SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Author Anna Paradox

The author of the opening story for the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6, Anna Paradox enjoys writing, science fiction (sometimes the two combined) and poker. Her first novel, The Cracked Bell, is available as a free download. Her short fiction has been published in the award-winning anthology Polaris: A Celebration of Polar Science,  in the previous Full Throttle Space Tales anthologies Space Pirates: Full-Throttle Space Tales #1Space Sirens: Full Throttle Space Tales #2 and Space Horrors: Full Throttle Space Tales #4, and in Tales of the Talisman. Her second novel Embers of Humanity is here Her workbook for writers, From Wishing to Writing is here. She can be found online at Facebook and via her website at www.annaparadox.com.

BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?

 Anna Paradox: I’ve been following the Full Throttle Space Tales series from the beginning. It has had a remarkably high percentage of stories I enjoy reading. So when I heard about Space Battles, I thought, there’s a theme I can do something with, and I was glad to submit a story.

BTS: Tell us a little about “Between The Rocks.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?

AP: I’ve been thinking a lot about how people will expand into the solar system. There’s a lot of room out there—room enough for a variety of different approaches to colonization. Like the immigrants to the U.S., some may go seeking freedom they can’t have at home. “Between the Rocks” tells of one group fighting to preserve their homes and families built by hard work on an asteroid from another group that sees what they have and decides to steal it.

BTS: You’ve contributed to several anthologies in the Full Throttle Space Tales series. Are they tied to this story in any way?

AP: My stories all loosely fit into a future where humans are expanding into space. None of them share any characters. In my Space Pirates story, we’ve colonized the Moon. In the Space Horrors story, we make regular trips to Mars. In “Between the Rocks,” we are starting to colonize the asteroids and outer moons. My story in Space Sirens is set in the furthest future, since we’ve reached other solar systems and established trade with other intelligent species.

BTS: How’d you come to be involved with this series?

AP: I had the good fortune to share a panel at Coppercon with David Lee Summers, and he told me about the first anthology, Space Pirates. I was pleased to submit a story, and even happier to have it accepted!

BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?

AP: I started writing stories in grade school. One early piece was a satire about the sad state of the food in the school cafeteria. I’ve continued to write short stories ever since. I wrote one novel after college, and another for Nanowrimo in 2002 or 2003. My first sales were poker articles. Then I sold a story to Julie Czerneda for her anthology Polaris. Science fiction is where my writer’s heart yearns to play. However, most of my working time goes to helping other people write and, for the moment, to graduate school.

BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?

AP: I have several novels outlined, and a couple of them belong in this universe. To me, this looks like the shape of the future I’d want to live in. The best long run goal I can think of for humanity is to play so that future generations can have more choices. That means giving us more places to live as well as taking care of this planet—to me it makes no more sense to foul our nest than to never leave it. So if I have no reason to make a different assumption, my stories tend to fit in this universe.

BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?

AP: The novel that I’m most excited about now is called A Game of Christmas. Just when humanity has worked out how to stop violence against each other—including some fairly draconian laws against any depiction of using force against another human, such as most of our current movies and video games—we are attacked by aliens who have no such compunctions. That leaves our only defense in the hands of a loose coalition of underground gamers and weapon collectors. I hope to reorganize my time so that I can have it out in 2014. Goodness, how time flies!

Here’s an excerpt from Anna’s fast paced action story “Between The Rocks” which opens the Space Battles anthology:

Between the Rocks

Anna Paradox

“I can’t wait to get home,” Xiao said, taking off his helmet.

We were all thinking it. Home was Old Lumpy, an asteroid hauled into Jupiter orbit and refining fuel for passing ships. In a decade of habitation, we’d slowly built ourselves comforts like hot showers and hydroponics parks. With our hold full of ore from another, less welcoming rock, it would be good to go wash the grit off ourselves and cook a few hot meals.

“Give me a flight check, then, and we’ll be on our way,” I said.

“Yes, Ma’am,” said Xiao with a wide grin.

Four of us ran The Courtly Vizier. Despite the tony name, our ship
was little more than a utility truck in space. We alternated scoop runs
on Jupiter’s atmosphere with mineral runs to other local rocks, to supply
the refinery on Old Lumpy. Faster, sleeker ships bought our fuel to
venture farther out in the solar system. The Viz turned slowly and accelerated
like a peashooter-propelled iceberg, and quarters were tight,
but she’d been built to last. I gave her bulkhead an affectionate pat
when we’d completed the flight check and lifted off for home.
With Xiao handling the engines, and Jackson keeping his eyes on
the monitor, I had time to revise my letter to Earth. It wasn’t going
well. If I sounded too needy, we might get dregs, and if I didn’t make
our case, we might get nothing at all—either could be a disaster. I’d
just about decided to join Nogal where she was taking her sleep shift
in the two-bunk closet we called the cabin when Jackson spoke up.

