A Prayer to Saint Strelok

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There is more fiction in the pipeline but my latest short story is now available at Amazon. For those familiar with the STALKER or METRO 2033 video games, this should feel familiar – like the worn stock on your trusty AK-47, or the snug, sweat-soaked bands on your respirator.

Release date is 16 December. You can pre-order now if you like.

Enjoy and Spasibo.

A Prayer to Saint Strelok

New Zombie Six

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Sorry this is late. I’ve been busy with work, locking down work, plus managing assorted real life obligations and commitments, but the next installment of the Mil-S-F piece ‘Zombie Six’ is up. Click on the drop down tab in the top menu or go HERE. 

Thanks and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Zombie Six excerpt

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BLACK ECHO

Katja sat down hard on a supply crate. “OK… I’m just going to call it: the only thing more fucked up than fighting in a city is fighting in a mine. These tunnels are bullet funnels. Worse than alleys. And you can’t call in air support to blow the shit out of something when it’s in the way. I’m lodging formal protest when we’re done killing everyone.”

“Something to look forward to,” Marco Sandoval answered off-hand.

“Well, I’m sure the Admiral values your considered opinion and I have every confidence he will priority flag your grievance,” Esta dead-panned.

“He fucking should,” Katja replied, setting aside her Beowulf 12-Gauge. “I’m an underworld goddess of death.”

“Just think though,” I said. “All this experience, you can write the Fleet tactical manual when we’re done.”

Katja tore open a protein bar. “Sure,” she said between mouthfuls. “It’s going to be titled ‘Subterranean Operations: same as shoving your head up your ass except someone is shooting at you too.’

“See how inspiring she is?” Chandra exclaimed.

Oasis: Faith under unfamiliar stars

Amazon’s Pilot Season has begun and for me, the winner is the SF show, OASIS.

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Without giving too much away, Richard Madden (from Game of Thrones) plays Peter, a young minister in the dystopia of 2032, who travels to Mankind’s last best hope, a distant space colony called Oasis where the best and brightest (and wealthiest) of Humanity is establishing a shiny new future for our species – a future without the ‘treacherous illusion of faith”. At least that’s what it was supposed to be until colony founder David Morgan suddenly and mysteriously invites Peter to take the ride through the Big Black Empty.

I think it best anyone interested experience the show for themselves, so I’ll avoid spoilers. But in my opinion, Oasis is the stand out show of the five potentials. It is the pilot, so there are some intentional plot holes and unresolved issues. Of course. It also comes off as smartly written, well acted, with great visuals and camera work. More importantly for me, it hits that spot where future science and technology intersect with human nature and religion, and portrays my particular faith (Christianity) in a solid, three-dimensional character. Peter comes off as human and humble, as well as definite and devoted, without being insipid or obnoxiously dogmatic.

Amazon’s ‘after-the-show’ survey wanted to know if I thought Oasis was the best thing I’d ever seen and could be my favorite show ever. Well… that’s impossible to say on the basis of a single episode. It all depends on where the writers go with the characters and what answers they forward through the show’s plot, but I will confess Oasis certainly got my attention. So much so, I spent some time in my shop today and as I closed up, I caught myself thinking, “Nice. I can go watch the next episode” only to remember a split second later that was all there was. So that’s a good sign, I think.

So if you’re fiending for a SF fix with some intrigue, substance, and perhaps a little soul, I highly recommend Oasis. Here’s hoping there’s enough of us to recommend it and get the show in production.

Have a  good weekend.

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New Zombie 6

MEDEVAC crew trains for emergency response

The latest installment of my mistress project, a mil-SF short “Zombie 6”, is up.

This one is dedicated to the work and memory of Mr. Bill Paxton. Thank you, sir. May you Rest in Peace.

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Click on the link below or the drop down tab in the Top Menu.

SUDDEN AND NOISY

Zombie 6: new Mil-SF

MEDEVAC crew trains for emergency response

 

Bit of writing news for the new year.

I’ve decided to alternate fiction projects in 2017. My first and main effort continues to be the post-apocalypse fantasy novel Shattered Worlds,  (currently hammering out Act II, Into the Scorned Lands) while the second, ‘mistress project’, is a straight up military science fiction novella presently titled Zombie 6.

Focused on a spec-ops team ordered to support the embattled Colonial Administration Security forces on the mining colony Mèng Tiān, Zombie 6 will be offered free here on HSSJ as it progresses. I have added a tab to the top header menu. The first three chapters are up already and I plan on posting new ones bi-weekly. I’m getting a kick out of where the story is taking me and I hope you enjoy it as it develops too. Feedback is welcome and comments are always appreciated.

