The Lion & The Unicorn

By Tom Ward

A policeman sets out to investigate a murder in a near-future where bad taste is illegal.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Meet The Author: Ste Sharp

There are some great Unbound projects currently funding, many of which share some DNA with The Lion and The Unicorn. In order to celebrate these books, and hopefully bring them to an even wider audience, I’ll be sharing interviews with interesting Unbound authors, right here. First up is Set Sharp, talking about his funding novel Survival.

Here’s the official synopsis:

In Survival, book two of The Origin Trilogy, John and the army of survivors continue the search they started in Darwin’s Soldiers. Who brought them to this bizarre world and for what purpose?

Discoveries are made and battle fought as the allied army are drawn into a world populated by alien armies who have survived the same tests as them. Factions fight to get to the core: a prized location which offers them the answers they are all searching for.

But a new threat rises, in the hyper-evolved Tathon, who threaten to tear the new world apart. The very survival of all species is at risk as John desperately tries to get the factions to work as one and defend the core.

Will their adaptations be strong enough against their new foe? And will anyone survive?


1. Ste, Survival Machines is a follow-up to Darwin’s Soldiers, which you’ve described as an “historical-sci-fi mash-up.” In other words, it sounds absolutely amazing. What do we need to know about the world both books inhabit to get us up to speed?

I love a good mash-up! Royksopp vs Dolly Parton anyone? (Google it!) Another way of looking at the Origin Trilogy, is we’re following historical characters on a fantasy quest in a sci-fi world.

In Darwin’s Soldiers, we’re thrown into a bizarre world, seeing it through John Greene’s eyes. He’s a machine gunner who’s been ripped out of his Great War battle who finds himself surrounded by warriors from every country and age possible. Nobody knows how they got there, but they’re given a mission and start evolving strange abilities as they travel.

I won’t give too much away, but Survival Machines kicks off from the big reveal at the end of Darwin’s Soldiers and explains how they got there and how they evolved their abilities.


2. What is it about sci-fi that attracts you?

Sci-fi is the genre into which every other genre fit into. It’s limitless! With sci-fi you can be immersed in any culture in history, enter any being’s head, explore the strangest worlds, or live in modern day England… and then you add a twist, which makes it fantastical. That’s pure escapism and entertainment for me, but I love it even more when I learn something as well, which is where I guess fantasy becomes sci-fi. So we’re not just learning about people and their interactions, but historical facts or scientific wonder as well. The physics of gravity, evolution, chemical reactions are all brought to life in science fiction, which gives us a better understanding of the world around us.


3. If you had to list your favourite sci-fi books and movies, and war books and movies, what would they be?

Other than the hugely popular Lord of the Rings book and films, Star Wars and Star Trek, which have all inspired generations of people, I would say David Brin’s Sci-fi books are top of my list (especially The Uplift series), along with Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell and Kim Stanley Robinson. TV-wise, I love historical series like Vikings and pure Sci-fi like the Expanse, both of which are at movie-level quality but give you more time to watch the characters grow.

When it comes to war films, anything WW2-related is always going to grab my attention. One of the reasons I enjoyed Rogue One was because it was essentially a WW2 film set in space). The recent WW1 film, 1917, was a level up on most war films – almost like we were physically led through the battles.


4. You have two young children, and also love to paint and play guitar. How the heck do you find time to write?! Any tips?

I was on a creative writing course hosted by Audrey Niffeneggar who suggested if you wanted to take writing seriously you’d be able to find the time to write. My first son had just turned one at the time, my band were rehearsing once month and needed new material… and I sat at my desk one lunch break and thought – this is my writing time. One hour most weekdays. So, I trained myself, created a chill-out sound track, cut the office off and set to work. Typing with one hand and eating sandwiches with the other!


5. As someone who loves sci-fi, what do you hope the future looks like, and what sci-fi predictions of yours have already come true?

I really hope we manage to control our urges, reign in the extinctions and re-establish some balance in the world before new issues appear and threaten our existence. Star-Trek replicators in every home and hover cars would be great, but it always comes with a cost. Once we know that cost, we can weigh up how much we really want that new gizmo or plate of tasty food, so I hope the more we know, the more we will act responsibly.

When it comes to predictions… as Ray Bradbury said, “I don’t try to predict the future. I try to prevent it.” Which is why dystopian fiction is so addictive and keeps out eyes open.

Having said that… one of the future warriors in Darwin’s Soldiers did suggest an Aztec recognised a Viking because their peoples had come into contact in the early 1000’s. I hinted a gene found in Meso-American populations coming from Scandinavia, so watch this space!

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