Tag Archives: combat

Book Review, March 2015 Update, and a Small Request

Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga
Echo of the High Kings, Book I of the Eoriel Saga

A new review for Echo of the High Kings and an update on my schedule for March.

Author JP Wilder has a book review of Echo of the High Kings up on his blog here.   JP has some awesome books available in both epic fantasy and contemporary fantasy genres, so I recommend looking at those, he’s got some good stuff there at his website.

As for March, I’m happy to announce that I’m doing editing on Wrath of the Usurper, outlining the sequel to Fenris Unchained, and starting writing on The Prodigal Emperor.  I’ve also opened a Twitter account.  So if you want to see updates from me on that forum, you can follow me there under KalSpriggs.  It’s another busy month for me, as you can imagine.  Book sales for Fenris

Fenris Unchained by Kal Spriggs
Fenris Unchained by Kal Spriggs

Unchained are very good and I’m excited to say that I’ll be doing more books with Henchman Press as a result, starting with the previously mentioned sequel to Fenris Unchained.  If you haven’t bought Fenris Unchained, you can find it here on Amazon, here on Smashwords, and coming soon to Barnes and Noble.  Fenris Unchained is currently on Amazon’s top 100 for Military SF and also for Space Opera, it’s a fast, exciting story and writing it was a lot of fun for me.

March is also my last month drawing pay in the US Army as an active duty officer and as yet, I’m still looking for a day job.  So, if you’re thinking: “How can I make certain this nice author keeps a roof over his head and putting food on the table so he can write more books?” The answer is: please tell your friends about my books.  The money I earn from writing definitely helps to keep a roof over my family’s heads, so if you’ve been putting off writing a review or telling a friend, please get the word out.  Reviews help and word of mouth really helps.  For that matter, leave reviews for all your favorite authors on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble or wherever you read.  Every review helps, believe me, it’s become essential to reaching new readers.  I don’t write for the money, but right now, the money makes it possible for me to write.

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Fenris Unchained

Fenris Unchained

 

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

 

My latest novel, Fenris Unchained, is now available on Amazon and Smashwords.

Fenris Unchained First Snippet!

FU Trial Cover

Here’s the first sample section from Fenris Unchained.

CHAPTER I

Time: 0815 Local, 01 June 291 G.D.

Location: Dakota, Dakota System

A yellow light began to flash on the control board.

That was nothing new, not aboard the Kip Thorne. Warning lights lit up half the panel. It was a Christmas display of yellow caution lights, flashing priority lights, and red danger lights that gave the board an aspect of impending doom.

The pilot didn’t look over to the panel to see what was wrong. One of the red lights indicated a malfunction in the auto-pilot system. That meant that the tall, blond woman had to bring the Kip Thorne down by hand.

Not a difficult a task for an experienced pilot. She enjoyed flying, enjoyed it more than anything else, really. She didn’t enjoy thirty six hours of flight time spent awake on stimulants while flying a ship that needed far too many repairs.

She shot a glance at the panel, and then flipped on the intercom. “Rawn, take a look at the starboard thruster.” She shook her head. Tried to push thoughts through a mind that seemed turned to mud.

The intercom crackled and hissed, his voice difficult to make out. “Uh, Mel, we might have a problem.”

The light ceased flashing. She sighed in relief, “No, it cleared up here, good job whatever you did.”

The ship bucked. The alarm light flashed red. A moment later, so did six or seven other warning lights. “What the hell did you just do, Rawn?!”

Mel fought the control yoke, eyes wide, as she swore to herself:

Rawn, was that the starboard pod going out?”

The ship yawed over as she overcompensated and she fought it back under control.

Rawn, you’d better get that thruster back online.”

She heard a squeal from the hatch as it opened. It had always reminded her of a ground vehicle’s brakes screeching just before an accident.

She tried not to apply that metaphor as some sort of warning to her current flight. Her brother spoke from behind her: “I’m going to pack the escape pod. Anything you want me to throw in?” he asked.

What?” Mel craned her neck to look at him.

The ship spun sharply and threw her against her straps and tossed her brother into the wall hard. She bit off a curse and struggled with the controls for a moment. It seemed to take an eternity to fight the ship back under control.

The radio crackled, “Freighter Kip Thorne, this is Dakota Landing Control, you broke out of your landing queue, return immediately, over.”

We’re going to lose the other thruster. The port thruster is in worse shape. What do you want me to put in the pod?” her brother asked.

His calm voice made her clench her teeth.

We’re not abandoning ship,” she told him sharply. “I can land this thing.” It would be hard, though, with just one thruster. They couldn’t engage their warp drive in atmosphere, not without disengaging safeties that were there to prevent that. Even if we had time, she thought, it would be a stupid thing to do. The warp drive field would tear the atmosphere around them and if they hit anything in warp, the difference in relative velocity would not only kill them but quite possibly wipe out Dakota’s biosphere.

