Way back in June, 2006, former Wing Commander author Dr. William Forstchen announced that he was preparing to publish a modern apocalyptic novel called One Second After. It looks like that book is finally making its way out -- it now has an Amazon listing, a release date (March, 2009) and a description:
Overnight, the world's trains, planes, cars, trucks, phones, computers, power plants and electrical equipment come to a sudden screeching stop. Nor will they ever start up again. The world is in chaos, and everyone wants to know why. Some evangelicals believe the Rapture is at hand. Other fundamentalists see the Cloven Hoof of Satan in the catastrophe. UFO cultists preach the coming of intergalactic aliens. Secularists envisage a host of earthly enemies - Chinese communists, Islamic fanatics, eco-terrorists, and energy industry magnates. New Agers prophesize the dreaded Mayan apocalypse. Is it aliens from space or is it the apocalypse? Human violence or the wrath of an angry god?
It's an interesting departure from Dr. Forstchen's usual military history and military history-derived fiction; it should be worth a look!
Whatever the cause, the modern age has come to an end. Looting, food riots, and global insurrection are the order of the day, and the New Dark Ages are suddenly upon us.
Can this global anarchy be stopped? Can the End Time be reversed?
A small mountain village in the American South is humankind’s last best hope.
This is the Star*Soldier gloss for the first pilots page:
CONCEPT: One thing Wing Commander games have always (well, often) had is a roster of particular 'ace' pilots. Even when it isn't printed in the manual, it's in the game (Rakti, Kur, etc.) It was a no-brainer when I was expanding the manual... except there wasn't anything like that in the game. There was a big list of names that it would randomly assign to an AI and nothing more. I picked a few pilots from the database and write six or eight bios... and was then contacted by the development team, who liked the idea and decided to 'lock' a handful of character names to particular ships. I had to double the number of bios I'd written, which was easy for Terran but no so comfortable for Kilrathi. My rare impact on how the game is actually played (this is also why these particular names show up so often - their spawn rate is a lot higher for whatever reason)!
Beyond that - I'm a Wing Commander fan and not a graphic artist, so one sort of tribute I wanted to include was to seamlessly (which is to say while ignoring the elephant in the room) include multiple Wing Commander styles in the manual. I wanted live actors and drawings and talking heads coexisting and for the booklet to act like there was absolutely no problem with them all appearing together. I think this section was especially well accepted by casual fans, since it's neat to see the talking heads again... (ahh! I'm hitting myself for not including a Super Wing Commander shot right now.)
Note that there is a surprising amount of gameplay in these pages - the callsigns all appear in the game, the kills all match up with the real in-game leaderboards... with some effort you can actually get to the top of this list (six or so people already have).
- "Kyra 'Raven' Hunter" - As you shall see, one of my secondary objectives with these pages was to 'make real' some of the great characters invented for cancelled projects. Kyra was the player character in the first Privateer 3 script, which was written when Tomb Raider was all the rage. She became 'Kyle Travers' (who we'll also meet) in later revisions. Also, let me note that I think 'retired mercenary' is a silly title. I just wanted to introduce some level of background in a very few words.
- "Amber 'Amazon' Elbereth" - Amazon was a Wing Commander Prophecy redshirt who, for some reason, was among the group transferred to the Cerberus for Secret Ops. She's the quintessential 'me too' character (... and also Amazon was there, and she outranked everyone, and was never mentioned again). I just wanted to give her a moment in the sun, which is also why she now appears some slots after Maniac and Blair on the all time pilot rankings (#18). The head artwork comes from Wing Commander II's set of "background" heads, which range from horrific to... this one (I am not the first person guilty of borrowing from this source - Special Operations did the same thing. Why do you think Bear is so weird looking?) The story here (Miwday, CIS, etc.) is taken directly from her games.
- "Navy Cross" - Remember when Wing Commander games had medals you could win? This is a reference to that - although this is the first time the real-life Navy Cross has been mentioned in Wing Commander (I had to look that up).
- "disproportionate number" - Here's a story! Earlier on in development I was asked for a list of callsigns used in Wing Commander. The idea was that they would be mixed with ordinary ones generated by the development team and used in the game as names for randomly spawned AI pilots. That way you would occasionally see a somewhat familiar Wing Commander name when playing through the gauntlet. I dug through the sources and especially the big sources of callsigns - the list of dead pilots in the Confederation Handbook, the Midway redshirt roster and so forth. Little did I know, at the time, that I would later have to name all the bots and provide all sorts of background for this world! Whoops. I gave most of the 'familiar' callsigns to new characters (especially the dead ones!) but kept the various Midway redshirts the same. This reference is a quick explanation of why you find so many familiar names (and I guess it makes sense, as the Midway pilots were fighting the bugs for the longest time...)
- "Don't let her looks fool you" - The joke is that a) this is exactly the kind of crap that every biography of a female character ever includes and b) the Wing Commander II heads are all hideous.
- "Joe 'Hollywood' Turner" - Joe was the 'hero' character in the short-lived Privateer television series concept. Most of the things in this biography also come from that concept: Marc Lassiter was the 'Privateer 2/3' hero who would have tamed up with Turner if that elaborate fusing of game and show had come about, Legion Inc. was their big opponent and the Black Lance crisis refers to the shows setting and hopes that it would cross over with WC4. The picture, again, is a leftover from Wing Commander II.
- "VK Day" - A favorite World War IIism of mine appears again. I believe this actually first appeared in False Colors.
- Bearpit" - Another attempt to tie the character to the game!
Hollywood was my callsign, referencing something Aaron Allston once said about how the concept had 'gone Hollywood' after it left his hands, with scripts planned for things like a visit to a planet of barbarian women.
- "Dirk 'Stingray' Wright - Second (of two) references to a favorite also-ran from Wing Commander II. This is actually the first statement that Stingray survived the loss of the Concordia, so... there's that.
- "mentored by Blair himself" - Blair would probably disagree, although Stingray was certainly the young fool to his experienced veteran in Wing Commander II. Moreover, the story I wanted to imply here was that in 2701 *everyone* with any sort of connection to Blair is going to set themselves up as his best friend.
- "Third Warsaw" - This is taken from an American Civil War method of referring to multiple battles in the same place (ie, "Second Manassas"). Warsaw was the first planet Strontium-bombed by the Kilrathi in Fleet Action.
- "too old to keep fighting" - I know what you're thinking: shouldn't these characters be really old. Well... we'll talk about that later.
- "nose of his Rapier" - Two things: one, Stingray flew a Rapier in Wing Commander II... and two, I sincerely love the idea that kill/bomb/mission marks are painted on fighters as in World War II. They did this for the Wing Commander movie and it should have been expanded greatly.
- "Stingray is a cautious pilot" - What a difference a few decades of experience make!