Grand Design

Grand Design

by TMarkos

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

Humanity once ruled space, building an empire that stretched across hundreds of stars.  Now Earth is a cold cinder in the void, its colonies and ships annihilated in an instant.  For five thousand years the surviving races have huddled in the dying light of those few stations which avoided total destruction, eking out their existence in the shadow of the long-dead humans who built their homes.  When a piece of that lost legacy resurfaces, the few who still remember humanity have one last opportunity to find the truth and avenge the fallen.


Cover by Harry Rowland -

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l nimbus

Pffft, Forget Mass Effect. THIS is Epic Sci-Fi.

Actually, don't, that might be a bit of a stretch here. But still, my point remains. I've never been a fan of sci-fi, just a casual observer of the genre. But this story just might change that. And in a good way.

Grand Design is something new in the genre, something that will please both fans and outsiders alike. It is something daring, spanning an entirely new, unexplored stroyline. One that might put reader outside what they've come to expect from the genre. And i love that.


Post-apocalypse. Post SCI-FI Apocalypse. That's what comes to mind when i think of this story. Oh, i kbow that the description doesn't do the story justice, with it's deep, complex gistories and fascinating mythos, but that's what i sum it up as. It tells the story of Jesri Tam, and artificial life form, set on completing a mission she and her sisters were built for by the most brilliant minds Earth had to offer.

After humanity is dead, gone and forgotten. I personally love this narrative, the brilliantly done backstories and the very real feeling of an impossible mission with the highest stakes imagineable. No one knows her and her sisters fight and struggle, and most don't care. Yet, there they are, soldiering on through the eons, always laboring to complete their task.

The very first impression the storytelling makes, and one that stays with it right up to the current chapter, is Quality. Plain and Simple. Instea dof falling back on old plot lines and stereotypes, the author creates something new. So far, we haven't seen the threat they face, yet it feels very real, the effect of it's decimation of humanity still felt centuries after it happened. Go ahead and put THIS galaxy as one of the top five places you WOULDN'T want to live in. That's how dangerous it is.


With a great story, comes a great style. I neevr say much regarding style in my reviews, and I have to say, i like this author's unique touch. The information and description are spaced perfectly, never semeing to drag or rush along the plot. Keep it up.


Again, flawless. A much better job than i myself have done.


Fug, where do i even start?

Okay, the short version. They're awesome. That's all you need to know.

And now, the long version. They feel like people. Like real, live, people. With strengths, weaknesses failings, times when they hesitate. When they lose their way. When you might, for a minute, stop cheering for them, then look back and realize you couldn't have done anything different.

Jesri is someone i both like, and admire as a fictional character. Despite the experience of eons, and mountains of bodies dragging her down, both friend and foe, she soldiers on. She's not cold to the world, but has the feeling of someone who, despite having danced this dance before, is willing to try it again. She's a good person, recognizing her own shortcomings and failings, but sometimes forgetting to adress them. She's not invincible, won't always find that burst of strength at the final moment, yet is someone you want to cheer for.

Anja, is a sharp contrast to her. She's someone who is more effected by what they've gone through than Jesri is, and is harsh and at times, uncaring. The cast slowly grows from there, showing the lives of the mostly ordinary people ( and robot dogs ) that get caught up in a struggle far too big and dangerous for them.

Even the villians, when shown, can be people who view wgat they are doing as the right thing, or making actually logical points about their deeds. I won't spoil, but the latest villian managaed to surprise me somewhat. I mean, i could see what she was going to be a few chapters ahead, but her actual reasoning made sense to me.


Whatever your doing, wherever you're getting this inspiration from, keep it up. We need more stories like this, even if RRL doesn't realize it yet.

Cheers, L.

Spoiler: Spoiler

 This is definitely one of the best written stories on Royal Road. 

It can get a bit heavy at times, and some of the characters can seem a little to similar, but over all thoroughly recommend.

Doctor Zero

Looking for great Sci-Fi? Here it is!

Reviewed at: Part 44 - Final

People often say it's hard to find good sci-fi on Royal Road.  Well, here it is.  It's base is a space marine story, but it's shot through with mind bending weirdness and delightful surprises.

10 stars.  Read it.


Genuinely a great read from start to finish.

It had all the elements of a great novel, a great scifi and no cliffhangers but you always end the chapter wanting more.

A must read.

summoner 99

Its not often i /follow a story at the end of chapter one, first time in fact i believe. (Leans down to look overthrim of his glasses, holding unwavering eye contact- i never thought in a millio years i would 5-star, favorite, and comment, in the middle of the 2nd.

