Free Stuff

I’ve just added a short story in the free fiction section.  Look to the Stars is a short story set in the same universe as Renegades and The Fallen Race.  The main character, Mason McGann, is a smuggler who is in a bind.  It introduces some of the characters and backstory for The Fallen Race.

I’ve also added a news article that ties into Renegades: the Gentle One.  It’s a translated Chxor document referenced in the story.

In other news, the final edits to Renegades: The Gentle One are underway and the eBooks will be available tomorrow on Amazon and Smashwords.  Also, the paperback version of Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption will be available at the end of the week.

The novel The Fallen Race will be available in the first part of October.  Keep looking here for updates, snippets and other free stuff!

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Space Warfare: the present and future

As a science fiction author, I’ve got a particular interest in current and future space operations.  Since I also write Military Science Fiction, that interest is a bit more sharply defined.  So I’ll address a couple of points regarding combat in space, and then leave a couple other areas open for your interpretation.  The first area in question is, of course, whether there will be combat in space.  Next up, just what technologies are currently available and what the future might hold.  Then there’s the big question, what roles will humans play in all this.  Lastly, I’ll talk some of the common SF tropes and what technology we’d need to get there.

The question as to whether there will be combat in space is one which can cause a number of people to argue.  It seems odd to me that there is any argument at all.  Some of the oldest artifacts of human existence are weapons.  Inevitably, weapons are a key part of human technology… and that is because when someone wants what you have, and they’re not as moral or ethically driven as you, then they’ll resort to violence.  Resources are almost always the root of human differences, more food, more wealth, more power.  The easiest way to take and hold those resources is not through discussion, but through violence.  The easiest way to prevent such violence is to create weapons and defenses of your own.   There are various treaties against space warfare, but those treaties are only as binding as the governments and people’s will of the signatory nations.  To top that off, there are always extra-government organizations who are not only non-signatory, but often simply don’t care, or worse, would view unarmed vessels and stations as targets.  Terrorists, pirates, and corporations might easily see opportunities in violence in space.  To be disarmed is to invite such violence.

Current technologies for space combat are, whether people acknowledge them or not, already present.  The Chinese demonstrated their ability to kill a satellite in 2007, when they destroyed a weather satellite in low earth orbit.  The US has conducted its own missile launch of an SM-3 in 2008, which mirrored the result on a deorbiting satellite.   The Chinese kill resulted in serious space debris, some of which has required the movement of other satellites to avoid damage.    Futher extrapolations of this technology are apparent.  The American SM-3 is a missile designed to intercept ballistic missiles.  Further improvements of the technology could eventually see missiles of greater range and capabilities.  An example of this is how the Russians currently use retrofitted ballistic missiles as launch platforms for satillites.  Other technologies are the so-called ‘kill-sats.’   Kill-sats are satellites designed with weapons or to be weapons.  These platforms would have greater maneuverability and might come with weapons packages or be designed to ram or strike other satellites.  An extrapolation of current technology would be using older or obsolescent satellites to deliberately ram or damage newer ones, rather than deorbiting them.  These means of space combat could lead to Kessler Syndrome, which was proposed in 1978 by Donald Kessler, a scientist with NASA.  He projected that a series of collisions could cause a cascade effect.  Each object destroyed, be it station or satellite, would in turn, give off a cloud of further debris.  This would fill the Earth’s orbitals with a cloud of fast-moving projectiles which would make space operations extremely hazardous.  It is a sort of nuclear option, which would deny the use of space platforms to anyone.

Future technologies are varied.  Lasers, once thought to be fantasy, are more and more prevalent even in the civilian sector.  Lasers powerful enough to be used as weapons are options, though this has limits based on energy density of what can be packed into a space-going platform.  Laser weapons on the ground, used to fire into space are also an option, though thermal bloom within the atmosphere robs these weapons of some of their punch.   Drones, which will be discussed later, are already prevalent in ground and air combat, it is easy enough to project their use in space as technologies develop further.   One thing to note in all of this, is that space combat, at least in the near-term, is extremely lethal.  One solid hit virtually guarantees the destruction of a target.  Current space craft are the equivalent of the first powered aircraft:  lightly built, individually constructed, and designed for specific purposes.   To make matters more difficult, space is an inherently inhospitable place.  A pinhole in the pressure compartment of a manned space craft could potentially kill the entire crew.  Radiation, debris, and a host of other dangers make survival in space problematical even without adding in the threat of someone trying to kill you.  It could very well be that space combat becomes a matter of whoever gets the first strike is the victor… or a case of mutually assured destruction.  More advanced technologies can change this.  Especially in the areas of increased energy density: reliable fusion, super-capacitors, and a host of other ideas are steps in the right direction.  Larger, more robust space platforms would be more likely given increases in the ability to lift as would the creation of a legitimate space infrastructure.  Even more advanced technologies could entirely alter the paradigm; warp drives, energy shielding, the real science fiction aspects, would further evolve the nature of space combat.

