On the Epsilon universe and its history

There are some universes that as readers, we just can’t shake.

Writers have the same problem, and as is the case with readers, viewers, fandoms, etc., the results can be both good and bad.

I like to think what’s happened with the Epsilon universe has largely been good, though I know the wait for some of the people who have read Broken Stars has been pretty bad, and while I regret that it’s been such a long wait, I have to admit that this universe is kind of my baby and I really want to get things right—which is an impulse I think most people can understand.

I started working on elements of what would become the Epsilon universe back in junior high school, though at the time I didn’t know it.  It wouldn’t be until high school that I produced the first extremely rough draft of what I thought was going to be a single book that told a very large but very rough story.  That draft will never again see the light of day (it was that bad) but it let me work through a lot of ideas and led to my growth as a writer in a lot of very good ways.

As I worked my way through various drafts of several different projects, the universe of the Epsilon series began to take shape—I used to call it “UoC,” short for “universe of conflict” which was a terrible, if accurate, name.  As it grew, the universe became increasingly complex and gained a history—and historians—of its own.

The in-setting history of the Epsilon universe starts in the 2050s with the foundation of a unit called Freedom Alpha—the exploits of the unit itself were less important than the people it brought together.  Eventually, after official first contact with several of the major alien races present in the Epsilon universe (most notably the Pharridan and the Menah) and humanity’s forays into interstellar space, the unit name comes up again, this time attached to a unit of the Stellar Marines assigned to an off-world post.  That unit, among others, is one of the few to survive humanity’s first encounters with a hostile alien race relatively intact.  It becomes the core of the 14th Stormer Elites, a unit that becomes important during the First Preytax War (circa 2105-2115) and remains important during the Second Preytax War (circa 2120-2127).  These wars are the ones that Korea Cooper—Sam Cooper’s MIA older sister, Luc Ross’s lover, and the former head of the Resistance in the sector Luc now runs—studied as part of her graduate work in history.

Those wars are far more important than anyone appearing in Broken Stars and Redeemer realize—at least at this point—with the possible notable exception of Alexander Sotheby (but more on that another time).

Up until recently, I thought the Preytax were some kind of hyperevolved reptilian species, bipedal, highly intelligent, and brutal.  That’s changed thanks to something someone brought to my attention via tumblr and I honestly wish I could find the photo credit for this thing because it’s incredible—and I have no idea where it originated, but it was like a lightning strike when I really took a good hard look at it.

It is the face of a collective nightmare, something that folklore has often warned cultures about for centuries—creatures with pale sink, black eyes, sharp teeth.

Why wouldn’t that be the face of a hostile, hungry race that has preyed upon the sentients of the galaxy for centures?

I don’t know who’s responsible for the original picture, but I am grateful to them because they finally showed me the face of a race that has reshaped the history of humanity in the Epsilon universe—and continues to do so up through Broken Stars and its sequels.

But more on that later.

Epsilon universe snippet – in the alley

                I felt the heat of the explosion almost before I heard it, saw the light of it.  I spun, swearing, not knowing what to think or where to run to until I saw the fire’s brightness not too far from me, down the street a little ways.

                I’d last seen Wil headed in that direction.


                Nothing–but if he’d been anywhere in the vicinity of that explosion, no doubt his ears were still ringing and ringing loud.  I gulped in a breath and ran in that direction, away from where I could see the lights of landers in the distance.

                When the Imperium had come to Caldin, they’d come in force, just like we feared they would.

                What the hell just happened there?  The Imperium wasn’t supposed to have made it this far into the city by now.  Nothing should have been exploding.

                Moving at a dead run, I almost tripped over him.  He choked back a moan as my foot banged into his in the darkness.  Backlit by the flames from across the street–the Alliance post was burning–I could see the blood on him.

                It was all over and it looked bad.


                “Get out of here,” he rasped.  “I’m fine, get out of here.”

                “Liar.”  I crashed to my knees, pulling his head and shoulders into my lap.  He hissed in pain, choking back a scream.


                “Shut up,” I snapped.  “What the hell did you do?”

                “My job.”  He squeezed his eyes shut, his breathing labored and shallow.  I swore heartily.

                I thumbed a mayday on my comm, knowing Luc wasn’t far.  He’d be here fast, I knew it.

                He’d better be.  We need him now.

                “Ren,” Wil breathed.  “Ren, please.”

                “No,” I said through gritted teeth.  “I am not leaving you, dammit.”  I caught a glimpse of Luc in the light of the burning building beyond the alleyway.  “Luc!  Luc, get over here, I need your help.”

                He pivoted and swore when he saw Wil, just like I had.  I couldn’t stop the tears anymore.

                “Please,” I begged in a voice that was barely more than a whisper.  “Please, help him.”

March 2019 writing goals

So February was a little rough for me with writing and goals (as some might have noticed and my sister heard yesterday over drinks while we were hanging out in Chicago). This semester has been the first in a while when I actually had midterms and actually needed to study for them–and a month of wild weather left me exhausted (and has had me doing rounds with an upper respiratory bug). This said, March is a new month and I fully intend to do some catching up during said month, and as such some of the goals for the month will be adjusted accordingly.

