Over nine months after the last book, Exodus: Empires at War: Book 13: Retaliation, was released, I am proud to announce that Exodus: Empires at War: Book 14: Rebellion is out. A lot of obstacles got in the way of this book being released earlier. I had other projects that needed to be completed, some new opportunities, and some finishing up on series that had still not reached a stopping point. More on that last later on. First off, I needed to come up with an idea for the book, and when I finally got around to putting it first in the queue, the idea still eluded me. Finally, in mid-July, my imagination came alive and voila, there was the idea, and the book was ready to be written. I put in many five thousand word days, fourteen in a row at one point, but here it is.
Now, the good news for Exodus Fans. Some of the opportunities I took advantage of, which will definitely be paying off in the future, played havoc with my normal production schedule. I usually put out between five and six books a year, four or more in one of the two Exodus series, Empires at War and Machine War. This year I was not able to keep to that schedule, and I took a financial beating that wasn’t helped by taking a long trip to Nevada to tour that area. That will also help in the future when I start on a new series, probably next year. Frankly, I need to get some books out in my most popular series in order to repair the financial damage. So, I will be working hard to attempt to bring four more books in the series out before the end of the year. I might not make it, but it won’t be for lack of effort. So, two more Empires at War and two more Machine War. I may be closing out the Machine War series by book 6, but don’t worry, fans of that series. The main characters will be joining the war on the Ca’cadasan front. I had planned to end Empires at War after another couple of books, but now it’s looking like at least four more in the series, possibly six. I also plan to do two more Tales of the Empire short collections, and will start, by the end of next year, on a line called In The Beginning (tentative title), a series of six to eight books detailing the history of the wacky nation known as the New Terran Empire. So, there is still a lot of Exodus to come.
I have been accused by some people of only being in it for the money. Not quite true. Even if I wasn’t making a living at this I would still be writing. But to make a living I have to write works that people want to buy. That I’m not only in it for the money, I point to the Theocracy and Refuge series. Neither sell great, but I enjoy writing them, and there are enough fans of both series that I don’t want to just drop them in the middle of the story arc. I will try to get in the third Theocracy book next year, and book 6 of Refuge probably soon after. I had been planning to finish off Refuge at that time, but I think that by stretching it out in time I might be able to see myself doing two more. For people who are fans of the series, talk it up with friends, people at conventions, online. The more it sells, the more I will be willing to write in that series.
Now, to the opportunities. I have finished book 1 of a new series for a traditional house, Arc Manor, the publisher of Galaxy’s Edge magazine. It took a lot of time, and I had a harsh task master as an editor, but I learned a lot about writing. I doubt I would have gotten such an opportunity from anyone else. I have a second book due, and the publisher is amenable to putting a third on the contract after seeing the first. I will also be working on book two of Kinship War, as the series is called, during the fall. We are hoping that it will be a hit, and will open up a shared universe for other authors to write in. The second opportunity came from Chris Kennedy, whose publishing company is behind the very successful Four Horsemen Universe that he, Mark Wandrey, and now so many others write in. If any of my fans haven’t read any of their books, you need to go and get some and start reading. My novel, When Eagles Dare, will be coming out shortly. I also have a short story in another anthology set in the Universe. The other anthologies did really well, and I recommend them as well. Also, my short story, Alone, will be coming out soon in Chuck Gannon’s Lost Signals of the Terran Republic anthology.
I will also be releasing two other books in the next couple of weeks. One is a military fantasy, set in a gunpowder technology era. I wrote it years ago, well before Exodus was even a glimmer of an idea. An editor at a major house was interested in it, but frankly, I’ve got my traditional novel coming out, and I don’t want to wait a year or two for it to be accepted (or rejected) and finally make its way to production. The other is a science fiction/horror novel called Soulless, not for the timid or the young. Also written years before I even conceived of Exodus, it was praised by several of the instructors at a workshop where I presented the first two chapters. After that my harddrive will be cleared of unpublished finished works, with one exception that will have to wait.
So, for those who are mostly fans of Exodus, there will be more coming along, and soon. For those who are fans of Refuge, there will be more, but I can only afford to release one a year. And I have ideas for other series, which will be making their way to print over the next couple of years. I’m hoping to have a very productive couple of years ahead. If I can keep the body together I will be writing for years to come. I have no plans to retire from this job. I am still looking into getting more of the Exodus books produced as audiobooks, something I am constantly asked. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get the producer of the first five interested in doing any others. I had one narrator lined up, but he dropped out from the project soon after agreeing to do it. I can’t afford to produce them other than as a royalty share, and to do that I have to get a narrator to sign on. I have thought of doing it myself, but I really don’t have the time. It would cut into my writing time, and besides, I have lots of allergies, and getting through fifteen minutes without throat clearing is a challenge. I will be posting the job for Exodus 6 once again, but there are no guarantees. For those who have been following this blog for the travelogue of my last trip out West, I will be putting out the last chapter this Friday. And now for the excerpt:
“I think we’ll take this one first,” said the admiral, pointing to one of the projector ships. “Sinbad can go after this one, while Stuart takes this one.”
