SPACE BATTLES Author Profile: Meet Author Gene Mederos

The second story in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 is by Gene Mederos. Born in Cuba and raised in Brooklyn, he wrote his first story in second grade. Mederos received a BFA in Theater from the University of Miami and has worked as an illustrator, graphic designer and various odd jobs including a seven year stretch at the The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in NewYork City. In 2007, he discovered filmmaking and currently teaches editing and filmmaking at the Santa Fe Community College. Most recent stories in print include the stories “Moons of Blood and Amber” in the Tangle XY anthology published by Blind Eye Press, and “A Touch of Frost” in the Space Horrors: Full-Throttle Space Tales #4 anthology published by Flying Pen Press. He can be found online at Facebook or via his website at http://lostsaints.com.

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

Gene Mederos: I was in the Space Horrors anthology and I like the imprint, it hearkens back to yesteryear.

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

GM: At the core, the story is about tolerance for diversity, even toleration for the intolerant. It’s an old Sci-Fi trope, that the only thing that will unite warring parties is a bigger, badder alien or even the unknown.  As for the inspiration, I have friends from the extreme left to the extreme right, politically, so it wasn’t hard to craft the mindsets for the characters.

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

GM: They nominally take place in the same universe, one where physics is not as abridged as on Star Trek and Star Wars, but faster than light travel is available, and about two hundred years in the future.

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

GM: My friend Trent Zelazny put me in touch with David Lee Summers who was putting together the Space Horrors anthology. It’s all about who you know…

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

GM: I’ve always loved stories, and am always telling stories.  It was a natural progression to start writing stories to share with others that way.

BTS: Where’d your interest in SFF come from?

GM: Comic books, the original Lost in Space and Star Trek, and the first musty hard cover edition of Dune I found at the local library.

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

GM: Yes, as a vehicle, or a common canvas, not necessarily with any of the characters already seen in print, but cameos are fun.

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

GM: I have lots in the works, lol, most writers do. I’ve submitted a story to Bad Ass Fairies 4 which I hope they’ll publish, and am hunkering down to write an extreme planet story for another anthology, and I have the requisite novels.  But I believe mastery of the short story form is a prerequisite to a good novel, so I consider myself still in training.

Here’s an excerpt from “The Thirteens,” Gene’s exciting story from Space Battles:

The Thirteens

Gene Mederos

Nestled deeply in the foam mattress of the semi-luxurious hotel suite her rank afforded her, Captain Andromeda Sax was sound asleep when her com went off. The double pulse told her it was something important enough to warrant a secure connection. Even less than half awake her hand automatically flew to the spot on her jaw below her right ear. She pressed the small stud embedded there under her skin.

“Go ahead.”

“Captain, a bogey has entered the system,” the officer of the watch on board her ship, La Espada de la Libertad, informed her.
That could have been anywhere from four to six hours ago, depending on which of the outer system beacons had first detected
the incoming ship and transmitted the alert. A bogey was a ship that did not, or could not, transmit a valid ID code. It could be a smuggler, a legitimate freighter with a screwy comp—or it could be the enemy. Sax allowed herself a small smile; after all, there was no
one around to see it.

“Recall the crew, priority one.” That gave the crew ten minutes to
get back aboard the ship. She spared one last glance at her room. Aquarii
Station was on the frontier, but it still managed to offer most of the comforts
of the more cosmopolitan stations of the home-worlds. Accommodations
on La Espada were much more austere. She smiled again.
Five minutes later she strode onto the bridge. She hadn’t really had
time to dress, just comb her short-cropped jet-black hair and throw on
her officer’s greatcoat, but the voluminous garment covered her from
neck to ankles. And if anyone noticed she was wearing slippers instead
of boots, they wouldn’t dare comment on it. The guards at the
door snapped to attention. The crew on the bridge was all in uniform
and seated at their stations. She always kept a full watch on duty while
the rest of the crew took liberty.

“Inform the stationmaster we are launching to investigate,” she instructed
the com officer, then requested the general hail. “Emergency separation from
Aquarii station in T-minus four minutes.” That was sure to make the stragglers
scramble, for anyone left behind would have to fend for themselves out of
their own pocket. Stations were notorious for separating crew from their coin,
and the community service often imposed to pay off a debt was the most odious
of station maintenance work. Some of the crew would not return, for the
ship had its own share of odious duties as well as providing a greater chance
of getting killed. She’d deal with any of those persons when she returned. She
never thought ‘if’.

“Release hook-ups,” she ordered on the mark.

“Hook-ups released,” the officer at conn replied. She heard the
usual chorus of clicks as everyone strapped themselves in.

La Espada was now completely on its own power, air and water.
Sax strapped herself into her chair.

“Cast off.”

The station’s magnetic clamps released the ship and she imagined
the hiss of air as the powerful propellant tanks pushed them away
from the station and felt the familiar tug as the gravity provided by the
station’s rotation gave way to the gravity generated by the ship’s sudden
acceleration. She felt the weight ease an instant before the conn
announced they were standing clear of the station.

“Full sail,” she ordered. The most insane and courageous members
of her crew were the riggers. At her command they jetted out in EVA
suits along the masts and struts to unfurl the giant micro-thin solar sails.
The riggers claimed watching the golden sails catch the rays of the sun
was akin to a religious experience. She’d never seen the phenomenon
herself, but figured it must be quite a sight if it could induce one to hurl
oneself into the void to see it.

Acceleration under sail would increase slowly, but surely.

“Begin rotation,” she ordered.

“Beginning rotation,” the engineering deck replied on the ship-wide
hail, the only warning the crew would get that up and down had to be
taken into account again. The sound of the engines that rotated the cylindrical
ship within its frame of struts and masts starting up did not need to
be imagined. It reverberated and shook throughout the ship. Fortunately,
once the ship began to spin at speed, inertia was maintained by magnetic
induction and the engines would be almost silent.

The captain felt herself sink ever so slightly into the cushioning. A
thought, via implant and wireless transmission, was all it took to make
the chair turn slightly on its horizontal axis. She, like the crew, enjoyed
the automated, computer guided functions on the ship while she
could. During battle, with the comp taken offline, everything had to
be done manually. The navigator’s station came into view and with it
the senior nav officer, Poole. This was the one crewmember she would
never leave behind. As she understood it, the ship ran on numbers, and
this was the man who crunched them when the comp was down.
Poole raised his head from his displays, as if he could feel her
scrutiny like a sensorite. Like all the human beings from his planet,
Cygni-I, his skin had a slight blue cast and his hair was colorless.
These obvious and innocuous signs of the genetic modifications
undertaken by his ancestors to survive on their relatively oxygenpoor
world were all that the Purists needed to hate Poole’s kind. Sax
thought them fools. If anything, the Cygni were far more dangerous
for what they had done to their minds.

“Have you correlated a course, Mr. Poole?”

“Yes, captain.”

“Let’s have it then.”

Immediately, a heads up display appeared before her, La Espada’s
course outlined against the current layout of the system in a bright
certain blue. Lines shaded from yellow to green showed the most
probable courses of the bogey, extrapolated second by second as more
sensor data came in from the beacons arrayed throughout the system.
She was pleased to see that the most probable vectors would intercept
with her ship well above the plane of the ecliptic, where there would
be plenty of fighting room, if necessary. She knew that the universe
was more empty space than matter, but to her the Aquarii system had
always seemed cluttered with asteroids, comets and other debris.

Debris that could damage her ship.

She willed La Espada to go faster, and closed her eyes to imagine
the nonexistent creaking of the rigging and masts as light pushed
the solar sails out against the star’s pull on the ship. She’d been on a
sailing ship once, on the oceans of Maravilla, before the Associated
Worlds lost the Lalande system to the Purists. Someday, she meant to
win that world back. But since the faster than light engine could not be
used anywhere near a star’s gravity well, the ship could go faster only
as they got farther from the star. She could order a burn, and kick the
ship up to her full speed of a hundred kilometers per second, roughly
a third the speed of light. But if she were headed for battle, she would
be wise to reserve all the fuel in the tanks for maneuvers.

It would take a little under thirty hours for the ships to meet, and
there was much to be done. “Steady as she goes,” she ordered Poole
as she turned her chair to line up with the exit from the bridge. This
brought Augusto Lo into view. His bronze-brown skin was a few
shades lighter than the captain’s, his eyes and tousled hair darker. He
was actually earth-born, yet had rejected the Purist philosophy and
immigrated to an Associate world as a youth. He was slouched at his
usual station at the rear of the bridge, his eyes half closed, his head
resting on his fist, his other hand fiddling idly with the buckles on his
disheveled jumpsuit. To all appearances he was oblivious to what was
going on around him. But it was all an act. The captain knew that the
‘State Liaison Officer’ never missed a thing that happened on the ship.
So she wasn’t the least bit surprised when he came up behind her in
the corridor as she waited for the lift. The guards wouldn’t stop him from
coming after her like that, after all, they ultimately answered to him.

“Odd, isn’t it?”

She raised an eyebrow in reply.

“If I’m not mistaken, that bogey is following the same trajectory
as the last Purist ship that attacked this system.”

The captain nodded. “Yes, I’d noticed that.”

“But that approach gives you, the defender, the weather gauge. The
bogey has to expend fuel to fight the same solar wind that La Espada
has at her back, filling our sails, leaving it less fuel to maneuver. These
were decisive factors in our victory against the last incursion.”
Again, the captain raised her brow.

“And your superior skill at command and tactics, of course,” he
amended with a small grin. Sax smiled in return, more because of his use of
the archaic term ‘weather gauge’ than his sardonic compliment. “Everything
means something,” he said in return.

“Then figure it out,” she said, after pausing for a moment to visualize
her deck number.

Lo nodded. “Nice slippers,” she heard him say as the lift doors
closed.

An hour before intercept the captain was touring her ship as she
was wont to do before a battle. And she had no doubt that there would be
a battle—the bogey’s course was lining up exactly with the last Purist
ship’s incursion. A statistical impossibility, Poole had assured her.
So this ship was using the last ship’s comp data, possibly retrieved
from the latter’s logs, which would have been downloaded into a locator
beacon before the ship went into battle. It made no sense to her,
but then, she thought the whole Purist agenda made little sense. She
entered the rigger’s loft in the core of the ship. Since the ship rotated
around the core, there was no gravity in the long, cold cylinder. It
was the perfect place to store cargo, house the ship’s engines and, of
course, the riggers.

A rigger spotted her and snapped to attention, his elongated
prehensile toes grasping a length of cable to steady himself. He
was blond and blue-eyed, not too bad looking, with a crooked nose
and a wry twist to his mouth that suggested he was always smiling.
He was tall and thin, his arms and legs of equal length, with all twenty
digits being equally dexterous. His name was Jaller. He’d served on
her ship for the past four years and she knew him to be brave, loyal,
and kind. And even though the rigger’s section of the core was only
partially heated, he was naked, as was their wont. Diversity. The idea
and the reality that the Purists condemned as unnatural.

She drifted among the riggers, male and females both, for no few
minutes, praising their courage, thanking them for their service and
exhorting them to battle. Despite her duty uniform and her boots, she
still managed to skillfully make her way in Zero G among the giant
web of cables that the riggers called home. Their ancestors had destroyed
their world in a paroxysm of industrialization that had seen the
world laid waste in just six generations after colonization. The riggers
had been forced to evacuate onto space stations and ships and had
during the centuries of the sundering, when all of humanity’s worlds
had lost contact with each other and faster than light travel had been
abandoned, modified themselves to live in micro-gravity.
Members of no fewer than five of the existing seven modified human
races served on her ship and of the remaining two, the Aquarii had inadvertently
made themselves highly susceptible to space sickness and the folk of
Twobit were devout pacifist.

