The Obolonk Universe

The Obolonk Murders, The Polymer Beat, The Badge of Humanity

Let’s Go to the Obolonk Universe

Understanding any piece means getting into its guts and exploring some of what didn’t end up on the page. The stuff on the cutting room floor, if you will. Here, it’s all about the Obolonk Universe.

The first thing you need to know is that this is a trilogy of trilogies. Yes, the intention is for there to be a total of nine books!

But that is because the number three figures extremely prominently.

How Does the Obolonk Universe Tick?

I started writing the first Obolonk story (The Obolonk Murders) back in 2002 and then set it aside for years. Then I wrote The Polymer Beat in November of 2014. It was a NaNoWriMo project.

For the second trilogy, Time Addicts, those were all NaNoWriMo projects. I wrote those during the Novembers of 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Because generally I like to outline my projects, particularly for NaNo, I was already thinking about it before I started officially writing.
At times, inspiration comes from a person. Or it may come from a point I want to make. Another source of inspiration is characters.

But the truth is The Obolonk Murders was originally pantsed.

Pantsing is when a writer goes without a net or a plan and just writes. But I ran out of gas by around Chapter 3 or 4. So, I set it aside and did other things, not returning to the Obolonks until early 2014. I finished the first novel in time for that year’s NaNo, which is where I wrote the second book.


Each trilogy has its own style and its own main character.

The Obolonk Trilogy

Perhaps the first piece was Peri Martin, the main character of The Obolonk Trilogy. The idea of a wisecracking female gumshoe was irresistible. And then the secondary ideas of a robotic partner and local aliens? I was mentally sold.

Peri’s new partner is a robot, Tommy 2000 (also called Tommy McFarland). Why does she have a new partner? It’s because her former partner, Charlie Hollis, was burned to death in front of her. As a result, Peri’s been in treatment for PTSD. But she never finished her course of treatment.

So, Peri’s got issues.

She’s also got an equally wisecracking ‘work husband’, Greg Shapiro, and their boss is Dennis Dolan. Her parents are Karen and Jeff Martin.

In the OIA (where they work for a while), there are Jennifer Haren, Livia Thorson, Lester Norris, Vanessa Perkins, Stephanie Yang, and Chief Inspector David Shepherd. Plus, there’s the Chief Governor of the entire Solar System, Ms. Fankald Williams, Lieutenant Governor Dien Nguyen, and attorneys Akanksha Kondapalli and Dixie Treadway.

Rounding out the human contingent are Rachel and Camille Gifford, Ted Moore, Philip Jorgensen, inventor James Carter Tinerrian, Tamara Woods, and various perpetrators, most of whom are never truly “on screen”.

On the alien side, the ones you see the most are They Say This is The One (TSTITO) and They Say This One Tiles Bathrooms Adequately.

In addition to Tommy, there’s a second sapient robot, Selkhet 3000. There are tons of other robots, but they aren’t as intelligent as those two.

The Time Addicts Trilogy

Dali melting watch, a symbol of Time Addicts in the Obolonk Universe
Dali melting watch, a symbol of Time Addicts in the Obolonk Universe

Here, the main character is another cop, Josie James.

OIA Employees

At the OIA, her partner is Tad Lewis and their boss is Carmen D’Angelo. Other members of their department are Dalton Farouk, Keisha Darnell, Cyndi Mendez. Bobby Brodie, Jerry Brodie, Vera Travers, Cassandra Hopper, and engineer Kevin O’Connor.

Temporally sensitive employees are Kurt Wilmont, Danny Collins, Mandy Major, Dora Pazkiewicz, Kurt Felice, Caryn O’Donoughue, Sun Kuong, and Todd Scanlen.

Higher ups are Samarth Bakshi and Peter Ray.

Josie’s Family

Josie is the tenth of ten kids. Her siblings are: Aaron, Avalon, Brian, Connie, Deb, Em, Francie, Greg, Hayley, and Ian. She’s got inlaws and near-inlaws: Nell, Harvey, Tyrell, Clayton, Mercedes, and Dov.

Her nieces and nephews are Scotty, Mitch, Chasten, Ellen, Matthew, Troy, Nichelle, Gina, Dinah, and Saddik.