“Very good ma’am,” said the tactical officer, imputing the information into his board, setting up the attack profile for the squadron. He looked over at the com officer, who nodded back before sending the orders out through whisker laser.
“We should start configuring for attack in twenty-five minutes,” said the tac officer, frowning. “It means we won’t be sucking out heat for the fifteen minutes before the attack, but I don’t think it a good idea to delay any longer.”
“Very well. Then that’s what we’ll do.”
“And how do you want to attack the rest of them?”
“Let’s see how we do with the initial attack before we start planning the others.”
The tac nodded in agreement. Not only would they not know how much of a force they had to attack the remaining enemy until after the first strike, but they wouldn’t know what the enemy was going to do before then. She hoped she still had three battle capable capital ships after that strike, but there was no guarantee. There was never a guarantee in combat.
The bridge crew waited. They had nothing to do but relay information to the squadron commander, and transmit her orders to the command bridges of the three ships. The real fighting would be handled by the command teams of the warships, maneuvering and firing at the orders of their captains and the skill of helm and tactical officers.
Mei reached up and wiped the sweat from her brow. She checked the temperature, and found that the environment of the bridge was still as cool as ever. Nerves was her thought. She had thought that by now she would be used to the tension before entering combat, but it never became any easier.
“Ships are configuring their wormholes for combat,” called out the com officer, his voice cracking slightly from the tension.
And now we find out how alert they are, thought Mei. They wouldn’t start producing heat immediately, but it would come, and they would no longer be as stealthy as before.
“Wormholes are set,” said the tac officer.
“Donut is reporting that the accelerators are spun up,” said the com officer. “Reactors at full power.”
Maybe I should have gone with missiles, thought the admiral. Wormhole launched missiles would have been instant kills when they hit, but she had a never heard of anyone firing them this close to a star. She wasn’t sure why that bothered her, but her instincts told her that the particle beams would be a better option in this situation.
She took one last look at the plot, trying to time it perfectly. The sensor officer turned toward her and said the words that took that option away from her.
“We’re being painted with lidar, ma’am.”
“Now,” shouted the admiral, her excitement at finally going into action taking control of her voice.
The well drilled ships all accomplished their actions within a second of each other. Electromagnetic fields came up at full strength, cold plasma injected as soon as they were formed. Laser rings took a couple of seconds to come up to full power, but counter missiles and offensive weapons were ready in an instant. And grabbers boosted up to full power, pulling their ships onto different vectors at five hundred and thirty gravities, then a couple of more, sinking the crew back into their acceleration couches as six gravities came over them in an instant.
Eight million ton warships now moved into the attack like they were fighters. Helms took control of the particle beams, slaved to their joysticks as the holos over their stations showed the aim point. Tactical officers continued to control the lasers and missiles, concentrating on defending their vessels.
The Jean de Arc vectored around the star, using its gravitational field to swing into the same orbital path as their target. They closed at thousands of kilometers a second, twisting, turning and rolling to avoid the lasers that the enemy was now firing their way. The ship shook from a hit, the damage to the hull causing the outgassing that provided unintentional thrust. Some missiles erupted from the enemy. Mei sucked in a breath
“They’re counters, ma’am,” called out the tac officer. “Not offensive weapons.”
“Firing,” called out the helmsman from the control bridge. The ship shook again as the counter thrust of the particle beam worked against the pull of the grabbers.
The forward viewer on the flag bridge showed the enemy superbattleship, highlighted against the brilliant globe of the star, sitting a couple of million kilometers below. The particle beam struck out, hitting dead center on the enemy vessel, going off for a moment, then connecting again as the helmsman adjusted the ship and his aim.
Particle beams were red in air due to the friction cause by protons flying at relativistic speeds through the gas particles. In space they were normally invisible. But this close to the star, in space that had greater particle density than further out, the destruction of antiprotons on the outer edge of the beam, contacting star plasma, had much the same effect. The angry red of the beam made aiming easy for the helmsmen.
Where the beam hit intense fire lived. Antiprotons exploded into particles as they touched matter, while making the atoms of matter blast into similar particles. The force of the strike, antiprotons moving at just under the speed of light, sent the fire deep into the hull after blasting through the armor.
Still, the ship was tough, and the beam would not kill them quickly. What they did was erode away all the electronics and installations for a hundred meters on each side of the strike, degrading defenses.
“Firing missiles,” came another voice over the intercom, the ship’s tactical officer releasing six missiles from the forward tubes. The missiles arced out, then in, avoiding the particle beam, then striking the hull of the enemy ship. One was knocked off course on the way in, one was detonated by a second laser. Four hit, each releasing a gigaton of force into the hull of the ship.