Her last stop on her tour was always the medical deck. Doctor
Stures was a sensorite, his people hailed from the dust-cloaked planet
of Gliese 876, Umbra. The world was metal poor and had erratic
magnetic fields so technology had been difficult to maintain.

Without much artificial illumination, the people of that world had
modified their other senses to compensate for the gloom. His skin
was blue-black with raised oblong bumps that ran from his hairline
to his jaw. She knew them to be receptors, allowing the doctor
to feel minute changes in temperature, in air pressure and displacement,
even vibrations. His eyes were hidden behind a band of dark
glass, to protect them from the ship’s bright illumination. He greeted
her in his usual way.

“Ah, Captain, in excellent health I see.” And by see he actually
meant by smell, by feeling her body temperature and by hearing her
heart beat in her chest. “All is in readiness for the coming battle.”
She had expected no less. His people were sensitive by nature and
design, but they were also pragmatists. He wasn’t one of those medical
officers who questioned the need for battle.

“We don’t know that the bogey is hostile—” she began to say.

“Pshaw,” the doctor interjected. A liberty he could take here, on
his deck. “From what I’ve heard, how could it be anything else?”

“Indeed,” the captain said, raising her brow. News travelled fast
on a ship. She believed the ancient term was ‘scuttlebutt’. Satisfied
that her ship was in order, she headed for the bridge.

As the captain stepped onto the bridge, the ship’s executive officer,
Commander Ortencia, saluted and left. The XO’s station during battle
was located close to the core, half the ship’s length from the bridge, a
hopefully safe distance from anything that might happen to or on the
bridge. The commander would monitor all activities on the bridge from
there and issue orders in support of the captain’s activities during battle.
In exchange, Major Drummond, the Captain of the Guard, took a station
on the bridge. When ships sailed on oceans his troops would have been
called marines.

“We are coming to transmission and targeting range,” Poole said.

“Furl sails, retract masts,” she ordered the riggers. “Advise the
ship and begin viral transmission,” she ordered the com officer.
She waited until all decks had acknowledged.

“Take the computer network offline, Mr. Poole.”

A few seconds later she saw the board at the Armscomp station
light up.

“Bogey firing missiles!”

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

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).

Space Battles Official Release Announcement & Cover

Full Throttle Space Tales #6: Space Battles

17 Explosive Tales of Spaceship Battles (all original to this volume)

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen Press, 264 pp., tbp, $16.95, Release Date: April 18, 2012

Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 can now be  purchased here starting now (preorders end April 17).
 

 

Red Alert! Red Alert!

This is not a drill…

Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a

utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their

asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s

atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the

situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.

 

David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine

on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy

find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New

Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comas at a jump point to

Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has

plans of his own.

 

Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for

salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition

Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits and can’t resist

taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and

instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people…

 

Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel

Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between

frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity

and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men

like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last

opponent he’d ever expected…

These and more stories await inside…

All personnel,

report to battle stations!

 

FULL Table Of Contents

9 Introduction – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

13 Acknowledgements

15 Dedication

17 Between the Rocks – Anna Paradox

29 The Thirteens – Gene Mederos

45 Like So Much Refuse – Simon C. Larter

61 Jump Point Blockade – David Lee Summers

73 First Contact – Patrick Hester

83 Isis – Dana Bell

95 The Book of Enoch – Matthew Cook

113 The Joystick War – Jean Johnson

133 Never Look Back – Grace Bridges

147 The Gammi Experiment – Sarah Hendrix

161 Space Battle of the Bands – C.J. Henderson

175 A Battle for Parantwer – Anthony Cardno

187 With All Due Respect – Johne Cook

209 Final Defense – Selene O’Rourke

219 Bait and Switch – Jaleta Clegg

227 The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii Story) – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

245 Guard Dog – Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

255 About the Authors


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing along with the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Write Tip: 5 Tricks To Adapting A Well Known Story For Fiction

It’s been done. All too many times, if you listen to some. The story is world famous, well known. Many know its details by heart. Yet it’s compelling and you have an idea you know is different—one no one’s done before. So how do you keep it fresh? Adapting a well-known story for fiction has many challenges, but above them all is the issue of freshness, avoiding predictability.

There are some techniques which work well to invigorate the retelling:

1)      Use the original story as character history/backstory so the parallels are interesting but you don’t have to follow it to the letter—In The Worker Prince, my debut novel, because my characters are colonists to space from Earth and Protestants, they share the religious history of Christianity so the Moses story, which inspired mine, is prehistory. Some parallels from that story occur, when a prince discovers he was born a slave and helps the slaves fight for freedom, for example. But having established that as prehistory, I was able to depart quite a bit from biblical elements like the plagues, miracles, and parting of the Red Sea to tell a different, although familiar story. The inspiration remains the same but the story takes new and interesting twists.

2)      Change the timeline (order)– What if the events are the same but they don’t happen in the same order? Sometimes the order of events is not vital to the story and you can make new twists and turns just be changing the order of events and, thus, how those various events affect each other. It can lead to new conflicts and new undercurrents which didn’t exist in the original story and make it more interesting for those familiar with the story on which yours is based.
3)      Identify the core elements and throw away less important ones—In The Worker Prince I did exactly this: keeping the idea of one people enslaving another under a ruthless dictator, a prince secretly adopted from slaves, ideological conflict, and injustice but dumping things like the Red Sea, years of exile in a desert, plagues, etc. It kept the story familiar and grounded in the tropes of the original while allowing me to take it in totally different and surprising directions. Some scenes and events are vital for the story to remain familiar. The same can be said of key characters. Others can be thrown away or reinvented to keep things original and unique in your telling.

4)      Reverse roles, species or genders of characters—What if your hero in the original story was male but in your story becomes female? What if a human character becomes alien or animal? What about a robot? What about other characters? Can your sidekick become the love interest? What if your antagonist becomes a relative instead of  a social acquaintance? What if the characters take on bigger roles and multiple functions they didn’t have in the original? The differences between genders, species, etc. can then be exploited for new aspects of your story and new twists and turns different from the original in fun ways.

5)      Change the setting—Setting your story in a culture and context far removed from the original can provide interesting opportunities. I set The Worker Prince in distant space far from Earth with different aliens and plant species, etc. It allowed me to have technology and related problems totally foreign to the original Moses story and made for a more fun and interesting telling for me as storyteller and for readers. The same can be true of resetting the story in a different decade or era from the one in which it originally occurred. Imagine, if you will, a steampunk Cinderella or Sherlock Holmes in the 24th Century. All kinds of possibilities present themselves.

All of these suggestions are about making the story your own. If you can find ways to do that, you can create a fresh experience and telling while utilizing powerful elements of the familiarity and themes of the original story. Grounding your story in a well-known tale, definitely has advantages.  But a little creative rethinking can make it even more powerful and draw in an audience of people it might not otherwise appeal to. It’s fun to work from a familiar foundation and structure. Especially if you love the story, it can stimulate the imagination. But if everyone knows the twists and turns and outcome of your story, why should they want to read it? I hope these suggestions give you ideas how the old can become  new and fresh in the retelling.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince—which received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Best Science Fiction Releases of 2011—and The Returning, both from the space opera series Saga Of Davi Rhii. He also wrote the collection The North Star Serial, and short stories published in Tales Of The Talisman and the anthologies Of Fur And Fire and Wandering Weeds: Tales Of Rabid Vegetation, amongst others. A freelance professional editor and proofreader, he’s edited books for authors like Leon C. Metz, David Brown and Ellen C. Maze. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Twitter (#sffwrtcht), where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, A.C. Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website: www.bryanthomasschmidt.net. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Write Tip: 8 Key Elements For Capturing The Star Wars Feel In Your Story

One of the highest compliments I’ve gotten on my debut novel, The Worker Prince, and I’ve heard it over and over, is that it “feels like reading Star Wars: A New Hope.” This was very deliberate on my part, and I referred a lot in writing it to Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy and Kevin J. Anderson’s Jedi Academy books.  It’s a challenge to capture the feel without going too far into imitation. And while watching the films repeatedly and reading tie-in books is definitely essential, I also think there are other factors which must be present to lend the right aura. Here are the 8 I’ve identified:

1) Your story must have an epic scope. Both Star Wars and The Worker Prince are stories about a quest of good vs. evil, to win justice over evil and save the universe, or at least their part of it. This is epic and requires bigness: big baddees, big ships, big planets and world, big stakes, big heroes, etc. You can’t really do it well staying inside an Enterprise or just on a single planet. There has to be a larger picture and bigger feel to capture it. Despite the different key focus of each movie or book, all encompass this epic scope of good vs. evil.

2) Larger than life characters. You need characters we can relate to, yes. Who can’t relate to the young farm boy with big dreams of a more exciting life somewhere else? Both Luke Skywalker and Davi Rhii (protagonist of The Worker Prince) share that trait. And thus, the first segments of both trilogies are coming of age tales about their quest to become men and men with a purpose. Han Solo and Leia are larger than life. Leia may be a petite figure but her attitude far outsizes her physical body. Han Solo is edgy. He comes off as dangerous and unpredictable, but, as we get to know him, he has a morality not so different from our other heroes, and, above all, he wants good to win. Chewbacca  is another obvious example, as is Darth Vader. Both are feared on sight for similar and different reasons. And both are formidable foes. One possesses a kind, giving heart. The other is selfish and cruel. But neither does it half way. Vader takes his cruelty to the extreme just as Chewbacca takes his kindness to extremes with his loyalty and dedication to his friends. I gave Davi Rhii some companions who have trait like this. None of them is a copy or exactly identical to any Star Wars character. I was careful about this. Davi’s love interest, Tela, is a pilot, a slave, but she has Leia’s sass, values and strength of will. His companions Yao, a tall alien, and Farien, a shorter, bulker, edgier human, compete and banter with Davi throughout their adventures much like Luke, Han and Leia do. And the bad guy, Xalivar, is definitely a dark lord, even though he and Vader approach it very differently. The anti-heroes are not dominant in these worlds. Luke is pretty clear cut in his goodness as is Leia. Han teeters on the edge but he comes out good overall in the end. The same is true of characters in my saga. There are very clear cut bad and good characters, not a lot left up to reader interpretation.

3) Adrenaline filled, relentless action. High stakes require a sense of fast pace and constant jeopardy for your characters. They can never be totally at ease or seem to get ahead without something new and dangerous knocking them off course. The action scenes are intense, with real danger, and the character’s witty banter adds to both the urgency and tension while also infusing much needed humor at times. Zahn and Anderson’s action scenes were particular important to me in writing the many action sequences of The Worker Prince, because I wanted to capture this style. I also had to make sure the action only lets up for short periods. The story always had to keep its sense that the heroes’ lives were on the line.

4) An overarching ideology with which characters must wrestle and which they must interpret in living according to their own understandings. In Star Wars, this is called “The Force.” In The Worker Prince, I used a conflict of religions. Not only do all characters good and evil wrestle with what these belief systems mean for them and how to interpret them in their lives (in both stories), but so do the two major opposing forces: The Empire and The Rebels in Star Wars, The Borali Alliance and the Vertullians in The Worker Prince. Some characters, like Han and Farien, are indifferent and don’t really hold much credence to the ideologies. They live by their own code of morality, even if they share some of the larger ideology’s values. Other characters honor the ideology for living good lives, serving others, like Luke, the Jedi, Leia, Davi Rhii. Vader, Xalivar and the baddies, however, turn that ideology into a force for evil. Vader playing with the dark side, and Xalivar persecuting anyone who doesn’t share the traditional birthright and ideology of his Boralian people.

5) Rapport/banter. I already mentioned how much this adds to action scenes but it adds to character in general. Good guys banter. It’s part of their rapport. And good guys banter with bad guys as well. Much of this occurs with humor. Humor humanizes the characters, lessens the tension at the right moments, and endears the characters to the audience. It’s fun, too. Banter is difficult to write without dipping into silliness. Star Wars has certainly been accused of it, at times. And I’d imagine The Worker Prince will get a few criticisms, too. But audiences love it. C-3PO and R2D2 aren’t popular for their looks. It’s their heart and personality, so often expressed through banter, which won audiences over. There’s a reason action movies are known for quotable lines. They may be silly but they sure are memorable. The key is to find proper balance and not take it too far one way or the other.

