announced.

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That'll do it for this month. See you in March with the latest news and views!


Bill Smith

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