Michael Kane Author Interview

Author Interview: Michael F. Kane

We sit down with the author of the space western novel After Moses and the newly released Book 5!


Michael F. Kane cut his teeth on science fiction and fantasy. In fact, his first memories of Star Wars are his mother covering his eyes during the rancor scene. Later, he fell in love with the classics, Tolkien, Asimov, Herbert, and more. Somehow, despite the odds being stacked against him, he grew up to be a somewhat respectable human being. By day he’s the music director at a mid-sized church, but at night he dreams of unseen lands and places man has never trod.

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After Moses Sanctum by Michael F. Kane released in May of this year!

I greatly enjoyed the first book. In my review, I called it a “compelling space western with likable characters and a positive treatment of faith.”

After Moses Sanctum by Michael F Cane Book CoverPublisher’s Description

We’ve always heard that Earth was uninhabitable.
It was the greatest lie ever told.

Abigail Sharon. Shield Maiden. Right hand woman of Matthew Cole, Captain of the Sparrow. Paraplegic.


After a run in with bounty hunters on Titan, her wondrous suit of powered armor has been damaged beyond the ability for anyone in the colonies to repair. Without it, the career of the Shield Maiden is over. But Matthew is the observant type, and over the years, he’s begun to put the pieces of Abigail’s past together. He knows where she came from. The place where we all came from.

He’s willing to take her back to get the repairs she needs. But going back means that Abigail must face the past. She’ll have to face the woman staring back at her from the mirror, the woman confined to a wheelchair, and know at last who she is.

Because the universe isn’t about to give either of them any breaks, and even on the forbidden planet, they’ll have more than their fair share of enemies.

My life has been crazy, so this interview is belated, but I’m so excited to have the opportunity to discuss this new book with Michael!

We talk Firefly, real details about the solar system, and of course the approaching end of the series! 

I think this interview highlights Michael’s upbeat attitude and the encouraging, anti-nihilist outlook that permeates his work.

I hope you will enjoy hearing his responses to my questions!

How did you start writing this story?

As it turns out, it was a spur of the moment decision. Most writers have that ‘one story’ that’s been rattling around in their head for years. After Moses is NOT that story.

I’ve tried to write that story several times and failed. On my most recent attempt I got about 90k words in, roughly half way, and then decided I still didn’t have the prose skills to do it justice.

So in a single afternoon I decided to write something different. Settled on sci-fi western very quickly. Crew on a ship. Decided on that backstory with a failed super-AI, Moses, that would put the setting into the decline that would justify the more western setting. And by the next day I had written the first chapter opener. A week later the first chapter was done.

Someday I’ll get back to that ‘one story’ but I’ve got a series to finish, and I’m not even sure if it will be the next thing I write!

What do you enjoy about the sci-fi / space western genre?

There’s a reason that the fusion of science fiction with western aesthetics is an old one. It’s a wonderfully useful combination of two separate sets of tropes.

Arguably, John Carter is the first, and these days folks are most familiar with Firefly, but the cross-communication between the two genres has been constant for decades.

Dusty, backwater towns. Seedy bars and saloons. Gunslingers. Heists. Quiet farmers trying to eke out a living on the edge of the desert. All of those are equally at home in both genres. But the thing that most unites the two is ‘The Frontier.’ The hard edge of civilization where the city stops and the wilderness begins is a deep running theme through both science fiction and westerns.

Firefly. Star Wars. Trigun. John Carter. Not all of these are pure westerns, but when ‘The Frontier’ is in play, the two genres can often overlap.

Are there any specific stories in this genre that made an impact on you as a writer?

Oddly enough, probably not.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen me say that I didn’t see Firefly until after I started After Moses, but my wife has corrected me. We watched it a few years before I started. So clearly its influence wasn’t that great.

Star Wars obviously is an influence on some level, but its ‘western’ elements are mostly limited to the planet Tatooine. And After Moses isn’t much like Star Wars anyway.

The truth is that most of my influences, especially when it comes to philosophy of storytelling, are of the Tolkien, Lewis variety. I’ve read plenty of both Fantasy and Sci-fi, but it’s more likely the former whose philosophy and theology are in line with my own. I read a lot of Asimov growing up, and as much as I loved his short stories, I don’t much agree with his conclusions about the world.

It’s Tolkien whose bittersweet stories about heroes and ordinary folk standing against the gathering darkness that stick with me. And I hope there may just be a little of that DNA in my writing.

