Grail Quest Books is excited to present the wide-release debut of Decipher Inc.’s WARS in the fiction realm: The Battle of Phobos, Volume 1 – Preludes.
“We’re very excited to bring this unique science-fantasy universe to its widest audience. We introduced the story arc initially as an illustrated novella series, pairing each novella up with ten illustrations. The Earther novella is currently available from IndyPlanet with art from the card game and original art by Samantha Nowak; the illustrations for the Maverick novella are in the concept stage and being done by Brian Hickey,” explains Josh Radke, editor and publisher of the series. “And now comes the first book in the wide-release edition of the WARS: The Battle of Phobos trilogy.”
WARS™ is an original property created by Decipher Inc. and started as a trading card game in 2004, in part to help fill the vacuum caused by the departure of their widely acclaimed Star Wars™ Customizable Card Game. The property was largely developed by best-selling author, Michael A. Stackpole, and quickly branched into the roleplaying genre. “The games were promoted by several pieces of short fiction as well,” Radke says, “but nothing that gave the property a core thread. We want to develop many of the game’s most popular characters and important locations in order to provide WARS a solid identity.”
Nathan P. Butler is the author of “Healers and Hunters”, the Earther novella in Preludes. Nathan has contributed to Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars Tales comic book series and published two works of original fiction, Echoes and Greater Good. “It was these that got the attention Josh’s attention and led to the chance to write for WARS,” Butler explains. “My job was to set up the universe for those who hadn’t played the games and while drawing together some of the key players, such as Rogan Hallard from XeLabs and Jossel Swin from the CGC infantry.”
Josh explains that the Battle of Phobos is one of the defining events of the WARS timeline. “The incapacity of the human factions to get along–a relationship that comes to a violent and historical head at the Mars moon, Phobos, in 2388–is a key theme in WARS. The appearance of the Mumon Rift, an element that is familiar to gamers, and the alien races that enter our solar system via its ‘gate’, will up the ante considerably later on.”
Sean E. Williams, an independent filmmaker who recently produced the indie film, Blues, penned “The Great Journey”, the novella in Preludes representing the Gongen faction (in WARS the Gongen are displaced Asian refugees who migrate to Mars and rename the planet and their culture ‘Gongen’).
“With this first Gongen novella, I wanted to explore the origins of the WARS universe,” Williams says, “specifically the events that sent a colony of refugees to Mars, looking for a new home. Of course, all this backstory was created years ago when the card game was first conceived, with [nuclear] tragedy in Japan being pure science fiction at the time. We can only hope that the horrors portrayed in WARS aren’t the motivating factor for mankind’s actual journey to the Red Planet.”
Williams continues about his story’s two main characters: Higen Shijin and, his descendent centuries later, Higen Orochito. “I also wanted to explore mankind’s inquisitiveness, which drives both of the main characters in the novella. Both men are trying to make their world a better place, even to the point of sacrificing themselves and their families, a trait that is easily overlooked in today’s world. They’re more concerned about ‘the greater good’ than about any selfish wants they could easily (and justifiably) have.”
Jim Perry, no stranger to those in the podiocasting community, rounded up Preludes with his “Firefight at Overwatch Command”, a story exploring the origins and character of fan-favorite character, Jack Wilgress. “I enjoyed the chance to bring Jack Wilgress to life, taking what (WARS game developer) Mark Tuttle wrote in the story ‘Playing By the Rules’, and showing how we got here,” says Perry. “The difference between this and other tie-ins is that there is very little of Jack already established. I immediately gravitated to him as one of the central Maverick characters, first from a practical standpoint since his card is one of the most powerful character cards in the game, and likely was already a player favorite on the Maverick side. The other was he presents a pirate vibe with that Old West mentality which seems prevalent in the Maverick motif. He’s sort of Errol Fynn meets Wyatt Earp meets Han Solo, the quintessential noble renegade.”
Perry expounds further: “Another joy of mine was looking at some of the Maverick cards and sprinkling the story with lines from card lore, and giving a presence to some characters that may only appear in the picture on an asset card. My hope is that in this way, existing players can see that I’ve taken pains to really connect the story with the game, without sacrificing the story to bring it all together. I tried to create that balance that some tie-ins struggle to achieve.”
Against a backdrop of a fractured humanity far along the path to war…
The Eathers: On the quest to recover a rogue scientist and an ultra-rare piece of technology XeLabs’ Rangers, Rogan Hallard and Jerlen Krae, and CGC Troopers, Jossel Swin and Jannett Yens, will discover they are caught in a crossfire of hidden agendas, controversial tech, and deadly personas.
The Gongen: Orochito will risk his reputation and family’s legacy todiscover a truth that is far bigger than either he or his forefathers could ever have imagined. A truth that brings home the reality that war is inevitable, and ‘Grandfather’ Shocho intends for the Gongen to be on the winning side.
The Mavericks: One family is already good as gone, and Jack Wilgress will be damned if he loses another. He will have to face an old Earther nemesis if he wants to preserve his Maverick ‘family’. But is he willing to lose a piece of his priceless freedom and be dragged into the brewing system-wide conflict?
Featuring popular characters, locations, and tech from Decipher Inc.’s WARS trading card game–including story lines developed by New York Times Bestselling author, Michael A. Stackpole–this trilogy collection of novellas detail events in the WARS universe in the 24th century leading up to the largest battle humans have ever experienced–THE BATTLE OF PHOBOS.
The Battle of Phobos team is clearly excited about the prospects of this series. “There’s a strong fan base out there,” Butler adds, “and it’s a rich universe for storytelling. I’m optimistic that his will be a new beginning for WARS, rather than a tacked-on ‘expanded universe’ approach after the fact.”
“I knew Decipher’s name from the card games, though I had never played any,” explains Perry. “They basically presented an opportunity to take ownership of the characters in this world they had created, and there’s an enormous freedom in that. We have the ability to present this as stories first, and a game second. We don’t have to rely on the game tie-in. There is a challenge to that but an opportunity as well. It challenges us to harness the power of social media and word-of-mouth to build community around our work.”
Williams agrees. “What’s great about the WARS universe, and with (Preludes) in particular, is how much overlap there are between stories and their respective factions. Characters and events from one tale will show up unexpectedly in another, altering what occurs in unforeseen ways. The fact that all three series build to such a dramatic climax, and tell such exciting stories along the way, is something that I, as a fan of WARS, am eager to see play out.”
“It’s got something for fans of any sci-fi property,” says Williams, “be it Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Alien, or Dune. To be able to expand on the mythology they came up with, and to flush out characters who exist only as names in the card and roleplaying games, has been a true pleasure.”
WARS: The Battle of Phobos, Volume 1 – Preludes is available online at both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. Readers in the United States can also order it from their favorite local bookstores, B&N, Books-A-Million, and Powells’ via the catalog of worldwide book distributor, Ingram, using ISBN number 978-0983548805.
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