Scif Fi World Building

I promised in my previous post to elaborate on the futuristic world building in Cerelia’s Choice. Checking on the date of that post, I notice five months have passed. Sometimes life gets in the way, big time. Sorry about that.

I love classic space opera as much as the next geeky guy, but it often assumes too much, so that the setting becomes almost irrelevant to the story. I’ve read far too many stories that are in effect nothing more than traditional naval battles set in space.

The reality is that any sort of human settlement beyond Earth will necessarily have to deal with some damn big challenges and constraints.

The least avoidable leap usually made in space opera is assuming some mechanism for faster than light travel. It is hard to have a story extending beyond our solar system without that.

The next biggie is gravity. In your standard space opera every ship has an artificial gravity field, and every inhabited planet seems to miraculously have Earth standard gravity.

The one that really irks me is spaceships designed for faster than light travel in the near vacuum of interstellar space somehow having the ability to land on the surface of a planet, dealing with the drag and friction of an atmosphere when landing, not to mention overcoming the enormous energy demands of escaping the planet’s gravity well when leaving. The design constraints of interstellar travel are so fundamentally different to the design challenges of atmospheric travel that it makes no sense to try building a single ship capable of doing both.

Imagine now the world of Cerelia’s Choice. Yes there’s faster than light travel. But there’s been a recent technological development that has increased maximum speeds by ten times, upsetting the existing economic and political balance, something that is important to the story.

There’s also artificial gravity, but I decided to put some constraints around that to make it interesting. The artificial gravity field is fundamentally inconsistent with FTL travel, so you either have to deal with weightlessness, or have a rotating habitat.

And you can land a spaceship on the surface of a planet, but only one designed exactly for that purpose, and it’s a one way trip. The only way off is by space elevator. They’re expensive to build and easy to control, which underpins the feudal political system of the Empire.

If you have doubts about the romance element of Cerelia’s Choice (what do you mean you don’t like romance?), then just remind yourself that it also contains a lot of well-considered science fiction world building to keep the reader interested.

Science Fiction Romance

I wrote Cerelia’s Choice, my first Science Fiction Romance (SFR), without even knowing if SFR was a legitimate genre.

My reasoning was twofold. First, I love both science fiction and romance (I’m openly a geek, and secretly an incurable romantic at heart). Second, I’ve had very positive feedback on Newton’s Ark and Fuller’s Mine from female readers. Both have romantic sub-plots, but I figured including a more explicit romantic arc might broaden the appeal of my work.

Only time will tell whether my decision to jump feet first into a genre I didn’t fully understand will be vindicated by commercial success, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing the story and am very pleased with the final result.

I only started researching the genre after I published Cerelia’s Choice. What I quickly discovered is that there’s a sort of holy war going on over the question of whether SFR is science fiction with some romance thrown in (SF + R), or romance in a science fiction setting (R + SF).

Being in the middle of a holy war is never a good idea, so I’m not going to venture an opinion, but Cerelia’s Choice is definitely R + SF. I say that because it follows the classic romance plot: boy meets girl, boy and girl don’t like each other, boy and girl are forced by circumstances to spend time together and the attraction grows, then something happens and they don’t like each other, then something else happens and they do like each other again, but then when they realize they are meant to be together some outside force stops them, and finally they overcome that obstacle and live happily ever after (HEA).

The science fiction setting is still important, and I put a great deal of thought into the world building (something I will elaborate on in a later post), but it is the romance that drives the story forward. We meet the romantic leads, Cerelia and Jefferson Rydel, in the very first chapter, and from there are left wondering, how do they end up together? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Cerelia’s Choice – Paperback Available

The paperback version of Cerelia’s Choice is now available from the following sites: (and also the other EU stores)


Unfortunately for my Aussie readers, Amazon have not yet brought their print on demand capability to Australia yet, which is a crying shame considering how overpriced books are there.

Note, Cerelia’s Choice is enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program. If you purchase the paperback, you can download the ebook for free.

Cerelia’s Choice – coming soon

My next novel, Cerelia’s Choice, is currently in the proof reading stage and I hope to publish within the next month or two. Here’s the cover and short description:

Cerelias Choice Kindle Cover 4a small

A beautiful princess. A handsome space pirate. Surely a match made in heaven. If they survive…

Fifteen thousand years in the future the Galactic Empire occupies fourteen worlds, each selected and terraformed to resemble humanity’s original home. Yet all knowledge of Earth has been lost, many regarding it as nothing but myth.

Crown Princess Cerelia must leave behind her home and family to travel across this Empire to marry the man she has chosen to succeed her father as Emperor. When her ship is attacked by space pirates, she flees in the company of the ship’s captain, Jefferson Rydel, and is plunged into a harsh, rough environment completely unlike the refined, sophisticated, and comfortable world she has always known.

As she struggles to adapt and they race to stay ahead of the forces so determined to kill her, Princess Cerelia must face many questions. Is the secret she stumbles across real—a revelation so startling it could rock the very foundations of the Empire—or is Rydel nothing but an unprincipled charlatan exploiting the hopes of millions? Can she expose the plot against herself and her father before it is too late? And most of all, will she find what she truly longs for in one man—a worthy successor to her father and true love…

For those waiting for book three of The Emulation Trilogy, I’m now working on that, with a very tentative target publication date of December 2015.