“That’s odd. Grandpa isn’t answering the hail.”

I glanced over to where he sat fiddling with the radio tuning.
“Loose wire?”

He shook his head. “I can read the buoys fine. Although…” He
flipped quickly through the frequencies. “Only the sunward buoys
are responding. The leeward ones—I’m not getting anything from
them.”

We had four buoys each leading and trailing the ore processing
center in Jupiter orbit. They gave us early warning of storms below
and visitors above. To have four go out at once—felt like more than
chance.

“Xiao, ease her down. Let’s come in quietly. We’ll get a look when
we come around Jupiter.”

I rose above my seat as Xiao cut the engines. The Courtly Vizier
continued over the horizon of Jupiter on momentum. I strained forward
against my restraining straps.

“Jackson, get me a magnified view of Old Lumpy.”

How many times had I returned home? This time, something had
changed. The monitor view zoomed in on the asteroid that held our
friends, our families, our food supply, and everything we needed to
refine our fuel and water … a black streak crossed the rise where the
communications tower should have gleamed.

“Helmets! Now!” I thumbed the intercom. “Stasia! Suit up! We
have an emergency.”

“What is that?” asked Xiao.

I pulled my helmet to me, started buckling it on. “It looks like a
burn. I can think of a handful of ways that could happen, and for all of
them, I want your helmet on. Move it, Len!”

Jackson finished sealing his helmet to his suit first. He left monitor
one on Old Lumpy, and on the other two began scans of the region.
Once I was sealed up, I tapped into the suit-to-suit system. “Nogal,
are you suited?”

“Getting there, Captain.” She sounded sleepy.

“Make it fast. Communications are down with home. We may
have trouble.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Jackson, do you see anything moving out there?”

“Nothing yet. Scanning.”

Xiao hovered his hands over the engine controls. “Captain, what
happened? Was there a fuel explosion?”

“That … would be the most positive possibility. I don’t think it’s
likely though. Jackson, check my thinking. What do you make of that
black streak?”

“Like someone deliberately turned their engines on our communications
tower.”

“And that would be the worst possibility.” The black mark tapered
at each end. I could now make out the silvery slag that had been the
comm tower—fortunately unmanned—right in the center of the mark.

“But I think that’s it.”

Between us and home lay a few dozen large rocks. Big enough to
hide a ship? Would they know where we were coming from?
Jackson studied war, played battle games. I’d watched him arranging
the ships on the screen, maneuvering for position against a
computer opponent. “Which way will they expect us to dodge?”
He hesitated a moment. “New players tend to dodge straight right
or left. Up has tactical advantages, since we’re in Jupiter’s gravity
well. I’m not sure how much he’s thought about this.”

“Who would do this?” asked Xiao.

“Take us towards eight o’clock, full burn on my mark. Mark in
thirty seconds.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Nogal, are you suited and strapped in back there?”

Her voice came back over the suit system, no longer sleepy. “Yes,
all connected, Captain.”

“Good.” I watched the timer count down the seconds. “Mark,
Xiao. Now!”

The Viz shuddered as the engines pumped directly to full. The
acceleration pressed me into the seat, and I slid slightly to the right.
Only a little. The Viz was born on Luna, and our max acceleration
was three times Earth gravity. We could direct at most half of that laterally.
The rest was forward motion only. Fortunately, we had plenty
of fuel. We’d made it a habit since the refinery went live.

Xiao’s question still hung in the air. “Who? As far as I know,
there’s only a handful of ships nearby, and none of them have a reason
for this.”

“Right,” said Jackson. “The Feds have three cruisers—and they’d
send a diplomat if they had a problem with us. Our last customer headed
outward three weeks ago.”

“Aliens?” asked Xiao.

“This isn’t what I’d hope for first contact,” I said. “Keep your
mind on your driving, Xiao, and we may know who soon.”

Jackson flipped a rotating series of images onto the monitors.

I watched them go by. Xiao held our course. I thought about our
options. We had no guns. There were a couple small explosives we
used to loosen ore from asteroids. Our drive glowed brightly behind
us—and we could shift it thirty degrees to any side over the course
of a few seconds. We had a cargo hold full of ore. Unless they’d stay
put long enough for us to apply our jackhammer and shovels to their
hull, that was it.

Another image flipped away from the monitor. Then it flipped back.

“Do you see that, Captain?” asked Jackson.

I stared at the image. “What do you see?”

“That glint, underneath the asteroid, to the right.”

Then I spotted it—something shiny and metallic revealed where the rough contours of the asteroid left a gap.

Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here starting now (preorders end April 17).

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