To quote the great Pythons, "And now for something completely different" -- an interview with the princess of Mars herself, Aria.
(thanks to I.A. Watson for facilitating the interview)
Sean: Well, we’ve interviewed quite a few authors on this website by now, but I think this might be the first time we’ve ever interviewed a character here.
Aria, Princess of Mars: Just because some of the Earthmen of your time happen to have visions of the actual future wherein all life on your planet has ended in devastating war and Mars has been terraformed as humanity’s new home there is no need to confuse me with some fictional heroine. Proceed with your interview, barbarian.
Sean: Um, okay, right. So you’re the, er, the Princess of Mars who appears in the BLACKTHORN: THUNDER ON MARS anthology edited by Van Allen Plexico, and most recently in the novels DYNASTY OF MARS and SPIRES OF MARS by I.A. Watson…
Aria: That much is evident. As a contributor to the chronicling of my adventures in your account “City of Relics” you are presumably familiar with the rudiments of my situation. Be astute in your questioning. The Ancients’ technology that allows this temporal conversation is unstable and may fail at any moment. Also there are several hundred genetically altered rat/human hybrids trying to break through into the Chamber of Chronal Insight.
[Sound of muffled squealing and the shriek of an enraged Mock-man in the background]
Sean: Let’s get to it then. Could you tell us a little bit about future-Mars, your highness?
Aria: In my time the red planet has long been transformed into a habitable, diverse terrain. But the god-like technologies that accomplished this have been lost to civil war, long decline, and finally the Great Burn. Mars is now a divided feudal world where recovered technologies and magic dwell side-by-side and monsters roam.
Sean: Magic? Where did the magic and monsters come from?
Aria: Monsters are the side effects of long dirty wars with genetic, radiation, and arcane weaponry. Magic… the same great machines that preserve life on Mars, that alter its gravity and atmosphere, project an energy cocoon across the planet, an arcanosphere. Those with sensitivity to that field can store and project the power as magic-like effects. Those are the mages, witches, tekes, sorcerers and so forth.
Sean: And sorceresses like yourself.
Aria: There are no sorceresses like myself, Sean Taylor. I am unique and puissant, tuned from birth to the arcane fields of Mars by descent from the very Ancients who set it there, enhanced by the careful addition of thaumaturgic wetware grafted to my nervous system, honed through many hours of diligent study.
Sean: Of course. Sorry. You got your, your wetware from your father, right? He’s one of the rulers of Mars.
Aria: The Black Sorcerer is one of the four First Men who rediscovered some of the Ancient secrets and rose to power as puissant users of magic and science. Each is a very different kind of tyrant. Lord Ruin believes that endless war will winnow the weak. The Sorcerer of Night is obsessed with undeath. The Lord of Fatal Laughter works his insane cruel humours on a planetary scale. The Black Sorcerer tends towards weird science and Byzantine plots.
Sean: You know, we’re pretty fond of bad-girl villain’s daughters on this site.
Aria: Control yourself, barbarian. It is true that I was raised by one of the absolute despots of our troubled world, and that I opposed him by commissioning the champion John Blackthorn to stand against him. That does not make me any kind of ‘bad-girl’. My plots and manipulations are entirely benevolent and… excuse me…
[Sound of arcane bolts roasting something that squeals as it dies]
Aria: Blackthorn, do you think you could possibly take your friends outside to fight them? I’m trying to commune with the past here. Oglok, kindly block that doorway. It’s about time we found some use for you other than as a museum of odours. Now… what were you saying, barbarian?
Sean: I was just asking about being a villain’s daughter, and I guess why you ended up fighting on the side of good.
Aria: Mars is oppressed and dying. Someone has to stand for it. If not the Princess of Mars then whom? When prophecy singularly failed to provide the promised champion I took it upon myself to acquire one by other means.
Sean: You’re referring to two-star U.S. General John Blackthorn, who died in a military conflict sometime in the early twenty-first century only to have his consciousness rehoused in new flesh on future-Mars.
Aria: Indeed. Another barbarian, although useful when things need to be blown up or smitten. And… to be honest, he does seem to have a way of getting people to follow him. Perhaps it is those antique notions from your time, of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, of justice by law, of universal franchisement and so on. Or perhaps he’s just very good at plans that upset my father and the other First Men.
Sean: He’s not the only twenty-first century human to get zapped to the future though, is he?
Aria: When my father attempted to recruit him as his warlord there were three barbarians shifted to new flesh. Blackthorn’s comrade General Yuen elected to have no part in the Martian conflict – although that did not work out as he had hoped. Colonel David Morningstar, Blackthorn’s second, was the one who betrayed him to his original death. Obviously, David and John have a few differences to settle.
Sean: And all this is covered in the BLACKTHORN volumes?
Aria: I imagine so. You’d have to ask the various Earthmen who produce them. There are several apart from yourself, I’m given to understand. Each of them has also produced other literary works, so one can only hope that they have some level of competence at chronicling our struggle.
Sean: That’s Blackthorn’s exploration of Mars to recover old tech that could be used in his fight against the First Men, and the building of an alliance intended to eventually mobilise the planet in war against the ruling Sorcerers?
Aria: Crudely speaking, yes. We have a duty to the people of Mars to save them.
Sean: That’s you, Blackthorn, and the genetically-engineered Mock-man Oglok?
Aria: It is all men and women of conscience in every age, who are called to stand against those who oppress the weak and use force to supplant freedoms. Hmph. Now I sound like John Blackthorn. The man is pervasive.
Sean: And rumours about you and him having something of a spark…?
Aria: Are none of your business. I am certain that your chroniclers would not have such poor taste as to refer to such matters, nor their readership any interest in any romance should it occur. Which it does not. And shall not. At all. Next question.
Sean: Why are the books called THUNDER, DYNASTY, and SPIRES OF MARS?
Aria: You’d have to ask your fellow barbarians. I presume the Thunder refers to the wild lightnings my father used to draw energies to bring Blackthorn to Mars, or else allegorically in. regards to the growing revolution. The Harmony Spires are the crystal towers which maintain our world, and they prove central to the narrative of the online serial novel currently being released twice weekly in your time period. The Dynasty refers either to my father’s ill-considered attempts to wed me to some unsuitable minion with whom I might breed more magic-viable offspring or else to my Ancient lineage on my mother’s side. I imagine you’d have a better idea if you perused the chronicles in question and so would your audience.
[Sound of heavy machinery nearby, of a wall collapsing, and of something exploding]
Aria: It appears that I will have to curtail our conversation, Earthman, and go assist John and Oglok in bringing down one of Lord Ruin’s mobile chain cities. I’m setting this device on overload now so it does not fall into the hands of a First Man. You may want to cover your ears and eyes.
Sean: Well, thanks for taking time out of your busy, um, revolution to talk to us, Princess Aria. I’m sure we all…
Sean: Aaaaghh! Aaagh! My ears!!! My eyes!!!
BLACKTHORN: DYNASTY OF MARS is now available in paperback through Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Blackthorn-Dynasty-I-A-Watson/dp/0615676545/ and at good bookshops, and in Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Blackthorn-Dynasty-Mars-ebook/dp/B008NYCVLQ
BLACKTHORN: SPIRES OF MARS is posted free online at the Blackthorn website every Monday and Thursday at www.whiterocketbooks.com/blackthorn
I.A. Watson takes responsibility for facilitating this interview with Princess Aria.