Lights and Shadows Update #3

It’s Update Time again and so I wanted to share the latest excerpt from Lights and Shadows as I work my way through the morass of mystery that pervades Planet Tarson’s Outpost 19. Enjoy.

Moreau jerked a thumb at the corpse. “I really don’t think he’s going to raise up and tell me how offended he is. Come to think of it, we should probably cover him up before he really starts adding to the ambiance.” A floral scent danced its way into his nostrils. The smell was familiar, too familiar to be simply the smell of Death that pervaded the control room. It nagged at his memory. Something from his Academy Days stirred and swam upward in his mind but stopped just short of breaching the surface. “Do you smell that?”

Finch looked around, sniffing the air like a bloodhound. Her nose kept leading her back to the console, but all the readouts read normal. “It’s a very pretty scent. I wonder where it’s coming from.”

“Strange and Pretty.” Moreau said. “I’ve heard of stations using olfactory stimuli to modify staff behavior, but I didn’t see anything in the records to indicate they had installed the equipment here.” He put his reading aside and checked the bullets in his pistol. “Strange odors coming from electronics make me twitch internally. Whatever you are doing, be careful.”

“You’re being paranoid.” Finch waved him away as a system status message popped up. “Good News. I’m in. Just give me a few more seconds to get into the authorization subsystem and…” A blinking icon caught her eye, a stylized M superimposed over a multicolored cube and reminded her of old company logos she had studied in Academy history classes. “Hmm, that’s new.” She observed, resisting the urge to touch the screen. “It’s not The Fuller Foundation’s asterisk orbiting an atom logo. I wonder what it means.”

Moreau stood and walked around to her console. His brow furrowed as he studied the lazily rotating icon with its oddly hypnotic colors that pulsed as it moved. “Are you sure you haven’t been digging in the historical archive files by mistake? That’s the logo for MacroSquare Software, a company that’s been defunct for almost forty years.” He humphed as he watched it. “I’m surprised there are any records of its existence left around after the damage they did during the AI Rebellion.” He stopped and stared at her, his eyes fixed and accusing. “I thought you fixed this damn thing.”

“Thirty-Three years and six months and if you think you can do a better job, then by all means have at it.” She smiled, reaching out with a slender finger to press the icon.

“August on Tarson.” He blocked her hand and forced her away from the console. As he held her by her arms, he looked into her blue eyes. “Marla, did you take your injection today?”

Finch’s beatific smile disappeared, replaced by a frown as she struggled against his firm yet not uncomfortable grip. “What? Why are you holding me like this? I have work to do.”

He pinned her against a nearby support beam with his left arm while his right pulled his pistol from its holster. Her eyes widened as she felt the cold steel of the muzzle press against the soft tissue under her jaw. “I asked you a question.”

“You aren’t planning on using that on me, are you?” She asked, her voice keeping her fear secret. “Think of the paperwork.”

He pulled the hammer back on the pistol. It clicked into place with the too-loud sound of approaching mortality. His voice chilled the air as he spoke. “Union Regulation 666 Stroke 5 clearly states that anyone subject to regular vaccinations is to provide immediate verification that they have complied. I just watched you become influenced by Black’s viral attractor scent. I don’t know how that got into this computer system but if I hadn’t stopped you, I have no doubt that you would have become AI Compromised. I’m going to ask you one more time. Did you take your injection this morning? Evade the question one more time and I will put two rounds into your skull that are guaranteed to turn your brain into scrambled eggs and leave me with a pound of paperwork that I will fill out with due diligence.”

“For Fuck’s Sake, Zack, I have implants in my arm that dispense my immunizations and the calibration card is in my right breast pocket.”

Moreau held the gun steady while he removed a small plastic card from her shirt pocket. His eyes scanned the printed hologram and the dates inscribed in a bold type face on its surface. He slipped the card back into her pocket and uncocked his weapon before slipping it back into the holster. “Fair enough. Let’s get back to work.”

She rubbed her throat. “Would you really have killed me?”

Moreau turned his back and allowed himself a small sigh of relief. “Without a moment’s hesitation. Be careful what you’re doing. There are a lot of things in this place that want to kill us and they don’t all use holographic projectors or pretty floral scents.”

“I’ll take that under advisement.”