She forced her mind to focus. When she spoke, her voice had the calm tone that she emulated from her father: “Dakota Landing Control this is Freighter Kip Thorne, we just lost our starboard thruster and are requesting immediate assistance, over.”

Freighter Kip Thorne, is this some kind of joke?” The speaker’s nasal, officious tone suggested she wasn’t amused.

Rawn snorted. “I know the safe combo, I’ll grab our cash and some keepsakes. I’ll clear out your desk too.” He pushed his way back off the bridge.

Get back here—” Mel clamped her jaws shut. One thing at a time. “Negative Dakota Landing, this is no joke, our starboard thruster— ”

Her voice broke off as another yellow light began to flash, the warning light for load limit on the other thruster. “Our starboard thruster is out and we’re about to lose our port thruster, requesting assistance, over.”

Negative, Kip Thorne, you’ll have to break off your descent and return to orbit,” the nasal voice answered. “A repair craft can be sent to you there.”

Dakota Landing, this is an emergency. We lose our port thruster, there won’t be anything keeping us up here.” Mel snapped. “We don’t have enough thrust to get back into orbit, and you don’t have time to—”

Kip Thorne, break off your descent or you will be intercepted by our customs cutter. Over.”

Dakota, I hope they got a tractor,” answered. “Because—” The ship shuddered and the other thruster went dead. “We just lost our other thruster. Kip Thorne, out.”

She turned off the radio and sat in the chair for a long moment as the small freighter bounced. Soon it would begin to tumble, she knew, without the guidance from the thrusters.

Six years, six years I kept her goin’. Dad, I did my best.”

She wiped her eyes; now was not the time to cry.

The ship fell now, without anything to slow its descent besides atmospheric friction. Superheated air flashed across the hull and cast glowing flames across the cockpit glass.

Mel sighed. She kissed her finger tips and touched the control yoke one last time, then unbuckled and left the bridge. She didn’t look back.

***

 

Fenris Unchained will be available tomorrow at noon (CST) from Amazon and Smashwords.

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that… or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

Upcoming: Fenris Unchained

I’m proud to announce that my deal with Henchman Press to release my science fiction novel, Fenris Unchained, is official.   Fenris Unchained is set in a new universe and starts a new series of character-driven space opera.

The Wolf is Loose.

Ten years ago, after her parents’ deaths in a terrorist attack, Melanie Armstrong walked away from a military officer’s career to raise her orphaned brother.

Since then she’s been captain of a tramp freighter – shuffling from world to world, scraping to barely get by, but content that she’s made the right decision.

But when her ship crashes, authorities make her an offer: take a fifteen-year sentence on a prison world where the average lifespan is a third of that.. or stop an ancient and until-now forgotten robotic warship, the Fenris, from completing its hundred-year-old mission to kill millions of people and destroy a planet.

Fenris Unchained will be coming near the end of February 2015.  Check here soon for samples, cover art and more!

Computer Games: Modern Space Simulations

Star Citizen isn't even past the alpha stage yet, but it already looks incredible.
Star Citizen isn’t even past the alpha stage yet, but it already looks incredible.

As I said in my last post, space simulation games, such as X Wing, Wing Commander, and Freelancer, have basically been a thing of the past.  RPGs such as Mass Effect or MMORPGs like Eve Online or Star Wars The Old Republic dabble a bit in this area, but these oftentimes come back to character skills rather than a player’s ability to fly.  Up until fairly recently, big developers like EA didn’t want to produce games for what was seen as a ‘niche market.’

That all changed with Kickstarter, which has changed the paradigm for a lot of things.  Chris Roberts, creator of the Wing Commander and Freelancer games, posted that he wanted to get a few million dollars and produce a modern space fighter sim game.  The overwhelming response brought in over 17 million dollars.  At this point, they are nearing seventy million dollars of funding from around half a million people, many of whom have access to the game as it currently exists in development.  Other games, like Elite Dangerous, have been similarly funded and are going live.

What this means, in a lot of ways, is that the big developers were wrong… or at least, not entirely right.  Star Citizen is an incredibly ambitious game design, which will feature First Person Shooting, Space Exploration, Mining, Combat, and a fully interactive in-game economy.  All of this will be controlled by players, not their characters, but through actual player skill.  The physics are, while not one hundred percent accurate, include inertia, acceleration and G-forces.  A player in this game could fly up next to another ship, jump out an airlock, board the other vessel, and fight in first person mode, while a space combat occurs outside.  The game isn’t even out yet and many of its detractors say that it never will be… yet I think it’s a sign that we want more, demand more, than the slow, incremental improvement (such as World of Warcraft getting new character make-overs… yay) of the same games and types of games that have been popular.