The Breakdown:

This week:

  • Blurb When All’s Said and Done (original deadline was February 28 and I just did not get it done)
  • Brief write-up for untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn (I have locked down narration (third) and determined lead (both) but am not 100% certain on setting so I need to roll that around a little more an do a brief write up)
  • At least one chapter of Lost and Found (making up from the two I missed for February)

By March 15:

  • Storyboard and plot the untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn
  • Determine the supporting cast for the John and Tim UNSETIC yarn
  • Complete another chapter of Lost and Found

By March 30:

  • Develop main plot and subplots of the untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn
  • Figure out a title for the untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn
  • Blurb the untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn

By April 1:

  • Finish 5 chapters of Lost and Found during the month of March (this number includes the previous chapters indicated above)
  • Start the first draft of the untitled John and Tim UNSETIC yarn
  • Lock down scope, cast, and length of UNSETIC Files: Pawns
  • Finish outline for Epsilon: Redeemer
  • Blurb Epsilon: Redeemer
  • Remember to wish my mom and dad a happy 41st anniversary

This week I’ve treated myself to a little vacation in Chicago for a few days (thanks to my spring break from GVSU and a much-needed actual day off from work). Yesterday was spent hanging out with my sister followed by dinner with our brother and my sister’s boyfriend (who is just as awesome as my siblings and sister-in-law, which is pretty damn awesome), so Tuesday was a pretty full day. I anticipate today being a little more low-key and will be setting my own pace–which will likely involve a lot of coffee, maybe a few drinks, and a whole lot of writing if things go according to the mental plan I’m currently laying out for myself.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for your support!

Prompt for July 18, 2014 – Day 199

Happy Friday!  I’m happy it’s Friday…

Two opening lines in a row might be lame, but I feel like they’re less lame if they’re ones I’m currently using myself.  Yesterday’s was from the current version of When All’s Said and Done.  Today’s is from the current draft of Epsilon: Redeemer.

Prompt Type: Opening Line

Prompt: “Go. Get out of here before they figure out what you did for me.”

Got an idea for a prompt?  Email me at emklitzke (at) gmail (dot) com.

Prompt for July 13, 2014 – Day 194

Aww, it’s Sunday already?  Bummer…

Fun fact: today’s opening line is actually the opening line from my first full-length novel, Epsilon: Broken Stars.

Prompt Type: Opening Line

Prompt:  “Identification.”

Got an idea for a prompt?  Email me at emklitzke (at) gmail (dot) com.

Prompt for January 25, 2014 – Day 25

Happy Saturday!

Today brings a new prompt type (a character–specifically, your antagonist/villain–development prompt) and this one’s got a little bit of a backstory.

When I wrote the original (and I mean the original original) draft of what became the main line of the Epsilon universe (the stories with Aaron Taylor and Caren Flannery), I had put together a really awful villain.  The only thing interesting about him was that he was Aaron Taylor’s father and Aaron hated him with every fiber of his being.  He was a cardboard cutout of a mustache-twirling villain you see in parodies and bad B-movies.  As I matured as a writer (and an individual), I got to thinking: how the hell did Aaron Taylor’s sweet, loving mother end up having her son with a man that turned out to be some kind of monster by the end of my original story?  The more I thought about it, the deeper I had to climb into Daniel Taylor’s head–and the more I learned about my “villain.”  As it turns out, everything Daniel does is motivated by love.

I had a similar arc in developing the Drilin Imperium for the same universe.  The more I explored their history and development and moved away from the simple “evil empire” concept, the more I began to realize what motivated the people at the very highest levels of power and the deepest levels of conspiracy inside of what used to be the Earth Federation.  E-Fed was transformed from a Federation of worlds to a shell of its former self because of simple fear.

These types of thought processes bring me to today’s prompt, which is designed to help you develop your antagonists/villains for your own novels and stories.


Prompt Type: Character Development

Prompt:  Think about your antagonist/villain and what motivates them.  Boil it down to one vice or virtue–love, greed, envy, fear, hope, etc.–that drives what they do.

Now change it up.  How would your villain be different if love motivated them?  Write a character sketch or scene detailing how love motivates the actions of your antagonist/villain.

Got a suggestion for a prompt? Contact Erin at emklitzke (at) gmail (dot) com.

Epsilon Universe extra – Wil and Ren

Epsilon: War Stories coverFor NaNoWriMo 2013, I started working on a collection of stories and scenes out of the Epsilon Universe entitled Epsilon: War Stories.  In the midst of working on this project, I ended up writing some scenes that take place during the same period as Epsilon: Redeemer that might never make it into anything else.

The following scene is from Ren’s point of view, and it’s a pivotal point in the evolution of her relationship with Wil after the events of Epsilon: Broken Stars, so if you don’t want spoilers of any flavor for Broken Stars or Redeemer, don’t click below the break.

Continue reading “Epsilon Universe extra – Wil and Ren”