This is a response from the author (well one of them) of Warpworld to my review. I'd like to thank Mr. Simpson for letting me post this.
Wow, that's much nicer than I was anticipating.
Okay, to hit some points:
Yeah, it's magic 'energy' Z that shows up in a lot of stories, and honestly I kind of cringe at calling it 'energy' in the first place because it doesn't have the characteristics of actual defined-by-physics energy. It's an entirely different state of, well, magic shit, the energetic equivalent of unobtanium. Explaining that it's not really 'energy' would make for too much exposition, so we leave it as 'emotional energy', a concept that the audience can readily relate to in terms of stuff like chi and other mystical concepts. So... guilty!
I don't consider myself a 'message' writer. Obviously a lot of my beliefs are going to bleed through, but I never set out with a story like this to tell people things, especially stuff that should be blindingly obvious to the average educated person. I tend to follow the David Drake model of just taking actual examples of our own world and adjusting them to differing circumstances. So I guess that worked in that depicted a scene without being preachy. Neato.
And how. Jarin sees in Seg a model of the sort of revolutionary thinker that he feels they need to break the declining stagnancy of their own culture. They're losing their fight for survival, and they're too busy knifing each other in the back and fighting to keep the status quo.
The problem he has with Seg is that a revolutionary thinker is, well, revolutionary. Also Jarin's one of those guys who rarely comes out and just says what he means. He's using to being the puppetmaster, and that in and of itself is a source of much of their friction.
I think you'll be satisfied with his role in the upcoming novels, then. He gets a lot of screentime.
Guilty guilty guilty. Here's where I'll let you in on the dirty secret of the first book manuscript: Corrus and Dagga weren't in the original. Neither was Jul Akbas, for that matter. Or Adirante Fi Costk. There wasn't a single named villain in the entire thing, and it was a much more compact story. Akbas didn't actually show up in the original run of the series until the fourth book, Fi Costk got a cameo role in the second and third, while Corrus and Dagga were incorporated during our revisions on the original manuscript, so most of the material concerning them and responses to their actions were added in, which is why their characterization gets short shrift.
We do end up with some mustache-twirling on the parts of our villains in the series, something we've worked to chop back on.
My original concept and the reason for no named villains is because ultimately what Seg and Ama were fighting and will continue to fight throughout the series is not so much people as systems. If Dagga and Corrus weren't wandering around being nasty and throwing their weight around, it'd just be another pair of thugs with badges. The same goes for the CWA baddies- they're the product of a corrupt institutional ethos, and the real enemy is the system that produces them. Which isn't to say the Guild are the 'good guys' because as the next few books will show the Guild is basically a giant egotistical clusterfuck. Again this is a personal belief shining through in the way I write, but it comes back to my belief that institutions cannot have honor and without good people to steer them away from bad things, they'll inevitably get nastier and nastier in the name of expediency.
To clarify from the story, the CWA is trying to usurp the Guild's role in raids. For centuries since the two institutions were founded, they've existed in an uneasy balance of power, with one side or the other tending to have a slight dominance. The Guild has carefully protected its formulas and methodology so that you can't kick off a raid and expect to have a good amount of success without employing a Theorist to do the scouting. On the other side, the CWA is the central vita bank of the world, and thus holds a tremendous amount of economic power.
After the disastrous Lannit raid some forty years before, the Guild took a big hit in the PR department and the relationship (which had been leaning heavily toward the Guild at that time) took a heavy turn backward. Going along with that, the CWA had been steadily implementing a policy of incremental gain- they were taking on the debts of cash-strapped Houses/raider units and absorbing them into a growing coalition.
So as mentioned in the story, the CWA has been developing their own version of the Guild in-house, with an eye toward eventually replacing the Guild altogether. Because the Guild's primary function by far is scouting and plotting raids, once that's gone they're fucked.
The weakness of the Guild is that by and large it's a collection of fractured political cliques with little to no coherent long-term policy. After all, they've survived for centuries and why won't they just keep on surviving? The irony being that people who've studied the history and cultures of literally hundreds of worlds have been in many ways blind to their institutional decline, pointing at somebody else's house while their own is on fire.
The CWA, on the other hand, has a reasonably coherent pair of missions: protect the World from the Storm, and knock out the Guild. Even though they're full of bureaucractic knife fights, they have that much going for them and at this point of the story it's doing pretty damned well.
As for why they're willing to dick themselves out of a load of vita, that's just taking a long-term gain over a short-term loss. They're accountants by the nature of their institution.
And if you have to write several paragraphs after the fact to explain an important plot point, you obviously didn't communicate it well enough in-story. My bad.
And now, as a DVD extra!
The original, never-before-released-anywhere original short concept story I wrote that spawned this monstrosity.
Heh, never edited, either. I just spotted a major goof-up there, but whatever, here's the raw.