The Trophy was, is, and always has been, a futuristic, Military-Science-Fiction novel about intra-galactic competition and conflict. Originally published in 1990, it is third in a series of seven novels about the adventures of StarSailor and expert Helmsman Wilf Brim during an epoch of discord and outright war among various star-nations—within a galaxy that could be a far-future version of the one in which we live.
This special, “Director’s Cut” Edition is heavily re-written, a la George Lucas’ rewrite of the Star Wars Trilogy, to bring it more in line with later novels in the series, as well as the first two “Director’s Cut” Editions of The Helmsman and Galactic Convoy. This edition also answers a question from thousands of readers: “What happened to Anna Romanoff,” a love-interest character in the novel who, previously, never quite made it to the next in the series
The novel begins just as Brim—once a fast-rising First Lieutenant in the Imperial Fleet—has been thrown out the service during a post-war reduction in force (RIF), along with thousands of other warriors by a Imperial Government that all-too-easily forgets how much it relied on them only a short time previously.
The change devastates Brim; like so many other young men, from humble beginnings, he bases much of his self-worth on his success in his occupation. For a short while, he hangs on piloting worn-out third-rate spaceliners, but when that operation fails, Brim has nowhere to turn. As a last resort, he works passage to on one of the grand liners as a baggage-handler to the City of Atalanta on the planet Hador-Haelic where, eventually, old friends involve him in the great Mitchell Trophy astroplane races, and he ends up piloting for the Imperial Starflight Society.
Anyone familiar with the history of air racing will instantly recognize The Trophy as my personal tribute to one of the grand fascinations of my life: the Schneider Trophy Races that began in 1913 with fragile Bleriot biplane racers on floats and ended in 1931 with Reginald Mitchell's early masterpiece, the Supermarine S.6B, that retired the trophy for all time. In addition, its twelve-cylinder engine was the prototype for the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffin engines that years later powered Mitchell's superb Spitfire, the U.S. Mustang, the British Lancaster bomber, and most of the unlimited Gold Cup hydroplane racers of the late 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, and the early 1970s.
ON THE "DIRECTOR'S CUT" VERSION: Turned out that Trophy was a pivotal book in the Helmsman Saga, because in the original version, the prototype Starfury was a destroyer-sized starship, but by the time The Defenders came along, it had shrunk to something a fraction of its original size--and made the intervening Mercenaries extra difficult to bring into line with the later books.. It took a lot of rewriting.