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.