6) Cool gadgets and vehicles. Lightsabers, blasters, landspeeders, X-Wings, Tie Fighters, The Millennium Falcon–these are characters as much as the people in Star Wars. In The Worker Prince, we have blasters, datapads, Skitters, Floaters, air taxis, VS28 fighters and more. All these ships become huge parts of the world and how it operates. And they play essential roles in the characters’ abilities to survive and triumph over adversity. Can you imagine the stories without these things?

7) A Sense Of Wonder And Discovery. It’s no accident that Star Wars: A New Hope is a coming of age tale. It’s about Luke’s self-discovery and we discover it along with him: his world, his abilities, his future, etc. Davi Rhii takes a similar journey in The Worker Prince. Both approach the world, as young people often do, with wonder and curiosity that’s contageous. And they also share a drive to discover how to make the world better and how to be better men. The second stories, Empire Strikes Back and The Returning, change focus a bit. In Empire, it’s more of Han and Leia’s story. Their relationship, their beliefs, are central in focus as they are chased around the galaxy by the Empire and threatened time and again, fighting side by side for their lives. Luke’s still present and discovering who he is, but his journey is a bit more thoughtful this time around and less adrenaline packed at times. In The Returning, Davi, Yao and Farien find their lives on the line from very early on until the very end. They are involved in most of the book’s huge action scenes and there’s almost one per chapter, some many pages long. Davi is being chased by those who want to kill him, and, at the same time, he and his friends are chasing answers to who’s killing Vertullians and who’s threatening the peace. At the same time, Davi is discovering how to be a good mate to Tela and he and Tela are both rediscovering relationships with their long lost fathers. Aron’s new role on the Council as the first Vertullian to serve in leadership brings many challenges of discovery, and so does Miri’s adjustment from royalty to civilian life. In Return Of The Jedi, Luke’s quest comes center stage again as he tries to discover the truth about Vader’s claim to be his father and what that means. He also struggles to confront Vader and the Empire and end the chase once and for all. Leia and Han’s relationship continues to develop and the Rebels continue fighting the Empire, but the focus is still different from Empire. I am still writing The Exodus, my third book, so I’m not sure how it all will wind up, but this story has chase elements and also people stepping up, like Luke, for final confrontations, including Davi and Xalivar, Davi and Bordox, and Tarkanius taking charge in his leadership role.  Throughout, the discoveries impact the characters with a profound sense of change and continued wonder at the bigness of their worlds.

8 ) Emphasis on Character and plot, not science. Both Star Wars and The Worker Prince are space opera and space fantasy. They have elements of science, but the science is not hard science and often wouldn’t hold up to scientific law. In both cases, there are some elements of true science, perhaps, but mostly the tales are driven by the characters and the plot, not the science. The characters and their journeys are the heart and what draws us in and makes us care; what entertains us and captures us. There’s never a sense of some infodump teaching science nor is there a sense of it teaching philosophy or religion. The ideologies are present as part of the world, but they are not for our indoctrination but for our understanding of what drives the characters and frames their understandings of the world.

For me, these 8 elements are at the core of why stories like Star Wars have the feel they do. Reading The Worker Prince, even if you notice the feel, they’re still very different. I do pay tribute to the former’s influence, of course, but the story is original and stands on its own. And I think anyone trying to capture a similar feel would do well to keep these elements in mind. Yes, they can be traced back to old fashioned pulp stories, in many cases.  What do you think? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear comments.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012 along with his book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing and the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

New York Times Bestselling Star Wars Author Paul S. Kemp Blurbs “The Returning”

Star Wars/Forgotten Realms author Paul S. Kemp has this to say about my next novel The Returning: “The Returning blends themes of faith with classic space opera tropes and the result is a page-turning story that takes off like a rocket.”

Here’s more info, including the previous blurb, and I expect a cover image in the next two weeks:

The Returning has romance, assassins, tension, both modern and classic science fiction notions, and very smooth writing. What more could you want? Bryan Thomas Schmidt keeps improving. As good as The Worker Prince was, The Returning is better.” – Mike Resnick

“A fun space opera romp, complete w/ intrigues, treachery, dastardly villains, and flawed but moral heroes.” Howard Andrew Jones (Pathfinder: Plague Of Shadows, The Desert Of Souls) on THE RETURNING

Sequel to The Worker PrinceThe Returning is forthcoming this June. Book 2 in the Saga Of Davi Rhii, the back cover copy reads as follows:

The Vertullians are free and have full citizenship but that doesn’t mean they’re accepted. Now someone is sending assassins to kill and terrorize them and it’s riling up old enmity all over again. The new High Lord Councilor, Tarkanius, Lord Aron, and Captain Davi Rhii find themselves fighting all over again to preserve the unity of the Borali Alliance, while forces from within and without work against them in an attempt to tear it apart.

Meanwhile, Davi and Tela are struggling to keep their romance alive in the midst of busy lives filled with drama and stress and Miri’s adjusting to her new status as a non-royal. The action packed, emotional, exciting Davi Rhii story continues.

Although it’s not out until June, you can preorder The Returning today for $10.11 at Barnes & Noble (31% off the cover price).

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012 along with the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which he edited for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Rensick. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novel for author Ellen C. Maze (Rabbit: Legacy), a historical book for Leon C. Metz (The Shooters, John Wesley Hardin, The Border), and is now editing Decipher Inc’s WARS tie-in books for Grail Quest Books.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

Now Available: Rivalry On A Sky Course (ebook)

Today, I finished and uploaded my first ebook to Barnes & Noble and Amazon. A prequel short story to The Worker Prince, Rivalry On A Sky Course tells the tale of Davi Rhii and his friends, Yao Brahma and Farien Noa, at the Borali Military Academy when a fellow cadet starts a rivalry with Davi and challenges him during the Sky Course star fighter race. Mitch Bentley graciously did the cover. The book is available on Goodreads as well. $.99 at all three. I hope you enjoy it.

Here are links:

(Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/Rivalry-Course-Davi-Story-ebook/dp/B007DISNXI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330212263&sr=8-1

(Goodreads) http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13499361-rivalry-on-a-sky-course

(Barnes and Noble pending)

“I found myself thinking of stories that I read during my (misspent) youth, including Heinlein juveniles and the Jason January tales, as well as Star Trek and Star Wars.”  Redstone SF on “The Worker Prince” series 

Review: CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Cassa Fire, Space Opera, Dancing Lemur Press, 2012. Tpb/ebook $15.95/$4.99

An enjoyable read with well drawn leads that takes a while to suck you in but ultimately rises above its faults to provide a compelling and enjoyable read. I have not read book 1 in this series. So let me say some of my quibbles with it may well not be shared by those who have.

The action was well written and Cavanaugh uses some invented SFnal ideas here, including mental powers for two races, one limited to men, the other expanded by the entry of women. The developing relationship between the humans and Tgren as a result of this development makes for interesting drama and asks interesting questions. It also provides good fodder for further storylines.

His worldbuilding is very solid. The starships are well thought out and created well. You can definitely feel an 80s SF influence, Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in particular, although I suppose Star Wars and Star Trek could be found in it as well.

The prose itself is solid. Cavanaugh is quite good at weaving description and dialogue and keeping things moving well. He handles multiple POV characters well and does a good job transitioning between scenes and chapters.

Action scenes are well written and handled and have appropriate pacing and tension, avoiding the silly dialogue which sometimes ensues.

Now for the quibbles:

First, the story didn’t hook me until Chapter 4. In part, I felt there wasn’t much going on at the beginning. The real action didn’t take place until later on. There were a number of passages with routine day to day character routines which I could have done without that slowed down the pace as well. The worldbuilding is solid but I wish the writer had found a way to get us into it with a bit more excitement. The result is a dragging pace until chapter 4 when it picks up more and more as it moves toward the middle and end.

Second, other than Byron and his love interest, I didn’t find the other characters very well drawn. They didn’t seem to have arcs of their own. Perhaps they were from book 1 and developed more fully there, but I think he could have added a bit more development in them to make it more interesting. The uncle of the love interest, however, does change a bit in his attitude, which was a nicely handled touch. I just would have liked to have seen more with other supporting characters for a richer, fuller canvass.

Third, because the story doesn’t have as much action as I expected from the cover (my fault not his but the cover did set expectations somewhat), I’d compare this more to a storyline from Star Trek:TNG or a thoughtful TOS episode than I would to something more action packed like Star Wars or Buck Rogers or even BSG in storyline/plot. I would have liked a bit more action. This last note, admittedly, is personal preference and not the writer’s fault. There’s just rich potential in the ships, characters and world for some really good action. Perhaps book 1 provides more of that. I do intend to read it.

Ultimately, I am giving this four stars because I think despite any flaws it’s well worth your time. Don’t let the pacing keep you from digging in. The SF ideas, cultures, and world are well developed and interesting. I would look forward to more stories. I do hope next round he’ll give us more action. And I hope he’ll develop some of the other characters as well. Regardless, if you like old fashioned space opera, this is a family friendly fun read. Recommended.

For my #SFFWRTCHT interview with this author at Ray Gun Revival: http://www.raygunrevival.com/sffwrtcht-interview-author-alex-j-cavanaugh/

To follow the author’s blog tour, you can find it at: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF Publishing, Grasping For The Wind and SF Signal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

19 5-star & 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $4.99 Kindle http://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Write Tip: Thoughts On Choosing Point Of View

There are many decisions one makes when writing fiction. One of the most important is the choice of POV character and whether it’s first person or third. Often, when dealing with multiple POV characters, the choice is based on who has the most to lose or gain in a particular scene. But sometimes other factors can be useful.  

In The Returning, my forthcoming sequel to The Worker Prince, I found it advantageous to tell a scene from the POV of an antagonist despite the fact the focus of the scene was a subplot of the romance between the protagonist and another character. In doing so, I was able to up the tension beyond the drama of the moment. While Davi and Tela are having a fight and their relationship is jeopardized, the scene becomes more powerful because Davi’s rival, bent on killing him in revenge for past slights, is stalking them during the scene. Thus, not only is their relationship in danger, but their very lives. It wound up becoming one of my favorite scenes because of that.

A further advantage was that several subplots are advanced in the process–the Davi-Tela love story, the Bordox revenge plot, and the main story about attacks on Davi’s Vertullian people are all advanced in this scene. Having Davi’s rival, whose hatred for Davi seethes throughout the book, see Davi in a humiliating fight with his girlfriend also serves to make Davi’s situation more sympathetic. It’s bad enough he’s messing up his relationship, it’s bad enough some of that conflict is based on misunderstanding each other, but now his life’s in danger and he’s been humiliated in front of Bordox. It just adds layers of dynamics to the scene which up the pace, the tension, and the stakes all at the same time. When you add to that the fact that this encounter was coincidence–Bordox was there for other reasons and just stumbles upon them–it’s all the more dramatic.

Below is the scene from my third draft so you can see how it plays out. Remember: Bordox is working for a group trying to unseat the government and reenslave the Vertullians, ancient enemies. He’s Davi’s Academy rival and his family are the rivals of Davi’s for the leadership of the Borali Alliance. Tela is Davi’s former trainee, fiancee and a fellow Vertullian pilot. The romance that started in The Worker Prince is facing new pressures and their relationship is strained because of it. 

As you read, consider the POV choice. How does it work for you? Would you have chosen differently? What are the questions you ask when deciding which POV to use in scenes? Feel free to discuss it in the comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on choosing POV.

