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Meet the characters from THE FALLEN
It’s been four months since the launch of THE FALLEN, the much-anticipated sequel to my cosmic horror space opera novel THE OUTSIDE. In the week leading up to the launch, I ran a little series on Twitter, introducing two characters from the book each day (and, most days, a fun extra). Now I’ve gathered all those tweets in one place, lightly edited, for a full run-down on who’s who in THE FALLEN.
(Note: there are SPOILERS for THE OUTSIDE below!)
Dr. Yasira Shien
You remember Yasira right? Dr. Yasira Shien is an autistic scientist, formerly a child prodigy. In THE OUTSIDE, she was in charge of an experimental new power generator, which malfunctioned horribly and propelled her into an adventure!
Yasira went through a lot in THE OUTSIDE, including direct brushes with cosmic forces that have broken her mind and put it back together different. As THE FALLEN opens, she's not doing so well! She's on the run and struggling hard with trauma and depression.
People on the surface of Jai, which was severely altered during THE OUTSIDE, have grown to revere Yasira for the role she played in saving them. But how do you deal with reverence when you feel broken? Fortunately, Yasira has a team of friends around her to help.
Please enjoy this beautiful fanart of Yasira by Laya Rose:
Productivity “Tiv” Hunt
Tiv, Yasira’s girlfriend, has been with her since THE OUTSIDE's beginning, and now she plays a major role in the resistance movement against the Gods.
In THE OUTSIDE, Tiv played a pivotal role, but it was mostly the role of a love interest for Yasira to pine after while she was swept away into dangerous parts of the galaxy. In THE FALLEN, Tiv has a lot more to do and a lot of POV time as she comes into her own as a leader.
The Gods are afraid that everything on Jai is now a heresy, and they're using ever more draconian means to keep it contained. Tiv doesn't have a mystical connection to Outside like Yasira's, but she does have empathy, principles, and an interest in helping.
Tiv is also the only character I've had a consistent fancast for from the beginning. I always picture her as Kristin Kreuk:
Akavi Averis and Elu Ariehmu
Akavi and his assistant Elu are "angels" - immortal, neurologically augmented cyborgs - working for Nemesis, the God of retribution. Or, well, they were.
In THE OUTSIDE, Akavi and Elu failed at an important mission, slating them for terrible punishment and termination. Now they're on the run from the Gods they used to serve - and they're on a mission of revenge.
Akavi is a character very dear to my heart - he was in my head long before the rest of the Outside series' setting took shape. He's a Vaurian shapeshifter, able to take on the appearance of any human. He's elegant, manipulative, and ruthless in his methods.
Akavi sees Yasira as having betrayed him, and he's determined to find her and destroy her - as well as paying back Nemesis for setting him up to fail. In the process, he's infiltrated several groups on Jai's surface under several identities.
Elu is Akavi's assistant, having served him faithfully in the angelic corps for half a century. He's Akavi's polar opposite in personality - gentle, empathetic, and unsure of himself. He's a medic, a technician, and a designer of all kinds of items Akavi will need.
Elu has a crush on Akavi which he doesn't expect Akavi to return. While Akavi had to flee the angelic corps or be killed, Elu joined him willingly, out of love. But life on the run isn't what he expected it to be - and, unlike Akavi, he can't hide his angelic nature.
Dealing with isolation, and lacking the heavily networked hierarchy that always defined their roles, will strain Akavi and Elu's relationship to the breaking point - and that's before any of our heroes discover they're still alive.
Enga Afonbataw Konum, Marshal of Nemesis
Enga is a cyborg angel who’s remained loyal to the Gods. Enga is one of my favorite side characters in this series. She's an angel with more significant physical modifications than most - her arms have been replaced by a bewildering array of weapons and tools which, at full extension, fan out like wings.
She's also more visibly disabled than the other angels. Neurological damage from a botched surgery has left her with apraxia and paralysis in her face. She speaks to the other angels using a text-sending network, in ALL CAPS.
