This isn’t about the gameplay or the graphics; this is about the story. A new novel, for a new Elite.
ELITE - RECLAMATION - It's a Novel!
- £4,500 - Ebook (Crowd sourced prep, editing and cover) - DONE!
- £5,500 - Ebook (Professional editing and cover) - DONE!
- £6,000 - Ebook and print-on-demand Paperback (Professional editing and cover) - DONE
- £7,500 - Ebook and Minimum print run Paperback (Professional editing and cover) - Closing on target.
- £8,500 - Ebook and Comprehensive print run Paperback (Professional editing and cover)
NB - All pledgers at the £5 tier and above will be able to buy the final paperback at 'cost' pricing. (Around 10-20% cheaper than the final retail price).
Latest video update is below...
Drew was interviewed by Michael Brookes, the author of the official sequel to 'The Dark Wheel'. You can read the interview here.
Drew was interviewed by HookedGamers magazine. You can read the interview here.
Drew was interviewed by PCGamesN Magazine. You can read the interview here.
Here's the original promotional video...
And here's me talking a little about the history of Elite and why writing a novel for this game means so much...
And here is the video I made to celebrate reaching our 100% target after only 9 days!
And the 'teaser' trailer for the book, to mark passing £5000! (Minor Spoilers!)
And here's the rest of my pitch. I aim to make this a fantastic quality book, not just from the perspective of writing, but publishing and presentation too...
I can write, I can edit, I know folks who can proof-read. I’m a published author, I know what it takes to get a book to market; the rigorous plotting, characterisation, dialogue fine-tuning, scene setting, pace and narrative drive.
More importantly I’m an enormous fan of Elite. I started playing back in 1984 when I got Elite for Christmas as a bright eyed 13 year old. I know my Zieman deflector shields from my Irrikon Thru-space drives. You'll have seen the Tionisla Orbital graveyard in the video. I *really* know this stuff. You can trust me on this one.
What’s the plan then?
I want to write an official Novel set in the Elite universe. The working title is ‘Elite:Reclamation’. It's going to be a full length story - I reckon on between 70-90k words. That's 250-350 pages. Meaty, something to really get stuck into!
What will this get us?
I’ll write the story and get it to a publishable state. With the basic funding achieved I’ll be able to publish an ebook (multiple formats). An obvious stretch goal is the ability to produce paperback copies. We’ll need another £2,500 for that. Passing the £4,500 goal will also allow for professional cover design, type-setting and editing.
All pledgers from £5 upwards will automatically get a copy of the final ebook.
I’m a writer, I love writing. Writing is what I do to relax, writing is what gives me a sense of purpose. I’ve been writing since 1984 and it was Elite and its accompanying Novella that got me started. I’ve still got the story I wrote back then – ok it’s rubbish, what did you expect from a 13 year old? - but I hope it shows I’m in for the long haul.
I’m a sci-fi buff; Azimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Pohl, Wells. You name it, I’ve read it. I’ve seen all the films; laughed, cried, stared and muttered crossly at the unresolved plot-holes. I hate plot-holes; don’t come to the cinema with me. I’ve seen every episode of every sci-fi series going.
I’ve got previous with ‘Elite’. I wrote a series of fan-fic novels for the open-source Oolite. They’re free. 100k+ downloads can’t be too far wrong. They’re deliberately a bit light-weight, so don’t judge me too harshly. Elite:Reclamation will be written of sterner stuff.
Remember the fabled generation ships? I peeked under the hull of one of those. Check out ‘Schism’.
I published my own novel, a contemporary piece of fiction dealing with themes of atheism and fundamentalist religion entitled ‘Torn’, in 2011. It’s been well received on Amazon by reviewers and critics a-like.
One of my sci-fi short stories was recently selected as part of an anthology; ‘Fusion’ is a great collection and I’m proud to be amongst the winning entries.
I know how much I can write in a given timespan. I’ll be aiming for a finished product of around 70-90k words. I’ve done 120k in a year before, that’s with a full-time job and a family on top. I can do this. It will be a mission, but I can do it.
Why a Novel?
I've asked myself why I feel compelled to write an Elite Novel. It's a question that deserves a considered answer. Grab yourself a jar of Leesian Evil-Juice and pull up a chair.
I’m a child of the 1970's . Back then we’d seen a revival of 'space operas' from the seminal 'Star Wars' and 'Star Trek', through to 'Battlestar Galactica', 'Dr. Who' and 'Blake's 7'. Many children's shows of the time reflected the interest in space: 'Battle of the Planets', 'Star Fleet' and my personal favourite 'Ulysses 31'. Some of these have already been ‘rebooted’.
Elite originally allowed a way for us kids to fly into space and adventure amongst the stars in a rather more intelligent way than the 'left/right/shoot' variety of the original arcade games. Elite rode the wave of 'space enthusiasm' that occurred in the early 1980s. The 3D graphics were a significant part of this, but the real 'core' of Elite was that there was no set purpose; you went where you wanted to, travelling, fighting, trading at whim.
