I am overdue letting you all know about what I have in the works. This is partially because plans are still somewhat fluid, but also because I have been waiting until I knew more to share it. I think the time has come.
I have had several novels on the traditional submission pool for the past four years and while they get positive praise for their writing quality and page turning elements, publishers keep turning them down because they don’t know how to market them. Meanwhile, I continue to struggle financially and mentally with the frustration of seeing my career stalled.
Starting in October and November, I am going to begin self-publishing at least two, maybe three, novel series at a rate of one book every four months. These books will be available through a small imprint (still being determined if it is mine or an established small press) in both print and ebook and online via Amazon and other outlets.
So far, the blurbs and reviews are overwhelmingly positive for the first book: SIMON SAYS, which launches my John Simon procedural thrillers about a tough, Luddite Kansas City cop who’s forced to team with a humanoid android to solve his partners murder. Together they uncover a conspiracy that stretches across the ocean and deep within the KCPD itself. I describe it as Asimov’s City of Steel meets Connelly’s Bosch meets Lethal Weapon.
SIMON SAYS will be out October 15th from Boralis Books in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook. A sequel, THE SIDEMAN, will follow next February.
Also releasing this month is my next entry in the INFINITE STARS: Definitive Space Opera And Military Science Fiction anthology series from Titan Books.
INFINITE STARS: DARK FRONTIERS contains a mix of new and reprint stories by George R.R. Martin, Becky Chambers (a new Wayfarers tale), Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Jack Campbell (a new Lost Fleet tale), Tanya Huff (a new Confederation tale), Seanan McGuire, Olson Scott Card (a new Ender tale), Neal Asher, David Weber, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (a new Liaden tale), E.E. “Doc” Smith, Kevin J. Anderson (a new Seven Suns tale), Susan R. Matthews, Brenda Cooper, Curtis Chin (a new Kangaroo tale), Larry Niven & Steven Barnes (a new Dream Park tale), CJ Cherryh, David Farland, Weston Ochse (a new Grunt tale), Mike Shepherd (a new Kris Longknife tale), CL. Moore, Gardner Dozois, James Blish, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Alan Dean Foster. The new stories in existing popular series are noted.
INFINITE STARS: DARK FRONTIERS releases in hardcover and ebook on November 6, 2019 wherever books are sold.
That’s it for 2019, but as mentioned, more to come throughout 2020 starting in February. I hope you will put them on your shopping lists.
“RAYGUN CHRONICLES breathes supercharged life into the space opera genre with exciting and inventive new tales by a superb line-up of writers. This is why science fiction will live forever!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO.
“RAYGUN CHRONICLES is an impressive anthology with an impressive list of contributors, a real showcase of the color and scope of what science fiction can be.”—Kevin J. Anderson, New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Seven Suns
“Wonder, adventure, romance, humor–space opera delivers all of these, and this anthology brings together some of the finest talent in the business. Strange new worlds await. So lower your shields, engage your thrusters, and prepare to jump to warp speed!” — Dave Wolverton, New York Times Bestselling author of Star Wars: The Courtship of Prince Leia
“These stories bring the reader back to the days when we dreamt of blasters and flying cars. Golden age space opera fun with a strong Western feel.” — Alex Shvartsman, Editor Unidentified Funny Objects and Official Ken Liu Hugo bearer
Now I just have been mailing out review copies for Raygun Chronicles. It takes a while, but those efforts for Beyond The Sunhave landed us two major reviews and a major podcast appearance this month. The two major reviews are out this week in LOCUS’ October 2013 issue which is THE industry zine and thus a huge boost for us. These are also my first Locus reviews EVER. The first comes from Gardner Dozois, year’s best editor, award winning anthologist and writer:
There’s nothing really exceptional in Beyond the Sun, a mixed original/reprint anthology edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, but it is a fun read, with some solid core SF work, although a similar concept was explored better last year by Jonathan Strahan’s Edge of Infinity. The theme appeals to me, as stories of exploration and adventure in space beyond the bounds of Earth remain one of the foundation stones of SF, but don’t expect to find hard science and rigorously worked-out physics here, as this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, it belongs to the old Pulp Adventure school, where spaceships flit between planets in days and sometimes even hours, and there are lots of exotic alien races to interact with and/or battle with. The best of the original stories here is probably Nancy Kress’s ‘‘Migration’’, a compelling look at the power instinct can hold over even the most rational minds, but also good are Brad R. Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’, Jaleta Clegg’s ‘‘One-Way Ticket to Paradise’’, and Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar Of Brightness’’. There is also solid work by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Cat Rambo, Mike Resnick, and others, as well as good reprint stories by Robert Silverberg and Jason Sanford.
Also from October Locus, Karen Burnham reviews BEYOND THE SUN for Diverse Hands:
KAREN BURNHAM Beyond the Sun, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, ed. (Fairwood Press 978-1-933846-38-5, $17.99, 296pp, tp), August 2013. Cover by Mitchell Davidson Bentley. [Order from Fairwood Press, <www.fairwoodpress.com>.]
There are many reasons people may want to settle out beyond our solar system: religious freedom, economic opportunity, exploration, contacting other life, or simply the desire to be left alone. A little bit of all of these can be found in Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s broadly themed anthology Beyond The Sun. There are aliens, religious fanatics, soldiers, and plenty of people just trying to get by in this diverse volume.
One story about going to the stars in search of a simpler life is ‘‘Respite’’ by Autumn Rachel Dryden. In it a more-or-less Puritan couple are trying to reach the main settlement by wagon while the wife is in labor and the local fauna is about to launch into a feeding frenzy. Ann’s internal perspectives on events gives us a wonderfully dry take on a very tense story, and the troubles between her and her husband are deftly sketched. What I found particularly interesting is that the story ends up admiring a particular view of father- hood that is directly critiqued in the anthology’s strong opening story, ‘‘Flipping the Switch’’ by Jamie Todd Rubin. Rubin uses a trope similar to Joe Haldeman’s classic The Forever War to describe a father who is providing for his family but is fundamentally detached from them. The story effectively portrays the increasing tension the man feels as he drifts farther and farther away from his loved ones.
Returning to religious themes, Jean Johnson’s ‘‘Parker’s Paradise’’ depicts a colony that’s been vastly oversold by its religious leader; the acerbic perspective of a soldier tasked to protect the first contact group makes me want to go read some of her military SF, because this was hilarious. Jason Sanford’s ‘‘Rumspringa’’ gives us the space Amish, with a team of post-humans looking to manipulate an Amish colony through one of their own that went out into the world and came back. ‘‘The Far Side of the Wilderness’’ by Alex Shvartsman depicts a man driven by religious faith to hijack a ship and try to find Earth; his single-minded pursuit leaves him dissatisfied with a most amazing journey. Maurice Broaddus’s ‘‘Voice of the Martyrs’’ gives us an interesting blend of military, religion, and colonization – no easy answers in this one.
There’s one final story that features a religious colony: ‘‘The Dybbyk of Mazel Tov IV’’ by Robert Silverberg. Unlike most of the stories, which are original to the anthology (there are two other reprints, both from the 2000’s), this is a reprint from 1973. This is the second anthology I’ve read this year that has done this: taking a solid selection of contemporary stories and adding in a cherry-picked story from many decades past. Inevitably, the reprint by an old master (it was a Le Guin story the last time, I recall) blows the others away. Robert Silverberg’s story seems fresher, livelier, and more three dimensional than so many of the stories here – not that any of them are bad, but simply that they don’t get over a bar set that high. Some of them do; I would put Rubin’s story in that category along with Cat Rambo’s ‘‘Elsewhere, Within, Elsewhen’’ (a lovely tale of alien contact that literalizes the metaphor of being trapped in a shell of bitterness and resentment). But it really seems unfair to most of the authors involved. I understand the incredible temptation when you’re offered a Silverberg or Le Guin reprint that perfectly suits your theme, but in a mostly-original anthology I wish the editors would stop and reconsider.
That said, there are plenty of solid and enjoyable stories here. Various forms of libertarianism feature in Nancy Kress’ ‘‘Migration’’ and Brad Torgersen’s ‘‘The Bricks of Eta Cassiopeiae’’. Massive miscommunications with and about aliens feature in Simon C. Larter’s ‘‘Inner Sphere Blues’’ and Jennifer Brozek’s ‘‘Dust Angels’’. Jumping to conclusions is ill-advised in Nancy Fulda’s ‘‘A Soaring Pillar of Brightness’’. Luckily, aliens can be just as quick to misjudge a situation when Mike Resnick depicts them examining our television broadcasts in the concluding story ‘‘Observation Post’’.
Overall, this is a collection of solid stories in the somewhat neglected outer space exploration genre of science fiction. Post-humans are rare and garden variety humans occupy center stage, which feels a bit unusual these days. I worry that it seems that aliens in this volume are so difficult to communicate with: it often takes personal sacrifice to do so, or something improbably hand-waving to do with biology and telepathy. Compared to Silverberg’s 1973 story, in which communication with aliens is not terribly more fraught than communication with a rival human religious sect, this anthology seems a little discouraging about the real potential for relating to and communicating meaningfully with the Other.
Nonetheless, these are enjoyable tales with serious themes, worth the time spent reading them.