Enga used to work as Akavi's enforcer, adding muscle, intimidation, and combat ability to his missions. She earned a commendation for exploring the surface of Jai and working out how to fight Outside monsters. But now Akavi and Elu are gone, and she's struggling.
Enga resents that the two of them left her - oops, I mean, "left the angelic corps" - and she's prepared to sacrifice a great deal to bring them to justice. Enga has an expanded role in THE FALLEN and several scenes of POV time.
A year ago, I published a short story from Enga's perspective in LIGHTSPEED. Enga's arc in THE FALLEN will be intelligible regardless of whether you've read this story, but the story gives more time with her and a hint at where her arc could be going.
Irimiru Kaule, Overseer of Nemesis
Irimiru is Akavi's former commander. A Vaurian like Akavi, they change their appearance even more frequently than most Vaurians, often multiple times in a conversation. Irimiru is known as a fearsome tyrant with a harsh temper and short patience.
Irimiru themself is very frustrated with the turn things have taken on Jai, caught between the demands of their own superiors and the failures and weaknesses of the angels in their care. The Jai disaster has grown to the point where they no longer have sole jurisdiction.
Irimiru is a bit of a diva, really. I don't have a fancast for them - if this ever became a TV series, the Vaurians would each need to be played by several actors - but for their voice, my audiobook narrator suggested "Cate Blanchett energy," and I was immediately like, YES.
Now we’re going to meet the friends of Yasira and Tiv's who are helping run their resistance movement. Six of them are new to this book. The other, we've met before briefly - his name is Splió spi Munu.
In THE OUTSIDE, Splió played a minor role as a prisoner of Akavi's. We learned that the Gods had kidnapped more than one former student of Dr. Talirr, not just Yasira. In THE FALLEN, those former prisoners/students reappear, and they want a say in what's happening.
Each member of the Seven has been indirectly touched by Yasira's cosmic, world-changing work with Outside, and they've developed special abilities of their own - as well as their own, individual forms of Outside madness.
Cynical but caring, Splió is a supportive member of the team who's doing a lot better, mental-health-wise, than he was in captivity - but he still struggles with depression and apathy. He has a kind of clairvoyance - by using Dr. Talirr's technology, he can see almost anywhere.
Daeis Jalonevar was the first student Akavi ever kidnapped and held captive, and the one who was in captivity the longest. In the process, they lost their ability to speak. Freed from captivity, Daeis is slowly regaining this ability, but they're selectively mute, speaking only in whispers and only to Splió, with whom they have a close relationship.
Daeis also has a close rapport with the monsters that live on Jai's surface. The cosmic horror forces that have changed everything on Jai also brought to life all sorts of creatures, from enormous devouring beasts to blades of grass that move like snakes. Daeis is especially good at communicating with these creatures and making friends with them.
You can think of Daeis as a Disney prinx, surrounded by adoring forest creatures, except that the creatures are mind-bending unnatural creepy things. It's an ability that serves them well.
Weaver, Prophet, Picket, and Grid were imprisoned by the angels as a group in an attempt to counteract the effects of isolation. The four of them have developed a close bond, even moreso than the rest of the team.
Weaver is a bundle of energy, constantly fidgeting and stimming, eager to help or to share her opinion. Her abilities center around healing and mending.
Prophet is a gentler soul. She's not autistic, but she's often found staring into space the way Yasira does, because her abilities are always "on" - she's always seeing not only what's in front of her, but snatches of possible futures, from a few seconds ahead to much further.
Picket is a quintessential nerd, loving old video games and tactics. And he has one of the scariest powers on the team - in a localized area, within the Chaos Zone, he can increase or decrease the amount of Outside chaos as he wills. But he can't control the chaos's effects.
Picket's arc is a queasy one as he quickly realizes the situation on the ground on Jai is not at all like the tactics games he loves. The cost in human lives of acting or not acting isn't something he can count up on a scoreboard.
Grid is the team's secretary and organizer, with a subtle ability best put to use behind the scenes - they can sense the angels' ansible net. They can't read the data, but they can tell it's there, and can detect agents of the Gods before they sneak up on the group.