What exactly are humanity’s roles in space combat.  At least at first, we have little direct role.  Current technology space suits are cumbersome, at best.  Fighting in a low gravity environment would be difficult in the extreme.  Drones and robots, currently seen in ground and air combat, are more likely, especially given the shift by NASA towards robotic exploration.  It could be something so simple as the ability to throw dirt over the enemy’s solar panels or as complex as weapons mounted aboard, but as exploration continues, and space becomes a frontier full of resources rather than the distant void which money funnels into, sabotage and combat are inevitable.  Humans first roles might be that of hacker or saboteur, as a means to destroy or disable enemy drones and robots.   Eventually, however, as humans get out there, the role of combat will shift.  Direct control of drones from nearby will allow higher bandwidth and greater control of operations.  From there, it is only a step to imagine that the human controlling the drones becomes the target, and therefore needs some means of protection.  Ships might set out with a dozen combat drones, which could function as combination weapons platform, missile and probe, and mounting their own internal weapons such as lasers or projectiles.  All of this would be controlled by a handful of crew.

The last area of discussion is the common SF tropes.  Shields, antigravity, force fields, ray guns, lasers, missiles… the list goes on and on.  Many of these are highly dependent upon the technologies, societal preferences, and the combat paradigms.  Various sub-genres of SF have their own favorites.  Generally the space fighter is very common.  Issues with that are numerous, to include the fact that a drone would be capable of sharper maneuvers and greater accelerations.  However, one could easily imagine a future where the common man is very uncomfortable with the thought of space-going death being controlled by a computer.  This might preclude the use of such drones by the major powers.  Furthermore, perhaps hacking has become so prevalent that drones are seen as too unreliable, and are relegated to the role of support ships.  The same goes for ship automation.  Powerful lasers might well become extremely prevalent as new energy sources become available.  Warp drives might allow missiles that can strike an enemy before they know you’ve fired it, or allow ships to execute maneuvers that would be impossible to otherwise accomplish.  Powerful, world destroying weapons such as singularities, quarkium, and molecular disruption device might one day make our current nuclear arsenal seem amusing by comparison.

That’s the broad overview of what I think about combat in space.  Next week I’ll go more into depth on some of the topics and introduce some complications.  If I get time, I’d like to run through a hypothetical scenario, or war-game on a couple of these topics, mostly as illustration.  As always, I’d love to hear people’s input.

Books and Authors I Recommend

I’m an avid reader, and something that I’ll freely admit is that I’m always looking for a new author or three to try out.   I have rather eclectic tastes, but I thought I’d write a bit about what authors I’m currently reading and what authors I recommend.  I’ll break it down by genre, because otherwise this would just become a long list, and who wants that?  This is just a broad overview and by no means covers everything off my shelves. 

Fantasy:

The obvious here is Tolkien.  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are well known.  Less well known are some of his shorter fiction.  Farmer Giles of Ham is an excellent short novel, and often overlooked.  I’d also recommend David Eddings with two of his series: The Belgariad and the Elenium.  Both series are long enough to provide plenty of entertainment.  Raymond Feist’s Midkemia series (starting with Magician) is another good read, though it can be difficult to discern what order to read some of the books.  Ryk Spoor’s Phoenix Rising is a more recent entry, and one of the few recently published fantasy stories that I could really get into.  Excellent characterization, amazing setting, tough decisions and good fighting evil are all blended together into an excellent story.

Urban Fantasy:

There’s a variety of urban fantasy, some of it very violent, some not so much.  Mercedes Lackey’s SERRAted Edge series combines race cars with elves and some more classic fantasy elements as well as renn faires and dragons.  It’s highly entertaining and mostly PG, so a good read for kids.  Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles and his Monster Hunter series are both brilliant.  Both series contain lots of humor, over the top action, and an excellent knowledge of firearms and combat techniques.  John Ringo’s Princess of Wands is another excellent urban fantasy, with the twist that it’s a church-going soccer mom who’s fighting demons and necromancers.  Wen Spencer writes an excellent series of elves and parallel dimensions with Tinker and the rest of her Elfhome series.

