Where are the Next Draka Books?

The Draka universe is an original creation of S. M. Stirling, copyright by him, all rights reserved. Mention or discussion of copyrighted characters and terms in this critical appreciation is not intended, nor should be interpreted or construed, as a challenge to those copyrights.

So what is going on with the Draka series?

The fourth book in the Draka series, Drakon, ended with a clear lead-in for a sequel. When Drakon came out in 1996, there was a general sense that the sequel would not be long in coming. Perhaps two or three years at most, and it would be in our hands, with more volumes to follow afterward.

In 1997, S.M. Stirling made some posts on USENET, soliciting ideas about the short-term and long-term effects of the introduction of the sorts of technologies described in Drakon. He also gave a tentative title, Unto Us a Child for the Drakon sequel, and mentioned the possibility of a prequel, The Laughter of the Guns This novel would have been set during the Draka version of World War I and have dealt with Eric von Shrakenberg's father Karl.

In 1999, Baen Books reissued the original three novels of the Draka universe in a hardcover omnibus edition, The Domination. The three novels were tied together by a frame story that offered a tantalizing glimpse of the world several years after the end of Drakon. This was taken as further evidence that the next Draka book would soon appear.

The following year, there was an anthology of Draka stories, Drakas!, which "filled in the blanks" here and there along the Drakaverse timeline.

Since then, there has been nothing. Stirling has come out with various books in other alternate universes, but no more Draka books. Many people who have been eagerly awaiting the sequel to Drakon began to howl in frustration, wondering what was causing the system to hang fire.

For a while, fans could slake their thirst with a fan-written trilogy of novels in an alternate world in which Drakon had turned out differently and Gwen took over. But Anne Marie Talbott's Website has subsequently vanished without a trace, taking with it not only those fan novels, but a fair amount of other fanfic set in the Draka universe.

The situation that has prevented the publication of any further Draka books is complicated, as such situations often are. As such, it is probably impossible to provide a complete picture of it, but certain elements do seem to stand out.

First, Jim Baen, publisher of Baen Books, was never really comfortable with the Draka books. He prefers stories in which the good guys and bad guys are clearly distinguishable, and the good guys win -- this preference is no secret, because it actually appears in the guidelines for manuscript submissions.

Second, although the Draka books were not bad sellers, they never sold so extraordinarily well as to recommend themselves in spite of having elements that ran contrary to the publisher's expressed tastes. In fact, Drakon was apparently purchased only on the stipulation that it must have a happy ending (IOW, the good guys must win), and there are rumors that The Stone Dogs came very close to being sent back with orders to rewrite the ending to have the good guys win.

Third, there was some problem with an ongoing contract and the question of whether an escape clause had been improperly used to terminate it. The facts on this matter are obscure, but many people have vehemently accused Stirling of behaving dishonorably in the matter.

Finally, Stirling has some very strong fixed opinions, particularly on the matter of intellectual property control in digital media. Shortly after the creation of Baen's Bar, Stirling became involved in several flame wars about these subjects that resulted not only in his becoming unwelcome there, but an informal moratorium being placed on any discussion of him or his works on that forum.

The sum result of these factors are to make it very unlikely that Jim Baen would be interested in purchasing any further Draka books. Although S. M. Stirling is doing well at his new publisher with his new universes, they are unlikely to be interested in purchasing new novels in an existing series when rights to the previous novels are still held by another publisher.

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, self-publishing has become increasingly a respectable option for authors to continue orphaned series. As a result, there has been some question of whether Mr. Stirling might decide to put out additional Draka books under his own imprint. However, it appears that he has moved on to other fictional universes so thoroughly that he is no longer interested in returning to the headspace necessary to write in a universe he's left behind.

As a result, it is unlikely that any further books in the Draka universe will be published in the foreseeable future. This is unfortunate for people who have been looking forward to finding out what happens after Drakon ever since 1996, but it's one of the unhappy realities of publishing.

Last updated October 19, 2012.