***

Bordox fought his every instinct as he stepped off the shuttle into the starport landing bay on Legon. His mission required stealth yet he stiffened at having to sneak around a place he’d once walked freely—admired and respected. Here he was, less than a year later, hiding in shadows like a wanted man. And there was only one person to blame: Davi Rhii!

He made his way through the pedestrian corridors and deliberately avoided areas frequented by pilots and maintenance crews with the hopes he’d be less likely to be recognized. The datacard in his pocket pressed against his leg with every step. He just needed to get to the flight data booths and insert it. The program it contained would do the rest, drawing out the desired intel from the systems, and he’d be on his way again.

“What’s keeping you so quiet?”

He knew that voice, stopping to listen as it came from around the corner ahead of him.

“Nothing. I’m fine.” A woman’s voice answered. One he didn’t recognize. He heard footsteps approaching and shrunk back into a shadowed doorway. “Just let me check the shuttle maintenance records for Aron and we’ll be on our way.”

“I know you, Tela. Something’s upsetting you.”

Rhii! Bordox gritted his teeth. His old enemy, the idiot who’d ruined his life, was coming toward him. What was he doing here this time of night? Last he’d heard Davi was a squadron commander. Military pilots didn’t casually walk around this side of the starport.

Davi and the woman appeared around the corner and stopped as Davi jumped into her path so they were face to face. The woman was medium height, shorter than Davi, with long brown hair and sparkling blue eyes. Her pleasing curves stiffened in anger as Davi blocked her way. Both wore Borali Alliance flight uniforms with rank insignia on their shoulders and blasters holstered at their sides. Seeing Davi in uniform just launched him into a rage. Rhii had the career Bordox deserved.

“I know you, Tela,” Davi said. “Why won’t you talk to me about it?”

“Because it won’t make any difference. We’ve tried before.”

She stepped around him and continued down the corridor as he hurried after her.

“So it’s about me then? What did I do?”

The woman, Tela, sighed. “I am not some delicate damsel in distress, Davi Rhii. I’m a fully qualified Borali officer, just like you.”

Davi looked confused. “Of course you are. What are you talking about?”

She stopped and whirled to face him, arms on her hips. Her eyes narrowed with annoyance. “You had me taken out of your squadron rotation. You got me in a lighter flight duty assignment. I keep finding myself not chosen for any risky missions—”

“There haven’t exactly been a lot of risky missions lately, and your reassignment was required by military rules. Couples can’t fly together.”

Tela growled. “A convenient excuse.”

“It’s true. I can show you the memo the commander sent asking me to sign the transfer paperwork.”

“You don’t get it! I am not going to be the girl who sits at home and pines after you. I want to do my duty like anyone else. I don’t want to be protected.”

“I’m not protecting you.”

“Yes you are!”

She whirled and started up the corridor toward Bordox again. He slipped further back into the shadows, sliding his hood up over his head as he enjoyed the show. They were so distracted with each other he doubted they’d even notice him. Bordox began to relax from his rage a bit as he watched Davi Rhii get put in his place by a woman. The only thing better would be the day he did it himself. Like instinct, his hand felt for the blaster at his hip, closing around the handle, he squeezed it. All he had to do was draw and shoot and Rhii would be dead. They would never see it coming, totally taken by surprise. His fist clenched and unclenched around the handle as he fought the urge. He’d blow his mission. But he might never get a chance like this. The feel of the cold steel of the blaster against his palm got his adrenaline pumping.

“Okay, maybe I didn’t argue.” Davi smiled as if that alone would charm her. Bordox wanted to step out and wipe that smarmy grin off his face with a fist but he swallowed, silent and hard, and stayed frozen in place. Or maybe I should blast it off. “Look, I love you, okay? Guilty! It’s my instinct to want to protect you.”

“We fought side by side in the Resistance. Why can’t we do that now?”

“Well, there’s not really any enemies at the moment for one. And we were just getting into things then. Now we’re together.”

“So I’m supposed to sit at home and worry about you while you get to relax and know I’m safe? That’s fair.”

Davi grinned and shrugged. “I’d feel good about it.”

Tela groaned and punched him hard in the arm. “Well, I don’t.” She turned and marched on down and through the door into the landing bay as Davi raced to catch her.

Bordox paused a moment, tempted to follow, but shook it off, remembering his mission and slid on down the corridor the way they’d come. There was more at stake. He had to remember that. Rhii’s day would come. Just not today. In less than two minutes, he’d stepped into the data center and selected a private booth. He slipped the datacard from his pocket and inserted it into the terminal then watched as the screen exploded in thousands of numbers moving and changing at a pace so fast his eyes could barely recognize them. After another minute, the terminal beeped and the datacard ejected. He returned it to his pocket then slipped out and headed back the way he’d come.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎ Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

4 5-star & 11 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Goodreads Giveaway: The Worker Prince

I’m running another giveaway of signed copies of my debut novel. The book got Honorable Mention on Barnes and Noble Book Club’s Years Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011 alongside John Scalzi, Ben Bova, and more.

Additionally, it continues to get rave reviews.  Here’s the latest from Catherine Russell at Functional Nerds:

Review: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

On December 21, 2011, in Book ReviewCathy Russell, by Catherine Russell

The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt takes the Biblical story of Moses to the stars and beyond. When Prince Xander Rhii – Davi to his friends – graduates from the Borali Military Academy at the top of his class, his horizon looks clear and bright. Privileged enough to grow up in the Royal Household, he’s spent his life surrounded by his friends, his devoted mother – Princess Miri, and his uncle Xalivar – the Lord High Counselor of the Borali Alliance. However, his mother has shielded him from his uncle’s dark side; an anger so black it threatens to consume Davi and all he loves when the young prince discovers the secret of his own past.

This book manages to do what many other science fiction novels haven’t; namely show existing religions in the distant future. The resemblance to the Biblical story of Moses is obvious, but the way it is told is engaging and not limited by the comparison. True, Lord Xalivar ‘will not let the workers go,’ but the workers themselves work toward their own salvation – rather than depending on their God to do it for them. The fact that the workers are monotheistic Christians – unlike the polytheistic Lords of the Alliance – emphasizes the culture clash that already exists between the peoples. The overlords feel superior to the enslaved workers, and use that as a reason to subjugate them – something historically common throughout slave-holding societies.

Throughout the plot, the strong ties of family are stressed. Loyalties are tested, both among the workers and the Royal family, and betrayals weighed against the greater good. As the plot progresses, main characters find themselves facing moral dilemmas, which adds to the physical and psychological tension.

With the exception of an attempted rape scene, essential to the plot yet handled delicately, there is no sex. Despite the dire circumstances, there is no swearing or profanity of any kind. The plot is strong; the language straightforward. In the end, the novel has a glossary to explain some of the new terms the author introduced, but in my opinion context was enough to render further explanation unnecessary.

While the high stakes were up for grabs until the very end, my only complaint would be that the plot addressed everything a bit too neatly. Almost every character takes part in the final battle. Every plot point is resolved – for good or ill. However, since the next book in the series is due out next year, things must not be as tidy as they appear.

This book works on several levels. While other science fiction novels shy away from mentioning modern day religions, this book manages to succeed in doing just that without feeling preachy. The religious overtones cannot be ignored in the story, nor should they, for they add to the realism of the plot. The people of this future feel as real as any family member or despot of the modern world, and they deal with the same issues. I recommend this both as both as a science fiction delight and a good family read.

About the author

Catherine Russell

Author bio: Catherine Russell is an author living in NE Ohio. Her work has been published in the ‘Best of Friday Flash – Volume One’ anthology, Lightning Flash magazine, and Flash Me magazine. She shares her life with her high school sweetheart, their son, and two ferocious puppies in the Wilds of Ohio while writing and learning more about the craft every day. More of her writing can be found on her blog – http://www.ganymeder.com

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

The Worker Prince

by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Giveaway ends January 08, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

An Interview With Lord Xalivar

This interview originally ran at Nicole Peeler’s blog as part of my first blog tour. Thanks to Nicole for the invite to visit her blog on my tour. I wanted to rerun it again here because it was a fun post to write and because I wanted to share it with you. This is a fictional interview with the antagonist of my debut novel. I wanted to sit down with one of my characters, the deposed High Lord Counselor of the Boralian Alliance, Lord Xalivar, for a chat.

Xalivar: Deposed? I was not desposed! I was violated!

BTS: Sorry. So Mr., Xalivar should I call you?

X: I prefer, my Lord.

BTS: Uh, ok, my Lord…that’s weird for me.

X: Yes, that’s what my enemies said and now they’ve written that scandalous tome of lies about me.

BTS: Well, I wrote it, actually, just as they told it to me.

X: So you’re a co-conspirator! Why should I trust you?

BTS: Well, I really did want to get it right, so if there’s something you’d like to set the record straight about, I’m listening.

X: (clears throat) It didn’t happen like that.

BTS: It didn’t happen like what?

X: I thought you said you were listening.

BTS: I am.

X: No, you’re not. You’re interrupting. It’s not the same thing. I am the High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance. Interrupting me is tantamount to treason!

BTS: Actually, you were deposed…

X: Shhhhhhh! LISTEN!

BTS: OK, sorry.

X: My family served the Alliance for generations. With honor! We have always done what was best for the Alliance and her people.

BTS: Some would argue with that.

X: Because they’re fools! Fools who don’t know what’s best for them. That’s why they need leadership. Wise leadership, like I have always provided.

BTS: I see.

X: Stop interrupting or my LSP men will arrest you.

BTS: Oh, well, I don’t want that.

X: (laughs) No, you don’t. Anyway,  as I was saying, the accusations made against me were made of ignorance, from a total lack of perspective.

BTS: Allegations of abuse of slaves? Enslaving fellow humans? Trying to usurp the Council?

X: Lies! Why are you spreading them? I already told you these were lies.

BTS: But the existence of slavery is documented—

X: Yes, but I did not enslave them. My grandfather did. I merely preserved the system. It was working just fine for both of our peoples.

BTS: The slaves might beg to differ.

X: Slaves always do, but they are not intellectually capable of making such statements with any accuracy.

BTS: They’re human beings.

X: That’s your opinion. Not a fact.

BTS: But they came from Earth to colonize the stars just as your ancestors did.

X: Earth has many species.

BTS: But only one species of humanoids—humans themselves.

X: Evolved from apes. Some of us evolved longer and more advanced than others.

BTS: So there are levels of evolution?

X: There are levels to everything. It’s the natural order of things.

BTS: The Vertullians don’t believe in Evolutionary theory. They believe in creation by their God.

X: See? They haven’t intellectually evolved enough to understand Evolution. And here you and everyone else go writing their story as if it’s history, as if it’s truth. It’s a total sham! Slander! I should sue you all!

BTS: They just wanted the same rights as your own people. Is that so bad?

X: You have to earn rights. They are not inherent.

BTS: Well, the workers believe differently.

X: Because they’re inferior.

BTS: I see. Anything else?

X: I did not betray the Council. The Council listened to lies told them by my sister.

BTS: I heard you two were very close.

X: (laughs) I thought so once. I was wrong. It’s clear our family had some weak genes which she was victim of.

BTS: So she’s not evolved?

X: She’s lesser evolved than I am, yes.

BTS: Wow. Ok. And Davi Rhii? He was raised as your nephew and heir, yet you betrayed him.

X: I did not. He betrayed himself. He set out to destroy our superior Alliance and was revealed in his ignorance.

BTS: You didn’t send men to kill him?

X: I did not. And I never abused the slaves. They were treated as slaves deserve—like property, herded and directed, incapable of making proper decisions on their own and born to serve their masters. It’s natural, not abuse.

BTS: I see.

X: It’s a matter of perspective. Creatures of their level of low intellectual ability are prone to exaggerating because they don’t fully grasp reality.

BTS: But the Council and many of your citizens agreed with them?

X: Low intellects all.

