Over twenty years in the making, Starbreaker is a heavy metal science fantasy epic set in a twisted mirror image of our own world’s near future.
After a collapse remembered by the survivors as Nationfall, humanity rebuilt their civilization and sparked a Second Renaissance. The resurgent human population lives and works with human-level artificial intelligence, settlements on Luna and Mars debate whether and how to preserve the landing sites of pre-Nationfall spacecraft, and an elite corps of Adversaries watch over church, state, and commerce to root out corruption and abuses of power.
However, a millennia-old conspiracy uses subterfuge and magic to maintain its control of the world. A threat to humanity’s survival and that of a race which lived among humanity since the dawn of human civilization waits to break free of its underground prison. The person best suited to face this threat doesn’t know he’s not human, but a sentient bioweapon who would rather be a rock star.
How to Read Starbreaker
The books and stories of the Starbreaker saga are listed in chronological order, with publication dates in parentheses. The main saga is just called “Starbreaker”, but I’ve also begun a “Starbreaker Origins” series featuring individual characters’ stories. I’ll eventually write a “Starbreaker Aftermath” series taking the setting decades into its future, and also explore its past in “Nationfall: An Occult History of the Last Apocalypse”.
I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. It’s gonna be a long, strange mother of a trip.
Starbreaker originally started out as one gargantuan novel, but I’ve since expanded the story so that it no longer fits in one volume.
- Without Bloodshed (November 2013)
- Silent Clarion (October 2016)
While you need not have read Without Bloodshed to enjoy Silent Clarion, some readers have suggested that Silent Clarion is a gentler introduction to Starbreaker. In addition, the “Starbreaker Origins” titles indicate origin stories/introductions for various characters.
Don’t have time to read a novel? Do you want to try before you buy? Maybe these shorter works will catch your interest, despite being rougher than my novels.
- “Steadfast” (October 2012)
- “The Milgram Battery” (October 2013)
- “Of Cats and Cardigans” (December 2013)
- “Tattoo Vampire” (October 2014)
- “Limited Liability” (January 2015)
Works in Progress
Here’s what I’m working on now.
Here’s what I’ll be working on next.
- Proscribed Constructs (or Heartless Savior — final title TBD)
- A Tyranny of Angels
- Dead Man’s Hand
- Nightmare Sequencer
- A Light That Never Warms
These titles are based on ideas I’ve kicked around for after I’m done with Starbreaker and the related Starbreaker Origins novels. Some are set after Starbreaker, and others before.
- The Spiral Architects
- Children of the Grave
- Omega Point Blank
Nationfall: An Occult History of the Last Apocalypse
- The Widening Gyre
- To End All Wars
- Take Hold of the Flame
Inspired by Heavy Metal
I wasn’t kidding when I said Starbreaker was inspired by heavy metal. If you have a Spotify account, or don’t mind making one, you can hear some of the songs that inspired the characters and story of Starbreaker over the last twenty years.
The Official Starbreaker Playlist has over 666 tracks spanning hard rock and heavy metal from the 1970s to today, along with some classical music, some jazz, and other styles. You can listen to and follow it online, or with your Spotify app.
And if you want a shorter playlist, you might want to check out the Silent Clarion OST, which contains most of the tracks that serve as chapter titles in Silent Clarion.
Starbreaker Isn’t Just for Metalheads
In addition to the heavy metal sound that inspired Starbreaker, my saga also owes much to an East meets West collision of manga, anime, movies, comics, books,and video games.
Believe it or not, I originally started writing Starbreaker because I wanted to come up with a better story than Final Fantasy VII, but I drew upon other Japanese influences over the years.
Influential manga and anime include X (released as X/1999 in the US), The Slayers, Berserk, Vampire Hunter D, Akira, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Golgo-13, RahXephon, Saiyuki, Vagabond, Princess Jellyfish, and Death Note.
Game influences encompass classic franchises like Final Fantasy, Shin Megami Tensei (including spin-offs like Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner and Persona), Suikoden, Deus Ex, Lunar, Rockman, InFamous, Metal Gear, and Phantasy Star.
