Authors: Lisanne Norman
Sholan Alliance #2
DAW Books, Inc.
Donald A. Wollheim, Founder
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
is proud to present
TURNING POINT (#1)
FORTUNE'S WHEEL (#2)
FIRE MARGINS (#3)
RAZOR'S EDGE (#4)
DARK NADIR (#5)
STRONGHOLD RISING (#6)
Copyright © 1995 by Lisanne Norman.
All Rights Reserved.
DAW Book Collectors No. 996.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Electronic format made
available by arrangement with
DAW Books, Inc.
Elizabeth R. Wollheim
Sheila E. Gilbert
For my son Kai, and my brother Richard, who enrich my days by sharing with me their unique outlook on life, and because I love them both dearly.
With special thanks to the following people and their expertise,
Sholan Medical Guild Master
Commander of the Sholan Forces
Adjutant & Adviser to the Commander
Sholan Tactical Commander
Sholan Technical Commander
Sholan Brotherhood sub-Guild Master
Sholan Telepath Guild Master
Sholan Communications sub-Commanders
Sholan Research & Development
Exclusive E-book Introduction
After the mad scramble to finish Turning Point in time for my friend Marsha to take to her sister's for Christmas 1987, I decided to sit back and have a well deserved rest. After all, I'd just spent 8 or 9 months frantically finishing it off while juggling running my home and bringing up my two year old son. And I'm not even mentioning that every weekend from Easter through to the end of September we went camping doing outdoor public events all over England for our Viking Re-enactment society.
Kusac, however, had other plans. No rest for me. He began nagging me to write the next book.
How can you leave us sitting in a cave, hiding from the Valtegans with the threat of a Court Martial hanging over me when rescue does finally get here?
he demanded. He had a point.
FORTUNE'S WHEEL was begun almost immediately. It started out as a resolution of the romantic problems Carrie and Kusac had faced while dealing with the issues of Guynor's attack and Kusac's inevitable Telepath Guild hearing because of their Leska Link. But something was missing and I didn't know quite what. Remember, I was still a hopeful writer, DAW had not bought the book by that time.
Once again the postal service made a lot of money from Marsha and me as the new novel, slowly at first, went back and forth between us. Then Marsha told me of her plans to move back home to the States at Christmas that year and the rush to complete this novel was on. Again, I made my deadline and Marsha very kindly took FORTUNE with her — an act of faith and extreme generosity when you consider she had to carry all her worldy goods as well.
Still vaguely unsatisfied with the novel, I went on to make plans for more books about Kusac and Carrie, expanding their story into a possible series of novels with the remote but ever-present threat of the Valtegans as the linking plot device. Seeds were sown for a third book, destined eventually to be called Razor's Edge, were drawn up with Carrie and Kusac searching the recently discovered world of Jalna for clues to the whereabouts of their enemy. It was called Merchanter's Gamble and I even wrote a couple of sample chapters.
Meanwhile, I knew I had to learn more about the craft of writing so I got involved in organizing Writers' Workshops and panels about getting into print for our major British Science Fiction convention, held annually over the Easter weekend. I decided it was more sensible to learn what I needed to know by writing short stories than by working on a novel. Reworking 5,000 to 7,000 words is far less demoralizing than reworking 25,000 after all! One such story went through 19 incarnations and still never gelled! Then one of our top British SF writers came out with a similar idea, doing it so much better than me that I finally gave up on it.
Finally, at Christmas 1992, the long hoped for call came from Sheila at DAW. Would I be interested in letting them buy my novel Turning Point? I never realized how difficult it is to answer the phone when you are speechless. They couldn't see me nodding like one of those toy dogs that used to sit on the back window ledge of cars.
When I found my voice, we talked the plot over and after suggesting a few changes, Sheila left me to do a rework. Shortly after it was completed and out on sale, Sheila came back to me wanting to buy FORTUNE'S WHEEL.
The problem was, I had a fine romance, but nothing else. There was no sense of urgency, adventure or conflict, and without them, you haven't got a story. And the
, she said.
Go and design your star ship, then you'll have a better idea of what its for, what its purpose is.