BTS: So anyone who disagrees with you is less intellectually developed?

X: Isn’t that obvious? They replaced me with one of their own, tried to arrest me. They criminalized me by slandering my reputation. It’s all a manipulation and distortion by inferior minds.

BTS: Some might regard your attitude as arrogance.

X: Only intellectually underdeveloped persons would think so.

BTS: I think we’re done here.

X: I have not even begun to give you the correct story.

BTS: You believe I’m too intellectually inferior to understand it.

X: Ah ha! You’re on their side, despite your earlier denials.

BTS: I tried to be a neutral third party but they seem more credible.

X: Credible? Ha! Barely more than apes!

BTS: I have a headache.

X: I’ve worn out your inferior brain. Told you!

BTS: Thank you very much for your time.

X: It’s really sad you can’t handle the truth.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Xalivar Rhii, once the High Lord Counselor of the Boralian Alliance, the continuation of an honorable line of fine leadership, now spends his days fighting to redress the injustice done to him by others. An innocent victim, he and his minions hang at their favorite secret hideaway preparing to enact revenge with great vengeance and restore balance to the Universe.

 

Apex Reviews: The Worker Prince – 4 Star Review

This one’s not so easy to find online. I don’t even have a link, so I’ll reprint a jpg here so you can see it for yourselves.

 

The Worker Prince Book Trailer (Video)

The Worker Prince: Saga Of Davi Rhii Book 1 Trailer from Bryan Schmidt on Vimeo.

Put together by talented fellow author Brian Knight from my script, with Voice Over from Randy Streu, one of my editors, art from Miranda Jean and lots of free stuff of the web, may I present my first book trailer: Worker Prince Trailer with Music (click to play). Working on literally no budget, they did an amazing job.

The You Tube version can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h992LgdprT8

For more information on the book, look here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/the-worker-prince/

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook · Publication: October 4, 2011

Available now for 20% off on preorders!!!

Trade paperback only

 EPUB or MOBI — please specify in notes on order

The Worker Prince Cover Is Here!!!

Designed by artist Mitch Bentley of Atomic Fly Studios, here’s the front cover for my debut novel, the space opera beginning of a trilogy. Mitch Bentley has designed art for Sam’s Dot Publishing, WolfSinger Publications and more. I met him in May 2010 at the ConQuest 41 convention art show and knew right then I wanted him to do the cover. So glad he did. He actually read the entire book before drawing this. I think he did a great job capturing the energy and Golden Age feel. (Click the photo to enlarge)

AISFP 136 – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

September 10, 2011 By Shaun Farrell

This episode is brought to you by MAYAN DECEMBER, the exciting new science fiction novel from Brenda Cooper.

Dr. Alic Cameron is a famous scientist devoted to studying ancient Mayan culture. In December 2012 she finds herself on the Yucatan Peninsula with her daughter, Nixie, fellow scholars, end of the world crazies, and even the President of the United States. It all sounds wonderful until Nixie disappears into the past. Featuring a handsome dreadlocked time-traveler, an ancient shamam, a high ranking Mayan couple, a computer nerd, and an eleven year old child, Alice must traverse the past in a search for the meaning of life and a way to save two worlds.
You can follow Brenda on Twitter, and please tell her Adventures in Scifi Publishing sent you!

http://aisfp.media.farpointmedia.net//aisfp/AISFP_136_092011.mp3

Show Notes:
Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of THE WORKER PRINCE and creator of the Twitter #SFFWRTCHT weekly interview series, which has featured an impressive list of guests, joins us to discuss religion in science fiction, working with a new publisher, writing good characters, his love of Star Wars, starting books off with an emotional punch, and much more. Read the untwittered transcripts at Grasping for the Wind. Once THE WORKER PRINCE is available for order, which should be any day now, we’ll post it here.

Links to things I mentioned in this interview:

http://www.jamierubin.net/ — SF writer Jamie Todd Rubin who blogs about Golden Age SF and more.

http://www.facebook.com/TimothyZahn?ref=ts — Timothy Zahn has yet to set up a website but he does have this Facebook page where he’s very active at communicating with fans

http://www.wordfire.com/ — Website of Author/Editor Kevin J. Anderson

www.bryanthomasschmidt.net/sffwrtcht — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat which I host and which also has a Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sffwrtcht-Science-Fiction-and-Fantasy-Writers-Chat/144219588975058

www.majipoor.com — the closest Robert Silverberg comes to an official website.

http://sciencefictionfantasybooks.net/ — Moses Siregar III’s site. He’s cohost of the podcast and author of “Black God’s War” which I highly recommend.

http://www.brenda-cooper.com/ — Author of “Mayan December” who blurbed my novel and is mentioned also above as sponsor of this episode

http://www.diminishedmediagroup.com/Home_Page.html — my publisher’s page

The Worker Prince: Moses Meets Star Wars Why?

When I was growing up, I loved stories. I loved been read to by my parents and grandparents, reading with others, etc. But a few select stories connected with me in a special way. I loved The Mouse & The Motorcycle series, for example, and The Littles. At an even younger age, I loved Richard Scarry’s books and Dr. Seuss. But when I got older, when those books became “less interesting,” the stories which stuck with me and still do today were two in particular: space opera and Bible stories. The adventure and heroics of space opera always thrilled me. I loved the laser gun fights, the fighter duels, the damsels in distress and, most of all, the good conquering the evil. In some ways, that last point in particular relates a lot to the Biblical stories I loved–stories of men and women relying on faith to defeat the enemy of disbelief and evil. I thrilled to the story of Joseph and his many colored coat. Loved the story of Zaccheus the wee little man. I loved the story of the leprous Roman officer who doubts Elisha but winds up cured. And I loved the story of Moses.

I remember the first time I saw Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. Is it any wonder I became a Heston fan, in spite of his fanaticism for the NRA (which I loathe)? I really loved the way he played heroes. I loved the power of his voice, his facial expressions, the way women swooned after him. As Moses, he was a strapping hero, bringing to life a larger-than-life character in a way only a larger-than-life movie star could. Later, he did Planet Of The Apes, which I also loved. I liked him so much, I even found watchable The Colbys, something few Americans at the time did, which explains its immediate cancellation.

So it’s no surprise that teenaged Bryan, the creative dreamer, came up with the idea which became The Worker Prince– an epic space opera about a prince who was born a slave and discovers his secret adoption as he begins to learn who he is. Given the coming of age nature of the story, and the fact that no space opera thrilled me more than Star Wars, capturing the feel of Episode IV: A New Hope became a natural fit in my storytelling pallet as well. I had to create an adventure younger Bryan would love.

Given that both Star Wars and the story of Moses involve religious conflicts of sort, that aspect also seemed natural to my world building. The current evolution of societal attitudes toward Evangelical Christians, in particular, seemed the perfect backdrop. With Evangelicals being marginalized and labelled incorrectly as “fundamentalist” by many on the Left, for disagreeing with the Left’s attitude toward abortion, homosexuality, etc., it points to a possibility of an “us v. them” which could very much become even more of a reality than it is today, as I posit in the story. Such a conflict is ripe with emotions which are very strongly felt by each side, embuing the situation with the perfect tension and level of division for a story like mine. A fan of West Wing, I found myself also imagining how political aspects of the conflicts already described could play into and complicate the story. Thus, both political and personal betrayal and scheming play significant roles in the plot and ensuing complications.

Although I would have loved to have robots characters more predominant, I stuck to the background bots such as waitbots, cabbots, barbots, etc. because who can compete with R2D2 and C3PO? I sure didn’t want to try. I did what blasters and fighters, although my VS28s differ a bit from the X-Wings, I believe. And I did want speeder bikes, thus Skitters were born. But I also borrowed from Superman, Back To The Future and even Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor saga in my world building and settings. In part, I wanted to pay tribute to all those stories because they’d thrilled young Bryan so much. But I also wanted to have a familiarity I knew they’d evoke, yet make them new by making them my own. So the Skitter chase through the forest was born as was the airtaxi race between Davi and his rival Bordox. The opening scene where Davi’s parents, Sol and Lura, send him to safety in the stars evolved. As did scenes of the VS-28s in battle.  Readers familiar with scenes from those other sources will recognize the tribute but also see that I’ve made scenes of mine own out of the borrowed elements. It evokes fun memories but it’s still a unique tale.

As I wrote, I referred a lot to Lord Valentine’s Castle in worldbuilding and the Timothy Zahn Star Wars books for reference in writing action scenes. I also borrowed pacing, of course. And like the films mentioned, my heroes are humanized with humor. They are imperfect, struggling with their role of being heroes. But, at the same time, they are the kind of people readers would like to hang out with and know. They’re friends in the making, you might say, and the comments from readers which please me the most are when they express their fondness for the characters that way. Because like Star Wars, Superman, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Back To The Future and the story of Moses, The Worker Prince wouldn’t work without the characters at its heart. Ultimately, they are who the readers connect with and how their interest is maintained through all the twists and turns.

Above it all, though, I wanted a story, like the classic science fiction I grew up with, which could be enjoyed by people of all ages with parents and children watching together, discussing, and sharing their impressions with each other. As a result, I avoided profanity, sexuality and extreme violence. The story does have sexual tension and romance, and it has violence. People die. People get hurt. And characters are truly evil in their attitudes and actions. But I worked hard to tell a believable, intense story without including elements which might alienate a portion of the desired audience. So far, per all feedback from beta readers, critics, etc., that seems to have been a success.

As I hold the finished book in my hand, and as I continue writing the sequels The Returning and The Exodus, I am still amazed to see it all come to fruition from that teenager’s dreams. It’s a life long accomplishment in a way, and one I am quite proud of. The book is far from perfect prose, of course. I am a beginning novelist, and it is my second novel, the first to be published. But as imperfect human beings, writer’s work can always be criticized for weaknesses. What I hope is that the strengths still outweigh that and will capture your hearts and imagines in ways which enable you to overlook the few faults which exist in the craft and author behind it.

In any case, that’s how The Worker Prince and The Saga of Davi Rhii came to be. I hope you enjoy them as  much as I have enjoyed writing them. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

The Worker Prince Concept Art

We needed some concept art for our book trailer for my debut novel The Worker Prince, and talented Scottish artist Miranda Jean rose to the occasion. It’s quite thrilling as an author to see your vision brought to life in this way. Although some details of the images differ from book descriptions, there are some nice editions and Miranda did very good work and I’m proud to share it with you.

This scene is inspired by one in Chapter 1 where Davi Rhii, the hero, goes to the Palace to meet with his mother Miri and the High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance, his uncle Xalivar–basically a Pharoah type dictator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is where Davi goes with his friend Farien Noa to see the slaves at work in their first post-military Academy assignment to supervise the “workers.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last one is a battle scene from later chapters where Davi Rhii and his worker pilots take on the Boralians in defending their home planet of Vertullis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Altogether exciting for me to see. Very good work by Miranda. Check out the link to her profile (click her name above). She’s done work for Tales Of The Talisman and Rigor Amortis too! Thanks, Miranda!

 

 

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 11

In this scene, Davi and his Squadron of worker pilots take on the Boralian Alliance forces on their own soil, fighting for their freedom against the oppressive regime. One of several battle scenes from the last part of the book, although there are action sequences throughout.

Davi pushed the joystick forward and his his VS28 fighter dove out of the cloud cover to rejoin the rest of his squadron. As he slid into the pole position, he glanced over at Tela in position off to his right. She smiled and waved.

“Imagine seeing you here,” he said over the comm-channel with a smile.

He heard Tela laugh as the squadron formed up around them, doing so without the usual chatter. Davi knew they were all as tired as he was.

His comm-channel beeped. “Squadron One, commander,” he answered.

Uzah’s yelling voice came through, struggling to be heard over at the explosions and laser blasts in the background. “Squadron One, we request immediate response. We have enemy forces pinned down on the east edge of the government complex. Please intercept vehicle traffic.”