More Humans

Rounding out the human contingent are the Chief Governor of the Solar System Dae Ou Xiang, and Lieutenant Governor of the Solar System Jay Bradford Tilson.

There are nonbinary clerks Daisy Dukes (yes, really named after the booty shorts) and Velvet Monroe. They both work for Marty Quinlan.

Plus conspirators Corwin Zachary, Elston Young, and Robin Campbell McKenna.

And there’s David Wesley-Smith, Madison Turnbull, Christian Prentiss, Mark Gustafson, Drusilla Hawthorne, Becky Norton, and Kai Warwick. But we don’t see them too much.

Obolonks and Robots

The two most often seen Obolonks are They Say This One Flosses Human Children’s Teeth Carefully (Flossie) and They Say This One Can Add Numbers Fast (Addie).

Because the most sapient robots can technically live forever, Tommy 2000 and Selkhet 3000 are in this trilogy. And so is a sapient robot mentioned but otherwise missing from the first trilogy—Emma 1000.

Third Trilogy

I don’t have this yet!

But I suspect it will involve a war.

The Time Frame

The first trilogy starts on August 27, 2089 and ends on March 13, 2090.

Then we zoom far into the future, as the second trilogy starts on August 13, 2526 and ends on October 31, 2528.

The third trilogy comes later!

Where Does it all Take Place?

The best (in my opinion) conceit is that humans have colonized essentially every possible vaguely spherical rock in the Solar System. In the first trilogy, they are just starting to spread into the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. Much like today, there are population issues.

What’s in the Obolonk Universe?

Since terraforming operations have a nasty odor, the orbs all have their own signature smells. Furthermore, the orbs and systems all have naming conventions. Hence in the Jovian System, the naming convention is rock ‘n roll acts. This leads to the Callistonian capital being Ankaville. Callisto’s aroma is lemons, but it smells more like lemon furniture polish than the actual fruit.

The only spherical orb with no terraforming is Mercury. Hence, in the second trilogy, I establish that the currency has become universal, and it’s named mercuries, often called mercs. The loose change is triangles, shaped that way but also evoking the—you guessed it—three-part society.

What Differentiates the Obolonk Universe from Other Books and Series I’ve Written?

This is one of the best realized universes I have ever created, and it lends itself well to three trilogies. There is a lot to explore! I also love the tripartite dynamic. Humans aren’t necessarily the good guys and there’s more to the robots and the aliens than meets the eye.

As I’ve written in this universe, I’ve come to realize just how much this is a story of each of these elements. It’s answering the question:

How does a disparate society come together?.

Can it?

How and Where Does the Obolonk Universe Cross Into My Other Universes?

Kelly Braverman sells her tenant’s share in the 301 Hancock Street house to Josie. The house, and the name, directly link to the Mettle Universe.

Is There Room in the Obolonk Universe for Sequels?

Kind of. As of the original writing of this page, I hadn’t written the third trilogy or really gotten much down about it. So those stories remain ripe for the telling.

But I know there’s even more there. Could I pull up yet another trilogy or at least a standalone from this wild and wacky universe? I think it’s very possible. But I imagine I’ll leave it alone for a while once the third trilogy is done.

Oh, and prequels? Yep, they’ll work.

The Obolonk Universe — Takeaways

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned about this universe is that the very act of setting something aside for a significant time period can really make you change your mind about things. The story started off as a kind of ultra modern gumshoe. But over time, it’s become a statement about prejudice, society, and embracing the other.

Want to learn about more universes? Then head on over to the Universal Explorations page where you can get to another universe.

The Obolonk Universe—an Exploration Click To Tweet

Want More of the Obolonk Universe?

If the Obolonk Universe resonates with you, then check out my other articles about Peri, Dave, Tommy, and the others and how they fight terrorism. And don’t forget Josie, Dalton, Carmen, and the others as they work to prevent genocide.

Character Reviews:

First Trilogy

Self-Review: The Obolonk Murders
Self-Review: The Polymer Beat
and Self-Review: The Badge of Humanity

Time Addicts

Self-Review: Time Addicts: No One is Safe
Self-Review: Time Addicts: Nothing is Permanent
and Self-Review: Time Addicts: Everything is Up For Grabs

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