Space Battles is a collection of 17 different short stories centered on, you guessed it, space battles. They each have their own unique way of displaying a battle and include anything from one-on-one gun fights, to dogfights between single ships, to even full scale assaults on battle cruisers. Space Battles has a good mix of female and male characters, and generally speaking the women kick even more tail than their male counterparts, a refreshing thing to see especially in this genre. In Space Battles you will find mixtures of humor, a wide variety of sub-genres such as Space Opera and Military Science Fiction, as well as all the action you can handle and more. You will find sentient spacecrafts and Amish space truckers, that’s right I said Amish which are shown in a way you could never imagine! There is a little something in Space Battles for everyone.The character depth is excellent despite the fact that the average length of the stories is about 15 pages or so, quite an achievement when you consider that they have to pack these short stories with as much action as you can handle as well. You have some stories that will make you laugh such as The Thirteens by Gene Mederos where a particular incident involving slippers had me in a fit of giggles. Others will make you appreciate those in the military as admirals valiantly fight to save their ship, and their way of life such as in Like So Much Refuse by Simon C. Larter. Some examine the will to live and the will to die such as in Never Look Back by Grace Bridges. I was hardly able to set the book down as each new story sent adrenaline into my system.
If you enjoy anything in the realm of science fiction this is a book I highly recommend you go out and get. The writing is excellent and if battles themselves are your thing, regardless of genre, than this book will suit your fancy just fine as well. Honestly if you just want some quick reads that are done very well Space Battles is a good choice. The characters do not suffer for the short length of the stories, even in Bait and Switch by Jaleta Clegg which is a mere eight pages! Obviously if you have read this far you can tell I thoroughly enjoyed Space Battles. I really don’t have any complaints.
“Ever since I was a child, I’ve dreamed about exploring the stars. What’s out there? What strange planets and beings might we encounter?” Schmidt said. As he watched NASA’s budget downsized and space travel, at least in the United States, get turned over to private enterprise, he recalled sitting on his grandmother’s lap as a child and looking at scrapbooks she’d kept of all the NASA clippings. “We used to dream together, to imagine. It fascinated both of us, and it was so fun to just speculate about what it might all mean or bring about.”
Space colonization has been a popular topic for science fiction writers. From Orson Scott Card’s Enderand Shadow series to Frank Herbert’s Dune and more, authors have written millions of words imagining the possibilities. Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars series), Allan Steele (Coyote series), Robert Silverberg (Majipoorseries), Mike Resnick (Kirinyaga and Chronicles Of A Distant World series), and many more novels and stories have been inspired by the subject.
“I love the ideas people come up with, and I wanted a chance to fill the need left by NASA’s downsizing to inspire that sense of wonder in future and present generations,” Schmidt said.
Such was the inspiration for his anthology project Beyond The Sun. “Beyond The Sun is going to feature stories by some amazing legendary science fiction writers, some established writers and some new writers on the subject,” he says. His headliners are all Hugo and Nebula winners: Robert Silverberg, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Mike Resnick and Nancy Kress. All have written novels and stories on the topic before and look forward to exploring it further. Joining them are familiar names such as Cat Rambo, Jason Sanford, Jennifer Brozek, Brad R. Torgersen, Jean Johnson, Erin Hoffman, Jamie Todd Rubin and Guy Anthony DeMarco.
“The writers included are some of my writing heroes and good friends,” Schmidt says. “It’s a thrill to have the participation of such notables as well as giving new writers the opportunity get more exposure for their own work by appearing alongside others with such respected reputations. Plus, you can just tell from the list of names how amazing the anthology is going to be!”
Just between them, the four headliners have 12 Hugo Awards, 5 Nebulas and a slew of other awards. Several other invitees have nominations and awards as well. Schmidt has even lined upaward-winning artist Mitchell Davidson Bentley to do the cover as well as several experienced and up and coming artists to add images for the stories themselves. “It’s rare these days to have artwork inside books, but I think it inspires the imagination,” Schmidt says. “I know that, as a writer, it’s intriguing to see what artists get as inspiration from my own work.” With the project aimed at being family friendly and applicable for educational use, Schmidt also thinks this will add value and interest.
“What better way to get future generations not only reading but excited about science and science fiction than by creating something teachers can use as a resource to stimulate dialogue, discussion, and imagination?” Schmidt explains. “I would have loved to get to read something like this for class as a kid. And I hear from teachers and parents how much they wish they had more quality stories with age appropriate content they could share with their kids.”
Schmidt’s previous anthology as editor, Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales 6, which also featured stories by several authors involved with Beyond The Sun, including a headline story by Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, has garnered positive reviews and steady sales. Schmidt says, “That publisher has been very supportive, but most small presses struggle to find the money to pay writers pro-rates for stories. On top of that to pay artists and editors. With the Kickstarter, we can package those costs in advance and allow the publisher to put their resources into producing a really good quality, edited, copyedited and laid out final product. Several small presses have already expressed interest. But the project has to happen first.”
If all goes well, Beyond The Sun will be released in late Spring 2013 and available at all major online retailers as well as local bookstores. A number of great incentives from signed art to signed books and even personalized thanks yous and tuckerized names are available to backers via the Kickstarter.
“Mostly I’m doing this because I love the concept and I love helping and working with other writers,” Schmidt says. “What better way than to offer them a great concept and good pay to do what they love?”
Slated to include 20 stories, only 3 of which would be reprints, backing Beyond The Sun is possible through October 17th at the project’s Kickstarter Page, which includes a project video and regular updates. A native of Salina, current resident of Ottawa, and former resident of Kansas City and Olathe, Schmidt is an active convention speaker and instructor. He has had four books published in print and several in ebook as well as short stories featured in magazines and online, all in the last two years. A freelance editor, he regularly edits books and stories for small presses and authors. He also is a regular contributor to blogs at Hugo winning www.sfsignal.com, www.adventuresinsfpublishing.com, www.tobereadbooks.com and www.graspingforthewind.com as well as running his own blog and hosting the live Twitter interview series SFFWRTCHT (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET. More information can be found on Schmidt’s blog here. And you can also find him onFacebook or follow him on Twitter. He can be contacted at 314-781-9120.
Welcome to the Beyond The Sun Anthology Project. Launched Monday, September 17, 2012 at Kickstarter! It ends Wednesday October 17, and we have some sneak peeks at artwork stories and even one more big name headliner coming if everything goes well! Please join us!
This is a labor of love for myself and a bunch of fellow dreamers, including Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, and Nancy Kress, our headliners, along with up and comers like Jason Sanford, Jamie Todd Rubin, Autumn Rachel Dryden and more. Submissions are coming from people like Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Matthew Cook, Brad R. Torgersen, etc. All the details can be found on this video and at the Kickstarter. The mock cover by artist Mitch Bentley is looking pretty cool, too!
Check back here for regular updates!
Beyond The Sun
Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Assistant Editor: Sarah Chorn
Colonists take to the stars to discover new planets, new sentient beings, and build new lives for themselves and their families. Some travel years to find their destination, while others travel a year or less. Some discover a planet that just might be paradise, while others find nothing but unwelcoming aliens and terrain. It’s not just a struggle for territory but a struggle for understanding as cultures clash, disasters occur, danger lurks and lives are at risk.
20 stories of space colonists by both leading and up and coming science fiction writers of today. Mike Resnick revisits the Hugo, Nebula and Homer winning universe of his Africa stories. Grandmaster Robert Silverberg examines Jews who left the contention of a wartorn holyland to settle on their own planet when faced with a dybbuk (spirit) and asking whether aliens can be allowed to convert to Judaism. Autumn Rachel Dryden has colonists threatened by alien animals which burst out of shells on the ground like piranhas ready to feed on flesh. Jason Sanford has Amish colonists on New Amsterdam finding their settlement and way of life threatened by a comet and the English settlers who want to evacuate them. And a new story from Hugo and Nebula-winner Nancy Kress. A fourth big name female headliner has agreed to come aboard when we reach funding.
These and 15 other writers join author-editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt for tales of action, humor, and adventure amongst the stars.
Length: approximately 92,000 words
Estimated Date of Publication: Summer 2013
Like most of my work, this anthology will be family friendly in focus. I want it to be something people of all ages can read, enjoy and discuss. Remember when space exploration filled you with awe? Do you remember sitting around dreaming about what it might be like if you too could go to the stars? That’s the sense I’d like to capture with these stories. I’m deliberately choosing writers with diverse backgrounds, interests and styles with the hopes of getting a diverse selection still united around a common theme.
Authors invited to submit: Hugo and Nebula nominee Brad R. Torgersen, Jean Johnson writing in her Philip K. Dick Award nominated novel universe, Jamie Todd Rubin, Cat Rambo, Jennifer Brozek, Matthew Cook, Erin Hoffman, Jason Sanford, Patrick Hester, Sarah Hendrix, Anthony R. Cardno, Johne Cook, Simon C. Larter, Grace Bridges, Jaleta Clegg, Anna Paradox, Gene Mederos, Dana Bell, Anne-Mhairi Simpson, Selene O’Rourke, Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Autumn Rachel Dryden and Robert Silverberg.
Bryan Thomas Schmidt is an author and editor of adult and children’s speculative fiction. His debut novel, The Worker Prince(2011) received Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble Book Club’s Year’s Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011. A sequel The Returning followed in 2012 and The Exodus will appear in 2013, completing the space opera Saga Of Davi Rhii. His first children’s books, 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Books For Kids (ebook only) and Abraham Lincoln: Dinosaur Hunter- Lost In A Land Of Legends (forthcoming) appeared from Delabarre Publishing in 2012. His short stories have appeared in magazines, anthologies and online. He edited the anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 (2012) and is working on World Encounters and Space & Shadows: SpecNoir with coeditor John Helfers and developing another project with co-editor Rich Horton, both forthcoming. He hosts #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Chat) Wednesdays at 9 pm ET on Twitter and is an affiliate member of the SFWA.
The final profile in our ongoing series features Jaleta Clegg. Jaleta set her Space Battles tale in the world of her eleven novel series, which started with Nexus Point and continues soon in Priestess Of The Eggstone. With a science degree and a day job as a science teacher, including helping run Space Camps, author/editor Jaleta Clegg seems uniquely qualified to write science fiction. Her short stories can be found in publications like Abandoned Towers and Bewildering Stories magazines and anthologies like How The West Was Wicked, The Last Man Anthology and Wretched Moments and in the zine Tales Of The Talisman, edited by co-Space Battles contributor David Lee Summers. An active social media user, she can be found on Twitter as @jaleta_clegg, on Facebook and through her website/blog atwww.jaletac.com. Information on her novels can be found at www.nexuspoint.info. She’s coeditor with Frances Pauli of Hall Brothers Entertainment’s forthcoming anthology Wandering Weeds: Tales of Rabid Vegetation wherein her own story will once again play lead in to a story by myself as it does in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6.
BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?
Jaleta Clegg: I saw the call for subs and thought, “I love space battles. I need to write one.” I had a great idea, too, that just needed some time to finish fermenting so I could write it.
BTS: This is not your first anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “Bait & Switch.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?
JC: Oh, no, definitely not my first. I’ve got over twenty different short stories in anthologies all over the place that have come out in the last two years. Most of them are silly horror. Writing those keeps my inner demons quiet. Writing the SF and Fantasy shorts keeps my inner geek happy. The full list is on my website: www.jaletac.com
The main character in “Bait & Switch” is a cadet named Tayvis. He features prominently in my SF adventure series. I thought it would be great fun to peek into his past and find out a bit more about him. In the story, he’s a cadet on his first training flight. He gets sent to the gunnery section as an observer. When the ship is attacked and the point gunner knocked out, Tayvis takes his place even though he’s had almost no training.
BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?
JC: I’ve always loved stories. I taught myself to read when I was four. This leads naturally to wanting to tell my own stories. I didn’t actually finish anything until years later. We had just moved to a new neighborhood, it was early summer, I had four kids ages 2-7, and I knew no one. I wrote my first novel out of desperation. It snowballed from there. Or I could say that I finally found an outlet for the voices in my head. If I let them play on paper, they don’t bother me as much.
BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?
JC: Definitely. The universe is a very large place. I’ve got lots of story ideas and lots of characters to play with.
BTS: You have a novel series with the first book out from Cyberwizard. Tell us about that, please?
JC:Nexus Point (www.nexuspoint.info) is my first published novel. It’s set in the same universe as “Bait & Switch”. Tayvis is an undercover Patrol agent on a low-tech world looking for drug smugglers. He finds Dace instead. She’s not what he expected. The book is told from her point of view, though. He’s not what she expected either. Yes, there is a teensy bit of romance in the book, but also lots of explosions and fights and chase scenes and action.
BTS: How’d that idea come about?
JC: I had several story ideas I wanted to play with and in a stroke of genius or insanity, realized they were all about the same character – Dace. I started writing one, realized it was book three, backtracked to write the other two, and watched the storyline change. Tayvis was originally supposed to be a throw-away character in the first book. I’m glad he stuck around for the rest of them.
BTS: How many books are planned for the series?
JC: I’ve got eleven books written. I don’t think there will be more about these characters. Once you save the universe, there isn’t much story left to tell.
BTS: When do you expect more books to come out?
JC: I recently signed a contract with Journalstone for the next book – Priestess of the Eggstone. It is tentatively scheduled to be released in August 2012. I loved working with Cyberwizard, but the economy caused a lot of things to change. Cyberwizard is still publishing, but they had to cut their list of pending manuscripts. I’m very happy Journalstone has offered me a contract. We haven’t discussed the rest of the series, but it’s definitely on the table for the future.
BTS: You also edited your first anthology, Wandering Weeds. Tell us about that and when it is expected to be released.
JC: My hat is off to any editor who tackles anthologies. It’s hard work! Writing rejection letters was very difficult. I know how bad it can sting to get one. But, we couldn’t take all the stories that were submitted. The ones we have are fantastic. I’m excited to see this project come together. The idea came from a writing challenge in our writers’ group. Someone mentioned tumbleweeds, someone else mentioned radiation, and the idea of mutant tumbleweeds was born. We wrote stories, loved them, but had no idea where to submit them. So we decided to put together an anthology. Hall Brothers Entertainment is publishing it for us. We’re just about ready to send them the files. I can give you a sneak peek at the cover. Wandering Weeds: Tales of Rabid Vegetation should hit the shelves sometime late this spring.
BTS: Where’d your love of SF come from?
JC: I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky. Astronomy is one of my loves. When I discovered that people wrote books about space and aliens, I was head-over-heels. I remember reading a much-battered copy of The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet when I was eight, A Wrinkle in Time when I was nine, and my first Andre Norton when I was ten. I devoured all the books by Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Niven, and any others I could find. I’m still looking for copies of Jack L. Chalker’s Well of Souls series. I want to read them again. Watching Star Trek whenever my dad wasn’t making me weed our enormous garden also helped fuel my love of space. But, confession time, it was always Scotty and Chekov for me. I saw Star Wars when I was twelve. I wanted my own Millenium Falcon so bad it hurt. I still do. I’ve got a Wookie, now I just need a starship.
BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
JC: I’m up to my elbows in steampunk fairyland elves right now, working on a new novel. We’ll see where that one goes. I’ve also got a lot more silly horror short stories cooking. And some dabbling in other genres. I’ve got more story ideas than I have time. I’m playing with the idea of opening an etsy store to adopt my cutesy cthulhu items. I’ve got crocheted cthulhu toilet paper cozies and Sunbonnet Cthulhu pillows, based on an old applique quilt pattern. There’s always something to keep me busy.
Thanks so much, Bryan, for letting me stop by the blog. And thanks for the opportunity to be part of Space Battles. From what I’ve read, it’s a great collection of stories. With lots of explosions. My kind of chick lit.
Speaking of chick lit, here’s an excerpt from Jaleta’s decidedly non-chick lit Space Battles story “Bait & Switch”:
Bait and Switch
“Buckle up, kids, battle drill time.” Lonnis flipped his station to live. The lights in the tiny room glowed red.
Tayvis fumbled with the restraint in the jump seat next to the door, excitement making his hands shake. Cadets rarely got the chance to see the weapons in action on a Patrol cruiser. Lonnis sat to his right, straddling the control console, both hands seated in the gloves that controlled the ship’s weapons. Tish, his spotter, sat to his left, her face green in the glow of her targeting screens.
Lonnis rolled his shoulders, settling into his controls. “Watch closely, kid. This is more complicated than those simulators. No matter how good the programming is, it will never match the real thing. Comm, port forward is live.”
“Target-firing commencing in five.” Hedrik, the voice of comm control, crackled from the speakers.
“Let’s break our old records,” Lonnis said as the screens came alive with multi-colored traces.
Tayvis tried to keep track of the screens. Each object near them appeared on Tish’s screens. She marked targets with red, other objects turned gray under her rapid touches. Colored lines spread from each target, green for projected course, blue for last known heading. Lonnis twisted, firing weapons at the targets. Lights flickered and died across his screen, replaced by new targets, new tracings. Their ship position and heading, thruster settings, and other information scrolled across the bottom of his screen.
The tracings disappeared. No new ones replaced those eliminated.
Lonnis’ screen flashed once as the last target disappeared. He slipped
his hands from the control gloves. “Targets eliminated. Port forward,
locked.” His hands flipped the safety switches on. The control screens
faded to silver, the lights changed from red to normal. “How’s my
“You’re getting slow, old man. Three point four seconds longer
than your record.”
Lonnis grinned. “That’s because you reprogrammed the spinners
again. I wasn’t expecting that sharp spiral.”
“Keeps you on your toes, Lonnis. You’re buying the drinks next
port. Comm out.”
Lonnis stretched his arms over his head. “We should work on the
projected courses. You were off your mark today, Tish.”
“Right, blame me because you can’t shoot straight.” Tish unbuckled
her restraint. “Not as exciting as you thought, Tayvis? Real battle is
“It’s a game of prediction and anticipation,” Lonnis said. “You
figure out where the target will be and lay down a trap. Mines and
“Pulse beams are better,” Tayvis answered. “Mines and missiles
can be detected and detonated by counter-measures.”
“True, but not if you place them right. If you fire a pulse beam
inside your shields, the energy reflects back and blows your own ship
to kingdom come. You have to leave the weapon port outside the field,
making it vulnerable. Pulse beams are for close range combat only. Or
for salvage work.” Lonnis leaned on the doorframe. “Mines and missiles
are more effective and safer for distance combat between ships.
Of course, whether you hit them or not depends on the skill of your
Tish leaned back in her seat, crossing her long legs. “I’m the best
and you know it, Lonnis.”
Lonnis dropped his hand to Tayvis’ shoulder. “You’ll be a decent
point someday, if you can get past the theory. That’s what the Patrol
Academy is good for, beating the nonsense out of you before you get
The lights blinked red, on and off before settling on a steady glow.
An alarm shrilled.
“Proximity alert,” Tish said, flipping her screens on. “Incoming
“Another drill?” Lonnis reached for his controls.
The ship rocked. Smoke and explosions filled the air. The door
to the gunnery pod slammed shut as more alarms sounded. Tayvis
gripped the restraints as the ship’s gravity field flickered off. Lonnis
slammed into the doorframe.
“This isn’t a drill.” Tish tapped rapidly on her screen, scanning for
information. “Lonnis, we’re under attack. Lonnis?”
“He’s out,” Tayvis said, checking the older man for a pulse. Blood
trickled through Lonnis’ white hair.
Another round of projectiles slammed into the ship. Smoke poured
through the air vents.
“Central comm!” Tish hit buttons. “Nobody’s answering.
Nobody’s shooting back. I’ve got a ship out there, and more missiles
incoming. Three minutes to impact, unless someone does something.”
She waved at the gunner’s seat. “There’s a comm link to the bridge.
Tayvis rose to his feet. Half the systems in the pod were dark, unresponsive,
but the gunner’s seat still showed lights. Observe only, the
captain had said. Was this a test?
“The red button to your left. Press it.” Tish tapped her screens, then
swore. “We’re rotating. I lost the ship. Starboard Aft, you hear me?”
Tayvis flexed his hands. He’d never touched a live station before.
Would they have staged real smoke and blood for a drill?
Tish slammed her fist into the side of the weapons screen. “Hey,
stupid. Get the bridge on the line, now!”
It wasn’t live weapons, it was only a comm button. Tayvis slid
into the seat, straddling the controls. He tapped the red button. The
control gloves hung empty, inviting. He slid his hands inside. The firing
screen lit up.
Speakers crackled to life. “This is Hedrik. Port Forward, what is
“Lonnis is down, but the cadet and I are fine,” Tish answered.
“What’s going on?”
“Thank the stars someone is still down there. We got ambushed by
a Fellucian marauder. The shields are holding at thirty-seven percent.
“The other weapons stations? I picked up another salvo headed
our way before the ship drifted. I’m on the blind side now.”
“No one else is responding. The marauder knew just when to hit
us. End of drill and we had most of the systems resetting.”
Tish frowned. “Our weapons are still live.”
“We have no engines,” Hedrik answered. “We have thrusters, but
I don’t know how much good they’ll do us.”
Tayvis flexed his fingers in the gloves. Anticipation and prediction,
he could do this. “I can shoot.”
“Cadet, you are ordered to stand down.” Hedrik’s voice crackled
over the speakers. “You have no training or authorization to use those
“I’ve got enough, and you don’t have anyone else. Tish, can you
track those incoming missiles?”
“Cadet, stand down. That is a direct order.”
Tayvis punched the button, shutting off comm control.
Tish stared at Tayvis. She licked her lip, a dart of red tongue.
“We’re dead if we don’t do something.” Tayvis tapped the buttons at
the end of the gloves, mentally reviewing what weapons each released.
“Hedrik gave you a direct order.”
“The comm line must have cut out. I didn’t hear anything. Give
me targets, Tish.”
Tish tapped her screens. “We’re turning to face the ship. Targeting
systems online. Incoming missiles. Impact in thirty seconds.”
“Not if I can help it.” Tayvis released a cloud of reflective debris
on a trajectory to intercept the nearest.
“That will get the lead one, but miss the other two. Drop a few
mines on a starboard curve to pick those up. And do it soon or you
won’t catch them in time.”
Tayvis tapped the buttons in sequence, launching mines on a
curving course towards the two missiles.
“Mines to port, and more missiles.” Tish spoke in a clipped voice
devoid of emotion. “Painted red and gold.”
Colored dots sprang to life on his screens. He dropped more chaff
and several mines of his own, blue dots glittering on the screen. He
launched a shrapnel missile towards the enemy minefield, hoping to
detonate the mines.
“Let’s hope the bridge detects that one,” Tish said. “And changes
vectors before we blow ourselves up with our own missiles. I’ve got
the marauder targeted.”
A red dot, with a blue line tracing its last course and a green line
tracing its predicted course appeared on Tayvis’ screen.
“They’ll use the explosions as cover and change course. It’s what
I would do.” Tayvis flicked through his options.
“And you’re an expert now?”
He fired missiles at the ship. Think of it as a game and he wouldn’t
panic. “They’re moving into that radiation cloud so they can change
vectors without us detecting it.” He launched a salvo of mines to the
left of the nebula cloud, scattering them across the far edge.
Tish swore as she scanned for new targets. “You’re wasting mines.
We have a limited supply, cadet.”
“They’ll come out the way they went in.” Tayvis launched
“Is that what you think? They’re stupid if they come out the way
they went in, and their attack proves they aren’t stupid.”
The thrusters fired, the ship veered onto a new vector. The Fellucian
marauder screamed across the screen, almost close enough to touch.
“Mines!” Tish shouted as a new round of explosions rocked the Exeter. They grabbed their consoles as the ship shuddered and rolled.
The stream of damage reports across the bottom of his screen.
Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here.
One of the delights of editing an anthology is the chance to invite new writer friends whom you respect. Canadian writer Selene O’Rourke makes her published fiction debut in Space Battles with her story “Final Defense.” Selene lives in the great white north of Calgary, Canada, and is well connected with the Canadian Science Fiction community. She has several stories floating about and is in progress on a few novels as well. She is active on Twitter as @LenaOR but avoids Facebook like the plague. Don’t even ask. Below, we talk about her story, her writing, her projects and her future and then share an excerpt of her story.
BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?
Selene O’Rourke: It’s a little embarrassing, but the first time I knew any details about the anthology was when I received an invitation to submit from the editor. We’d had several conversations over Twitter, some of which discussed our shared writing experiences. A while later, there was this email in my inbox. I knew I had to submit something. When someone goes to the trouble to reach out, and extend an invitation, it’s not something to be readily refused (especially from a newer author on the scene!) The question, of course, was what to write for it…
BTS: This is your first sale, correct? Tell us a little about “Final Defense.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?
SO: I’m so pleased that Space Battles is my first sale! Every new landmark I reach is so encouraging. “Final Defense” is the story of how a lone military vessel is pulled away from patrol duties to face a formidable foe. Of course they’re going to need a little bit of help, which is where the miner Forent Nahn comes in. I don’t want to give too much away, but I have a few surprises waiting.
Identifying the ideas from a story is always a tricky part. For this one, it began with me racking my brain about the battle, and how I could do something unique enough to stand out, but not so far as to no longer fit. After thinking about it, I knew I wanted my protagonists to use Solar Sails as the primary means of propulsion. Then the trick became the story. It took me a bit of time, but I had two concepts that I had choose between: space miners, or pod people fighter “pilots.” Eventually I decided to combine the two ideas, and the Nacre space miner Forent Nahn was born. Once that decision was made, the story started coming together, and it was time to get words on the page.
BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?
SO: So…this guy I knew on Twitter invited me to– Wrong “start,” eh? Sorry about that. Seriously, writing’s been that bug that keeps coming back to me, even when I try to ignore it. When I was much younger, I wanted to be the next H. G. Wells or the next Asimov–so much so that my work was extremely derivative of those greats. Teachers kept encouraging me, (some in more obvious ways than others,) and I kept at it until we reached today’s point.
BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this story’s universe?
SO: Most of the short stories I write are generally intended as stand-alone works. That said, there’s enough of a backdrop in place that if the right opportunity came along, and the right kind of story came to mind, I could revisit the universe found in “Final Defense.”
BTS: Where’d your interest in SFF come from?
SO: I think I’d have to say it was a combination of factors. You start with a voracious young reader, surround her with the stories of classic Trek, Doctor Who, and Star Wars–some of it’s bound to rub off. As I grew older, my interest in science grew, especially computers. With that there was a bit of stigma, which pushed me even further into being a reader, and eventually, a writer. The Science Fiction side came easy. It took the combined efforts of the late Anne McCaffery, Monica Hughes, a certain Hobbit, and the Chicken Pox to kick me out of my Science Fiction only snobbery.
BTS: What are your writing goals? Career? Hobby? Novelist? Short story writer?
SO: I aim to make a career of writing Speculative Fiction. It’s a challenge I look forward to achieving, even if it takes a while. Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of teachers along the way. I started off as a novelist, but I seem to be doing more short work. The prophetic joke I heard when I joined my writers group (the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) was that they’d break me of being a “primarily a novelist.” I think they may have succeeded. (Even though I have about a half dozen novel ideas in various states floating around…)
BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
SO: I have several stories sitting in the hands of editors at the moment. I have my fingers crossed for them, but there’s nothing absolutely solid quite yet. In fact, a lot of my stories are looking for homes. It could be a story about two kinds of vampires on a space elevator, or the story of a blood sorceress whose skin becomes like steel. Or it could be my novel, looking at how Arthur C. Clarke was really right about Magic and Science being indistinguishable at certain levels of advancement. Or the urban fantasy journeys of a woman and her car. (Almost like an UF Knight Rider.) I’ve also opened discussions with a publisher about an anthology (or three) idea. You haven’t seen the last of me, coppers! Err…sorry. Eventually my inner mad scientist gets the better of me. It’s so early in my career, the possibilities are truly stellar.
Here’s an excerpt from “Final Defense”:
The emergency message indicator flashed at the helmsman.
The beleaguered Captain sighed before barking at the helm. “Tell those entitled ninnies to keep their comms to the proper channels! We need these frequencies for real emergencies, not their thrice-bedamned imagined crises.”
“Aye, Captain. Sending—”
The SWSS Symphony of the Spheres exploded in a brief corona of multi-colored light.
*** In Chatspace, Forent Nahn thought, no one can tell which branch of humanity you’re from: nacre or flesh. Minute adjustments of its sails kept the Chatspace signal strong as Forent let itself drift in the solar winds.
Forent pointed its laser-bearing arm toward a nearby asteroid and slic ed a mineral snack from the hunk of rock. It grasped the small rock in its dominant arm, clutching the stone firmly—perhaps too firmly—as one of the flesh chatters began to rant.
“We should’ve taken them to far orbit and jettisoned the blasted
pods. The things’re just a waste of our DNA.”
“Have you ever actually met a nacre, friend?” Forent tried to calm
the surge of adrenaline pulsing through its veins.
“I ain’t your friend, pod-lover. Don’t need to meet one to know
they’re ugly as sin.”
Ugly? Nahn thought, Fleshie’s never seen a nacre carapace scintillate in the sun, I’ll bet.
“Sub-human. Not a man in the bunch.”
Not a woman, either—the genetic engineers who made us figured brains in a pod didn’t need genders. Nahn was about to shoot its
response into the ether when the emergency channel flared to life.
“Mayday! Mayday! Man down! Asteroid 238-Williams-PS! All
available to rescue duties!”
Forent unfurled its sails completely, sending the trigger signal
to its asteroid-based maneuvering laser. “Forent Nahn responding.
Making best speed. You have axes for me?”
“Rotation too heavy to give you sun or ecliptic axes. Thanks, Nahn.”
Don’t thank me yet. “Still en route to Williams. Any other
“Not yet. You might be the closest.”
As it tacked to catch the laser’s thrust, Forent checked its heads-up
display. “Hitting maximum thrust, Williams. ETA two minutes, fortyone
seconds. Can you hold?”
“We’ll try, Nahn. Switching transmission to Rescue.”
Forent switched its focus to the Rescue frequency, transmitting
“Roger” to Rescue, while instructing Chatspace to mark it as “Busy.”
238-Williams-PS slowly grew to Nahn’s vision as it approached
the site of the neighbor asteroid. The once spheroid rock was pocked
with symmetric craters, a freckled oblong visibly spinning on an arbitrary
axis. Forent spotted a white, segmented dome hugging the surface—
a flesh miner’s habitat module. Technically the competition,
but an emergency meant all hands were to respond.
“We’ve got an incoming nacre, Nahn. You getting close?”
“Uh, Williams? I am the incoming nacre.”
“Oh.” Silence engulfed the Rescue frequency.
Well, that’s dandy, isn’t it? Forent thought as the pause grew longer.
“Williams? What’s the situation? What am I looking for?”
Nahn ran its comms through diagnostics, testing the signal.
Chatspace was still up, waiting for a status change. Time frequency
still chimed its regular interval. Forent transmitted a ping to Rescue,
the reply as instantaneous as radio would allow.
Fine. “You want your man rescued or not, Williams? It’ll be a lot
easier for me to get there on time if you tell me where I’m going.”
Several seconds later, a data transmission responded. Designate Largest Habitat Entry North. 26.3 kilometers 98 degrees.
The nacre pulled away from the navigational laser with a shift of
its sails, letting the solar wind slow its approach. As it closed with the
asteroid, Forent altered course to let the rock pull it into a high orbit,
scanning the surface as it did.
An irregular blackened crater caught Nahn’s attention first, marred
by the pure white suit hanging limply over a stone, midway up the
bowl of the deep depression. Asteroid dust drifted slowly from the
edges, a dark cloud building above the overturned rover at the base
of the pit.
Forent’s second orbit leeched enough speed away that it could
make finer maneuvers. Nahn magnified the view from its HUD, focusing
on the other miner as it circled the emergency site. With the magnification,
it could read the lifesigns tattlers on the flesh’s suit—the
lights were amber, but the air supply was nearing dangerous levels.
The nacre withdrew its sails, letting itself fall toward the injured
miner. It activated the drill in its dominant arm, chewing into the rock
near the victim to keep itself in place. It paused, then released a single
shot from its laser arm to get a feel for the stone.
Forent spread its sails, holding them ready. Flexing its dominant
arm, the nacre drew itself close to its flesh counterpart. Its laser crawled
along the asteroid fragment, steadily cutting at the mineral prison.
The stone snapped, descending lazily downward. Nahn cradled
the patient along its opalescent body, supporting the miner as it thrust
against the crater wall with its laser arm, and rose from the pit, sails
flaring to full span. As it gained altitude, Forent spun about, catching
sight of the approaching crawler.
The large-wheeled vehicle trundled forward, shielding its occupants
from raw vacuum with its multi-segmented body. A single portal on
that body lay open, a maw that stood ready to accept whatever offering
Forent had for it. Nahn floated carefully through the opening, and gently
lay the injured miner upon the platform.
As it pushed itself through the trembling portal, Forent Nahn
signaled for its maneuvering laser, its shimmering nacre pod fading
into the depth of space.
“They can’t be serious!” Captain Breen Zynt slapped the e-printed
orders back to the desk in her ready room.
“Ma’am?” Commander Gavin Roberts’ stoic expression stood
counter to his captain’s ire.
“Recon! For a pleasure cruiser, no less! Second-rate captain
probably took a micro-asteroid to his sails and lost his bearings!”
Roberts took a long, deep breath, his dark eyes fixed on his
commanding officer. “We are the closest military vessel, Captain.”
“No, Gavin. We’re the only military vessel in the Final system.
Just when we were gaining ground on the pirates in the Belt, they
send us to search for a civvie who needs his hand held to get back to
“Captain…” Gavin’s tone was cool.
Breen slouched in her chair, running her fingers over the back of her
prematurely gray hair. “Why do you put up with me, dear friend?”
The Commander smirked. “Tenure. It’d be too much trouble
breaking in a new Captain.”
Zynt’s gentle laugh echoed through her office. “Too true,
Gavin. Besides, how else would you get someone you went to the
Roberts nodded, his smile emphasizing the contrast between his
teeth and his dark skin.
“You want to tell the crew, Gavin? Or shall I?”
“I got this one, Breen.”
The HMWSS Wakerunner was running night shift as it decelerated
for planetary approach. Scan indicators flared to life as the naval
vessel surged along its course.
“Duty stations ready! Captain to the bridge!” The duty officer’s
voice shook as he called the crew to heightened awareness.
Breen groaned when the announcement interrupted her sleep, but
rolled out of bed, duty pulling her to action.
The squeal of the bulkhead door, followed by firm steps upon the
bridge deck, proclaimed the captain’s arrival before she spoke.
“Debris field dead ahead, Captain. Preliminary signals suggest it
was the Symphony, Ma’am.”
Zynt waited for her duty officer to continue.
“But we have an anomaly. Three, really.” He indicated the main
tactical display, which was surging to life with a low hum.
The image slowly clarified, interpolating details at maximum
magnification. Upon the screen were three massive ships in formation—
each half the size of Final VII’s smallest moon.
“Get us a little closer, Helm. I’d like a closer look at those ships.”
Wakerunner pulled forward on the solar winds, closing with the
“Weapons fire aft of unknowns, Captain!”
“Stand ready for evasive action. All hands to battle stations!”
“Ma’am?” The duty officer’s voice sounded hesitant.
“Weapons are continuing aft. Orders?”
“Why—” Breen’s thoughts were interrupted by the duty officer.
“Explosion registered! Unknown vessel has started moving
“Come about! Keep us away.”
“Ma’am! EMP—” Electricity leaped from the duty panel, blinding
the young officer.
“Comms! Get a line out to Command!”
“Negative, Captain! Communications went down in the EMP.”
“Get us out of range, Helm!”
“Switching to backups, Captain. Adjusting sails…” A loud pop
emerged from the system. “Backups shot, Captain. We’re drifting.”
Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here.
Despite being one of the founders and editors (i.e. Overlords) of Ray Gun Revival, “With All Due Respect, his Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 story, is Johne Cook’s fiction in print. A technical writer by day and creative writer and editor at night, his interests include progressive rock, film noir, space opera, and racquetball. Johne is older than he looks but acts younger than he is. His short fiction has appeared in Deep Magic, The Sword Review, Wayfarer’s Journal, and Digital Dragon magazines. He can be found online at Facebook, on Twitter as @theskypirate and via Ray Gun Revival, where he hangs out often vaporizing someone’s puny planet for various arbitrary infractions. Married and newly a grandfather, fellow Space Battles author is no relation.
BTS: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?
Johne Cook: I heard about the Space Battles anthology on Twitter in February a year ago and thought I might have something fun to add to the theme. Of course, rationalization is the second strongest human impulse.
BTS: This is your first anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “With All Due Respect.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?
JC: It is my first anthology sale, and I’m delighted with the company I have fallen in with here.
This story features a character I’ve written about before, a space marine-turned-diplomat in homage to Keith Laumer’s “Retief” character. The Retief stories were funny and sharply satirical of governmental red tape while depicting the value of one good man whose primary gifts are common sense and personal initiative. In an era where we like to see how people change over the course of a story, I liked the idea of seeing how one good man could change the world around him over the course of a story.
I blame the situation in this story on my natural good-humored contrarianism. I grew up with Doc Smith and his endless technological escalation. For this story, I fell prey to a Whedonesque urge to tell a character-based story where the largest battle was really internal, man against his own nature, against his own fear. I wanted to see what would happen when one good man was stripped of everything and had nowhere left to hide. And honestly, I’m not as up on the latest trend in space armor and weaponry, so I thought I’d lean more on the man than his machines. In my vision, spacecraft of the near future aren’t that much different than what you might see today, no tractor beams, no artificial gravity onboard, no energy protective shields. In that environment, space battles become scarier because there’s no safety net, no formidable defenses to hide behind.
My original idea involved a sort of Trojan Horse, a diplomat going to meet with ravenous aliens and delivering the method of their destruction himself and leaving it attached to the hull of their ship or something. But along the way, I found surprising motivation for my alien antagonists and I discovered that the physics in space don’t work the way I’ve been trained to expect from every sci-fi movie ever. So that forced the first of many changes, ultimately leading to what I hope is a more interesting story.
BTS: How’d you get started as a writer?
JC: The seed was planted in the 4th Grade by my English teacher, Miss Kinane. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt I could do something effortlessly that others considered difficult and the curse of my daydreaming suddenly became a virtue. It was like discovering a superpower I was previously completely unaware of.
BTS: Where’d your love of SF come from?
JC: If writing was my new super ability, my dad’s phenomenal SF/F paperback library was my spice, my Melange, fueling that super power and stoking a fiery desire to see where it could take me.
BTS: Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?
JC: I’ve written two other stories with this character, Random Tenerife, entitled “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” and “Blessed Are The Persecuted.” I can imagine a series called something like “The Tenerife Beatitudes,” giving a SFnal treatment to all eight. As a person of faith, I was distressed that there wasn’t more SF I could embrace, and as a SF fan, I was distressed with the quality of the fiction passing itself off as being from the worldview I embrace. The thing is, I don’t care for preachy fiction. If I want answers from my reading, I’ll read non-fiction. I think the best Art asks questions without necessarily giving you the answer. This is where SF and my worldview can bring the greatest synergy.
BTS: You are a founder and editor of Ray Gun Revival magazine. Tell us about how that got started and what you do.
JC: RGR was spawned in 2006 in a surge of pure Browncoat passion when they took the sky from us. L. S. King and Paul Christian Glenn and I were so in love with space opera in general and Firefly in particular that we wanted to keep that space opera vibe going and started the magazine as a way to share that love with a new generation of readers and writers. It was also a testament to blissful ignorance of how much work it takes to cultivate such stories in an era where Cyberpunk (and later Steampunk) reigned supreme. Furthermore, it revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of one of the primary virtues of space opera, where bigger is usually better and we were looking for short stories. Fortunately, we didn’t know that we couldn’t make it cultivating and nurturing and growing a new generation of space opera and golden age sci-fi readers and writers. This summer, we celebrate the start of our seventh year of blissful ignorance and genre fun.
BTS: What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
JC: I’m two-thirds of the way through a swashbuckling adventure space opera novel called The Adventures of the Sky Pirate, and have a number of genre mash-up short stories in the works.
Here’s an excerpt from Johne’s Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 story, “With All Due Respect”:
With All Due Respect
The first attack came shortly after they exited the jumpgate outside of Aldebaran.
Random Tenerife was startled awake by a blaring klaxon. He heard the muted sound of a code being entered from the other side of the steel hatch. The interior bolt on his door unlocked. A red-haired stripling wearing spacer fatigues pushed the hatch open and poked his head in. “Mr. Ambassador?”
“Just ‘Tenerife,’” he corrected. Tenerife ran a hand over his face and rubbed away the sleep.
“I’m Ensign Salter, but everyone calls me ‘Salty.’ You should come with me.”
“What is the klaxon for?” Tenerife asked.
“It’s not for me to say,” Salty said.
“Very well.” Tenerife loosened the straps that kept him in his bunk and pushed off. As he floated over to the hatch, he saw two crewmen slide past pulling themselves hand-over-hand toward the cockpit in the zero gravity of the courier ship’s central corridor. He and Salty followed.
Three men were already floating in the small common area outside
the cockpit-proper. The man in uniform sitting in the elevated command
chair behind the pilot looked up at Salty and frowned. “Did you bring
The spacers parted and revealed Tenerife in back of the group.
“Captain,” he said.
“Salty, since you’re here, you may as well introduce everyone.”
“You know Captain Bolivar—he shares piloting and astrogation
duties with First Officer Ollie Wu. Abe Sigorda oversees the port cargo
hold, and Abe Fungee oversees the starboard cargo hold. They also
share some engineering expertise and help maintain the Kikayon, ergo
Portside Abe and Starboard Abe.”
“The only one missing is Chief Engineer Scott Magoro. He’s back
in the engine room.”
“Greetings,” Tenerife said.
“So, what’s going on with the klaxon?” Salty asked.
Mr. Wu spoke over his shoulder while scanning a display in front
of him. “That was a munitions-based proximity alarm,” said Mr. Wu.
“The interloper fired a dumb missile across our bow.”
Tenerife noted a collective shiver go through the tiny crew.
Salty raised an eyebrow. “A what?”
“An attack?” Starboard Abe asked.
“A warning,” Captain Bolivar said, turning back to his console.
“How far away are they?”
“Five thousand klicks and closing” said Portside Abe. “They
didn’t miss at that range, they intentionally didn’t hit us. This time.”
“Have they hailed us?” Salty asked.
“That’s the funny thing,” Mr. Wu said. “There’s been nothing but
“Mr. Tenerife, I called you up here to see if you can shed any light
on these attackers,” Bolivar said.
Tenerife’s eyebrow arched. “Me? What do you think I would
know about this?”
Captain Bolivar shot Tenerife a look. “You were planetary
Ambassador for the entire Garçonne system. If such attacks were
common out here, you’d know about it.”
Tenerife stroked his chin. “Sorry, captain. This is new to me. The
most nefarious space ships out here in recent days have been our own,
but I took care of that myself. I suspect that’s why I’m being recalled
“Then you’re useless to me,” Bolivar said, and turned back to his
Another klaxon went off, and the ship shuddered under multiple
“What was that?” Salty said.
Bolivar slapped a button on the console. “Mr. Wu, get us a jump
“Engine ready,” radioed Magoro from the engine room.
“Coming right up!” Mr. Wu said.
The rift opened, the power dimmed, and they jumped.
“Damage report,” Bolivar roared.
“Why didn’t you fire back?” Tenerife asked.
Bolivar glared at him. “Not now, Mr. Tenerife.”
“Everything remains green in the engine room,” Chief Engineer
“How’s the hull?” Bolivar asked.
“There was no damage here,” Portside Abe said.
Starboard Abe had a different story. “Instrumentation says no hull
breaches between the external hulls and the internal hull. However,
the external camera shows some minor damage along the starboard
“Can you tell what they hit us with?” Bolivar asked.
“The gashes are about six inches long. I’d guess a cloud of
“Why didn’t you raise shields?” Tenerife asked.
“For the same reason we didn’t detach the saucer,” Bolivar
snapped. “We don’t have such technology in the real world.”
“What about hull armor?”
Bolivar growled. “Tell him.”
Portside Abe tsked and started ticking things off on his fingers.
“Small ships like ours don’t have artificial gravity, and none of them
have protective energy shields. If somebody fires accurately enough,
it hits metal and causes real damage.”
“Ships are expensive to fund and time-consuming to build,” Salty
said. “The cost is so high and space is so vast that little actual combat
occurs out here.
“I’ve seen huge battleships docked at space stations,” Tenerife
said. “Don’t they use those warships for defense?”
Starboard Abe nodded. “The Terran Space Navy keeps some
dreadnoughts with reinforced hulls and spinning artificial gravity
and all manner of heavy weapons, but they’re deterrents more than
“So what does this tell us about our attackers?” Boliver asked.
“They’re telling us they can hit us whenever they want and they’re
unafraid of inflicting damage.”
Bolivar nodded. “That rules out pirates.”
“Is there any way we can find out if anyone knows about these
attackers?” Tenerife asked.
“Mr. Wu, dial up the system’s transmitter beacon,” Bolivar said.
“What’s a transmitter beacon,” Tenerife asked.
“When someone encounters an anomaly near the jump gates, they
flash a message to the galactic transmitter beacon. It’s like leaving a
note on the door for others.”
“We’ve found the nearest beacon,” said Mr. Wu. “Putting it on
The message on the Terran language band was repeated in Galactic
Standard, Mandarin, French, and Spanish. “Beware the Terran warship TSN Manitou recently seen in this system. Reports indicate it has been commandeered by aliens unknown to us. A cryptic message from the ship translated their name as the Gruener, cannibals who have devoured the entire crew of at least two ships. They intimidate ships and compel the crews to heave-to and board the Manitou. Do not comply! … Beware…”
“They eat people?” said Salty.
But Tenerife’s eyes widened. “First contact,” he said under his
The proximity klaxon sounded again.
“Everyone to your stations!” yelled Bolivar.
“Do you think it’s the Gruener?”
Bolivar rubbed his chin. “It could be a coincidental sighting of a
different ship, but I don’t believe it. There’s just not that much traffic
out this way.”
Mr. Wu yelled, “I’ve found the object.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a probe, sir.” He put it on the captain’s screen. The system
zoomed in and displayed telemetry data.
And then, as Tenerife watched, a warship slid through the rift.
“They’re here!” roared Bolivar.
Tenerife said, “How…?”
Mr. Wu pointed to the display. “When we opened the rift for our
jump, they launched a probe after us to show them where to follow!”
“Who does that?”
Mr. Wu looked at Tenerife and licked his lips. “Uh, we do. The
Terran Space Navy does that.”
Bolivar stabbed a button on his console. “Magoro, how long until
we can jump again?”
“The engine’s still in recovery. I’ll need another seven hours more
or less before the engine is ready.”
“Let me know when it is. In the meantime, Mr. Wu, prepare another
jump solution. Abe, can you hit anything with the laser?”
Starboard Abe radioed in from his station. “Yes, sir!”
“After we jump, you will have precisely one shot to take that probe
out before they can lock in on it to pursue.”
“Aye-aye, Captain,” Abe said. “I await your command.”
Bolivar spoke to Mr. Wu. “Try to put as much distance between
us and the enemy. Buy some time. I want to see how fast they are. As
soon as you have a jump solution, prepare an S.O.S. to beam to that
beacon before we jump. It’s a long shot, but I want to request any
passing dreadnought to follow our jump coordinates.”
“Captain,” Tenerife said. “Is there anything I can do?”
Bolivar glanced at Tenerife. “You can vacate my command center
and pray these cannibalistic pirates don’t rip our ship to threads and
eat us all.” He turned his back to Tenerife and kept barking orders to
Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here.
Anthony R. Cardno’s family holiday tale The Firflake has already introduced him to readers. His author interview series for his blog Rambling On has also brought him notice and enabled him to build a network of writing industry friends. He’s a fan of not just science fiction and fantasy but many genres. Because his job as a corporate trainer requires regular travel, he frequents used and new bookstores all over the country. As such, he’s gradually tracking down a complete collection of Doc Savagebooks and other pulp tales. He can be found online at his blog, on Facebook, at his website www.anthonycardno.com and on Twitter as @talekyn. “A Battle For Parantwer” is his first published science fiction story and is set in a universe he’s been playing with for years. Other stories he’s written have been published in Willow and Maple and online. He has another Christmas tale and a mystery novel in the works. Anthony and Space Battles editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt have been accused of being brothers, but they swear they’re only brothers in pen crime.
He sat down for an interview aboutSpace Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6with Flying Pen Press:
FPP: How did you find out about the Space Battles anthology and what made you decide to submit?
Anthony R. Cardno: A lot of the good writing-related things that have happened to me lately can be traced back to Twitter. In this case, it was somehow becoming connected to Bryan Thomas Schmidt and starting to take part in the weekly #sffwrtcht sessions. Space Battles was an invitation-only call, and Bryan invited me to participate. I was flattered to be invited, but wasn’t sure I’d submit anything. Other than playing around with loose sf ideas for a print amateur press alliance (who remembers those!) I’ve been a part of since the 80’s, I haven’t written any hard-SF since high school. In the end, I decided that I needed to stretch myself and at least attempt a submission.
FPP: This is your first anthology sale, correct? Tell us a little about “A Battle For Parantwer.” What’s it about? Where’d this particular idea come from?
ARC: Honestly, not only is this my first anthology sale, it was my first anthology attempt. I’ve submitted short stories to magazines, but this was my first try at an anthology of any kind. Once I’d decided to take Bryan up on the invitation, I realized I actually had to write something that had a chance of fitting. But I’ve never, in my own opinion, been very good at military/battle type writing. My first attempt, part of which survived into the version of “Battle” you’ll see in the anthology, was to tell the story from the point of view of a captive on a ship under attack – the intent was to show the effects of a space battle on someone who can’t even see what is going on. That didn’t quite click, so I shifted POV. “Battle” is about the Denthen System Ship Parantwer doing battle with a pirate ship they’ve been pursuing for quite some time, and it’s also about the ship’s captain, Marijen Parantwer, living up to the legend of the ancestor her ship is named for. The POV character is an experienced system Ambassador, through whose eyes we see both struggles.
FPP: You have written other stories in this world, correct? Tell us about those.
ARC: The Denthen star system, comprised of the planets Tarasque, Gemin, Adon and the remains of the planet Refarael, have been bouncing around in my head for several decades. The characters started out as a costumed super-team of aliens who visit Earth. I had the concept, but never really did much with the characters. This story introduces two of those original characters, sans costumes and super-heroic code-names, and two of the original supporting characters. I’m excited to actually be working in this world, though, after all the world-building I’ve done for it. I’m knee-deep in two other Denthen System stories at the moment. Both stories are un-named, because I’m horrible at naming my stories. Both stories take place on the planet Tarasque and fill out some of the social structure of the system and, in one case, some of the history.
FPP: How’d you get started as a writer?
ARC: I started out writing stories about my favorite super-heroes when I was in 6th or 7th grade. Batgirl, the Teen Titans, those characters. Those stories, as well as the hard SF novel I wrote in 10th grade, have long-since disappeared. High school was also when I joined the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (STAPA) and started creating my own super-heroes instead of writing about DC or Marvel characters, doing more serious writing to actual deadlines.
Do you have plans to do any more with this universe?
ARC: Oh, absolutely. I’ve always intended to, and now seems like the right time to pursue it, at least in short story forms. I do have a novel idea, something I tried working on for NaNoWriMo two years ago that just didn’t click at the time.
You have had other stories published, right? And a Christmas story. Tell us about those.
ARC: My short story “Invisible Me” was published by Willard & Maple magazine in 2005, and is now available to be read for free on my website. My short story “Canopus” is also on my site. The first is more of a character piece, the latter a nice little slice of light horror.
My Christmas novella “The Firflake” is available from iUniverse in print and ebook formats. It’s the legend of the First Snowflake (“firflake”) of winter, and the story of one family’s traditions which hinge on the arrival of that first snowflake. It’s also the story of how the elves met Santa. Each chapter includes an illustration by my good friend Don Cornue.
Where’d your love of SF come from?
ARC: Friends and television, mostly. My parents were not big readers. I was hooked on Star Trek reruns from the first time I saw an episode (it probably helps that the episode in question was “City At The Edge of Forever”). I always credit my friend Terry Wynne, though, for really hooking me on SF and fantasy. He’s the one who got me watching the English-dubbed Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets cartoons; he’s the one who got me hooked on the space opera of Perry Rhodan, on Niven & Pournelle (Lucifer’s Hammer), Tolkein, Silverberg, Farmer and so many others. Although in 6th grade I discovered Robert Silverberg’s To Open The Sky all on my own, and it remains my favorite SF novel of all time.
What other projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
ARC: I’m inching slowly closer to completing my mystery novel Ambergrin Hall, in which a student’s death threatens to reveal aspects of Croton College’s history that some would prefer forever remain hidden. I also have a second Christmas book in the works, Christmas Ghosts, which will be longer than The Firflake and aimed at a slightly older (MG/YA) audience.
And of course, every week I feature interviews with various creative folks (writers, editors, actors, singers and more) on my website www.anthonycardno.com
Finally, I’d really like to thank Bryan for the opportunity to appear in Space Battles, and thus for re-igniting my love of writing short stories.
Here’s an excerpt from “A Battle For Parantwer.” Note, Parantwer is both the name of the ship and her Captain:
A Battle for Parantwer
Anthony R. Cardno
Jespeth slammed against the bulkhead she could barely see as the ship shuddered under another direct impact. She was already bruised across a good portion of her body, so one more swelling spot was the least of her concerns. The impact reopened the cut above her right eye and warm blood trickled down. Had it been light enough to see, her vision might have been impaired by the blood; in the dark it didn’t matter.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d been wandering around the bowels of the ship and she wasn’t really surprised that her captors weren’t looking for her yet. The attack on the ship was surely keeping them distracted, but even if it hadn’t been under attack they’d probably not bother looking for her. It’s not like she could go anywhere. The ship simply wasn’t that large, and she had no access to whatever lifeboats might be available.
She was torn between hoping the attack on the ship would cease so she could stop slamming into walls in the dark, and hoping that the attack would be successful and blow them out of the sky. Either way, her life as she’d known it was over. She only wished she’d had time to say goodbye to her brother. He’d be alone now, the last surviving member of the family.
The ship lurched again but this one felt different—not an attack,but a jump to hyperspace. They were running once more. Attack orjump, the effect was the same: Jespeth was thrown off her feet. Shesailed through the short space to the opposite wall of this small passageshe’d hidden in. Being an internal wall, it was slightly more forgivingthan the bulkhead. But only slightly. She hit face-first. The lastsound she heard as she slipped into merciful oblivion was a high-pitchedsqueaking. She allowed herself to imagine she was fallingasleep under a nest of hectets somewhere on Tarasque.
