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Science Fiction and Fantasy

Excerpt and Essay Heaven's Fall, by David S. Goyer & Michael Cassutt

The Heaven's trilogy was born in the fall of 2006. David Goyer, screenwriter (Blade, Dark City, and Batman Begins) asked Michael Cassutt (author of the space thrillers Missing Man, Red Moon) to work with him on a treatment for a big Sci-Fi movie.

David had the initial cool idea; Michael had the near-future spaceflight chops. It seemed like a clean, simple division of labor.

Except that both of us had broader experience than the shorthand suggests. David had also written comic books and television; Michael had published non-fiction works while also working on a dozen different TV series.

What both had in common was a fairly extensive knowledge of, and love for, science fiction, notably the works of Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, Robert A. Heinlein as well as every Sci-Fi movie and TV project ever made.

With that background, we quickly jumped beyond the simple goal of a feature film treatment to a plan for a trilogy of not just movies but novels, too.

There was a danger here: most SF or fantasy trilogies take many years to journey from concept to completion—and that includes those that grew beyond their original single-volume origins, like Arthur C. Clarke's Rama books and Larry Niven's Ringworld series. Our friend George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, originally planned as three novels, is now at five and headed for seven—and has been twenty years in the writing.

We didn't want that kind of commitment. Our model had to be John Varley's Titan series, or Samuel R. Delany's Fall of the Towers—trilogies that were conceived as three stories . . . and stayed that way.

And, by and large, we were able to accomplish that, as we plunged into the challenges of developing a background and creating characters, structuring a story and finding a narrative voice.

We knew we were creating an Sci-Fi thriller, a story in which the idea was paramount . . . but both of us were also bored with Big Ideas that left no room for people. So, no matter how much fun we had with aliens and scalar sentience and morphogenetic fields and cool spacecraft, we put as much effort into Zack Stewart and his wife, Megan, and their daughter, Rachel—and their friends, enemies, and associates, from NASA and Bangalore and places beyond.

In some cases, far beyond.

The first story, Heaven's Shadow, dealt with the arrival of a Near-Earth Object named Keanu and a "race" between U.S. and the Coalition spacecraft to make the first landing. Both crews then discovered that Keanu was not just a big ball of ice and rock making its lonely way across the galaxy, but a giant space vehicle thousands of years old, inhabited by representatives of several different alien races—and not just them.

Heaven's Shadow was also the story of astronaut Zack Stewart's struggle to move past a family tragedy that, strangely, returns to haunt him—quite literally—on his mission of exploration.

The second book, Heaven's War, followed directly on the shocking events of Shadow, revealing more of Keanu's secrets as a new and expanded cast of characters adjusted to life on the Near-Earth Object . . . while trying to survive.

Then, no doubt violating all the rules of trilogy-writing, the story took a turn . . . the third book, Heaven's Fall, leaps twenty years into the future and focuses on characters who didn't necessarily play leading roles in the first two books. Instead of taking Keanu further into deep space, the Neo turns back toward Earth for a final confrontation . . .

And we say farewell to people and non-human entities and challenges we first encountered almost seven years ago, all the while hoping you enjoy the voyage, too.

Well, maybe not a final farewell. Warner acquired the rights to all three books; David has written a screenplay and the studio has assigned Charles Roven as producer. Next step . . . a director, then who knows?

Until then, here is the concluding chapter of the Heaven's trilogy, Heaven's Fall.

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Heaven
Heaven's Fall

David S. Goyer
Michael Cassutt

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