Trials, the Kindle Version, is on sale today through May first. Grab yourself a copy for just $0.99 before the price goes up!
Trials, the Kindle Version, is on sale today through May first. Grab yourself a copy for just $0.99 before the price goes up!
Fractal Space, my newest science fiction thriller, is almost ready to be published! I’m happy to announce that my newest novel is completely finished and just waiting to go through a round of edits before it hits the publishers. In an attempt to get your whet your palette, I’m making the first chapter available for free below! Also, check out the prologue for even more background. As always, you can sign up on my ARC or email lists on the right side of this webpage to get the most free content before it hits the masses. Enjoy!
Brokk is the chosen one. His golden skin proves it, his supreme leader has given him the warships, and the dead have accepted his sacrifice. With an armada of battleships and forty million soldiers, Brokk will be chancellor of the Tassian system by nightfall. Even the best of plans can come unraveled, and for Brokk, the desperate moves of a vagrant named Casika risks destroying everything he set in motion.
The battle for Tassi begins with an artillery barrage so vicious the sky itself is darkened. Find out how it ends.
Brokk stared intently at the red streaked sky as beads of sweat rolled off his golden skin. The eight foot tall, broad shouldered behemoth was large, even for Jarkian standards; but he was a half-breed, and mixes between Tassis and Jarks were known to be some of the most formidable warriors in the galaxy. In part, this is why the Jarks were able to live a relatively peaceful existence – there were few people that cared to challenge them and even fewer that lived to brag about victory against the massive creatures.
Unfortunately, there was another reason the Jarks remained largely unchallenged in their corner of the galaxy. All the planets in their solar system were oversized and orbited either too close or too far from their star. While two of their planets remained in the habitable zone, they just barely did so. The Jark home world, and the one that Brokk currently resided on, was a wretchedly hot planet with an immensely dense core. Its sheer size exerted such gravity on the creatures that were unfortunate enough to live on this planet that their appearance was significantly different compared to more fortunate life elsewhere in the galaxy.
Their second planet, Coridon, rested just within the habitable zone on the other side. While Jark rarely dropped below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Coridon was a winter wonderland that never rose above 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The two twin planets, enormous in size and barely habitable, had masked the Jarkian existence for millennia and allowed them to develop into the race they were today with minimal interference. When the Jarks finally did announce themselves to the other races throughout the galaxy, a galactic order had been established and few cared to break galactic law and challenge the new race.
This peace, however, didn’t prevent the Jarks themselves from seeking something greater. For centuries Brokk and his forefathers had been taught about a great injustice that was dealt their ancestors by the hands of the Tassi. They knew there was a solar system that was rightfully theirs, a solar system that they had been cheated from, and one that would make life easy for all Jarks if they could get it back. Even though Brokk had never seen a picture of Tassi, he felt it calling to him. Returning to Tassi was his destiny.
Brokk stared intently at the sky because tonight, this very night, he was to command a legion of starships to attack the Tassi system. He had studied for years and understood Tassi tactics. Scouts had already been dispatched and reported the size and location of Tassian defenses and Jark artillery was prepared to fire interstellar munitions at his command. Most important of all, the loosely affiliated galactic order was too incompetent to halt their unannounced advance. By the end of the month, the Tassi system would belong to the Jarks and Brokk would become their chancellor.
Brokk was ripped from his reverie by his best friend, Lago. The two had grown up together, fought together, and were now going to the prized system together. There was only one final matter to attend to: a sacrifice to the dead in exchange for a blessing on their campaign; a tradition that dated back far beyond his ancestors, and a tradition Brokk would certainly not forsake.
“Dreaming about Tassi?” Lago shouted with a smile from behind. Lago was a pure breed Jark and was significantly stouter than the golden skinned half breed. Lago’s skin was a reddish bronze and was covered in a swirl of curly dark hair. He stooped slightly, preferring to rest his thick arms on the ground to support his large torso. While the Jarks often walked upright, the thick atmosphere and weighty gravity caused them to develop a preference of resting on all fours.