The Alliance had been making use of Shuttles and Floaters to launch attacks and move troops around. His pilots strafed enemy launch sites as well as ground craft.

Davi keyed the comm-channel transmit button. “Roger, Ground Leader, ETA six minutes.” Davi ran down the pilots’ various skill levels and successes, devising a strategy he hoped would work. It all depended on the actual positions and activities of the enemy once they arrived.

The fighters glided over the tops of the buildings at close range, staying low to confuse the radar and maintain good line of sight with the ground. Davi divided the squadron into two groups of six fighters, assigning Tela to head the second group. “You go after ground weaponry emplacements first. We’ll try and take out any vehicle traffic.”

“Roger,” she said. They exchanged one last look before steering their craft apart as their assigned groups formed up around them.  Then each group vectored off toward their target areas.

A few minutes later, the government center came into view. Two columns of large Floaters moved up parallel corridors, attempting to flank the WFR forces. Their dark blue coloring made them hard to spot through the smoke on the ground but the shiny Alliance emblems reflecting light on both sides gave them away.

“Dru and Virun, form behind me. We’ll take the group to starboard. The rest of you form behind Jorek and take the group to port.”

“Roger,” the pilots responded in unison as they split into subsquads.

Davi smiled, remembering when Jorek and Virun had pulled him aside after the air raids on the enemy starports.

“We owe you an apology,” Virun had said.

“We’re sorry we gave you such a hard time,” Jorek said. “It was just hard to believe we could trust you.”

Since then, they’d become two of his strongest leaders.

“Go for their weapons capabilities first,” Davi instructed.

“Ah come on, boss! Total destruction is much more satisfying,” Jorek said over the comm-channel.

“You can destroy them after you’re sure they can’t fire back,” Davi said, knowing that despite his enthusiasm, Jorek’s focus never waivered.

“You got it,” Jorek responded, not big on comm-channel protocol.

Both squads executed the plan perfectly, swooping in on the Floaters from above, strafing them with laser fire. Outside his cockpit, multiple flashes appeared followed by booming explosions as Davi’s blasts disabled the front vehicle in the column. The next Floater in line swerved to avoid it, but the driver misjudged his position, running over troops fleeing the first Floater to seek cover, before crashing into the third Floater in line.

“Three down with one shot, not bad,” Davi said to himself. He adjusted his targeting and fired again, this time aiming for the laser cannons on the three Floaters. He shifted in his seat as the VS28 vibrated with each blast. The cockpit started feeling stuffy as the temperature rose along with his excitement and adrenaline.

Laser bolts flashed outside his blast shield. Spotting rooftop snipers, he didn’t even bother to dodge. Blasters wouldn’t do much good against the VS28’s shields even at close range. He circled around and watched Dru and Virun dispatch laser cannons on four more Floaters. Several more bright explosions boomed before the Floaters split up onto separate corridors in an attempt to avoid their fire.

“They’re trying to keep it interesting for us, boys,” Davi said over the comm-channel.

“Good. Moving targets are so much more fun,” Dru responded. To Davi’s amazement, Dru had become one of the better target shooters among the pilots.

Davi and three others swooped down in tight formation and fired. Laser blasts exploded around the Floaters again. Davi’s and Dru’s blasts hit their marks, taking out more laser cannons. Virun’s missed, but he aimed again and blasted the Floater’s engines, bringing it to a sudden stop.

Troops jumped clear, seeking cover as Virun chuckled over the comm-channel. “That had to hurt.”

Virun’s fighter rocked with an explosion and orange flashes appeared on its port wing. “What the—”

Davi looked over to spot a laser cannon zeroing in on him again from the top of a nearby building. “Laser cannon, top of the Acron Industries building. I’m on him,” Davi said over the comm-channel. G-forces slammed him back against his leather seat as he put his VS28 into a steep turn and dove down, targeting the rooftop of the office complex.

Jorek’s voice came over the comm-channel. “Keep your eyes out for laser cannons on the rooftops.”

“How’d we miss those?” Dru wondered aloud over the comm-channel.

“Keep your eyes peeled for others. He really did some damage,” Virun warned them.

Davi’s targeting computer lit up as it locked on the target. Lining up visually on the guides, he strafed the rooftop. Alliance soldiers dove to each side as the laser cannon exploded. “One cannon down.”

“Thanks, boss,” Virun replied as Davi steered into position above Virun and to the right.

Virun’s starboard wing had black burn marks from the impact and a tear in the metal. “The damage doesn’t look unmanageable from here. Can you still control her?”

“I’m not out of this yet,” Virun replied turning the fighter for another run.

Davi and Dru both maneuvered into formation around him. Without further chatter, knowing what to do, they took out the laser cannons on the four remaining Floaters, and then targeted their engines.

As they circled around, Davi glimpsed Jorek’s squad making similar runs. In a few more minutes, the remaining Floaters had been disabled and the squadron reformed around Davi, heading to assist Tela’s team. Davi brushed his clammy brow against the sleeve of his flight suit.

They arrived at the government center to find charred remains of more laser cannons and Alliance equipment. One of the barracks was smoldering. In the beginning, the WFR had hoped to preserve as much infrastructure as possible, but Alliance resistance had made it so difficult they’d decided to do what must be done and worry about it later. They could always rebuild.

“Leave anything for us?” Jorek said as they circled Tela’s team.

“We were about to ask you the same question,” Tela responded as she joined their formation. The rest of her team formed up behind her.

A squadron of seven Alliance VS28 fighters appeared heading straight for them with laser cannons blazing. “Heads up, here they come!” Tela called into the comm-channel.

Davi spun his fighter into a dive as two laser blasts exploded off his starboard wing. “We need to capture that starport.”

“Let’s knock these boys out of the sky!” Brie said over the comm-channel.

Davi chuckled. She’d come a long way from the lost teenage girl he had known in training. Davi glanced over to see one of his fighters crashing into the top of another office building, as the Squadron divided itself into pairs and began targeting the enemy fighters.

“We lost Kinny,” Tela said over the comm-channel.

Davi pounded a fist into the side of his fighter. Kinny was an experienced pilot who had joined after the initial attack. “Wingmen, cover your leaders!” They didn’t really need the reminder, but losing one of his pilots switched him into teacher mode again.

Tela lined up on an Alliance fighter and unleashed a burst of fire from her cannons. The enemy fighter exploded, spiraling toward the ground. Tela let off a victory yell, “One down!”

Davi lined up another in his sights, firing several sloppy blasts through its wing. It spun out of control. “Make it two.”

An enemy fighter swooped in from above, firing on Dru at close range. Explosions rocked the hull of his fighter.

Smoke trailed from it, and Davi could see the damage out his blast shield. “You okay, Dru?”

Dru sounded rattled. “She’s a little shaky but I can still fly her.”

Davi and Tela both dove in to provide cover, blasting in unison at the enemy fighter trying to escape. It disintegrated with a bright flash.

Dru’s voice rose in excitement. “He won’t do that again! Thanks, guys!”

“Don’t mention it,” Tela said.

“Let’s clean this mess up!” Jorek said.

Davi watched as the enemy fighters retreated. “They’re running,” Nila said.

“Jorek, take the squadron and chase them down if you can. We’re escorting Dru back to base,” Davi said.

“You got it, boss,” Jorek said.

“Don’t let them lead you too close to the starport. They might launch reinforcements,” Tela warned.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be okay.” Jorek said as the others formed around him and peeled off after the enemy fighters, leaving Tela and Davi flanking Dru.

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hungry,” Dru said.

Davi heard Tela’s laugh over the comm-channel as he keyed the transmitter. “Let’s go home.” They flew in formation back toward the WFR base.

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook  · Publication: October 4, 2011  · Diminished Media Group
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The Worker Prince: Book 1 In The Saga of Davi Rhii

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 7

As Davi Rhii gets to know the workers on Vertullis, he also meets an intriguing fellow pilot, a woman named Tela, who takes an instant dislike to him. The problem is, Davi can’t keep his eyes off of her or her off his mind. Here’s some of what ensues…

A week after their argument in the corridor, Davi found Tela sitting at the controls of her shuttle, reading through maintenance charts. He took care to make noise as he entered the cockpit so as not to sneak up on her. She turned her head and frowned when she saw him.

“We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot,” Davi said, sitting in the copilot’s seat. “I’ve been trying to figure out how it happened.”

“Maybe your charms won’t work on me,” Tela said. “I’m pretty good at seeing through people. Especially men.”

“Well, that’s just it. You seem to have taken some of the things I’ve said the wrong way,” Davi said, hoping she’d take another look.

“Like what?” Her eyes remained on the charts.

“I didn’t bring up your name in class to isolate you from the other trainees,” Davi said. “I was trying to pay you a compliment. I’m impressed with the way you flew the shuttle.”

“Well, thank you,” she said, still avoiding eye contact, focused on her charts. “But the last thing I need is people thinking you’re showing me special treatment. I’m there to learn the same as them.”

“And I’m there to teach you,” Davi said, “but someone with your flight experience is an asset for the entire class. You can help me to help them learn what they need to know.”

“I didn’t sign on to be a tutor,” Tela said.

“I won’t ask you to be, if you don’t want to,” Davi said. “All I’m asking is if they don’t understand something I’m trying to explain, maybe you can jump in and help me clarify it.”

“See?” She said, looking up for a moment. “You’re asking me to teach. No thanks.” Her eyes turned back to the charts as Davi wondered why he always seemed to choose the wrong words when he talked to her. A familiar buzz filled his stomach as heat rose within.

“Whatever you feel comfortable with,” Davi said. “The last thing I need is someone getting killed because they didn’t understand.”

“I wouldn’t let that happen,” Tela said.

“Good. I can use all the help I can get,” Davi said. “I’ve never been an instructor before. And I’ve never been a worker before either. It’s all new to me. I pretty much have to relearn who I am.” I wish someone would teach me how to talk to you!

“You’re doing fine. You explain things well,” Tela said, her blue eyes meeting his for a moment.

“Was that a compliment?” Davi melted inside like icicles in a desert. He smiled. “I might have to write that down. It might be ages before I ever get another compliment from you.”

She laughed, rolling her eyes. “Don’t get too cocky, okay? There’s always room for improvement.”

“Okay, so don’t get mad at me when I suggest areas you can improve,” Davi said. “It’s my job as your teacher.”

“You can’t improve on perfection,” she said, smiling. Was she joking?

“Now who’s cocky?” He teased as she laughed. “Some of the cadets seem to resent me because of my past. They don’t seem to realize, I’m on your side.”

“Can you really blame them?  You’re the Prince.”

Davi sighed, disappointed. “No, I suppose not.”

She slid back in the chair and her face softened a bit. “Give them time. They’ll come around.”

“I don’t suppose you could put in a good word for me?”

Tela’s face crinkled. “First I have to convince myself.”

“But you saw me at the rallies! Do you really believe—”

He stopped as Tela broke into laughter. “You’re giving me trouble?”

She smiled and nodded. “I couldn’t resist.”

“Well, I’d better let you get back to your work here. I wouldn’t want anyone to know we actually had a civil conversation.”

She smiled at him and his heart fluttered. “You like making jokes, don’t you?”

“When it makes you smile like that,” Davi said. Her eyes turned quickly back to her charts. “Okay, well, thanks for letting me explain.”

She nodded. “See you in class, professor.” It sounded so formal. He contorted his face, and she laughed again, twirling strands of her hair around her index finger. “I’m trying to work here.”

He nodded, stood, and backed out of the cockpit. The conversation went better than he’d expected. She’d laughed and joked with him. It was a start. And she’d twirled her hair—was she flirting with him? Best not to make too much of it. For some reason, all the way back to the command center, he found himself whistling a happy song.

