A child of the ’70s and ’80s, setting creator Todd Downing grew up listening to classic pulp adventure radio serials on reissued LPs and cassettes, reading The Shadow and Doc Savage novels, devouring comics, and filling his eyeballs with everything sci-fi & fantasy.
He began writing fantasy and science fiction stories in junior high and continued to hone his craft in high school and college, where he suddenly fell in love with all things 1920s, and reconnected with his pulp adventure roots. Airship Daedalus began in 1988 as a series of unpublished short stories that became the setting for a tabletop roleplaying game, which Downing continued to tinker with and develop over the next two decades.
In 2010, while sharing an artist table at Emerald City Comicon, Downing pitched the setting to comic artist Brian Beardsley, who drew four 24-page chapters of the Airship Daedalus comic strip, released twice weekly starting in October of that year. The comic was also featured in Brian Meredith’s Mash Tun comics anthology magazine.
Recorded in 2011, a four-episode series of Airship Daedalus Radio Adventures was released on CD and digital download in 2013, featuring a full cast of voice artists, a fake sponsor, sound effects, and plenty of vintage hiss and crackle. It was followed in 2015 and 2016 with an eight-episode series of AEGIS Tales Radio Adventures, expanding the Airship Daedalus setting with a diverse selection of pulpy vigilantes like the Gunshade and Scarlet Wraith, ghost hunters Jim Holland and Mandy Hart, Chinatown private eye Danny Long and skiptracer Jean Gordon, international mage Oscar Morgan, SFPD Sergeant Peterson, and a four-part adaptation of The Golden City.
2016 saw the release of the Airship Daedalus roleplaying game, utilizing the system behind many of the premium titles from Deep7 Press, including the popular but now out-of-print Red Dwarf RPG. The Daedalus RPG line would grow over the next few years, with the AEGIS Field Handbook, Automaton, Valley of the Mist, AEGIS Interplanetary Guidebook, and AEGIS Vigilante Team Resource Guide.
That same year, author John Sullivan, writing under the pen name E.J. Blaine, wrote the first Daedalus novel to see print. Assassins of the Lost Kingdom was dip of the toe into the book trade, one that Downing would follow up in the form of four more novels. A Shield Against the Darkness was intended as a prequel to Assassins, a novelization of the comics and original radio shows, with a lot of added background and material. Because some online booksellers would not accept a “Book #0” designation, the series numbering was changed so that Darkness became #1 and Assassins #2, although technically Assassins saw print first.
The Golden City and Legend of the Savage Isle followed, with audiobook editions of Darkness and Assassins coming out in rapid succession. Released in 2018, the AEGIS Tales retro pulp anthology collected stories by eight different authors, focusing on characters and situations outside of the main Daedalus storyline. 2020 saw the release of The Arctic Menace, making it book 5, with at least one more volume planned in the main series before additional books set in the AEGISverse roll out. Audiobook editions continue in production.
Todd Downing and producing partner Dan Heinrich have also been developing the property as a movie or television offering, for animation or live action, ideally with a streaming platform in mind. Serious inquiries can be directed at firstname.lastname@example.org.