Total War Universe is a military science fiction saga and a fictional universe created by Mateusz Kałwiński. Initiated in 1998 and inspired by the Star Wars universe, it gradually developed from a hardcover notebook containing simple drawings of various celestial bodies to a rapidly expanding, full-fledged universe. It is planned to be depicted in series of novels and novelette/novella collections, collectively called Total War series.
TWU draws some inspiration from Star Wars, but the author avoids copying anything directly. In short, its creation was prompted by it, but it has almost no impact on the universe's look. Other inspirations include StarCraft, Starship Troopers, The Lost Fleet and the Cthulhu Mythos. While assimilating some concepts and repeating several motifs, the author makes great efforts to modify and adapt them, and then blend them with genuine ideas to create original, complete and coherent world.
While most of the installments are of military science fiction genre, each of them has unique style. Common elements include cyberpunk influences (highly advanced technology, depraved societies, antiheroes) and serious and often dark tones (alcoholism, psychological abuse, etc.). Psychological and lovecraftian horror elements appear in several titles (The Exile, The Darkest Hour), while World of Bane series possesses strong post-apocalyptic fiction and adventure themes.
Overall, Total War Universe presents an intricate, dark story of the Galaxy, where its inhabitants keep warring over dominance, largely oblivious to the rise of an ominous, supernatural threat, which gradually develops and eventually strikes in the final novel - The Darkest Hour. The author also pays great attention to numerous subplots, including various issues of protagonists, who have to cope with many serious personal problems. The Total War series deal with corruption, abuse, alcoholism, psychological issues and many other, opposing the popular, optimistic and pompous style of current novels and movies.
- In accord with the universe's name, action of almost all of the main novels (with the exception of The Darkest Hour) takes places during a war, either pangalactic or planetary one.
- In all of the main novels, there is (among others) always one, the biggest and epic battle, usually serving as the climax of the story (with the notable exception of the Besieged).
- Two major plots, supernatural threat and galactic war, are alternating between consecutive books: Galaxy of Fear/Besieged, The Exile/Total War, World of Bane/The Darkest Hour.
- Purposes and repercussions of war (war as an instrument of achieving personal/immoral goals; various tragedies of participants, direct and indirect alike).
- Dealing with abuse of many forms: physical abuse by alcoholic father and psychological abuse by teammate (Sonder Karso in Besieged); alienation and intolerance (Say Khar Nihl in The Exile).
- Negative and unwanted emotions and feelings, their influence on one's life (tragic love, hate, envy, desolation).
- Racism, xenophobia (World of Bane).
The setting is the Velara Galaxy, a moderately big, barred spiral galaxy, type SBa. It is inhabited by over a dozen of sentient species, Humans being the most prominent of them. Despite the existence of the latter, the universe is in no way related to the Milky Way and the reality. Several enormous, interstellar states form alliances and fight between each other for the hegemony, in series of conflicts spanning many millenia, hence the name Total War Universe. Technology and in some cases, bio-engineering is highly advanced, allowing faster-than-light travelling, terraforming, ecumenopoleis and planetary destruction.
The TWU merges elements of military science fiction (Besieged, Total War) and horror fiction (The Darkest Hour), which meet for the first time in novelette Derelict, fuse again on a larger scale in novel The Exile, and then form the basis of the final istallment of the entire Total War series in The Darkest Hour. In the aforementioned books, futuristic soldiers operating high-tech weaponry and equipment struggle against supernatural beings from another dimension - the Abyss. The World of Bane takes another direction, being more of a post-apocalyptic adventure, however, with strong influence of the military sci-fi.
History of the Total War Universe
Lizards Galactic 2 slowly develops. Gradually more and more astronomical objects are invented. Some military starships (including the Wars platform, conceptual predecessor of the Warmonger-class dreadnought) and ground vehicles of an unspecified interstellar state (prototype of the Confederacy of Iliard) appear.
An era of stagnation - no important development is made.
Interest in the universe, renamed Lizard's Galaxy, is renewed. Some crucial inventions are made, including the contrivement of the Confederacy of Iliard, several alien species and further expansion of the universe itself. Concept of the Exile and (then his) story is made, but at the time is not related to the universe.
Further development progresses. Prototypes of the current Confederate Navy starships are invented. The universe is renamed Confederacy of Iliard. "Pre-alpha" version of The Island is written, but is undeveloped and not connected with the universe.
A year of relative stagnation. Some development around The Island is made, but the book does not evolve past "alpha" version and is still not connected with the universe.
A year of the biggest outbreak - in the second half of the year, now Total War Universe is zealously expanded.
- August 27 - first info regarding the Total War Universe appears on ConWorld Wiki.
- September 23 - Total War Universe Wiki is created.
- October 30 - November 24 - the Derelict, first official installment of the Total War series is written.
- December 12 - writing of The Artifact commences.
- January 28 - writing of The Artifact ends.
- February 2 - writing of the Doppelgänger commences.
- March 9 - writing of the Doppelgänger ends.
- April 1 - writing of the Besieged commences.
- Novemeber 20 - writing of the initial version of the Besieged ends.
- December 19-22, 2010 - Blackness Unfathomed is written.
- First quarter of the year - some improvements are made to the Galaxy of Fear series, including a major refactoring of the Derelict.
The action usually centers around small teams of individuals, that participate in important events, but not necessarily have great impact on them. There are also numerous episodic and secondary characters, who, despite sometimes very brief spotlight, are more or less major players and with their diversity emphasize the vastness and variety of the TWU.
The protagonists are very complex individuals, antiheros (and even villains), who have to cope with various other problems than the important events happening around them.