First there was Buck Rogers, then came Ripley. Now, we introduce you to Commander Reynard and the characters of The Silver Dragon Chronicles, a new space saga by William Schlichter, author of the No Room In Hell series. To celebrate the release of Enter the Sandmen, book one of The Silver Dragon Chronicles, we turn our blog over to William Schlichter because…
A New Universe Awaits… by William Schlichter
Modern day horror/thriller authors derive inspiration from the masters of the phantasmagoric throughout the literary and film world. When I write stories of the undead, or even explore other supernatural creatures, pointing out a source of inspiration seems easier to define. Night of the Living Dead—the definitive work to which all things undead are measured—is the primary origin for most zombie works. I am no exception.
When it comes to my sci-fi fantasy world, it’s not as easy to pin down an all-inspiring force as it might seem. My earliest childhood memory was watching Star Wars at the drive-in. I did fall asleep before the Death Star exploded. Blasphemy, I know, but I was three-and-a-half years old. Now while my friends wanted to be Han or a Jedi, I had grander ambitions. I knew from witnessing the majestic space epic. I played with the action figures—no one collected them then—but they did not always remain Han and Luke. My imagination flowed into my own galaxy far far away.
My father further spawned my sci-fi interest. He would tell me I should watch this movie or that television show. One I clearly remember was Battle Beyond the Stars. Little did I recognize The Magnificent Seven remake—in space. My parents introduced me to Doctor Who and others, but also to actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
One aspect of many Eastwood films, especially those where he directed and starred in, was this growth of the surrogate family—people who may not ordinarily belong together and become inseparable, like the character Josey Wales. The same can be seen with Star Trek’s Kirk and Spock. Kirk and Spock became brothers and both joined Star Fleet. I find those themes rewarding, and many of my characters in The Silver Dragon Chronicles have lost family and their entire culture because of warfare. Non-writers might think, “Oh, that’s easy. You don’t have to develop a world for these characters.” But several of the characters try even harder to hold onto their alien culture, which requires more detail to expand on their character. Creating backstories for societies never seen or hardly discussed takes time, but enriches a character and the overall novel universe. The more I write and work with them—even on side stories that may never see the light of print—develops a stronger, more believable character.
Well-rounded and developed characters are what keep us reading as we explore the hero’s journey. I could toss out literary jargon I learned as I earned college degrees, but whether the hanging curtain’s blue because I had some deeper symbolic meaning, or I just thought curtains needed to be labeled a color and I picked blue, is not as important as if I create characters the reader cares about.
All stories boil down to the characters and how they deal with a situation. This is where tropes come into play. How does a character deal with the same situation the reader has seen in multiple books? How do they handle it differently?
In No Room In Hell: The Good, The Bad, and the Undead, I wanted to explore how intelligent people would deal with dead rising during an apocalypse. In The Silver Dragon Chronicles: Enter the Sandmen, Commander Reynard is the trophic Buck Rogers, John Crichton and, to an extent, Ellen Ripley—all of which are characters blown from their natural element and placed in a situation where they are outsiders by time and space. Crichton and Rogers were already pilots and scientists, but what if they weren’t? What if they were just placed in the situation fresh out of high school? Even if receiving training in future technologies, how do they deal when the overwhelming larger universe’s now thrust upon them?
Star Trek eliminates poverty, hunger, money, but would addiction be able to be suppressed? How do people in the future deal with loss—real loss of loved ones? When war is a constant looming threat and human life has little meaning to other more superior alien races, how do intelligent characters deal?
Many characters during the course of the Silver Dragon Chronicles will deal with the question of how far they are willing to go to prevent a war, and if they will do what is just over what is lawful. Rampant prejudice toward humans looms over the crew. War means the destruction of planets and forever on the horizon looms a darker evil no one has a way to combat.
Those are just some deep buried themes throughout the course of the series. On the surface it’s a sword and spaceships adventure with humor, sister issues, planet hopping and more aliens than were in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
About Enter The Sandmen
The universe will never be the same
Thirty years after the Battle of the Twin Suns…
Smuggling weapons to rebel forces seeking to overthrow the Federation proved successful for the Silver Dragon crew. As war encroaches on the known galaxy, the crew’s personal agendas surface. Amye Jones especially seeks to escape her own sultry past, face her drinking abuse and deal with her perfect sister’s taunting.
Directed toward their next secret mission for Admiral Maxtin, the crew discovers there are sinister forces hidden in the universe, seeking to destroy them.
Enter the Sandmen by William Schlichter is available now in trade softcover or eBook.
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