The year is 2033. The British Empire never fell. Communism never happened. The Commonwealth flies the flag of the Empire. Many of the Empire’s colonies are stripped bare in the name of British interests, powerless to resist. Upon this stage is Ceylon – a once-proud civilization tracing itself back to the time of the Pharaohs, reduced but not dead. The Great Houses of Kandy still control the most lucrative trade routes, since even dust and ashes can serve a purpose.
A machine uprising in a biopunk Ceylon, and the consequences of these events.
Look at what arrived a couple of weeks ago: the ARC of the Inhuman Peace, the second book in my Commonwealth Empire trilogy! I’m told by Gautam Shenoy that the books have already started showing up in bookstores, so . . . it’s out?? It’s out!
So I’m actually quite happy that this book is out, because it’s easily been one of the most difficult parts of my career so far as a writer. I’ve technically been writing the Inhuman Peace from somewhere around mid-2019 to late 2020 or thereabouts; it’s hard to keep track of the various permutations and versions, because I’ve rewritten this book at least four times.
It wasn’t all to do with the complexity of the book; there was a lot going on in my personal and professional life that meant I wasn’t always in the best headspace for writing, and as a result I made mistakes, which then required me to go back and correct the manuscript. At times I felt the manuscript was too complex – you know how complexity for the sake of complexity just makes a story unbearable? And at times I felt that it wasn’t quite doing justice to my original intent of filling out the years in between the two halves of the Inhuman Race, which was the first book in the series.
In fact, in the middle of writing this, I took some time off to go and write The Salvage Crew , which turned out to be surprising success, selling far more than the Inhuman Race has to date. I think that was when I realised that I write better when I’m having fun. You’d think this is a fairly obvious axiom, but it did take me awhile to learn it. Armed with that knowledge, I came back and gave the Inhuman Peace the top to bottom rewrite that put it into the form it is today.
The current version is something that I’m happy with. It sets up not just what happened in the 15 year-void within the Inhuman Race, but it also showcases a lot more of the world that I built in my head – its past, its present, a little bit more of the tensions within both this fictional Ceylon as well as the empire that governs it. It’s a book about slow changes and tipping points – technological, societal, political, and the thousands of little pieces that lead there. It’s got the action where the action should be and the introspection where the introspection should be. I’m relieved that the handful of people that I managed to give advance reading copies to have also come back and said that they enjoyed it:
The overwhelming feeling is relief. I’m never fully satisfied with anything I write, but – it’s done. It’s out. As with all my books, it has a few nods to subjects here and there that the handful of readers are going to get, and I think I’m going to enjoy seeing them figure stuff out and reach out to me.
So, where does the story end? The last book of the Commonwealth Empire trilogy – and this is a book that I am on contract for – is the Inhuman War. This time I’m going toward avoid the pitfalls of the process; I’m going to be taking a step back and outlining The Inhuman War while I work on two other novels. I estimate that writing will begin sometime late next year (2022) and be done sometime in 2023. I’m not going to give away too much of the plot right now, but if I play my cards right, we should be able to see even more of the world that I talked about in a very old blog post of mine about The Technology of the Commonwealth Empires.
Reading the proofing copy of the Inhuman Peace. Not gonna lie, I'm relieved to have this done and in my hand. This is the book I was afraid of - the 400-page followup act to my eccentric postcolonial love note to Bioshock. Fingers crossed.