Death and Destruction make up a binary star system in The Wheel. (Yes, those are the stars' names!) I also reference binary star systems in other places in the book, and as I was writing, I did research to make sure I was on the mark with my star systems.

What surprised me most is that our own sun, a solitary star with a set of planets, is more of a rarity than we might think. The reality is that nearly 80 percent of all solar bodies have at least two stars in their systems, and many have three or more! (A good description of multiple star systems can be found here:

I found the most interesting of these systems are those stars grouped closely enough that they can steal mass from each other. In extreme circumstances, the more massive star can simply absorb its smaller cousin. Solar cannibalism? It happens in the animal kingdom all the time, so why not in the celestial one?

Binary stars are a concept I play with in several of my books, including All Fall Down. (No solar cannibalism, though. Sorry!) The idea of living on a world with multiple suns fascinates me. The primary star would likely be hot, providing essential heat and energy, and the secondary star would be a lessor light in the sky. Imagine going out a clear night under a full moon. After you're out for a time, you can see almost as well as you can in the daytime. At times, it's bright enough you can read a newspaper. Of course, the moon is massive in Earth's sky, and the secondary star in a binary system might well be very small, such as we see in images sent back from Jupiter or Saturn. It would provide light, but not much else.

Now back to Death and Destruction. This system is likely cannibalistic. The stars are of fairly equal mass, close together, and exert a great deal of influence on each other. Check out this infographic on Kepler-47, a very real binary system whose suns orbit each other once a week. (

And all you guys out there thought I was just making all this up! It's real, dudes. Just because we aren't living in them doesn't mean the science fiction stories aren't real! (Well, actually it does, but let's not spoil the adventure!)