How to Play Hilketa, the Robot-Smashing Sport in John Scalzi’s Head On

Hilketa sport John Scalzi Head On

Hilketa is a sport, first played in the United States, in which two teams of eleven players attempt to score points, primarily by tearing off the head of one of the opposing players and either throwing or carrying the head through goal posts. Other points may be accrued through defensive or offensive action. Because of the violent nature of the sport, no human bodies are on the field during play; all play is performed with personal transports (“threeps”). Because of this, and due to the fact that until very recently all threeps were operated by people with Haden’s Syndrome, to this day all professional Hilketa athletes are “Hadens.”

Despite being a relatively new sport, the kinetic nature of the game and its scoring has caused the game to become exceptionally popular in a very short time, although the highly-specialized and expensive nature of the threeps involved ...

Head On

John Scalzi, Head On, cover

John Scalzi returns with Head On, the standalone follow-up to the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed Lock In. Chilling near-future SF with the thrills of a gritty cop procedural, Head On brings Scalzi’s trademark snappy dialogue and technological speculation to the future world of sports. Available April 17th from Tor Books.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent’s head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are “threeps,” robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden’s Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI agents and Haden-related crime ...

Five Books I Was Thinking Of When I Wrote The Collapsing Empire

Art by Sparth So, I have I new space opera series on the way, which starts with The Collapsing Empire, a book which—as the title cleverly suggests—features an empire of planets and habitats, potentially on the verge of collapse. Now, when I say that the series is “new,” I mean that it’s a story that hasn’t been told before, with characters you’ve never met. But as with so many creative works, The Collapsing Empire has some clear antecedents in literature, in books that inspired me while I was writing my book, and in authors I gleefully borrowed from in order to build out my own new universe. Which books and authors? Here are five of them.  

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Dune TV film adaptation Legendary EntertainmentOh, sure, you try writing a science fiction novel about a culture centered on a mercantile nobility headed up by dynastic emperor and not bring Dune into it. See how ...
grass-tepper
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
hydrogen-sonata
Old Man's War Cover
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire: The Best or Worst-Timed Title Ever?

Art by Sparth

So here in 2017, when you have a book coming out called The Collapsing Empire, you get a lot of rueful smiles and knowing nods and statements like “so, writing non-fiction now, are we?” and “a little on the nose, isn’t it?” and you just have to sort of grin and nod, because, well, yeah, actually the title does seem a bit on the nose. It’s either the best-timed title in the history of science fiction or the worst-timed. I suppose I’ll find out when it goes out into the stores.

The irony is, to the extent that Earth plays a role at all in the development of the book itself, it’s not the modern-day planet that inspired the book, it was the Earth as it was five hundred or so years ago.

The basic concept of The Collapsing Empire is that there’s a far-flung interstellar mercantile empire, ...

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire: Chapter Three

collapsingempire

< p class="frontmatter">Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal—but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency—are in a ...

The Collapsing Empire: Chapter Two

collapsingempire

< p class="frontmatter">Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal—but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency—are in a ...

The Collapsing Empire: Chapter One

collapsingempire

< p class="frontmatter">Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal—but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency—are in a ...

The Collapsing Empire

collapsingempire

< p class="frontmatter">Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.

Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

The Flow is eternal—but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals — a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency—are ...

This Hollow Union

hollow-union

Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement… for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time—a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other—and against their own kind—for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union ...

The Life of the Mind

Life-Mind

Humans expanded into space…only to find a universe populated with multiple alien species bent on their destruction. Thus was the Colonial Union formed, to help protect us from from a hostile universe. The Colonial Union used the Earth and its excess population for colonists and soldiers. It was a good arrangement… for the Colonial Union. Then the Earth said: no more.

Now the Colonial Union is living on borrowed time—a couple of decades at most, before the ranks of the Colonial Defense Forces are depleted and the struggling human colonies are vulnerable to the alien species who have been waiting for the first sign of weakness, to drive humanity to ruin. And there’s another problem: A group, lurking in the darkness of space, playing human and alien against each other—and against their own kind—for their own unknown reasons.

In this collapsing universe, CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson and the Colonial Union ...