Wild Space: Reclamation continues on after the events of Wild Space: Onslaught. I thought about jumping the series ahead a few weeks, but I didn’t want to lose that survival aspect to the series so soon. So, the crew ends up just days into their plight with nothing to use to repair their ship. That helps set the stage for so much in this second book of the series.
In Reclamation, we get to know the characters a bit more as each one develops in their own way. Let’s take a quick look at the remaining character bios.
WARNING: The production notes are filled with spoilers from this book and others in the series. If you haven’t read the book yet, please read it before going on. You’ve been warned…
Lieutenant Gretchen Markson: Gretchen is a fireball who doesn’t take crap from anyone. I loved her moments with Captain Avery in the first book. While Gretchen doesn’t factor in as much in the second book, she has an important role to play in this series. Gretchen begins her career as my version of Lieutenant Uhura from the Original Series of Star Trek. She’s the communication officer with superior linguistic skills.
In the Wild Space Universe, I imagine that the world would have only a handful of dominant languages left. In the series, I call them the Big Five. They are; English, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Hebrew. Her gift is being able to speak nearly all of them fluently. My belief is that over time, these five languages would begin to meld and the people of the inhabited worlds in Wild Space would speak in new dialects of the known Big Five. Having Gretchen on board to translate any new languages had great value and that was one of the biggest reasons why John wanted her on this mission.
Marvin Kent: Marvin is a civilian contractor who is in charge of the Deep Space Drive program. His business – which he inherited from his parents – is the brains behind the research that developed this engine. The only reason Marvin is sent along on this mission is because Admiral Goodrich demands it. The Admiral has plans for the next generation of the Deep Space Drive engine and Marvin needs to be there to conduct research.
Marvin is blind to the risks of being on a starship. He was clearly expecting an adventure, but he soon gets more than he bargained for. By the end of the first book, he is thrust into a role of leadership. Does he have what it takes? The second book is going to force him to find out.
Lieutenant Grant Gustafson: Grant is the muscle of the Independence. He’s the top security officer and quickly becomes a friend to Commander Reid. He is fearless and highly skilled, which will come in handy as the series continues. Grant is loyal to those he serves. We’ll see his character grow as the series continues.
TRIVIA: One of my favorite Star Trek episodes ever is one from Star Trek: Enterprise titled Azati Prime. In this episode, the Enterprise is slaughtered in space much like the Independence was. Outnumbered with no way of calling in reinforcements, they are truly on their own to figure out a way to survive. I captured that in the first book and I was desperate to at least have fun with it one more time before getting the Independence back up and running.
Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
Chapter 1: The events of Reclamation pick up right after the events of Onslaught and really, this book could be called Onslaught Part 2. We see Captain Avery laboring with the crew to get the ship back into working order. Michael sees the captain doing things he really shouldn’t be doing. As a young first officer, he’s trying to figure out his role on the ship. Does he protest the captain’s decision to put himself in bodily danger or does he keep his mouth shut?
I wanted to establish two important things in this chapter. Number 1 – This isn’t Star Trek. The men and women in this universe struggle with real human emotions at every turn and they don’t always live in harmony. While John and Michael are working well together, there is friction and it will come to a boiling point later on in the series. Number 2 – The struggle to survive isn’t just about fixing the ship, its about fixing the people on the ship. Everyone has been impacted physically and mentally. Hence the title: Reclamation. This book is about the characters fixing their boat and reclaiming the person they once were before the onslaught.
Chapter 2: Because these are short books, I need to keep the action flowing so John makes his way to the bridge where he finds out that a ship is quickly approaching and he and his crew need to figure out a way to prepare the ship for battle in a matter of hours. I also decided it was time to show that not everyone is dealing with their role reversals in good order.
Marvin Kent is having trouble as the chief engineer. Those in the engineering department are not accepting him as Captain Avery had hoped. I added this conflict between Marvin and his subordinates because in my years in the military I can attest to the need for a leader to gain the trust of his men. I felt that for Marvin to be believable, he would need to run through the gauntlet and prove himself to the men and women who have been placed in his charge. Being that he has no military background at all, makes his acceptance that much more hard.
TRIVIA: As I was writing chapter 2, I realized that this was how I could answer the question of “How do you fix a ship with no spare parts?” The answer is, you hijack a towing vessel and steal the parts from that ship. I’ve tried to recall any movie or sci-fi television show that did something similar. I can’t recall watching anything with that sort of plot, so as of this writing, I believe I came up with something original in sci-fi writings. Feel free to comment below if you can think of something that debunks that thought. I have to believe someone did it at some point in time.
Chapter 3: Lieutenant Kelly Avery isn’t equipped to be the Chief Medical Officer on the Independence. In reality, it should probably be one of the nurses, but for whatever reason, I had her appointed to the position. So, how do I make her believable in her new post? I need to give her the tools to do the work.
Enter, the Emergency Holographic Medical Protocol. This is an interactive computer program that can oversee the most delicate surgeries and continue the teaching the Kelly will need in order to keep the crew healthy. I modeled the EHMP after “The Doctor” on Star Trek Voyager. However, I didn’t want him to become a character himself or it would risk taking away Kelly’s role in this series. The EHMP is a program and nothing more.
