I wrote this novel in 2010. Okay, actually I wrote it probably in 2006. I did the National Novel Writing Month challenge, but I did it in June. 50,000 word in 30 days, and I produced 75% of a usable manuscript. The last four chapters were awful. So I re-wrote them completely in 2009.
I knew it would be controversial, since it deals with religion, war, peace, monogamy, polyamory, polytheism and bisexuality. It also openly mocks a lot of our more prosaic ideas of what a “god” is. I figured the religious right would hate it. Imagine my shock when I discovered that the atheist left hated it more. Apparently, not only is it beyond the comprehension of some readers that a good person can suffer from prejudice and learn better, it’s also unacceptable to a lot of them that a protagonist declare any religious belief.
But people hating my book did not disappoint me. If they’re angry, they’re reading. Trouble was, not enough people were angry. “Peace Lord” just didn’t get the kind of attention that my Arbiter Chronicles stories do. I suppose some would say that means it’s not as good. I can’t comment. You don’t ask a parent to pick a favorite child.
When I discovered the wonderful artist Bob Keck in the Farpoint Art Show this year, I decided to ask him to do a book cover. My son, Ethan, said, “Why don’t you have him update ‘Peace Lord?’ It’s a little dated.” I should point out that Ethan designed the cover of “Peace Lord,” and provided the cover art. I think it’s pretty brave of him to make that assessment.
So, though I’m sentimental about Ethan’s cover art, I decided to take his suggestion. I engaged Bob to bring the characters of Shep Autrey and Xhylanna of Jentana to life, and I think he did a wonderful job. This, then, if the new cover for Peace Lord of the Red Planet. It’s the tale of a Civil War era Quaker physician who, like John Carter of Mars, dies on Earth and is transported to an alien world instead of going to Heaven or Hell. He saves the life of a warrior prince and becomes a hero. Then he commits a breech of etiquette and is sentenced to death. He faces death so bravely that his hosts declare him the bravest warrior alive… all because he refuses to fight. He goes on to unseat the staid traditions of an entire world, including its gods. Along the way he abandons some of his own faith and replaces it with a new understanding of himself and the universe.
If you haven’t read it, its repackaging is a great opportunity to give it a look. If you have read it, now is a good time to recommend it to a friend. Here’s the Amazon link. Don’t worry that it shows the old cover. The new one is now the only one being produced. If by some bizarre chance Amazon dredges up an old copy, let me know, and I’ll trade you a corrected one!