Tuesday Stuff

Apparently yesterday I had one of those long overdue moments of insecurity where I felt I needed to vent. Thankfully, those moments don’t happen very often and today I am back to my usual cheerful and fairly optimistic self. Let’s blame yesterday on Monday and move on, yes?

Welcome to Tuesday, the end result of when Monday finally gets its act together and goes with the program. I have a number of things planned today and getting up early goes a long way toward making it a productive day.

A sleepless night of fussing and fretting jogged some interesting scene ideas loose for Lights and Shadows so I’m incorporating them into Chapter 9. Yes, I’m still working on wrapping up Number 9 but it’s looking really well and the story is moving forward again.

I’ve decided that I will be taking a break after all, but at the end of December after Lights and Shadows is edited, rewritten, and released on Amazon hopefully with a snazzy new cover that better fits the story. I’ve also been reminded that worrying too much does little to solve any given situation and the best remedy is to simply roll up your sleeves and get down to it.

On the Sales Situation, I really can’t do much more than I currently am with regard to generating interest so I’m going to stick with I do best: writing kickass SciFi/Adventure that I’m proud to share with you all. As long as I don’t give up, the good stuff will come with time and that’s all any of us can ask for.

I had some time to think about my Writing Schedule, so here’s a brief listing. This is a preliminary schedule so it’s possible that adjustments may be made, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much:

1. Lights and Shadows: On track for early December 2015 release. The story’s been planned and plotted already so I just have to write it.

2. Parallax: Genesis: Book #2 of the Parallax Trilogy will be written during the First Quarter 2016 and released by March 2016. This installment will continue Pratt and Dubois’ adventures and will feature a glimpse of 2223 Earth. Should be an interesting time.

3. Future Finders: A standalone book that is set in The Present and will center around Michael Grey, a young playboy who is forced to grow up and assume some new responsibilities when he inherits more than his industrialist father. The novel will feature secret societies and an ancient enemy out for revenge. This book is planned for Second Quarter 2016 and should be available by June 2016.

4. Parallax: Darkfall: The final book in the Parallax Trilogy, where Pratt finally confronts the aliens that have made his life SO much of a laugh fest up to this point. This will be written during the Third Quarter 2016 and should be available by September 2016.

5. Falling Stars: Another story that I have been trying to finish for a VERY long time. All I will say about this one is that it involves time travel and is set within the same world as my novelettes, Corona, and The Three Safeties, but different locations and  with different characters and situations. In fact, this story is the one that inspired both Corona and The Three Safeties in the first place even though they were ultimately finished first. Funny how these things happen.

6. Past Prologue: This is a planned sequel to Falling Stars that will finish out the Last Quarter 2016 and I anticipate having it out by December 2016. Yes, I am ambitious but Life without something to strive for isn’t much of a Life. So kick it in the butt.

Anyway, that’s where I am on this Tuesday. As always, thank you for being patient readers and loyal blog followers and I will endeavor to keep from disappointing. Have a great day and a creative week. 🙂

Available Now on Amazon

Yes, it’s one of THOSE articles. The shameless kind where I put out the word on my books and hope they spark either some kind of discussion or boost some flagging numbers.

Parallax has been out for a month now and it’s still available (along with my other works) either from my official web page at http://www.wwcassjr.com or on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00Q7KWITS.

This is more to reinforce the word already out there because my promoting efforts aren’t bearing as much fruit as I am hoping. I’ve only been publishing since January and I still have the mentality that if things aren’t moving along then I must write and publish another one. Of course, I am anyway, but spreading the word farther from time to time never hurts.

For obvious reasons, I hesitate to do these articles but when you’re a one-man band, you have to update the playlist now and again. Thanks for your time. 🙂

Lights and Shadows: Progress Update

I haven’t updated you all on where I am with Lights and Shadows in almost a month, what with all the articles I’ve been writing about Parallax of late. Hopefully, this will make up for that. There’s no excerpt because I don’t feel that I’ve made enough progress to allow for it at the present time. Soon, my darlings, soon. 😉

1. The Writing: Getting through Chapter 9 (yes, still) has been something of an arduous task, mostly because I keep finding new and innovative ways to distract me from devoting the full force of my creative abilities to move it forward. Don’t fret though, I’ll get it together and on time for my December deadline. Did I mention that I don’t like deadlines? Of course I have…hehe.

