The literary world of gaming tie-ins is wide and varied. There’s some spectacular books out there, written by hugely notable authors. There are also some that aren’t, written for to fill a certain story gap or to otherwise keep fans engaged. The Mass Effect universe has had its share of duds, but a forthcoming trilogy of novels has the potential to be something really special.
Titan Books has announced that it’s signed four high-profile speculative fiction authors to pen a new trilogy that will tie in with the forthcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda. Those authors include Jason M. Hough and K.C. Alexander, Catherynne M. Valente and N.K. Jemisin.
Hough and Alexander will be teaming up for the first installment of the trilogy, titled Nexus Uprising, which will hit stores on March 28th, 2017, while Valente’s Annihilation and Jemisin’s Initiation will be out this summer and fall, respectively. There’s no word on what the books will be about.
Mass Effect has had a bit of a troubled history when it comes to tie-in novels. The first tie-in novels were written by Drew Karpyshyn. Revelation and Ascension were released in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and helped flesh out the world introduced in the first Mass Effect, while his third novel, Retribution, is set after Mass Effect 2. While this first three novels were well received by fans, a fourth novel, 2012’s Deception by William C. Dietz earned considerable controversy after fans found and cataloged numerous errors, which prompted the company to apologize for the mistakes.
Bringing on major authors such as Jemisin and Valente is a huge move for Bioware and Titan Books — these are enormous names to be attached to such a franchise. Jemisin won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel for her groundbreaking book The Fifth Season earlier this fall, while Valente has earned her share of awards and nominations, and has gained considerable acclaim for her Fairyland series. Hough and Alexander are newer to the field, but have each earned praise for their books.
There’s a number of authors out there who have done some excellent work writing tie-in novels throughout their careers, but Jemisin and Valente are two authors that I would never have pegged for this sort of work. Valente’s works are elegantly written, while Jemisin’s novels (you really must read The Fifth Season) are absolutely groundbreaking fantasies. This feels like Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke coming down from the mountain to write a Star Wars novel.
This isn’t to say that tie-in novels are bad moves for authors, or that it’s an exercise that’s beneath highly regarded authors, but tie-in novels or adaptations have always had a sort of stigma around them. Bringing in these authors helps to dismiss that outdated attitude, and bringing in authors of this caliber can help inject some new views and different perspectives to the franchise, which should make for some intriguing reads in 2017.