Hey, did you know that the entire prologue chapter to Zoe’s Tale is available for you to read over at the Tor/Forge site? I completely forgot about it, myself, because I guess I’m an idjit that way. If you haven’t picked up ZT yet — ahem, ahem – then this is a good way to make your introductions.
I’ve had folks ask me why I put in a prologue chapter for ZT, rather than starting at Chapter One, as I’ve done with other books. The answer actually had to do with the nature of the novel itself — it’s meant to be a standalone novel for folks who have not had previous contact with the universe (i.e., younger readers) and a continuation novel for those who have (i.e., the adult readers of the series). The new readers needed introductions to some of the major characters from the previous books (John, Jane, Savitri, Hickory and Dickory, etc), but I didn’t want the previous readers to get bored when these characters that they already knew came onto page.
The best way to solve both problems: A prologue, which both gets the new folks up to speed on all the major characters while at the same time serving notice to the previous readers that this story, while covering the same timeframe as The Last Colony, was still a wholly new view of events, and that the book will be focused on characters (Zoë, Gretchen, Enzo and Magdy) they hadn’t spent time with before. These are the things you think about when you’re putting together a book that’s supposed to do and be different things for different audiences.
And, of course, if I pulled it off, none of this will be obvious, since you’ll simply be enjoying reading the words and getting to know the characters, and getting sucked into the story. Except now I just told you. Well, hopefully you’ll still get caught up with the reading anyway.