The Second Death of Daedalus Mole

By Niall Slater

Daedalus Mole has made some mistakes, but taking a wanted fugitive on an interstellar pub crawl is definitely the second-worst

Fiction | Sci-fi & Fantasy
106% funded
193 supporters
Published

Publication date: August 2018

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Daedalus Mole wants to make the best of a bad situation. The plan: fly his unwanted passenger, Erin, to her destination, squeeze her for every last penny, then immediately find refuge in the nearest pub. Unfortunately, when the galaxy is on the verge of economic collapse and your passenger has a bounty the size of a planet on her head, there’s only so much another drink can do to help.

Daedalus soon finds himself playing babysitter to someone stronger, angrier and far more dangerous than he is. On top of that: the booze is running out, his ship’s AI won’t stop trying to kill him, and he’s having to pretend very hard that he hasn’t started hearing voices in his head. Erin is under the eye of forces which seek to use her. Daedalus's mistakes have changed him in ways he does not yet understand.

In search of Erin's past, and in flight from his own, Daedalus will soon learn what happens when you let wounds fester unchecked.

The Second Death of Daedalus Mole was longlisted for the inaugural Bath Novel Award. It's a character-driven novel which tells the story of two damaged, guilt-ridden misfits struggling to find closure in a galaxy on the cusp of war, whilst becoming slowly entangled in the struggles of greater forces. In one sense it’s a traditional star-hopping journey with an unlikely crew of miscreants, but in another it’s an exploration of scars, self-destruction, healing and loneliness, as well as the flawed ways in which we view those closest to us.

It’s also a novel about bar fights and space battles, so there’s something for everyone, really.

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  • Niall Slater avatar

    Niall Slater

    Niall Slater is a writer of tweets, short stories and novels. (Novels are like tweets with fewer characters.) He lives in London and mouths off about library closures for a living. Most of his novels are set in space because he can’t drive and, unlike cars, you can just lie about how spaceships work and very few people will email you about it.

    Items on his desk include books from Neil Gaiman, Doug Naylor, Terry Pratchett and Ann Leckie, a novelty mousemat, two small X-Wings made from Lego® and a large purple velvet skull. The skull writes the books, Niall is just the face of the operation.

    The Second Death of Daedalus Mole is Niall’s first proper novel and was longlisted for the inaugural Bath Novel Award. Other achievements include dropping glasses of wine in front of prestigious authors and once getting Neil Gaiman to type out the word ‘dongcopter’.

  • Daedalus’s stomach turned. His neck prickled. He glanced over his shoulder. Slow. He hadn’t noticed the danger with the alcohol cloying his thoughts. The closest building was an expensive-looking tourist bar, so Daedalus made his way over to it, trying to look unperturbed. His stalker followed the line he cut through the crowd, stopping when he stopped and picking up again when he did. The bar wasn’t busy, but it was full enough to deter an attack: fat, wealthy traders filled squashy, well-lit booths with their bodyguards and grinder assistants, sipping from cocktail glasses and playing knife games with their slaves. A group of merchants jangling with ornaments and sporting the Brand sigil on their sleeves spoke in hushed voices over a huge map, while a couple of scaly, stick-thin builder-caste petradons played chess one table over. Daedalus went unnoticed as usual, managing not to stumble too much. Some people were staring straight over his shoulder, suggesting his tail wasn’t being quite so innocuous. Daedalus picked a booth near the back, away from the windows and tucked out of sight of the counter. He sank into the green leather seat and waited.

    The beggar in rags slid into the booth, bumping clumsily into the table, and sat down opposite him. The stares turned elsewhere; she was obviously just his poorly-dressed attendant.

    Daedalus tapped his fingers on the table, observing. The rags were a torn-up slave toga, hastily repurposed to cover the face. She hunched over unnaturally low, and he could only tell her gender by the glint of her eyes under the filthy makeshift hood. Wide-set and bulbous. There were plenty of species in the Collective with green skin, but not so many with eyes like that. Big black eyes. The lower arms were well-hidden, tucked around her belly, but a keen observer wouldn’t be fooled.

    “You don’t see many entari in the trade lanes,” he said, “only the crazies and the exiles.”

    The entari flinched.

    “You’re a long way from home. Why are you following me?”

    Read more...
  • Niall Slater has written 1 private update. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    3rd December 2018 Denouement Mole / The End

    So, we've reached the end. You've done your part and helped usher my first horrible little pile of printed woodpulp into the world, for which I am eternally grateful, and you're either reading it or staring lovingly at your own name where it's printed between the covers.