It's a good thing the team has someone who can do this, because the Gods are trying as hard as they can to send a Vaurian angel or other mole to infiltrate the team. It's only thanks to Grid's vigilance that they haven't succeeded. But Akavi, an ex-angel in hiding from the Gods, is no longer connected to the ansible net... and he might be able to succeed where the Gods Themselves have failed.
Luellae Nyrath is the seventh member of Yasira and Tiv's team. She goes by the code name "Blur," and her power is fast physics-defying movement, in ways that go beyond even what Dr. Talirr's portals can do - because she doesn't need to start or end with a door.
Luellae is standoffish and often at odds with the rest of the team; she feels their nonviolent methods don't go far enough to really deal with the threat they're up against. Luellae is also guarding a secret - about the past, and about what exactly she did to survive while she was a captive. And that secret, to an angel that knows it, might begin to be the whole team's undoing.
Dr. Evianna Talirr
A major player in THE OUTSIDE, Dr. Talirr spent the previous book evading the Gods, spreading heresies, and directly causing the plague that now covers much of Jai.
She's not gone. After seeing how Yasira dealt with Outside in the previous book, and realizing that her own approach was misguided, Dr. Talirr retreated somewhat from active involvement in the war she started. But she's watching.
The people of Jai call her "Destroyer" and fear her. The Gods will stop at nothing to destroy her Themselves. And in a way, that's what keeps the planet alive - until the Gods can catch Dr. Talirr, they can't destroy Jai, or she'll just go and do the same thing to another world.
Dr. Talirr gets less time on the page in THE FALLEN, compared to THE OUTSIDE. But she's there in the book. Let's just say she makes her presence count.
My fancast for Dr. Talirr is Sigourney Weaver. This is entirely because of Weaver’s cameo in the 2016 remake of “Ghostbusters,” as Jillian Holtzmann’s mentor. I looked at the character in the one (1) short scene where she appears and was immediately like “Yeah, that’s Ev.” Later my girlfriend showed me a clip of Weaver’s character being needlessly creepy in “Alien: Resurrection,” which only makes me love this fancast more.
Extras: Book Playlists
Do you want a bunch of catchy, creepy metal about AI Gods and cosmic horrors? You know you do! For THE OUTSIDE’s launch, I created a playlist on Spotify:
which is now also available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3635JaQodhaXNtNiAdwOU94OfaodCMo5)
Now that THE FALLEN is out, it has a playlist too! Here it is on Spotify:
And on YouTube, if you prefer that: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3635JaQodhZLpu6OF5LygeGDz86bSPtD
And if you want to read some little jotted notes about what each song means to me and what it reminds me of, that's up for you as well:
The Gods of the Outside series divide up human souls between them so that everyone gets the afterlife they're most suited for. Want to know which of the Gods would eat your soul? Of course you do. And now you can find out with a uquiz here: https://uquiz.com/quiz/yt9I9t/
(Mine’s Epiphron, apparently.)
The Fantasy Hive is hosting an excerpt from THE FALLEN – in which Tiv makes an expedition to Old Earth in hopes of finding answers her resistance movement can use. https://fantasy-hive.co.uk/2021/07/the-fallen-by-ada-hoffmann-excerpt/
I first made THE OUTSIDE’s Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.ca/hallucigeniasparsa/the-outside/) after selling the book to Angry Robot Books. Pinterest feels like a great indulgence but it's also very useful to a publisher who's trying to scare up some cover art and wants to understand the aesthetic that's in your head for all this.
Lee Gibbons’ amazing cover art ended up being based on one of the pins:
(This is, apparently, a picture of a plasma reactor in Japan; I had it filed under “Ev’s stuff.”)
For a long time this board was only for THE OUTSIDE, but for THE FALLEN's launch, I've updated it - new characters (including all the ones I'm introducing this week and more) in the Characters section, plus three new sections specifically for this new book.
For Halloween, THE OUTSIDE appeared on Tor.com’s list of Eldritch Abominations for the SFF Soul.