Every now and then, I’ll get a comment or email from someone who has read both Ruins of the Galaxy and Galaxys Edge (the book series, not the Disney theme park), asking me about some of the similarities between the characters.
Here’s one such note from an Audible listener, Spike:
In listening to Ruins, I'm pretty sure that Ezo's real name is Aeson Keel, Magnus is Chhun with an injection of personality, OTF is a typo for KTF, the Repub Marines are Legionnaires in disguise, Wildwood is Mother Ree out of hiding, and Piper is Prisma in a slightly better life. Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the story! It just feels familiar...
The similarities are indisputable, and for two primary reasons.
First, Galaxys Edge, written by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole, was among my chief inspirations when writing Ruins with J.N. Chaney. Any allusions to their work is my way of honoring the pedigree. I don’t make any attempts to hide this (as mentioned in the Author’s Note at the end of book one’s print and Audible editions). As fans of both properties know, I took the characters and story inspiration in my own direction. (Arguably, the premise of book one, and the series for that matter, is different, but we’re talking characters today, not plots).
Secondly, the character similarities are evident because GE was not first to any of them.
Idris Ezo and Aeson Keel are both Han Solo and Mal, Magnus and Chhun are any number of Luke Skywalker, young Obiwan / Anakin / Asoka and Jayne Cobb, TO-96 and Ravi are C3PO, Chewy, and Wash, and Piper and Prisma are Rey and River—and the list goes on. These are the classic space opera tropes that few can claim as original. Rather, we’re all playing with the same toys in the same sand box, because this is genre fiction, not literature.
We’re all playing with the same toys in the same sand box making up new stories.
Even within the realm of military history, which all mil-scifi writers take cues from, we are honoring what’s come before us. What may surprise many Galaxys Edge readers is that not even KTF is original. The most famous special units acronym is BTF—the Navy SEAL mantra popularized by former SEAL Jocko Willink, which means Big Tough Frogman. For Ruins, I wrote out OTF as “Own the field” in the story before I even realized it was going to be an acronym, and only after I penned it did I realize its connection to BTF and KTF. Psychological imprinting? Definitely. Originality? Not at all.
The point is, my goal was never to be original; it was to contribute to the long and ongoing tradition of giving readers entertaining science fiction. If you connect my characters and stories to any that came before it, and enjoyed the process, then my mission has been successful.
As a final note, of the things I love about this genre is that I’m able to introduce new readers/listeners to GE just as GE introduces people to Ruins. Rising water raises all ships, and I’m grateful to count Jason and Nick among my friends. It’s a privilege to play in this sandbox with legends.
Thanks for reading and listening,