#BOWS2021: Fandom inspiration for The Iamos Trilogy

May 20, 2021

Welcome to the first-ever Book Owl Word Search, also known as BOWS! The Book Owl Word Search is a fun interactive game that lets you learn about new books and authors and enter to win a great prize. How does it work? Search through this blog post for my special Secret Word, then continue the hunt through my teammates’ posts until you’ve collected all 12 secret words. Enter them all into the form on the entry page to be entered into a giveaway to win a gift pack of 18 great YA and MG books, plus a $10 gift card to the online book retailer of the winner’s choice! Learn more about the game and how to play here.

For #BOWS2021, I am on the Blue Team! There are also two other teams—Orange and Purple—so be sure to check them out if you’d like a chance to win lots more books and other great prizes! But act fast, because the game only runs from May 20 through May 23 at noon Central time!

And now, without further ado, here’s my special post for BOWS:

Three Fandoms That Inspired the Iamos Trilogy

My ongoing series, The Iamos Trilogy, is nearing its end, with the final book in the series, One World, currently scheduled for release this fall. This YA sci-fi series is set on Mars fifty years from now, and with its themes of space exploration, conspiracy theories, and time travel, you can see comparisons to things like Star Trek, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Martian, as well as other YA sci-fi books like Across the Universe and Adaptation. But there were some other, maybe less expected, influences on the series as well. Here are three of those!

Disney’s Atlantis

The most obvious inspiration for The Iamos Trilogy is the 2001 Disney movie, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. A popular real-world myth about Atlantis is that it was a shared origin civilization for a number of cultures across the globe, which serves as an explanation for why, for example, pyramids appear both in Africa and South America despite an ocean between them. This was the premise for the Disney movie, and I likewise borrowed that idea but added to it the concept of the “Atlanteans” in fact being ancient Martians. Despite the differences in the movie’s Atlantis and mine (namely, that the Disney version of Atlantis was a high-tech ancient Earth-based society which was destroyed in a tsunami caused by one of their own high-tech weapons, while my “Atlantis” is a high-tech ancient Martian society which is destroyed by SPOILER REDACTED), I wanted to pay tribute to my favorite movie from my teens. Thus, the character of Isaak is an amateur linguist, fluent in many of the same languages as Milo of Disney’s Atlantis. Likewise, Nadin is based on Princess Kida—not just in appearance (though the similarities between them are a definite homage!), but also in terms of her naivete about the world, her curiosity, and her passion to save her people. The cover for the second book in the series, New World, was also a tribute to the Japanese movie poster for Atlantis!

Final Fantasy X and X-2

Another fandom influence on The Iamos Trilogy was the 2001 Japanese RPG Final Fantasy X and its 2003 sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. This series actually had a bigger influence on Iamos than even Atlantis, at least in my mind! For starters, Tidus is a lot like Isaak in a lot of ways: The obvious one is that Tidus finds himself transported to a different world and time, and has to adjust to the culture shock of this new world while also trying to find a way back home. Like Iamos, the world that Tidus finds himself in is on the brink of destruction and is a far cry from the version of the same world he knows in his time. Tidus is also like Isaak on a personal level—his father went missing years ago, as did Isaak’s. and both Isaak and Tidus have some unresolved issues with their missing dads. (Also, like Isaak’s, Tidus’ dad is kind of a jerk.)

Meanwhile, Yuna, like Nadin, is a girl so bound by duty that her identity is basically a blank slate. As a summoner, Yuna’s duty is to give her life to follow in her father’s footsteps and bring about a period of Calm on her planet. Nadin, on the other hand, is duty-bound to follow in her parents’ footsteps to become part of the geroi, the rulers of the dying planet of Iamos, whose atmosphere is rapidly draining away. Because of their sheltered lives and their intense senses of duty, neither Yuna nor Nadin have much of a personal sense of identity when you first meet them. But both of them uncover a secret about the true nature of their worlds that shatters everything they’ve been raised to believe in. The journeys they go on help them find themselves and who they really are. In particular, Final Fantasy X-2 is about Yuna’s journey to find herself after she’s been released from that duty at the end of the first game. Nadin has a similar journey in New World; though her duty and obligation is still strong and her mission to save her people is still ongoing, in New World she finds herself away from the stifling influence of the geroi and, in a new environment, is able to grow and come into her own in a way she never could have before she met Isaak.

Finally, FFX didn’t just influence Isaak and Nadin’s story—it also influenced our other two protagonists, Henry and Tamara. I drew a lot of their story from that of Shuyin and Lenne from FFX-2, including Tamara’s passion for music and Henry’s rebellion against the authoritarian Martian government. In an interesting coincidence, both Tidus and Shuyin were voiced by James Arnold Taylor, who voiced Milo in Disney’s Atlantis video games and the direct-to-video sequel; and Cree Summer voiced both Lenne from FFX-2 and Kida from Atlantis!

Fruits Basket

The last fandom inspiration for The Iamos Trilogy might be a little surprising, since it isn’t a sci-fi and doesn’t really have much in common with the story at all. But Fruits Basket (which was published in Japan from 1998 to 2006) is one of my favorite manga, and with the anime airing now, I am being reminded of just how much it impacted me, especially back when I was brainstorming The Iamos Trilogy. In particular, one of my favorite aspects of Fruits Basket is the love triangle that isn’t. The setup looks like it’s going to be the typical teen romance (or shojo manga, in this case) trope: two guys in love with the same girl, continuing to pine after her even after she’s chosen one or the other, sometimes even after having dated both of them. Fruits Basket was a total surprise when one of the members of the triangle realized—pretty early on, in fact, well before she’d made a “choice” or even really begun having feelings for either of them—that he really wasn’t romantically interested in the girl after all. He’d talked himself into liking her because she was the sort of girl he should like on paper. I found that so refreshing and such a shock during a time in fandom when everything was about ship wars and the era of Team Edward vs. Team Jacob (the final volume was released in English in 2009, at the height of Twilight-mania). To have a romance series aimed at teen girls have one side of the triangle step back and say, “Actually, no,” was hugely subversive. And though I didn’t do it anywhere near as elegantly as Natsuki Takaya did in Fruits Basket, I tried to incorporate a bit of that in the relationships in The Iamos Trilogy. Chapter 9 of Different Worlds, the bridge novella between Fourth World and New World, is still my favorite chapter in the whole series for that very reason.

So there you have it: my top three fandom inspirations for The Iamos Trilogy! Have you ever seen/played/read any of these? If you’ve read The Iamos Trilogy already, have you noticed the homages, or are they mostly in my head? Let me know in the comments!

Books Currently Available in the Iamos Trilogy

Book 1, Fourth World
Book 1.5, Different Worlds: An Iamos Novella
Book 2, New World

Book 3, One World, is coming Fall 2021!


Now it’s time for me to pass the #BOWS2021 word search over to my teammate Jamie Krakover! I hope you’ll enjoy learning all about her YA sci-fi book Tracker220! If you missed the secret word in my post, keep an eye out for something blue. Best of luck, BOWS participants!

Visit Jamie Krakover’s blog for the next clue!

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