Science Fiction:

The general area of science fiction is hard for me to nail down.  I’m drawn to the classics, if I’m recommending to a new reader.  Robert Heinlein’s works: Citizen of the Galaxy, The Moon is A Harsh Mistress, Orphans of the Sky, and The Menace from Earth are all excellent.  Frank Herbert’s Dune is definitely worth a read, though so popular in media that most readers of SF have already read it.  Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is a good read.    More recently, Eric Flint and Ryk Spoor’s Boundary is excellent science fiction.    Sarah Hoyt writes some very good science fiction with the Darkship Renegades, with a lot of excellent social and political commentary.

Military Science Fiction

This is my main area of interest at the moment, and unlikely to change any time soon.  Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, of course, takes pride of precedence.   David Weber has written a host of amazing science fiction books, especially his Honor Harrington series, but also his Imperium of Man series which starts with Mutineer’s Moon.  He’s also written several standalone books such as The Apocalypse Troll and Out of the Dark which are very good.  John Ringo is massively prolific, with a number of excellent series.  A Hymn Before Battle is an excellent near-future novel that starts a great series.   A bit of warning, the series currently ends in a cliff hanger with no final books to close it out in sight.  John Ringo’s team up with Travis Taylor in the Voyages of the Space Bubble series starts with Into the Looking Glass.  The series is excellent with lots of humor, great science, and tons of action.  Mike Shephard’s Kris Longknife series is another fun read, with a main character that has grown and developed over time.  David Drake has a number of excellent series, with Hammers Slammers being his most well known.  Another excellent new author is Leo Champion, whose Legion series has some serious combat and excellent overall story arc.

General Fiction

I’ll be honest, I don’t read a lot of general fiction, and most of what I do read tends to edge towards the ‘techie’ or military spectrum anyway.   Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October is excellent, as is Without Remorse, Executive Orders, and Patriot Games.  Also good is Larry Correia and Mike Kupari’s Dead Six and Swords of Exodus, both military genre, though with elements of what I consider fantasy.  Tom Kratman’s Countdown series is excellent in that regard as well, though rather grim at times.

Classics

I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for some of the classics of literature.  Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson are all excellent reads, especially for children.  Mark Twain has a host of good stuff.  Almost everything by Jules Verne is absolutely excellent.

Conclusion:

I’m certain I’m missing an author or two here or there, and I know I’ve left out some books by different authors.  Still, if you’re anything like me, I highly recommend these authors and series.  Next week I’ll try to cover each genre, what I like and what I don’t, what themes I’m seeing as a reader and what I want to work on as a writer.

Building Strong Characters

One of my goals for writing characters is to develop them to the point that they feel real to the reader. Story can be interesting, but strong characters are what the reader ends up caring about. An excellent character will keep a reader coming back, again and again… and the victories and defeats of those characters are what bring out the most emotion in the reader. Flat characters are a crime that few authors can redeem themselves from. Flat characters are boring, trite, and often cliché. So how does one develop strong characters?

Strong characters feel like real people, sometimes more real that people we might interact with or deal with on a daily basis (trust me, I’ve had roommates with less personality than Master Harper Robinton from Anne McCaffery’s Pern series or Polgara from David Eddings’ Belgariad). What exactly does feeling real entail, though? I define it by several areas. First off, they typically have some defining character traits. Second, strong characters have a history, a place where they come from. Third, they have a morality (or lack thereof) that is coherent and based upon their origins. Fourth, strong characters experience joy, anger, love, and heartache just like real people. Last and most important strong characters make decisions based off of their emotions, experiences, and morality.

Character traits are often what define a character to the reader at first glance. These are often the most memorable things about them, and are often the things that pop into mind. Han Solo was a cocky and self centered rogue (he shot first!). Doc, from ‘Back to the Future’, was absent minded and excitable. Character traits are often established early on, typically in the first time the reader meets the character. It helps to make these traits memorable, as a writer, because this makes the character stand out in their mind more. Traits, however, are just a starting point. They create a character that has some resonance to them, but if that isn’t followed through, the character will seem hollow. A hollow character might be better than a flat one, but it robs the reader of the pay off of emotions as the character fails to grow over time and their experiences.

