Tangent Knights

Contents:

Tangent Knights 1: Caprice of Fate

tangent-knights-1-cover

GraphicAudio introduces a spectacular original Super-heroic Action Series available in no other format!

In the year 2046, on the artificial-island arcology of New Avalon, Corazón “Cory” Kagami is a bright but impulsive college student who follows her passions, resisting the will of her mother, Morgan Herrera, head of a tech conglomerate responsible for astonishing breakthroughs. Morgan controls Catchfire Industries, and is effectively the ruler of New Avalon through her near-monopoly of its technology and through the numerous government officials she keeps in her pocket.

In a world where communication with parallel Tangent Earths has brought a disruptive influx of new beliefs and scientific innovation, Morgan promotes a strong defense against threats from within and beyond this world, developing advanced personal armor and weaponry for her cyborg peacekeeping team Fireforce.

When Cory is accidentally empowered with the most advanced armor system yet, Morgan tries to renew her bond with her daughter and train her to be a hero, a decision she may come to regret. Cory Kagami, a fan of Japanese tokusatsu action entertainment, has her own ideas about what it means to be a hero.

© & ℗ 2021 Graphic Audio, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book Adapted for GraphicAudio by Richard Rohan. Directed by Richard Rohan. Narrated by Richard Rohan with Elaine Yuko Qualter as Cory Kagami, Bianca Bryan as Morgan Herrera, John Kielty as Alex Reading, Tony Nam as Branton Tseng, Daniel Llaca as Daniel Vajra, Yesenia Iglesias as Malika Ramos, Emilea Wilson as Erika Drake, Duyen Washington as Nalah Imani, Kay Eluvian as Karl Hauser, Nazia Chauhdry as Shakti Desai and Niusha Nawab as Kadir Azim. Also with Marni Penning, Rob McFadyen, Robb Moreira, and Triya Leong.

“[Tangent Knights] is a very nifty concept and is incredibly enjoyable.” — Keith R.A. DeCandido

Available from GraphicAudio at:

https://www.graphicaudio.net/tangent-knights-1-caprice-of-fate.html

Tangent Knights is an original series which I created and wrote specifically for GraphicAudio. Like my previous GA releases, Only Superhuman and Spider-Man: Drowned in Thunder, it’s a full-cast audio novel with music and sound effects. But while those were adaptations of prose novels, Tangent Knights is available exclusively in audio form.

Aimed at a general audience (age 13-up), Tangent Knights is inspired by the transforming armored heroes of Japanese live-action tokusatsu (special effects) series such as Kamen Rider, Super Sentai (the basis for Power Rangers), and Ultraman, embracing not only their distinctive approach to superhero action but their sophisticated story arcs and nuanced characterizations — yet grounding them in (relatively) plausible quantum theory and technological extrapolation, including a fresh approach to parallel-world narratives.

This project was a life-saver for me, coming along when I was desperately in need of new work to pull me out of the deep financial hole I’d been in for the previous few years. But when I first got the invitation from GraphicAudio to develop a series proposal, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off before the pitching deadline, since I was struggling with depression and writer’s block. Since this would be a work-for-hire project belonging to GA, I couldn’t use any of my existing published universes for which I held the copyright. Could I come up with something entirely new in the limited time available?

Or maybe something old instead? GA had suggested that I think along similar lines to Only Superhuman, science fiction with a superhero theme. Back in college in the late ’80s and early ’90s, my best friend at the time had ambitions to get in on the indie comics boom of that period and start his own publishing company. It ultimately turned out to be just empty talk, but he drew me into the fantasy and I ended up creating a number of my own superhero series concepts, even after we fell out of touch. Those concepts had just been sitting in my drawer for decades, literally and figuratively. I cannibalized a number of their characters for Only Superhuman and its followup story “Conventional Powers,” but I still had plenty of untapped ideas left over.

My other inspiration was my recent obsession with tokusatsu. Since Japanese superhero shows have taken up so much of my head space these last few years, the path of least resistance was to embrace that preoccupation (and not for the first time — Star Trek: The Higher Frontier was heavily influenced by Kamen Rider). Just as Only Superhuman had been a hard-SF riff on Western superheroes, at once celebrating and deconstructing the conventions of comic books, so this new project could do the same for toku heroes and tropes.

