There's no really a better way to put it. Oratus, free on Amazon this week, started from a desire to tell a story that didn't fit within The Skyward Saga's big adventure. Sure, perhaps I could've contrived a reason for Kaishi to wander alongside an Oratus as the creatures get their start–and contriving such things is often great fun as the author–but diverting all the way across the galaxy would've made a mess of just about everything else.
There's a reason, I think, we enjoy reality TV, nature documentaries, those articles about lost tribes and the ways in which their societies work. These offer windows into the other, a look at something apart from ourselves (though familiar enough that we aren't completely lost). Oratus is similar, a launch into a world we don't otherwise get to see, from a point of view that doesn't get a look in any of the other novels.
I wrote it selfishly, because I wanted to see, to experience what an Oratus feels as its set on its life-defining quest to earn a name, or die trying.
As contrived as that sentence sounds (how many things are attempted under the guise of 'dying' if the try fails?), for the Oratus, as a species, such a strict guideline makes sense. The aliens are designed to be weapons. Their whole purpose is war, security, violence. An Oratus that isn't capable of doing these things can't, say, decide to write a book instead.
But these creatures aren't mindless monsters, pointed in a direction and told to carry out the slaughter. That wouldn't make for an interesting subject to write about, but neither does it make sense in the world of the novels. The Oratus are meant to be soldiers, and that means being able to judge, plan against, and strike an enemy until they are defeated.
It also means knowing when the opposite is the correct course.
Bas, one of the Skyward Saga's principle characters, stars in Oratus as she emerges from the very beginnings of her life and learns that becoming what her species demands is nothing simple. It's a story about origins, about finding the purpose both set for you but also the one you set for yourself.
We're creeping up on the launch of Rogue Bet, which'll find its way into the world on the 27th. You can pre-order now if you like, or wait for the print version in a couple weeks. It'll pop up in the usual haunts, like these books usually do.
In November, Sever Squad gets its next book in Hope's Debt. Sever ended Helix Strike in some not-so-hot circumstances, and their past comes back to bite them in the next novel.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!