This weekend marks the release of a fantastic original science fiction series. Lady Aesculapius is a short story serial that will be running for the next thirteen weeks, featuring the writing talent of some familiar names from The Untold Adventures! Laine Ferio and Deb Das have penned episodes three, six and seven respectively, and the project's lead James Wylder recently joined our creative team as well. As such, TUA and Lady Aesc very-much feel like sister series, and we wanted to showcase this exciting collection of adventures, the first of which is available now! Join the bohemian adventurer Lady Aesc as she travels through alternate realities with her friend the Jason Jackson, encountering new foes, making new pals, kissing new aliens, and facing a threat like nothing she's ever encountered before...
We chatted with James about the project, who offers some tantalising insight into what readers can expect from the series.
Poster by Anne-Laure Tuduri
How would you summarise Lady Aesculapius as a project?
Lady Aesculapius is a series of thirteen stories following a bohemian inter-universal adventurer named Lady Aesculapius, her best friend Jason Jackson who is an asexual ace pilot who dreams of getting to see wonders but is stuck in a dead end job. I’ve described the tone as “The Orville without the potty humor” – it’s a dramedy that’s a parody, a comedy, and a serious drama all rolled into one. There’s adventure, fun, and some real darkness too.
What has the experience of writing and producing the series been like?
It’s been a lot of fun – mostly! As with any production with a small crew and big goals there’s been a lot of scrambling to make things work, but the team of writers, recorders, artists, and other folks have really believed in the project and so that passion translated into the work. I was genuinely surprised how good these stories turned out, and as the drafts kept coming in I realized this project was going to be something special (and if I’m being honest, my own drafts turned out much better than I expected too…). Lady Aesc was supposed to be a bit of naff fun, but it turned into something really special while we were making it.
What can you tell us about the titular heroine and the other leads?
Lady Aesc is a pansexual (many lovingly call her a “disaster pansexual”) adventurer who has has a girlfriend named Blanche, and travels around in a moon-sized ship called a Factory of Crystal, or Foce for short. The ship can change size, and shrink down to the size of a marble so she can put it in her pocket and carry it around! Aesc tries to do good, and right injustices, but she also really just wants to have a lot of fun and not worry about anything. Despite that, she won’t leave a place till she’s done what she can. Her friend Jason is an ace pilot – or should be. He joined the Centro Exploratory Fleet, and has been up to a whole lot of nothing there. He longs for adventure, to see wonders, to have excitement, but instead he’s the guy everyone orders around. Along with being an ace pilot, he’s ace, or asexual. Finally, another character you’ll meet along the way is Blanche. She’s Aesc’s girlfriend, and has a troubled past. She stopped traveling with Aesc, and is living peacefully in a country cottage these days, but they’re still together.
There are obviously some aesthetic/thematic similarities with Doctor Who (and indeed, The Untold Adventures!), how does Lady Aesculapius take the familiar premise of a time and space adventuring alien and channel it into something new and unique?
Lady Aesculapius started as a parody character I made up for a 10,000 Dawns story I wrote to help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. She became popular with readers, and over a few appearances evolved into her own unique thing. Her origin as a parody gives the series its first big difference: it’s funny. We deal with some dark stuff, but there isn’t a single episode without some big comedy in it. The other big difference is that we get to deal with some topics head-on that Doctor who can’t do: characters can be open about sex and their sexuality, trauma, and deep insecurities. We’re never gratuitous, but we can cross lines when we need to for the benefit of the stories. Being able to reach over those barriers has made some of the best stories in this series – there’s some really deep character drama coming your way, and our heroes will grow and change, for better or for worse. It’s dramedy in it’s truest form: we don’t skimp on either half of it.
What's the series' relationship with the 10,000 Dawns universe? And for newcomers, what is 10,000 Dawns?
10,000 Dawns is a sci-fi series I created and run which centers around adventures in a cluster of 10,000 universes that are all secretly connected, so there are groups that travel between them on missions, for adventures, etc. Lady Aesculapius takes place inside the 10,000 Dawns Universes, and she first appeared in stories from the series. Lady Aesc is part of 10kd, but it’s also in some ways our first “spin off” – Aesc’s tales have their own distinct tone and purpose, and she has a feel that’s different from other stories in the series. This series stands alone, but if you like it you can find lots of other 10,000 Dawns tales you’ll probably enjoy too, and find some little treats connecting it all together!
Where can we read the new series?
You can read the first episode at: www.jameswylder.com/blog/lady-aesculapius-episode-1 And an audio version is coming soon!