Despite his cave-like appearance, Lago was a brilliant mind that was devoted to the study of applying astrophysics towards military tactics. The two of them were inseparable and despite having no blood connection, were closer than brothers could ever hope to be. At Lago’s approach, Brokk brightened and any fear or doubt he had about the mission before them suddenly dissipated.
Brokk, whose Tassi genetics insisted he remain standing upright, spun around to greet him. “Lago! I had hoped you’d come find me!” he responded, smiling and opening his arms for a warm greeting.
The two embraced each other and separated again. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We’ve come here together every time before leaving home… You know how much I like the cliffs.” Lago responded shifting his gaze to the city beyond.
Brokk knew, and Brokk loved the cliffs himself. The massive rock structure jutted out over the volcanic rock below and provided a spectacular view of both the city and the sea, and no matter which way you turned, the ferocity of their home world was captured in an unmistakable majesty. The outcropping’s thickness allowed it to hang for hundreds of meters beyond the shore line – and the men always insisted on stepping out onto the farthest point.
“Did I ever tell you why I come here each time?” Brokk asked.
Lago, now standing upright and shoulder to shoulder with Brokk, shrugged, indicated he had never thought about it. The star they orbited was a red giant, at the end of its stellar lifespan and rays imbued with deep reds and oranges constantly bombarded the atmosphere of their massive home world. Red clouds, engorged with a mixture of water and sulfuric acid, stretched across the burnt orange sky.
“This is why we’ll win,” Brokk answered, giving him a moment to reflect before continuing. “Look at this place. It’s awful!” he joked. “There isn’t anyone tougher than a Jark.”
Lago laughed. “You have to remind yourself that?” he asked still chuckling.
“It helps,” Brokk responded with a grin. Brokk turned his shoulders and pointed towards the sky to show Lago what he was looking at before he arrived. Just off the nose of the cliffs to the north, a massive battleship could be seen maneuvering along the skyline. The ships bronze, dual pronged nose was unmistakable against its dark grey exterior. It was Brokk’s; the head of the armada conducting its final checks before joining the remainder of the fleet in the upper atmosphere. “Are you ready, Brokk?” Lago asked.
Brokk stared at Lago for a moment longer, before returning his golden eyes to the horizon. “I’ve never been more ready in my life, Lago.” he insisted. “We’re a battle hardened fleet, and with you by my side, we are unstoppable. The promised system will be ours again.” Brokk looked down at his red and black battle uniform. Red was reserved for ship and fleet commanders and helped the crew tell them apart in the heat of a battle. On his wrist was a holographic display that could project information anywhere. In battle, he often allowed it to hover data in the corner of his eyes so that he could see everything at once; during planning sessions the device depicted three dimensional displays to help his commanders visualize the battlefield. Today, he simply used it to tell the time.
“The artillery bombardment should be commencing soon. We’ll start getting updates within the hour.” Lago responded.
Brokk smiled. Jark artillery was second to none in the known universe. They had developed a weapon that was capable of firing explosive ordinance from outside a planetary system by creating temporary shortcuts through space. The Jarks would chose a planet not more than a few light years from their target, establish an artillery platform, and then create temporary wormholes with which to sling rounds onto the planet below. The system was stealthy and dreadfully effective. Best of all, it was nearly immune to a counter attack. An entire planet’s computer systems and defenses would be consumed by locating and defeating the source of the barrage while the armada attacked from the opposite side.
“I’m going to reward you when I become Chancellor,” Brokk said. “You’ll live better than you ever have.”
Lago didn’t respond and the two turned to walk back down the rock face towards the offering below. An infant Jark lay helpless, naked, and screaming on a black stone platform. The hardened volcanic stone rocked gently as it floated in a soupy mercury pool that bled from the planets interior. Brokk’s watch flickered and vibrated on his wrist indicating it was time to ask the gods to bless his cause. On cue, six Jark priests, robed in gold, stirred the mercury bath beneath the child. As they stirred, they hummed in monotonous unison.
The words they sang were unknown to all but the six that sung them. This was the language of the dead, and as they stirred the mercury it began to boil, reflecting the deep red streaks from the sky above. The silver soup bubbled and popped, the baby rocked violently back and forth, and the priests suddenly erupted in loud chanting, inviting their dead, the souls of billions to accept this innocent sacrifice and give them the military victory they required.