Fortunately, a couple of my old comics ideas lent themselves well to this. While most were just general concepts, characters, and worldbuilding with few specific plot ideas, there was one that I’d revisited occasionally over the years and worked out a whole series arc for (though I never settled on a satisfactory title). I’d already made tentative plans to rework my notes for it into a novel trilogy outline even before I got GA’s offer, and its story structure — centering on a young woman who gained extraordinary powers and was drawn into a conflict among parallel universes — was a perfect fit for a Kamen Rider-style arc that evolves and escalates in scope over the course of a series.

There was a problem, though. I’d already written a prologue story focusing on the potential trilogy’s supporting characters, and was shopping it to magazines when GA’s offer came. If it had sold, I wouldn’t be able to use that universe for the GA project. But it was still my best bet. What could I do?

I finally decided that the answer, fittingly, was to split the concept into two separate universes. Since the short story preceded the main protagonist’s involvement, I could rework the trilogy premise to separate out the characters and concepts featured in the story, leaving the main character and the broad strokes and themes of her journey as the spine of the narrative. As it happened, I’d revised the physical foundations of its multiverse premise somewhere in the early 2000s, replacing its quantum-based “phase worlds” with parallel brane universes based in string theory, which I thought was more novel. So I could divorce the trilogy from the short story simply by going back to quantum theory as the foundation for its parallel worlds.

As it happens, the story didn’t sell, but I’m still glad I ended up reworking the premise. My original plan would have been somewhat darker, the characters less fun, than what I ended up with. Maybe that’s why the story didn’t sell.

Most of Tangent Knights‘ lead characters are derived from another of my unused 1990s comics premises, this one involving a team of transforming armored “Knights,” inspired by Power Rangers as well as the ’80s anime I knew as Ronin Warriors (the English dub of Yoroiden Samurai Troopers). These Knights included the free-spirited Cory Carrera, code name Caprice, whom I combined with the multiverse trilogy’s Asian-American heroine, renaming her Cory Kagami (“mirror,” to fit the multiverse theme and her silver armor) and promoting her to the lead role, modeling her on the eccentric, hyper-enthusiastic, unlikely heroes common as tokusatsu leads today. (As much as I like toku, one thing that frustrates me about it is the lack of female leads. There are a number of major female-led anime series aimed at girls, such as Sailor Moon and the Pretty Cure franchise, and occasional toku shows as well, but there’s pretty strict segregation between “boy” shows and “girl” shows.)

I don’t want to say what my full working title was for the “Knights” series, since some years later I Googled it and discovered to my horror that it was in use as the name of a hate group. I still liked the “Knights” part, though. I got “Tangent” from looking into quantum mathematics, probability vectors, and the like. It may not be strictly accurate in reference to interaction across timelines, but I think Tangent Knights sounds very cool.

Oddly enough, the arcology of New Avalon doesn’t come from my Arthurian-vibed Knights premise, but from a third unused idea about a team of cyborgs, whose origin story provided the foundation for Morgan Herrera’s Fireforce. Since the Kamen Riders of the 20th century were all cyborgs, that concept fit in neatly. Some key elements from a fourth premise became a major part of Books 2-3. But I still had to create a lot from scratch, and to rework what I had to fit tokusatsu story structure and character tropes.

Once I had an outline for Book 1 and a general idea of the rest of the trilogy arc, I had to write the first couple of chapters as a sample to complete my pitch. They were enormous fun to write, and I was very glad when GraphicAudio bought the concept.

Per GA’s instructions, I wrote Book 1 in prose format, and I managed to write the whole novel without a single “s/he said” dialogue tag, since those are awkward in audiobooks. But before writing Book 2, I got to see the adapted audio script for Book 1 and used it as a guide for writing the latter two books in script format. It’s been enjoyable to work in a new medium, to learn how to write with sound effects and dialogue subtext cues as an alternative to narration.

I’ve also been very self-indulgent, loading the books with in-jokes and homages that tokusatsu fans will hopefully recognize, as well as plenty of science fiction worldbuilding and social commentary that I hope will please fans of my previous works. It’s been fun thinking up scientific justifications for many of the fanciful tropes of the genre, or to recast them in a more plausible, grounded context. But not too grounded, since part of the fun of tokusatsu is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m really proud of this one, and I hope people enjoy listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

Since there isn’t room for acknowledgments in the audiobooks, I want to give thanks to the two people who’ve helped me the most with Tangent Knights: my friend and colleague Keith R.A. DeCandido, who’s been my beta reader and karate consultant, and my fellow TrekBBS member going by “Samurai8472,” who’s the person most responsible for getting me heavily into tokusatsu these past few years. I couldn’t have done it without them.

(Spoiler annotations for Caprice of Fate may not appear for a while, as I’m still busy writing Book 3.)

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