My ‘Xeelee Sequence’ of novels and series, depicting a million-year war between humans and the aloof, all-powerful Xeelee, originated in my first published short story, ‘The Xeelee Flower’, published thirty years ago. It was a jeopardy story about a human astronaut in peril – against the background of technology abandoned by powerful, off-stage aliens. Then in my next story, I posited humans in a four-dimensional cage, put there by more powerful off-stage aliens. Eventually, I realised that if I made the aliens the same – the Xeelee - I had the beginning and the end of a future history, which grew, organically, from that point. I produced the earlier novels in two bursts, in the 1990s and then the 2000s.
Because the whole project is rooted in my very earliest work, I think it reflects a lot of the influences that had shaped me up to that point, and that’s why it seems so rich. Each time I revisit the earlier works I find new angles, new ways to dig a little deeper. Arthur C Clarke did something similar, with his novel The City and the Stars. That project began with a draft written as a schoolboy and finished with a sequel written by Gregory Benford.
And that’s why, another decade on, I’ve chosen to go back to the well of the Xeelee again. And besides, I figured I had a good story to tell, as my confused engineer hero Michael Poole finally gets to confront the Xeelee themselves.
From the author of DIVERGENT comes an all new adult fantasy series
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. - WILFRED OWEN, DULCE ET DECORUM EST My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity. - WILFRED OWEN