There’s a common refrain that Science Fiction holds up a mirror to the present. An example of this can be found during Battlestar Galactica and its treatment of Cylon captives. Parallels of what was occurring (and still occurs) at Guantanamo Bay were difficult to miss.
One of the themes I was keen to explore through The Erebus Sequence was that of poverty and privilege. Fantasy novels are often set against a pseudo medieval backdrop without much attention given to those at the bottom rungs of society. The lower classes are often portrayed as idle, drunk, or stupid (often all three). Given that the working class in our own country have been demonised as benefit scrounging, freeloaders you could be forgiven for thinking that life has imitated art. Ever notice how orcs and goblins in Middle Earth seem to have cockney accents, while the elves speak in the most flawless Received Pronunciation?
I wanted a more nuanced view, coming as I do from a working class background. Lucien, the protagonist of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, has his own apartment, access to lavish clothes, fine food and a solid education. The road to being privileged and spoilt lay ahead so it was important Lucien be grounded in the realities and unfairness of Landfall by working class characters such as Rafaela and Camelia.
The longer I wrote the first novel the more I came to think of the Orfani as a sort of middle class, not so far removed from those beneath them that they could ignore their privations. The Orfani, characters such as Lucien, Dino and Anea, are a caste of disfigured children protected under edict of the king. As we watch them grow during the many flashbacks of the novel we see just how unfair life in Landfall is for those who live outside the vast, brooding castle of Demesne. And like all good teenagers they rebel.
Book two of The Erebus Sequence takes place ten years after The Boy with the Porcelain Blade. The Boy who Wept Blood is even more invested in the gap between the haves and the have nots, and also the lengths people will go to in order to cling to power, influence and wealth.
All novels thrive on conflict, conflict between characters, characters conflicted by their own wants and needs, conflicts between nations, but what better conflict that of class during these years of austerity?
If this all sounds rather ponderous and political then fear not. There any number of swashbuckling sword fights, sarcasm aplenty, and a handful of dark secrets dragged into the light. A few readers commented on the strange mix of politics, Fantasy and Horror that are the key ingredients of The Erebus Sequence, but surely that has to be an improvement on yet more goblins with cockney accents?
The Boy Who Wept Blood is on sale today. You can buy it in hardback for £17.87 and on kindle for £7.49 at Amazon.co.uk. Read more from Den Patrick in the new issue of SciFiNow.