“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 28) we will publish Sky Ranger by Susan Jane Bigelow–the second novel in the Extrahuman Union series, a dystopian future science fiction novel with superheroes trying to survive under a totalitarian regime. Today, we are delighted to invite Susan as she tells us a little bit about the Inspirations & Influences behind the novel.
Please give a warm welcome to Susan Jane Bigelow, folks!
Sky Ranger came from a lot of places. It grew out of the original story in Broken, true, but it also owes a lot to the pop culture I gorged myself on in the 1990s and early 2000s.
This book is very different from Broken in a lot of ways, not just because it’s a redemption story, but because the cast of characters is much larger! That means the inspirations and influences for Sky Ranger are quite a bit different.
First, I love stories that rehabilitate previously-villainous characters, because there’s so much complicated stuff to deal with. These characters feel exquisitely, painfully human. One of the better TV shows out there for this is Babylon 5, which does this with several characters. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has both Angel and Spike, who deal with switching sides in different ways.
Those shows, and books like Susan Cooper’s the The Dark is Rising Sequence and Lloyd Alexander’s The Prydain Chronicles, which have large casts and often deal with issues of morality, are certainly influences. For the grand space opera side of things, there’s the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, which probably does influence everything I do in one way or another.
But for Sky Ranger himself there’s only one real influence, and that’s comic book superheroes.
Sky Ranger is what happens when you give superpowers and a huge amount of responsibility to someone who is completely unsuited to it. Imagine, for instance, if Superman had been lazier and less civic-minded, or put in charge of a massive population of fellow superheroes at a very young age?
In a lot of ways, he’s like what would happen if Cyclops had met up with a bunch of fascists instead of Professor X. The X-Men are perhaps the strongest influence on this book. I was a huge fan of the 1990s X-Men TV show, the comic books, and the first movie (not the second or any after). They’re a team, though not always willingly, and they each bring something special to the table.
Better, they all have their own stories, their own battles to fight, and their own agendas. There are other great superhero team series out there, like Justice League, Young Justice/Teen Titans, and The Authority, but X-Men is the closest to my heart. And that’s where this book comes from.
Oh, and my favorite X-Man is Storm. Make of that what you will!
Sky Ranger will be published officially on June 28, 2016. You can preorder the ebook (EPUB & MOBI) from all major retailers online right now. We will have print copies available soon and you can also buy the ebook directly from us on June 28. The print book contains the novel, two illustrations from Kirbi Fagan, and a sneak peek at The Spark, the third book in the series (published this June). The ebook edition will also contain a prequel short story, “Falling”, as well as an essay from the author and a Q&A with the artist.
Preorder the EBook