Free Short Stories for Honor Con

Since I’ll be at Honor Con this weekend, I’m making two of my short stories (Look to the Stars and The Freeport Mutineers) available for free from 28-31 October.  Read below for details.

Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs
Look to the Stars, a short story by Kal Spriggs

Mason McGann is a smuggler, a liar, and a cheat. With his ship impounded by customs, he figures he has no choice left but to auction off information about the lost Dreyfus Fleet. But things are never what they seem when you hold information that can change the course of history.

Look to the Stars is a short story in the Shadow Space Universe

The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs
The Freeport Mutineers, by Kal Spriggs

Young Midshipman Wachter is about to face the rope.

Troubled by the rumors spread throughout the Southern Fleet, the young officer turned to the Marines and Sailors under his command… yet he and they were betrayed, arrested, and convicted of mutiny, all under the orders of the ambitious Lord Admiral Hennings.

Faced with the prospect of not only his own death, but that of the men under his command, Wachter must somehow find a way to do the right thing. Yet there is little hope with he and his men jailed, weaponless, and condemned, while the town of Freeport lies under martial law and the threat of dark sorcery.

Only one course lays open to him, to break his oaths and to swear allegiance to the cause of another, to become exactly what his enemies have accused him of being: a mutineer.

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Book Review: Code Frostbite by John Darling

code-frostbiteCode Frostbite is a near-future world where humanity is on the brink of destruction.

There’s a deep background for the character to explore within this dangerous world.  There’s battles and secret histories that we get glimpses at.

It’s also something of an origin story, where we see a young man become a warrior.  The author clearly draws upon many of his personal experiences as far as military training and family life.  That provides some valuable insight as we see the cost on families and relationships that this kind of thing brings.

The book has a rambling tone, where you gain odd glimpses at the world before it comes back to the story.  These can be jarring at times, but they also provide awareness of the greater events and those that shaped the main characters.

This is a story with high stakes…the kind that can end the world.  Missions play out against that canvas and you aren’t really certain what’s going on until the story really gets moving.  There’s several scenes that play out like dreamscapes and you’re not really certain what’s real and what isn’t.

I’ll state right now that it’s outside my normal reading habits.  There’s a darkness to this world that weighs on the soul.  But if you’re into thriller and apocalyptic stakes with hordes of flesh-eating enemies to face down, then this is a book you should pick up.

 

 

Honor Con 2016

Hey everyone, just a quick reminder that I’ll be at Honor Con 28-30 October, 2016.  If you’re in Raleigh, NC for the weekend and are up for a Military SF Convention, come see me!

I’ll have a table for the whole weekend and you can find my events listed below.  For more about the convention, check here.

Friday:

3 PM: Ebooks vs Print

4 PM: Publicity for Newbies

Saturday:

9 AM: Building an Alternate History World

2 PM: Ow, My Spleen!

Sunday:

9 AM: More than Swords: Military and Fantasy

This is my initial schedule.  It may change.  I’ll also be at my author table when I’m not on panels/finding sustenance/trying to sleep, so feel free to find me there!

The Mars Plan

spacex-mars-interplanetary-transporter-launchTo say that I was excited about SpaceX’s mars plan announcements last month would be an understatement.  Their plan is ambitious and exciting and my first thought was: “where do I sign up?”

For those of you who haven’t heard at this point, they want to transport people, 100-200 at a time, to Mars to found a colony and they want to begin doing it in 2024.  SpaceX’s goal is to do this in eight years.  Eight years.  After they get the tech ironed out, they want to have a real colony, planning on a million residents.

To say this is a big effort would be a massive understatement.  Can they really do it in this period of time?  I have no idea. There’s so many regulatory and technological hurdles, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they run into delays.

But all the same, I’m hopeful.  Over the past twenty years, it seems all that governments have done with space is to say “we can’t.” I’m excited because SpaceX is trying.  It’s going to cost them ten billion dollars… but if they pull it off it will be incredible.

Still, that leaves me with some comments on their plan.  They’re going to use liquid oxygen and methane for their ITR.  It makes sense, they can probably produce both on Mars once they have a colony up and running.   I can’t help but feel nuclear propulsion, that is, using fission processes to heat water or gas and then ejecting it out a rocket nozzle,  would be a more viable alternative.  It’s far more fuel efficient and when you’re going to be reusing a rocket anyway, it seems like a better alternative.

Granted, that might limit the rocket’s use to space due to the general public’s terror of all things nuclear and radiation.  Still, build it on Earth, get it into space, and then use it as a space-taxi to service all your needs.  Maybe in a few years, huh, guys?

My other thoughts: assuming this does get off the ground, it’s going to be huge.  We’re not talking a visit and that’s it, we’re talking a million people living on another world.  Our technology now makes that a long voyage under the best of times.  This will be our generations’ Plymouth Rock (Hopefully not Roanoak).  This is the start of something new, something amazing… and we need to do our best to make sure it succeeds.

I tip my hat to Elon Musk… and I’m glad he continues to dream big, especially when so many other people are looking at the ground.  I’ll finish this with the first question I asked: Where do I sign up?

 

Kal’s October 2016 Forecast

October… my favorite month for a number of reasons.  Not least of which is that I love the fall.  Lots of cool weather that’s perfect for curling up and reading/writing a book.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing.  No, really, it’s about all I do in my free time.  Write and think about writing.  It’s sort of taking over.  The good news there is that I’m putting the finishing touches on Renegades: Out of Time.  The third novel of the Renegades series is just that, a novel.  It’s every bit as manic and crazy as the other ones, but it follows a more traditional writing style.  Why is that, you may ask?  Because for this story, it flows better.  At this point, too, most of my readers should know the characters well enough that they don’t all need their own stories.

