Tag Archives: space exploration

Runner sample

Here’s a quick sample from Runner, a short story written about the origins of Run the Chxor, a character in The Renegades series.  Runner will also be available in the upcoming Renegades: Compendium

***

 Ghren paused as he pulled up his notes: “On 5674-Juhnar, Medical Scientist Rhxun, violated standard methodology and protocols with his current experimentation. He disobeyed direct orders from the Planetary Governor, violated Chxor Medical Procedures seventeen, forty-two, one-ninteen, and seven-thirteen through eight-forty-five.”

“Also, technically, nine-fourteen,” Rhxun added.

“As well as nine-fourteen,” Ghren amended. “Due to his inability to follow proper procedures regarding medical methodology, he implanted three quarters of the population, roughly four million of the Than subcaste with implants designed to limit free will and induce loyalty protocols to the Chxor Empire in general and to Senior Scientist Rhxun in specific. His implants utilized wireless signals to maintain overall control of the population and had minimal electromagnetic shielding.”

“Four million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and seven of the Than subcaste,” Rhxun corrected automatically. “With an additional one hundred and twenty test subjects who survive at the shielded testing facility.”

“Correct, four million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and seven,” Ghren stated flatly. Apparently he did not like the reminder that his inferior intelligence did not allow him to retain data as well as Rhxun. Well, it isn’t as if I didn’t expect as much, Rhxun thought. The Tier Three Investigator continued, “When a stellar flare erupted, it caused massive radio frequency interference across a broad spectrum, this interference proved particularly hazardous to the population implanted by Senior Scientist Rhxun. The result was initial extreme pain, followed by violent aggression. Final results appear to be the destruction of higher level brain functions and feral behavior. This subsequently resulted in the termination of the entire test population as well as some three million – “

“Two million, nine hundred thousand, nine hundred and thirty,” Rhxun interrupted.

“ – of the rest of the population. This number included seven District Administrators as well as the Assistant Planetary Governor, Police Commander, Deputy Fleet Commander, and Investigator Krell who had been dispatched to investigate Planetary Governor Hraal’s statement regarding insurrectionist activity in regards to Senior Scientist Rhxun’s research.” Tier Three Investigator Ghren paused. “I therefore find that the proper punishment is to strip Senior Scientist Rhxun of his rank and sentence him to immediate termination.”

“I understand how you have come to this decision,” Rhxun shook his head. “And I believe you have done your best at the limits of your intelligence and understanding. Am I correct in my estimation that you have followed procedure fifteen of the investigation protocols and have waited to file your official findings pending my sentencing?”

“Of course,” Ghren said. The tone of his voice suggested that any other option would not follow the proper regulations. A loyalty to regulation and bureaucracy that Rhxun agreed with and appreciated immensely.

“Excellent,” Rhxun said. He drew his dart pistol and fired once. The small dart struck Ghren in the side of his thick neck, just above the collar of his brown uniform.

Ghren stared at him in shock for a moment. Then the convulsions began. Rhxun walked calmly around the desk and deleted the Tier Three Investigator’s notes. He then pulled the dart out of the dead Chxor’s neck and carefully dropped it down the incinerator chute behind the desk. A moment later he tapped the intercom button. “Excuse me. It seems that Tier Three Investigator Ghren has undergone a seizure. I would suggest that a body disposal team be dispatched.”

***

You can find the rest here

Renegades: A Murder of Crowes sample

I thought I’d share a short section from Renegades: A Murder of Crowes, which comes out in only a few weeks. This section comes from near the beginning. I’ve tried to avoid any spoilers, but if you haven’t read through Renegades: Ghost Story, then you probably don’t want to read this yet.

“Okay, first order of business,” Mike said. “Lock down the ship. Since Crowe is involved, lock down all the terminals too, until we know more.” He looked over at Rastar and Eric. “You two do manual locks on the airlocks. Mandy and Miranda, you’ll secure the bridge with Ariadne and Pixel. Simon, Anubus, Ludmilla, Run, and I will start the search, Rastar and Eric join us after you’ve secured the airlocks. Run, be sure you bring your medical equipment.”

Simon nodded. The search party and security elements all contained technical and combat elements, which he approved of. Granted, Simon hoped that he wouldn’t need Run’s medical attention.

“No,” Anubus growled. “If Ghost is on the hull, it is after my prowler. We need to go out there and kill it before it steals my ship.”
Simon had forgotten that the Wrethe had clamped the small vessel on the hull of the Gebnar.