I think it’s also a sign that we humans still dream of travel into space and we want to be as close to the action as possible.  If we can’t go out, we want as accurate a simulation of that as we can get.  The great thing about games like Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous, is that they’ll inspire a next generation, not just with the excitement of ‘being there’ and doing things themselves, but with the idea that getting into space is something that we should put a bit more effort into… if only so that their children can experience it first-hand rather than through a computer game.

Computer Games: Retro Mode: X Wing, Tie Fighter, and X Wing Alliance

Going up against a Star Destroyer in a snub fighter, what's not to like about X Wing?
Going up against a Star Destroyer in a snub fighter, what’s not to like about X Wing?

I still remember the first time I bought X wing.  I was in high school at the time.  I spent $40 at the time, was so excited by the idea, couldn’t wait to get it home and hop in the cockpit of my very own spaceship.

Of course, I didn’t know much about computers and discovered I’d bought a mac version of the software, which I couldn’t then exchange (store wouldn’t allow exchanges of computer software).  Money wasted, in a lot of ways.

But the dream lived on, and when I saved up, I got a version of Tie Fighter that worked, complete with a joystick and I settled down to play.  Even at the time, I knew it wasn’t a very good simulation for actual space combat.  Ships moved at WWII aircraft speeds (sometimes WWI), the graphics were great for their time (but very dated now), the physics were completely inaccurate, and the overall gameplay was relatively simple and linear compared to modern games.

What the game did do, however, was tell a great story, give challenging scenarios that required skills, thought, and even tactics.  This further evolved with the follow on game a few years later with X Wing Alliance, which updated the graphics and allowed the player to play through a fun campaign, as well as evolving the multiplayer a bit more and allow crafting of scenarios.

What did I get from these games?  Well, they let you live out some of the most exciting aspects of the Star Wars universe, putting yourself in the pilot of a tiny ship and pitting your skills against not only the computer, but other people.  They were tremendously fun, but they also were a key aspect of inspiration to me.  They opened up a section of the Star Wars universe that was, until then, sort of vague and abstract.  You could not only see what it was like to be in a military unit in this universe, but you could see how the flight mechanics, technology, and tactics could unfold.  You could witness the awesome firepower of a Star Destroyer and also work together as a team to take one down using outdated snub fighters and hot-shot piloting.

I still maintain that a lot of modern games lack that same spark.  Games like Mass Effect and Eve Online are RPGs, where it is the skill of the character rather than the player that determines an outcome.  This is fine, in many ways, but it also somewhat distances the player from his accomplishments.  With an RPG, you can ‘build’ a character to accomplish tasks.  While you might take some pride in taking down a ship or discovering some new planet, you aren’t the one doing it… your character is.  At most, you have skill in using the character’s abilities… which isn’t the same thing at all.

With simulator games like X Wing and it’s follow-ons, the player has a direct connection to their accomplishments.  I think that brings a whole new level of excitement to the game.  In many ways, getting into space behind a joystick is the pinnacle of my dreams… and doing so as me versus a character is far better.  Other games, like Freelancer also explored and expanded on the groundwork, adding more options, entire worlds, star systems, and other mythologies as well as a bit more accuracy in physics and technology.  They still have a WWII fighter feel, but they have entire star systems to explore and discover, with options to trade, explore, defend, and pirate.

These games, in many ways, allowed their player base to live out their dreams of reaching the stars, if only in a limited sense, in a way that RPGs can’t do, in a physical, exciting fashion that brings the risks and rewards of space to the player.  I’ll gladly admit that those old space simulation games inspired me with ideas and possibilities, and in many ways were responsible for keeping my excitement over space travel alive.  I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for the excitement that these games gave me in my youth.  Unfortunately, these types of games became less and less common in the last decade, with most of the focus going to First Person Shooter games, sports games, or RPGs/MMORPGs.  Space fighter simulations basically vanished, especially as big developers, like EA, consolidated a lot of the gaming companies and set about producing incrementally improved games based off their big sellers.

Check back soon for my next post: Computer Games: Modern Space Simulations.

New Review For The Fallen Race

The Fallen Race Book I of The Shadow Space Chronicles
The Fallen Race
Book I of The Shadow Space Chronicles

There’s a new review up for The Fallen Race from Planetary Defense Command.  He reviewed the audio version.  Check it out, and be sure to check out some of his other reviews!

Baron Lucius Giovanni, Captain of the battleship War Shrike, finds himself without a home or nation, his ship heavily damaged, and crew in bad shape. The odds against their personal survival are slim. The time of humanity has come to a close. The great nations have all fallen, either to the encroaching alien threats or to internal fighting and civil war. The aliens who seek to supplant humanity, however, have not taken one thing into account: Lucius Giovanni. He and his crew will not give up – not while they still draw breath. If this is to be the fall of humanity, then the crew of the War Shrike will go down fighting…and in the heat of that fight, they may just light a new fire for humanity….

The Fallen Race is available from Amazon, Audible, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Kobo.  If you’ve already read The Fallen Race, be sure to check out its sequel, The Shattered Empire.