Look for Renegades: Out of Time to come out sometime in November.  Which leads me to what I’ve finished outlining and plan to write next: The Temple of Light, the fifth book of the Shadow Space Chronicles.  In this one, we’ll start to dig into what exactly Reese is doing with those alien artifacts he’s been collecting.  We’ll see more about the mysterious Minder, and we’ll start to see why it is the Balor are so set upon human extinction.

It’s going to be fun.  There’s going to be exploding space ships, intrigue, character growths, character deaths, more exploding space ships, and all-in-all, it should be lots of fun.  My goal is to finish it in November which means a publishing date sometime in December or possibly early January depending on feedback from my readers..

My writing goals after that are a bit more complex.  I need to do a third Wolf Rising book, the fourth Eoriel Saga book, and I’m going to also somehow fit in there finishing off a couple other projects that have been setting on the backburners.

Also this month I’ll be headed out to North Carolina.  In addition to visiting my grandfather, I’ll be attending HonorCon, a military SF convention in Raleigh, NC.  It looks like it’ll be a ton of fun, so if you’re in the area and not cleaning up from hurricane damage, then by all means, come visit.  I’ll have copies of all my books and I’d love to sign some for you!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Movie Review: The Magnificent Seven

the-magnificent-seven-2016-5kI generally don’t review remakes and normally I stick to science fiction or fantasy for my reviews of movies and books.

I’m making an exception because I enjoyed Magnificent 7.  It was a fun, action-filled movie.  It didn’t drag out some long-winded message about how terrible our ancestors were (mine were over in Europe) or some weird camera angles with an obtuse story.  This was a simple story about seven killers putting down a very bad man and his army.

As remakes go, it’s better than most.  In fact, it would have been just fine as a movie by itself, without using the Magnificent 7 title.  It still harkens back to the story of Seven Samurai, but that’s fine.  That story in itself is simply a retelling of many stories, where heroes are humanized by showing that they possessed human traits and flaws.

In that, Magnificent Seven meets a level of success but also sadly falls short of where it might have been.  In part, this is due to the excellent actors they had.  They don’t go into the backgrounds of the various characters.  This moves the story along, but it also leaves the viewer feeling robbed.  I left the theater wanting to know more about the men who had died… this was because of the tremendous actors more than the writing.  They managed to portray histories of loss or darkness with a look or a single gesture than they did by words or exposition.  In that, we probably have a good director and excellent acting to thank.

In part, I like that because too many hollywood movies have become so explanatory as to be annoying.  If someone mentions that at dawn, they’ll move out, it almost feels as if someone will pause to mention that it’ll be light at dawn, so we can see things.

Magnificent Seven doesn’t do these explanations.  We don’t know whether most of the men who fight (and die) against the villain are good or bad, we don’t know why many of them chose to fight.  We get the sense that some do it for good reasons while others do it merely because fighting is all they know how to do.   You can tell they put thought into those reasons and I wanted a bit more on the why.

The action is smooth and the violence is both shocking and satisfying.  Though towards the final part, you start to wonder just where the villain got so many mooks willing to charge in and die so readily.  The action isn’t hard to follow, though there are some rather severe liberties taken up with one weapon system in particular that had me rolling my eyes.  (Spoiler: Gatling Guns should not work like an MG42 and even it might have difficulties achieving such levels of destruction.)

I’d recommend it.  The humor and one-liners are fantastic.   The action is exciting, the villain is a weasel, and the heroes stand out for the fact that they are courageous despite their flaws.

Book Review: Alliance of Shadows by Mike Kupari and Larry Correia

Alliance of Shadows by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
Alliance of Shadows by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

Alliance of Shadows is the third book of the Dead Six series.  It does a fantastic job of wrapping up multiple plot lines involving international conspiracies, global crime syndicates, and elements of the supernatural.

It still doesn’t displace my favorite of the series (Swords of Exodus), but it is nevertheless an excellent read.  There are some scenes of utter awesomeness, shared between teh two protagonists… oftentimes as they’re trying to outdo one another.

There’s also a fantastic bit of character development and growth.  The last book saw one of the characters sent to a very horrible place, with any number of questions about his survival.  The agonies he goes through and the tortures he experiences are portrayed in a way that shows his humanity stripped away.

Yet he comes back from that… and in a way, the story about how he does that is some of the most touching writing I’ve read in years… and it’s all the more raw for the fact that it comes from two very damaged people forgiving each other and themselves.

Of course, that description doesn’t do the book justice.  There’s explosions, gunfire, criminals throwing themselves to their deaths, more gunfire, more explosions, struggles to save the lives of millions, and still more gunfire.  There are sudden but inevitable betrayals and there is true-blue dedication from unexpected places.  This is a page-turner, once I started I couldn’t put it down… but that’s no different from the other two books.

Oddly, I think my favorite thing about the book is that it comes to a final conclusion and wraps the story up.  Too often anymore book series drag on, with the heroes facing ever greater odds… or worse, becoming trapped in a loop of growth to regression, where they run the same character arcs or stories over and over.  In Alliance of Shadows, the authors have brought the characters to their conclusions.  They’ve achieved their goals, they’ve become the heroes… and they get their much deserved rest.

Read the entire series, you won’t regret it.