In other fictional realities, the second Eshu International book, Shift Tense is now available in print.  You can pick up a copy here at Amazon. For whatever reason, reviews for the Kindle version have not, are not, (will they ever?) carrying over to the print listing, so would some of you nice folks who have read Shift Tense fire off a few lines or Copy-n-Paste your Kindle review so it doesn’t look so forlorn there? Thank you very much.

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Finally, thank you all for your continued support. The older I get the more convinced I am success is defined by creativity, community, and contribution more than anything else. I’m fortunate to have such excellent family, friends, and fans. Thank you and happy new year.

 

Semper Gumby

More ‘graphs from my latest mil sf WIP, ZOMBIE SIX.

MEDEVAC crew trains for emergency response

 

SEMPER GUMBY

 

 

Rucker and I watched Tien Chang burn.

Not like we hadn’t seen the effects of an orbital strike before. But there’s just something about fire.

We were across the river, five kilometers away, and could still hear it roar. Buildings were torches. Signs, light posts, cars, flared like kindling. Downtown was a shimmering inferno of melting asphalt, glass, and steel. It is hard to believe those things burn like that. But they do. A city of a hundred and forty thousand people turning to cinders.

I could see flames raging higher and higher, gasping, grasping into the night sky for more air. Soon a vortex would form, pulling everything inward to the white-hot heart, and a pillar of fire would rise on scorching winds over the city center, writhing and howling like Hell’s own tornado.

 

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“Damn,” Ricker grunted. “Admiral Sota is not fucking around.”

“No, he isn’t,” I said.

Lights flickered south of the city along the riverbank. I cranked my optical neurochems and zoomed in: a string of trucks was racing down the highway away from the blaze. Compensating for the light-wash, my tacti-comp ID’d them as Isuzu bulk haulers. Might be insurgents. Might be civilians. It didn’t matter – the evac deadline had passed twelve hours ago. The drone cordon would take them out before they got another kilometer. “The Admiral is not a ‘fuck around’ kinda guy,” I finished.

Rucker nodded absently. He had spotted the trucks too and was tracking them. “So I’m thinking the Timmies said ‘No’ to the Council’s offer of a cease-fire?”

“Word is they shot the diplomatic android first,” I explained. “Then told the rest of the negotiating team to chī shǐ back to the 18th generation. That hurt the Admiral’s feelings, so he decided to send a message.”

Rucker gave a harsh laugh. “Yeah, but Rods from God? Who’s left to hear it?”

I jerked my head south where Xuan Chang and Wen Chang, the two remaining colony cities, stood. “The Turkistan Independence leaders. I mean, nothing quite says, “Listen Up!” like hypervelocity tungsten telephone poles fired from Low Planetary Orbit, right?”

Rucker shrugged. “Well, when you care enough to send the very best….”

It was my turn to laugh. I snorted, looked back across the dark, flame-lit water. “I just hope they listen.”

Rucker shrugged, and started to walk back to our camp. “Bah. I give it two days, boss. Fleet has the entire system on lock-down. Absolutely no traffic from the moons, Belt mines, or orbitals unless it is UNE authorized and got a military escort. Meng Tian is cut off. Methinks the Tim’s glorious revolution just got strangled in the cradle.”

“Can’t argue your logic, but…” my voice trailed off. I had a feeling about this one.

Rucker spread his hands in mock surprise. “Seriously?”

He pointed across the river. “Once word of this spreads, they’ll have to come to the table.  Who wants Chang Two and Three lit up like that? The Timmies may be fanatics but they’re not stupid. The Planetary Council won’t go for it. Not the U.N.E. either, not really. Crisped miners, slagged infrastructure, delayed ore shipments… bad for business all around.”

 

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Rucker spit, shifted his Steyr-30 to the crook of his other arm. “Fifty yuan says we’ll be back on the Hephestus in forty-eight hours, cryo-ed, and zip lining our way to the UNE’s next cluster fuck.”

“From the Freezer to Hell in sixty seconds,” I intoned. “Or your money back. Guaranteed.”

“Zombie Six. That’s how we roll.” he said.