Hands now appeared, filthy, hair covered hands, coated in the slime of the mercury and taking on the colors of the sky above. Brokk counted one at first, but like the heads of a hydra, the hands slithered and grabbed at the rock, desperate for the crying infant bathed in the warmth of the life that he possessed. Suddenly, the rock flipped, the hands disappeared, and the humming stopped. Their ritual was over, the dead had accepted Brokk’s sacrifice; he would achieve the victory he desired.
Silently, the six priests and two commanders descended from their rocks to their city below. “I think I’ll miss this city,” Lago finally said.
“We’ll build an even greater one on Tassi,” Brokk boasted.
You may have noticed silence from me over the last couple of weeks. Don’t fear, I’m not dead, I’ve just been busy… Crazy busy! It seems like every other week I am traveling around Europe doing my best to work the day job while writing in the evenings.
BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel! In fact, I’m almost finished! I’m 50,000 words into my second novel, Fractal Space and I couldn’t be more excited. Fractal Space is a Science Fiction thriller that explores the political dynamics of war, isolationism, friendship, and courage – all wrapped into a quest to control the galaxy.
As with all of my writings, I would love your feedback and you get a chance to read a great novel for free. Please consider signing up on my Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) list on the right hand side of my website to get my latest publications free of charge! All I ask in return is that you leave me an honest review.
While you wait, feel free to peruse the short stories on this site.
Darkness. Complete darkness. Am I dead? No, I don’t think so. You can’t think when you’re dead… I don’t think. I guess I mean you can’t think “I am dead.” I think it would be more obvious. But it’s so dark. How did I get here? Why can’t I open my eyes? Why am I not waking up?
There was light, I remember now; they were headlights, a car accident. I must be in a hospital. But why can’t I move? Why is it so dark?
I hear weeping. It must be my wife – but I can’t remember her name. S… nope can’t remember.
A knock on the door. “Hello Terri.” Terri, that’s what her name is. I love Terri.
Her weeping stops and I imagine she’s turned to look at him but I can’t picture her face.
“What’s the verdict?” I hear her say, voice quivering.
“You should sit down,” responds the doctor. My stomach churns and if I could feel my face, I knew it would be hot with dread. A chair screeched as it slid across sterile floors and a thud indicated that my sweet Terri found a spot to rest.
“I’m afraid,” the male’s voice continued “I’m afraid he’s completely brain dead.”
Brain dead? I’m not brain dead! I’m not brain dead! I screamed. I guess I really thought it in the darkness.
“We have a few options,” I could hear him say. Terri was weeping again. Options. “We can keep him alive for a few weeks, see if something changes…”
“No.” I heard her cut him off. “He wouldn’t have wanted that.”
I do want that! I’m here! Keep me alive! I shouted. I’ll move my finger. I’ll show you. Keep me alive!
“Did he have a living will?” he asked.
“Yes, he didn’t want to be artificially kept alive.” She paused to cry again and he remained silent.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My sweet Terri, my sweet Terri. Betrayer. You’re going to kill me! I shouted. She didn’t hear. She didn’t care. She was selfish; so selfish. She’s going to kill me.
“We’ll need you to sign some paperwork,” he said gingerly. “I know it’s hard to hear, but we want to operate on organs as soon as we can; they save others you know.”
“Okay,” Terri responded through her sobs, “Goodbye my love,” she whispered in my ear.
Don’t sign them, Terri! Don’t sign them! I’m here.
A door closed and I was once again engulfed in black silence.
No one understands,
I just don’t want them to.
They tell me I have options,
But those will never do.
If life was simply talking,
I’d probably be fixed.
But talking is an option,
I want nothing to do with.
You see, talking doesn’t fix,
Nor repair my weary soul.
What I prefer is silence,
But that won’t make me whole.
No one understands.
I feel as if I’m stuck.
And when I express myself,
It comes out as awful muck.
They’d think I was pathetic,
Or that I was a monster.
My isolation makes me lonely,
But it preserves my honor.
These options that they offer,
Can’t really set me free.
For we are merely fodder,
This, I plainly see.
I could never tell them,
I’m ashamed of my dreams.
My anger, it controls me,
My rage, to it, I cling.
And so, I simply sit,
With my head inside my hands.
I’m a veteran without options,
‘Cause no one understands.
This was written for the average of 22 Veterans that commit suicide every day. Suicide can be prevented. Please join me in preventing it. #22kill
A dash of brown, a streak of red, a glob of grey. Back and forth her brushes stroked, and swirled, and twirled against the white canvas.
“What are you making,” I asked, mesmerized by her painting to the dull sound of the radio in the background.
“A volcano,” she replied, smiling at me as she always did.
Ahh, a volcano. Her wrist masterfully swirled the grey inward to create a cloud of smoke rising from the mountain. Paint exhausted from her brush, the beautiful artist, skilled as a surgeon dipped for more. A dab of black this time added to the light grey on the palate.
“It has to be foreboding,” she told me. “You’ve got to scare the villagers, you know?”
Yes, the villagers. The villagers. Was that her that said it, or the radio? The radio. A man was speaking, something about a volcano in Peru. Smoke was filling the sky; dark foreboding smoke.
“Did you know about this before you started to paint?” I asked.
“Know about what?” she replied, humming a bit to herself.
She was in her own world, smearing grey across the canvas; turning the baby blue sky into a darkened and smoldering black. But there was more. I watched her in anticipation as she moved her dainty wrist to spin up some orange and add some red. Firebolts erupted from the volcano as she slashed at the canvas. Some here, some there.
I could hear the radio echo her work, but this was real. Molten rock was erupting from the mouth of the volcano and onto the village below according to the voice. Villagers were terrified.
“You have to make them panic. Their lives are on the line,” she muttered.
“Will they make it?” I asked suspiciously.
“Oh no. They won’t make it,” she said smiling, “but tis the nature of art.”
Wormhole Travel is a topic in science and science fiction that has always fascinated me. The problem with writing a science fiction story that involves space exploration is the sheer distance that one would have to travel conventionally in order to reach a habitable planet. We’re not just talking years of conventional travel. We’re talking hundreds of lifetimes to reach even the nearest star; let alone a habitable one.
To go around this problem, writers like myself use wormholes for two primary reasons. First, wormholes are scientifically plausible according to Einstein and Rosen. Second, wormholes solve the time conundrum that we have while traveling long distances in space.
The way wormholes work is that there are proposed bridges through a folded piece of space, allowing a ship to simply step across a bridge rather than traverse the entire swath between two points.
In my novel Fractal Space, I describe the processes as skipping. Rather than trying to fold space over long distances, I propose the solution is to fold space over very short distances and take many tiny steps. Scientifically, I think this solves a few problems. First, the wormhole can be made more stable using less natural and exotic energy to keep it open. Second, even trying to open a wormhole across a span of several light years would take, well, light years. By opening one locally as a skipping process, you avoid the time required to simply build the bridge across long distances. Third, wormhole travel over shorter distances requires far less space be bent – again a factor of time and energy.
Of course, any time new technology is introduced, the first step is to militarize it. Check out my newest novel Fractal Space to see how the galactic powers did just that!
There are a few dangers to skipping across the surface though. If your ship hasn’t carefully charted your route you might find yourself skipping on top of a black hole, only to get sucked in before you can take the next step. Free floating asteroids, rogue planets, solar systems, and stars all pose a similar threat.
What do you think? Is wormhole travel plausible or even feasible? How would you handle the threat?
I throw of the sheets. No more. Every night I hear that same rap, tap, tap. Every night it torments me until I can no longer stand the sound. It drives me crazy. No pillow is thick enough nor door sealed enough to shut out that noise. That horrid noise.
I’m going to go down there. I have to. Surely my hosts will understand. Surely they can’t blame me for investigating the noise despite their warnings. No, in spite of their warnings.
