The Empyrean ChroniclesRixx Javix
On Friday, June 10th, I released a totally free anthology book collecting 19 pieces of Eve fiction, written and edited by players, that also included new and previously released artwork created by Eve players. The entire enterprise, from beginning to end, created and developed by the Eve community. For the Eve community. Free of charge. And the nutty thing about it is, I plan to do it again later this year.
This release marks my second free book. Back in March of 2014 I created and released an art book collecting my own Eve themed art up to that point, called the “Eveoganda Art of Rixx Javix”. In the year that it was available that book was downloaded over 10,000 times. My good friend Norbert Bensel made a printed copy of that book, which I signed for him at Fanfest.
But I first had the idea for a book of Eve fiction even before that first book was released, back when I first became aware of just how much our community writes. And draws. And creates each and every year. The idea of collecting some of that into a book format seemed only natural. I couldn’t believe no one was already doing it. As such ideas often do, it soon found itself relegated to the constantly revolving and evolving machine in my head. My personal “project list”. A mental file cabinet crammed full of in-game events, blog posts, comics, videos, t-shirts, logos, wallpapers, short films, card games and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Each waiting for their chance to see the light of day.
And then everything happened all at once. A huge project that I was working on got put on the back-burner to make room for another book. This one the now infamous Vegas Kickstarter. And while the story behind and around that series of events is one best told another day, the whirlwind surrounding those events is plain for anyone to see in hindsight. What you may not be aware of is just how cataclysmic the repercussions of those events have been throughout the larger community. The months following reminded me of a forest fire. A destructive and dangerous event that forever changes the landscape, but that also burns away the old, to allow new growth to spring forth. For me personally, it meant a re-focusing of effort, a renewed sense of purpose to provide free content to a larger community. There wasn’t another choice. The bridge between the community and CCP was closing when it came to working together on projects. The Eve store remained dark. The connections I had worked so hard to create slowly becoming undone.
I refuse to be stopped
I refuse to be stopped. So it was time to dust off the idea and make it happen. I put out a call for submissions on November 19th on Eveoganda and the results were very promising. As the news spread around the community submissions started pouring in. I quickly assembled a team of editors that could help me work with the stories and get them ready for publication. My good friends Drackarn, General Stargazer and Mord Fiddle agreed to help. My original name for the collection “New Eden Chronicles” wasn’t good enough, so I changed it to the Empyrean Chronicles. I liked the sound of that much better.
I reached out to Gabriel Cassata, who had been releasing several gorgeous Pirate Lord paintings at the time, if he would allow me to use his Bloody Omir painting for the cover. He agreed. And I quickly produced a cover design to help sell the idea. I set up a shared Google docs collection for the editors to work from and we got to work. The December 12th deadline was fast approaching. I planned on releasing the book at the beginning of March. That was the plan. And like any plan set in stone by the minds of men, the universe had other plans.
“Now is a perfect time to panic!”
I won’t recount the details of the universe’s plan to destroy me, suffice to say I spent much of the next five months running around in circles with my hands in the air. As the great Woody once said, “Now is a perfect time to panic!” But because of the incredible generosity of the Eve community, friends, family and many others, I made it through the panic and out the other side. If I had been dedicated to the idea of creating amazing things for our amazing community before, now it had become an almost fanatical level of devotion. Nothing would stop me from giving back to those that had given so much.
The biggest challenge was always going to be the art. The writing was in good hands with the editing team, but the art could slow things down to a crawl. So I made the choice early on to keep the art in the hands of fewer people for the first volume. Crossing Zebra’s own, Niden, was generous enough to allow me free use of his growing gallery. And Gabriel Cassata asked me if he could provide a new illustration for a specific story, I sent him several and he picked “A Spider In Her Web” to illustrate. The rest would be up to me.
So every free moment of the last month was spent working on getting the book ready to be released. Designing, drawing, editing, spell checking, all the big and little details that go into making something work. Something worthy. Something special. I’ll leave it to others to decide the final quality of the released material. All I know is that I am extremely pleased with the final results. I’m proud of the book and all of those that participated in making it happen. It was a labor of love. And I can only hope that some of that comes through in the copy you have.
As of this writing over 6,000 copies have been downloaded from my DropBox. Countless others from other sources. And I’m already making plans for Volume Two. Hopefully that one will be even better.
Read Empyrean Chronicles here.
Feature artwork by Gabriel Cassata