I thumped my chest plate despite the itch at the back of my mind. The Kepler solar system was effectively blockaded, Fleet Marines had landed at New Shenzhen, Tien Chang was burning. I so wanted Rucker to be right.  But…

An A.I. generated, strategic, socio-psych profile can be as meticulous as it is wrong. People are spectacularly illogical. Brute truth is sometimes a kick in the head makes people give up – sometimes it just pisses them off.

I could feel the anger coming off Tien Chang in waves.

He raised one eyebrow. “You’re not taking my bet.”

“Hey, I’ll take your money,” I said. “In the meantime though, make sure our ammo and power cells are topped off.  Chandra has first watch.”

Rucker frowned.

“I’m not jinxing us,” I said. “I want Zombie Six to be ready in case the Timmies won’t see reason, is all.”

Rucker saluted. “Semper Gumby,” he drawled, and went back to the rest of the squad.

***

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Zombie Six

Bit of fiction today. The opening ‘graphs of my next mil-SF short.

Have a good day and enjoy Thanksgiving.

***

MEDEVAC crew trains for emergency response

 

ZOMBIE SIX

They kill you week twenty of Enhanced Tactical Training.

I mean you feel like the instructors have been trying to kill you ever since Basic, certainly during the Advanced courses in whatever branch you served before you were selected for the CRISIS Program: Rangers, SEALS, Delta, Intelligence Support… But after all that, this time it’s real.

The surgeries have long since healed. You’ve integrated with your augments and are still riding the transhuman high. (Yes, you are that fast. And strong. Your new reflexes make Olympic athletes look like they have cerebral palsy. ) You’ve gotten past the mind-fuck that is an implanted cyber-link and now appreciate just how god-like an integrated communications and tactical information network is. You’ve mastered augmented vision, micro-drone tactics, Tac-net hacking, robotics, exosuits, laser weapons, Low-G, deep water, arctic, jungle, desert, and half a dozen other extreme environments. You thought you were badass before – well now you’re officially the bastard child of Terminator and Superman. You almost feeling sorry for whoever you’re ordered to kick the shit out of.

Then one morning near the end of the course they let you sleep late, (a clue, right there) and feed you a decent breakfast. (That was your second warning) After, the instructors escort you to a part of the base you didn’t know existed, turn off your cyber-link, and put you in an elevator. Next thing you know you’re thirty stories underground standing in front of a white vault door with a sign over top that reads

And the last enemy to be destroyed is death

What the hell?

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Afterwards back at the barracks, Chandra said he recognized it. A passage from the Bible, the part when Jesus Christ returns, defeats the armies of Satan, cleans up the mess and turns the Earth into the Garden of Eden. I don’t know if that means we’re part of a new world or we’re supposed to establish Paradise, or what, but we definitely fight and are always in the shit. Our team’s call sign is Zulu-6. After that the day though, we began calling ourselves ‘Zombie Six’. But I digress…

You stand there thinking about the sign, no doubt getting scanned, identified, cross-checked, and verified until finally the big white door hisses open and a pair of very polite and professional doctor-types bring you in. They strap you on a comfy operating table and hook up the usual web of electronic leads, IVs and data jacks, explaining all the while this particular procedure won’t take long. You’ll have the rest of the day to yourself afterward.

Then they kill you.

It’s a cocktail of phenobarbital, Pavulon, and potassium chloride. Death by lethal injection. You’re left to cool to room temperature for thirty minutes. Your death gets certified. Then they bring you back.

They want to get it out of the way – dying. To prove to you the augs and implants actually work, that the nano-blood, the cyber-implants kick you into CLS or ‘Critical Level Stasis’ to prevent you you completely shuffling off your mortal coil. All that bleeding-edge tech and those new and improved organs grown from your very own stem cells really do preserve your essential systems.

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Not that you’re invulnerable. Massive trauma can still be fatal, as are the NBCs – nuclear, biological, chemical weapons, but your new body can take extraordinary levels of punishment. Far, far more than you imagine.

So they kill you to prove it.

This is the keystone to your training because the head shrinkers and mad scientists behind the CRISIS unit’s inception and technology convinced the generals you will be an infinitely better soldier once you’ve gotten over that marrow-deep, primate nightmare fear of death.

And more than anything else, generals want better soldiers.

They also want a return on their investment. The government dropped millions to borg your body into the ultimate killing machine – to re-make you into a true ‘Smart Weapon’. That means you get an OS upgrade to match the shiny hardware, i.e. your brain gets a major adjustment to fit your new body’s capabilities. Otherwise, all that fancy gear wired inside you will never get used to full capacity.

And believe me, the shit we’re up against, we need full capacity.

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