BackgroundThis is the sequel to Cradle of Saturn a bit earlier than intended. I had written CoS with the thought of a follow-up in mind, and possibly a third sometime after that, but I got a lot of mail from readers who guessed the intentions but wanted to see it now. My books have always ended on an upbeat note, and I think at least some readers were a little disturbed by my ending civilization as we know it and leaving things at that, and wanted their peace of mind restored. Also, Jim Baen was keen to get straight on with the sequel.
Many readers had also written asking for more on the moneyless, merit-motivated society that had taken shape out at Kronia, spread among Saturn's moons. I touched on such a notion in Voyage from Yesteryear, and there are still discussions going on across the Internet as to whether something like that could ever really be viable. I've often wondered myself. The fact that in Voyage I had to move it four light-years from Earth to the Centauri system to make it work, even in fiction, and in CoS, out to Saturn, probably says something. But then again, I look at some of the patent absurdities that our culture's enslavement the bottom line inflicts on us - skilled people thrown out of work and productive resources standing idle while there's any amount of useful work needing to be done; overproduced food being destroyed in one place while people starve in another - and I can't avoid the conclusion that there has to be a better way.
Another area that I've found fascinating in recent times are the works of people like Graham Hanckock, Zecharia Sitchin, and others suggesting extra-terrestrial involvement in constructing the huge monuments and baffling structures found around the world, bringing the sudden burst of knowledge in all areas that seemed to happen so suddenly with the Sumerians, and being the "gods" of much ancient mythology, including the Hebrew scriptures. How much of it was in fact so is not something I'm going to get into arguments about here, but for a science-fiction theme it was irresistible. But, of course, going back and writing a story like that about our own ancient history would hardly be saying anything new. On the other hand, it would put a different slant on things if we were actually the "gods," and seeing it from that perspective. And at the end of CoS, we had a totally devastated Earth, ready for some kind of primitive beginnings to happen again, and out at Saturn, a technologically advanced culture who are obviously going to return when circumstances permit. Voila! The elements for a story.
There's still the possibility for a third in this series later, although it would stand complete as it is. We'll see which way the future goes.