Probably the best-known example of the space western is Firefly. Can you expand on how you feel about that show and its impact on the genre?

At this point nearly everyone has opinions on Firefly. And for good reason. Firefly takes killer aesthetics, music, and some excellent casting decisions and makes an intriguing start. There are also a couple of very well written character moments that stick with you long after the series ends.

Which happens very quickly.

It’s also full of unnecessary sexual content, obnoxious conflict between crew members, and Whedonesque dialogue.

Like most people I wish the show could have continued, if only to see if it would have lived up to its potential or if it would have crumbled under its foibles. As it is, it exists in this state where memories are perpetually fond because it did enough well for people to enjoy the experience but didn’t go long enough to have the opportunity to fail.

Which honestly is probably a good thing for that show.

Like I said before, I don’t honestly think it affected After Moses much, but it DOES tend to influence how my readers see After Moses. Firefly is the elephant in the room. It doesn’t create a lot of new tropes, but does expertly reuse old ones, and perhaps lays into the western aspects even heavier than most others in the genre (transporting cattle in a spaceship is really a nice touch.)

So most of my readers come to After Moses with expectations in place. What they don’t get is Firefly. There’s no unnecessary conflict between characters. Quippage is kept to the reasonable minimum you’d expect between friends. And sexual content is about as low as possible. Turns out, contrary to the weirdos in Hollywood, most people don’t actually talk about sex all that often with their friends. It’s not important to the story, so it’s not really on page.

So in that regard, a lot of folks that like Firefly find that they like After Moses more. And all it takes is removing a bunch of modern junk and cynicism.

This series takes place in “local space.” Can you comment on why you made that choice for the setting?

The backyard of our solar system is amazing, and it’s a pleasure of mine to write in it.

Now, this is no offense to my pulp-loving friends that like Venus being an untamed jungle. I enjoy that too. But in 2024 we know so much about our local moons and planets and what makes them unique, that it’s a joy to lay into the real science.

In After Moses, Venus has cloud cities about 50km up where the pressure is about 1 atm and the temperature around 150F. Saturn’s moon Titan has methane seas, so the surface has processing facilities to send raw hydrocarbons to orbit to refine into fuel, plastic, and other goods. Jupiter’s moon Europa (most likely) has warm salt water seas beneath the surface. So the colony’s there have desalination plants and are agriculturally focused. Mars, Ganymede, subsurface Venus (gotta wait until book 4 for that).

Did you know that Phobos might be considered a ‘rubble pile’ instead of a solid moon? Io is the most volcanic body in our solar system, Ceres has an ice mantle, Enceladus has cryovolcanic ice geysers, etc, etc, etc.

Wonderful settings for sci-fi and all of the above are featured in the series. Maybe someday I’ll write more fantastical sci-fi, but for this series local space had more than enough magic.

With the release of Book 5, you are approaching the end of the After Moses series! What have been some of the challenges and highlights of writing this story?

Challenge number one is the length. All told the series will be around 900k words. That’s not as long as some series, but it’s still longer than the Bible. It’s been a big commitment and will easily be the biggest project I’ve ever completed in my life.

I wouldn’t exactly recommend a writer who has never published before to start out on something so big, but at the same time I’ve learned a lot. I’m not ashamed of the prose in book one, but it’s certainly interesting to look back and see how I’ve gotten better over the last few years. That sort of thing is probably unavoidable in any writer’s career.

One of the highlights of a big series is watching readers get invested, making predictions, being wrong, and, occasionally, right. The story takes place over a few years, so there’s actually a lot of ground covered.

And of course getting to read reviews is always a highlight. Some of my favorites are those that are not normally sci-fi readers as they discover, “Oh this isn’t what I thought it was and it’s actually pretty great!” And then of course the reviews from grizzled veterans that compare After Moses to some of their favorites to the genre are also encouraging.

Really it’s just an all around good time!

In my review of the first book, I praised your likable characters. How have they grown and changed over the course of the series?

Absolutely. I mentioned how the series takes place over years so the characters do change a lot, especially the youngest characters. Davey goes from being a slightly obnoxious, angry young man to being competent and not too shabby a leader.