Starbreaker isn’t just for metalheads, anime fans, and gamers because neither am I.
You might also enjoy Starbreaker if you enjoyed movies like Die Hard, The Crow, Demolition Man, Dredd, Army of Darkness, Ghostbusters, They Live, Escape from New York, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Big Trouble in Little China, Stargate, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Unbreakable, The Usual Suspects, Pulp Fiction, John Wick, Kill Bill, or The Devil’s Advocate.
Are you a comics fan? If you’re familiar with The Authority, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Preacher, Judge Dredd, Lucifer, Sandman, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Punisher, or Doctor Strange, you might also enjoy Starbreaker.
Nor have I forgotten you bookworms! Sure, Starbreaker has a gray wizard and a white wizard (whom the ladies describe as having a gifted tongue) but this isn’t just another Lord of the Rings pastiche. Instead, I would like to think I draw upon the traditions of writers like Alexandre Dumas the elder, Jane Austen, Michael Moorcock, Catherine Lucille Moore, Roger Zelazny, Leigh Brackett, Steven Brust, C. J. Cherryh, M. John Harrison, Carol Berg, Scott Lynch, Celia S. Friedman, China Mieville, Jacqueline Carey, and Neal Stephenson.
Whether I actually do is another matter entirely, and one best settled by academics long after I’m dead.
A Little Taste
Want a little taste of Starbreaker? Try these quotes from various stories.
Morgan in Without Bloodshed
You’re right, Naomi. I am tired. When reasonable Adversaries like you fail, the Society turns to unreasonable ones like me. When diplomats fail, the Society speaks of necessary evils and resorts to killers. I’m tired of being a necessary evil.
Naomi in Silent Clarion
Surrendering my cardigan to the cat after indulging in a belly rub, I decided on my favorite leather jacket instead. I had found it in a secondhand shop, still supple and gleaming despite its age. It had zippers enough to set off metal detectors, and let me look at myself in the mirror and feel a touch Byronic. Sometimes I just wanted to be ‘mad, bad, and dangerous to know’.
Tetsuo in Without Bloodshed
The Shenzhen labor strike was engineered. Isaac Magnin and the rest of the Executive Council have their hands in everything: corporations, organized labor, organized religion, and even organized crime. It’s all a revenue stream for those bastards, and while they leave sole proprietors and co-ops alone, businesses are extorted of half their profits. Anybody who doesn’t pay up finds their workforce on strike. If they still haven’t fallen in line after the strike, we get sent in to make sure they pay up—or die.
Meet The Cast
Taken from the design works for Blackened Phoenix, this is a list of major characters in the Starbreaker saga grouped by organization, faction, or type. It is not exhaustive, and might contain spoilers.
- Annelise Copeland - a rising New York fashion designer with her own boutique on Fifth Avenue. Bears a striking resemblance to the late Christabel Crowley.
- Sabaoth - an ensof imprisoned beneath the Antarctic ice cap by Imaginos. Frequently appears before humans, claims to be God, and demands humans obey his commands to commit genocide.
- Mordred - A rakshasa who has adopted Morgan Stormrider and his companions. Can understand English, but his spoken vocabulary is limited to “meow”.
Crowley’s Thoth is a neo-Romantic heavy metal band active between 2101 and 2112. Noted for albums like Prometheus Unbound, Le Morte D’Arthur, and Water Margin; Crowley’s Thoth is also famous for its three-hour live shows, which often start without the band’s founder and violinist. Their final album, released at the beginning of 2112, was Glass Earth Falling.
- Christabel Crowley (deceased?) - Violin/Viola
- Morgan Stormrider - Guitar/Vocals
- Naomi Bradleigh - Lead Vocals/Keyboards
The Phoenix Society
The Phoenix Society is nominally a non-government organization dedicated to the defense of free and open societies through active policing of corruption and abuses of power in government, commerce, and religion. The truth is a bit more sinister.
