Last week, Heavy Metal released Beyond Kuiper: The Galactic Star Alliance – Galactic Edition, a newly-expanded edition of the illustrated novel by writers Matthew Medney & John Connelly and artist Utku Ozden. The novel examines Earth’s place in the universe, and why humanity hasn’t been asked to join a millenia-old coalition of planets. Today The Beat has an exclusive preview of the newly-added pages from the expanded edition of the novel.

Here’s how Heavy Metal describes Beyond Kuiper:

If our galaxy is so full of sentient life, why has no one said hello? We thought of a simple, logical reason: no one wants too. Stepping back and casting an objective eye on ourselves, it seems painfully obvious that humans lack a fundamental respect for our planet and for each other. We possess extremely short memories and long grudges, and the likelihood of receiving alien tools to hasten our expansion seems downright foolhardy.

The Galactic Star Alliance has been alive and well for millions of earth years. Hundreds of thousands of sentient worlds and trillions of beings walk, run, and crawl across the many home worlds of the Alliance. This revelation led to many questions: How is faster-than-light speed travel possible, and could cohesive, interstellar civilizations exist without it? Is it conceivable to govern a coalition not of different countries, but of different species? Each question led to another and each answer built our world, piece by piece until it spanned thousands of answers and millions of light-years. As for the title, from where would our judges watch us?

But our galaxy has spoken to us humans. There are some who believe it is out there. Not as science-fantasy but as science.

Introduce Bernard William Hubert. World renowned astrophysicist, and Lead Scientist of the seminal company of exploration, Outer Limits. While on loan to CERN, a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions leaves Bernard as the sole survivor.  While the scientific community & world looks to him for answers, he simply states the unthinkable “it has to be aliens.” Inconceivable to the world, the Hubert family is investigated and his family’s name tarnished.

Disgraced and shunned. Bernard claws his way back into the equation with his new company C.O.R.E as they work tirelessly to design an engine capable of interstellar travel.

Follow Bernard on his road to redemption and discovery in this ensemble cast of futurism, space travel and the fate of our species.

The new Galactic Edition of Beyond Kuiper includes the original illustrations by Ozden, plus a preview of the next book in the series, The Voyage of the Nomad, as well as a guide to a dozen of the planets that make up the Galactic Star Alliance with new illustrations by artist Luigi Aime.

Along with the preview, writer and Heavy Metal CEO Medney explained to The Beat his inspiration for the Beyond Kuiper series:

“Consider again that dot, that’s here, that’s home, that’s us”—these initial words from Carl Sagans’ Pale Blue Dot hold more than just hope and aspirations for the human race. To me, they hold the essence of everything I try to achieve as a creative. Larger, more thoughtful considerations on life, than what we admittingly know. Creating this world with John has been the greatest honor of my life. Working with someone who is not only a brilliant scientist, but a best friend, is what childhood stories are made of. I get to spend countless hours working with the human I most rather spend my time with (other than my beautiful fiancé) creating worlds, ideologies, and governments. I mean come on, that’s freaking rad.”

Likewise, Connelly described to The Beat how he approached working on the book with Medney from the perspective of an aerospace engineer:

“With Matt being the creative and business powerhouse that he is, I needed to really hone in on what I was going to own in this series. Naturally, as an aerospace engineer, it was the science. I was calculating the mass fraction of the Nomad using the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation, to determine how much cryogenic hydrogen and deuterium it would need to carry for two planetary captures and a trans system mission; it was then when I gained a newfound respect for how difficult space really is. The spaceships and starships of fiction are often moved by powers so astounding to our science that they are like magic. But even within the boundaries of our temporary rule book of the natural world, there are wonders that remain science fiction by only a matter of time and will. And those were the journals and science literacy that I dove headfirst into for Beyond Kuiper. I wanted to create the most realistic science fiction world this side of Star Trek.”

Medney also spoke about the journey of creating the book with Connelly, from building the history of the universe to coming to the decision to write it themselves:

“John and I started creating Beyond Kuiper in the summer of 2016 by building its history. We wrote over 600 pages of historical facts for the world, wanting to be able to teach a history class on the world of Kuiper before even attempting to “pen it”. Before this book, neither of us had completed or even attempted to write a full-length prose novel, and quite honestly we were both scared to. We looked for writers who could write it for us, and we would direct them. But no one fit the mold. And then, on August 1st, 2017, John texted me those simple words—”Consider again that dot, that’s here, that’s home, that’s us”—and it was the inspirational moment that made me say “You know what John, let’s write it ourselves.” And now, 4 years later, Beyond Kuiper is a best seller with a second printing, and we are in early development on an adaptation with Heavy Metal. It’s the type of thing you dream about as a kid.”

You can check out the exclusive preview, which includes three illustrations from Voyage of the Nomad and the cover and four pages from the new Planetary Guide, below. Beyond Kuiper: The Galactic Star Alliance – Galactic Edition is available in stores now.