“Yeah… with how poorly you docked it, no one is getting it off the hull any time soon,” Pixel said. The engineer didn’t look up from where he worked on the console. “You managed to lock onto an unarmored section of hull over our port sensors. At least one of your clamps punched through the hull. You couldn’t get off with your maneuver thrusters, and you can’t engage the main drive this close to the ship. The Red Hunter is stuck.”

Anubus’s lips drew back over his teeth in a snarl, “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

Pixel looked up after he hit a last button, “Something of an insurance policy, in case you betrayed us. Besides, we can’t do anything about it without a lot of work. And we have bigger priorities just now.” His comment met with total silence. Simon quietly upped his estimation of the engineer. Apparently he’s not as unaware of some things as I thought, Simon realized. A moment later, Pixel gave a smile, then opened up the ship’s intercom, “Attention all passengers of the Gebnar. We have a possible security situation, the Captain will brief you.”

“Okay,” Mike said with a nod. “All personnel, move to your quarters and take up defensive positions. We may have an univited guest. Crowe, if you’re near an intercom switch, please contact us immediately.” They waited a long moment in silence. Mike clenched his jaw, and Simon saw the muscles stand out on the short Asian’s jaw. Mike switched off the intercom and when he spoke, Simon could hear the anger in his voice, “Now that that is settled, get moving people. Whatever Ghost and Crowe are up to, we need to find out and put a stop to it.” Even as he spoke, Rastar opened the storage closet and swept his guns across the entrance. The big alien gave Eric a nod and the two entered the lift.

Simon followed the others as they started down the stairs to the next level down from the bridge. The first compartment was one of the sets of crew quarters they shared. Mike activated the automated door while Ludimilla and Simon took up ready positions with pistols. Despite his dislike of the bountyhunter, Simon admired her professionalism. Not so much with Mike, who held a Chxor submachine gun casually in one hand. We really need to do more of those weapons handling classes, Simon thought.

The hatch swept open. The oversized crew quarters sat empty, other than some litter and trash from where some of Simon’s less tidy companions had eaten their lunch. Once again, the scale of the ship gave Simon a weird feeling of juxtaposition. Even Anubus looked dwarfed by the oversized room as he swept into it. The Ghornath-sized nests that lined the walls were not designed for humans or even the larger Wrethe. The Gebnar was a captured Ghornath ship, after all. The large furniture and lockers, like most of the rest of the ship, were designed for the three meter tall, eight-limbed aliens. Only Rastar felt truly at home with the ship.

The Wrethe paused and sniffed the air. “I don’t smell Wrethe… but I smell blood. A lot of it.”
“Shit,” Mike said. He glanced in the room, “Where? I don’t see any.”

Anubus slowly spun in a circle. Finally he turned and walked back through the hatch. He paused outside the door for the other set of quarters across the hall. “Here.”

Simon trained his pistol on the hatch. The archaic 1911 forty-five felt cool in his hands as he took up a two handed stance. It was pure muscle memory as he readied himself to fire. The world seemed to slow down as Mike moved up next to him and leveled his submachine gun at the hatch. Mike nodded at Run to trigger the switch to the side of the automatic door.

The hatch swept open without a sound.

Fallen Race and Renegades Audiobooks Coming Soon

As something of an experiment, I’ll be trying out audiobooks, via audible.com and Amazon here in the near future.  I’m excited to be taking this step and it’s something of a gamble, since I’m spending money out of my pocket to do it.  For those of you who prefer audiobooks as your method of entertainment, this is your chance to see if you like what I write.  If you aren’t into audiobooks, but you know someone who is, this is your chance to get them into reading my stuff… or not, of course.  I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress as it comes closer to completion.  Ideally it will go up in early April.

As always, I’d love to hear any comments.  I’m going to post a bit of progress on this over time, what my thoughts are on the process and how it works for me, for any writers out there considering making that jump.

Thanks for reading and a special thanks to those of you who buy my books, you are the ones making this possible.

Renegades: Compendium I

I’ve been doing a little thinking.  A dangerous pasttime, I know.  Still, from looking at sales over the past few months, I’m thinking about compiling my Renegades novellas into one omnibus and selling them in that form.  This would  be the first five novellas: Deserter’s Redemption, The Gentle One, Declaration, Ghost Story, and A Murder of Crowes.  It would also contain some exclusive short stories (Fool’s Gold a short story from Anubus’s perspective, Runner which is already available in my free fiction section, and a couple others).  I’ll probably do a compare and contrast and see reader’s preferences (judged by both comments and sales).  If this goes well, I’ll publish the future novellas this way as well.