Adversaries are agents of the Phoenix Society’s enforcement arm, the Individual Rights Defense corps. If Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid worked for the ACLU, he’d be similar to what Adversaries are supposed to be.
- Morgan Stormrider
- Naomi Bradleigh
- Edmund Cohen
- Sid Schneider
- Sarah Kohlrynn
- Catherine Gatto
IRD Corps Directors
Though the AIs comprising the Sephiroth do most of the work of assigning work to Adversaries, human officers have the final say.
- Saul Rosenbaum
- Iris Deschat
- Karen Del Rio
Ten artificial intelligences govern most aspects of the Phoenix Society’s operations, but serve other purposes and have their own agenda.
The Executive Council
The identity of the Phoenix Council’s executive council is a carefull-guarded secret to keep the Society’s enemies from striking at the Society’s heart – and to preserve the secret of the Society’s true nature and purpose.
- Isaac Magnin
- Charles Desdinova
- Edmund Cohen
- Tamara Gellion
- Elisabeth Bathory
- Samuel Terell
- Abram Mellech
A distributed digital republic composed primarily of techies, hackers, crackers, gamers, and trolls. Port Royal is a frequent source of anti-Phoenix Society sentiment, and occasional attacks against the Society’s technical infrastructure.
- Claire Ashecroft - a gray-hat hacker who frequently works with Morgan Stormrider and his crew
The AsgarTech Corporation
The Asgard Technological Development Corporation (AsgarTech) is one with a long and unsavory history spanning four incarnations. The most recent under Isaac Magnin is responsible for the Asura Emulator Project and primarily funded by the Phoenix Society — but this is a closely guarded secret.
- Isaac Magnin, CEO
- Dr. Josefine Malmgren, ÆsirOS developer/Project Æsir (Asura Emulator Project)
- Polaris, Project Æsir prototype
Ohrmazd Medical Group
Ostensibly a benevolent organization specializing in providing bleeding-edge medical care to the masses, Ohrmazd Medical is also involved in the Asura Emulator Project.
- Dr. Charles Desdinova, Founder
Disciples of the Watch
A cabal of ensof sworn to guard the Starbreaker, the Disciples are likewise sworn to destroy any ensof who threatens sapient species under their protection, like devas/asuras and humans.
- Adramelech (cast out for treachery)
Nakajima Armaments of Kyoto
A manufacturer of arms and armor trusted by Adversaries since its foundation in 2071 by Nakajima Kaoru, it continues to supply Adversaries under the supervision of Kaoru’s daughter Chihiro, who took over the company in 2104.
- Nakajima Kaoru (deceased), - Founder
- Nakajima Chihiro, President
- Ms. Yamagishi, administrative assistant to Nakajima Chihiro
- Masamune, Design and Production AI for Nakajima Armaments
Murdoch Defense Industries
A manufacturer of cheap equipment propped up by the Phoenix Society, Murdoch also makes additional profits by selling black-market arms — with the Society’s tacit approval.
- Victoria Murdoch, CEO
- Don Kissel, factory foreman
Though Adversaries have had to clamp down on abuses committed by officers of the Metropolitan Police of London, the modern MEPOL is an efficient, professional police force.
- Chief Inspector Gregory Windsor
This opposition group sprang into prominence in the wake of the Phoenix Society’s counterrevolutionary operations in Boston. Initially demanding “justice for Liebenthal” through social media activity and non-violent demonstrations outside Society installations, Blackened Phoenix has recently resorted to attacking the Society’s Technological infrastructure.
- Munakata Tetsuo
- Alexander Liebenthal
- Vincent Rubicante
- Sarah Kohlrynn
Digital butlers/secretaries serving private individuals are slowly becoming more common as costs decrease, but remain expensive because AIs are considered persons under the law, and are therefore protected by the Universal Declaration of Individual Rights.
- Astarte (works with Morgan)
- Hal (works with Claire)
- Wolfgang (works with Naomi)
- Aleister (worked with Christabel)
- Savannah (works with Eddie)
- Howl (works with Josefine)