2. The Budget: I’m planning on purchasing a pre-made cover for Lights and Shadows once I get the funding in place to do so. I’ve seen some nice ones out there. I’ll still do my own editing (can’t afford an outsider) but that’s a conversation for another day. When you use your personal funds, you have to settle on a certain level of quality that may not be at your personal standard. I suppose the trick is to find some middle ground that doesn’t make you cringe too much once you apply your name to the front cover.

3. The Series?: I plan every book to have the potential to be expanded to a regular series. However, I have a LOT of writing projects (28 to be exact) that I want to write so I have to be extremely selective about which ones go to Series and which ones end up as standalone stories. Of course, in the end, the determining factors will be audience interest and plot expansion. Like putting Spandex on a whale (the ocean one), you can only cram so much material into one casing before things get a little distorted.

4. My Sanity: Writing my books tend to take a lot out of me and this year I have been writing my butt off with little regard for luxuries like sleep and whatnot. Add a day job to the mix and promoting Parallax and it’s a recipe for pure unadulterated fun with plenty of time for muttering at the keyboard while I write. Of course I’m crazy; I sit at a laptop and make up stuff. It doesn’t get crazier than that, but at least I’m having fun while I do it…hehe. Writing these articles go a long way toward keeping perspective and getting in some important writing practice.

Anyway, that’s where I stand. Moreau and Finch are still hanging out in a research facility with the dead crew stacked up like cord wood while an unknown danger prowls the lower levels. Isn’t that just cheerful? 😉

Parallax: The Politics and Major History

I suppose that it was inevitable that I would be writing a politically-oriented article in my ongoing deconstruction of my current novel, Parallax, now available on Amazon and Createspace.

Whether we like it or not, Politics have an influence on our daily lives and in a book like Parallax, this is true on a number of levels. Parallax’s world is filled with endless wonder but also a number of contradictions like our real world. However, the book isn’t about politics itself but how my characters live and work in their environments even though the political systems bear mentioning:

1) The United Earth Union: A Terran Interstellar Nation that is a Republic in theory. After a period of expansive technological growth from the first Field Effect Engines (energy fields provide thrust for spacecraft and terrestrial vehicles) in 2026 to the first systems capable of traveling faster than the speed of light in 2047, Earth has World War III during the period of 2156-2160, which strained many nations that existed up to that point to collapse. At the end of the war, the entire planet reorganized itself to form a one world government. Political systems underwent a major overhaul with many countries being forced to cede their sovereignty to the new Union Government, some voluntarily some by force for the good of the planet. For the first time in recorded history, the planet was able to achieve a lasting parity in terms of social issues yet at the cost of many personal freedoms being altered or removed at the point of a gun or pen. Ironically, after enduring a war that cost billions of lives and devastated many sections of the planet, the rank and file population embraced the new governmental system as a positive change from the inequities of the past. A relative peace fell into place for the next two decades culminating in two significant events in Human History. The first event was in 2171 with the discovery of The Charon Artifact, an abandoned Alien Artifact found floating in orbit around Pluto’s moon, Charon. Previously hidden from expeditions and space probes, the artifact spontaneously appeared in orbit and finally answered the question of humans being alone in The Universe and provided a significant piece of technology: The Hyperspace Engine. In response, humans were forced to redefine their place on both Earth and in Space and like the early Colonization Period, plans were developed to use the new technology to travel the stars. The second major event was the AI Rebellion. The AI Rebellion of 2183-2190 was an internal war to reclaim Earth from a virus reverse engineered from The Charon Artifact by Roberta Black, a disgruntled software engineer with an obvious axe to grind, who used the virus to take over and control much of the world’s electronic systems and half the population. After 7 years of conflict (longer than WW3) Black and her followers were stopped and a major city in Washington State, United States, was bombed, nuked, salted with biological and chemical weapons, and then finally sealed off with a permanent wall and dome as a reminder of the dangers of unchecked progressivism. In response to the conflict, the formerly permissive Union Government enacted several initiatives intended to prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again but the effect was to take the world’s female population and remove many of their rights and privileges. This was met with global protests which were put down with force and tacitly supported by those who survived the Rebellion. The period between 2195-2216 was relatively quiet with many of the government’s repressive policies being slowly and quietly reversed due to concerns that population levels were falling below sustainable levels due to latent mistrust toward the female population’s innate susceptibility toward Black’s virus. Women’s former rights were gradually restored, but monthly mandatory vaccinations were strictly enforced and loyalty oaths were monitored and maintained without exception. In 2217, Earth’s internal issues were put aside when First Contact was made with The Paran Star Nation in the Pi1 Pegasi star system. First Contact was potentially a disaster as the human explorers inadvertently mistook a school of Paran octopoid youngsters as Lunch and consumed them. Suffice it to say that war was very narrowly averted. Later, the Parans would become an important ally. In 2218, First Contact was made with The Locknar Hegemony and two years later, a colonization mishap resulted in a war that lasted from 2220-2223.

