I will write a gripping, gritty and authentic book set in the Elite universe (as created by computer game designers David Braben and Ian Bell, and more recently developed by Frontier). I aim to be faithful to the spirit, vision and the content of the Elite games, and also tell you a d*mn good story. Whether you enjoy science fiction or are an avid gamer, there is something for you here.
Onwards and Upwards: Stretch Goals
We still have until Saturday 23rd, 23.59. We could sit back and twiddle our thumbs or layout some stretch goals. The most obvious are:
* Professional developmental and copy editing. In order to really nail the quality of the manuscript and give you, the reader, the best experience possible. It'll cost around £500 to £1500 depending on where I go and the length of the book. After costs, as I write this, we haven't raised enough to achieve that. It would be great if we could.
* Professional Artwork. Frontier has allowed me the use of some their excellent concept art for the purposes of this project, but the cover design I use is already used by at least one other author and I don't know whether Frontier will allow me to use that image, whether I would have to purchase the right to use it, or whether I will have to design another cover altogether. Every book released needs a good cover to establish its unique identity in the marketplace, excite potential readers (spreading the word about the Elite: Dangerous game in the process) and give you, the reader, something you feel proud to own. I'd like to do a professional job and give you the best product I can, but commissioned illustrations can run to several hundred pounds depending on the image and the artist. With enough pledges I can offer you that. If Frontier allow me the exclusive use of the cover image, then I propose to commission internal artwork for the book.
That's my vision for the project, but what's yours? I'm open to suggestions of further stretch goals, so what would you like to see? Just contact me through Kickstarter mail if you have some ideas.
Thank you again for your support. You've got me over the Frontier, and now my work really begins...
Why fund an Elite: Dangerous Book?
Firstly, because I’m going to buy the Elite: Dangerous writer’s pack, so every penny of the first £4500 of this project goes directly to David Braben and the Frontier team. It gets Elite: Dangerous made. The extra £500 covers fees. (Note: all Kickstarter projects incur fees, and most projects factor that cost into the money they are trying to raise, including Elite: Dangerous the game.)
Secondly there’s another epic space adventure added to the Elite canon of stories, and you get a copy (see rewards). Everyone is a winner.
For those not familiar with the Elite universe, you may be wondering why I want to set a story there. (Note: it's not me in the video!) There are two reasons: I love the setting and the games that spawned it; and the setting is incredibly rich with storytelling possibilities—it will make a great backdrop for a sci-fi adventure.
Why can’t I fund the book myself?
The only way I can set the story in the Elite universe is to purchase a writer’s pack and the rights that go with it. With fees, that costs over £5000. However, I have a wife and son. Call me old fashioned, but I feel I should do my bit to keep them fed, watered and with roof over their heads. We aren’t on the breadline, but £5000 is way more than the cost of our car and way more than I can afford—Kickstarting this is the only way.
So, why fund this Elite: Dangerous book?
A writer’s book is like their child: it inherits the DNA of the writer. If you want something from a book, you need to ask whether you think the writer can give it to you. So the real question is, am I the sort of writer you would enjoy reading? Can I give you what you want? Please feel free to check out my work on my blog and website (yes, one of the books is written under a pseudonym).
I know it’s what all the writers raising funds for the packs are saying, but I’ll repeat it because it’s true. I’m passionate about the Elite games. I’m passionate about writing. I have the skills needed to pull this off.
Do I care about the source material, the Elite universe?
I’m currently working on a project that I’m willing to shelve to write an Elite book—this opportunity won’t come again and this is the book I want to write right now. You have my word that it will take priority over my other projects—until it’s done.
Why is it so important to me? Because computer gaming has been my main hobby since I was twelve, until I discovered writing. This project gives me the opportunity to combine those two loves—I can write about one of my favourite games of all time. You may not care about me or my passions, but think on this: the best stories are written by writers who are passionate about what they’re writing about. I’m passionate about Elite.
My love affair with Elite started with the BBC Model “B” release of the game in 1984. I was lucky enough to have parents that believed that having a “proper” computer would help my “education”. (“Proper” is their word not mine—I had a great time playing on my mates’ Speccys and C64s.)
When explaining to them why I should be allowed to spend so many hours playing Elite, I argued that it taught me about the laws of supply and demand, the economy, honed my moral sensibilities, and developed my hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness. It taught me astronomy and cosmology, and aren’t those sciences? Elite taught me planning and money management skills, tactics, strategy and problem solving. Elite taught me about life.
What I actually learnt was how to incinerate the frak out of Thargoids, pirates, police Vipers and asteroids armed-to-the-teeth with... OK the asteroids weren’t armed, but you get the point. I learnt never to trade slaves on Lawful planets and that you can’t dodge a Viper police ship when the SOB is leaving a space station in hot pursuit and you’re drinking from a 2L bottle of coke while listening to your docking computer playing The Blue Danube.
