A cult is targeting Psi-Judges on the streets of Mega City-One, and an unlikely duo have been assigned to investigate: Judges Mei Yin and Cassandra Anderson.
Yin's a veteran but doesn't play well with others, while Anderson is only in her second year as a full-Eagle Judge. What could possibly go wrong?
This is the story in the recently released prose novella Judge Anderson: Devourer by author Laurel Sils. The fifth in a line of Anderson novellas from Rebellion, Devourer sports a cover by Christian Ward and a story inside by a noted short story author branching out into her first longer-form storytelling.
Sils spoke with Newsarama about Judge Anderson: Devourer, delving into this flashback story about a cult worshipping a demon god and adding some new facets to the Anderson character.
Newsarama: Laurel, what interested you in the Judge Anderson character?
Laurel Sils: Judge Anderson is such an iconic, complex and downright fun character - who wouldn’t want to write her! It’s a huge honour (and massive responsibility) to be a small part of her story.
Nrama: This novella is subtitled 'Devourer'. Who or what is doing the devouring, and what does that mean in the context of the story?
Sils: I don’t want to give too much away, but the ‘devourer’ is a psychic demon from another dimension that wants to devour the life force of every living thing in Mega-City One. Anderson is buddied up with veteran Psi Judge Mei Yin to track down and stop the cult that worships it from enabling the demon god to cross over and end the world. Just a basic day in the life of Judge Cassandra Anderson!
Nrama: A Psi-Judge psychic serial killer of sorts is a unique prospect - how does this work within the world of Mega City One?
Sils: It’s someone with a personal vendetta against Psi Div, so that’s a pretty dangerous prospect not only for Anderson but all of Mega-City One, as Psi Div forms an important part of the Justice Department. While Psi Div is working on this they are taken off every other case, leaving the other Judges to get by without any help from their psychic colleagues.
Nrama: Cassandra isn't alone in this - there is Mei Yin, as you mentioned. How would you describe Mei Yin and her role in this?
Sils: Mei Yin is a veteran of the first Devourer war, one that nearly ended Psi Div in its infancy. In order to combat the cult, older Psi Judges with more experience are paired with the strongest younger judges. But Mei Yin doesn’t do partners, and to her Anderson is barely more than a cadet. She trained her and sees her at first as more of a hindrance than a help. I had a lot of fun writing Mei Yin, who is hard as nails, cantankerous and funny.
Nrama: I buried the lede here - what’s your take on Cassandra Anderson herself?
Sils: She is a really layered and rich character. Her psychic power makes it impossible for her not to empathise with people, but it also lets her see the darkness within them. As a result she has both a fragility and a strength to her that make for really interesting story telling.
Nrama: And how would you descibe the occupation of Psi-Judges for someone unfamiliar?
Sils: They form a branch of the Justice Department known as Psi-Div for Judges with psychic powers. They can read minds and even the last experiences of the newly dead. They also deal with any supernatural threats that may arise. They often work with non psychic Judges to police Mega-City One.
Nrama: This delves into Cassandra's past, uncovering new things about her history. What's it like creating new ground for a character decades old?
Sils: It’s exciting, but also daunting! There is a lot of responsibility to be true to her character. I see it more as fleshing out her past. Year Two is set in Cassandra’s second year out of cadet training, so we are following her early experiences as a newly qualified Judge.
Nrama: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is your first published novella - after having several short stories published. What's this opportunity like?
Sils: It is so exciting to be writing for Rebellion and 2000AD, and to become a part of Cassandra’s story!
Nrama: And what are your big goals for this and for writing in general?
Sils: I just really hope that people enjoy it, and that Cassandra Anderson fans feel like I’ve done her justice. In terms of other writing, I am working on another project, albeit rather slowly, as I’ve just had a baby!