Renegades: Compendium I would be released to coincide with Renegades: A Murder of Crowes.  Expect both in early April.

The Romantic Pessimist’s Argument for Space

I consider myself a romantic pessimist.  I hope for the best… and plan for the worst.  That said, I’m also a dreamer and most of my hopes and ambitions are tied to space.  Not surprising, then, that I write science fiction, eh?  I’m writing this post as something of a dialogue, a hope that we continue to look out and push the boundaries.

So what do I think of space right now?  Well, to be honest, I’m afraid.  There is a very vocal percentage of Americans who seem to think that space is something that we should avoid.  Their arguments run a gamut of points.  Some are the simple ‘we need to fix things here before we worry about that stuff.’  Some are economic ‘it’s too expensive, we don’t get anything out of it.’  The most insidious, I think, are the people who seem to feel that humanity is somehow a corrupting influence, that we have polluted and destroyed our world and will go out and do the same elsewhere.

I’ll tackle those arguments, since they’re the ones I hear the most.  The first one, the one about fixing things here on Earth, is at its heart, an illogical argument.  What exactly are we supposed to fix here on Earth?  Poverty, crime, war, social injustice, sad puppies… the list goes ever onward.  The truth is, there will always be things that need to be fixed.  Humanity, is at its nature, imperfect.  We can never fix things here on Earth entirely, not without unlimited resources and a fundemental change in human nature.  Poverty is an effect of limited resources, economic factors, and supply and demand.  As wealth increases throughout  a system, it trickles down to others.  This is the free market… which can be imperfect and can be distorted, but that’s a can of worms I’ll open another time.  Crime is caused by a variety of factors, many of which stem from a society plagued by poverty, social inequality, corruption, and a failure of society to enforce the Social Contract.  War is another event triggered by limited resources and economic factors.  Add in perceived injustices and nationalistic fervor.  Sad puppies we can address at another time.  These are big issues, many of which do not have easy or simple solutions, no matter what some politicians say.  Most of them, short of a perfect world, cannot be fixed by us, they have to gradually shift over time.  Are we to focus all of our efforts upon these issues and any others, we still may not change them.  Indeed attempts to end poverty have often shown to make things worse, instead of lifting people up, they pull the rest of us down.  Attempts to end war, peacekeeping, is often a band-aid, which prevents violence while peacekeepers are present but fails to achieve long-lasting solutions.  Saying that we need to fix something first is akin to the man who says he’ll go look for a job… tomorrow.  Putting off a serious investment in space is not allowing us to focus more resources on problems, merely to offset the cost of space exploration to the future.

The economic arguement against space exploration and development is, in my opinion, the most spurious.  People said much the same about expeditions to the New World in the Age of Exploration.  Yes, many of those expeditions bankrupted people and others brought back only meager returns.  Exploration and development is not something that pays off instantly.  It, horror of horrors, requires hard work.  Space requires us to travel further, experience a harsher environment, and to put ourselves at risk… but in return we will gain access to resources and options far beyond what we now possess.  It will require the development of new engines, the construction of a space elevator, and yes, it will cost in lives lost in the effort.  Space is far harsher an environment than any place on Earth.  People have died in explorations of lonely mountains and remote polar regions here… but they expanded our knowledge and they died doing what they dreamed of.  It is far better to die doing something grand, in my opinion, than to live a life where you never accomplish anything.  And yes, I’m someone who lives and may well die by that opinion.  The resources we can harvest in space make our current resources laughable.  A single nickle iron asteroid could meet our steel requirements for a year.  Energy shortage?  A solar array in space could have more surface area than anything we could build in space, be dispersed, and still provide us with power, either directly beamed down in the form of light or converted to microwaves and transmitted down in that fashion.  No, these are not things that will come right away.  These are things we’d have to work for and work hard at… but hey, poverty’s one of those issues we want to fix, right?  Booming industry in space, lots of people needed, trained people.  New jobs created to train them and build the training areas.  New jobs created to provide them with support and services.  Going back to the previous argument, let’s fix the environment.  Don’t care for all those nasty coal plants?  Really like solar power, but you don’t like the nasty chemicals that solar plants produce?  Building it in space won’t contaminate our planet and if we’re smart about it, we could provide power to the entire world.  Cheap power for the entire world.  How’s that for fixing some problems down here?