The graphics were still scant, the procedurally generated universe rather homogeneous - this forced you to inject your own imagination into the game. I was at once a bounty hunter, a fearsome pirate, a dashing hero rescuing beautiful princesses from the evil clutches of hardened gangsters. By treating its players with respect, Elite catered for it all.
Elite paid homage to the 'Zeitgeist' of the time. The spinning Coriolis stations were clearly modelled on 2001. Later versions even included the familiar 'Blue Danube' music whilst ships were docking. Ships were armed with lasers and missiles, defended with shields. Enemy ships came equipped with different levels of weaponry, so there was an 'arms race' to bring your own ship up to speed. There was no score, only cash and reputation; it was the 1980s!
Another key aspect of this was Robert Holdstock’s ‘The Dark Wheel’ novella, a short story that came with the game. Whilst the manual told you what you needed to know to play and was peppered with interesting titbits of information about the Elite universe, the novella told you what you wanted to know – how did the Elite Universe work? What was it like there?
With the Novella, the Elite Universe was now a 'real' place, with people, societies, organisations and powers, as fully formed and as compelling as the universe of Star Wars or Star Trek. We learnt it was a rough place; death was never far away. Life as a trader was tough, hard and brutal. There were those with secrets to protect, who'd stop at nothing to do so. A thousand years of technology hadn't changed the nature of humanity one bit. This was no sanitised universe where mankind had improved itself, quite the reverse. If anything, mankind's darker side was more prevalent. Here was a universe of piracy, illegal and underhanded trading and danger, just about held together by a thin veneer of civilisation and advanced technology.
The Novella followed a familiar groove – a huge personal loss and a vendetta. A naïve but talented young hot shot, a feisty female sidekick, a mysterious mentor/benefactor and a shadowy opponent. Through the course of the story the hot shot gains experience and becomes less the callow youth, finally winning the day and avenging his loss.
Probe a little deeper and you find that Robert included other fascinating details: 'The Dark Wheel' – an eponymous group of mystical old-time star-travellers; a lost planet – 'Raxxla'. None of these were actually in Elite, but that didn't stop people looking, wondering if somewhere in the code these places might be hidden. Such was the rich tapestry upon which the player painted his own story.
Fast forward nearly 30 years. Computer games are unrecognisably more complex. The original Elite looks like what it is, a product of a bygone age, a piece of history. So why does this game refuse to die? Why do people invest so much time and effort into it, and why do I want to write a Novel for the long awaited upcoming version?
Because I care. Elite is part of my life and I know it’s part of yours.
Elite was both story and game, and for many of us an escape from a reality which looked increasingly bleak as the 1980s drew to a close and we all entered the workplace. Perhaps Elite showed us that hard work and determination could prevail over impossible odds, or perhaps it was just a great game, a distraction from the depressing real world.
Either way, I don’t think Elite’s greatest contribution was the oft mentioned 3D graphics, or the procedurally generated planets. The real big deal was the unforeseen and unlooked for opportunity to mould and shape the minds of youngsters; there can be no greater privilege, or heavy responsibility, than that.
And so to my Novel. In many ways this will be my thanks to the David Braben and Ian Bell, to the late Robert Holdstock, and to all the fans out there. Elite gave me a lot in my youth, and this is at least a down-payment on that debt. I want to do this, but I need your help.
I'll keep you updated here, on my website, facebook and twitter - choose your poison.
Pledge and I guarantee I’ll write on, Commander!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Risks and Challenges?
Writers block, unresolvable plot complications, inconsistant characterisation... the list of problems is endless. Time can be an issue, I still have a 9-5 job.
But, I've been there, bought the t-shirt and ironed it. This isn't my first book, I know what I'm letting myself in for.
I commute to London, that gives me two hours a day on the train. That's up to 8 hours every week most weeks that I can devote to writing. That's a working day. I'm a bit OCD, I can focus and stay focussed.
I'm confident I can deliver on this. All I ask is the funding and the encouragement along the way.
Yes, I will provide the ebook in formats for reading on PC, Mac, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony and any others folks require.
I think it's very unlikely, but David Braben (no less!) has indicated that the license for a piece of Fiction in the Elite universe will be available for £2,250 in the event that E:D fails to meet its goal. Thus, if we're successful here, there'll be a book regardless. Write on, Commanders!
You want us to pay for you write the book, and then you take the proceeds? Doesn't that make you a crook?
I'm asking you to allow me to raise the money for the Writers' pledge, nothing more. This allows me to write an official Elite story. Without that I can't make it 'Elite'. I've already written some fan-fic stuff, that's free. I'm working on my own project in my own 'universe', I can do that without a license. Could I write another fan-fic? Yes, I could, but it wouldn't be official and it wouldn't be the same.
Even the license for music in my video is a cost I've already incurred. I do things properly.
I'm also giving away a 'free' copy of the book to anyone pledging £5 or greater, that means most of the potential audience will already have a copy of the book by the time it goes on sale, not a great strategy for commercial success!
Is there a wide market for a sci-fi book set in a game universe? In a word, no. While the Elite fan community is notable, it's not very large compared to the mass market. I don't anticipate being the next J.K.Rowling or Suzanne Collins.
