Scott Lynch may have disappeared from the Internet, but he certainly hasn’t been wasting his time. Though The Republic of Theives still has yet to surface (Lynch has given a tentative 2010 date for its release), Lynch is offering something to keep fans of his Gentleman’s Bastard Sequence to chew on while they wait. What is it? A weekly-released, pulpy serialized-novel about World War II and Martians.

Queen of the Iron Sands by Scott Lynch


At the height of the Second World War, Violet DeVere was a WASP– a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, trusted with ferrying the most advanced warplanes in the United States arsenal. Five years after the war, she’s barely making ends meet as a crop duster and part-time science fiction writer.

Kidnapped across a hundred million miles of space, Violet suddenly finds herself a prisoner in an impossible empire, an inhabited Mars shielded from earthling eyes by a scientific illusion called the Veil. Mars and its people are ground beneath the heel of the ruthless All-Sovereign, whose legions rule the skies. All resistance to his absolute despotism has been driven to the deadly red sands beyond civilization.

Outgunned and outnumbered, Violet DeVere and her few brave Martian allies make a desperate stand against the All-Sovereign… against an ageless tyrant with the power to destroy every living thing in the solar system.

Just a bit of a departure from his other work. Lynch has a lot to say about the project HERE, and I’ve pulled out some of the interesting bits:

In early 2008, I had a vivid dream about a book I had written. It was a pulp adventure of some sort, with swashbuckling and planet-hopping and flashing ray guns, and the cover art was killer. Lurid black-and-red, full of energy, downright beautiful… I held that physical book in my arms and gazed down at it with total contentment.

And then I started to wake up… and the book in my arms lost all of its weight, and the colors faded from the cover, and one bitter moment later I was sitting up in bed, holding empty air and swearing at the top of my lungs.


So I started that book, fumbling along on the few scraps of memory I still had. I wrote about six chapters before life and other business intervened, and then I put the story away and barely thought about it for a year.


Until recently, I was offline for a very long time. Longer than I’d meant to be, for personal reasons.

Now my cup runneth over with things to do, responsibilities I’ve stacked up, from revising and turning in certain manuscripts to rebuilding this website. And let’s talk about my responsibility to you, my readers… you’ve gone for some time without seeing anything new from me. Not for lack of writing, but for lack of showing.


I’m going to start posting that dream-book I wrote, chapter by chapter, in weekly installments as a free online serial novel. And I’m going to finish the sucker in the grandest style I can.


First, those of you doing a potty dance for a certain forthcoming novel should know this won’t slow down my work on that, because I can’t let it. I’ve taken a couple of hours to set the HTML for this project up, but after this, I won’t be writing for Queen of the Iron Sands for some time. I’ve got five finished installments lined up like bullets ready to be fired, and even with the accelerated pace of my first-week releases those will keep me for a month.

Second, this story is free. It’s got nothing to do with any existing contract, it’s no publicity stunt for any upcoming project (though it is, for damn sure, a publicity stunt for my work in general, meant to end my long silence in the loudest possible fashion). I have a donation button, for those that wish to throw some coins in the jar, but think of it in those terms– pay what you like, as a tip, to show that you enjoy the story, and to help me keep presenting it. If you don’t like the story, you don’t owe me nothin’.

Third, there will be no weenie updates. There will be no itty-bitty appetizer chapters to follow the main course chapters, no feeble little half-chapters, no 400-word placeholders in between the big chunks. Chapter 1, “My Father Brought the Sky Home,” is about as small as they come. Some of the chapters waiting to be uploaded are much longer; none are shorter.

Fourth, new installments will be released weekly, probably on Fridays. I myself live in the Central time zone of the United States, but the number of readers I have around the world and the heavy presence of the UK contingent, in the GMT zone, leaves me scratching my head about the best time of day to actually post each new chapter. So let’s try this as an experiment… for starters, I’ll try to get them up in the wee hours of each Friday morning my time, which should be just before noon for those of you in the GMT zone.

As I expect many of Lynch’s fans are, I’m a little skeptical in the setting/plot/tone of the story, but my faith in Lynch’s characterization, dialogue and witticisms are more than enough to get me over any reservations. And hey, if it gives me a good way to kill an hour at work every Friday, I can’t really complain, right?

The more interesting thing to me, however, is hearing Lynch talk about falling off the face of the Earth for a long period of time. It’s good to have him back on the ‘net (he’s a funny guy, naturally) and it’s good to hear that his absence wasn’t a sign of stalled work on his fiction. As with all projects of this sort, tt’ll be interesting to see how he manages to keep up with production once his built up buffer of work (five installments) runs dry. In any case, hopefully this is a sign that Republic of Thieves has moved onto an editing stage, freeing up a bit of Lynch’s writing time. Time will tell, though.

You can download the currently released chapters HERE.

  • James August 31, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Read the first chapter yesterday and I really should get around to reading the second chapter soon. The first chapter was slow, a lot of build up for the rest of the story, but it showed promise and the narration just drowned in a Texan accent though Lynch avoided dialect. I’m not really skeptical about it, I will read just about anything that I find interesting and this is very much an interesting project. My one problem has to do with its nature. As it is an online serial and a side project, I can only hope that it eventually sees a proper end that is not rushed or left to sink into oblivion.

  • kevin September 1, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Judging by some of his Twitter posts that constantly talk about revising chapters for RoT, I’m guessing he has indeed moved onto more of an editing role on that book.

    I wonder what the status of the two Gentlemen Bastard novellas is? Considering he has a publishing commitment to those, I can’t imagine that he would ignore them at the expense of this free serialized work.

  • name(erforderlich) October 6, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Anyone knows what is happening with scott? I do not want to complain about the lack of update. I am just concerned that he misses an update by two weeks, stops giving twitter updates (like ‘i am flooded with work QotIS is on hold for now’) and finally his website is down…Hoping nothing serious did happen.

  • aidan October 6, 2009 at 10:47 am

    I’m sure Scott’s fine. But it is disconcerting that he’s already missing deadlines for QotIS.

  • name(erforderlich) October 14, 2009 at 1:53 am

    Well at least his Website is back up, that was the most worrying part for me….

  • name(erforderlich) November 18, 2009 at 6:26 am

    AHA i knew it

    I have been diagnosed with H1N1. This thing is positively unholy. 5:41 PM Nov 12th from web

  • name(erforderlich) November 18, 2009 at 6:27 am

    bah, not properly quoted. That is a Twitter entry by scott lynch