As many readers know, I work a number of conventions and events year-round, mostly sited in the Pacific Northwest. Once a year, I leave the area for Indianapolis to work a table in GenCon’s Authors Avenue. This year marks my fourth time selling books there. Strangely enough, Indianapolis is pretty far away from where I live in Olympia, WA. That means a long drive, and I make it with Jeffrey Cook, my friend and fellow Clockwork Dragon founder.
What happens when you take two F/SF authors and put them in a car for a total of 8 days? They come up with book ideas.
Last year, for the first time, we made an effort to control the process and decided to actually release a book resulting from those conversations. Nova Ranger Academy is that book.
This book is a standalone, set in modern times. It features a number of superheroes operating as members of an elite military unit. Their job is dangerous, but they’re good at it and they have the full support of the US military, which is helpful if you can get it.
For this story, we developed an alternate history, with the primary diverging point directly prior to WW2. To make things simpler for us, we put in a significant amount of effort to avoid changing too much. Vietnam still happened, and the major alliances and powers are all the same ones. Notably, the women’s rights movement gained a lot more traction post-war and the Japanese Internment lasted much less time, and it was interesting to work out how that affected US society on the whole.
The story centers on Ben Tsukuda, a Japanese-American following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. His codename, Captain Kinetic, belonged to both men in their time. His grandfather served in the first Nova Ranger unit, a team of superpowered individuals pulled from all the Allied countries and deployed against the Axis. His father took the name after the Cold War and served with distinction in Vietnam. Now it’s Ben’s turn, and he doesn’t have any major wars to worry about. Instead, his team helps the world manage superpowered people who refuse to abide by the rule of law.
But this isn’t just a zap-kaplowie tale. Ben has a family. His wife, also a superhero, serves on his team as a civilian contractor. They have two kids and try to have a life. Emphasis on “try”. Then add some Nazis.