By Angelia Sparrow
In November of 2005, I won NaNoWriMo for the first time. The result was a novel that is now called Nikolai: Revenant.
It’s undergone a lot of revision and character changes since the initial draft. The world has expanded and shifted with each new projection of the future. Now, we are four books, a gaming manual, several short stories, and a couple of rough drafts into the series. My now-coauthor, Gabriel, went from my biggest fan to my loyal conspirator, and brought his own brand of creativity to the world.
The series is set at the end of the twenty-first century. America balkanized into eleven countries, with Hawaii and Alaska becoming independent. Some countries have moved forward from the DisUnification and others have chosen to move backward.
I started this as a reaction to a lot of trends I was seeing in the mid 2000s. It has aged eerily, as I’ve watched some of my predictions come to fruition in some ways, but it remains solid. My dystopia is not supposed to be more comforting than my reality, but it has become more so as the years go on.
Most of the series occurs in Memphis, with occasional excursions to Italy, Kansas, Pacifica and other places. The Confederated States are fascinating, and rather terrifying. Based on the trends in Christian Nationalism, including the Christian Exodus movement, the CS is a fascist theocracy with an absolutely free market. Church attendance is required by law, and the law enforces modesty codes. Education is limited to white boys, and only available through private schools. Racial segregation is law, and most crimes are capital ones.
Half of the titular Nikolai’s education is unlearning erroneous history from his three years of formal schooling. Nick Boyd is a Memphis street rat, who took the name Nikolai when he became a member of the Revenant gang. Smart, vicious, and self-assured, he caught the eye of James Ligatos, one of the Eight, the cabal that rules the world behind the scenes.
James turns promising young criminals into world leaders. In Anthony: Reprobate, we delve into the hyper-surveillanced and repressive Heartlands for another protege, Anthony Hatcher, who is stuck in a reeducation facility with an R tattooed on his hand. Reprobate is the lowest of the low, both Homosexual and Nymphomaniac, and every other “anti-social” marker. But with enough work and a little support, anyone can change the course of a country.
Glad Hands was my biggest seller, a side story set in the Tribal Lands about a trucker who finds a Heartlands boy with an H tattoo. They go on a mad dash ride into the CS on what should have been an average haul, and almost end in the Stoneyard for execution on live national television. This was written on many loading docks, in sleeper berths and rest areas when I was still driving a truck.
Master Anton is our newest installment, and it follows the training of our boys forward. Anthony is called to Rome, to the Eight’s center of operations. Their leader, Benta, the Spider at the top of the World, is a mysterious and seemingly eternal goddess in his eyes. His odd learning style makes for a difficult road, but not nearly as difficult as the rest of the Memphis team is experiencing. Betrayal, collapse, fanaticism, and ruin spin together in a web that can only end when it’s run its course. Anthony earns his title…and he will bring the rest of them along with him if it kills him…or them.
As mentioned, there is also a gaming sourcebook which Gabriel put together over the course of 3 years. He created the PIPA 12 system, and we codified the DisUnited States and much of the world. We’ve run one-shot games at conventions from Kentucky to Georgia, with great success. The opportunity to throw your hat in the ring of a collapsing but vibrant society seems to capture the imagination… especially when we kill someone in mid-game.
I could spend several books (and have) explaining to you all that I see in my world. I would invite you to ride the giant roller coasters in the Arcologies of the California Conglomerate. I would walk you through the Pleasure Clubs of Rome, where every debauchery is at your disposal as long as you know its cost. I would stroll with you through the City State of New Orleans, with its sky-high levees and floating strands of proud laughter and music. I would march with you alongside the fierce warriors of Azteca, their titanium mesh armor shining in the desert sun. I would invite you to lounge with James Ligatos in his boudoir, enjoying the most beautiful of things to fend off the tinges of madness around the edges. I would welcome you home.
But I must instead hope to see you in the pages of the book. It has been my vent and my hope for long over a decade, and there is more to come. Because no matter how dystopian, there is always someone ready to plant their feet and to say no, and inspire others to do the same.
The Eight Thrones Cycle is the story of how to save the world… while indulging your darkest fantasies.
Each book will be on sale for 99c for one week, Amazon only: Glad Hands on Sept. 15, Anthony Reprobate on Oct. 3, Nikolai Revenant on Oct. 10 and Master Anton on Oct. 15
Mortalus: The Eight Thrones Cycle Game is not currently available, though digital copies may be requested through the author if you’d like to try it out for your campaign. Gabriel is also seeking an artist to help him bring the next version into being.
Angelia Sparrow is a professional driver, part-time grandma and full time cat-servant. She lives quietly in the midsouth with two husbands and a wife, overseeing the legalities of an Emerging Religion. She runs Crossroad Treasures, a craft shop, and handles its subscription box at Patreon.