The Hook: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

TWP WFP front cover

The Hook:

Sol climbed to the top of the rise and stared up at the twin suns as they climbed into the sky. Yellows, reds, and oranges faded under the increasing blue of oncoming daylight, leaving a pinkish glow on the horizon, and the ever-present smell of chemicals and fuel filled his nostrils but he barely noticed.

For as long as he could remember, he’d started each day with an escape from the heavy, polluted air and the noise of people, factories, and traffic. The peaceful, quiet sunrises would usually calm him to face the day ahead, but today he had no sense of peace, and the silence of the city’s edge drowned beneath the clamor within him.

My precious son! My God, don’t forsake us now!

The wait had been interminable, punctured by endless prayers to God for a precious gift. Now they had to send him away—their Davi! Was there no justice in this universe?

He glanced at his chrono and sighed. Wouldn’t want to be late to serve the Borali Alliance! After one last look at the twin suns, he turned and hurried back along the path toward Iraja and the starport filling the horizon near the city’s edge below.

He labored more with each breath as heavy air filled his lungs. The depot occupied a strategic site at the center of the planet, ensuring easy access from all regions. Ignoring the droning soundtrack of the city awakening, Sol timed in on the chrono and greeted Aron, his co-worker and lifelong friend.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt writes:

The Worker Prince is a reimagining of the Moses story as a space opera. The basic premise, of course, is that a prince discovers he was born a slave and develops sympathy for his genetic family, bringing him into conflict with his adoptive ruling family. In Moses’ cases, God speaks to him, but instead, I chose to drop the Ten Commandments, burning bush, and miracle stuff, and instead focus on a hero’s journey and coming of age story. As Davi’s convictions cause him to question the status quo, he finds himself questioned by his friends and family, even as he seeks to investigate where he came from and who he is. As always with such journeys, Davi begins to transform as things he discovers match up with the liberal education his mother, Princess Miri, provided him in the Palace. Unlike most leaders in the Borali Alliance, he was taught to think for himself and question everything, an approach his Uncle Xalivar — presently High Lord Councilor and leader of the Borali Alliance — would never have allowed had he known. Soon, Davi’s convictions find him defending a slave girl from rape by a fellow officer and the officer dies at Davi’s hand. Now, Xalivar sends his special police to hunt Davi and Davi goes from prince to wanted fugitive. Events unfold that change his relationship with his once loving, doting uncle forever, and alter his whole life and sense of self.

I chose to open the book with a prologue set 20 years beforehand where Davi’s parents must send him away to save his life after Xalivar issues a decree that all first born must be slain. This accomplishes two things, establishes Xalivar and the parents early as important figures, allowing me to unfold the story and their roles more slowly, and sets up the loving family Davi was born into and their sacrificial love. Since he doesn’t discover their existence for 3 chapters, this helps us to feel an emotional connection with them and root him on in making the discovery. The book also pays tribute to the space operas I loved growing up, from Star Wars: A New Hope¸which I tried hard to capture the feel of (and am told I did), to Battlestar Galactica, Superman (Reeves), Buck Rogers, Star Trek and more. From little snippets of dialogue borrowed as a wink-wink to fellow fans, to a few plot elements, etc., I incorporated subtle pop culture references to these things while also trying hard to keep a good mix of action and humor. The story moves quickly and has a complicated plot that unfolds little by little with lots of political maneuvering, twists and turns, and more. It’s also an ode to old fashioned B-movie/golden age style stories but without the women depending on men aspect. I have women in various roles, and yes, Davi saves one from rape, but she and the others come into their own as strong women in various leadership roles, fully equal to the men. That was important to me in retelling this story for modern audiences and in representing my own experiences with strong women in my family growing up.

This book is the first in a trilogy, and sequels will follow next year, a few months apart. We redid the first one because everyone felt it deserved a bigger audience and the original micropress publisher closed down. Kevin J. Anderson and Peter Wacks expressed interest, so I revised and expanded The Worker Prince, am revising book 2, The Returning, and then we’ll release the brand new book 3, The Exodus, to finish the saga. They also designed a knock out new cover. Very excited to have the chance for more people to discover and enjoy this series. I dreamed it up when I was a teenager and it is a blast to see if become reality 30 years later.

The Worker Prince: Author’s Definitive Edition debuted November 4th in print, audio, and ebook.

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About the author:

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and Hugo-nominated editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. As book editor he is the main editor for Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta’s WordFire Press where he has edited books by such luminaries as Alan Dean Foster, Tracy Hickman, Frank Herbert, Mike Resnick, Jean Rabe and more. He was also the first editor on Andy Weir’s bestseller The Martian. His anthologies as editor include Shattered Shields with co-editor Jennifer Brozek, Mission: Tomorrow, Galactic Games and Little Green Men–Attack! (forthcoming) all for Baen, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Beyond The Sun and Raygun Chronicles: Space Opera For a New Age. He is also coediting anthologies with Larry Correia and Jonathan Maberry set in their New York Times Bestselling Monster Hunter and Joe Ledger universes. From December 2010 to June 2015, he hosted #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter as @SFFWRTCHT.

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