I’ve played Elite on the BBC “B”, and Elite Plus and the Frontier games on the PC. (Who can forget the infamously suicidal docking computer’s dive for the surface of the nearest planet, or that buying a monster cargo ship and using your huge shields as a battering ram was the quickest way to kill pirates?)
Despite the love, time and dedication I gave to the games—to my shame— I never managed to attain “Elite”, only “Deadly”. Ever since then I have borne this emotional scar—this slur on my reputation and indelible mark on my manhood. I need to exorcise my demons. I need this game. I need to write this book.
What I can offer...
I’ve done this before. In the last twelve months I have started and completed two quality self-published books (both much longer than The Dark Wheel novella, by Robert Holdstock, that came with the original Elite game). I get the job done. I have a team of other writers who are willing to help with proofreading and editing. I have experience of writing fiction and non-fiction, critiquing, editing, proofreading, website and cover design.
I’m qualified, so I can keep it real. I have two degrees, in therapy and natural sciences, that between them covered physics, genetics, biology, anatomy, chemistry, psychology, and sociology. Am I pointing this out because I’m big-headed? I hope not. (David Braben went to Cambridge and he seems like a decent human being.) I can write believable, interesting characters. I can do justice to the setting—the Elite games are set in a universe with well-defined physical laws based on real maths, physics and astronomical theories. As a writer, I want to stay as true to the spirit of the games that David Braben and Ian Bell (and now the Frontier team) have created.
I’m aiming for a hard-SF style: gritty and real. Military lasers that punch through a spacecraft’s hull then through the pilot’s leg won’t leave a hole like a bullet wound. The energy would instantly vaporise the contact area, and superheat his bodily fluids so the limb would explode. An instant later you get superheating of the gases in the cabin and potentially explosive decompression. Nice. Space is a cold, hard vacuum and you are alone. That is the feel of the games; that is the feeling I want to recreate.
I’ve been an SF fan for years. I’ve read the authors who favoured “real” alternate realities: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke, amongst others. Star Wars is really science-fantasy and I love (most) of those films, but the Elite universe has more of an edge. My book will too.
Does gritty and real mean boring? Nope. My blog and writing is full of tongue-in-cheek humour. In my Elite: Dangerous book I intend to juxtapose these elements: the richness of human experience and the depths of our depravity; the heights of human courage and our weakness in the face of our fears, and set it all against the backdrop of the uncaring emptiness of space.
What do you get? Delivery and Format
The original Elite novella, The Dark Wheel, by Robert Holdstock ran to sixty-something pages (just over 19,000 words). I aim to write something substantially longer. (Please note: the final length will be entirely determined by the plot: I want the writing to be tight and pacey, and I will not pad the story out with unnecessary wordage just to meet an arbitrary target.) You will be getting at least a novella and possibly, if the plot warrants it, a novel. The story will be made available to eligible contributors in several eBook readable formats, and will also be posted on a password protected webpage for those who wish to read it online. I also intend to release a paper print copy available from distributors online. So, even if you don’t own an eReader, you can still read the book!
There are some extra incentives on offer too—just check out the rewards.
Why am I not offering the perks offered by Frontier Developments as rewards, e.g. naming systems in the game etc, or financial incentives, like a percentage of all eBook sales? Am I just hogging all the extra benefits that come as part of the writer's pack?
These questions are here because they have been leveled at some of those going for the writer's pack. The bottom line is these extras are nice, but I don't need them, and they are not why I'm doing this project.
I would love to pass these benefits on to backers - I'm sure I could raise more money that way, but the Kickstarter guidelines specifically prohibit me offering any rewards that I don't provide directly, i.e. I cannot depend on Frontier Developments to fulfil commitments that I make, which seems fair enough.
* Rewards not directly produced by the creator or the project itself.
* Financial incentives."
As a writer, what I would really have wanted from Frontier Developments would have been the rights to the setting and usage of artwork and logos, and access to the forums to discuss technical and setting ideas with a member of the Frontier Developments team to ensure authenticity of details in the story. Access to other writer's work, maps, ship schematics etc would also have been very helpful. That's all I need, and I would have preferred to have had to raise less money to get those benefits alone, but that isn't what Frontier are offering...
BUT I STILL WANT TO WRITE YOU THIS BOOK! So, that's why I'm doing this: not to sponge some freebie benefits, but so I can get the legal rights to set a story in the Elite universe. I'm a writer, not a scrounger.
Before the Elite: Dangerous game’s intended release date in March 2014. I will probably release it sooner, but only when I am happy with the quality of the final edit. The book will be done right and not rushed.
What will I do if I raise more money than the original target of £5000?
If I raise enough, I will pay for professional editing and cover art.
