Under the Influence - The DNA of The Sunset Chronicles

Photo by  Hal Gatewood  on  Unsplash

My new book, Sunrise, the first book in my epic Dystopian Sci-Fi series will be out in less than two months. That’s pretty exciting, and a little bit terrifying, if I’m going to be honest. But as I ramp up, one thing my readers have been asking me is... what’s it like?

Well, it’s not apocalyptic, for one thing. It’s set a hundred years in Earth’s future. Oh, and there’s terrifying creatures, space missions, kickass agents, telepaths, and a global conspiracy to… well, that would be telling.

But that’s what it is, so what is it actually like? I can’t tell you that, really. It’s a bit like the old saying: Nobody can be shown what the Matrix is, they have to see it for themselves. So, I thought do a quick rundown of some of the things that have been running around in my brain while I’ve been working on this series for the past three years, in the hope that it might offer the briefest glimpse into what’s in store.

Album: Elder – Reflections of a Floating World. This stoner-prog masterpiece from a few years ago has been on fairly heavy repeat since it came out, and is a particular go-to while writing. It’s dense, magical, silly, crushing, and heavier than a really heavy thing. It also has a breathtaking scope, a palette all of its own. If any of that made its way through my ears and out through my fingers, I’ll be pretty happy about it.

TV Show: Babylon 5. To my mind still the greatest sci-fi epic of all time, while the Sunset Chronicles is much less of a space opera, what I hope I have taken on board is some of the grander themes. Corporate greed, the power of the individual and the collective, and never to trust a damn telepath.

Movie: Aliens. Possibly the first film I ever fell in love with, this and its predecessor are etched into my brain in very distinct ways, and my desire to write science fiction is very closely linked to my desire to write something that evokes the same chilling dread of Giger’s xenomorphs. And I’d like to think that in the character of Wyn, the pilot of a mission to the ice moon of Europa on a mission to save humanity, there’s someone who’d be able to stand side by side with Ellen Ripley.

Books: The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Before you start, no, The Sunset Chronicles are not fantasy. But they are epic, and nothing says epic to me more than the series so long even its author didn’t make it to the end. (too soon?) Each book in this series is over 100k long, which may not rival Jordan’s doorstoppers, but is a hell of a lot longer than anything I’ve written before. Not only that, but the series will be made up of three epic trilogies, all building to a crescendo of biblical proportions. Not only that, but a lot of Jordan’s themes have wound their way into my work over the years, and they’re here, too, especially in the duality of self and the battles of good and evil that take place internally and externally throughout. I’ve not bothered going in for any of Jordan’s dodgier sexist tropes, though.

So, it’s less than two months until release now, so there’ll be a few more juicy titbits over the next few weeks. Are you looking forward to getting hold of your copy?


Paul Stephenson is a writer of horror and science fiction novels. Blood on the Motorway: An apocalyptic trilogy of murder and stale sandwiches is out now in ebook and print from Amazon and all other good bookstores. You can get the first book free by joining the mailing list or reading along at Wattpad. Oh, and he’s got a Patreon. Sign up for free books, a free weekly short story, and much more.

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