I put the phone down and stared into space. Design a star ship? How on Earth did I do that? I phoned up my computer guru, Merlin, and asked him what to do. I mean, star ships use computers, don't they? How different could a star ship be? I knew what propelled it, that was easy and had been decided for Turning Point when I asked my writer friend Andrew, who has a science and tech background, about it. It was powered by the B.S. Drive. What's the B.S. Drive, you ask? Er, shall we say the first word is bull and leave the rest for to you to fill in? It was based on one of many we could achieve that I'd heard proposed and had discussed at ASTRA meetings when I lived in Glasgow. You know, the hydrogen ram scoops and so on. Not exactly Faster Than Light, but it was what the Erasmus used, and what the Sholans used in conjunction with their jump engines.
Luckily pieces started falling together very quickly at this point. It so happened that Merlin played the role-playing game called Traveller, designed by Marc Miller. He had all the books used to construct star ships for the game. Traveller ships are powered by hydrogen scooped up from gas giants and with the bigger craft, often refined on board. He collected half a dozen books from his shelves and dumped them in my lap, then went through the design process with me. It involved maths, lots of maths, to work out the dimensions of the ship from the volume it displaced. Then you had to make room for the manoeuver drives, and the jump drives and life support ... I won't go on, the list is extensive. But when you have calculated all that has to go in your ship, what's left is the rooms and leisure areas for the crew, and I needed that area to draw deck plans.
If we did build star ships now, the Traveller system is how they'd do it as it's based on how designs for submarines and warships are worked out.
One small problem, I pointed out to Merlin. I can't do maths! Try, he said sternly and pushed me back out the door. Muttering and swearing, I headed home. This was the beginning of a whole new relationship with him and his partner Helen, that of Consultant Space Ship Designer, Suggester of Deadly Devices and Despicable Deaths! You'll see their names mentioned often in the credits of my books. This was when I discovered that one of my greatest resources was the friends I'd made because many of them possessed the science background I didn't. Mine is in the Arts, which is fine for writing, but not for the science in science fiction! Once again, I'd like to thank them all for the help and advice they are constantly giving me.
It took me 3 weeks to design the ship, but I did it — and yes, Merlin did me help me out with the calculations when I got stuck! I had also to draw plans for the small areas of deck that are used in the novel: Vanna's medical section, the Ambassadorial level, the Concourse. Sheila had been right. When I'd finished, I knew exactly what the
function was in the Sholan Alliance fleet. Armed with that, I was able to write the rescue section at the very beginning of the novel. To this day I still use the Traveller system to design my ships but thankfully now there are lovely pieces of software to do most of the calculations for me. I have also had help from the members of the Traveller Deck Ring web sites, as well as people such as M. J. Docherty from Bits, the British Interplanetary Traveller Society and Andrew Batishko who wrote the program for designing Traveller ships called SpaceDock.
That out of the way, I had to get the adventure sorted out. One point of tension I had to deal with was Guynor's xenophobia. Very soon, Kusac's Link to Carrie was going to become very public knowledge. Though the Sholans had been trading with alien species for two hundred an fifty years, they had never before encountered another Telepathic species. Surely more people than Guynor would be displeased at this very close relationship Kusac had with a female member of another species, notably the Telepath Guild and both their families?
I decided to make life even more complicated than it was for Kusac. As a writer, there are several questions you ask yourself when you are plotting a story. They are,
Who does it hurt? Who does it change and why? What obstacles are in the way?
The answers were obvious because this is Carrie's and Kusac's story. Round about now I realized I also had to flesh out the Sholan culture and their military set up. I've made a point never to describe an area of Sholan life in the novels until I need to because once I've put something into one of the books, it is written in stone, immutable. I can't reinvent it later no matter how inconvenient it becomes later in the series. I needed to invent the Guilds and the Clans for the Telepaths and Warriors, and decide what role the Telepaths had in their society, and the fact that there were very few of them.
