Talking Alder’s World with Joel Stottlemire

This is Part 1 of my interview with Joel Stottlemire, founder of The Dryden Experiment.

Part two of his three part novel, Alder’s World (Part 2: Chlorophyll Probes) releases this Thursday, October 29. To celebrate the release, I invited Joel to answer some questions about his book and his adventure into a new model of publishing. Bringing together people from across the world, Joel aims to be part of a revolution in art and publishing. He’s found an idea that grips him, and his passion is the spark that set off an international collective of authors and artists working together in amazing shared spaces. The Dryden Experiment is exactly that, an experiment seeking to test the power of individuals working under a common banner, and it’s showing results.

Over the past few years, Joel has grown a collection of shared universes using Creative Commons, beginning with Dryden Universe: a sci-fi world with four expansive eras, and made to allow for every kind of science-fiction you can imagine. It’s home to Alder’s World; The Eclipsing of Sirus C by Daniel B. Hunt; the roleplaying-game Big Damn Dryden; A Matter of Trust by Greta van der Rol; and next month’s release Rise of the Europan, an anthology featuring stories by six Dryden authors. That’s only some of what Dryden Universe has to offer, and it’s growing as more people continue to share their ideas, stories, and experience.

Joel built the timeline of Dryden’s sci-fi universe, his early ideas shaped the setting, and now he’s helping to expand it even further. He’s currently working on the final volume of Alder’s World, due out next year.

Was there a reason you chose 2360 as the year that Alder’s World happens? Did you think about its place in the timeline of Dryden Universe as you were writing it?

Joel: Unless otherwise specified, we always assume the current year in the Dryden Universe to be 2503. The role-playing game is set there. While there are known events for thousands of years on either side of that date, I tend to set everything I’m working on relative to 2503. I wanted the voyage of the LOP Duster, the ship in Alder’s World, to be legendary, so I needed a date well before 2503.

2360 happens to be not long after the League of Planets took over League Prime, so it seemed like a good time for them to be sending out deep space research ships.

Why did you decide to write the story in three parts?

Joel: I wanted to be able to give people a free introduction to the story and the Dryden Universe in general. I could have written three novels and made the first one free, but that would have taken forever. Instead, I’m writing a single novel and making the first part free. After Part III releases in April 2016, we’ll go back and do a full version bundling all three earlier versions together. Part I will still be free on epub though. That’s just how we roll.

Can you talk about the Technoprey some, and their role in Dryden Universe?

Joel: The Technoprey (originally designed by Gavin Revitt before there was such a thing as Dryden) are our answer to the question, if there are other spacefaring races in the galaxy, which Dryden needs for there to be, why haven’t they stopped by Sol?  Why aren’t there local empires?  Why aren’t we the vassal planet of some more advanced civilization?

The Technoprey live in gas giant planets and stay dormant for thousands of years at a time. When their mating cycle starts, they rise up from the planets and destroy everything in sight. It was a really great way to have other races in the galaxy, but not close enough to disturb the first few hundred years of human expansion into space. Every 40,000 years or so, basically everybody in the galaxy gets reduced to rubble by this unknown threat.

In Alder’s World, the crew of the Duster, who, like the rest of humanity, have never heard of the Technoprey, stumble onto a little Technoprey…project, much to their regret.

Why did you decide to split Dryden Universe into four eras?

Joel: One of the big questions we faced early on was how to make the Dryden sci-fi universe available to all the different kinds of science-fiction that’s out there.  The movies Wizards and Contact are both science fiction but that’s about all they have in common.

My solution was to have “Epoques” in our universe. The first 700 years or so are pretty hard sci-fi and cyberpunk-ish.  In 2700, there’s a radical shift (you’ll have to read Rise of the Europan to find out what happens), and we leave the hard sci-fi Epoque for a more space opera era. Later there’s room for horror, and eventually wild space fantasy. The hope is that no matter what kind of science fiction you like to create or consume, you can find it in the Dryden Universe.


Tomorrow, I’ll have the second part of this interview here, where Joel talks about his experience of creating The Dryden Experiment and what it’s like using the Creative Commons model to bring artists together. Part 2 of Alder’s World is available for pre-order on Amazon and on Smashwords, and Part 1 is currently free to download.

If you missed it before, here’s my review of Alder’s World (Part 1). To learn more about The Dryden Experiment, check out the Dryden Author and Artists page on Facebook.

Alder's World (Part 2)

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