All other costs I expect to bear myself, unless the funding goal is exceeded dramatically. Type-setting, editing, cover design, promotion, proof-reading. None of these are cheap. Then there is my own time too, 70-100 man days is an estimate. That's time that I could be putting into a fee paying project of my own.
Also. If this project makes its target. I will pay the kickstarter fees and the charge for transfer along with the VAT. That's about £500.
If I break even I'll be doing well. I'm doing this for love of the game, for the fans and for the 13 year me who unwrapped a copy of Elite during Christmas '84 and was totally blown away...
Yes. As much as I can afford. That's independent of what I'm doing here. I want E:D to succeed as much as anyone else. I want a box set for my novel to go in!
I can only read and write in English I'm afraid, but I'm more than happy to collaborate with volunteers who would translate into other languages. I'll also set a stretch goal for the book to be translated.
So far I've had volunteers for a French translation.
Are there going to be other Novel(la)s for Elite : Dangerous, and are there other projects aimed at the Writers' Pledge?
I understand there will be an official sequel to 'The Dark Wheel', to be written by Michael Brookes.
There are currently 5 other 'crowd-sourcing' projects in the running that I'm aware of. Check out:
Commander Boz - "The Cost of Exploration" http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/336512366/the-cost-of-exploration-an-elite-dangerous-world-b (CLOSED AND HIT GOAL!)
Vasileios Kalampakas - "The Elite Novel" http://www.indiegogo.com/elite-dangerous-novel
John Harper - "And here the wheel..." http://www.indiegogo.com/EliteDangerous-And-here-the-wheel?c=home
Sean Curtin - "Elite Dangerous, The Space Farer's Tale" - http://www.indiegogo.com/EliteDangerousTSFT
T. James - "Out of the Darkness" - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tjameswriter/an-elite-dangerous-book-out-of-the-darkness?ref=live
So can I start a kickstarter to fund a pledge on your kickstarter which is funding a pledge on E:D ? ;)
I guess so! Just be prepared to lose your sanity / will to live / grasp of the real world (delete as applicable) trying to figure out whether this is madness, or a great idea in a really good disguise...
If this venture accidently collapses in on itself and becomes a wormhole / singularity / black hole (also delete as appropriate) I'll do my best to let you know in advance.
Alternatively, putting on a pink panther outfit and running over your own tail using a vacuum cleaner may help as a mental image.
Do you have the funds to pledge for the novel reward in advance of this Kickstarter finishing? (Kickstarter funds take up to two weeks to clear into your account, so if you don't have the money on-hand, this kickstarter won't work)I can handle delivering £4,500 for the E:D kickstarter whilst I wait for the funds from this kickstarter to clear, yes, a few weeks being out of pocket will not present a problem for me.
pledged of £4,500 goal
seconds to go
Nov 21, 2012 - Jan 3, 2013
Pledge £1 or more
Harmless : My eternal gratitude. No, really. If anything happens, anything at all, I swear to you, I will get very choked up. Honestly, there could be tears.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £5 or more
Mostly Harmless : A copy of the final ebook plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
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Hardly Harmless : An additional short story (Approx 2000 words, written by Drew) to go with E:R, plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
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Poor : Acknowledgement on my website as a named individual and a link to a website of your choosing (subject to them being family friendly) plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
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58 backers Limited (142 of 200 left)
Average : Acknowledgement in the credits of the book as a named individual, plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £35 or more
9 backers Limited (91 of 100 left)
Showing Potential : Receive a set of high-resolution imagery as used in the trailers, video releases and cover design (once finalised). This will be a comprehensive selection, annotated by Drew to indicate the significance to the story and available for different devices and resolutions as required, plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £50 or more
9 backers Limited (11 of 20 left)
Above Average : Have a line of dialogue in the story (maybe that pithy one-liner you've always wanted to see!), subject to constraints of plot and established canon plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £75 or more
10 backers Limited (10 of 20 left)
Almost Competent : A copy of an especially produced paperback version (not related to the stretch goal print run) signed by Drew, with hand written personalisation indicating that you supported this Kickstarter - and all the rewards above. I will ship to the UK. (Overseas recipients may need to help me out here, dependent on costs!)Estimated delivery: Mar 2014Ships within the UK only
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8 backers Limited (7 of 15 left)
Competent : Name a ship or station in the story, including size, configuration and description, subject to constraints of plot and established canon plus all above.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £250 or more
1 backer Limited (9 of 10 left)
Dangerous : Have a minor character in the story named after you, including bio, ship ownership, planet of origin, description and character traits, subject to constraints of plot and established canon, plus all awards above except 'Competent'. (Going down in a blaze of glory is optional!)Estimated delivery: Mar 2014
Pledge £500 or more
1 backer Limited (2 of 3 left)
Deadly : Have a protagonist character in the story named after you, including bio, ship ownership, planet of origin, description and character traits, subject to constraints of plot and established canon, plus all awards above except 'Competent' and 'Dangerous'.Estimated delivery: Mar 2014