After the test of a planet killer weapon goes awry, the light cruiser Fearless Explorer is ordered to the planet Jagellowsk to evacuate the scientists in charge of the test before the planet breaks apart. But in defiance of orders, Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew decide to aid the civilian evacuation efforts instead.
Meanwhile, on Jagellowsk, thirteen-year-old Katya Grikova is desperate to get herself and her little brother Misha to safety from the ever stronger seismic shocks that are rocking the planet.
The Fearless Explorer is Katya and Misha’s only chance to get away from Jagellowsk. But Captain Brian Mayhew and his crew cannot evacuate all the children waiting for rescue…
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- This is a prequel novella of 29000 words or approx. 100 print pages in the In Love and War series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- The destruction of Jagellowsk is an important event in the In Love and War series, because this is how Mikhail tragically lost his family. Yet we have never seen what actually happened until now.
- In Evacuation Order, we finally meet Mikhail’s older sister Katya as well as their parents, grandmother and the family dog Laika.
- We also meet a much younger and less jaded Brian Mayhew during his time as a fleet captain. And while Mayhew is usually portrayed as an ambiguous character at best and an outright villain at worst, he is very much a heroic figure here. Even if there isn’t much he can do in the end except evacuate as many children from Jagellowsk as he can. And while one can argue with some of their decisions, Mayhew and his crew don’t actually do anything wrong.
- Evacuation Order also explains why there is such a strong bond between Mikhail and Brian Mayhew, in spite of everything that happens later. It also explains why Mayhew is so very protective of Mikhail and later so very, very eager to recapture him.
- I started writing Evacuation Order in early 2018 and I’d known about the arbitrary age divisions in the Republic’s evacuation procedures, which cause Mikhail to be separated first from his parents and later his sister, for a long time before I wrote the story. But while I was writing the story, the news about the ICE separating children from their parents by order of the Trump administration hit and sharply brought home that separating children from parents and caregivers except in the most dire of emergencies is a really bad idea. Though to be fair, pretty much everybody in Evacuation Order is aware that separating families is a really bad idea and both Anna Kim and Dana Gibson explicitly say so. They just don’t know what else to do, given the circumstances.
- Mayhew’s first officer, Natalya Shepkova, later reappears briefly in Freedom’s Horizon as captain of the battlecruiser Dauntless Courage.
- Mayhew’s remark that should it become necessary to throw someone out of the airlock, so everybody else aboard the ship can live, he’s volunteering is of course a reference to Tom Godwin’s classic science fiction story “The Cold Equations”. Because there’s always time for a swipe against “The Cold Equations”.
- The experimental Overkill weapon, which causes the entire disaster in the first place, is named after a similar planet destroying weapon that appears in an episode of the German science fiction series Raumpatrouille Orion. Coincidentally, I also named the planet Jagellowsk after a character in the series (several Republican worlds are named after characters from Raumpatrouille Orion) and I named both Lieutenant Margaret Trooger of the Civil Affairs Command and Colonel Frederick Joloff of the Republican Special Commando Forces after actors who appeared in the series.
- The various cities, towns and other places on Jagellowsk are all named after the cast or crew of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films Solaris and Stalker. Solonitsyn, the provincial capital where most of the scenes on Jagellowsk take place, is named for actor Anatoly Solonitsyn.
- Lieutenant Langejürgen, loadmaster of the Fearless Explorer, is named after the person because of whom I know what a loadmaster is.
- Jemgum, the planet where the Fearless Explorer lands at the end of the novella, is named for a village in East Frisia. Coincidentally, the oft-mention Accords of Logabirum are named for another village in East Frisia.
- Doctor Dana Gibson, chief medical officer of the Special Commando Forces, who shows up at the end to recruit Mayhew, also briefly appears in a flashback in Freedom’s Horizon. Doctor Gibson was also the person who developed the medical nano-agents coursing through Mikhail and Anjali’s blood in the first place.
- Mayhew does not accept Colonel Joloff and Dr. Gibson’s offer to join the Special Commando Forces. He obviously changes his mind later on, very likely due to tragically losing his own family.
- The cover is once again stock art by the talented Thai artist Tithi Luadthong a.k.a. Grandfailure.