The Syndicate

Because geeks have sex lives too...

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The Syndicate | Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Four Leaf Clover | paperback | characters | free stories

The series is currently out of print in a commercial edition, although the omnibus print edition of volumes 1 and 2 is still available second-hand. The full series is now available as free downloads on this website.

Dedicated with loving affection to the Citizens of a certain mailing list. As noble a bunch of dedicated perverts as any writer could wish to know.

"Fluffy BDSM gay romantic comedy in space..."

A few centuries from now, the technology in IT may have changed, but the people haven't. The Syndicate is an erotic sf series demonstrating that geeks have sex lives too. It's a romantic comedy with the sex on-screen. :-) It's best described as fluffy BDSM gay romantic comedy in space, although the BDSM is intermittent and doesn't get all that obvious until Volume 2.

This all started with a couple of short stories Alex and I wrote about what a computer geek might be doing to amuse himself in between making life hell for the users on his network. They showed an "odd couple" relationship between a charismatic spaceship engineer with somewhat odd politics, and an apolitical sysadmin with no discernible people skills and a penchant for spray-on leather trousers. Originally it was just Delivery Boy and Special Delivery. Then we wrote Be Careful What You Wish For, after a particularly exciting episode of trying to get our ever-flaky communication software to work. I looked at what we had and said, "You know, I think we've got the makings of a novel here." So we sat down and worked out a story arc for them, which was basically your typical romantic comedy complete with "Will you marry me?" scene in the final chapter, only with two guys on a spaceship.

We wrote the novel as a sequence of short stories which can be read individually, but together make up a novel. It was originally published by an erotica press as an ebook in two volumes, that house preferring to serialise anything over 40,000 words. It later moved to erotic romance house Loose Id, who kept the split into two ebook volumes to avoid confusion. That original story arc was also published by Loose Id as an omnibus trade paperback, so if you read that paperback you're reading the novel as we first envisioned it.

That was supposed to be it. But there was a throwaway line in the last chapter where Vaughan says he'd like to see Allard in white bridal robes. After we finished writing the book, we said, "You know, we'd like to see Allard in white bridal robes." And as soon as we mentioned the idea in front of the beta readers... So we we wrote a third volume; a short novel covering the month leading up to the wedding, and the big day itself.

There's also a novelette, because Treva at Loose Id was silly enough to suggest that we might like to write a little something for St Patrick's Day 2005... As Alex said later on LiveJournal, the first thing we thought was, "What would Allard say if he wandered into a bar and somebody offered him a green pint of beer?" And we thought, "We know what Allard would say. And we can think of some other silly things to do and say as well." Four Leaf Clover is set after the honeymoon story, which we still haven't written.

Yes, we started writing a honeymoon story. You don't think Allard and Vaughan are going to get an entire month to themselves without the crew needing to be rescued from whatever trouble they've managed to get into, do you? But it's stalled, so don't sit around waiting...

The Loose Id editions went out of print in June 2008, although the paperback of vols 1&2 is still available second-hand (and I have a few new copies left to take to readings at cons). The text from all three volumes and the novelette are now available as free downloads on this website. Two of the chapters from Volume 1 were made available as free samples while the series was commercially published, and you can still read them as individual short stories (though the second one will make more sense if you read the plot summary for Volume 1 first). The Prologue is more or less work-safe, but we wouldn't advise reading Local Manners in front of an audience. On the other hand, maybe your company's sysadmin would enjoy it.

Things you might rather not have known

Because of the way we write together, it does take a long time. We started off with using Netmeeting so that we could both see a file open on one computer -- usually Alex's, because she does most of the typing to save wear and tear on my RSI (which is how we started doing this in the first place). Nowadays we have to use a chat programme, which isn't as good. We talk to each other using a VOIP voice link, and she writes it down. That means we can only work when we are both awake and available, and the internet link and the software are working well enough. And preferably when we don't have an audience, although Mr Alex is very tolerant about listening to gay smut being discussed in loud voices. It's the macaw-like laughter when we come up with a good line that he objects to.

The sex is entirely fictional, but some of the weird geeky things that happen in the course of the series were inspired by real incidents that happened to us or people we know. So it should be pointed out that Allard isn't based on any particular geek we know. He's based on a whole lot of geeks we know, with the knob turned up until it falls off, but he's representative of a type rather than a real individual. Here is a scary thought -- there are lots of people out there who would behave just like Allard does if they thought they could get away with it. :-)

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The Syndicate | Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Four Leaf Clover | paperback | characters | free stories

Copyright © 2002-2008, Jules Jones and Alex Woolgrave