John Jackson Miller, author of Knight Errant and the upcoming Kenobi novel, has recently started a new original story, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive as a Kindle Serial. The first episode was released on April 2, and today is the release of the second installment, ‘Golden Handshake.’ Miller was kind enough to answer a few questions for us, as well as give us a prize to give away: copies of the short story prequel to the series, ‘Human Error’.
I’ve enjoyed Miller’s work as writer of the Knights of the Old Republic comics, as well as the Knight Errant comic series and novel, and the Lost Tribe of the Sith short stories, and I think that this serial, while set in an original universe, will delight readers with its characters, world building, and Miller’s mix of action and humor. Let’s get into the mini-interview on Overdraft:
Jawajames: While Overdraft: The Orion Offensive is not a Star Wars story, what might appeal to fans of Zayne Carrick, Kerra Holt, the Lost Tribe, or Star Wars readers in general?
John Jackson Miller: The interplay that I had going between the Knights of the Old Republic characters is something that was directly inspired by Star Wars, where there was no firefight so intense that they couldn’t stop to bicker for a while. I’ve gone for similar interplay between the characters in Overdraft, and as in Star Wars and the KOTOR comics, it comes from the same place: these are not characters who start out wanting to be in each others’ company. They’re thrown together by events — and in the case of Overdraft, by the actions of Jamie Sturm.
Jamie’s a conniving far-future stock trader who bankrupts his expedition — and is summarily drafted by the members of that expedition to go out and earn the money back before the expedition loses its charter. He has zero desire to go out to the dangerous frontier to work as a trader, and his team of bodyguards — led by the earnest and intrepid Bridget Yang — really wants nothing to do with him at first. But as often happens in space opera, one thing leads to another, and before long, they stumble onto something that threatens not just their jobs, but the Earth itself.
It’s not Star Wars — it’s set in the not-too-distant future of Earth, and the mechanisms for interstellar travel are much different. Containers are transported between stars using transit stations known as whirlibangs — and nothing very large can make the trip. So spaceships are dismantled into transportable chunks on one side and reconfigured on the other — very different from hyperspace, to be sure. Another big difference is that there is no instantaneous communication between stars — no subspace radio or holograms — which puts us very much back in the East India Company era of commerce again. You don’t have any idea whether an expedition succeeded until the vessel returns. That poses some interesting challenges, and Jamie tries to exploit the system to make his fortune. Marn Hierogryph would admire his initiative, though not his results!
By the way, Star Wars readers will recognize some other names involved with this: David Pomerico, my editor at 47North, was associate editor on my Lost Tribe of the Sith short story series. And Paul Youll, the cover artist, did the covers for Scoundrels and The Essential Readers Companion.
Jawajames: In Overdraft, you are introducing a new setting with some intriguing characters – tell us more about these people and what they’re up to.
Miller: Bridget Yang is serious about her job, which is protecting the expeditions’ traders — but she also cares about the members of her “surge team,” and she’s none too happy with the choice she’s been forced to make. If they don’t help protect Jamie on this crazy mission to earn a hundred billion dollars in a hundred days, they lose their jobs — but they’re going to some of the tougher planets to sell on, and a lot of her troops don’t want to risk their necks for Jamie. So that reluctant-allies dynamic is very definitely there.
And Bridget is kind of on her last chance, herself. Bridget is the first character that I created for the series — I introduced her in ‘Human Error,’ a story I did for Baen Books‘ Armored anthology last year — and as we’ll find out in Overdraft, she’s got a pretty big secret lurking in her past, that drove her out to work as a hired gun on the frontier.
Jamie is mostly about the money, of course, though as the story goes along, we come to understand more about what’s really motivating him. And we also get to meet a lot of the support crew for the expedition. Lissa Trovatelli, the Q/A or quartermaster-armorer for the expedition, who’s their technical expert, plays a pretty big role — as do the various troopers. Victor Gideon is one of my favorites — he’s almost pure rage and determination.
And then, of course, there’s Kolvax, representing the alien people known as the Xylanx. He’s as much an opportunist as Jamie is, in his own way; when we meet him, Kolvax has been exiled for setting up a cult. He doesn’t believe in what he’s preaching in the slightest; it’s all a game to him. But his encounter with Jamie and Bridget and their team changes his situation, and suddenly, Kolvax is playing a much bigger game for higher stakes.
The second episode gives us Jamie’s first alien encounter, so it’s a pretty big moment for him. It also gives us a sense of what he’s up against!
Jawajames: I like how you introduce these characters and then later reveal more about them.
Miller: That’s the fun dynamic with the Kindle Serial. Overdraft: The Orion Offensive is a novel-length work, delivered every two weeks automatically to people who subscribe — http://amzn.to/overdraft1. It’s $1.99 for the entire story, readable on any Kindle, PC, Mac, or phone that has the free Kindle app installed. By the time the work is finished, we’ll collect it in a full-sized book and e-book at regular pricing — but now folks have a chance to get the story as it’s going along, just as they do with a comics story (or did in the old days with pulp science fiction serials in magazines).
As it’s a project of my own, it also gives me the opportunity to provide some supplemental material as it’s going along. I’ve already posted the glossary for the first episode — http://www.farawaypress.com/fiction/resources/overdraftglossary.html — and expect to add a timeline and some other things. The idea is it’ll always be up to date with whatever the latest episode has revealed.
The second episode, “Golden Handshake,” releases on Tuesday, April 16. Folks who subscribe now will get that episode and the earlier one; you’ll always get the full story to date during the serialization period. I think it’s a cool way to tell a story, combining some of the best bits of comics and prose. Folks can get more updates by following me on Twitter at @jjmfaraway.
Jawajames: Thanks to John Jackson Miller for getting us the latest scoop on Overdraft: The Orion Offensive. While I don’t have a Kindle reader (I’m a Nook guy), I found reading the first episode on my PC to be super easy (ie, just clicking a web link to just use the Amazon Cloud Reader), and I’m eager to start on the second episode, since it appears that Jamie’s first contact is going to be with Kolvax the con man cult leader! Go check it out today, and you’ll have the first two episodes to enjoy now!
Want a free sample? We’ve got Kindle and ePub copies of ‘Human Error’, the prequel story of Bridget Yang to give away to the first 10 commenters – just make sure you put your email address in when you comment, and I’ll get in touch with you!