    We had a launch party the other week and I've finally recovered enough to share the photos (taken by local genius author and…

    11th November 2018 The Second Launch of Daedalus Mole, London, 23 November

    You are CORDIALLY and FANCILY invited to join us at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road on Friday 23 November at 7pm for The Second Launch of Daedalus Mole! It's a book launch. Why is this happening several months after the book was published, you might ask? Because I thought it would be clever if I could call it 'the second launch,' is why.

    Waterstones TCR is a short walk from Tottenham Court…

    29th August 2018 LAUNCH DAY

    THE BOOK IS OUT! SORT OF!

    I hope you like following Daedalus along on his horrible misguided adventure. If you do, leave an Amazon review here, and if you don't, consult your local publicist for advice on how to lie convincingly. Then leave an Amazon review here. Got Goodreads? Add it to your to-read pile!

    Because Unbound's expanding at the moment and part of that involves switching distributors…

    16th August 2018 COVER REVEAL AAAAAA (Please insert siren emoji -ed)

    I SWORE to myself I wouldn't bother you lot anymore until I had some actual news to share and NOW I DO.

    After weeks of poring over designs, throwing wine in each others' faces and trashing meeting rooms to resolve creative differences, Unbound's Art Director, my editor and myself have finally settled on the final look for The Second Death of Daedalus Mole, and you get to see it first! Apart from…

    17th July 2018 Unfortunate News

    The day is Tuesday, which is bad enough, and to make things worse I must report the following.

    Like most bad news, by the time you hear it the period in which you could have prevented it will have long passed. That was it you felt whooshing by as you had your breakfast this morning, oblivious except for that sudden flash of anxiety.

    The rumours are true, I'm afraid. The Second Death of Daedalus…

    17th April 2018 It's ALIVE and I CAN'T STOP IT

    It's been months! Four and a half months, in fact. I'm really bad at this. Scroll down to the bold text if you have a low tolerance for nonsense.

    (Mostly unrelated comic from local genius Alex Norris of Dorris McComics)

    A quick update: shortly after my last missive I was approached by a stranger on a long train journey out of London. I couldn't make out their face, on account…

    5th January 2018 ONE HUNDRED

    As you've probably heard by now: the book hit 100% funding and is now going to be published. It's all a bit much, to be honest.

    Unbound are performing various rituals to ensure bestseller status - entrails and chanting, that kind of thing - and we'll be quietly pulling schedules and business things together over the next few weeks. I will try to keep this email short, but there's a couple things…

    12th December 2017 Bloody hell - 90%

    I genuinely didn't think we'd get this far!

    FIRST THINGS FIRST - it's been a couple months since the last update so I have a lot of people to thank. Our latest cohorts are listed below, with their brand-new job titles and ship assignments:

    SUPPORTERS (Crikey there's a lot this time)

    • Tom Marriott, Trenchcoat Stockist, C130 Murder Boys
    • Rhian Price, Head Librarian, GDR Books…

    31st October 2017 Pledges, planets and p'discount codes

    We're 83% of the way there! It's been a long old slog but we're closing in on the finish line now. Also we've reached ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY SUPPORTERS, more minutes than there are in an hour but fewer men than there are in an Imperial Roman legion; hopefully this has given you some insight into both how I conceive numerical value and why this crowdfunding campaign is taking so long. Scroll down to…

    5th October 2017 Beep boop

    *Cool thing at the bottom of this email alert*

    Sometimes I worry that robots have already taken over and they understand that humans are unhappy, but they've noticed that humans cheer up on payday, and that every year humans hold festivals to celebrate numbers going up. So the robots decide to improve morale by emailing us larger and larger numbers as time goes on.

    Anyway, the project…

    18th August 2017 Sexy Primes

    Thanks to your unerring generosity we've reached 79% funding! 79, in case you're interested in that sort of thing, is a 'sexy prime' with 73 (two primes separated by six are called 'sexy primes'). It's also a 'happy', 'fortunate' and 'lucky' prime. Who would've thought mathematicians would be so ̶b̶a̶d̶ good at naming things?

    https://www.xkcd.com/899/

    A huge thank-you to our latest cohorts…

    31st July 2017 One Year On

    It's been 365 days since The Second Death of Daedalus Mole went live on Unbound. That's about eight times as long as the Falklands War, and about four times as long as the initially-agreed funding period - but about one-quarter of the time it took to write the first four drafts of the novel.