But the main character, Matthew Cole, doesn’t change an awful lot. We live in this era where some people believe every character has to have an arc and that’s absolutely not true. Matthew starts the series with his moral code set, his value and character already on course. He’s a freelancer by trade, taking on odd jobs with his ship. He doesn’t ever set out to be a hero, but there’s never a doubt that he’ll rise to the occasion when the opportunity appears.

We still need stories with heroes that are simply good men willing to do what’s right when the time comes and that’s the kind of hero After Moses has.

What scene you are most excited for readers to experience in book 5?

Ha. Oh yeah. Those are definitely spoilers.

Normally I don’t mind spoiling some cool stuff, but Book 5 is the one where I start to answer some bigger questions that have been lingering in the series. So if I told you about this one cool thing, then it would really give away a lot of stuff. Same with this other cool event.

But my favorite is definitely the one that got all sorts of angry notes from my beta readers. And at least one Amazon review so far that started with “How dare you.”

Definitely excited for people to read that one.

Looking forward to the epic conclusion, how solidified is your vision for the saga’s end?

Ninety percent. At least all the big questions have been sealed away since book one, with some additional character motivations outlined since book three. There’s a lot of paper to fill up along the way with the action and adventure bits and some of those I let arise naturally in the process, but there’s no “No, Luke, I am your Father,” moments to work out.

I do leave open the possibility for things to shift in the final writing. Sometimes stories are like that. A character appeared early in the writing of book 5 that was NOT in the outline that went on to have a major role. She was also one of my favorites to write.

So ask me again when I finish, and I’ll let you know if anything went off the rails at the last minute.

I do want to say though that this is the end of the story. The first line of book 6 goes like this: All things under heaven come to an end.

Too many stories are drawn out indefinitely these days. You can’t give a character a happily ever after if their adventures never cease, and if it goes on long enough, eventually they become a cranky old Jedi living alone on an island in the middle of nowhere.

So the story will end, and the crew of the Sparrow will get retired. I’m not going to promise that I never write again in this setting, but I refuse to mess with the ending I’m going to give my characters.

Would you share a bit about your faith and how it influences your stories?

What a person believes about the world can’t truly be removed from the stories they tell. Now it’s possible for them to write stories where the characters are in disagreement with the author, but only a liar could tell a story that they truly disagree with the conclusions drawn.

I’m a Christian. My day job is on staff at my church. And I think anyone that reads After Moses will figure out what I believe.

There are Christian characters that say and do things that Christians do, though that’s not really what the story is about. Does Matthew’s faith affect his person and the choices he makes? Absolutely, but I hope that I am never preachy about it. Too much of modern storytelling is thinly veiled screeds as it is.

Still, I hope readers come away able to respect my worldview, even where they disagree.

As a side note, my characters are Catholic, whereas I’m not. This is mostly due to the tropes of the Western, priests and mission churches, etc. But I hope I’ve done a good job representing Catholicism well. I’ve had more than one reader assume I was Catholic, and I take that as a sign that I did. Even I don’t always agree with my characters!

What do you hope readers take away from your work and from After Moses in particular?

First, I hope that they enjoy it as a series and walk away feeling that it was a good use of their time.

But thematically? After Moses takes place in a period of decline. Things aren’t great in the solar system and the future looks dim, but it’s not a pessimistic or nihilistic story. It’s about ordinary folks carrying on and trying to do the right thing.

In 2024, a lot of people in the West are feeling pessimistic about the future. Whether it’s a tense economy rife with inflation or politics and social changes, no one is really happy with the direction things are heading.

So I’ll say this. Never take the black pill. Never despair, shrug your shoulders, or give up. You don’t know what the future holds. God is still God, the world keeps spinning, and maybe, just maybe, you can help make things a little brighter.

After Moses Sanctum by Michael F Cane Book Cover
Read After Moses Sanctum today!

Did you enjoy this author interview with Michael F. Kane?

If you want to hear more about After Moses before you decide if it is right for you, check out our detailed review! Here at the Periapsis Press blog, we only post reviews of works we recommend, so you already know I enjoyed the first book in this saga. I encourage you to check it out if you haven’t yet!

Already read After Moses? Go to our review page and click the “♥ Recommend this book” button at the top of the page or scroll down and leave a comment with your own review!

I also did a video interview with Blake. We had a great time talking a bit more conversationally about his work. I think you will enjoy it!

After Moses by Michael F. Kane Book Cover
Read our review of After Moses!
Blake Carpenter author photo
Meet another great author!

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