Klamath – an unfinished Liaden Universe® story cycle in splinters
Introduction by Steve Miller
The story of Klamath is complex, and as we present it here in Splinter Universe, both unfinished and in disparate and at times conflicting pieces. Our parts in the story came from a piece of back-brain information that filtered through to us while Agent of Change, the first Liaden Universe novel, was in progress. That information was the news that Miri Robertson, Mercenary Soldier, had not always lived a pure and wholesome life and in fact had taken a bit of a detour from the straight and narrow following the the effective destruction of civilization on Klamath, if not before.
Understand that Klamath story idea was a by-product of the originally sketched 7 Liaden books; it seemed that there was information there we needed, but it didn’t fit into the swell and swoop of the storyline. Still, in order to understand Miri, we nibbled around the edge of a Klamath novel over time, just as we made several quickly abandoned attempts to get into what many years later became the short Crystal Soldier sequence.
Processing that story through Miri was difficult; it seemed we needed more. More information, more backstory, more characters. Ichliad Brunner was added to the mix and became a fixture in our attempts to tell the story, but we couldn’t overlook Skel, who’d also managed to creep into the main story line.
Stories are a process — and the process of writing the original three books in the Liaden saga was complicated by *Real Life(TM)* in the form of (boo! hiss!) work. The first book written but not yet sold, the household was moving on, and I took a series of retail jobs. It isn’t that I was job-hopping per se, but rather that my skills fit easily into the “Retail Management” mold … and I worked as an assistant manager of an expanding retail game (and computer) company that folded, got a job with a card and gift shop (moved to manager from part-time clerk) that folded and became assistant manager of another card shop which was on the way to being sold and staff downsized, had a management job with a kitchen and gift shop …. .
The net result was that as the second and third novels (Carpe Diem and Conflict of Honors) were eventually written and sold, there was usually a Klamath floppy disk sitting around that I would pull out from time to time and … extend. Or explore. Or fiddle with. This was one of those kitchen table stories I’d work on, bring to the table after dinner to discuss and amend over a glass of wine,
and then put it back on the shelf for a week or a month or a year. The story was extended, cut back, brushed away, seen from several angles….but wasn’t concentrated on and was often a stress reliever for me at a time when a sixty hour week was common and seventy hour week not unknown.
And then Sharon and I together got a chance to manage a storage facility. This let us work on the writing but by then we’d sold the first three books, two unwritten. Klamath was not one of the ones in the pre-sold pile.
By the time we moved to Maine, launched from the storage facility by a change in tax laws fatally removing our “free” house with the job, we’d fairly well got the 7 mainline books in our head … and Klamath, with starts and restarts and recursive bits and pieces, was archived in a bankers box for that move and then moved to the bottom and back of file drawers over time….
Still Ichhliad Brunner needed to be dealt with: he was, after all, someone that Miri owed a Balance to. That story eventually came forward in a newly visualized way and was published at Jim Baen’s Universe as the novella Misfits.
And then, shoving things around to make room in the house for the relocation of the SRM Publisher office from Waterville following my hospitalization for pneumonia and cardiomyopathy, several of the Klamath splinters came to light at once. They got put into a pile — near the top of a pile! — and now that Splinter Universe is available, we figured we’d share with you what we have. Understand that the splinters may not mesh with each other; the timeline are inconsistent, the world goes through changes … let’s admit this as a VERY ROUGH series of ROUGH drafting. Still, there’s stuff there — stuff we’re unlikely to get back to in any other way in the next five years.
If you like the idea of seeing the rough drafts, you can send us support below, or from the splinters themselves, which I’ll be posting over the next few weeks, one or two “chapter bites” at a time. Altogether they amount to somewhere between a quarter and a third of a novel. We’ll be posting Mondays, around noon, for the most part.