    Around the time of the original deadline - November 2016 - the moon drew closer to the Earth than it had…

    21st June 2017 76 percent! Sacrificing Interns & Annoying the Publisher

    Word-of-Mouth is a fickle creature. It lives under a bench in Stockwell and compels passing commuters to buy books with its high, chilling call. When you speak its name in front of a marketing manager you can see their eyes take on a glassy sheen as rivulets of sweat run down their cheek. Nobody knows how it works. The closest any publisher has come is the notorious team behind THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN…

    25th April 2017 Free shipping for the nimble-fingered

    Extremely brief update, guys! First of all, we're at 69%, which warrants a giggle. Right, that's it, stop giggling, there's business.

    Unbound have had a midlife crisis and abandoned the pursuit of wealth, but since none of them have the location of my secret anarchist commune they're instead offering FREE UK SHIPPING and DISGUSTINGLY CHEAP OVERSEAS SHIPPING (£4 discount) on their books until…

    5th April 2017 66% — space-themed badges and personalised starships

    We're two-thirds of the way to publication! *toot toot*

    We're now making moves to hoover up those demographics who like (A) space and (B) sticking things on their bags, jackets, faces and friends. In our first and only step towards this goal, we've introduced two new pledge levels! *toot*

    THESE! CAN! BE! YOURS! (OR A FRIEND'S. IF YOU KNOW ANYONE WHO LIKES BADGES PLEASE TELL THEM)

    14th March 2017 Vacuum Exposure

    Did you know a human can float naked in space for up to twenty seconds and survive? It gets a bit ropey after that, though.

    Hi lovely backers! It's been a while. First a big thanks to the amazing people who've pitched in since last time - we're at 64% now and it's all down to a weird mix of readers' generosity, strangers' good faith and my awareness-raising tweets that can be charitably described…

    10th February 2017 We ran out of paperbacks. Fortunately...

    I'll keep this one brief - I'm not the kind of man to get teared up at anything except (A) every Disney movie and (B) the ol' spicy-contact-lens, but finding out my book is going to be in print came a close second to the paperback pledge level selling out in about ten seconds. A great big massive thank-you to everyone who's supported the book so far!

    Everyone who's pledged to re-name a starship…

    5th February 2017 WAR ON TREES: sponsor me to destroy one (1) tree

    Welcome to 2017! For reasons I'm sure you can deduce I've been lying under my bed drinking strong gin & tonics since New Year's Day, so I'm still trying to catch up on current events. (I hear America is gone? Will investigate further.) When I woke up this afternoon I clambered over a pile of bottles and overdue gas bills and managed to make a slurred phonecall to Xander, my contact at Unbound. Once…

    6th December 2016 Wading Uphill through Peanut Butter

    Hello lovely supporters! This week I interviewed QI Elf, former police constable and fellow Unbound author Stevyn Colgan, on what it's like crowdfunding your own books in the super-weird current state of publishing. You can read it here:

    http://www.societyofauthors.org/News/Interviews/2016/Crowdfunding-Books

    Please do share it if you found it interesting! You can follow Stevyn on twitter…

    8th November 2016 Whooooo-oh, we're half-way there, whoooo-oooh, writing in a chaaaair

    We've blown past the 50% mark! NaNoWriMo 2016 has kicked off! It's been a very eventful week!

    I'm writing this on 8 November. Today the USA decides between two leaders who equate roughly to Lords Vetinari and Voldemort, and much of the rest of the world is watching it play out like a dad on fireworks night watching the beloved family spaniel gallop towards an array of discount rockets. I'm powerless…

    2nd November 2016 Highly Malicious Interstellar Miscreant

    The first Rogues’ Gallery entry is complete! A huge THANK YOU to Tessa Nordgren for her generous pledge, which has earned her a place as a canonical character in the Daedalus Mole universe.

    See below for the full leaked dossier.

    Download dossier »

    Don't forget - you can secure your own place in galactic history (or a friend's!) by pledging to support The Second Death of Daedalus Mole at the £60 level. The next rogue to join the gallery will be the inimitable Andrew John Hodge.…

    20th October 2016 Concepts and Characters

    Writing a novel takes a while, and writers sometimes struggle to maintain the image of a character in their mind without forgetting important details. I ran into this issue early on with The Second Death of Daedalus Mole. I thought it might help to have some concept art. I was right! In the end.

