The Dark Wheel

A boy with stars in his eyes, Shooting the rapids of heaven

The Dark Wheel is the original Elite novella which was first published as part of the Acornsoft Elite package in 1984. Written by well-known fantasy author Robert Holdstock
it describes the quest of Alex Ryder, a newly-qualified pilot, to exact revenge for his father's death at the hands of a paid assassin. Along the way he is assisted by the enigmatic Rafe Zetter who links him up with a fugitive pilot who also wishes to eliminate the killer of Alex's father, but for her own reasons.
All in all, a good story which, though spoiled by a few irritating character traits and a number of typographical errors, sets up the Elite universe in a cohesive manner.
It also covers the combat and trading sides of Elite and the general nature of trading between different systems, buying what's cheap on one world and selling it wherever the demand is sufficient to keep the price high.
Interestingly, the back of the BBC novella states that a sequel was planned for publication in 1985, but as far as I know this never came to fruition. Later editions of The Dark Wheel, included in the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64 versions amongst others, sported new artwork

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"It was a time of wonder. The Divergence of the 27th Century recaptured discovery as an ideal. The realms of adventure into the unknown were represented to a race that had grown intensive in stagnation. In a short span of generations, the Human Race was exciting once more and they came forward, revitalised; ready to make an imprint upon the Universe."
Excerpt from Hahris Moersven's proposal speech at the passing of the Galactic Co-operative of Worlds' Charter, Tibionis 2696 A.T.

Imprint was a novella written by Andy Redman and included with Elite Plus, released for the PC in 1991. Unlike previous (and subsequent) fiction releases, it was not produced in its own book but formed part of the Elite Plus manual.
The story itself is again set in the Elite universe, and tells the tale of a newly-qualified pilot, Rif Hood, and his early skirmishes in space. Two sub-plots, revenge against a demented fellow pilot and romance with a pilot who lost her previous comrades to pirates, converge neatly in the heat of a massive battle against terrorist forces in the Arazaes system.

This story continues to set out the details of the Elite universe; how pilots obtain their licences, the decisions they have to make regarding their way of life, and the gut-wrenching reality of combat in the vastness of space. It also emphasises the huge importance of Galcop in all matters including trading and combat, and introduces the concept of a galactic band of terrorists known as the Knights Templar. Despite a lack of clarity regarding the terrorists' aims and a slightly rushed and implausible romance, Imprint is an excellent piece of official Elite fiction.

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