History and past play a huge role in our lives as people. It should be no less important for characters. As a writer, often I develop characters based off of the setting and their place in it. From the society and their place in it, I can develop what things they will find important, what their areas of expertise and knowledge might be. A character raised in the slums of a dystopian future might well view morality through a different lens than your typical 21st Century American. Beyond there, I typically dive into family (or lack thereof), which is often more important than society, and indeed, can alter things significantly. That same character raised in the slums might be the son of a missionary, who grew up treating the sick and injured…. Suddenly he might not be the callus killer. Throw in some life events, such as the death of his mother or the discovery that he was adopted and his adoptive parents never told him. These experiences change who he is, and will have effects upon how he acts.

Morality is often based upon the experiences of people. Morally upright characters can be vastly complicated or totally boring, whereas morally bankrupt characters can be highly entertaining or nauseating. Part of this is perspective and experience. A character who has a twisted sense of morals because of hi s experiences is understandable. He or she may frustrate a reader, but the moral code they follow will at least make sense. The same follows for a character with a comprehensive and solid code of ethics. What will drive me as a reader absolutely crazy is when there is a character whose morality doesn’t make sense. Characters who are bad because it’s cool or fun or the honorable street urchin are anomalies… and unless an author has a legitimate reason why, they quickly become an irritation. Even worse are characters with no defined or inconsistent morality. A character who will shoot a man in the back in one scene and yet fights an honorable duel in another would be incoherent without some background or logic behind his actions. A writer has a burden to show the reasoning and logic behind the characters’ decisions.

Emotion is the next crucial part of a strong character. A character who doesn’t experience emotion is boring, regardless of how many explosions or how interesting the setting might be. One of the best examples of this is from the movie Red Sonya. The main character’s sister — her only surviving family – dies in her arms in the opening part of the movie. Red Sonya then says something to the effect of “This is terrible, drops her sister’s corpse, and stalks off to exact her revenge. For a close knit family, the death of a family member is a powerfully emotional event. This event was supposed to drive Red Sonya to exact her revenge. This isn’t to say that the character should have fallen to pieces, but some small signs can go a long way to establishing the emotional toll of such an event. An excellent positive example of this is from Saving Private Ryan, where Tom Hank’s character, after the Invasion of Normandy, goes to open a canteen and his hands are shaking so much as to make it nearly impossible. This shows that, despite his calm demeanor, he is barely holding it together, and mostly doing so for his men. A show of such emotional turmoil and yet strength immediately establishes his character as someone who feels real. Later on, when he makes decisions for his men, you can see that emotional turmoil is there behind those decisions, at war with his moral code and his defining character traits.

The last crucial part of strong characters is the decisions they make and, as a writer, ensuring those decisions are in line with the character. A character who makes decisions out of line with his morality, emotions and experiences is not a strong character. A character who has his emotions and experiences at odds with his morality is complex and interesting. Difficult decisions are what life is about, and the important decisions are always complex. An important thing to note here is that sometimes the characters don’t make the right decisions. Sometimes their morality or emotions or experiences drive them to make the wrong decision. In those cases, it is often a flaw, sometimes a tragic flaw. This should not be the norm, in my opinion. Authors like George R. Martin make their living by having characters make bad decisions on an almost constant basis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s interesting reading, but as a reader, it frustrates me to the point that I give up. Good people make bad decisions sometimes, it happens in real life, and it happens in stories. Bad people make good decisions too, sometimes, which I find far more interesting.

The decisions that characters make often define them. These cause new experiences and produce new emotions that in turn, drive character growth and development. And the next step past making a strong character is to make that character grow as he progresses through the story. That’s a topic for another day. In the meantime, what is a strong character that you really liked and what were their defining traits?

The Singularity… how I came to love the computer

singularityThere are several trains of thought on the future of humanity. There are some who seem to feel that technology is inherently dangerous and humanity is too flawed to use it. Like some kind of sentient fire it will turn on us and burn us. There are others who seem to think that we should therefore reject technology, and like the Luddites of old, destroy it and attempt to live without. The idea is ridiculous for a number of reasons ranging from mass starvation to disease control. We are entirely reliant upon technology to produce, store, and transport our food, to create our vaccines and drugs, to control flooding (in the form of dams and drainage), to offset drought (in the form of irrigation and water storage), and to make places livable with heating and air conditioning. Even with such a broad overview, it becomes obvious that forsaking technology suddenly would result in the deaths of millions and probably the collapse of civilization.