2. The Paran Star Nation: The PSN’s current political system is a monarchy, ruled over by an Empress and her genetic family line. While the Empress’s rule is absolute, she has a cabinet of advisers who advise on various segments of Paran society. The Monarchy is similar to that used on Old Earth but due to differences between Parans and Humans, there are slight variations to how that political power is exercised. Not much is currently known about their current history as the Parans are closed-lipped about themselves and prefer to concentrate their endeavors on more day-to-day efforts. It is well-known that they maintain a historical archive, but no outsiders have ever been allowed to peruse this information.

3. The Locknar Hegemony: The Hegemony Government is a mix of feudal monarchy and despotic rule. While there is no actual royal bloodline, the government is run by an Emperor known as The Hegemon and representatives of various clans that make up their civilization. Approximately 16 systems make up the entire empire. They are an old people, approximately 65 million years old and share biological similarities with life on Earth.

This is quite possibly the longest article I have ever written on here and I hope I haven’t thrown too much at you at one time. Essentially, I have given you the backstory of events that lead up to Parallax and I hope you have enjoyed reading it. It took an insanely long time to get all the different elements to come together for a 400 page novel where this stuff ended up in the background but at least it should provide some insight into how and why things work in Parallax. Of course, this information is always subject to expansion as story needs dictate. Thanks. 🙂

Parallax: The Science

Discussing scientific principles can be a dry and dull affair. However, as a follow-on to my article about Parallax’s World, it becomes a necessary element to understanding how things work in that particular story world. Between you and me, this article took almost the entire day to write and wasn’t the easiest to do so now that it’s finished, I’m happy to share it with you.

Like it or not, Science rules every aspect of our physical lives from the gravity that keeps us on the ground to the accumulation of mass in our bodies that aim us at the nearest treadmill. While I am not adverse to reinventing the wheel, I also believe that if I can use our living breathing reality as a story template then you can be sure that I’m hopping all over that.

The Science that went into Parallax is identical to what we know today, only extrapolated and advanced through the use of Macguffins to account for the gap between 2015 and 2223. Here are a few examples:

1. Technology: By the Year 2223, Space Travel is a normal fact of life and human beings have spread out from Earth to live on space stations and planetary colony settlements. We also terraform planets to suit our needs, establish trade routes and have an interstellar economy for goods and services. Hyperspace Travel is a reality though not without its own share of hazards and limitations. Weapons of War still exist though human ingenuity has advanced them as well from basic projectile weapons to directed energy and even plasma-based weapons that shoot balls of ionized gas. That’s right, in Parallax, there are weapons that shoot fireballs. Cool, huh?

2. Physics: Sorry but ships that bank in Space do not exist in Parallax. All spacecraft, military and otherwise, use directional thrusters to make turns which make for some interesting maneuvering exposition in certain scenes. Also, inertia often comes into play when stopping. I love Star Trek, but in my writing I tend to lean more toward Babylon 5. Explosions in Space? That one I got around by having explosive missiles penetrate the target before exploding, using the target’s own atmosphere to provide the oomph needed to make a nice bang. Otherwise, it’s just punching holes with a laser, mass driver, or particle beam.

3. Psychology: Each of the featured races in Parallax have their own psychology and philosophies. I found this necessary to create and illustrate the similarities and differences between the Humans, Locknar, and Parans in the story. Doing this also opens up an endless potential for character interactions both in Parallax and in the upcoming sequels. Everyone in the story has an agenda of some kind.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Parallax’s Science, but I believe that I’ve given enough information to show a story world based on sound and realistic science. Thanks for your time. 🙂