"She stepped back, one hand at her side and the other clasped in a fist against her heart. Tears glittered in her eyes as she spoke words that had not been uttered in five thousand years.

"Terra Invicta, sister."

DAMN. With all the crap going on irl right now, ill own it, that brought a tear to my , it didnt fall, heh, but we want this right now. We want to feel this, to touch that remembrance of "that old strength which moved earth and heaven"...

Finish this. Publish it. It is pure and strong and, ive read hundreds of real novels and i know- this one is sleeping, whole, inside the stone.... Let it out.


Thanks mate!

The characters are interesting, dimensional and vibrant.  The history/lore, even so early, is compelling too.  I want to KNOW what happens, follow them on what will no doubt be an epic journey!  The scale, five thousand years?? What could have happened..    its brilliant.  

Stlye wise, you can just tell the gold from dross after a while, it has the weight, the timing, cadence.  This wasnt translated,or if it was, it was the guy who created both languages himself lol.   Its smooth, and has shading, nuance already. 

I dont pay much attention to the letter of the grammatical laws, i care if things feel right, if its smooth and rolls off the tongue. If it doesnt have me stumbling along, rereading sentences for meaning, and this doesnt.   Its a real pleasure to read compared to many stories ive read online which i still love, but this flows. 

Introducing the decrepit old hag she meets in chapter two, and having her invoke the power of a vanished race, becoming youthful and healthy in a few moments, while the tension soars as news of a last great vessel crackles to life in front of the tired, world worn main character... Then she steps out and salutes, a member of an ancient order, shining and ready to fight for them, for us.  Awesome.   Its Tennyson's poem come to life :)



Coming soon from Tor? Ace?

Okay, so, here's the deal.

Sometimes I read a story here and think, "Man, this is really good for RRL." 

This isn't one of those. This one is just good, period. If I'd bought it in paperback from...hmm, Tor, probably, I would have considered it money well spent. This is novel-grade, publishable writing and the author should probably consider getting an agent.

The characters are interesting and have some inner depth. We're well beyond "no grammar errors" and into "skilled use of language and imagery". There are some nice turns of phrase; the craft of the story is good.

Read it.


Sci-Fi Space Opera 5/5

(review to part 10)

This is an above average sci-fi space opera with a hint of HFY. I highly recommend you read Part 1 and see if it hooks you like this managed to hook me. Quality is quite high.


Great, but not my cup of tea

Reviewed at: Part 25

I have a bit of a dilemma in writing this review.  On one hand, I did not personally enjoy this web novel enough to finish it; on the other hand, I recognize the quality of the work and realise that it is a very well written novel.

Generally, I score novels based on how much I enjoyed them rather than on their quality; web novels are often written by amateurs and lack the benefits of an editor, so a certain amount of leeway in the technical quality department is to be expected.  However, I find myself doing the opposite for "Grand Design."

I admit, I generally do not read science fiction web serials.  Although I love the genre overall, I rarely have a good experience when I try to find less professional work out there.  I began reading "Grand Design" because I found the premise too interesting to ignore.  It is a common trope for there to have been an ancient alien civilization leaving behind technologies and artifacts to be picked over by the younger races.  We have all seen it a million times, and to a certain extent the trope is over done and boring because of it.

"Grand Design" flips this on it's head by making humanity the ancient aliens who left artifacts all over and then went extinct.  None of the characters are human, and the two main characters are essentially artificial cyborg super soldiers that were built by humanity in the distant past.

Its a pretty great idea, and the execution of that idea is excellent...

But it simply was not for me.

So that leaves me rating this web novel quite highly and recommending it heavily even though I did not personally enjoy it because I feel a great deal of science fiction readers will enjoy this fresh spin to an old trope and the excellent adventure and action that goes with it.

Edit: I read all the way to part 25 before I lost interest even though I was not particularly keen on the novel to begin with.  Anyone who even somewhat enjoys this type of science fiction should have no issue finishing it!


Awesome story.  I migrated to RR 3 years ago after burning through HFY's must read list.  This definitely scratches that itch left by the high that was Builder in the Void.

I have nothing more constructive to say, so...

Reviews must be at least 50 words long

Reviews must be at least 50 words long

Reviews must be at least 50 words long

Reviews must be at least 50 words long

That should do it. 


This is a wonderful sci-fi novel set in a large and well constructed universe, but focused on real, empathetic characters.

The setting is post apocalyptic, the goal is revenge, and the stakes are immeasurable.