Then there’s the theory of the singularity. There are a number of proponents, those who say that technology ever advances, and that the rate of advance will only accelerate. Most of the ideas behind the singularity, in my opinion, are aimed inwards. People who want to live in digital worlds, and explore the transition between humans and their inventions. Some of the believers in the singularity are the Transhumanists… these are the folks that want to enter the machine, and some of them want to meld humanity and technology together. The singularity, as proposed by Verner Vinge (a science fiction author, who would have guessed?) is mostly dependent upon some boost to intelligence or computational ability. It would rely upon either the creation of an artificial intelligence through accident or design or the boosting of human intelligence through cybernetics or biological means. The theory is that this will lead to an exponential growth in technology and that society will change at such a rate as to become unrecognizable.

A simplified example of this is the cell phone and now the smart phone. I grew up in a time when they were technological oddities. I still remember when it seemed absurd to have one, in that anywhere it had reception, you could find a payphone. Why would anyone want to carry around such a large and heavy item to make calls with poor reception? Yet now, if someone lacks one, they are thought bizarre. The cell phone is invaluable in emergency situations, where seconds can save lives. The smart phone is a a far more capable computer than the desktop my parents bought in 1997. We can access internet virtually anywhere, all on a device that slips easily into a pocket. A generation ago, everyone wore watches… now, most of the younger generation just carries their phone. Why would you need a watch when you can check your phone just as easily?

One interesting thing to me is that there are many science fiction authors who ignore this ‘singularity.’ If you look at classic science fiction, they often had little idea of how profoundly computers would change things. Heinlein is an excellent example. He couldn’t have known how advanced and capable computers would become. And yet, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, he has Mycroft, his AI who helps the lunar rebels win the war. Perhaps in some emulation, many modern Sci-Fi authors ignore the concepts of the singularity. This is seen most often in space opera, but also to an extent in exploration and ‘hard’ science fiction which is focused on pushing the boundaries of physical technology. There may be some AI’s, robots, automation, or limited cybernetics, but the focus is on ‘real’ people doing ‘real’ things. This is, I think, at its root, why the authors of these books write as if the singularity doesn’t matter. At it’s root, in this matter, it doesn’t. People will be people, whether improved through technology or not. And strong characterization is far more important than whether the main character has a cybernetic eye and arm.

Then there are the ‘singularity authors’, such as Verner Vinge, William Gibson or James Hogan, who write extensively on the advances towards the singularity. They deal with AI’s, transcendent beings, networks, cybernetic improvement, and a range of technological improvement. Yet their novels often turn inward, as if the exploration of humanity is more important than what lies beyond the stars. This is as much, I think, a product of theme and personal interest as anything else.

Yet is has created something of a blind spot. There is extensive science fiction about man going out to the stars, and extensive science fiction about man and computer rapidly pushing the boundaries of what it is to be human here on earth. There is rather little overlap. There are occasional novels that do overlap, but they often explore one aspect or the other in almost a sidebar, instead, focused on the main theme. Part of this, I think, is the varied readership. Many people drawn to the ideas of exploration of new worlds and stars want to think of being there themselves. They want to dream of feeling the dirt of other planets with their own fingers and they want to see these other worlds with their own eyes. The proponents of the singularity, instead, have a fascination with the internal, and with the realms of the mind. For them, it is far more interesting to push the boundaries of the human mind, to merge with the AI and to become something greater.

Yet, I think, the future of exploration will involve them both. Already we use probes and robots extensively both here on earth and for space exploration. We may well see a small crew, one or two people, with a host of computer controlled robotic minions as our first manned mission to Mars. The technological singularity could easily involve space exploration, or as I might prefer, space exploration might involve the singularity. There’s room for everyone, after all.

Whatcha Readin?

I’ve something of a confession… I’m always curious when I look over in an airplane and see someone reading a book or kindle or what-have-you… what are they reading? Sometimes, if it’s possible, I’ll look over and see if I can catch the cover. If they’re really into reading, I hate to interrupt them and ask. Sometimes I just ask them after the flight, while we’re all in that awkward moment while we wait to disembark, you know, when everyone has their stuff and are ready to leap into the aisle and make a dash for the door.

