James S.A. Corey's next novel is The Mercy of the Gods

The start of a new space opera series

James S.A. Corey's next novel is The Mercy of the Gods
Image: Orbit Books

Way back in 2018, I broke some interesting news: James S.A. Corey (the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck was in the midst of wrapping up The Expanse, and they had begun to look for a new story.

At the time, they told me that their next project would be something a bit grander: where The Expanse drew on some Golden Age classics like The Stars My Destination and films like Alien, their next series would be a bit more like Dune and Hyperion and The Left Hand of Darkness. Abraham explained that "it’s big spectacle far future space opera, while never losing our focus on the complexity of human nature in these strange new settings.”

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That was five years ago, and since then, the pair have wrapped up The Expanse and its run on television for Amazon's streaming service, and today, Orbit revealed the cover, title, and description of the project: The Mercy of the Gods, the first of a trilogy called The Captives War.

Image: Orbit Books

Here's the plot description:

The Carryx – part empire, part hive – have waged wars of conquest for centuries, destroying or enslaving species across the galaxy.  Now, they are facing a great and deathless enemy. The key to their survival may rest with the humans of Anjiin.  

Caught up in academic intrigue and affairs of the heart, Dafyd Alkhor is pleased just to be an assistant to a brilliant scientist and his celebrated research team.  Then the Carryx ships descend, decimating the human population and taking the best and brightest of Anjiin society away to serve on the Carryx homeworld, and Dafyd is swept along with them.

They are dropped in the middle of a struggle they barely understand, set in a competition against the other captive species with extinction as the price of failure. Only Dafyd and a handful of his companions see past the Darwinian contest to the deeper game that they must play to survive: learning to understand – and manipulate – the Carryx themselves.

With a noble but suicidal human rebellion on one hand and strange and murderous enemies on the other, the team pays a terrible price to become the trusted servants of their new rulers.

Dafyd Alkhor is a simple man swept up in events that are beyond his control and more vast than his imagination.  He will become the champion of humanity and its betrayer, the most hated man in history and the guardian of his people.

This is where his story begins.    

In the Q&A about the book, Franck explained that he pitched the idea to Abraham midway through their run on The Expanse. "I pitched him this idea of The Book of Daniel from the Old Testament, but as a science fiction story," Franck explained.

Abraham noted that it was an interesting direction to go after The Expanse: "The Expanse had so much in a particular slice of space opera that was between late Apollo 13 and early Buck Rogers. We spent a lot of time there. This is still space opera, but it's such a very different place, a different part of the genre. There are things we get to do and play with that we couldn't have done any place else."

(They also pointed out that this is different from their recently-launched Patreon project.)

This sounds very intriguing: the story of a man who's taken away from his home and familiar surroundings and into this epic conflict. The pair allude to the appeal of the epic, deep histories that figure into books like Dune (something that they told me in my 2021 interview with them), and I'm very excited to see how this turns out.

The book is set to come out on August 6th, 2024 as a hardcover. It doesn't look like it's available to preorder just yet, but if you are looking for some new JSAC books, they do have special editions of Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate coming out next month.