    Unfortunately, I can't draw. Visual art, to me, is indistinguishable from magic, and I have never…

    8th October 2016 The Crow and the Crowbar

    Sometimes, writing, you feel like you've learned something very important about something very, very specific. Then you feel the need to crowbar it into a blog post. Bear with me for ten minutes, please.

    First novels are a strange sort of book. Most of the 'first novels' you think you've read are actually the author's sixth or seventh full attempt—less a small larval thing and more a fully-formed…

    20th September 2016 The Pirate's Wine Cellar

    I have a bottle of wine. I made it myself in my bathtub, through nefarious means, but I insist I have a wine-smith's license and the whole business is fully above-board. Cajoled, a local merchant buys the wine for £34.99, including VAT. My wine is gone. I've swapped it for money. The gods of capitalism have been appeased and all is as it should be. But wait - the merchant cackles, and with a flourish…

    13th September 2016 33% - The Write Idea

    The brilliant Joanna Barnard (Precocious) recently blogged her return to Ben Nevis, likening the experience to writing a novel. The heroic ascent to a complete draft, followed by a humbling and dangerous stumble to the bottom as you struggle to edit it into something worth reading. It struck a chord.

    There's not much writers enjoy more than writing about writing (that is, if the writers I write…

    2nd September 2016 One month in! Wattpad, miscreants and the 30% mark. [Includes Cat Pictures]

    As usual, scroll down for cat pictures.

    First, a massive thank-you to everyone who's pledged to support the book! I'm having a lot of feelings, mostly the feeling of being overwhelmed and grateful, also some fear, also the waggling self-confidence I was warned about by my fellow Unbounders at the 30% mark. And that's where we are!

    Progress

    One month into the three-month funding…

    11th August 2016 Four Tips for Coping with Ejection

    It’s August, the Dead Month. The holiday, if you've had one, is gone and you're back at the day job. Your boss has, as promised, stapled your desk to your legs to stop you running away, and you're starting to think maybe you should send your book to some agents, or write a book and send it to some agents, because it would be really great if you could earn some money and maybe not spend quite so much…

    7th August 2016 Missing Cats

    I'm twenty-four and until yesterday I'd never seen a 'cat found' poster in my life. It was so striking I had to stop and take a photo to send to all my jaded, miserable friends.

    "Look at this," I cried, "doesn't this warm your sodden hearts? Don't you feel revitalised, reminded that some things in this life turn out for the best, even after passing through the coldest places? You broken, harried…

    2nd August 2016 Day One: The Long Tail

    [TOP TIP: THERE IS A PICTURE OF MY CAT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.]

    I'm warning you in advance, so you don't run away: this blog post contains a series of three letters that usually causes the human brain to either shut down completely or go into standby. Please try to stay conscious, I promise it's interesting. You awake? Promise? Okay. The letters are 'SEO'. Still conscious? Okay, good.

    My…

    1st August 2016 Day Zero

    [Note: if you like pictures of cats please note there is one at the end of this post.]

    It begins.

    I suppose the first thing I should say is 'thank you', to the lovely few people who have already pledged. I'm sure people who haven't pledged are also lovely, but how can I know? How can anyone know? There's only one way to be certain that someone's lovely, and that's by checking their name against…

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  • Helen Taylor
    Helen Taylor asked:

    Hi Niall, Whoah, I feel our brains may work in a similar way and that is very worrying. The Second Death of Finn J Garvie was a working title for The Backstreets of Purgatory (as discussed in my latest shed post 'UndistinguiSHED (and other generally rubbish) working titles'). Was very fond of it. I liked the intrigue of the second death whilst not fully understanding what I actually meant. Nearly rewrote the entire book so the title would fit but alas! finally I had to reject it. The Second Death of Daedalus Mole is infinitely more impressive as a title. Congratulations. This isn't a question, by the way. Simply an observation of fact. Helen

    Niall Slater
    Niall Slater replied:

    Hi Helen! Thank you for the kind words. That is a worrying similarity. I thought I was being very original and clever when I came up with it. I'll have to give your post a read. For interest, some other working titles of mine have been: THE UTTER FAILURE OF DAEDALUS MOLE THE AWFUL MISTAKES OF DAEDALUS MOLE THE STARTLING ADVENTURES OF DAEDALUS MOLE THE SECRET DIARY OF DAEDALUS MOLE, and THE ADJECTIVE NOUN OF PROTAGONIST NAME Titles are hard.