Some of my curiosity is just that, I’m naturally a curious person. Some comes from a desire to find new authors or interesting topics to read about. I think a good portion of it comes from just wanting to understand more about people. People, and what they read, are stories to themselves. The little old lady one row up who is reading Fifty Shades of Grey or the teenager across the aisle reading a calculus textbook. Those kinds of things fascinate me, because then my brain tries to put together a story about why these things happen.

What we read often defines who we are because it defines what we know. The books and stories we read are a profound statement about who we are and what we care about.

So then my question goes out to you… What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever read (in a public place)? What’s the oddest thing you’ve ever seen someone else reading?

Renegades, Psychics, and Aliens, oh my…

The current series that has most of my attention is what I call the Mira universe. I’ve got one completed novel and six novellas as well as five or six short stories set in this universe. This is the universe in which the series Renegades is set. It is also the setting for the book The Fallen Race, coming soon to a Kindle near you. Additionally, I’ve got two more novels outlined and nearing completion in the same universe.

What is so interesting about this universe? I’m glad you asked. The Mira universe is set several hundred years in the future. I’ve set most of my stories in times of either great social upheaval or moments where military combat is common… and sometimes both. These are times where humanity, as a race, is at a cusp, the points where the actions of a few can turn the balance and change the fates of millions.

There’s some other fun things about this universe, both as a writer, and I hope, for those of you who read it. There are boundaries to explore, new worlds, distant space, and of course, the boundaries of the human mind and body. Some humans have developed psychic abilities, and they are a powerful minority. Dealing with the fear and uncertainty that normal people feel for those who can alter their perceptions or read their thoughts adds a layer of social dynamics. In addition, the psychics themselves deal with tough questions as they explore what it really is to be human… and if they really qualify. There are renegades and outcasts of all types: mutants, deserters, pirates and mercenaries. These men and women are often the dregs of society. However, the societal upheavals often put them in positions where they are given opportunities to redeem themselves… or to become scourges who write their names in blood across countless worlds.

And then there are the aliens. There are five highly advanced races that humans have encountered in this future. The Chxor are the emotionless and implacable invaders, who seek to supplant humanity as the reigning power. The Ghornath are friendly if temperamental, eight limbed and three meters tall, generous and honorable, and the most relatable to humans. The Wrethe are violent sociopaths, each a militantly individualistic carnivore that views even their own species as prey. The Iodans are alien and almost incomprehensible. And the Balor are the unknown menace, their advanced weapons and technology sweeps aside human defenses and seems determined to make humanity extinct. Exploring these alien races allows me, as a writer, to explore humans better. When confronted by the unknown and the alien, what responses do the characters have… and what similarities do we see in even the most alien of species?

In both the Renegades series and the upcoming novel The Fallen Race, humanity is pinched between two hostile alien races, both of which will bring about the extinction of our race. Human space is fractured, with the various nations embroiled in wars with one another. Technology is on the decline, as aliens and civil wars have destroyed key infrastructure. Piracy is common, indeed, the most powerful pirates are the Shadow Lords, human psychics whose fleets loot entire worlds and drag away the populations to be their thralls. Civilization is on the decline… the barbarians are at the gates.
The Renegades is a series that explores the efforts of a handful. In feudal Japan, they might be called ronin. In the American West, they would be desperadoes or gunslingers. These are men and women and a few aliens who have no home, no place. They are — with some exceptions — bad people who do bad things. Yet they also have the power to change history. They are people with nothing left to lose… and that makes them very dangerous.

The Fallen Race is similar in concept. It follows the crew of the battleship War Shrike, of the Nova Roma Empire. The ship is cut off after an ambush, heavily damaged and left without support. The ship’s captain is considered little better than a traitor by his own nation, despite numerous heroics, and his family’s history lays over his every accomplishment like a burial shroud. Yet they struggle to take a stand, to halt the steady grind of history before it churns everything they know and care about into the mud.

As a writer, both series allow me to explore the setting. The characters are products of their time, often flawed, sometimes tragically so, they are people, and their emotions and experiences feel as real and raw as those of real people. Everyone has a story; from the Pirate Tommy King, whose every good deed goes wrong, to the psychic Kandergain, whose own mother turned her into a weapon. There is a history here, which I love to explore, one that I hope to share with my readers… and I hope it is as fun to you as it is for me.

So, that’s what I’m working on now. Welcome, and feel free to look around. There will be a short story added to the free fiction section in the near future, something of a prequel to the events of Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy.