I seriously admire authors who can come up with sparkling new ideas and settings for standalone novels, time after time. They craft worlds, inlay self-contained characters and conflicts, polish the jewel to a high shine – and walk away when it’s done, never to revisit that particular treasure again.
I can’t, not easily. Or rather, I don’t want to leave new worlds behind. I’m slightly lazy and very obsessive. Once I’ve thought up a setting or a character, I keep wanting to learn more about them. Instead of getting lost in new worldbuilding, I poke at the edges of old stories, and wonder where they lead.
Hence, the Lonhra Sequence, which is now a massive setting spanning some 120,000 years of internal history. It’s the story of a sentient mortal race created, bred, and honed to be the courtesans and conquerors of the most-terrifying denizens of their universe. But what happens when those defenders are just as dangerous to the rest of the galaxy? It’s Kushiel’s Dart meets Samurai Jack, Dexter meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It wasn’t inspired by Jo Clayton, Andre Norton, or Scott Lynch…but it could have been.
The universe glimpsed in ‘Needle and Sword’, ‘Saints and Heroes’, and Moro’s Price is not ours, of course. I knew from the start my demented playground would be populated by humans from our time or a few centuries later: humans who left our universe and tied themselves to a part of the multiverse where shapeshifters, star-eaters, and sentient planets really existed. When I needed a continent-sized human city for the first half of Moro’s Price, a decadent university town I’d created in 1987 for my first written novel seemed perfect.
Of course the Camalian Commonwealth, the Terran League, and the different Sonta empires aren’t part of our future at all, nor do I make the wish-fulfillment mistake of believing them to be. Happily, that frees me up to put on my fake researcher hat and pretend they could be real.
These pages will eventually be a compendium of interesting stuff I made up while worldbuilding. Some of it, I set out to deliberately create. Most of it, my pattern-matching primate brain stumbled into it, said ‘How cool is that? Gotta use it -‘, and threw it into the rest of the mishmash.
A caveat for the confused: it is all the same universe, though I look at different times and places. I have a cosmological origin-story that takes place a few billion years before the start of Moro’s Price. The events and settings of ‘Saints and Heroes’ are around 70,000 years before Moro’s time, on Lonhra, one of the Sonta homeworlds. My free short piece ‘Out of Omiesh’ takes place roughly 15,000 years before Moro’s time, also on Lonhra. ‘Needle and Sword’ takes place on yet another Sonta homeworld (later called Damoa), no more than 500 years before Moro’s time – but very far across that universe.
The big fat epic fantasy novel I trunked to work on Moro and its sequels takes place 12,000 years before Moro was born. It introduces Aksenna’s nemesis and the start of the Sonta race. Added 2-20-2016: that novel is now up in all its messy glory here on Wattpad: Bloodshadow.
Do I have the full timeline? Yep. But trust me, it’s something only a massive world-building geek would love.