Paradise End is the billionaire’s refuge outside of time. The temporal engines are powerful, with rigid safety features to prevent the careless time-traveller from disappearing up their own ancestor, but someone always finds a way to override the safeties. The Baron Beauchamps-Hapsburg, who should have known better, did just that when he tried to seal his dynastic ambitions by marrying his daughter Raina to his son Saul.
The coming of the Queen and her Golden Empire is told by four people, who might as well introduce themselves.
Those looking to relocate to Paradise End can refer to the Customer Prospectus FAQ.
I am Mowali, the Baron’s servant and administrator of Paradise End. I was built for this task, a compilation of many minds, designed to serve and obey. I am called the man of many parts, all working as one, and yet quite separate in my head, forming cliques and committees as needed.
In regard to the matter of the crisis of Queen of the Universe, I would point out that it was my duty to rescue Raina, the Baron’s daughter, and to prevent her suicide. And whilst it actually was my suggestion to include the proxy wife to make her dynastic marriage to her brother more palatable, I had no inkling of the dangers. After all, it was Hawker who brought Magda to Paradise End and started the whole catastrophe running.
Personally, I blame him, as falling in love with Magda was the worst thing I could have done.
Call me Hawker, call it my fault. Always Hawker’s fault. Send me out to fetch a woman, I deliver to spec, and suddenly it’s my fault. Get a proxy wife from the dawn of time, they said. I found a girl that matched what Raina’s brother fancied. On the ****ing money, as they said back before the Exodus. No way I could know the brat was describing his mother. To a ****ing T.
I would be more pissed off, but I returned to Paradise End just in time to meet Katrine. The love of my life. Impossible time-traveller. Privy to the secrets of the temporal engines. Daughter of the Queen of the Universe. I love her like I never thought possible. I’m just not looking forward to meeting the mother-in-law.
There will be more things that are my fault.
They called me Charlee, before the Church of the Righteous murdered me for being a freak, for deviating from their image of humanity. That was a low-point in my life. Then I woke up as part of Mowali, and I have Hawker to thank for getting me out of that and into a new body, even it it is gender-locked. It’s a challenge to go from hunter-assassin to wedding planner, but I like Raina. She still has her childhood toys, surgically modded people at least as freaky as me, and she loves them so selflessly that I am fully prepared to go to the other end of the universe to make her happy. Besides which, weddings are always a good cover for a quiet kill.
Good day to you. Please allow me to introduce myself: Miss Modette de la Coeur, from the colony of New South Wales, delighted and privileged to be companion to the Baron Hapsburg-Beauchamps. Please disregard any nonsense you may hear about my having died and been resurrected by some future magic into a Mowali. In truth I was most fortunate to encounter a certain Madame Bouillabaisse in the year eighteen seventy-two and be invited to embark on a life of adventure as companion to exceptional men across the span of history. My even greater fortune is that a single night with my old friend the Baron, assisting him as he dealt with his brat of a daughter, turned into a fine romance worthy of the poets and playwrights.
I have no doubt that my dear Baron will soon put that pretentious Queen in her place and found his own Golden Empire to eclipse hers utterly.
Queen of a Preloved Universe – The cats
Science fiction is littered with intelligent cats, companion cats, talking cats, but the Emperor cats are just cats. Ten times the size of a domestic moggy, with behaviour inspired by our own furry friends, but they don’t talk, don’t solve problems and don’t rescue lost children. They do get panicked by getting stuck in a room, maul Modette’s boots and shred her underwear to make a nest in the wardrobe. Emperor cats also lead people through unplanned temporal jumps, just because they’re cats and they saw something that needed chasing.
Queen of a Preloved Universe – A work in progress
My usual approach to writing and publishing is to do just that: write it, get it polished and edited, and then publish it. I certainly don’t start talking about it while I’m still doing the writing. Somehow, “Queen” as it gets known around the house, is different.
I started writing Queen more than ten years ago, oddly enough in parallel with an urban fantasy now published as Hell of a Deal. Everyone does that, don’t they? Write a time-travelling space-opera and an urban fantasy at the same time? The only difference was that Hell of a Deal came out at a nice, tidy 120k words and Queen turned into a rambling monster which I’ve worked on in the background ever since.
So, roll forwards to 2019 and I have just published the third “Hell of a…” book with plans to write the fourth. In fact, that was the whole plan for 2019, but then the year started with my partner being diagnosed with a serious health problem and a lot of time spent in hospital waiting rooms where it was easier to peck away at the Queen books. Then, of course, came 2020 and COVID.
So, for the moment, “Hell of a…” part four is on hold because suddenly I have books one to three of Queen written and number four just coming together.
Unlike “Hell of a…”, I am not going to publish Queen until all four books are complete because the plot is just too intricate. I’m a pantser, I make it up as I go along, and in a four-part story filled with time travel I’m forever finding things in the latest book that don’t quite fit with the first.
The only bits of Queen I have published are some short stories featuring Hawker, and his incidental nemesis, the genetically engineered Emperor cats. I think the main reason I write him is because he is me, in a foul mood with the brakes off. Really, the main differences between Hawker and myself is that I am not a genius, I don’t have a time machine and I don’t hate cats.
I have high hopes that book four will get written in 2022 and the first one will be published in 2023.