Tao Wong is joining us today to talk about his novel, System Finale, the last of the System Apocolypse series. Here’s the publisher’s description:
There’s No Way Home
Not for John Lee. His search for answers for the System Quest has taken him deep into the Forbidden Zone, into the very arms of his enemies. He’s betrayed family and friends and been betrayed in turn. The most powerful human in the System has come to the final leg of his journey.
And still, he has no idea if what he will find will fill the burning need within him. For the Redeemer of the Dead will not stop, until the cries of the lost and the sacrificed are answered.
No matter the cost – to the universe, to Earth, or to himself.
System Finale is the final book of the bestselling post-apocalyptic LitRPG The System Apocalypse and brings the series to a climactic conclusion. The System Apocalypse mixes post-apocalyptic fiction with alien invasions, military science fiction and fantasy elements with game-like statuses and levels.
What’s Tao’s favorite bit?
One of the aspects of writing System Finale was that the ending is this massive fight, a war that involves two races – a hungering alien and massive dragons – and our heroes, caught between who are struggling to reach their objective; the Administrative Center.
I love writing battle scenes, but this one was the first one of its size that I ever wrote. Making that war feel expansive and encompassing while keeping the focus tight on our protagonist and his friends was tough, since we are also limited by the first person, present point of view of our main character.
At the same time, I also wanted to structure the scene in a style reminiscent of climatic battle scenes from anime and fantasy series; where the hero and his party meet and face the big bad’s trusted lieutenants in succession, with the trusted friends breaking off at each turn. I’m not sure I necessarily pulled it off, in the way I had hoped; but I do think I managed to peel off the hero’s support system in a manner that was natural.
Doing that, in a massive war and keeping it organic was a trick and a half. I was also limited by the fact that our hero needed his own moments of triumph and smallness, when the battle being waged above his head and around him shows just how far he still has to go. A mortal, running through a battlefield where gods wage war.
Of course, everyone meets up again towards the end; because that’s how those tropes and scenes go. Hero and party, joined together again – minus whoever fell along the way – to do battle with the big bad and come out triumphant.
Which, if left like that, would have been a little boring. So, of course, I had to twist it.
Finding these moments in well worn tropes and endings, locating points where it makes sense to adjust them so that the scenes are both a surprise and yet, are perfectly, organically sensible is probably what I’ve enjoyed the most about writing the book.
After all, the final ending was always known. I’d written it years ago when I started on the series and knew how many books (12!) I had to write. But finding a way to make the ending different and surprising, both for me and the reader… that’s the fun of writing.
Now, I just have to see if the readers agree. 😊
Tao Wong is a Canadian author based in Toronto, with series in the LitRPG and xianxia science fiction and fantasy markets. He has over five different series spanning a wide range of worlds, with works in audio, paperback, hardcover and eBook formats, as well as translations to German, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages. As a reader, he cut his teeth decades ago on Dragonlance, Terry Brooks and Asimov before graduating to Jordan, Gaiman, Bujold and more.
When he’s not writing and working, he’s practicing martial arts, reading (even more!) and taking care of his family. Other hobbies include occasional RPGs and board games as well as picking up new, random skillsets.
Tao became a full-time author in 2019 and is a member of SF Canada, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and ALLI.