I also introduced Lieutenant Travis David in this chapter. His role is light but is important as he plays a pivotal role in Sedition. In this chapter, I give Kelly an opportunity to flex her muscles. I don’t like to write damsel in distress. I also don’t want her to be at the same level as Gretchen, but I want her to hold her own. She gets to do that in this chapter.
Chapter 4: It’s time to take a look inside the head of Marvin. He blames himself for not saving those in the engineering station when the ship was being attacked. His lack of military experience and his self-proclaimed failure under pressure, leaves him weak in front of his chargers. I placed him in a room with Commander Reid so he could have a sounding board to help him work through his issues.
Commander Reid is kind of the quiet leader during this period of time for the ship. Captain Avery seems to be on a death wish, the crew is being insubordinate so certain leaders, and now he’s playing therapist to Marvin Kent. I like seeing this role for Commander Reid as it helps set him apart from Captain Avery and also builds credibility to his leadership skills.
Chapter 5: Chapter 2 hinted at Captain Avery’s plans to capture the enemy ship for parts, and this chapter puts those plans into motion. This is also the chapter where Michael asserts himself as Captain Avery’s right hand man and puts his captain in his place. I knew for Commander Reid to become a believable first officer, he was going to need to flex his muscles. The argument between these two men is the point in which this happens.
TRIVIA: The question needs to be asked, “Why not just take the working ship and abandon the broken ship?” The answer: While I don’t disclose it in any of the books, the reason behind saving the Independence is that the Captain still believes he can get the crew and ship, home. With Marvin on board, there is a good chance that the young man can find a way to rebuild the Deep Space Drive – just in case the E.S.S. Freedom cannot come and rescue them. The design of the Independence is the only design that can support the Deep Space Drive technology.
Chapter 6: This is the point where Marvin Kent seals his place as part of the leadership of this crew. As I mentioned earlier, this book is about reclaiming what was lost. The onslaught was a grave violation on the crew of this ship. Each one is dealing with that violation in different ways. Some are rising, some are falling, and others are plotting. In real life, when we deal with tragedy, we all come out of that tragedy as a different person. Chapter 6 continues the theme of reclamation as we see Marvin relate to his men and women and assert himself as their commanding officer.
Chapter 7: Commander Reid leads the assault on the tow ship and they quickly discover that the Empire has a presence on this ship as well. It isn’t the easy hijacking that they had planned for. During these events, I introduce Lieutenant Grant Gustafson, who will become Commander Reid’s personal ally and I also introduce Buckley and Rogers.
Buckley and Rogers seem like insignificant characters at first, but there is more to them. They display some of the changing attitudes of the crew. There is a lack of respect for those in leadership positions and these two display that in their actions. Furthermore, they also show a lust for vengeance, which is secretly boiling beneath the surface of many members of the crew. Neil discovers this first hand.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8 was about making things click into place. The tow ship provides everything they need to repair Independence and the situation was perfect to give them a way to transfer the engine of the tow ship to the Independence. I wanted to make this nice and tidy so people didn’t ask the question that I mentioned in the trivia above.
TRIVIA: Reclamation provides the setup for Sedition, the next book in Wild Space Series One. As I was writing this book, I hadn’t yet dreamed up the idea of the EUSF Intelligence and Security Division. As I introduced Rogers in Chapter 8, I developed his backstory and for the first time, deviated from my initial outlines and created the idea of the ISD.
Chapter 9: Up to this point, I really hadn’t dealt with one major issue of conflict… how should Captain Avery deal with having his daughter on the ship and in harm’s way? At first, this was a safe mission of exploration, but now he is seeing that there is real danger. I included a brief exchange between Kelly and John to help tidy up this unresolved issue.
As this chapter drew to an end, it was time for the Empire to strike again. This time, the crew was ready and Captain Avery had an opportunity to show his skills in commanding a vessel. This is a redemption chapter.
TRIVIA: In this book, I introduced the next in a long line of pilots for the ship. While it isn’t evident to most readers, my helmsmen are the “Red Shirts” of this series.
Chapter 10: Captain Avery sends out a distress message to Star Fleet to let them know that they are alive and needing rescue. From the very beginning, I knew that I would never allow them to be rescued, but I wanted readers to believe that there was some hope for this wounded crew. I also decided to play with the sexual tension between Lieutenant Markson and Captain Avery. The two are professional officers, how will this play out?
I wanted Captain Avery to maintain his integrity, yet I wanted to introduce an element that could cause him to cross the line. Gretchen Markson is that element. I made sure to reestablish that tension in the closing pages of book 2.
Epilogue: Here is the setup for Wild Space: Sedition. I hinted at the ISD through the thoughts of Lieutenant Ryan Thornberg. He is attempting to build a crew to help him overthrow the captain. Thornberg is using the anger inside the crew to gain their loyalty to his cause – though they don’t really realize that he is only using them as pawns to complete his larger objective.
Wild Space: Reclamation, is at its core, a story about the internal struggles of the crew after having to deal with a near death experience. How do they rebuild their lives after such trauma? How do they reclaim the elements of themselves that were lost in all that destruction? These are the questions that are asked at the beginning of the book and we see answered by the end.