If I reach the £5000 goal, and after covering all other costs, I intend to offer a limited print edition (soft back) with a signed personal thank you as an extra reward (cost TBA). (All paperback copies ordered after the Kickstarter closing date will be available from retailers only and will not be signed.) Effectively you will have a signed, limited first edition. Sounds good?
Depending on the level of interest, I may also add a further reward of a personally signed hardback copy (cost TBA).
The Elite writing community: spread the love
There are a number of other writers who are trying to raise funds for their own Elite books. Some have succeeded but are requesting additional funds so they can improve their products, and others are still aiming to raise the necessary funds. The more stories set in the Elite universe there are, the richer everyone’s experience will be. So please think about having a look at their funding projects and dropping a pledge their way. The ones I know of at the moment are:
Elite Anthology: Tales from the Frontier (working title) is an Elite community anthology of short stories coordinated by Chris Booker that has just launched on Kickstarter. There should be a wide range of stories on offer, and something to read when you want a quick break from shooting Thargoids. It's off to a good start, but needs both your funding and contributions to really take off.
Survivor- An "Elite: Dangerous" Gamebook, by Nathanael Page, is an Elite version of those interactive "you are the hero" books popular in the 80's. It's a great idea and is well worth your support for bringing something a little different to the table (also on Kickstarter).
Elite - Reclamation, by Drew Wagar, has reached its funding level through Kickstarter, but there are more goals and rewards up for grabs as I write this.
The Cost of Exploration, by Commander Boz,is now fully funded, partially funded through Kickstarter, but why not take a look? There's an extract to whet your appetite.
Elite: Dangerous - The Novel (working title), by Vasileios Kalampakas, is partially funded on the indiegogo website at time of writing. He's off to a slow start, so why not pop by and drop him some money-love? Every successful project develops the setting, the universe, and the game, as well as funding and promoting it. Every reader and player benefits.
...And Here the Wheel, by John Harper. This is also partially funded on indiegogo at time of writing. He's further along, but still needs a boost.
ELITE:DANGEROUS - THE SPACE FARERS TALE, by Sean Curtin is another relatively new edition to Indiegogo. He's trying to get his novel off the ground, but needs our support.
Some Notes on Legalities and Liabilities
Out of the Darkness is a working title, and I reserve the right to change it and the cover art without prior approval before the book's release. Backers will, of course, be kept informed of any changes and my reasons for making them.
The cover above uses trademarks. artwork and logos that are the intellectual property and copyright of Frontier Developments. I claim no ownership of any of these, and their use in the mock-up cover design above and for promotion are entirely depend on the continued good will of Frontier Developments.
Risks and challenges
For my abilities and intentions, please see above. I'm passionate, driven and committed, and barring natural disaster, illness, death, or other circumstances beyond my control you will get your book and rewards.
What will happen if "Elite: Dangerous" (the game setting on which my book will be based) does not reach its funding target?
I will still be able to release the book. David Braben, on behalf of Frontier, has promised to release rights to the setting and images for use in the book, even if the funding for the game is not successful. Here is the promise he made to writers on Kickstarter:
“What happens if I successfully raise funds (eg via Kickstarter) for the £4,500 'Writer's Pack' pledge, but then the "Elite: Dangerous" project does not reach its funding level? Firstly, we are confident that we will reach the funding level. However, in the very unlikely event that the funding level is not met, at the end of the funding period we will be happy to make a deal outside Kickstarter for half the pledge level (ie £2,250), available to all those who have 'Writer's Pack' pledges at the end of the funding period, which will grant all the rights you need, and a license to use the relevant materials and imagery, so the book publishing can still go ahead. This should address the concern about a writer achieving funding via another route (eg from a publisher, or from another Kickstarter project), and ours not succeeding, leaving the potentially difficult situation where the writer cannot deliver on their promise.
Last updated: Thursday Nov 22, 12:48pm EST”.
Based on this promise, you will get the book I intend to write with the official "Elite" branding. The refunded money will be split: two thirds will be returned to the backer who pledges £2500. (See the £2500 reward for details, refunds ONLY after money has been received from Frontier Developments and cleared through my bank account). Why are they the only backer to get a refund? Because to offer the free bonus rewards from Frontier Developments I have given up two thirds of the rewards (by value) of this writer's pack to the backer at the £2500 level, and this therefore includes two thirds of the value of any refund/compensation received. Further, all rewards offered by myself, as opposed to free bonus gift rewards offered by Frontier Developments, I intend to fulfill in as prompt a manner as possible (ensuring time to deliver a quality product). The remaining third of any refunds/compensation received from Frontier Developments will be used to ensure a high-quality product and not returned to contributors—I promise delivery of the book and extra rewards and therefore I will have fulfilled my part of the agreement.
Let the fun begin!
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