The barrage started seconds after the Parantwer dropped out of warp.
Ambassador Kcaj Opul was glad he’d hesitated that extra moment
before unbuckling himself to stand and stretch—the momentum of the
first blasts glancing off the ship’s shields would have sent him sailing
right past most of the bridge crew and the captain and directly into the
hulking mass that was Revanian i’Matoth. Opul and Revanian were
both guests on this ship, and they had a history; slamming into the
man from behind in the midst of an attack would not help tender their
dislike for each other.
“Where in Denthen’s Name are they?”
The question, barked as it was, was not tense. It came not from
Revanian but from the Parantwer’s captain. Captain Marijen Parantwer
had what could be either described as a blessing or a curse: commanding
the ship named after her own illustrious ancestor. Ilgallen
Parantwer had been one of the most famous military leaders in the
known history of Tarasque, and not a generation had gone by in several
centuries without some member of the family being in the military.
Not many had been able to live up to Ilgallen’s legend. Marijen
Parantwer, in Ambassador Opul’s humble opinion, was well on her
way to matching, and possibly surpassing, her kinsman. She kept a
cool head in tense situations.
How many other current ship captains, military or not, could have
stayed on the trail of a pirate vessel of unknown origin outfitted with
advanced tech through six—or was this seven?—warp jumps and
three—or was this four?—actual confrontations?
A member of the ship’s tactical operations crew called out some
coordinates as a second spray of fire hit the Parantwer’s shields. The
ship rocked again, and to Opul it felt like the fire had come from
the same direction and hit the Parantwer in the same place. He was
no expert, of course, and his sense of direction had been thrown off
thanks to the six—no, seven, he was sure of it—warp jumps the ship
had made. Most diplomatic missions consisted of two jumps at the
most, with fair warning ahead of time for those whose systems were
adversely affected by the sudden change in motion.
Opul had spent most of this last jump seated, belted in, and feeling
more than a bit queasy. In point of fact, he had left queasy behind
at least three jumps ago and progressed to outright, if controllable,
nausea. These missions are for younger men, he thought, with stronger
“Hard about,” Captain Parantwer ordered, following the order
with a string of coordinates the Ambassador knew better than to try
to comprehend. Opul could follow the most byzantine social behaviors
to get to the root of a political problem, but spacial vectoring and
astro-navigation made him feel like an illiterate child.
Before the captain had even finished speaking, the Parantwer
was moving in what felt like three directions at once: up, sideways
and about-face. As the ship moved, the image on the front viewscreen
moved with it. Stars swung by. Opul caught and then lost sight of a
large planet with a debris field ringing the equator.
As the planet fell behind them, another object came into view—
the pirate ship.
This pirate ship looked nothing like any ship built in the Denthen
As the senior Far-Range Ambassador of the Denthen planetary
system, Kcaj Opul had made it a point to learn to recognize every
space-faring ship built under Tarasquen and Geminid control, which
accounted for the majority of the fleet. There were a small handful of
Refaraelian ships remaining since the destruction of that planet, but
none of those had ever been intended to be extra-system fleet-worthy
and Opul would have recognized them as well. And of course Adon
had no ship-building capability, nor did it need it.
The fact that the ship on the viewscreen was slightly smaller than
most of the pirate vessels operating in Denthen or any of the neighboring
systems was not what set it apart in Opul’s mind. No, that wasn’t
unusual at all. But there was something about the design; even to a
man accustomed to dealing with other societies’ aesthetics, this ship
Which made it all the stranger that the crew controlling it were
absolutely from the Denthen system. Like the Parantwer itself, what
they’d seen of the unnamed pirate ship’s crew had been a mix of all
of the races found on Tarasque and Gemin; the captain—or, at least,
the captain’s spokesman—was an Uda from Gemin, and behind
him had stood a female F’ren from Gemin and behind her a small
complement of Tarasquens of every skin color. A home-grown pirate
crew who had been caught smuggling off of Tarasque, among other
things, a colony of hectets—a highly endangered species. There was
also the possibility of human cargo other than the crew itself.
Every jump the pirates made with their alien tech allowed the
opportunity for complete escape or at the very least for a vast outdistancing
of the Parantwer. Opul’s mission was to determine which
of their allied or enemy systems the ship originated from. They had
not yet lost the pirates because Captain Parantwer had made all the
right battlefield snap judgments, just as her ancestor had been known
to do. There was more than just luck involved in so consistently
predicting where the enemy was going, and even more so when they
She seemed to be making another of those snap judgments right
now. Her command crew fed her a constant stream of information, a
non-stop chatter that had increased in overall sound level, but not in
urgency, since the drop from warp and the first barrage of fire. She
responded with coordinate changes and weapons commands in an
even, crisp tone that said exactly what she needed it to: based on your
information, this is what we are going to do. Not a face among the
command crew showed any doubt as they carried out her orders and
fed her fresh information.
The pirates had fired immediately as the Parantwer dropped out
of warp, from a vantage point on a slightly higher plane. They continued
firing at the exact same spot on the Parantwer’s protective shields
until the ship began its convoluted spin-and-dodge maneuver.
This was a classic move among the pirates who operated near the
Denthen system: take a ship by surprise, hammer the shields in one
spot until you blow them—possibly doing some serious damage to the
target’s hull as well—and put the target in a position where they cannot
run and must be boarded. It was no surprise that they were finally
trying that tactic on the Parantwer, despite the fact that it was not a
poorly-armed merchant vessel but an actual fighter of the Fleet. The
question that mattered was: what would the pirates do now that their
classic move hadn’t worked?
For the moment, the pirate ship sat silently in front of them.
“This has gone on long enough.”
Captain Parantwer seemed to be talking to herself but Opul could tell that
despite the soft-spoken nature of the statement, it was intended to be heard
by everyone on the bridge: crew and guest alike. As a younger, greener
diplomat, Opul might have tried to impose some sort of authority
inherent in his title in order to force the Captain to action. He knew better,
especially having met Marijen Parantwer and aligning rumor to reality
about her. He, like everyone else on the bridge, waited for her to continue.
“We cannot keep jumping around known and unknown space in
pursuit of these pirates.” Her voice was louder now, to be sure it carried
throughout the bridge. “Tactical, prepare Maneuver Eighty-Seven for
deployment. Engines and Helm be prepared to initiate fast pursuit.”
A quarter of the bridge staff began tapping on their station consoles.
Opul had no idea what Maneuver Eighty-Seven was, but he noticed
Revanian nodding in approval. If the Refaraelian representative of
Denthen’s Gladiators approved of a tactical decision, chances were
good it was more than sound. Especially considering the Gladiator’s
possible personal stake in this operation.
If the F’ren helmswoman was suddenly more alert or tense, her
posture didn’t show it. Like her captain, the helmswoman’s body radiated
a sense of calm readiness. It was highly unlikely that she would
jump the gun and initiate pursuit too soon, or have any lag in reaction
once the order for pursuit was given.
“What is Maneuver Eighty-Seven?”
The question came from the seat to Opul’s right, which held the
only other person on the bridge actually strapped into a seat: Gepyg
Liborel. Liborel was a scientist from Tarasque, that world’s foremost
expert on hectets. She was here simply to aid in the safe return of
the smuggled colony, should the Parantwer succeed in its mission.
Captain Parantwer turned slightly in her seat, so that she could see the
“We have reached the point where all reasonable attempts to
capture that craft have failed. We’re lucky, in fact, that we have not
suffered worse damage while trying to capture without inflicting
unnecessary damage on ourselves. Maneuver Eighty-Seven will, ideally,
stop that ship in its tracks. There may be some collateral damage, but
it will prevent them from jumping again.”
“Collateral damage?” Liborel’s voice pitched slightly higher. Not
in hysteria, as Opul expected, but in a tone of righteous indignation.
“Is that what you call the hectet colony? If that’s the case, then why
am I here?”
“You are here,” the captain said firmly but not unkindly, “because
our intent is to get all, or barring that some, of the colony back alive,
along with any other living contraband that the pirates may have …
taken. We will do what we can to bring this mission to a successful
close, but we cannot allow the tech that ship possesses to get away.
The next time they strike, it may be more than hectets they take, and it
may not be simple black-market piracy they intend to perpetrate.”
“And you approve?” Liborel had turned her attention to
“I do.” Revanian barely spared the scientist a glance. In Tarasquen
society, that would be an incredible slight. For surviving Refaraelians
like Revanian, it was simply an indication that Liborel was as important
as whatever else Revanian was thinking about. No response at all
would have been a slight.
Even though her back was still completely to him, Ambassador
Opul could read the captain’s body language. Her posture implied that
she was mainly paying attention to the forward viewscreen, but that
she had at least half an eye and a certain amount of her attention on
the data streaming across her console. She seemed to be studying the
pirate ship’s current behavior.
In each of the three—not four, he was sure of this now—encounters,
the pirates had not acted at all unusually. While they had waited until
this current confrontation to trot out the old standard “bore a hole in
the shields” attack, it wasn’t like they had done anything at all out of character
for Denthenian pirates during the previous encounters.
“Full power to forward shields,” Captain Parantwer quietly
commanded. Again, hands flew across control panels.
Almost before they were done, a burst of bright green energy,
the same as they’d seen in earlier encounters, flashed from what
they’d determined was the prow of the pirate ship.
Continued in Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 which you can purchase here.