The last argument is one of philosophy and outlook rather than one of reason and logic.  Some people seem to think that humanity is, at its core, a vile and wretched thing.  These people point out that wherever we go, we bring war, bloodshed, destruction.  Movies such as Avatar make me sick to my stomach.  Because under all that pretty CGI and ‘big dreams’ there is black withered heart that hates itself and wants to make you hate yourself too.  Those poor oppressed people who don’t really exist and those nasty military-industrial complex types who want to tear their planet apart.  It’s a movie with a message about how horrible people are… and how technology is evil and the only people who want to go out there to the stars are nasty, greedy, self-serving, types.  Why?  Why should we beleive that message, brought to us by Ferngully In Space?  Why should we look back at history and see only the negative… white Christian settlers slaughtering the peaceful Native Americans.  What about the Declaration of Independence?  What about great American artists and writers?  America the Beautiful, the National Anthem, Edgar Allen Poe.  What about the American Industrial Revolution that brought about the rise of the first real free society in the world?  What about standing up to the Soviet Union and showing that a free society is a match for a totalitarian regime any day?

There are people who honestly are plagued by such guilt that they would rather see humanity huddling naked in caves than happy, prosperous, and long lived.  This nihilistic tendency is a nasty, virulent ideology that upholds that people are bad… and all to many of them seem to think that the best thing anyone can do is to take themselves out of the picture.  They hate themselves, and they want us to hate ourselves too.  Rather than conservation, they want nature to remain immaculate, untouched, perfect.  They have some image of the world without people as being pristine.  This would, by necessity, lead to the removal of the human race.  And in, their hearts, they’re glad for that, because not only do they hate themselves, they hate you too.  The very thought of us polluting ‘untouched new worlds’ and the construction that would allow us to reach them causes them emotional agony, not just from the thought of what we might do out there, but also because we might expand, live, prosper… and show that their beleif structure is flawed.  If we succeed out in space, we show them that humanity is not bad and we show the potential that we hold in ourselves.

We have in us a desire to go forth, to see what lies beyond the next horizon.  To pent that up, to reject it, is to reject ourselves… to reject our very nature.  Our past is here, our home is Earth.  Yet in the nature of all children, as we grow up, we must take those first steps away from home, to find our own path.  That path lies in space… and the sooner we begin that journey, the sooner we continue our growth to adulthood.

Here’s some interesting links, people who say some good things… and people who argue the opposite.  Feel free to link anything in that you think pertinent.  Thanks for reading.

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/02/07/a-radical-notion-a-guest-post-by-james-cambias/

http://debatewise.org/debates/137-space-exploration-is-a-waste-of-money/

Renegades: Ghost Story out tomorrow

Here is the cover art from the awesome Robert Brockman

Renegades: Ghost Story will be out tomorrow.  It is the fourth novella in the Renegades series.  This one follows the perspective of Eric and if I had to pick favorites, it would probably be the novella I enjoyed writing the most.  I’ll be doing a book bomb for it tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon, MST.  So if you plan on buying it, buy it then.  If you haven’t read any of the Renegades novellas yet, you can pick them all up individually for a dollar.  Yes, just a dollar.  Each one is good for a few hours of light, enjoyable reading, or (at least through Amazon, so I’m told) you can return the book.  So why not give them a try?

Here’s the short synopsis:

Erik Stryker is a former Centauri Commando; highly lethal and experienced in combat on a dozen worlds. He’s had almost everything taken from him, his family, his career, and his team. He and his companions have broken out of an alien prison, hijacked a ship, and are en route to human civilization. A chance encounter with a derelict ship brings up ghosts of Erik’s past and awakens something which preys on ships and crews. Erik will have to face his own ghosts if he wants to save his new team.

Renegades: Ghost Story is coming!

Renegades: Ghost Story will arrive on Tuesday the 21st.    Here is the synopsis:

Eric Stryker is a man on the run with a past that haunts him, which has led him to his current rag-tag companions. They’ve escaped from the xenocidal alien Chxor, hijacked a ship, are headed for human space, and they’ve even selected a captain for their motley crew. Yet on the edge of human space, the margin of survival is as thin as the blade of a razor.

When they encounter a ghost ship, the crew awakens a threat. Something awaits them, something that preys upon ships and crews as they ply the void. It will test the fragile alliances of the crew to the breaking point and beyond. Eric will have to bury the ghosts of his past to face that danger… or his past will bury him.

Renegades: Ghost Story will be available on Tuesday (21 January) on Amazon and Smashwords.

I’ll be doing a book bomb for it on the 21st, at 12 noon, mountain standard time.