Following on that came the obvious need for arranged marriages to keep the Telepath Clan bloodlines pure and ensure each generation of telepaths bred more. They'd need a council of Clans and a Clan Lord to rule them. Kusac now had a family— and an arranged bride back on his world, the world to which he was taking the female Human he was in love with. Only he was afraid to tell her about it, and afraid to tell his father, the Clan Lord, about her. Plenty of tension there, but still focusing on their relationship. I needed an outside tension. Xenophobia was already there, so I extended it to a group of young people on the
itself, and introduced a more sinister element through the fanatic Chyad.
Kusac pointed out that he wasn't a fighter, didn't know the first thing about it. Beating Guynor had nearly killed him, so how about giving them some help? Again, he had a good point. Clever chap, this Kusac, you know. Thus the Brotherhood of Vartra was born, and the shadowy figure of Kaid, sent there by two different factions to protect the young couple and to assess them for the Telepath Guild— and the Brotherhood itself.
Being heavily involved in the reality of unscripted Dark Age fighting using steel swords, long handled Dane axes, the quarterstaff and the bow, I was obviously interested in warrior societies. I had studied in Hap-ki-Do classes for a couple of years and Kendo for 6 months, but had to give them up because of my spinal condition. I knew that the European systems of martial arts aren't given enough exposure and are as good, if not better, than some of the oriental disciplines. The Brotherhood therefore pays a passing debt to the Ninja discipline (yes, I have even done a 1 day Ninja course with the only accredited Ninja teacher at the time!) but is firmly based in Western traditions like the Knights Hospitalers etc. of the Crusades who protected pilgrims on their way to the Holy Lands.
Most of the elements were now in place. One final thing had to be decided. What was Shola like? Easy. My son and I had been to Crete and I had fallen in love with its climate and the ruined city palace of Knossos. If you have been there, keep an eye open for the various incarnations of the ancient Cretan culture in my books, notably Kusac's parent's home! So the main continent of Kaeshala, which is where Kusac lives, is like Crete— 100 degrees in the shade and no humidity with an impossibly blue-on-blue sky and sea! Bliss! More bliss, because I was finding that my love of ancient history and the evolution of ancient cultures was suddenly very useful. I had an excuse to learn more and use it here.
It was time to begin to rewrite FORTUNE'S WHEEL. Now it's the story of how Kusac and Carrie came to realize they had no control over their lives and were at the whim of whichever faction had control of them at the time. It tells of their struggle to achieve independence and happiness in the face of fear and prejudice, not only from the people around them from both species, but from each other.
Part way into the story, I suddenly began to get cold feet. I'd written one book but that didn't mean I could do this one. What if I got it wrong? Was I being too ambitious to attempt to write a multi-threaded story for the first time? A friend phoned up at this time, congratulating me on the second sale and reminding me that every word I wrote from now on would be a live one, printed for all to read. It was meant encouragingly, but I began to panic and couldn't write anything for several days. Then I began to reason it out. All I had to do was exactly what I'd done before, nothing different. After all, I was adding to an existing novel, not starting from scratch. I could do that, I knew I could do that. And my editor Sheila agreed with me.
As you will probably have guessed by now, my novels come alive for me, they are organic, they grow and evolve, just like the characters that inhabit them. While I was writing this novel, something strange began to happen with the character of Kaid. From being cast as the shadowy menacing figure in the background, he became more complex, began to take on his own life, one I hadn't planned for him. It quickly became obvious to me that he felt drawn to Kusac's plight, and was developing a respect for him. At the same time, he was shying away from Carrie like a skittish riding beast, as if afraid of her on some deep level. It wasn't until I reached the end of the novel that I understood why, and the realization came to both Garras and me as a shock. Though Kaid had found his voice, he was far from ready to reveal his innermost secrets to me yet.
For me as much as for you, the reader, this novel was a voyage of discovery that took me to the alien and exotic world of Shola and her people. Here you will experience life on the research and exploration ship, the
; travel to Shola, jewel of the Alliance worlds; visit the Telepath Guild; the Temple of Vartra, God of the Telepaths and Warriors, and finally get a glimpse within the hallowed halls of Stronghold itself, sanctuary of the Brotherhood of Vartra, the mysterious Warrior-Elite of Shola.
I bid you well come to the worlds of the Sholan Alliance!