Rap, tap, tap. There it is again. I’ve made up my mind and swing my legs off the bed and onto the cold wood floor of my rented one room apartment. As I push my body off the bed, the old hickory creaks and groans under my weight.
Rap, tap, tap. In anticipation, the tapping gets louder and urges me forward. I don’t care what I find. I’m furious. I must know. I must!
As quietly as I can muster, I creep down the hallway, using my hands to feel my way in the dark. The floor creaks but my bones and joints pop louder from being disturbed out of their midnight slumber. Rap, tap, tap; rap, tap, tap. It hastens, growing louder as if a choir of drummers were begging me forward, insisting that my night culminate in their performance from beneath the home.
Pale orange light glows from beneath the basement door. I had never seen that light before, but I didn’t care. It was no longer the curiosity that drove me but my insanity and my desire. It propels me onward, through the door and down the stairs. Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. Rap, tap, tap. I must know!
Suddenly, the rapping stops. The tapping ends. And I’m face to face with it. I shouldn’t have come. I regret coming, but I know it’s too late. So does he. He, I mean me. It was me doing the rapping. Me doing the tapping. How can this be?
“I shouldn’t have come,” I manage to stutter.
Me doesn’t speak. He simply raises a small iron pipe above his head. I shouldn’t have come.
Fifty-nine seconds. That was all that remained in Malek’s life until he became mere particles floating through the atmosphere in search of a resting place. A lot could happen in fifty nine seconds. A whole lot. Malek traced the wires. Red, blue, and yellow. Red, blue, yellow. The three simple wires ran from a green motherboard and into an ignitor that attached to a deadly mix of diesel fuel and fertilizer. In a sadistic display of humor, the maniac that planned to kill everyone inside had left Malek a clock. Thanks for that, he thought.
Sweat poured off Malek’s face as he stared at the circuit board. The red one, the red one. No, it’s always the red one. That’s too obvious. The red is the fake. Malek traced the red again and then examined the flattened copper circuits that connected the red wire to the same ignitor.
Forty-three seconds. In forty three seconds Malek and the Jinnah International Airport would disappear. At least it was just him. His team had left hours ago. At least he was alone. He liked working alone, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to die alone.
Thirty-nine seconds. Malek gave up on the red wire. It can’t be the red wire. It has to be the blue wire. He traced it with his cutters. Red to conductor, conductor to blue, blue to charge, charge to ignitor. It has to be the blue. As he prepared to clip, steam from his breath fogged his vision.
Malek tore his face shield off and let the sweat drip steadily from his head directly onto the green device. Three hours of staring at this stupid thing boiled down to thirty-three seconds. Suddenly he doubted his conviction. What if it wasn’t the blue? What if the blue was the fake? If he clipped the fake, everything was bound to explode as the device sensed a short circuit and sent a reverse charge into the ignitor. He couldn’t clip the fake.
Twenty seconds. Twenty seconds. Malek panicked. Red, blue, yellow. One of the three. Take a guess. Take a guess. Any guess. A river of sweat now fell from his face onto the motherboard. Onto the batteries, onto the circuit; and everything stopped. The clock turned off, the little red light on the motherboard faded. The home-made explosive remained still. My magical sweat, Malek thought smiling. My magical sweat.
Jacob Densy is a character that is only mentioned by name once early in the book. This doesn’t reduce his significance to the overall plot. As an author, I decided to put a conversation between Jacob and an advertising executive to act as a sort of prologue for the next book. When people see Jacob’s name again, they’ll hopefully remember him as a proponent of the Mars effort – but he’s far more than that. Jacob is the Chief Executive Officer for a company named Unicore, which is a mining conglomerate that owns interests on Earth, the Moon, and Mars.
Recently, research into psychopathy has indicated that the majority of CEOs are actually psychopaths. They are willing to take risks, are self-centered, lack concern for the people around them, and have generally flatter affects. Jacob is no different. While Jacob believes he always does the right thing, he also is a man who staunchly believes the ends justify the means. With the disaster on earth and an even greater one brewing on Mars, you can expect the most powerful man on the planet to be at the center of the drama.
Read Trials to get the background and be looking for a big move from Jacob in the sequel!