***

After two weeks spent covering the basics of flight, Davi allowed the first of his students on the simulators. His class had doubled in size since it started, with Aron and the leaders adding more and more candidates with each new rally. Davi had done his best to keep the new students up to speed with the others. Some of them had the advantage of prior flight experience, while others had skill with Skitters. He still had neophytes to train, but at least some had a head start.

At the moment, Dru, Brie, Nila and another boy their age occupied the four simulators. Tela and the other students sat at desks behind Davi, observing as he took them through their first mock battle. Each student pilot sat in a mock cockpit, with controls similar to those of VS28 fighters—a screen where the blastshield would be simulated stars and incoming enemy fighter craft. The simulator itself moved as the trainees moved the joystick. Combined, the effect was a sensation reminiscent of being in an actual fighter during a battle.

“Keep your tails up there,” Davi instructed. “Easy on the joystick, Brie. It’s sensitive, designed to move as one with your body. Dru, you’ve got one on your tail. Evasive action!”

The trainees reacted to his instructions. Dru tried hard to stay out of the fire of the enemy on his tail as explosions flashed in front of him on the screen with each hit.

Brie steered her fighter toward the enemy behind Dru. “I got him!”

Davi realized that her excitement was distracting her. She was coming in at an odd angle and way too fast. “Slow down, Brie! You’re going to hit him!” Too late.

Brie’s screen erupted in flashes of yellow light and her console went dead. “What happened?” Brie asked, confused.

“You’re dead,” Tela said.

“You got him off my tail though. Thanks,” Dru said, chuckling.

Brie stuck out her tongue at him. “You’re welcome.” She turned to Davi with a sheepish grin. “I’m not getting it, am I?”

Davi smiled. “It takes practice.” For some more than others.

Brie cocked her head to one side in a flirty way. “Can you show me one more time please?”

Davi smiled. “Okay. Look.” He leaned over her from behind, holding his hand around hers on the joystick. “Pull back a tiny bit, like this. Enough to make her go the direction you want to go. Not too hard though.”

Brie smiled, looking up at him. “Oh, right. I gotta practice it.” Davi let go and she tried what he’d showed her. “Like that?”

Davi nodded, ignoring her flirting. “Much better. Keep practicing.”

He turned back to the other students and saw Tela shaking her head and heading out the door. Virun and a couple of others followed her.

“Wait a minute! Class isn’t over. Where’s everyone going?”

The others looked at him and shrugged.

      What’s wrong with her?

Brie and the others climbed out of the simulators as other trainees took their place.

“Okay,” Davi said, “let’s try this again.”

The second group was better than the first. A third did better still. At the end of the session though, Davi walked away discouraged. Some of the students would improve with practice, but others had him wondering if they weren’t wasting their time. He wished Tela had participated. She would have handled herself quite well, he imagined. Her performancce would have at least been more encouraging.

He left the classroom confused and wondering why she’d disappeared.

 

***

      Tired of watching Brie throwing herself at Davi, Tela had stormed out of the training room. It was disgusting, shameless—totally inappropriate in the classroom. She’d grown more and more irritated, until deciding she needed a breath of fresh air.

As she wound her way through the corridors, she started feeling silly. Why did it bother her so much? You don’t like him, remember? She’d known women who acted like Brie before. It wasn’t like she had any claim to Davi. They were barely friends.

Sure, things between them had settled down since they’d talked in the shuttle. He’d asked Tela’s opinion from time to time, and she’d done as he requested, helping him explain things when the trainees didn’t understand. So what was the big deal? Brie had every right to flirt with him. She’d acted like a fool. Why did she have such a tendency to do that when Davi was around?

She spent a few moments calming down, then turned back toward the classroom. Rounding a corner near the classroom, she spotted Davi exiting and heading up the corridor away from her.  He looked very discouraged. She hoped not because of her.

She followed him across the hangar and into a smaller cave on the far side, where the Skitters sat parked in several rows.

Long slender bodies topped with leather seats and two handlebars attached to a control panel, Skitters had been designed for recreational use, but were so fast and easy to handle, they’d been adapted for other uses. Borali Alliance ground patrols used them on a regular basis.

She stood in the shadows as he began looking them over. Two mech-bots entered through another tunnel and began working on some of the Skitters behind him. As she stepped out of the shadows into the cave, Davi looked up at her.

“Hey,” she said, with a slight wave and a smile.

“Hey,” he said, going back to examining the Skitters.

“How’d the rest of the session go?”

He shrugged. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Not even eye contact. So maybe he was upset with her. “Sorry I left. I needed some air.”

“I was disappointed you didn’t stay for your turn,” Davi said as he examined another Skitter. “Seeing someone actually succeed on the simulators would have been encouraging. I sure could’ve used it.” His voice sounded tired.

“Was it really so bad?”

“You tell me. You saw how some of the students did,” Davi slid into the seat of a Skitter, fiddling with the controls.

“Some of them are a long way from being flight-worthy,” Tela said, watching the mech-bots working behind him.

“Some make me wonder if they ever will be.”

It saddened her to see him so discouraged. He had always been so positive and supportive of the students. She wanted to do something to cheer him up. She took a seat on another Skitter and turned it on, hearing the steady hum of the engine and feeling it rise up off the floor to float on the air as she adjusted the controls.

“Come with me.”

“For a joy ride?”

Tela smiled. “Sure. There’s something I want to show you.” She waved toward the Skitter he’d been examining.

He shrugged, climbing onto the Skitter. The engine hummed as it rose into the air. “Okay. Lead the way.”

She slid the Skitter into gear and drove it out of the cave into a small tunnel. Davi accelerated his own Skitter and followed along behind her.

They emerged into the dense forest along a path. Sunlight streamed through the tall cedars, creating a patchwork of dark and light areas on the ground. The chirping of birds and insects blended with the hum of the Skitters as a light breeze tousled their hair. The sweet smell of cedar filled her nose.

Tela sped up, forcing Davi to speed up behind her. She admired the fluidness with which he maneuvered the Skitter. She’d never seen him fly, of course, but it seemed to her he must be as skilled as the commanders said. She wondered if he’d had much time to explore the forest around the base yet. She hadn’t seen him in the Skitter bay, but then she hadn’t been there much until the past few days herself.

She led him through several twists and turns then around a bend into a clearing where she pulled to a stop and waited for him to come alongside.

Amid cedars at the edge of the course on both sides there were several wood pylons with various markings. As his Skitter pulled alongside hers and stopped, she smiled. “Well, here it is.”

“What is it?” Davi said, trying to make sense of the pylons and markers.

“Our Skitter training course,” Tela said. “Aron asked me to set one up.” Why was she so anxious waiting for his response?

Davi’s looked around and smiled. “You did all this yourself?”

“Well, I may have borrowed some from a schematic of one of the Alliance’s training courses. With a few minor adjustments to compensate for ours being on land and not in outer space.”

Davi nodded, looking pleased. “This is impressive. You amaze me!”

      He’s impressed! She almost blushed. Why did she care so much what he thought? She’d never had time for men, not since her father’s disappearance. She’d been too busy for much of a social life.

“Thanks. Wanna give it a try?” She opened the side pocket on her Skitter and pulled out a helmet. “Gotta put on the helmet to see how it works.”

She slid the helmet on as Davi opened the pocket on his own Skitter and retrieved the helmet. As he began to put it on, Tela flipped the switch to activate the weapons simulator on her Skitter.

After they’d both adjusted their helmets, Davi nodded. “Ready.”

Tela accelerated and took off like a flash, zigzagging in and out between the pylons. Wind nipped at the skin of her face like tiny bugs. Trees passed almost as blur as she focusd on the markers and pylons. She glanced down at her control panel, verifying the weapons simulator was fully charged. The visor of her helmet showed a targeting frame as she passed the next pylon. Everything seemed to be working right.

The next pylon she came to, she maneuvered the frame to aim at the pylon and then hit the fire button. The visor image flashed as she hit the target.

She flipped her communicator on and keyed the switch. “Flip the red switch on to activate the targeting simulator. The black button on the joystick is for firing.”

She slowed down, allowing Davi to pull alongside as he fiddled with the controls. “Do you see it?”

“Yeah,” his voice came in through the helmet. “You did all this?”

“Well, I had some help. Go for a run,” Tela said, accelerating again and aiming as she came to each target.

Davi raced his Skitter alongside her, also aiming and firing. They raced in and out of the pylons, keeping pace with each other. The visor kept count in the bottom right corner of hits and misses. So far she had been dead on.

The total time for the course at full speed was less than four minutes. They reached the end in what seemed like a few seconds. She pulled to a stop as Davi stopped beside her.

“How’d you do?”

“Missed two.”

She smiled. “I didn’t miss any.”

“Well, you designed it. It’s my first time.” He said with a shrug, but she saw disappointment in his green eyes.

With an exaggerated shrug, she laughed. “Excuses, excuses.”

He scowled. “Wanna go again?”

Gotcha! She grinned and accelerated her Skitter like a rocket.

Davi raced to catch up with her.

They followed a curving path which took them back to the start of the course, and then both launched into it again. Davi gave it his best effort. She had to accelerate a few times to keep up with him.

As they neared the end of the course, he zipped in front of her. Her Skitter misfired. She groaned in frustration, pulling back alongside and getting back on course. He laughed as they raced onward, finishing the course in less than four minutes.

“Perfect score,” he said with a smirk.

That’s the Davi I know. She shook her head. “I missed because you distracted me.” But she knew his move to cut her off hadn’t been the only distraction. She had butterflies in her stomach.

“Oh right, like the enemy won’t ever try that,” he said, shooting her a look.

She laughed. He was right. They couldn’t count on total focus in a real battle. Maybe there were some things he could teach her on her own course after all.

“Shall we go again?” he asked, shifting excitedly on his seat. His voice had regained its usual energy, and she noticed the usual sparkle had returned to his eyes. The smell of adrenaline mixed with sweat wafted to her nose.

“Wanna switch sides?”

He nodded. “Catch me if you can!” He took off like a rocket.

She raced to catch up, determined that this time she’d be ready for any distractions.

 

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook  · Publication: October 4, 2011  · Diminished Media Group
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The Worker Prince: Book 1 In The Saga of Davi Rhii

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 5

In previous excerpts, we’ve met the protagonist, Davi Rhii, and his friends and family and rival Bordox. Now let’s meet the main antagonist, Davi’s uncle Xalivar. Xalivar is a complicated character. Hopefully this will give you an idea what Davi’s up against. In this scene, Davi has been called back before his uncle, High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance, because he disobeyed orders and left his post on a distant base where Xalivar sent him to avoid criminal charges to come back and wrestle with his new identity as slave-born (worker-born).

Manaen escorted Davi as far as the throne room, but let him enter alone. Xalivar stood beside a window, staring out at the city.

“I gave you your orders,” Xalivar said, without turning to face him. Davi heard the anger in his voice.

“Can’t we talk about this?”

“Soldiers obey orders or they are disciplined. Don’t think because I’m your uncle, you’ll be given special treatment.”

“I’ve already been given special treatment,” Davi said.

Xalivar whirled around, glaring at him as his fists clenched. “Do you know what I had to go through to get the Council not to pursue murder charges against you?”

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”

“And this is how you show your gratitude?” Xalivar turned away again.

“I serve you best by being honest with you, don’t I?”

“You serve me best by doing as I instruct you without raising unnecessary questions,” Xalivar said.

Davi flinched at his uncle’s anger. What could he say to make him understand? “I’ve been reading history. I don’t understand why things are the way they are,” Davi said.

“Maybe it’s not your job to understand.”

“Before the colonists left Earth to settle on other planets, the Legallians and Vertullians were at peace for twelve years,” Davi continued. “When the Vertullians discovered they’d settled the planet next door to us, they didn’t fight, they sued for peace. Instead, we conquered them and turned them into slaves.”

Xalivar turned back to him. Their eyes met. “They cannot be trusted.”

