Anyone who has read my anthology, Tales From Ocherva, will be familiar with at least two of the android characters featured in Starforgers. The short stories featured in TFO are chronological and explore what it is like to go from a standard, non-self-aware android to a Silicant. Silicants are self-aware or sentient androids.
The first android you are introduced to in TFO is called Eighty-eight. All androids are named after the last two digits of their rather long serial numbers. Eighty-eight has no name as it is unaware of the custom of naming Silicants. Its personality is forged on the hot sands of a desert moon that becomes rather important to the big picture. Eighty-eight converts a second android, Thirty-seven to a Silicant and we see again, what the transformation is like from a different android’s POV.
I won’t get into specifics, but for reasons best understood by readers of TFO, these two androids must leave the desert moon of Ocherva and head to the capital of the Federation – Selene. On Selene we are introduced to the Silicants who are trying to earn citizenship and equality for themselves in high society. These Silicants are given names to distinguish themselves from regular old androids. Alert readers will pick up on the fact that each Silicant name is also the name of a fairly well-known SF writer.
The Silicants involved in the Silicant Rights Movement on Selene are part of a subplot in Starforgers. The Silicants are also crucial to the big-picture of the universe the story is set in. I don’t think anyone has wrote so much about androids in Space Opera since Asimov. The Silicants in my stories play a big role in many of my stories both short and long. When writing genre fiction the standard advice to new authors is to write what you enjoy. I really enjoyed the Foundation Series and all Space Opera and robot stores that I have read over the years. The trick is to do your own spin on them and not just retread over the same ground as others have traveled.
The hardest part about writing android characters is getting used to the lack of personal pronouns. They are referred to as “it” rather than him or her. I decided to bend that rule only for androids that take on a more human appearance. Some of the androids in Starforgers look just like people. They don’t come as close to the Replicants of Blade Runner or the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica, but they no longer have metallic bodies and they no longer move like machines.
There is at least one novel set in the Starstrikers Universe that will be exclusively about Silicants – Xinix. Xinix will be a Planet novel and will focus on where the Silicants were banished to around the time that the Alliance was formed and the Great War with the Votainions started. But you will have to wait until the fall of 2014 to read that novel.