Empire Games, the first installment in my new Empire Games trilogy, launches on Tuesday 17th in the US market! (EU residents and Brits will have to wait until next Thursday—Tor UK and Tor USA, despite the name, are different companies and use different printers and sell through different supply chains.)
You can buy it in bookstores, but here are some handly links to ebook formats and mail-order outlets:
(I'll provide UK links and updates on author events in a couple of days time.)
So what's it all about?
Back in 2009, when The Trade of Queens came out, I was so burned out with the Merchant Princes series that I basically set fire to the universe. Here's a useful tip when writing epic SF sagas; if you ever need to keep the readers on their toes, and thin out the cast of millions so you can get a handle on the survivors again, you can totally forget going stabby at a wedding reception a la "Game of Thrones"; what you really need is a brisk thermonuclear holocaust.
And lo, I was so done with that setting that it took three whole years, a "director's cut" re-release of the first six slim fantasy-branded books as three slightly slimmer (and heavily edited) big fat technothriller omnibus volumes, and a fit of insanity before I stopped saying "no" and grunted, "well, maybe ..." when my editor, David Hartwell, nudged me again.
You can read Empire Games as a stand-alone, a new thing in its own right, but if you read the previous series, it builds on top of it: you'll find it easier to work out what's going on, and possibly get more out of it, if you read the earlier books.
Empire Games reintroduces some of the characters from the first Merchant Princes series, but it's set 17 years later, in the 2020 of an unimaginably different sheath of parallel universes, and there are a bunch of new protagonists, too. (For quite some time, the working title was Merchant Princes: The Next Generation.) The horrible consequences of the ending of The Trade of Queens have played out at length, with echoes everywhere the world-walkers of the Clan have been.
In the United States, DHS has responsibility for securing the homeland from threats from every possible time line; domestic security is, shall we say, draconian. (And in the wake of the nuking of the White House, who's to say they're wrong?) Meanwhile, they're prospecting for oil (and handy carbon capture repositories) in uninhabited time lines, and have stumbled across a certain valley with an ancient dome in a neighboring time line.
The world of the New British Empire has undergone even greater upheavals, though. A new expansionist revolutionary entity, the New American Commonwealth, has emerged from the wreckage of the ancien regime, and is engaged in a desperate nuclear-armed cold war stand-off with the rival French empire. And one Miriam is prominent in the Commonwealth government, running a ministry for intertemporal technological industrial espionage. Because unlike the Clan, the Commonwealth government wants an industrial revolution—and Miriam's warning cry, "The Americans are coming", does not go unheeded.
When the first US mapping drones appear in the skies above the Commonwealth, everyone gets a nasty surprise: with two nuclear-armed paratime superpowers groping blindly for each other, a possible confrontation doesn't seem far off.
And then a young, struggling actor called Rita gets taken aside by the men in black and given a job offer she isn't allowed to refuse. Decades earlier Miriam had a baby, who was adopted: and the big national laboratories have finally worked out how to activate the world-walking trait in those who are carriers of the inactive trait. Her DHS controllers want Rita to spy on the Commonwealth, where they suspect her birth mother may be active. But they haven't looked hard enough at Rita's background, and by conscripting her they may have raised the long-dead ghost of a different cold war ...
(Book two, Dark State, is due out in January 2018, and will be followed by the final volume, Invisible Sun, in January 2019.)
(PS: of course, everything got re-titled! Originally, book 1 was going to be called Dark State, to be followed by Black Rain, then Invisible Sun. But marketing decided to mess around with the names for sales purposes ... and it's possible that book 3 may be renamed before publication. But what I can say is that book 2 is due for final edits at the beginning of February, and will be on its way to production not long after.)