“They sued for peace and we betrayed them, yet they can’t be trusted?” Davi saw from his eyes that Xalivar really believed it.

“Twelve years of peace during a time when everyone was distracted by other concerns,” Xalivar said. “After hundreds of years of wars.”

“Extremists and terrorists brought us together. Why would we forget all that when we settled here?”

“Do you know how many of our people have died at their hands? How many communities they destroyed?” Xalivar demanded.

“How many of them have we killed? Can’t the past ever be the past?” Davi asked. He’d begun to wonder. His uncle’s anger seemed pretty intense over something that happened so long ago. “Twenty years ago, I was supposed to die because of your decree, yet here I am. You let it go and protected me, because I’m your nephew.” Xalivar’s face changed when Davi mentioned the decree. Had he forgotten? Maybe he wishes I hadn’t survived.

“I protected you, yes, and here you are trying to undo everything I’ve done!” Xalivar threw up his hands in dismay as his pupils narrowed and his face turned gray with worry.

“How can I stand by when my own family is living in slavery?”

“Do you wish so badly to join them in their plight?” Xalivar said. “Everything I’ve worked for, everything my father and grandfather worked for could be undone by this, Xander! Do you not care about this family any longer since you’ve found a new one?” They both turned at the sound of the door opening behind them.

Miri’s feet shuffled on the carpet as she rushed in. “Why didn’t you tell me you were here?” she said, looking at Davi.

“I didn’t have the chance yet, Mother,” Davi said.

“He was too busy arguing the evils of our oppressive Alliance with his uncle,” Xalivar said. “He won’t let this go. I should have raised him myself, disavowed him of his moral illusions.” He stared accusingly at Miri.

“I raised him to think for himself,” Miri said.

“Well, he’s decided this family is the enemy now,” Xalivar said, fists clenching again.

“You’re still my family. I care about you,” Davi said with frustration. Did his uncle really believe that?

Xalivar waved dismissively to Miri. “I cannot do what he asks. You talk sense into him.” He turned and stopped beside the door to his private chambers, punching a code. The door slid up and Xalivar disappeared inside, leaving them alone.

“You’re trying to fight a system which has been in place for generations, Davi,” Miri said.

“It’s wrong, mother.”

“It won’t change overnight,” Miri said.

Davi knew she was right but was convinced he had to try. “Someone has to speak for the workers. People know who I am; maybe I can make them listen.”

“Or you will make more enemies than you ever imagined,” Miri said.

“So you would have me stand by and do nothing?”

“No, but I would have you recognize there will be more to convince than just your uncle,” Miri said, frustrated.

“I have to start somewhere.” Davi turned away, knowing she was right. “I won’t give up. I can’t.”

“Do you want to go to prison? Do you want to be killed?” Miri’s voice was tinged with desperation; worry filled her eyes.

“I’m willing to do what it takes to change things for my people,” Davi said as their eyes met.

“The Lords or the workers?”

“Both, Mother. I belong to both,” he said with a sigh.

“I can’t protect you.” Her voice was pained.

“I know. I would never hurt you, mother; I hope you know that.” He looked at her with love and smiled.

“I only want what’s best for you. Your uncle, too,” Miri pleaded.

“Can’t you see I have to do this?” Davi said, as tears ran down her cheeks. He hurt for her. He raised his arms and she rushed into his embrace. He stayed there holding her awhile.

***

Xalivar watched the Royal Shuttle depart with Davi aboard from his private quarters. How could he have been so blind? He’d forgotten all about the decree! He’d forgotten all about the nightmares which kept him awake, night after night. He’d never given much credence to dreams, but after his scientists had reported an increase in male births on Vertullis, Xalivar issued a decree and sent his Special Police squads to destroy all first-born males. They’d seemed so real to him then, but twenty-one years had passed. No one had arisen to challenge him in the decade that followed. He’d ultimately come to believe the dreams had been nonsense, but now…

How could he have been so wrong? He would do whatever it took to protect the Alliance. He loved the boy, but love wasn’t enough sometimes. Davi would have to be watched, although he didn’t want him harmed. Not yet. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but he was prepared to do what was necessary. Miri would object, of course, but neither she nor her son really grasped what was at stake. Anyone was expendable if they rebelled. It couldn’t be tolerated.

The Council was scheduled to meet that afternoon, and he knew what must be done. He had to keep Davi close, and he had the perfect means right under his nose. Funny, he’d almost failed to see that, too. He’d been all ready to order Davi back to Plutonis. I must be growing weary. I need to get more rest. I have to stay on top of such things. He smiled. Yes, it was the perfect plan. So perfect, it would almost seem like a natural course of events beyond even Xalivar’s control.

 

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook  · Publication: October 4, 2011  · Diminished Media Group
Available now for 20% off on preorders!!!

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The Worker Prince: Book 1 In The Saga of Davi Rhii

Review: Star Wars-The Old Republic: Deceived by Paul S. Kemp

For me, Star Wars books are often like comfort food — familiar, not overly surprising, but good, an enjoyable way to pass the time. So when I scheduled Paul Kemp for my interview chat, I was surprised to learn his Star Wars books didn’t include those familiar characters I’d grown to love–the characters who made me fall in love with science fiction, made me want to tell stories. But Paul Kemp wrote a Star Wars book (three now in fact), and we’re close in age, so I wanted to commiserate. He must have viewed the saga at the same age I did with similar awe. What was it like to now be a part of that universe as a storyteller? So I ordered up some reading copies and read.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself engaged, even captivated by the characters. Kemp’s ability to create immediate connections between characters and readers is admirable. He had me at “hello,” you might say. And like a stalker, he never let me go, but in a good way. Even the antagonist, Darth Malgus is someone you can’t help but feel sympathy for. He’s relatable. He may be evil and dark and hateful, but he’s human, just like the reader. And Kemp brings that out so well you almost root for him at times against the protagonists. That’s great writing.

Like most Star Wars tie-ins the prose is kept simple, a few challenging words here and there, but not many. After all, these books are intended to be accessible for fans of all ages. And that requires talent, too. When the competition are sometimes books with extra effort at complex prose, to have written a book written simply but well which engages adults as well as children is a real accomplishment. One to be proud of.

I can’t wait to chat with Paul and find out more about his writing journey, to soak up the lessons he has to teach us about writing, and to call him my friend. He tells me his assignment was to do a story with Darth Malgus, a character from the forthcoming online multi-player game “The Old Republic.” He wrote a Malgus story with spades.

The book revolves around three central characters, the dark Sith Malgus, a rogue Jedi Aryn, and a pilot Zeerid. Malgus wants to conquer the universe for the Sith and rid them forever of the Jedi menace. Aryn wants revenge for the death of her mentor/father-figure at Malgus’ hands. Zeerid, an old friend of Aryn’s, is just trying to pay off a debt and provide artificial legs for his young daughter. Each of them gets sucked in by circumstance to a web of deception–both internal and external to themselves–and struggles to accomplish their goal. All of them wind up taking paths far different than they’d imagined in doing so. And all of them learn lessons that forever change them in the process.

Filled with action and moving at a steady clip, “Deceived” even includes a cute astromech droid character, who may remind us of ancestors to come. It has romance, betrayal, political intrigue, and rivalry. It’s a well told tale that could be set in any universe but works exceedingly well in the confines of the familiar Star Wars one. Truly these are characters worth discovering and enjoying. I’d like to see more of each of them.

I can’t wait to read more from Kemp. Highly recommended.

Space Opera: The Junction Between Worlds

Guest Post by John H. Ginsberg-Stevens

“But there was little sense, in criticism and reviewing of the fifties, of ‘space opera’ meaning anything other then ‘hacky, grinding, stinking, outworn’ SF stories of any kind” – Kathryn Cramer & David G. Hartwell, The Space Opera Renaissance (pp.11-12).
“Space Opera” always sounds so majestic when you first hear the term used. It conjures up a Wagnerian aesthetic, a vast, significant drama about to unfold. It evokes a grand canvas of interstellar wonders, of great empires and uncountable fleets clashing for the greatest prize: the galaxy itself! And then, you go to WIkipedia:
“Space opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The name has no relation to music; it is analogous to soap operas . . . . “- Wikipedia entry for “Space Opera.”
Well, heck. Space opera, while sometimes a magnificent, even ostentatious form of SF, is not the literary equivalent of “an extended, dramatic composition”(as dictionary.com puts it); in fact, its name signifies a past of pulpish adventures, base entertainments, and corny characters and ideas. 
But this is as much of a stereotype as the former idea. As Kramer and Hartwell also make clear, there is no widely-accepted idea of space opera. Like a lot of genres, it is something that we recognize, rather than delimit. Space operas may be “space fantasy,” but there can also have rigorous science behind them. Of course, even when grounded in science, space operas are rather fantastical. Even the most logical novum is overwhelmed by the combination of high and low drama that the stories contain. And, for me, the key element of space opera is drama, in space, of course. It is the transposition of two very human sorts of story, the epic and the romance (in the classical sense) into the vastness beyond our humble little planet.
The first SF book I ever read was space opera. When I was about 5 years old I was looking through some books at a yard sale, bored to death of Little Golden Books, Dick & Jane, and even Classics Illustrated comics (I had started reading when I was 3). I saw some paperbacks but they had pictures of swooning women, frowning men in suits, or bucolic scenes that were about as thrilling as watching a tree grow. But then, I found something that I had not seen before: a book with a rocket ship on the cover! It was expensive ($2!) but I convinced my father to buy it, and I brought it home and read it over the weekend, twice.
I have only two clear memories of the book: Jerry’s constant need to overcome a string of obstacles, and the small rock hitting their ship. But it inspired me to find more books like it. The adventure was a draw, but so was the combination of drama and different worlds. It was not just the future that was compelling, it was the place, the venturing out to unearthly realms. The aliens may not have been terribly alien, but the otherness of the setting made the adventures more consequential to me.
I eventually abandoned westerns and dove into SF. I soon found that I liked certain types of books: I favored Heinlein over Asimov, Burroughs over Smith, Reynolds over Clarke. The big ideas were cool, but what made the stories compelling to me were the effects on regular people. Heinlein’s juveniles were as much about coming-of-age and finding your way as they were about technology and galactic wonders. Burroughs’ books, while more planetary romance, and Reynolds more socially-oriented works wedded high and low drama together. That fusion was what drew me to space opera, the mixture of (sometimes bombastic) epicness and (sometimes melodramatic) prosaic in the stories. My heroes were Bill Lermer, Podkayne, Rex Bader, and Tars Tarkas.
A few years after discovering SF I was pulled away from it by my family. When I started high school years later I picked right up back and read more Heinlein, Niven, Cherryh, Poul Anderson. I exhausted my tiny school library’s resources, which turned out to be a good thing, because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and, with the assistance of an SF-loving teacher, I branched out and discovered the scope of not only SF, but all sorts of fantastika. But I still sought out stories like those I had looked for in space opera, what we nowadays call “character-driven” tales. I credit my early discovery of space opera with inculcating that proclivity in my reading habits, of the need to know how even the most cosmic,massive events affected regular folks.
That to me is the value of good space opera: thrusting average people into extraordinary situations in a world that might be possible someday. That fusion of spectacle and a good yarn was an excellent basis for becoming a good reader, and eventually a writer. Space opera taught me a few things about life, but more than that, it taught about how to look at life, to appreciate the great and the mundane and how they interacted with each other. Despite the roots of the word, space opera not only entertained me, but got me to appreciate the juncture between the marvels that could be and the people we are.
John H. Ginsberg-Stevens blogs at http://eruditeogre.blogspot.com/ is my writing blog. A frequent columnist for Apex, SF Signal and other sites, he’s a writer, husband, Da, ponderer, anthropologist, geek, bibliophile, bookmonger, anarchist, and generally cranky malcontent.